Thursday, December 31, 2009

Me and Dave

I read a report recently about the ‘Integrated Processes Development Day’ which involved ‘the third sector’ (my speech marks for those who don’t talk like this) in the development of the ‘Children Leeds Workforce Development Strategy’. One of the follow-ups is to see what training people require ‘to enable engagement in workforce strategy development’. The evaluation will ‘contribute to the development of the Children Leeds Workforce Strategy and in particular evidence the position the sector is in with reference to the development of the Children Leeds Strategy and will be presented to the Directorate of Children’s Services and also to the Children’s Workforce Development Council’. Meanwhile the Council hasn’t got enough money to pay the binmen...

I wonder now if I’m a Tory because when I hear David Cameron going on about getting rid of useless quangos I say ‘right on Dave’ or perhaps I’m some sort of Maoist for wishing everyone involved in the ‘Integrated Processes Development Day’ had been forced at gunpoint to empty the bins when the bin workers were on strike.

Nearly all the conferences and meetings and stuff about strategies and partnerships that I have anything to do with all seem to be based on the concept that people are useless at their jobs and if they only signed up to ‘partnership working’ and whatever else the clever people who meet each other think is a good idea they would work much more efficiently. The trouble is that so many people are at meetings they can’t get any work done. There should be NO jobs in the world in my view that only involve meetings. People should either DO STUFF or BE PAID TO STAY AT HOME DOING WHAT THE HELL THEY LIKE!

It seems to me that if people ‘out there’ found out what their money was being spent on there’d be riots.

The 'Yorkshire and Humber Regional Active Citizenship Learning Alliance'

Sometimes the best way to express dismay, concern and perhaps a soupcon of scepticism is to simply state the name of something. For example, the 'Yorkshire and Humber Regional Active Citizenship Learning Alliance'. I assure you that this is not made up. It exists. And they were having a workshop! ‘Surely not’ you cry. Oh yes they were; the lathes went in yesterday and they produced 300 widgets last week. No, they didn’t. They had a ‘workshop’ for ‘Active citizens, people on learning programmes, Local Authority staff, learning providers’ and apparently ‘Take Part pathfinder projects’.

I present their draft programme below. I’m not picking on them but it is so typical of the sort of thing I occasionally go to where people collude in pretending they’re learning or doing some good for somebody. This is verbatim:

“Draft Programme

Brief Input from
• Learners stories
• The Radical Hillbillies – inspiring video from America

Story Tables
• Showcasing what has worked (and what hasn’t) from around the region using an accessible storytelling style – the chance to hear and discuss several ‘stories’

Inter-active Noticeboard
• The chance to ‘post’ your ideas and comments throughout the day via computers in the room linked to a big screen noticeboard – a rolling discussion forum open to all

Lunchtime Market place for stalls
• Bring and share information about your project

Put your Project on the Map – literally!
• A large map of the region will be on the wall – bring details of your project to pin on to the map

Contribute to RACLA development
• A fun exercise to collect your views about the Alliance – what you want and what you can contribute. Open session to agree outline programme and priorities for the next 6 months”

There you go, ‘the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Active Citizenship Learning Alliance as Harry Hill might say. They are a caution!
The Digital Activist Inclusion Network (DAIN) is "an exciting innovative transnational project which aims to develop, test and deliver approaches to challenge the digital divide, ultimately helping to widen participation in employment and learning."

Just so you know.

There was a conference to "explore practical approaches to challenging digital exclusion"

Just so as you know. The world is full of this stuff...

Degrees of madness

How does this all work then? I want my mileage in miles per gallon though I only know how much petrol costs per litre. I want my low temperatures in Celsius so I can say it’s ‘4 below zero’ or whatever but I want my high temperatures in Fahrenheit so I can say ‘it’s 85 degrees’. I want my big distances in miles but small ones are fine in centimetres. I would never of course consider measuring anyone’s penis – but if I did it would absolutely have to be in inches. Am I normal?


Here’s a simple question. Why is it that if you do something helpful for society like emptying the bins or wiping old people’s bottoms you get paid about £13,000 a year? If you sit in ‘strategy’ meetings deciding whether to put ‘resources’ into things you get about £30,000 a year. If you gamble with other people’s money, lose and then fleece the people who earn £13,000 a year when it all goes wrong you earn £100,000+ The less actual use people’s job is the more they seem to earn.

‘Ah yes, but what about doctors?’ I hear the annoying twat at the back ask. ‘They have to train for 7 years’ they go on. Here’s where you get into the argument about people being suited to things and where people somehow think you’re saying that everyone should be paid exactly the same whatever they do. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m suggesting that it would be good if pay related to how hard people worked and how useful what they do is – EVEN A TINY BIT! So there!

Eggs for Christmas

If you have a fantastically good memory you may recall me relating my scrambling egg hunting last Easter when I thought I might buy a couple of Easter eggs on the day before Easter (what a crazy guy eh!?) I found of course that capitalism had already moved on to the next consumer fest and it wasn’t allowed. Well, it’s happened again! Last time I was simply able to say ‘screw you Mr Tesco / Wilkinson / Sainsbury etc’ and decided to buy something a little more value for money. This time I was on a particular mission for a nine year old – for an Advent Calendar...

I thought I’d buy one on the 1st December and take it home in time for ‘window one’ to be opened that day. They’d been on the shelves in impossible quantities a couple of weeks before. I won’t go on but it was the same story – tour of supermarkets over 2 days (along with dozens of other people who seemed to be scouring the relevant section, looking disappointed and moving on), asking in supermarkets, staff shaking their heads in disbelief, disapproval and in some cases sympathy, with the words ‘you could try Wilkos’ issuing from the least judgemental. I would look round with my best screwed up teary toddler face and say ‘I’ve already tried there’ attempting to sound cheerful and hoping to find the strength to add a bright ‘but thanks anyway’.

Actually of course, I’d tried 3 branches of Wilkos first. Incidentally I still find it weird that if you added a separate record counter with surly teenager you could turn any Wilkos into an old school Woolies at the drop of a record counter featuring a surly teenager selling only the top 30. How anything actually got into the top 30 was a mystery too far for Woolies. Mm, ‘uses blog to slag off branches of Woollies from 30 years ago – discuss’

Anyway, I would now like to slide from vaguely pathetic to smug bastard – because here are your reactions (and my reactions to your answers!)

If you think ‘If you’re going to do something that stupid you get what you deserve’ you are clearly helplessly under the thumb of Mr Tesco and his billionaire mates and you think that you are there to service the shopping system.

If you think ‘Well there were loads of them where I was – and they were selling them off cheap’ not only are you smug and annoying but you’re JUST PLAIN WRONG!!! You got the dates wrong you idiot – you’re thinking of mid November so fuck off and die!

If you think ‘Everyone knows it’s like that, that’s capitalism, you shouldn’t be surprised’ then you’re one of those lefties whose leftie-dom consists of passing judgement in a self-satisfied ‘I told you so’ kind of way while doing precisely nothing to change anything. I bet you’re a college lecturer or something and earn £30 grand a year (which incidentally, in my world counts as a lot!)

Just to impart a nice circular logic, guess what’s now on sale in Tescos (on 31st December) That’s right – Easter eggs. Get ‘em while it’s still the wrong year!