24 November 2014

In praise of the diary

A couple of months ago I decided to buy a Filofax. I remember the Filofax being the personal organiser of the late 80s and early 90s but today its position has been usurped by any manner of phone, tablet, netbook or digital slab. But, the fact is that I have fallen out of love with the tsunami of digital devices that rule our lives.

I first became involved with the 'digital revolution' in 1984 when I was involved in the UK launch of the original Macintosh. At that time the little box with a keyboard and mouse was a complete mystery to me and it needed a lot of explaining. Then came 1991 and my first Macintosh, the pizza box Mac LC and I was hooked.

The Mac was and generally has been seen as the PC of choice for 'creatives' and its GUI (graphical user interface) made it easier to use, easier that is than using other PCs which did similar things that I also didn't understand but thought must be important.

And so it has been ever since, or at least till the last two or three years when Apple has come to dominate the public conciousness with its design and fashionability. Sure, these digital devices do all manner of whizzy things and let us buy lots of stuff at the click of a button. They also allow some people to have millions of 'followers' and have made serious communication a thing of the past by enabling email which, to many people, is an irritant.

And I started to resent having to press the button on the back of my 27" i7 3.4GHz 256SSD 2TbHd Intel iMac in order to see anything. And it dawned on me that, as long as the sun shines (or the lights are on) a diary will work perfectly well. So I bought a Filofax and, so far, I'm getting along just fine. I've also started to put letters in the post rather than sending .pdfs across the ether. Yes, I compose these letters on the iMac but I'm writing this on a nice little Toshiba netbook running Linux and it is beginning to do everything that the iMac does and at a fraction of the cost. And somehow, I expect less of the Toshiba. I see it more as a tool to do something with, rather like an old typewriter. I don't want the Toshiba to say anything about me, in fact, I'd prefer it not to. Hopefully the words will speak for themselves.

So, I think that I'm disconnecting from the digital revolution, maybe not completely and maybe not even more than less but certainly somewhat. And I'm beginning to see the diary, with its analogue calendar, alphabetical phone and address book and its instant on-ness, I'm beginning to like it rather more than the digital devices I used to think did so much for me. Yes, digital devices work for many people, but less so for me. Analogue just seems so much more substantial.

18 November 2014


Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has made some shocking statements recently. Talking about the culture of banking in the context of yet more fines imposed on banks because their staff were making huge amounts of money in very dubious circumstances, Carney said:
“The repeated nature of these fines demonstrates that financial penalties [on banks] alone are not sufficient to address the issues raised,” and,
“Fundamental change is needed to institutional culture, to compensation arrangements and to markets.” and,

the succession of scandals “mean it is simply untenable now to argue that the problem is one of a few bad apples. The issue is with the barrels in which they are stored.”
How long has this guy been in the job? How much is he paid to make these pronouncements? Any cab driver could have told him this.
Banking is a pretty peculiar business. When banks go belly-up, the tax-payer steps in and bales them out. At the same time, the people running the banks get huge bonuses to leave. Then a new bunch of bankers 'sort everything out', whereupon there are more scandals and the people running the banks are  given huge bonuses. And at the same time, whilst all these bankers are making shed-loads of 'Wonga' out of schemes which in any other situation would be called a scam or criminality, the taxpayer has to endure the 'age of austerity' so that the banks can be given more money to build up their capital which has been reduced by the bankers and the fines.
Isn't there something wrong with this picture. How is it that Dave Cameron and George Osborne can tell everyone that things are getting better because they are making everything worse for the ordinary man woman and child, and everyone seems to believe them?
When are the lumpen masses going to wake up to the fact that the many are getting royally fucked by the few and, at the same time, the same many are expected to pay for the privilege. 

11 November 2014

Hide in plain sight……..

So the saga of the missing files, all 114 of them, continues at the Home Office. Now we know that the Home Office didn't have a terribly good filing system back in the 1980's and that would seem to be the reason that these pesky files are missing. And the manner in which the filing system was set-up doesn't seem to have helped. And the fact that the current Home Secretary, Ms May, didn't give the Wanless Investigation enough time to look through the hopeless filing system to see if the files had been mis-filed. So it looks like the Wanless investigation was doomed to fail from the start. How terribly convenient.

And then I hear that the Geoffrey Dickens file may have been covered by the Official Secrets Act and, were that to be the case, any retired civil servant would put their pension at risk were they to admit that they had read the files, far less share the contents with anyone.

If Dave (Big Tent) Cameron or Ms May really want to get to the bottom of this odd story, they might just want to declassify any files relating to abuse of any sort. Then maybe someone might step up and spill the beans.

2 November 2014

"It’s called the American Dream 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it . . .”

"Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice . . . you don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own, and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying . . . lobbying, to get what they want . . . Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want . . . they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that . . . that doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin' years ago. They don’t want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers . . . Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin' retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it . . . they’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this fuckin' place. It’s a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in The big club. By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Good honest hard-working people . . . white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means . . . continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t give a fuck about you . . . they don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t care about you at all . . . at all . . . at all, and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth. It’s called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to believe it . . .” George Carlin, American stand-up comedian.

30 October 2014

Government argues!

22 October 2014

Speaking truth to power……..

 "You break every rule of good man-management. You bully your weaker colleagues. You criticise colleagues in front of each other and in front of their officials. They can't answer back without appearing disrespectful, in front of others, to a woman and to a prime minister. You abuse that situation. You give little praise or credit, and you are too ready to blame others when things go wrong."

From a memo written in 1981 by Sir John Hoskyns to the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

8 October 2014

No wonder they are worried……...

I was listening to the news this morning and it carried a piece about the COBRA committee holding meetings regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and I wondered why the government should make it such a high priority.

Then I was travelling on the Bakerloo Line and it occurred to me that there is a very good reason for the government to be worried. What would happen if some mad-person decided to turn themselves into a biological weapon. What would happen if that person deliberately sought to be infected with the Ebola virus and then travelled to any major centre of population, London, New York, Moscow, Bejing, take your pick.

You might think that its a mad idea, and it is, but we have seen people willing to turn themselves into human bombs for their cause so why not a biological bomb. And the consequences don't bear thinking about. Someone travels the Paris Metro or the New York subway or the central line in London, whilst they are infectious and touches as many people as possible, as much street furniture, railings, door knobs as possible. By the time they keel over they would have had contact with hundreds of people who would, in their turn, go on to have contacts with hundreds more.

There are plenty of books and movies which have based their premise on a similar idea but rarely have we had, in reality, enough of the key ingredients to make it possible. White Supremacists, Jihadis, Survivalists and religious extremists exist in industrial quantities and now we have Ebola. No wonder COBRA is keeping itself up to date.