13 May 2010


Construction of the Lal Qila in Delhi was completed in 1648.  Captain Arthur Phillips set out from Portsmouth with a fleet of 11 ships in 1787 to establish a penal colony in Australia.  Three children; Lucia Santos, Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto reported a vision of the Virgin Mary near Fátima, Portugal, in 1917.  In 2005, Uzbek troops opened fire on a crowd protesting the imprisonment of 23 businessmen on what were believed to be trumped up charges.  The official estimate of deaths is 180.  Independent estimates range from 1500-5000.

Born today:  Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989), Mary Wells (1943-1992), Armistead Maupin (1944), Stevie Wonder (1950) and that creepy looking guy from that Twilight movie (1986).

It is Rotuma Day in Fiji.


  1. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show tonight, about a photo of Cameron and Clegg:

    Is it just me, or does this look like the before and after pictures from a diet ad?

  2. Hi Montana--Haha, yes Jon Stewart nailed it again. He very often gives the real gist or meaning to issues that the main stream media won't touch. Wussies. Comedy Central cancelled Sarah Silverman's special today, which is disappointing, to say the least. That woman has guts and brains to spare.

  3. James Dixon--Congrats on Chelsea's title. Came down to the last, but I never really thought your boys would let it slip. Ancelotti has a good record and deserved respect in the football world.

  4. Morning. Yawn. I went to bed at half 4 and woke up at half 7, somewhat inebriated last night. 3 hours sleep, honestly.

    Spent last night listening to radio three, studying, reading a lot. Yes, it is quite a curious feeling. But nothing a hot bath can't cure

  5. That Viner thread is grating me. She is deputy Ed at the Graun, the Graun published shedloads of rubbish about leaders wives to flog papers. Now the contest is over, she writes a lengthy paragraph about how awful it is for the media to treat leaders wives like that.

  6. morning Untrustees.

    To carry on the Workfare thread of yesterday (yes sorry - long rant coming up!)- the unions should be mobilised to fight this now that their beloved Masters are not the ones pulling the strings of it. I think the TUC already are - enabled by Purnell (now Leni if anything makes me think I am not living in reality it is seeing a letter from the Shitdribble denouncing workfare!)

    But the thing is this new Governments wording is worrying. Because they talk of replacing the few existing schemes with one national one. Well the few existing schemes are not existing schemes - they are pilots. And it is imperative that the pilots are carried out for the full two years before being rolled out nationally - so that impact on the local area be recorded (e.g. do genuine litter pickers get made redundant and get re-employed on workfare rates etc).

    This shabby lot look as if they are going to ignore the advice of civil servants and just roll it out nationally asap.

    Workfare is useless - even bloody UKIP realise this. Their idea was for everyone to be given a benefit of about 90 pound a week. So admin costs are simplified (whereas this lot want everyone moved to JSA which is only £60 a week and many do not qualify). Then for UKIPs plans - carers would just get the money, the sick would just get the money- the able bodied unemployed would get the money but be expected to do around 16 hours a week of either voluntary or community work.

    UKIP emphasised that this would not take any real jobs out of the economy which is what happens with workfare. The Greens have a similar policy - without the stick element of making people do voluntary work.

    Now as it happens I think if someone has been out of work for say two years - and they are well - I would have no problem with a scheme that then says to them ''Okay we would now like you to do an afternoon a week voluntary work, here are all the different organisations that need help - fill your boots''.

    That would be good I imagine for the person who had been out of work for two years, it would be good for the community, for voluntary organisations and basically all round. It would have to be done very carefully so as not to take real jobs out of the local area but it is not that I am completely against the idea of long term unemployed people being asked to do something - partly because I think that doing something of that nature once or twice a week would be beneficial to them too.

    But that is not what will happen. What will happen is that someone will end up changing the toilet rolls and cleaning the loos in Norwich Union for £60 a week. They will be working full time for their money and they will replace the minimum wage toilet attendents who did it before - who will have to do something else for their dole. Those who are ill but not ill enough to get sickness benefits will be shoved into work they are not equipped for. You will have seriously depressed people being made to go and pcik litter out of canals and people who suffer agoraphobia being made to go and work serving ice cream in Meadowhall. It can only end in disaster and I think in America there are law suits against providers of workfare from companies where people have been hurt by mentally ill 'clients' being sent to work and also from people who have lost their jobs to a workfare recipient.

    The thing I really don't get is why there is support for it - governments MUST know the reality of it - and introducing a scheme where someone has to do some voluntary work once or twice a week would (from the comments I have read)appease the Daily Mail crowd. So workfares intro to the UK is a mystery to me.

    And shame on the lib dems who argued passionately in the Parliamentary debate against labours welfare to work.

  7. Jay.

    Yes, I agree. What I tried to say on the thread was that the Guardian had given up it's radical tradition in favour of embracing identity politics.

    I specifically asked on that thread who is the cif comissioning editor and why do they always write articles every now and then complaining proffession X has not enough of Y minority.

    It is basically as if they are trolling for comments.

    There is nothing left/liberal about identity politics. If the Graun wishes to continue it's radical position it would fight actual real worthwhile causes, like the erosion of working rights and conditions, increased private sector influence in the NHS, subcontracotrs, also in general the rise of the 'consultant' class.

  8. A thought came to me last night. Remember how in the Daily Mail, when it reports an isolated crime happening somewhere, the commenters like to blame it on 'zanuliarbore' or whatever. (They think the malevolent influence of Gordon Brown was the guiding facotr in the mind of every petty criminal, as if he is/was some kind of omnipotent deity)

    Well, have I got news for you, Daily Mailers. crime is not going to magically stop under the Tories. When the rag reports another petty crime for a national audience, who will the commenters blame it on now?

  9. "crime is not going to magically stop under the Tories."

    If past form is any guide it will increase, massively.

  10. Jay: ''If past form is any guide it will increase, massively.''

    So true!

  11. Morning all

    Have a gut feeling any British workfare system will
    'end in tears'.And could prove to be a 'flashpoint'
    in the working class communties who will be most
    directly affected by it.Additionally it is pointless making any direct comparisons between Britain and the US.For in real terms the US incarcerates 6 times more
    people than we do in this country.So are the Americans
    simply removing from mainstream society many people who in this country would be liable for workfare?

    I may be wrong but i also think that people who are
    subjected to workfare may well become so stigmatised
    that mainstream employers won,t want to touch
    them with a barge poll should any 'normal' vacancies
    arise.I am reminded of the Employment Training Scheme
    that was introduced by the Tories in the late 80,s
    for the long-term unemployed.Was badly funded,proved
    to be next to useless and even Tories like Portillo
    now acknowlege it was a bad idea.

  12. "So are the Americans
    simply removing from mainstream society many people who in this country would be liable for workfare?"

    They have a much more clever system - they incarcerate huge amounts, in private prisons, the prisons then use their free labour and its produce to generate more revenues (to my knowledge). Why pay a wage to the scum when you can incarcerate them and take their labour for free?

    Montana might be able to shine a light on this one - am i going mad, Montana, or do private prisons in the US use the labour of their inmates? And most shocking of all, the UK now has a higher proportion of private prisons than the US!

  13. You're not mad Jay, the figures are shocking, 80-90% of military clothing, all mail sacks, numberplates...

    Effectivly slave labour. Coming to a PFI/HMP near you!

  14. Jay

    I read a report on US prisons - apparently protective clothing for troops is made in prisons at fraction of normal cost.

    China has system of prisoners making cheap goods for export.

    workfare is a form of slave labour.

  15. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8289

    report on US prisons.

  16. Leni, Turminder, very interesting, I'll have a read thanks.

  17. According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.


    Sorry - above did not attach.

  18. I think I am going to have to stop watching the news, ITV has just had some joker comparing the coalition to an arranged marriage, apparently they are not in love yet but all the signs are looking good.

    It honestly made me feel like vomiting.

  19. jenni

    It will break down in scandal - there will be popular outrage.

  20. Just remember Jen, the news is just another TV show... And less convincing that Wallander ; )

  21. I normally only come on here to whinge so I would like to share some good news for a change.

    I started the second year of an OU course a couple of months ago and I was finding the step up from year 1 pretty difficult.

    In fact I almost didn't send in my last assignment because I thought it was so bad (it was a report on a home experiment and I was well out of my depth).

    So long story short, I sent it in anyway and I passed with 69%, not a cure for cancer or anything but it has cheered me right up. :-)

  22. re: prisons.

    Strange that the two countries with the greatest socio-economic inequalities, the US and UK, also have the highest percentage of prisoners isn't it?

    This wide ranging report published last november reveals the full extent of the socio-economic and mental health problems of prisoners and the appalling lack of support from authorities during incarceration and on release.

    Some key stats-
    72% of all those imprisoned have mental health problems.

    81% receive no housing advice on release.

    30% have no accomodation to go to on release. And of course with no housing- no bank account. No bank account- no job. And they then wonder why the reoffending rate is so high.

    Prison threads on cif are an absolute no go area, they truly are fuckyeah central.

    To point out that the prison system is to punish and rehabilitate and that the rehabilitate part of the deal is failing miserably is to draw comparisons to oneself as a goddam, pinko, muesli sandalled, organic pus-filled Liberal.

    As regards the Viner thread. The one thing I noticed is the sheer amount of staffers BTL. Never seen that amount before. They clearly sent in a search n destroy unit to stop this Graun sacred cow being slaughtered.

  23. Jennifer,

    very well done! What is your degree in?

  24. Biology Duke, it started out as Geo Science but I discovered that I found geology a bit dull and physics a bit hard so I plumped for the softest hard science I could find.

  25. No insult to Biologists intended of course, I have now discovered that it is far from a soft subject and I had to take an extra Maths course just to keep up and that is not to mention the Chemistry.

  26. jennifer,

    as someone who has always been appalling at science and maths I doff my cap in admiration.

  27. Jennifera

    As with Duke i too tip my hat to you.I just about
    scraped through Maths and Geography but i was worse
    than appalling at Physics,Chemistry and Biology.

    Well done with your TMA!

  28. jenni

    well done. Studying at home can be difficult - how much support do you get from your tutor?


    the treatment of exprisoners in UK is a disgrace. Many are left homeless and completely unsupported - have to steal to survive - it becomes a 'default position' - those with MH problems are just cast adrift.

  29. Another OU'er! Good work Jennifer. I had a similar experience very recently (3rd year) - i was doing a piece, really rushed, and it was just so awful i sat and worked out the effect of submitting nothing and giving up on it. Would have sent my mark crashing so cobbled some nonsense together and got a 2.1 for it in the end, happy days.

    I almost did the same thing yesterday, in fact, Philosophy TMA, horrible vile thing, then struggled on and things became a bit clearer.

    Always submit something though, submitting nothing really ruins your grade for the module.

  30. Paul - I really, really hope you are right. One thing that could make it kick off is that they are going to roll it out to under twenty fives within six months of them signing on. Now as young males are disproportionately affected by this downturn (unless you are a guardian fem then it is the ladies wot suffered it) then I hope they have a lot of healthy anger in response to working for slave labour wages.

    Secondly a fair few middle class families are going to find their kids either have to sign on and work for their £60 or be kept totally by mummy and daddy. I hope it does backfire.

    And yeah - VAT rise on its way. Good old Tories. Fucking bastards!

    Jen - that is brilliant! I wanted to do a course in Nutritional therapy - its what I would love to work in but I don't have science A' Levels so I looked at the access course but found it so hard!

    I have massive respect for people who can do science. As for physics - I got a guide to quantum stuff and couldn't get past chapter one - it blew my mind!

  31. jennifera, well done!
    "In fact I almost didn't send in my last assignment because I thought it was so bad"
    I think you'll find that most people who say that they are clever, really aren't.

  32. Leni I have found studying at home to be really difficult but still haven't gotten round to asking my tutor for much help, if I stick with it I will use her more as she is pretty approachable.

    I like science not just because I find it fascinating but because there are right answers (well at the level I am studying anyway) I admire those with a more creative intelligence.

    Philosophy would just have me tying myself in knots and as for deconstructing literature forget it, my brain just doesn't work that way.

  33. Jenni

    ot sure if different 'kinds' of intelligence are innate or result from life experience and our own interests.

    A couple of years ago when my mum died I was doing theawful sorting things out thing.

    I came across my old school reports. Upto age 14 I did better in science and maths - then abrupt change to humanities. Finished up getting A levels n Bios , history, literature and psychology. Hence my lack of specialisation in later career - well , not quite, my major interest was and is people.

    Don't know what brought about the change.

  34. Me, too, Leni

    And true enough, Jennifera, I love the beauty of mathematics - fixed answers that can't be disputed. Everything makes sense. And when you go into the advanced stuff, it blows your mind, but still makes sense when you spend a few years trying to understand it.

    People, their influence in history, politics, philosophy, however are just too complex for a mortal mind. I like that. Something new, every day.

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  36. Despatch from the frontlines of the neoliberal consensus and the position of the labourer. All this talk I see above about workfrare etc is very apt. I ahve just had another fruitless day at the job centr, even Kafka could not envisage what I and others go throufh.

    I tell you in a bit. I am just through the door. I need radio 3, a rest, lounge about a bit, and food.

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. jennifer

    "I like science not just because I find it fascinating but because there are right answers"

    Steer clear of ecology ;-)

  39. jenifera.

    Yes, good I am still studying on the OU as wll. It is pretty basic right now. I will be doing some more science course, just the 10 point ones for now. The deadline for applying is tommorrow. Luckily my credit card arrived in the nick of time.

    MAths and science is more fun. I already know plenty about the humanities. I am taking 2 short humanities course at the moment, just for fun, and I really do not like the lack of structure. But when I get a mathematical or chemcial equation right, it feels much better and clearer, there is only one direction to go down.

  40. Boudican,

    Cheers, very gracious of you.
    I didn't have too much confidence going into Sunday, but that's probably from years of experience/conditioning.

    (Sunday was a good day all in all, what with the Red Sox beating the Yankees too- something that I'm sure we both enjoyed.....)

  41. Fuck's sake. I went absolutly ballsitic on the Viner thread. Olching was blatantly trolling me. Basically putting words into my mouth, implying that becuase I opposed idnetity politics articles in the Guardian, and in the 'left' as a whole, I was therefore in favour of apartheid and keeping ty illegal. The mods deleted this- I never though I'd say it, but well done them, twas blatant trolling.

    I thought he was normally a more rational and balanced poster. Doesn't he post here, or did he at some time?

  42. Hmmm,

    Well hi guys

    Re science and stuff I kinda dont agree with you but that's cos I've actually studied really hard and do know what I am talking about. Science doesn't give certainty and can be applied to people (you mostly all talk as though you know and have tried to do so when you obviously have not).

    If I say I am psychologist you think you know what that means but you don't cos of course its actually all the detail and not just a definition in a dictionary (sigh). And most of what is commonly thought and taught re 'psychology' is partial and / or wrongish (again I do know what I am talking about).

    Psychology is just as much a 'hard' science as physics and much closer to it than you all seem to think.

    It is just a modern convention that we all understand ourselves and each other without formal education in those topics.

    The trouble for me re these threads is do I spend loads of time trying to give some basic info etc (help as it were) and mostly get got at either on ideological grounds (that I sneer at as analysis of course) or cos I'm being superior (like I care guys I'm really not trying to be cleverer (what's intelligence? Duh I've studied human cognition and its not what you guys 'think' hahaha).

    So anyhow I hope you are all well and try and help each other, we're all people after all.

  43. Nap - that sounds soul destroying stuff.

    Paul that is a really good point.
    I just hope like you - that communities do not turn in on themselves and that they target the real villains of the piece.

    One thing I know is that the powers that be in government were very worried about youth unemployment. My friend works for the DWP and they had to phone in the figures for numbers of those under 25 who were newly signed on and those who had found work and signed off - daily! She said the government department were really wanting them to concentrate all their resources on that segment.

  44. princess

    Glad you caught my post before i accidentally deleted
    it.Was in the process of repeating it -got distracted-
    and so had to delete again!!!!

    The focus on the under 25,s is interesting.Suppose
    older people are viewed as being less threatening.
    However if the under 25,s are to be the first to be corralled into either Workfare or some form of
    'voluntary'National Service' that,s where we may
    see the first 'flashpoints'.

  45. Pen - I would be really interested in your thoughts. I certainly don't think you are being arrogant or 'trying to be clever' but I sometimes have to admit I find what you say hard to follow.

    But I am not very good at all at certain types of thinking and certain disciplines (basically most science stuff). So if you could put it in layman terms for someone like me then I would love to read it.

    Or perhaps you should just write it in non layman terms and I can exercise my grey matter trying to get my head around it?

    But you are dealing with someone here who couldn't do that with a sort of 'dummies guide to' quantum physics and that was written for the average man or woman in the street.

    Its strange actually thinking about how our minds work. i couldn't do maths - I failed my maths GCSE over and over before I finally scraped a pass. Yet years later when working in finance I completed the full Financial planning Certificate - and level three is a bugger. But I think because i could relate it to 'real life examples' it suddenly made some sort of sense.

    I think if we find something hard we can become terrified of it and our brains turn off to it then. I only have to see trigonomety (dont even think I can spell it!) and I come out in a cold, cold sweat.

  46. Agree Paul with you on that one. Forcing young people into slave work is not exactly going to help with keeping a lid on it is it? They probably arrogantly think that if they keep people fearful enough and busy enough they can keep a lid on it.

    Re discrimination - I watched a programm ages ago on BBC 3. They were looking at discrimination in lots of different settings and had a white kid, disabled lad and an Indian kid - all young in their late teens or early twenties. Anyway they had to make different requests of people - some really daft like could they have a particular facing seat in a restaruant when that table was reserved etc.

    But what was really shocking was when they all applied for jobs. The disabled and white lads got two thirds more interview offers! Two thirds. I was so gobsmacked. I mean if because of a name on an application form you cannot even get an interview what the hell does that say about modern Britian?

  47. I see CiF has started the first in the

    "New Labour lackeys self flagellate themselves about being technocratic elites, lacking in fairness, betraying the working class and learning from the mistakes of the last 13 years- before we vote for David Miliband"

    series. Looks promising.

    Princess/Paul. Did you read that private eye article about the young mechanic who seriously fractured his leg in a motorcycle accident? His subsequent experience with ATOS healthcare makes unbelievable reading.

  48. Alright I am sufficiently relaxed to talk about my Kafkaesque experience at the job centre.

    Right, you go to the machiness, look through the job slips, print them out.

    Text says -How to apply for the job? blah blah, phone jobseekers direct (there is no other way) Phone them, 0845 number, wait ages, first I have to fill in my NI number, adress etc. Takes five minutes Then I can ask about applying for a job. List the reference number in the job sheet. The guy then starts repeating at length the details I have in front of me, only at the end giving me their contact details through an email adress (no postal adress, so I can't judge if it is too far to travel for such a low paid job.) Great all 20 minutes for one email adress.

    Another one took even longer. I did that same process over again, only to be told at the end I ahd to contact the job centre directly for the employer contact details. Now I was standing in a job cnetre, but no, it had to be another job centre I have to contact.

    The thought of putting an adress and/or email adress to contact the employers is not considered. NO, wait for half an hour on the phone to go to a call cnetre in Northern Englannd. What is the point of this roundabout.

    So, after all that I am pissed off. Job centre and their staff are hell. Wasted half my day.

  49. 'princess

    You,ve hit the nail on the head.So if the
    government think that these angry alienated Black
    and Asian young men are going to willingly join
    workfare programmes they must be mad.

  50. princess + Paul
    agreed - workfare is going to hit both ends - people like Dai (in his 50s) going to lose his job to make way for under 25 who doesn't want to pick litter. Both will be angry and resntful. The young more likely than Dai to take to the streets.

    Youngsters from minorities - already often sidelined - will be targetted. All this talk of not creating another 'lost generation' is nonsense. You won't engage them by forcing them into slave labour. The first and most important thing is to treat people with respect.

    Nap's experience today shows this is totally lacking.

  51. Christ on a bike! Have just read this from Yes Ministers blog on IDS and his social justice brigade:
    Iain Duncan Smith

    Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

    ''Millions of benefit claimants will be forced back to work in the biggest shake-up of the welfare state for 60 years,
    The Centre for Social Justice 2009 report into the benefits system is indeed a breath of fresh air.
    As a result of the economic crisis, the government’s commitment to seeing full employment has been unceremoniously buried. The plans presented by Iain and his Centre for Social Justice will surprisingly do very little if anything to reduce the overall benefit count and rather than saving money it will cost £3.6bn more.''

    So it will cost MORE money - not reduce benefit claimants but force millions into slave labour!

    I mean fucking hell - this is even worse than I was expecting if this is what goes ahead.

    if this ie enacted then I think the whole thing about is violence acceptable debate the answer to me is look at the violence being done to people here! That is it I am going to go and get pissed this has well put the frighteners up me.

  52. Princess

    Back to a feudal system where the poor 'labouring classes' are owned by their masters - for sale on the open market.

    This will not be tolerated - I hope.

    It's more about 'taking it out on ' those deemed to be feckless, punishing them for the delectation of the smug middle classes than creating a vibrant economy.

  53. evening all...

    Theresa May
    "more police on the street and less paperwork for them to fill in."

    mmm..... what comes to mind......sus laws, less accounatability.....me thinks......

  54. oh that's not even mentioning the cuts in the NHS announced by Langley £20bn isn't enough for them......
    "We will need progressively to be more efficient, to cut the costs of what we do now, to innovate and redesign in order to enable us to meet increased demands and to improve quality and outcomes."

    make of it what you will but seems to me to be the total erosion of the NHS....and a pay as you use system.....

  55. Nobody should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage, and most certainly not if they will be displacing someone who is already in a job. It makes no economic sense and it demoralises those involved.

    In the main, the reforms proposed to the benefits system (and the current system) are wrong, wrong, wrong. If you want to encourage people back to work, let them do a bit on the side without penalty, until they can perhaps work up enough of an income to support themselves. Do not punish people financially and with administrative headaches for taking the initiative to get a bit of work going.

  56. Gandolfo - I reckon there are huge cuts that can be made to the NHS without affecting front-line services: quangos, box-ticking rubbish, bureaucrats, useless middle managers, etc.

    However, I suspect that the Tory idea is to privatise as much as possible whilst keeping their trough-sucking friends happy. Much like Labour.

  57. And, let me add (having worked in the private sector all my life) that the same equally applies to large corporations. Full of useless rubbish managerial posts designed solely to make the actual workers' life miserable and result-free.

    But someone gets an empire.

  58. Thauma - indeed but I think those types of cuts have been programmed using the £20bn figure. Langley is saying this isn't enough and that other cuts will have to be made. Unison have said the only things left to cut are "patient care (jobs, beds, direct services etc) and waiting lists".

    Tories no doubt have their Super Dupa BUPA plan......and their Libdem colluders that don't have one at the moment will have one soon........

  59. Gandolfo - you are probably right; I don't know a lot about the NHS. Mind you, cutting the Trident replacement would do wonders for it, no doubt.

    Was just gearing up to go on a super-long rant about useless bureaucracy in the private sector, but I think I'll spare everyone and go to bed instead! Cos I have to get up in the morning and deal with it. *grump*

  60. Thaum
    I worked in the NHS and then in health related public sector it's full of these pointless managerial posts....they are normally filled by people that have no idea how health care works and are full of "business speak" such as "measurable outcomes", whether something is "deliverable" and doing "SWOT Analysis" and what the best way to "Go forward" is before regally buggering you... so good riddance to them......

  61. Gandolfo - it's exactly the same in my job. People who know nothing about what we actually do or how things work making stupid decisions and wanting "metrics" on everything that cut hugely into the time I could be spending on, y'know, just making things work.

    Today one of my servers crashed in the middle of something important with lots of highly-paid engineers and managers sitting around waiting for it to be fixed.

    In a normal world, I would just reboot the server and the problem would be solved in 5 minutes.

    In the hell which I inhabit, I had to raise all sorts of official incident requests before I could reboot the server, and deal with the underinformed, incompetent ninnies that management has, in their infinite wisdom, decided to outsource the help desk and infrastructure services to.

    These people who say that the private sector is so much more efficient than the public sector just make me laugh. Bitterly and long.

  62. Thauma

    don't remind me I feel I'm having a flash back...one of the most ridiculous and time wasting things was having to write out H&S guidlines and proactive (WTF) risk assessements for daily activities like using bleach or a microwave...I left before I had to write ones for breathing and pissing.....

  63. One last thing before I stop ranting and go to bed.

    When I say "underinformed, incompetent ninnies", I am not blaming the ninnies themselves, but the idiots who decided that these jobs could be outsourced to people on (doubtless) minimum wage or thereabouts with no expertese in or understanding of computers.

    ok computer


  64. Evening all.
    Argh, thauma and gandolfo, don't get me started on the curse that is managerialism, a cult that has infested too much of society, both private and public sector serving to divert resources away from action and doing things towards a cadre of jargon-spouting folk expert in whatever the latest fad is, but utterly clueless about the intricacies or actual product or work that their organisation is meant to be doing. Oh, and of course the fad they pursue changes regularly (from just in time, to lean thinking to six sigma, the magnificent seven and after eights)and moving from fad A to newer brighter fad B (note the actual business, whether that be a hospital or a ball-bearing factory).Universally applied 'solutions' that are universally useless, unless directly tailored to the enterprise, and as such, deviating from the fad's schema, thus showing the fad up as costly and irrelevant...

    A good manager should be almost invisible except at times of crisis, working hard to keep things smoothly purring along, but no it's all about the cult of leadership, making a mark, and having a legacy, so every 18 months comes some new hare-brained fad and upheaval and transformation.
    I've actually been a couple of leadership courses and was dismayed at just how wrong so much of the info given out was: historically inaccurate is an understatement (my first degree was history). As a realm of study, great men and women are a legitimate subject, certainly historically, but you need historical accuracy and historiographic knowledge, and can't simply extrapolate from those figures' contexts to the business milieu, which way, way too many do.

    I could go on and on, but the end result is somewhat akin to what's happened to our political process,: self-declared and self-serving cliques, losing sight of purpose and principle, in pursuit of theory that doesn't just jar with reality on the ground but sometimes goes so far as to deny the existence of that reality as experienced by the masses/the sharp-end workers. Top-down, but with a grotesque disconnect, yet that distance allowing them a safe zone immune from any personal consequences arising from their dogmatic and unsuitable plans. Christ, I could write thousands of words on how this movement has spiralled from being a semi-valid niche in study to a dismal, corrosive infestation, but it's getting late.PeterGuillam (not to be seen much on CiF of late, which is understandable given CiF's even steeper decline, but a shame because he's a damn fine writer) penned something which I clipped a while back on this so will see if I can dig that out.

  65. Whoa, came across the Dunning-Kruger Effect named for Justin Kruger and David Dunning of Cornell University who published their study of a cognitive bias in a 1999 scientific paper: incompetent people are often incredibly confident. "Overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it."
    That definitely strikes a chord in relation to uber-managerialists.

  66. And here's PeterGuillam:
    "But, first, the issue of ownership and organizational purpose does matter irrespective of management. And second, and much more important, whilst poor management has existed at all times, in all political systems, in all kinds of sectors consider the way that 'management' in the abstract has gained ascendancy in recent years. You refer to people with management degrees. In the UK in 1975 there were precisely two MBA programmes producing maybe 300 graduates a year. Now there are at least 120 producing well over 10,000 and that is absolutely bound up with the neo-liberal belief that, whether in the private or public sector, management was the answer. And what are these people taught? In the main, neo-liberal dogma. The relationship between neo-liberalism and managerialism is very close indeed and its consequences are wholly malign.

    In the public sector, the belief in managerialism is what has led to a proliferation of insane systems all introduced in the name of efficiency and - you couldn't make it up - getting rid of wasteful bureaucracy. From this has flowed every inefficiency and bureaucratization you care to mention. We used to have something called not management but administration. In the 1950s the ratio of administrators to clinical staff in the NHS was approximately 1: 1200. Now the ratio of managers to clinical staff is approx 1:20. That is absolutely staggering. What has driven that? One thing and one thing only: the idea that management bears the 'values' of the private sector and is therefore a 'good thing'. That is the product of neo-liberalism and when they tell us that the NHS is no longer affordable what they are really saying is that they have made it unaffordable. When they tell us that the NHS is too bureaucratic what they are really saying is that they have made it so by virtue of their ideology. And of course it automatically leads not just to waste but to bad management, because all those legions of people are endlessly producing new, contradictory initiatives just to justify themselves as 'change agents' with 'entrepreneurial vision' as prescribed by the neo-liberal ideologues."

  67. Alisdair
    just look at cameron what a pompous arse....full of himself certainly a touch of the ol'Dunning-Kruger Effect there........

    god i'm glad I wasn't around to do leadership courses.....got out in time!!

  68. And here is a cracking demolition of managerialism and technocratic metric-obsession etc from the US Navy(best line The most insidious byproduct of managerialism, however, is that its low esteem for the human being becomes self-fulfilling. Men and women treated as mere cogs will soon act like cogs. They begin to see themselves as powerless against a looming bureaucracy, and they seek solace in anonymity. They cannot compete for glory if they cannot conceive of it.)

  69. Evening All

    Can't hang around, so just to say thanks to everyone for some thought-provoking stuff over the last couple of days, with special mention to His Dukeship on where all the money is going and Alisdair for some inspirational comments above.

    That is, you either have to be inspired to do something or throw yourself in front of the juggernaut of imbecility.

    Back in a day or two.

    Night all.

  70. Alisdair
    I quickly read it but this is surreal...I'm speechless........

    "Take "The Little Blue Book," the Air Force statement of core values. In it are the following exhortations to martial glory: "We must focus on providing services and generating products that fully respond to customer wants and anticipate customer needs."

    so now the dead are also a "product" this world is f**ked

  71. Allo-Allo (not Vera) one and all!

    Not read down the posts, been fighting with my Ma over computer....and seat space with very elderly Cat :(

    one question... is it me or are most of the posters on CiF completely thick?

  72. @ gandolfo: regarding your time writing H&S guidelines:
    This one made me think of people like you when I had to apply for my CSCS (construction Skills cerification scheme) card. Some one must have been pissing themselves that this slid through the edit:
    "You must remove nails from scrap wood because:
    A: someone could stand on an upright nail and injure their foot.
    B: scrap wood and scrap metal must be put in separate skips.
    C: (I kid you not)the site will run out of nails!
    D: the wood will take up more room in the skip.
    I knew there and then that someone was either taking the piss or just being moronic.
    For the sake of sanity I held out for the former. I'm still not sure if I'm right or wrong but from what you have said from your experience I think the odds are my instincts are correct.

  73. Tings are becoming dangerous in Thailand.


    H+S is now an obsession. It has replaced common sense. The whole management ethos is completely out of hand. The inefficient and inept run the world - unable to understand possible outcomes or assess them after they happen.

    There is a general assumption that tick box planning is all we need. Good old fashioned nous has been forgotten.

  74. Hello Leni, well quite!
    BTW did you get my e-mail?

  75. Yawn. I went to sleep 'last night' just after half six and now I have woken up during the last half hour. So, yeah, my sleeping pattern is fucked up. Sometimes it can take a long time to get back into a proper sleep routine, or even months, quite literally. There was a time when I would go to bed about 7am in the morning and wake up at 4pm. Hopefully not a return to them days.

    Talking about risk assessments and H&S guidelines, in the job market these pieces of paper are essential. So this CSCS certificate, is a requirement for many manual tyoe jobs- how do you take it. Or to be a security guard and earn £5.80 an hour you need an SIA licence, whatever that is. There is more beaurocracy to get these idiotic certificates. Utter madness

  76. Chekhov

    Ah - mystery solved. I have looked at that email wondering shall I open it or not - have been getting some odd emails lately!

    I will now read attachment- look forward to it, thanks.


    Broken sleep patterns are very difficult to mend.

    Y need to get appointment with some kind of advser to tell you about various certificates and access to training. Does JC still employ advisers ? Failing that try google - see what you can dig up there.

  77. Leni: ah yes, "good old fashioned nous"! There's still some of it about I'm sure. God knows where to find though and since I don't believe in God I'm fishing in the dark!

  78. Leni.
    Yes indeed. Looks like I am burning the midnight oil tonight. There is no way I'll get back to sleep. I have a cup of tea and hobnobs to dunk in, I have radio 3, what more could I ask.

    Yes, I will have to look at these idiotic training schemes. The job centre does fuck all for those not on benefits and even if you are on benefits they do little. There is no way of beating the system, you have to play by their rules.

  79. Leni: sorry I should have put in "subject matter" or whatever the phrase is to forewarn you that it was not "spam". I know that people are suspicious of opening e-mails which might contain viruses. Nothing wrong with that.

  80. chekhov

    Have started reading - very interesting and triggering many thoughts.

    You may remember I mentioned 'unused or unexpressed' parts of ourselves ? My drama work was with disturbed children - they had a wealth of unused bits and depths of empathy which they often hid behind a brashness - sometimes a violent and aggrssive manner. i think it is impossible to develope an adaptive response to mistreatment or neglect without an understanding that humanity is capable of something better.

    Anyway - I am feeing quite upset now - memories of so much hurt, anger and the search for a means of expression.

    Night x

  81. Have they changed the layout of Wikipedia?

  82. They have, were all doomed!

  83. Nap: "There is no way of beating the system, you have to play by their rules."
    I'm not convinced. I believe there is a way to beat the system. I don't know what it is yet but the first step must be a release from being a "victim". I've read your blog, Napoleon and I agree with much you have to say but as much as I admire the literature of Dostekevsky and Tolstoy and my hero "Chekhov" hence my (AKA pseudonym,) we live in a totally different era. Put it this way: if Dosteyeviski and Tolstoy had the "Internet" to play with how do you think things would have panned out?
    Apologies for the spelling of Dostoevski... still didn't get it right did I!

  84. There are many was to spell Dostoyevsky.

    федор михайолович достоевский

    can be transliterated as

    Plus all the above again, but with the ending skij, skii, or skiy

    The joys of translating Russian.!

    I have an blog post coming up on Chekhov and Vasily Grossman's novel life and fate- for Grossman admired Chekhov deeply. Not, much, just a few quotes I wanted to share. Unfortunately I am very busy right now, but hopefully it will it up this evening.

    Of course we live in a totally different era. If Dostevsky and Tolstoy had the internet, they might even be able to meet each other- they never met in real life