An algorithm is a concept of which we should take heed
A kind of diagram which shows us how to proceed
To solve a problem by breaking it down to small steps
Making decisions unambiguous is the main object

Primarily used to solve conundrums mathematical
It can be employed to cope with tasks quite practical
By considering the flow of information in a process
And the choices at each stage throughout its progress

Algorithms are the heart of most computer programs
Compiled as binary choices shown as in a diagram
A question is asked for which the answer is yes or no
And the response determines just how to go

Algorithms can be defined as a set of rules
Within a sequence of operations they form the tools
Whereby a computer can make ‘decisions’
According to a defined set of conditions

Thus by the use of algorithms joined together
Decisions are made on ‘greater or lesser’
Or the scale of a value or magnitude
And the measures such as latitude

The whole approach assumes that there is nothing
That cannot be defined as zero or one thing
Thus the binary system employed in its glory
The very heart of every algorithmic story

All these processes are performed at the speed of light
On huge chunks of data held by the megabyte
And computers do their work with such composure
The inner workings never revealed to external exposure

There is no doubt that the algorithm deserves our praise
As the performance of machines it continues to raise
But prophets of doom fear for our future employment
As robots will doubtless enforce our replacement

Because algorithms bring artificial intelligence
Clever machines designed with great elegance
To take over from humans the work that we do
An advance that in time we may well  rue

We can only hope that the mighty algorithm
Will nonetheless improve the human condition
And perhaps at some glorious future date
From drudgery it might all of us liberate

Ken Fisher

Tired and Emotional

Tired and Emotional

“Tired and Emotional” is a well-worn euphemism
Used by the press to highlight the effects of alcoholism
Demonstrated in some of our erstwhile politicians
When subjected to their Star Chamber style inquisitions

But it seems to me that to be tired and emotional
Can affect us all, even those most stoical
Fatigue is found endemic in busy modern life
With emotional turmoil as we face daily strife

So many spend their days constantly being driven
Slaves to a work regime, quite often unforgiving
Heightened emotion a feature of our interaction
Prompting passion instead of calm reaction

So is it any wonder that all this is so draining?
A challenge to ensure our composure still remaining
Being tired and emotional becomes our default disposition
And our earnest wish is to change this dire condition

So is there any cure for this grim state of affairs
Any nostrum, magic formula to rid us of our cares?
Perhaps that other aphorism “Keep Calm and Carry On”
Might yet prove useful for us to ruminate upon?

Ken Fisher

Newspaper Supplements

Newspaper Supplements

You have heard the expression ‘too much information’
An example of this stems from newspaper publications
The weekend supplements are inclined to excesses
In the vast flow of material that spouts from their presses

The very size of the bundle you pull down from the shelf
Can all this be read by one person themself?
There are endless features, sometimes in sections
News, travel, finance, business, all demand your attention

If your interest is gardening, or the life-style of the llama
Or perhaps science is preferred to music or drama
If healthy living and sport is your main obsession
The supplements will surely give it expression

And then there are the colour magazine enclosures
Here fashion and glamour are given full exposure
Photographers are thus granted undoubted free rein
If they show rather too much we ought not to blame

For editors of these weekend cornucopia
Try to showcase a world resembling utopia
The travel supplements would take us all to exotic places
Island paradises peopled by outlandish races

And let’s not forget the crosswords and puzzles
We need these to exercise the cranial muscles
Although if we get stuck it might make us furious
And their answers to quizzes are sometimes quite curious

However I think the weekend supplements are really a boon
The Radio and TV programmes, even a cartoon
A range of material, far more than we seek
And weekend reading surely lasts us all week!

Ken Fisher

The Assault on Irn Bru

The Assault on Irn Bru

I see, in the press, Irn Bru is to change
Less sugar proposed in this magical mixture
It appears some drinkers it might thus estrange
For whom this beverage has long been a fixture

There is a great history behind this well-loved libation
Without it this nation would seem somewhat deprived
So fiddling the formula produces frustration
Why make these changes, we are quite satisfied?

For more than a century the Scots sought refreshment
From this unique blend of secret ingredients
For quenching their thirst, no better replacement
In bottles or cans it was found so convenient

Of course the years have seen changes in its presentation
Glass bottles by plastic in due course succeeded
And adverts quite often produced a sensation
To rival world brands, whisky almost exceeded

But in order to meet targets for sugar reduction
The makers of Irn Bru now offer a spanking new version
And they claim there should be no dissatisfaction
A switch to the new, a quite painless conversion

But in the meantime some traditionalists are simply stockpiling
Crates of the old brand of their great national drink
The prospect of the new not quite so beguiling
And that’s their opinion despite what anyone thinks

Ken Fisher

Personal Brand

Personal Brand

It is no longer good enough to be one face in the crowd
You need something distinctive to shout out really loud
In these modern days where qualifications proliferate
Extra impetus is needed to give your CV more weight

It is also true that individuality is the cult of the day
‘Look who I am’ is the message to convey
So our unique selling points we have to grandstand
And this can be achieved with a personal brand

The use of social media helps in self-promotion
Face Book and Twitter set the wheels in motion
This takes some time and can be quite a slog
Or you can gather a following with a topical blog

Some find that YouTube can spark lots of interest
It’s visual cameos often seem to work best
But branding is not only about loud media hype
It is more than just creating a new stereotype

Your personal brand should convey to all others
That you are different from many competitive runners
In the race for that treasured new job or profession
Claim that those talents they seek are in your possession

When there are so many fish swarming the sea
From that pool of bidders why should they pick me?
The answer would seem is to make them aware
Of the power of your brand when they start to compare

And so whatever in life is your earnest endeavour
Success in employment, marriage, or whatsoever
My advice would be to polish your brand
Thus being ready for whatever life might demand

This worldly advice is not meant to seem selfish
To ‘big you up” or half-truths to embellish
But rather to encourage your own self-belief
In your personal brand which will ensure you succeed

You may have observed that the brands we all love
Have not been handed down to us from someone above
They took years to build up to a good reputation
So it’s bound to take time to gain acclamation

Ken Fisher

Track Your Parcel

Track Your Parcel

A mounting feeling of anticipation
Wondering when it will arrive
There is no need for desperation
Without it we have so far survived

In times past we simply waited
Till the postman rang our bell
Gazing at the pane frustrated
Arrival time we can’t foretell

The modern world is so high tech
Now we trace it on its way
Aware of delay or bottleneck
Beeps can trigger hope or dismay

But sometimes promises are broken
Dashing all our expectations
Bell rings and our door we open
Looking out full of impatience

But all we find is our Window Cleaner
Wanting paid and Christmas tip
Of parcel van he’s not the driver
Bearing our much hoped for gift

So when you order goods on-line
Remember hitches can arise
Predictions may be undermined
To remain uncertain my be wise

However, imagine how it made as marvel
When our neighbour at our door arrives
Bearing our illusive parcel
She had received to her surprise!

Ken Fisher

Black Friday 2017

Black Friday 2017

Black Friday is about to dawn
Indeed it seems never to have gone
This mad scramble for bargains
Gives birth to rugby scrums in shopping malls
And melt-down on computer networks
As search engines and eager bargain-hunters
Hit the town centres and the web browsers

I wonder if this whole exercise has some cathartic purpose
Pent-up emotions being released in some orgasmic frenzy
But who stirred up the desire in the first place?
Did we harbour some deep repressed longing to buy, buy, buy
Or was it the wiles and blandishments of the advertisers
On behalf of the retailers in their constant quest for profit
Who ensured that we would not remain lethargic

Well whoever is to blame, ourselves or the market place
We are assured that Friday will produce record-breaking turnover
Shops may be crammed with customers
And the on-line trade will ensure the white-van army
Of delivery agents will shift the goods from anonymous
Warehouses up and down the land, to your door and mine
And we will jump for joy at the ring on our door bell!

Happy shopping!

Ken Fisher




Taxation [And how some dodge it]


Taxation, a claim on their wealth, some want to avoid
The demand from the Revenue gets them really annoyed
But avoidance is achieved when legal loop-holes are taken
Whereas evasion, an act of defiance really quite brazen

The distinction between these two seems really quite subtle
For both indicate, of the demands of the state, a sort of rebuttal
Although avoidance involves the clever use of the law
Evasion is just deception, quite blatant and raw

It would appear that lots of citizens and large corporations
Have exploited the laws of far away nations
Based on islands amidst the sun, sand and sea
Where from heavy tax levies they permit us to flee

Some say that this is just a form of legitimized theft
To benefit the few, with no care for the rest
But others claim that the fruits of their hard-earned labour
Should belong to themselves and not to their neighbour

Perhaps the truth of the matter is not easy to detect
We are entitled to our rewards but others we must not neglect
So when it comes to taxation we should try to be fair
And devise a system through which all get a share

Many trying to reduce their tax are forced to explore
If they can achieve this by moving funds off-shore
And thus have grown up complex institutions
Helping their clients to reduce tax contributions

You may well have a view as to whether all this is moral
And there are no doubt principles  with which you may quarrel
But human beings are inclined to look after self first
Ensuring that their wealth is not too widely dispersed

Ken Fisher

The Slow Death of the Cheque

The Slow Death of the Cheque

The Bills of Exchange Act 1882 defines a cheque as a written order from an account holder
instructing their bank to pay a specified sum of money to one or more named beneficiaries.

The old fashioned cheque is now under threat
And its early demise is quite a safe bet
Its steady decline has now become drastic
Thanks to the ubiquitous employment of plastic

Credit and debit cards are now used everywhere
Especially when paying at point of sale
And now for small payments, no need to swipe
Just touch the card on the sensor, no gripe

The combination of chip and pin has almost killed cash
And these smart methods all work in a flash
When you want to make payment by the internet
Your plastic data can soon increase your debt

The growth of eBay has promoted PayPal
And for online trading it helps you go far
Of course you can now pay using your phone
Which is handy if travelling and you want to get home

So many of us now use lap-tops or tablets
Thus on-line banking’s a regular habit
So payments can happen without intervention
Debts can be settled with little attention

There is one point of which we must take note
And this to ensure we still keep afloat
Does our bank account hold enough in reserve?
To ensure our creditworthiness we still preserve

One final word, and this is a caution
But I think on this venture you should take precautions
Bitcoin is a brand new type of ‘crypto-currency’
I think I will avoid till it reaches maturity

Ken Fisher



Myths We Can’t Do Without

Myths We Can’t Do Without


The unicorn is a mythical beast whose existence is problematical
But it does not really affect us if its hooves we ne’er hear patter
Because belief in such a horned horse is still quite enigmatical
Unlike other myths forming part of our life which really do matter

For instance our belief in money, not just those shiny new notes
But bank balances held on computers and displayed on multiple screens
Such numbers represent our current cash and even our future hopes
And of our right to this mythical money we’ll let no one intervene

Another great myth is democracy, which of itself is a fragile substance
It relies on collective agreement to accept the will of the people
And thus laws are created that seek to prevent injustice
And high respect is accorded to the principle that all of us are equal

Then there is incorporeal property, anything which is quite intangible
Unlike houses, furniture, equipment, clothes and the like
Mortgages, shares and bonds, and other paper whose value is changeable
Our collective trust in unreal things seems to be almost childlike

Then there are many other “myths” which we seem unable to do without
Social conventions, long standing traditions, original sin and the life of faith
The passage of years and modern thought have failed these notions to wipe out
Despite our sophistication they provide an anchorage that’s still safe

So while belief in the unicorn may now be outdated
And Santa Claus can safely be given his pension
Trusting in myths is by no means outmoded
Thus our modern society demands their retention

Ken Fisher


Harvest Thanksgiving

Harvest Thanksgiving

I wonder if anyone, other than farmers, gives thanks
For the in-gathering of the harvest?
Yet it is that time of year again when churchgoers
Are reminded to be grateful for the yield of the earth
Perhaps we are so removed from it that pumpkins or pineapples
Flown in from China and Colombia don’t have the same impact

But we do realise that we all have to eat and it doesn’t
Materialize by magic on to supermarket shelves
Like sanitized meat portions of which we decline
To enquire further of their provenance, so too with the
Fruit and vegetables and everything else we consume
Our only thanksgiving is by paying the price demanded

Of course in the background we are aware that
all this is not achieved without multiple efforts –  physical,
logistical, technical and political – perhaps spiritual
if we credit God with any participation
And this may introduce a moral dimension as we consider
Climate change, migrant workers, and fair trade, even Brexit!

Of course our problem is that for most of us
We are remote from ever getting our fingers dirty
By the soil, or raising a sweat by physical labour
Perhaps our greatest suffering is backache caused by
Squinting at computer screens, and frustration
At slow down-load speeds and threats of hacking

And yet economists will tell us that all our efforts
contribute to the national ‘harvest’. Whether simply the classical
Factors of production – land, labour and capital
Or the new ‘knowledge economy’ which seems
To conjure wealth from mere ideas
And in the future will there be thanksgiving for
the robots who will take our work?

Ken Fisher

Unfettered Catastrophizing

Unfettered Catastrophizing
[One man’s description of our press and media]

No such thing as Good Tidings of Great Joy
News only news if it conveys catastrophe
That’s the creed that editors live by
News only news if it trumpets calamity

A world serene, characterized by peace
Not news unless interrupted by disaster
A diet of accident, fire, bloodshed and disease
Such graphic scenes described by the newscaster

Of course we know we cannot deny life’s tragedy
The press does have a moral duty to report
To sanitize news bulletins would of course be calumny
But is it not surprising how little good news they exhort?

Must our media ever resort to catastrophizing?
Every incident, every misdemeanor, every commotion
Showcased into something quite tantalizing
Designed to evoke the strongest of emotion

Shock, horror, the watchwords of our press
Perhaps this is the dying cry of a threatened tribe
The slant of their news reveals their own distress
In a world which increasingly ignores the scribe.

Ken Fisher