Way back in 1992, the ubiquity of email was far from established and many employers regarded the internet as the work of the devil that had no place in a productive workplace. Working for one particular Jurassic corporation who ironically shunned all things electrical, some of us lobbied for email access as a vital commercial tool guaranteeing more communication and therefore more business and more profit. We prevailed, of course, and the IT department was expanded to include some glorious, unfathomable eccentrics to make the thing work. It was a joy to meet with them; it was like conversing with extraterrestrials. (more…)
September 28, 2016
September 23, 2016
You might be forgiven for thinking that after 116 years of banging on about how unity is strength; the Labour Party might just have grasped something approaching an understanding of what unity actually is. Now with more than 500,000 members, the Labour Party resembles the universe at about a nanosecond after the Big Bang. There are slightly less than 500,000 bits and pieces moving at slightly less than the speed of light in just about 500,000 different directions. Unity, in Labour`s case, is the strength of a black hole pulling everything towards oblivion. (more…)
September 11, 2016
Imagine inventing a new word to describe something undesirable only to find that the word quickly becomes part of common language but with its original usage completely reversed. Then consider the sorry experience of minor politician and sociologist Michael Young.
Credited with drafting large chunks of Labour`s 1945 manifesto, Young played a major part in securing a landslide victory for Clement Attlee and the almost unthinkable defeat of Sir Winston Churchill at the conclusion of the Second World War. The 1944 Butler Education Act established free and universal education and set the school leaving age at 15. It also introduced the tripartite system of education featuring grammar schools, secondary technical schools and secondary modern schools. In theory, comprehensive schools would combine features of all three streams. Allocation of school places was determined by academic examination when a child reached the age of 11. The results of a maths test, a general essay and a third test on general reasoning would define the child as a member of the elite, someone who could be trusted with expensive machinery or a basic manual labourer expected to be grateful for the chance at any education at all. (more…)
August 23, 2016
For a global sporting event to be considered successful, it must be preceded by dire predictions of unfinished facilities, dangerous infrastructure, drug scandals, blatant corruption and civil unrest. The Games of the XXXI Olympiad delivered on all those requirements and surpassed previous Olympiads by throwing in the threat of a particularly nasty tropical disease. The first half of Rio 2016 will be remembered as the games that had everything. (more…)
May 28, 2016
Viewed from this considerable distance, watching Hollywood musicals produced in the 1930s is tinged with an indistinct melancholia. With sumptuous sets, casts of thousands, spectacular production numbers and improbably storylines, the golden age of RKO, 20th Century Fox, MGM, Paramount and Warner Brothers portrays a fantasy world in stark contrast to the Great Depression that preceded the Second World War.
In these marvellous yet shallow movies, “ordinary” Americans pursuing the American dream would tap dance in penthouses the size of aircraft hangers; relax with cocktails by the pool, fly down to Rio; dress for diner with minor European royalty and always have a happy ending. A few precious nickels and dimes, or shillings and pennies, could in those dark days buy a couple of hours of escape from a harsh reality. Now, at this considerable distance, Busby Berkeley has been replaced by reality television as a means of escape. Sadly, this escape is based on watching people being thoroughly unpleasant as a form of entertainment and as a reassurance that there are, out there, people more unpleasant than us. (more…)