Freedom, system thinking, politics, science, education, economics, pirates

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Quote of the day

"I keep hearing that politicians need to be more transparent.
I think the public can see straight through us already."

Friday, 26 June 2009

Comment of the day

  • 26 Jun 09, 7:42pm (41 minutes ago)

    All the improvements, such as they are, have been paid for through personal and government debt. Because of globalisation and China, the old laws of economics were suspended temporarily over the last few years and there was money to pay for all this stuff - but the money was only on loan. By borrowing to 'lift children out of poverty' over the last decade we have probably condemned many more to a life of extreme poverty in the future.

    I know that you think I am "economically illiterate" for saying all this, but have you been listening to Mervyn King recently?

BuffHoon at CIF today

Hazel deosn't deal in pennies

Over at John Graham-Cumming's blog: Hazel doesn't deal in pennies

I love this forensic geeky maths stuff, with graphs and everything - go take a look, if you like to read about number crunching.

Jacko: Cardiac arrest, not heart attack ?

A heart attack = Myocardial Infarction (MI). This is when a cardiac artery is blocked or restricted causing loss of oxygen supply to the heart muscle. Depending on severity this can cause a chest pain or lead to loss of function of major parts of the heart leading to death. Sometimes an MI triggers VF.

Cardiac arrest = Ventricular Fibrillation (VF). This is when the electrical signals in the heart get confused such that the heart stops beating and fibrillates, or quivers. It is like someone threw the off switch. No blood is pumped and the patient dies in ten minutes or so, unless CPR (which keeps some oxygen going to the brain) is followed by defibrillation, which stops the erroneous electrical signals and allow regular beating to happen. 95% of people who have a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital die of it. When someone dies of a cardiac arrest from out of the blue, it is called Sudden Cardiac Death.

I had a cardic arrest last August. I was driving to the shops in my car. If it wasn't for the two strangers who came to my aid and did CPR, I would be an SCD.

Question for th eBBC, Sun, Telegraph etc - could you please learn the difference ?

This charity is working on raising awareness of SCD and installing defibrillators in public places, to improce SCD survival rates.

Guardian says to Brown: Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!

"Until Mr Brown confesses that this is true, his attacks on the opposition will always be undermined by the facts."

Today's Grauniad: "Public spending: hard truths"

I am, of course, not going to miss a chance to point out the aid John Seddon could be to an incoming Tory govt in achieving cuts in spending while improving Services.

Hat tip to the idle pen pusher

Reader's letter of the day

From the Financial Times letters page:

"Scraping of burnt toast in the public sector

Published: June 25 2009 03:00 | Last updated: June 25 2009 03:00

From Dr Peter Middleton.

Sir, I enjoyed the excellent analysis of “the state of Britain” by Chris Giles and Simon Briscoe (June 23). They reported that “government expenditure will soon account for almost half of the UK economy” and that “consensus reigns on the need to shrink it but there is no detail on what should be cut”. The research and consultancy evidence would suggest that “cuts” are not the way to tackle the problem of high public sector spending.

The issue is that the dominant management thinking is to announce arbitrary targets and set up compliance mechanisms to ensure they are met. This approach inevitably leads to poor service, high costs and massive waste. The need therefore is to dismantle the targets and activity measures infrastructure and start managing organisations as systems.

In essence the next UK government must move from the bankrupt General Motors approach to management and adopt the more successful Toyota systems model. The required “cuts” will occur as waste is systematically removed from the system while services improve.

W. Edwards Deming’s joke – “Let’s make toast the American way: you burn and I'll scrape” – applies to the management of much of the UK public sector.

Peter Middleton,
Senior Lecturer,
School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
Queen's University Belfast,
Northern Ireland"

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Get yourself over there

Lord Elvis is back. And asking you to sign up.

Quiet round here

I have not posted fora little while. My company has just move office from Basildon to Chelmsford, so my drive to work has tripled in time. I'm not best pleased. Still, I still have a job though.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Goodbye NightJack

This is the text of NightJack's post: " A survival guide for decent folk" I have a few printed copies in places I can easily find one.

"In these days of us increasingly having to deal with law abiding folk who have fallen foul of the “entitled poor” and those who have learned how to use us to score points and exact revenge, I thought it would be a good idea to give out a bit of general guidance for those law abiding types who find themselves under suspicion or under arrest. It works for the bad guys so make it work for you.

Complain First

Always get your complaint in first, even if it is you who started it and you who were in the wrong. If things have gone awry and you suspect the cops are going to be called, get your retaliation in first. Ring the cops right away and allege for all you are worth. If you can work a racist or homophobic slant into it so much the better.

Make a counter allegation

Regardless of the facts, never let the other side be blameless. If they beat you to the phone, ring anyway and make a counter allegation against them. Again racism or homophobia are your friends. If you are not from a visible minority ethnic culture, may I suggest that that the phrase “You gay bastard” or similar is always useful. In extremis allege sexual assault. It gives us something to bargain with when getting the other person to drop their complaint on a quid-pro-quo basis. This is particularly good where there are no independent witnesses. When it boils down to one word against another and nobody is ‘fessing up, CPS run a mile and you, my friend, are definitely on a walk out

Never explain to the Police

If the Police arrive to lock you up, say nothing. You are a decent person and you may think that reasoning with the Police will help. “If I can only explain, they will realise it is all a horrible mistake and go away”. Wrong. We do want to talk to you on tape in an interview room but that comes later. All you are doing by trying to explain is digging yourself further in. We call that stuff a significant statement and we love it. Decent folk can’t help themselves, they think that they can talk their way out. Wrong.

Admit Nothing

To do anything more than lock you up for a few hours we need to prove a case. The easiest route to that is your admission. Without it, our case may be a lot weaker, maybe not enough to charge you with. In any case, it is always worth finding out exactly how damning the evidence is before you fall on your sword. So don’t do the decent and honourable thing and admit what you have done. Don’t even deny it or try to give your side of the story. Just say nothing. No confession and CPS are on the back foot already. They forsee a trial. They fear a trial. They are looking for any excuse to send you home free.

Keep your mouth shut

Say as little as possible to us. At the custody office desk a Sergeant will ask you some questions. It is safe to answer these. For the rest of the time, say nothing.

Claim Suicidal Thoughts

A debatable one this. Claiming to be thinking about topping yourself has several benefits. If you can keep it up, it might just bump up any compensation payable later. On the other hand you may find yourself in a paper suit with someone watching your every move.

Always always always have a solicitor

Duh. No brainer this one. Unless you know 100% for sure that your mate the solicitor does criminal law and is good at it, ask for the Duty Solicitor. They certainly do criminal law and they are good at it. Then listen to what the solicitor says and do it. Their job is to get you off without the Cops or CPS laying a glove on you if at all possible. It is what they get paid for. They are free to you. There is no down side. Now decent folks think it makes them look like they have something to hide if they ask for a solicitor. Irrelevant. Going into an interview without a solicitor is like taking a walk in Tottenham with a big gold Rolex. Bad things are very likely to happen to you. I wouldn’t do it and I interview people for a living.

Actively complain about every officer and everything they do

Did they cuff you when they brought you in? Were they rude to you? Did they racially or homophobically abuse you? Didn’t get fed? Cell too cold? You are decent folk who don’t want to make a fuss but trust me, it pays to whinge and no matter how trivial and / or poorly founded your complaint there are people who will uncritically listen to you and try and prove the complaint on your behalf. Some of them are even police officers. Nothing like a complaint to muddy the waters and suggest that you are only in court because the vindictive Cops have a grudge against you. Far fetched? Wait until your solicitor spins it in court and you come over as Ghandi.

Show no respect to the legal system or anybody working in it

You think that if you are a difficult, unpleasant, sneering, unco-operative and rude things will go badly for you and you will be in more trouble. No sirree Bob. It seems that in fact the worse you are, the easier things will go for you if, horror of horrors, you do end up convicted. Remember to fake a drink problem if you haven’t developed one as a result of dealing with us already. Magistrates and Judges do seem to like the idea that you are basically good but the naughty alcohol made you do it. They treat you better. Crazy I know but true.

So there you go, basically anything you try and do because you are decent and staightforward hurts you badly. Act like an habitual, professional, lifestyle criminal and chances are you will walk away relatively unscathed. Copy the bad guys, its what they do for a living."

I wish I could say I will never read the Times again. I probably will. But it won't be the same.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Artex resignation

Kitty Usher resigns. Nick Robinson is suggesting that this is because of her CGT avoidance on selling her expenses refurbished house.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Phone line poll tax

Another tax! This time I'll be subsidising internet access for people who live somewhere where it is expnsive to provide it.

Guess what! Nice picturesque villages are nice places to live, but they don't have as good services as a city. Tough shit. You chose where to live. You decide the balance of costs, location and services. If broadband speed is that important, live somwhere you can get it or pay the premium to get it in the sticks. If you want a good school in your leafy vilage, fine - pay for it. Get the idea?

I'd like to live in the countryside, in a little cottage miles form anywhere. But I don't - why? Because I can't afford it - I'm too busy paying taxes to subsidies the whingers who live there already and expect me to pick up the costs with their choice of a place to live.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Mr 10%

Brown is having Cameron called "Mr. 10%"

I'd like him to come back with - "is that all you think I can cut?" He should be promising more and improved services. A 10% cut is not going to dent the debt.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Pity.. I really liked this column

Simon Caulkin has written his last Observer management column, which is a shame because he has written some important stuff.

Here it is in full:

Farewell, with a last word on the blunder year

The bankers have claimed another victim - this column. Cost-cutting as a result of the worst media recession in a lifetime means that Observer Management will disappear next week.

I wish I could say the job was complete. When I joined the paper in 1993, the brief was to make visible and discussable something that was intangible, taken for granted, and, for better or worse, affected us all. That was the easy bit. The column instantly drew a rich and argumentative response that ensured a constant supply of issues to address that meshed directly with readers' own.

But from this exchange emerged a second agenda item that soon overtook the first. Across both public and private sectors what readers experienced as "management" was pervasively problematic. It just wasn't what it said on the tin. Wherever they looked, readers found a glaring discrepancy between "official" and "unofficial" versions, between talk and walk.

The talk was empowerment, shared destiny, pulling together: the walk was increasing work intensity, tight performance management, risk offloaded on to the individual. The talk was flat organisations: the reality, centralisation and a yawning divide between other ranks, required to minimise their demands for the greater good, and a remote officer class whose rewards had to soar to motivate them to do their job. Employees were the most valuable asset - until costs had to be cut. Repeated mis-selling and other scandals demonstrated it certainly wasn't the customer who was king.

Somewhere along the line the edifice of management had been turned upside down - it was shareholders who had become monarch, their courtiers lavishly rewarded managers whose MBA courses had taught them to manage deals and numbers, not things or people. Management had suffered a reverse takeover. Finance annexed reality, cost ousted value, the means became the end.

This is the story that this column has reflected. Shamefully, it reached its explosive climax on the watch of a Labour government that, betraying its entire history, not only encouraged ethics-free market-led management principles in the private sector but imposed them wholesale on the public sector. The credit crunch is man(agement)-made - management, not market, failure. So is the Soviet-style targets and inspection regime, locked in place by lucrative IT contracts with private suppliers, that has made the public sector systemically less capable than it was 12 years ago, despite the billions spent. The emails of rage and despair from public-sector workers at what has been done to their profession have to be read to be believed. And still ministers don't get it. The elevation of the grisly Alan Sugar to "enterprise tsar" and the timorous, frozen-in-the-headlights approach to City reform in one sense are as risible as MPs' expenses - but they are also a terrifying denial of reality.

Of course, institutional stupidity and failure to take responsibility are characteristic of all top-down organisations - in fact, they're two sides of the same coin. Hence the reductio ad absurdum, also charted here, of gleaming hi-tech organisations too witless to stop themselves auto-destructing. What is there about the credit crunch and the environmental one hard on its heels that is not to understand? The management model that has run us for the past 30 years, like the discredited economic theories (rational expectations, efficient markets) to which it cringes, is bust, dead, finished - a mortal danger to us and the planet.

So where do we go from here? Optimism has been in short supply over the past few years. Yet this is not because of lack of alternatives (There Is Always An Alternative) so much as the arrogant certainties of the ruling doctrine that have pushed saner voices to the margin, at worst making unorthodoxy unpublishable. Perhaps the collapse of orthodoxy will make it easier to salute and cherish such exceptions: companies that refuse the dominant logic, such as John Lewis; academics who risk their careers by engaging with big issues (would Darwin, Freud and Marx be employable in today's universities?); courageous public-sector managers who find ways of circumventing the draconian targets regime to do what they know to be right.

As the 2009 Reith lecturer Michael Sandel noted last week, norms matter, because they so easily become self-fulfilling. It shouldn't need saying in the middle of the biggest management meltdown in history, when the stakes are at their highest, that the debate about the norms that should govern a post-financial form of management must go on, even if not here. For my part, what I've learned from an amazingly rewarding 16 years will find its way into a book that, in honour of readers who are the joint creators, I had always thought of as The Observer's book of management - although regrettably, and not of my doing, now without the capital "O".

Friday, 12 June 2009

Mark Wadsworth is an very nice man

He's got me addidicted to this.

He is, it turns out, a Facbook game pusher.

Update: He is a very nice man. He has only played said game once, and scored more than I have in 48 hrs solid gaming. He is superman.

Good game, though...

Public Services Tzar - No. 10 Petition

Please go here and sign up to ask No.10 to employ John seddon as Public Services Tzar to bring his Systems Thinking methodology to public services.

Spread the word. Or tell Call me Dave.

If you don't know who John Seddon is, search my old posts or buy the book - "Systems thinking in the public services"

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Tory Bear - right-wing political gossip: Martin the Moron.

Tory Bear - right-wing political gossip: Martin the Moron.

I was going to write a post about this pillock on Newsnight last night, but TB has produced this excellent post already.

BNP thrive on this kind of publicity. Instead of being violent ansd trying to close them down; let them speak. They will make fools of themselves.

Monday, 8 June 2009


Pirate news has been a bit slow, but here is some great Pirate News: Election to the EU Parliament

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Gordon's mental health - who's to blame?

Iain Dale is worried that he is commenting on Gordon's mental health. I'm worried about Gordon too, he looks ill. If he is to stressed to be running the show, who has his hands on the levers?

I have the answer:

A slimy sidekick, turning Gordon against us all? You know who he is. 

No? maybe this is closer? Alogether - truusst in meee, trruuusst in meeeeeee.


Friday, 5 June 2009

You wait for one minister to resign...

..and a load come along at once.

Go on Gordon, hang in there. Every day you cling to power weakens the Labour party more.

If you try really hard, you may have the distinction of being the last ever Labour PM - now that would be a legacy.

Quote of the day

From Justin at Chicken Yoghurt, of James Purnell

"I doubt he’s made much impact on people’s awareness other than as a bugger-gripped, Jolie-lipped New Labour drone who looks like he was grown in a laboratory..."

Let's improve the system: A Systems Thinking model of Leadership

Let’s improve the system – A Systems Thinking model of Leadership

Shared via AddThis

Thursday, 4 June 2009


My vote is in, UKIP for Euros. We don't have a local election here.

I was going to vote Tory, to put what little pressure I can on Brown. However, it looks like he's toast without my help. So I decided to UKIP, in order to turn the Eurosceptic wick up on call me Dave.

Logic courtesy of Mark Wadsworth.

In a GE (soon, please; soon) I will vote Tory, as getting Labour out is my top priority. Unless there is a LPUK candidate to vote for.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

...and so the end has started.

Jackboot Jacqui is resigning. The first brick in the dam has gone, more must follow. She obviously has less brass in her neck than the others, but Brown can't now let Darling, Hooon and the Balls stay on.

Nice to see Tom Watson fall on his sword, too.