Quote of the Moment
"All really great things happen in slow and inconspicuous ways." Leo Tolstoy

Sunday, 5 December 2010

For the First Sunday in Advent

For the First Sunday in Advent: "

Thursday, 2 December 2010

San Francisco's steep hills

San Francisco's steep hills: "

Håkan Dahlström got this delightful shot of one of San Francisco's steeper hills, turning his camera so that the road (and not the houses) were at level to convey the extent of the slope.

Crazy hills of San Francisco

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)


Globalisation and Immigration

I have recently signed up to something called 'Five Books'. In it a self professed expert on a topic - usually with a book to promote - suggests 5 books for people to read and why, with the idea that by reading these 'Five Books' you are able to become very knowledgeable in that field.

Often I read the discussion but ignore the books, as the discussion is again a condensed narrative on the topic that is incredibly rich with ideas. Take this for example..

You mentioned the difficulty of obtaining a work permit. This is probably one area where globalisation is both most unjust and most inefficient. On the basis of efficiency – economic efficiency – the greatest unexplored frontier of economic globalisation is mobility of workers around the world. Trade is substantially free, finance and capital are substantially free – but try to leave Bangladesh and go to work in the US. It’s impossible. If you wanted to both increase the efficiency of resource utilisation in the world economy and at the same time do something for the world’s poorest, there is nothing we could do that would have as big an impact as allowing some of the Bangladeshi workers to take up jobs in the advanced countries of the world. Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say you should allow complete mobility of labour, because I do think it’s appropriate for rich societies to put some weight on the consequences for their own workers. But I think we’re so far in the other corner, that certainly a smallish relaxation of these visa restrictions to allow more workers from poor countries to come and work in the rich countries would definitely be a good idea.

Its a bit long I know, but it gave me a spark of an idea.

If there are strong doubts with the long term benefits of international aid (dependency etc.) why don't we have a look at what we can do to change it.

One aspect of immigration is that of the Indian, or Pakistani or whatever who comes over to the UK works and then sends back some of the money they earn in the UK (which is worth proportionately more in their original country). This in itself is a practice that is done all over the world, and can even be seen in the UK in how young people go to the cities to find their fortunes. So this natural process happens, and it works much in the same way as the international aid works - that is is directs cash from the rich country into the poor country - but instead of being supported by a mass bureaucracy, it is directed directly to where it could be used - the family of the individual working in the UK.

This in itself is a good idea, but to develop it further think of this. It will cost no more than what we spend on aid as we have it at the moment. But why don't we support the PEOPLE of a certain country and bring them over here for a fixed period of time. Train them up in certain skills or academic qualifications and allow them to work within the UK after this. Both improving their outlook on life and their financial situation. In doing so and on their return they will be much the richer as individuals but also as people within a state who can actually work in the long term to improve things for the country overall.

Ok, thinking of many problems to this isn't hard. But its an alternative vision of aid which reduces the blunt force of cash that is used in teh world. It potentially lowers the opportunities for corruption. It improves the lives of the few in the short term. And the many once that few re-enter their original countries society. The people are invested in, not the institutions.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Five things the student unions didn’t protest against in the last 13 years…

Stolen from the Coffee House Blog.

Five things the student unions didn’t protest against in the last 13 years…: "

1)    That Labour cut the number of schools each year.

2)    That pupils were shepherded into ever-larger schools.

3)    That, although the budget trebled, class sizes hardly moved.

4)    That the attainment gap between private and public schools grew to become the largest of any country except Brazil (Source: OECD )

5)    And all at a time when the supposed funding per pupil was soaring…

Moral: cash doesn’t help schools. Reform does.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Drunkenness is a Britishness problem not an economic one | ResPublica

If you are interested in reading an eloquent defence of 'Britishness' you can look no further than the link below.

Drunkenness is a Britishness problem not an economic one | ResPublica

Indeed it says something else to me. That identity - be that national or regional or family or whatever - is vital to the psyche of individuals. Without this sense of a greater self enveloping and supporting the individual self society breaks down and individuals are lost to a downward spiral of reduced aspirations and bad lifestyle choices.

Friday, 19 November 2010

BBC Agenda Today

From Guido Fawkes blog.... Hardly seems like a recipe for balanced reporting to me...

BBC Agenda Today:
Ring, ring…
Guido Fawkes : Hello
Beeboid : Hello just wondered if you had seen the Lord Young comments?
GF : Yes, he’s right about interest rates being low, but that indicates economic weakness, not strength.
BBC : So you support his view?
GF : No, I think the previous generation had it better.
BBC : We’re really looking for a right-winger who backs his line.
GF : Sorry.
BBC : OK, thanks anyway.
GF : Bye.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Moral Maze

A very interesting edition of the moral maze last night with regards the student protests. Worth a listen especially for the utter idiocy of Brendan O'Neill right at the start who believes that violence is an inherent part of Democracy and should be both supported and encouraged even if it includes violence towards individuals.

Be More Productive by Waking Up Early

Something I need to work on...

Be More Productive by Waking Up Early

  1. Set an exact time to get out of bed.
  2. Move up your bedtime in sync with the time you plan to get up.
  3. Get out of bed immediately.
  4. Expose yourself to sunlight.
  5. Develop a routine for your morning.
  6. Stick with it.

Not exactly something I disagree with. Its just I'm not very good at part 3. :S

Friday, 12 November 2010

Second Extinguisher Wielding Yob Sort

This is a campaign by Guido that I fully endorse.


Second Extinguisher Wielding Yob Sort: "

Do you know the name of this extinguisher carrying individual? He seems to be a different yob from the one pictured in the wanted poster yesterday, carrying a different extinguisher, more likely to be the one that was tossed at the police.

Your information will treated as in confidence and you do not have to give your name…

Tagged: Crime


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Some unseen images from the student protest

For my sins, I tend to agree with the idea that University should be free. But at the same time the numbers going to university should reduce. I can only think that society is being decidedly dense not thinking of alternative funding routes similarly in line with the latest web based pricing structures (see Freemium for example).

The reality of now though is disgusting and shameful. The pictures below are from Total Politics, but a whole host of alternative sources could have been used. There is nothing that is achieved by this, in fact, it sets back the cause that was being promoted by the protests.

The understanding that I have here is that people - and young people acutely - have no concept on how they can be involved in politics, or indeed, how they can support a group or party in defending their own interests (which incidentally they don't know themselves). The available narratives of Left vs Right just don't ring true, but at the same time its hard for people to search for real alternatives. Academic politics has failed in this respect. There are no alternatives, so people feel the need to turn to either apathy or the extremities. The protests below are a example of the latter and the beginnings - I fear - of a wave of violent protests that will begin again to sweep the country.

Some unseen images from the student protest:

All photos taken by Jon Stone.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

End of the evenings...

'And it would be nice to have holiday homes and healthy bank statements and fat little kids,
And I guess you can be happy to dream all your dreams as camcorder records of the things that you did,
But as soon as your sleeping does it really matter what mattress you happen to be sleeping on?
As long as your living and your having fun; he always laughed at the drop-outs, that he could never live that way.
But the truth is Mr Richards was a coward, he was afraid.'

Mr Richards - Frank Turner

Picture of the day: opening of Wootton Bassett field of remembrance

Picture of the day: opening of Wootton Bassett field of remembrance: "

Prince Harry attends the opening of Wootton Bassett field of remembrance in Lydiard Park, Wiltshire. The park is dedicated to the men and women killed in Afghanistan. Prince Harry (pictured) plants a cross for his friend, Lance Corporal Of Horse, Jonathan Woodgate, who was killed on foot patrol in Sangin, Helmand, on March 26, 2010.


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Cartoon greatness!

Click the image to see it in its entirety.

I hope that Anne - the creator... nay, CREATOR - of this cartoon doesn't mind that I am recreating her works here, but there goes. If you want some witty entertainment you can't go far wrong than keep an eye out for Anne Pritchard's work. Often culturally poignant always intricate and well drawn. She can be found at two locations.

1) The Replicated Type-o - http://www.replicatedtypo.com/
A perfect example of further cartoonship is found at this link which also demonstrates the slightly impenetrable linguistic discussion that go on at this site.

2) The Demise of Humanity - http://www.demiseofhumanity.com/
From which the link above is found, which as far as I can tell at this stage is an atheist blog for peope who like to moan thoughtfully. I.e. a great place to intellectually troll (at least thats what I'm probably going to attempt)!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cider Making

Cider Making. Something my Family has partaken of for generations (4 years) making finely crafted (HA! Just look at the production process) and exceptionally refined (well try and drink 2 year old cider and then you KNOW what refined is) vintages from our orchards (5 twisted old trees).

Here is a short blog of images which covers the production of cider so you at home could do it yourself! Its EASY!

First you need APPLES. Lots of them. Make sure they are not too mouldy or rotten, but don't be too picky. Some dirt will get washed off and consider worms a seasoning.

Next. Smash and mash and bash and bosh them all into a mushy mess. We use a big heavy wooden post which we lift and drop repeatedly on the apples within a big plastic wooden barrel (with the top cut off). Works pretty well, but is very tiring and demanding on 'The Bosher' so you may need to take turns.

The next bit is the press. Here we scoop up all the mashed up apples and put them into a material lining within the press. As the press is slowly squeezing the apples, the material will keep the apple bits in but let the juice out. Interestingly, because the press we use is wooden the first press is always light as the wood soaks up a certain amount of the juice that is produced. Say hello to my father everyone.

The final stage of this process is the apple juice itself. We pour it all into (via the press) a 6 gallon tub. Apparently, the bigger the tub the better the cider so this one is pretty big, though we do have a few twice the size. Here we fill the cider up as high as possible to let as little air into the barrel before we seal it, but not too much so the it overflows during fermentation; this would ruin who lot, DISASTER!

Ingredients are kept to a minimum. This time around we have experimented with Damsons for no other reason than they were to hand... And to tell the truth the result looks disgusting. But yes, ingredients to a minimum. We add yeast and sugar but only grudgingly to help the fermentation process. We want our cider to be as pure as possible(even if it is disgusting)!
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Monday, 13 September 2010

Embryonic Management Idea

Looks like my 'Adventures in Edinburgh' plan didn't work out... That is the writing up and posting mildly entertaining and informative blogs about it part. Oh well. I can report back, at the very least, that I had a fine time. With much in the way of enjoyment and beer.

So, yes. This post. Well It's on a massively alternative topic that I may try and work on in the future. It is 'Embryonic', in so far as I haven't thought about it too much but I thought it would be nice to write it down and see if that clears things up in my head a little. It may have done this. The aim? To try and develop a holistic empowering management style; empowering for all, workers, management, organisations, sector and society.

Not exactly a small order really... Oh well.


Just idling thinking about structures earlier and I may have created an interesting one associated with management. It’s a tree. And it’s probably something that someone else has thought up in more erudite ways and with more eloquent language and to a greater extent than my idling mind can compete with... Either way, here goes.

One of the clear difficulties I see in business... I guess possibly a cultural matter within the UK... Is our inability to internalise the structures of management. That is old view of hierarchy but also of interpersonal relations and networks of power. That is there is a rejection of the first (“Stick it to the MAN!”), a achievement of extremitus with the second (various forms of favouritism or distaste, and other general forms of unprofessionalism) and a total lack of cultural knowledge of the third (we just don’t work together).

I may need to go into more detail of the three I suppose at some point. But to be honest it is only the second which is interesting in a wider way. The idea that our power; our potential achievements, our acceptance and support of another is vital in a management structure. Foucault looks into power as a network in the sense that even (to the greatest political extreme) a Sovereign and ‘Divine Right’ style of Monarchy is ultimately supported by individuals accepting the Monarch’s position in one way or other. The same can be said in business, and is vital in business. Because this opening up of an additional layer of understanding within work and the power processes that enact within work ultimately conceptualises things in a very satisfying and positive way.

One of the first things I am going to do is one thing that Foucault warns not to do... Which is commoditise power. This is lazy for me (I need to re-read Society Must Be Defended asap.) and a good illustrative short hand for people.

20+ 5


6+4 6+4

| |

2+1 2+1 2+1 2+1

| | | |

11 11 11 11

As you can see, management levels and structures are supported and develop in themselves not so much through individuals at this levels adding to the overall commodity of work, but by the utilisation and development of the work done previously. In such an organisation, where the flow is clear and positive the Managers are able to resolve issues with a higher level of skill and support. It is a message for all individuals within a structure, that each bit of work, each individual, has a part to play for the positive accomplishment of the organisation, or indeed, otherwise.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Edinburgh Fringe


Well this hasn't happened for a while. But I did say that I may have a look and write a new blog about my 6 days in Edinburgh for the fringe so here goes.

I'm exceedingly hungover. Not exactly something that is unusual for me. But that is the case, so I may fail a words. Just so you know.

The excuse for this little excursion to the north is the Edinburgh fringe. That is a mass of flyering, crowds, bizarre people standing exceedingly still.... and seagulls.

No wait, its all about the ARTS!

Lots of comedy, plays, and other such activities by people exceedingly more talented than me. So far - and this list is as full as my memory allows - Babba Brinkmans' Rap Guide to Human Nature... Which was very good, though he did seem to have a fixation on ovulation. Political Animal by Andy Zaltzman... Late night (started at midnight) comedy with multiple comedians with a supposed political spin. I say supposed, as it seemed like only Andy Zaltzman as compare had any truly political material. A rendition from a group of far-too-pretty actors of 'A Clockwork Orange'. And finally (in this incomplete list) Adam Vincent, a very entertaining comedian... Only problem being that in the small room that the performance was contained it was too hot, and his voice too... relaxing to result in any amount of excessive laughter.

Right, this is going to be much shorter than I had planned. I seem to be crashing on this couch and need less coffee and more sleep... :-/

Will try and get back on here for more [DEEP DRAMATIC VOICE] Adventures in Edinburgh!!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Future?

"With 2001 long gone and 2010 here, their namesake movies now appear insanely optimistic about where we’d be in space by those dates. I guess war and making money was more important than advancing science, exploration and all that stuff we used to do."

From an article on 'The future of NASA' but could work with far too many areas... Social Services, Education... even politics itself. Bah.