My name is Barry Pearson and I live in Stockport, England. I’ve published information about myself in a number of places for various purposes:
- Me at Wikipedia
- Me at Model Mayhem
- An informal summary of my (pre-retirement) curriculum vitae
- Me at my personal website
- Me at the Child Support Analysis website
- Me at the King’s Norton Website
- My voice of disbelief
After graduating in Mathematical Physics, my career with ICL variously involved computer programming, software design, systems architecture, business analysis, Chief Engineer, and training and consulting in those in various parts of the world. In 2001 ICL was clearly failing, and I took voluntary redundancy as the least worst option available. In effect, I retired at 54.
This left me free to try to to answer the question “how can the UK have child support fit for the 21st Century?”. I am child-free, but I had been a business analyst with a consortium (1 ACCORD) bidding to replace the central computing for the UK’s Department of Social Security. I spent years studying the welfare state and the benefits system in general to help understand how it could be better implemented. I had helped with the consortium’s input to the government’s invitation to tender at the Green Paper and the White Paper stages of the proposed Child Support Act. I had given evidence to the Social Security Select Committee in Parliament.
In spite of all of the that, the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 was massively flawed and clearly doomed to fail. So I called myself “a small independent think-tank” and created the Child Support Analysis website. (It became probably the largest private website devoted to any single aspect of government policy in the world). Its theme was:
“The Child Support Agency began in 1993. It failed because of careless law and management incompetence. Many children became poorer. Parents faced a bureaucratic nightmare. Reforms that were supposed to make things better have been failing badly for two and a half years. The UK hasn’t even got child support fit for the 1990s! Child Support Analysis seeks an answer to “how can the UK have child support fit for the 21st Century?”“
I was a studio guest on the BBC’s “News 24″ channel at Television Centre. I was interviewed for Radio 4′s “Today” program. I corresponded with MPs, ministers, cabinet ministers, senior civil servants, lobby groups, etc. I blogged about the topic from 2003-2006. And, of course, the UK’s child support system has still been the disaster I had been predicting for all this time! There was simply never any doubt to a rational analytical person (which excludes many civil servants and politicians) that it was wrong.
I learned a lot about how the bureaucratic mind reacts with knee-jerks (“if you criticise the child support system you must be an “absent father” trying to avoid payments so there is no point reading what you say”), and how politicians tend to be driven by ideology rather than evidence-based reasoning (“our intentions are good, so our proposals to achieve those intentions must be workable because we say so”). I stopped banging my head against this brick wall in 2007.
In 2001 I gained my LRPS twice. (I never do anything in moderation!) In 2004 I joined my local photographic society, North Cheshire Photographic Society, which is one of the best in the North West of England. A year later I was invited onto the Committee, and eventually became (inter alia) webmaster. I have been “Clubworker of the Year” twice.
“The future health of high-end digital photography needs a well-engineered common raw file format. The sooner we have one, the better for raw shooters everywhere, and Adobe’s Digital Negative format is the only contender. It is opening up raw shooting to more people, more products, and more opportunities, and making it easier for photographers and users of photographs to build more valuable and comprehensive workflows.”
This has made me a target of hate for the “Adobe steals our money” and “anything but Adobe” conspiracy theorists:
“the whole concept of your advocacy is wrong, profane, and detrimental”;
“your years of questionable motivation and unbelievable denials” ;
“There’s only one person on all of dpReview who … shows lots of strong evidence … of being sponsored to troll, and he talks only about the positive attributes of Adobe’s DNG format”;
“IMHO, anybody who uses a known Internet Troll like Barry Pearson as a source in their document, should not be 100% trusted. For me its a very scary thought to see this in such an publication.”
Needless to say, those statements are all false. (They gave me the satisfaction of knowing that I was having an influence!) Some people, even intelligent ones like the authors of those statements, often can’t step back from a topic, switch their brains on, and re-examine what they think they know. Fortunately, they tend to make themselves irrelevant, and when DNG becomes an ISO Standard that will be the case here.
Atheism and religion
After school, without the periodic reinforcement from the daily religious service, the most descriptive word to summarise my view for decades was probably apatheism:
“Apatheism … is acting with apathy, disregard, or lack of interest towards belief, or lack of belief in a deity…. An apatheist is … someone who is not interested in accepting or denying any claims that gods exist or do not exist. In other words, an apatheist is someone who considers the question of the existence of gods as neither meaningful nor relevant to his or her life.”
Then in the late 1980s I realised that I didn’t believe any gods exist. Sometime later I realised that this meant that I was an atheist! I still thought that religion was something benign that I could safely ignore. My “wake up call” was the Keep Sunday Special campaign, which I became aware of during the discussions leading up to the Sunday Trading Act 1994. I suddenly realised that people whose beliefs I didn’t share were trying to make me conform to their rules. I signed a petition requesting Sunday trading!
Since then I have been alert to religion’s attempts to encroach on my life. At first I adopted an attitude that “religions are OK when practised by consenting adults in private”. Now my model is “Religions are hobbies“.
In 2003 I began examining Islam, initially for my Child Support Analysis web site, and I began publishing pages of analysis which I have copied to my personal website. The topic of “child support” (etc) led me to criticise Islamic attitudes towards women. I also came across hypocrisy about the Catholic Church’s priests fathering children then not paying. The Behzti affair in Birmingham made me realise than even Sikhs could behave badly in the name of their religion. The attempt to censor Jerry Springer: The Opera on the BBC was yet another encroachment. And that list doesn’t mention Islamic terrorism, or the Muhammad cartoon affair, or the Roman Catholic Church’s systematic ignoring, denial, and cover-ups of decades (or longer) of abuse of children!
“Modesty is just another way of telling lies”