lexin: (iDalek)
Thursday, July 21st, 2011 09:48 pm
The thing that's annoying me about NI's argument is that they seem to have forgotten (if they ever knew) is that it doesn't matter what their lawyers said or what their employees did. The responsibility for what happened stays on the hands of the paper's editor and the owners. That's why they're paid the big bucks, and the bigger the bucks the more responsibility.

Specifically with lawyers, when you employ lawyers you give them instructions, and they give you advice. What you do with that advice is up to you, but whatever it is, it remains your decision, not theirs. Likewise if you don't tell them the whole truth or give them biased information, that's your lookout. They only advise you on what you told them.
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Friday, July 1st, 2011 01:02 pm
People in the UK will have noticed (one hopes) that there was a strike on yesterday.

What people don't tell you about being an activist when you step forward to share the burden is how much it's going to bloody hurt! Every bone aches and I thought when I got up this morning that I wasn't going to make it to work. As it is I'm limping around like a limping thing that limps – and I didn't make it all the way round the march.

It was thus

I got up yesterday morning at what felt like the crack of dawn, and made it to the picket line at just after 7am. Our enthusiastic young member, Comrade L, preceded me and he had the leaflets to hand out so that was good. I had the collecting tin for the Hardship Fund, which I proceeded to deploy: I shout "Hardship Fund!" at scabs and members of other unions alike, for all the world like that bloke in Monty Python shouting 'Albatross!'

At 10am we decided we'd had enough – which was good as the security guard at our building came out to try to limit our numbers. As there was only six of us, we were rather peeved, but not as much as we'd have been if he'd tried that trick at an earlier point in rather than just when we were heading off for breakfast.

After breakfast we made a move towards the march assembly point at Lincoln's Inn Fields. As soon as we arrived we all spied other friends in the movement and split up. I touched base with an old friend, the secretary of the first branch executive I was on, who's left the Ministry of Magic for a full time job in a teacher's union. So that was enjoyable. I was noodling around wincing at the noise when a bloke came up to me, asked me if I was in PCS and said they were looking for people to be interviewed on Radio 5 Live. I agreed (what was I thinking of?) and went along with him.

I don't know if anyone caught it, probably not, but I thought I acquitted myself quite well on radio. I made the point, as did one of the teachers who was interviewed that our pension schemes were looked at with a view to affordability within the last six years and are scheduled to reduce in cost as a percentage of GDP over the next fifty years. This is also the point which tripped up a minister in an interview on Radio 4, so that was interesting as none of the people interviewed on R5Live had heard the earlier interview at that point. We'd been too busy picketing.

I also made the point that despite what the government may be saying, this strike was the best supported that I have ever been on. We had significantly fewer people crossing our picket line than we've had before, even from other unions who were not balloted for action.

Guilty

It took a long time for the march to move off, and it was hot and I was starting to feel rather ill. I don't do well standing in any case. So when the march reached Aldwych, I'm afraid I bottled out – I thought I was going to faint, which would have been humiliating so I slipped out and went to sit down. By the time I felt well enough to move, the march had long gone so I went home, feeling a bit guilty.

Interestingly, people seeing my "Coalition of Resistance" tee shirt stopped to talk to me about the march and the strike, asked why we were doing it and actually listened to the points that I made. This included two staff from London Underground. So I didn't feel it was a complete waste, even though I missed what sounded from Twitter like an excellent rally.

I learned, though, that I can either picket (which I'd done for nearly three hours) or march, but not both. Both means too much time on my feet and I really can't cope with it.

Counting the money this morning we raised £143.44 for the hardship fund. So not bad.
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Sunday, March 27th, 2011 03:00 pm
Well, [livejournal.com profile] gloria1 and I went to the March for the Alternative yesterday. More about the march... )

What I learned: there are nearly as many squirrels in London as there are anarchists.
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Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 08:39 pm
I am up to my eyes in preparations for the March for the Alternative on Saturday. I spent all day doing union-type-things around personal cases, then signed off for the day. And then spent an hour putting leaflets on my colleagues' desks.

Weirdly, the very senior managers were very polite about taking a leaflet and asked me about it - what was it, when was it, what were our aims, etc, but some of my more junior colleagues were quite sniffy. On the other hand, I could hear discussions breaking out about it as I moved between desks, so leafleting did serve a purpose even if no extra people come along. A surprisingly large number of people said they were coming, so I was heartened by that - estimates of the numbers expected on Saturday range from 250,000 to 1m. Obviously, the more the better.

I'm going to start from the disabled persons starting point on St James's Street; I looked at the map of the route and realised quite quickly that I'm just not up to doing the whole march. It's huge! What were they thinking of?
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Monday, March 14th, 2011 12:49 pm
I came across this on the net, and thought it funny in a horrifically apposite way:

A banker*, a Daily Mail reader and a disabled person are sitting at a table sharing 12 biscuits. The banker bolts down 11 of them and says to the Daily Mail reader, "Watch out for the welfare scrounger, he wants your biscuit."


* Note: Not bank staff. Bank staff are paid very much less and their bonuses are commensurately less.
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Monday, March 7th, 2011 04:50 pm
My census form arrived today. I filled it in* and now just have to remember to send it off on the right date.

* I live alone and never have visitors. So meh.
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Friday, May 21st, 2010 03:39 pm
I'm back from my trade union's annual conference...and about to settle down in front of the TV and watch something which requires 0.01% of my attention span.

This is because after 4.5 days of sitting on hard and uncomfortable chairs listening to speeches that start "President, Conference, Comrades..." I really can't do with anything which might be hard work.
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Friday, May 14th, 2010 11:10 pm
Kiana Firouz, 27 years old, is an outspoken Iranian LGBT rights activist, filmmaker, and actress. When clips of her video documentary work featuring the struggle and persecution of gays and lesbians in her country were acquired by Iranian intelligence, agents began to follow Firouz around Tehran, harassing and intimidating her. She fled for England where she could safely continue her work and studies.

Firouz, understandably, has requested asylum from the British government. Much to everyone’s shock and dismay, the British Home Office has rejected her application for refugee status. Yes, they know she’s gay. Yes, they know she could be deported back to Iran at any time, and that if this happens, Firouz will most likely be sentenced to torture and death after being found guilty of the “unspeakable sin of homosexuality” because she has participated in explicit lesbian sex scenes in the movie, and been a fierce proponent for human rights in her country.

In Iran, the punishment for lesbianism involving mature consenting women consists of 100 lashes. This punishment can be applied up to three times. After a fourth violation of Iranian law, a woman convicted of “unrepentant homosexuality” is finally executed by hanging,


Please sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/kianaf/petition.html

and/or write to the Home Office on public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

More information here Everyone Group

She still has an appeal left (I think) so please sign the petition now, and write to the Home Office, and maybe we can change this decision.
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Tuesday, May 11th, 2010 09:52 pm
David Cameron is UK's new prime minister...from the BBC's website.

Inevitable, I suppose, but...crud.
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Monday, May 10th, 2010 06:45 pm
Sort it out; I'm bored with you already.

My preference for a pact, if they're going to have one, is for a Lib/Lab pact. Well, obviously I don't want any of those Tory bastards anywhere near power, even if they do have a small majority of MP's. I mean, if they can't orchestrate a landslide given one of the most unpopular post-war governments and a crashing economy it's hardly a ringing endorsement of their position, is it?
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Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 11:19 pm
Election day tomorrow.

Here's hoping those Conservative bastards don't get in; I can't be doing with five years of that shit. A couple of people used longer and politer words than me, notably [personal profile] actionreplay who said, "Remember, every time you vote Tory, God kills a kitten, and then makes it pay for its own gravestone."

Also, signal boost for this post of Yonmei's.
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Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 12:04 pm
So the general election has been called. Yippee. At work we have gone into what is called 'purdah', meaning we can't do a lot of the stuff we would normally do and therefore try to sort out the things which have needed sorting out for the last five years. Like the filing.

Easter is a time for Easter eggs and computer games

I had no Easter eggs. I had to buy some crème eggs on arrival at work this morning and I've secreted them in my bag for later.

As you will have read I spent the Easter weekend in Ferelden, a place which doesn't exist, combating evil. Cut for those of you not at all interested in my video game related amusements )

In the meantime I've started a new character, this time a warrior – something with a bit more going for him than an elven mage. The origins story for a human warrior is quite sad, I thought, and has to colour the character's behaviour for the rest of the game. That could be, of course, because I'm used to playing tabletop RPGs, which are more like acting. Even so, it's going to be hard to persuade me to slaughter Zevren out of hand on encountering him, which is my preference as a player having been backstabbed once; I simply don't think the character would do that.

There lies my feeling about PRGs; the point is to do what the character would do, not what you would do in that situation. What I would do in most of those situations is to run away and hide until the bad nasty thing has disappeared, or I've been killed and eaten. I'm definitely one of the natural NPC's of life.

Further question: Does anyone know if "Awakenings" is coming out on the PS3? I'm not buying a whole new, different, console for one game. Just not going to happen.
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Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 03:56 pm
Yes, yet another political entry.

From "Tax is the best form of defence" a circular produced by an old friend of mine, Anna Owens, and which is here.

"Currently the UK debt is £175 billion, an increase in £45bn from 2008. This debt could be nearly eradicated if HMRC (what was called the Inland Revenue) were given the resources to collect the £100 bn tax which is lost to the exchequer each year through tax avoidance, tax evasion and failure to collect."

Remember, she's not talking about introducing any new taxes. None. Just actually having more civil servants to get out there and do the job of identifying and collecting taxes that are already owed. And tax debt can go back six years. The government could eradicate the UK debt without cutting services, by spending more money where it's needed.
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Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 10:08 am
Summary (from here.

While the recession places increased demand on local public services, they are also under mounting pressure to make savings and become more efficient. One suggestion often put forward to tackle the country’s growing debt problem is to outsource or privatise our public services. The TUC have produced a pamphlet which examines this proposition and attempts to explode some of the myths and misconceptions about privatisation to show that it would cause more problems than solutions.

MYTH 1 During the economic downturn, the best way to save money is to privatise public
services


In reality, public money is best kept within the public sector during the downturn. For every pound of public spending in a local area, this generates an additional 64p. Outsourcing and Public Private Partnerships – often undertaken with large multinational companies – take money out of areas when local economies and communities most need to be supported. Public spending has a stabilising effect, particularly during a recession; privatisation would only undermine this.

MYTH 2 The private sector costs less than the public sector and is more efficient.

In reality, there is no evidence that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. Outsourced services are concentrated in a few large firms which dominate the industry and have proved able to earn large profits. PFI projects often go far over budget while contracts are inflexible, binding the public sector into contracts for buildings and services which often later prove unfit for purpose. PPPs and outsourcing are too often the cause of a downward pressure on staff terms and conditions, the
fragmentation of services and a divisive effect on public sector ethos.

MYTH 3 Competition is the best way to improve public services

In reality, public services are too important to compete on price. Public services reduce inequality, promote economic, social, and environmental security. Competition merely leads to a race to the bottom, with providers racing to compete on costs to the detriment of service quality. Competition leads to the fragmentation of services and increased transaction costs, linked to making and monitoring contracts, accounting, auditing, legal services, advertising and shareholders’ profits.

MYTH 4 The private sector is more responsive to service users’ individual needs

In reality, only the public sector can respond to society’s collective needs. Public services must be subject to democratic accountability and transparency. Privatisation erodes this accountability and treats vital services merely as contracts to be bundled up and sold off.

Myth 5 The public sector has a worse productivity record than the private sector

In reality, public services create public value – but this is hard to measure. It is notoriously difficult to measure public sector productivity and even harder to compare it to the private sector. An increased class size might appear to show a teacher working more productively, but it is doubtful this would improve the quality of education. Private sector productivity can be assessed by looking at the balance sheet. In the public sector, it is more about public value, with services that respond to the needs of citizens, that are sustainable, provide long-term value for money and are trusted by citizens.

Myth 6 “Back-office” functions can be outsourced without impacting on the front-line

In reality, support functions are just as important as the front-line. Without “back office function”, frontline workers would not be able to do their job. The NHS would not be able to survive without the people who book appointments, analyse blood tests, process X-rays or make sure staff get their wages on time. A false division is being created between front-line and support services which is fragmenting and damaging vital public services.
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Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 05:39 pm
A TUC study, ‘Decent pensions for all’, finds taxpayers are spending twice as much on private sector fat cat pensions than on public sector pensions. Taxpayers are paying £2.50 to subsidise the pensions of the richest 1% of the population for every £1 spent on paying pensions to retired public servants.
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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 11:13 pm
John C. Wright fails to shut the fuck up. (For those who missed it, he's the homophobe who's been causing a shitstorm on the blogosphere. The best reply I've found to him is here.

There is nothing anyone can do or say which will make that man see reason. What a wazzock.