14 May 2010


Louis XIV became King of France at the age of four in 1643.  Edward Jenner administered the first smallpox vaccination in 1796.  The Warsaw Pact was signed in 1955.

Born today:  Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), Eric Morecambe (1926-1984), Siân Phillips (1934), Bobby Darrin (1936-1973), George Lucas (1944), Francesca Annis (1945), David Byrne (1952), Ian Astbury (1962) and Cate Blanchett (1969).

It is National Unification Day in Liberia.


  1. Morning. First post of the day. Woo hoo.

    I went to bed 'last night' at half six and woke up again at half one this morning. My sleep pattern is fucked. I will try and snatch a few hours top up sleep now.

    I am not going to the job centre today though. I have wasted enough time on fruitlessness. I'll keep my ears open for job oppurtunites though. Simply have to keep studying, keep my head do. I have to post off a TMA for my OU next week. I used my new credit card to pay for some new courses- turns out I am entitled to financial support but have to apply for it.

    Wonder what will happen today?

  2. Sounds like a hell of a coup going on in Thailand. And the Guardian is almost silent on it.

  3. Regarding private prisons in the US and their use of inmate labour:

    It's not something I know a great deal about, but I think that the link Leni provided was lumping all prison labour into one basket and, I think there are separate issues/situations.

    The article didn't seem to make distinctions between:

    *inmates in state and federal prisons working within the respective systems
    *inmates in state prisons doing work for private companies that has been contracted by the state
    *inmates in private prisons doing work for private companies

    I think the existence of private, for-profit prisons is indefensible. I don't think the use of inmate labour in state and federal facilities is inherently wrong.

    Iowa, for example, has no private prisons. Only prisoners within 3 years of release are employed in work that is contracted by private industries. Those industries must pay "prevailing wage", which for Iowa inmates ranges from $7 to $11 per hour (that means that there are some inmates making more per hour than I do). Inmates are only allowed to keep 20% of what they are paid. The rest goes toward child support for inmates with children, victim restitution funds, income taxes, room & board payments. I don't see anything unfair about that, myself -- they'd have to be paying all of those things if they weren't in prison, so why shouldn't they pay it in prison?

    The IDoC runs its own company called Iowa Prison Industries, which manufactures a variety of products; cleaning solutions, furniture, and screen-printing services among them. However, IPI doesn't pose much competition to private industries, as only taxpayer-funded (i.e., school districts, other state agencies, etc.) or non-profit entities (churches, charities) are eligible to buy IPI products. I don't know how much inmates working for IPI are paid, but I would imagine that the net result is much the same as those prisoners working in the private work sector programme.

    A couple of other articles about inmate labour and private prisons in the US:

    Your Valentine made in Prison from The Nation.

    Prison Labor, Slavery & Capitalism in Historical Perspective from History is a Weapon.

  4. "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)"

    I have been at my job 2.5 years, same department throughout. In that time, we have moved around the office 3 times, renamed the department 3 times, had 3 managers, changed shift patterns 5 times and had a 3 month period where half my day was spent on one floor and half on another floor. Genius.

    We initially had a very sound system for doing X with department Y throughout the day. Worked perfect, no front line staff in either department had an issue. Then the managers stepped in, they thought of a *much better* way to do it. Of course, it failed dysmally, i finally got the system reverted after 6 months and endless rows and problems.

    Procedure Z which i look after - perfect system, no problems. Then the manager stepped in - he had a *much better system*. Again, failed dysmally, unmitigated disaster. I spent months getting it put back.

    Change has gone from being a means to an end to an end in itself, change itself is now positive and worthwhile. The fact that it often ruins procedures, sucks up vastly more staff time and is basically shit seems by the by. Change is good. Change is *dynamic*.

    (PG's managerialism post was superb, a rare treat on the CIF boards)

  5. a popular quote (reportedly by Charlton Ogburn, 1957[1]) on reorganization is often (but spuriously[2][3]) attributed to a Gaius Petronius. In one version, it reads:

    “We trained hard ... but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”


  6. "I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”"

    That just about sums it up.

  7. The orange team and the purple team had a rowing race, the orange team had 9 rowers and 1 cox, the purple team had 1 rower and 9 coxes.

    The orange team won by 10 boat lengths.

    After the race the purple team had a strategy meeting to determine what went wrong. The coxes sacked the rower for inefficiency and hired a new, cheaper one from Eastern Europe. Then they reorganised themselves so that each was in charge of a different aspect of shouting at the rower: left arm instructions, right arm instructions, direction (left), direction (right) and so on. Then they awarded themselves huge bonuses for all this hard work.

    The next time the orange team won by 20 boat lengths.

  8. I always have this little cartoon in the back of my mind when attending over-managed project meetings...

    Sums up lots of things about the modern workplace, I feel.

  9. Lolz, managerialism.

    Anyway, good morning again.

  10. Interesing piece about the collapse of the BNP vote on the Graun websitte. Essentially what I had been predicitng, their is a difference between the BNP high command and the grassroots. Nick Griffin, for all his twattishness, is a moderniser and reformer. The BNP's core support is still bomber jacket boys and football hooligans.

  11. PeterG's post was sublime, thanks Alisdair.

    Re Elfin Safety: last week we had a company car sitting out in the car park, up on blocks, with no front wheels.

    Someone had helpfully put a sign on it saying DO NOT DRIVE.

  12. Peter G is one of those posters I always look out for, it's a shame he isn't a bit more prolific as his posts are both educational and beautifully written.

  13. "Re Elfin Safety: last week we had a company car sitting out in the car park, up on blocks, with no front wheels.

    Someone had helpfully put a sign on it saying DO NOT DRIVE."

    Thats decent of them. Thank god someone's keeping an eye on these things eh...

  14. Yes, god knows what terrible accident might have occurred without it.

  15. Damn, I hate being stuck indoors. I have to do my CV and email it off to as many employers as possible before 5pm. Plus I am doing my coursework and applying for new OU courses. Such a nice day outside as well. Hopefully I can get out later.

  16. Hello, this is Peter Guillam. Just to say thanks for the kind words. I don't post very much on CiF any more, and when I do I usually regret it, because it really has become so crap. There's only so many times you can go through the loop of explaining that just because you might not think everything is wonderful in the world of neo-liberalism it doesn't mean you are an apologist for Stalin's gulags.

    I think the day they voted MAM - MAM, for fuck's sake, the sociopath who has discovered wikipedia - poster of the year I realised, finally, that it was a waste of time. That and the BNP trolls and apologists who seem to have flocked there in recent months.

    Anyway, thanks again for the nice mentions and for dredging up the managerialism post.


  17. Well done Peter. I haven't read the article but I saw the posts on here. Good job. Managers, the new aristocracy eh. Just like PR too. Many in PR come from an aristocratic background, like David Cameron. It's all a big con.

  18. Peter,

    never a chore to see you here. If I may say- when posters such as yourself cannot be bothered anymore, then in my opinion CiF has lost its raison d'etre as a platform for debate and analysis.

    However, I think it's only so long before the Guardian considers and implements a paywall for content. When you see the unsustainable losses it's suffering I think it will be sooner rather than later (especially since Emily Bell has left) and I do wonder if this would solve the troll problem to an extent.

  19. Hallo Peter, come and visit more often!

  20. Another sudden glancing blow and ricochet for me, but had to join my clumsy typing fingers to the clattery chorus of approval for PeterGuillam - one of the most sane and interesting people on CiF.

    I may have something soon which might be of slight interest to a few people.

    Carry on.

  21. Hi Peter, if you get bored of CIF feel free to drop in here any time.

  22. 'Are you looking to grow your career in retail'.

    No Lidl I am not. I need the money to keep a roof over my head and food on the table.

    Sorry I just had to put that on here as I am being driven insane by this idiocy.

  23. Plus why do they make you download an application form. To download, type in an then resend an application form takes over an hour. They can't simply read your CV, and if they select you for further interviews etc, you could fill the application form in then. There is no point doing these application forms if I almost certainly won't get the job.

    To simply send an email with your CV as an attachment takes five minutes, even accounting for the fact that you might change your CV slighlty to suit whatever you are applying for.

    Fuck the world. I'm going out to read in the park.

  24. Nap K

    Have you seen todays Cif article about Job Seeking I am sure you would have a lot to contribute to it.

  25. 'You will have an upbeat personality, you must be confident with anything retail life can throw at you'


  26. Nap,

    I don't mean this to sound harsh but I've done some recruiting: I had to read and shortlist over 50 applications. It was tedious and not high on my to do list for that week. Those people that'd spelled out exactly how they met the criteria for the job were much more likely to get to my shortlist because I was only skim reading the applications on the first run through. I used to think like you (they ought to read my CV) but now I realise: the job seeker has the time, they should be selling themselves. I know it's depressing, but it's one of those "that's the way the world works" things.

  27. Damn, I am going to go out now Jenifera. The problem with cif debates is that you are only really important if you get in the first few comments. I am going out now as my stress is through the roof. SO I will not be able to comment on it tonight, by which time it will be too late

  28. Just saw that it's Ian Astbury of the Cult's birthday today.

    I remember a good mate into his hard rock/heavy metal persuaded me to go and see them on the 'sonic temple' tour in 89.

    I really didn't fancy it, being much more of an indie kid (when indie was indie) and as I approached the venue (livingston arena if I rememeber rightly) in the middle of hair and ultra tight jeans I felt like a fish out of water.

    But bloody hell, they were fucking brilliant. R.A.W.K turned up to 11 for a solid two hours.

    So Ian, happy birthday, here's Sun King

  29. I saw them at Leeds Festival Duke, like you I wasn't a fan but they were fantastic that day.

    I wish I wasn't to old, fat and skint to still do festivals now. :(

  30. Afternoon all

    Welcome to Peter Guillam-hope you will decide to
    regularly post on UT as well as CIF.You always have
    something interesting to say.

    CIF seems to have got it right with regard to the
    MH thread.Haven,t had time to read all of it but what
    i saw earlier was mainly good.

    A leader in the Times this morning talked about the
    'Special Relationship' between GB and USA benefitting
    from our new government.When is the penny going to
    drop that the USA doesn,t give a rats behind about us
    unless we are doing their bidding.The term 'Special
    Realationship' is one i,d gladly consign to Room 101.
    And for good measure i,d throw in 'The National Interst' as well.Plus the game of cricket to change
    the subject.I hate,loathe and despise the game
    -something my cricket-obsessed father could never
    understand.The word HOWZAT makes me want to do violence to this day.

    Hope all,s well with everyone!

  31. Afternoon all

    "I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”"

    This describes the civil service to a 'T' and in my department we can expect a lot of it coming up!!


    I printed out that cartoon of yours and stuck it up above my desk in a place where everyone can see it...

    The current senior manager phrase of choice is going forward - which is driving me up the wall...

    Big surprise on cif - the people's panel discussion - great contributions from the ATLers and remarkably civilised and interesting thread. Is there reason to be optimistic about the place after all?

  32. Oh and Peter - great to see you back here...be even better if you stayed around.

  33. I'm home - get results of biopsy in a few weeks. Surgeon may want to do an MRI scan and then a hysterectomy [:-(] because of my heart condition.

    BUT good news is they did a heart echo (ultrasound scan of the heart) before the op and my heart has improved since diagnosis.

    Not going to try to catch up! Will ease myself in later.

    Thanks for all the good wishes! Will bw taking it easy for a few days.

  34. Evening all

    thanks again alisdair for linking Peter's piece and Hi peter...hope to see you around too!

    hi anne glad you're home take it easy...

  35. @Anne - best wishes from here too, a bit belatedly. Oddly, I had a heart ultrasound yesterday as part of the workup for a transplant list - odd squelching noises the valves make, eh?

    Take care.

  36. Anne

    Glad to hear your heart has improved, good news!. And good luck with the next round.

  37. Hope all turns out ok, Annetan.

  38. Peter J yes it does sound a bit odd! I suppose its not surprising really as blood is sort of wet isn't it?

    Whats up with your ticker? (if its not rude to ask). I have dilated cardiomyopathy which means the ventricles are enlarged but the walls have got thinner, my heart tends to flip in and out of rythm. Doesn't do it often happily!

  39. It's sad to hear about you not being well, PeterJ and Annetan.

    Certainly puts the irritating world into perspective.

    Best wishes to you both.

  40. Anne + Peter

    Best wishes to you both. Take care of yourselves - we need and care about you.

  41. @Anne - nothing wrong with the heart, as far as I know so far, but my kidneys are slowly failing so I'll need to get on the transplant list at some time fairly soon. Which apparently means checking that I'd survive the op and the aftermath on top of all the type matching stuff. It's more complex than you'd think! At least they put off the treadmill exercise test for a couple of weeks.

  42. PeterJ
    So much good luck with that. I'd like to drive it over in a van myself if I could.

  43. Peter - do hope you get a match! Kidney failure is actually one of the dangers of my condition - the medication I'm on can cause it if I allow myself to get too dehydrated! I have to carry a bottle of water with me everywhere.

  44. @BW - Ta - though it might help more if you could drive over a suitable donor a few times instead... (Joking, honest!)

    @Anne - yes, balancing side-effects is a tricky business. They keep fiddling around with micrograms here and milligrams there, with blood tests in between.

  45. Ha, got it Peter.
    Do you like music ?
    This was on Jools las week, and frankly, knocked my socks off.

  46. This even


  47. And here's the live version


    I = Gobsmacked.

  48. Nice, BW, if a little... well, American. I'm feeling a little more cod-Balkan tonight.

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. Quality, Peterj

    I agree, there is far too little cod-Balkan music in our current purview. Or indeed codless Balkan music.


  51. Or indeed Egyptian.


  52. folks nick clegg thread uo in the grauniad,,,,,,,,

  53. Excellent, BW! You wouldn't think those skirted gents were the most feared mercenaries of Renaissance Italy...

    I saw this crowd in Brighton last year.

  54. For those ladies and feminists watching I meant "duplicitous fuckwank with neither moral standing nor political accumen". And I hope he runs his own feet over in the rush to get in the car behind Cameron's as it is carjacked and driven into the Thames by angry Nazis; they then all drown. Cunts.

  55. PterJ,
    Beautiful ! Absolute fucking quality !

    (You can probably tell my c-word rant was aimed at gandolfos's target, not yours.)

  56. peterj
    good luck hope all goes well.....sorry but I don't drive ;)

  57. Going offline for a wee while

    Here is some top quality music for you all

    "The Message"


  58. BW and Peterj
    skirted gents.......Renaissance Italy...Cunt.

    blimey I was getting paranoid.......until i stopped scan reading and read properly.....

    now I have to calm down after reading that w**k stain of an "article"

  59. gandolfo
    It's a fucking very low start to a piss poor era

    Save yourself some time and give us a tune.


  60. Currently having a major Black Sabbath retrospective downstairs.

    Lunacy. Love it.

  61. Just read the Clegg article and comments.

    Lets give them a chance ?

    Fuck that, why should we.

    Have people honestly lost their minds, memories and marbles.

    They were self serving idiots last week and I doubt much has changed in the meantime, I honestly despair.

  62. @BW - Paranoid was the first grown-up album I bought when I was 15...

    Saw this live round about the same time.

  63. "They were self serving idiots last week and I doubt much has changed in the meantime, I honestly despair."

    Indeed. So. Got any decent tunes ?

    Here's Sabbath talking about charlie.


  64. I don't know how to do links Bitterweed (oh the shame) so I will just enjoy the tunes on offer here.

  65. @jennifera30

    Just been listening to a LibDem MP waffling like buggery on the radio when pressed on whether he'd vote against new nuclear power stations. He refused to answer, asking the questioner whether he'd prefer to have no Government at all.


  66. jennifera
    exactly....... WTF are they on? a friday night love in binge fest? They are ALL doomed.....

    here you go BW and all a little chill out musak...

  67. gandolfo
    that's MY kind of shit.
    You beauty.

    Now, I've been bigging up these people - right here on this site - since last September. Seems they've got a film at Cannes and a slot at Glastonbury.



  68. Solitude...


  69. Love that last one Bitterweed, wish I could go to Glasto it's the only festival I haven't been too.

    My music tastes have been stuck in a rut for a long time it is great to hear stuff I would normally never come across.

    (I still have an irrational hatred of reggae though).

  70. nice BW.......this is one of my favorites a fantastic performer and musician if you ever get the chance go and see him worth every penny...
    oh I liked v much...Cymande....classy

  71. For anyone that hasnt seen the "burglary gone wrong", this is absolutely classic. Some bloke trying to hold up a bookies in Leeds, and the most enormous man (employee) smacks him with a chair, pins him down and waits for the police to arrive.


    I like his retelling of the story, calm Northern tones, open t'door, smash him wit chair...

  72. jay...
    bloody hell i wouldn't mess with those biceps....shit man! why use t'chair when ya t' thumb is enough!!!

  73. Just recalled an album I'd forgotten I had, and came across this...

  74. Nice one gandolfo
    This is my old band. Me on guitar.


    All night long...

  75. I know Gandolfo, the man's a giant - if you're going to rob somewhere, he's probably the sort to avoid.

  76. It was good Jay and he did come across as a complete star.

    Having worked in bookies for most of my working life (achieving the dizzying heights of manager before I went mental) robbery was always a worry.

    The fact that the guy had robbed that shop twice before makes me realise that I can't go back to that kind of work.

    The security in those places is non existent and the verbal abuse and threats you have to put up with is shocking.

    I was good at the job but it sucked a lot of my trust and like of the human race out of me.

  77. @BW - A glow of jealousy from here... I always wished I could play something (without being arsed to learn, of course).

  78. BW you guys were damm good.....which guitar?

    jay or at least have him on your side....

  79. gandolfo

    I = lead guit. All my goddamn days. Yessirgodamnchristiearntit. Still playing now. Blues dobro.

  80. Thanks for that nice people. @gandolfo. Me = lead gutar. Fuck the fucking around.

  81. Sounds like stressful work, Jen, i presume bookies are pretty common targets for robberies. Travel agents too apparently, with bureaus.

    Gandolfo, yeah i probably wouldnt argue with him, whichever side he was on - that would probably be the side for me.

  82. I would give anything on Earth to be in this Senegalise ensemble...


    Quite literally the BEST band I have ever seen or heard of in my live long days.


  83. I was there when this was filmed...

  84. Evening all

    @annetan and peterj-all the best with the health
    problems.-will keep everything crossed for you both.

    @Bitterweed-hope all,s good with you and anyone else
    still up.

    Right i,ve got the munchies-Nite all!!!

  85. BW great band....senegal has great musicians

    hi Paul.....

  86. Night people

    Step softly..


  87. @BW - I remember Orchestra Baobab blasting out of market cassette decks when I was in Senegal in 1984, alternating with Super Etoiles de Dakar - are they both still around? The pirate tapes I picked up then have long gone...

  88. PeterJ s
    Fuck me no way !! *Please* find your pirate tapes.


    I have to go now; best wishes twice over.

  89. In honour of the UT