Sunday, 30 January 2011

Twilight of the Oligarchs (Act Two)

A celebrity oligarch has his say:-

"You, you the people, you the peoples, you accuse me of simply re-arranging deck chairs on Titanic. But what more do you want? What more have you ever want? Good government is all about understanding peoples and their needs for change. And what, I ask you, is more important than the changing of the deck chairs when the ship, it is sinking? For, the ship, if it is inevitable it will sink, then at least it will sink with dignity, with all the deck chairs nicely arranged and in good order and looking really pretty and with the violins playing nice Mozart music all the while. Yes?

"You peoples, you must accept and respect that I always have your interests at heart. I give you bread, I give you circuses. I give you television. I let you have computer games, Apples Mac, IPods, cars, washing machines - all of the latest accoutrement of a civil society. I allow you all the use of the internet (although, I accept, I don't do that so much of late). I let the television channels to broadcast reality TV - and what better example of reality, of real human life is there than reality TV? You learn the real experience of life, like it is for the ordinary people. And then you know that there is more to life than morality, than these ideals and all this Western bullshit about freedom and democracies. And what is so important about self-actualisations anyhows?

"So, I ask you to go back to your homes and switch on your television set and watch the latest edition of "Little Brothers, You're Fired". Much better, I say, to watch someone else be fired than to get fired up yourself. I should know. Cos that will only cause you stress and discontent - which none of us want after all, least of all me. I repeat, go back to your IPods and your Facebooks and do decent, proper, healthy things with them, like tell your friends who you got pissed with last night and who you have sex with and what undies you like your woman to wear. (Excuse me for exercising my right to be a raunchy, hot-blooded, testosterone male, oh peoples. For I am simply a man, like all of you are, I am sure!)

"And then we can all be happy and we can be living together in perfect harmonies, and we can realise that there is more to life than freedoms and democracy. There is much, much more, so much more - such as having the right to vote crappy fake person off the latest edition of that marvelous Simon Cowell programme: "I'm celebrity oligarch - get me the hell outta here!" 

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Sex, drugs, and hack and roll

What'll they make of phone hacking a hundred years from now? Will writers, poets go beyond the mundane "who hacked whom"? It's possible. They say historical events are often best viewed through the prism of literary narrative... or, something along those lines...
Here are just two examples of how these "men of letters" might one day frame what's going on:-

1. Nursery Rhymes

Hack and Bill went up the hill
To fetch some boiling water
Hack fell down and spooked the Crown
Old Bill came tumbling after

2. Biblical Scriptures - Taken from the Book of Interceptiones, Chapter 101, Verse 10

And John did hack Pete and Pete did hack Glenn and Glenn did hack Jack and Jack did hack Charles and Charles did hack Gordon and Gordon did hack Norman and Norman did hack Rebekah and Rebekah did hack Brian and Brian did hack Alan and Alan did hack Rupert and Rupert did hack Dan and Dan did hack Sienna and Sienna did hack Judah and Judah did hack Steve and Steve did hack Max and Max did sue the hackers and everyone associated with the hacking thereof... And it came to pass that anybody who was anybody did hack their foes, and all kinds of shady beings were at it all the time, this hacking, nay, except the common man who did simply read what the hacks did write in their solemn pamphlets and beheld them in wonderment.

And the Lord said unto the leading hackers. "Thou art hacking bastards. For I have it on good authority that thou has hacked even myself. What kind of dirty little hackers art thou?

And the hackers did look sheepish and they wailed and did beat their breasts and replied: "Forgive us, Oh Lord, for we know not what we do. We did honestly believe that what is sauce for the spook is sauce for the hacker."

And the Lord showed pity on them and duly sent them all to Hell where they did indeed belong.

And verily, there, in Hell, did they all hack happily ever after

There endeth the lesson

For now, at least.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Quick and easy guide to violation

Have you been hacked or are you hacked off? Do you have the impression you've been violated or your privacy has been invaded in some way, but you simply cannot tell for sure? Well, if so, here is a simple guide to finding out whether you have been violated or not.

You HAVE NOT been violated if:

- You're an ordinary member of the public
- You are part of a protest group, whether a domestic extremist or simply a tree-hugging hippie
- You have accidentally slept with an undercover police officer
- You have insufficient funds to sue anyone

You HAVE been violated if:

- You're a member of parliament, a minister, or a former prime minister
- A celebrity, wealthy member of the business community, or prominent publicist
- Have accidentally slept with a domestic extremist
- Have sufficient funds to sue whoever you want

Monday, 17 January 2011

Leveraging and facilitating the collaborative envelope

We asked a local authority boss to comment on the current round of public sector reforms and the need to deliver less targets and more solutions-focused efficiencies during this time of austerity.

"Please don't talk to me about solutions-focused efficiencies. I've had it up to here with solutions-focused efficiencies. I've spent half my working life in a successful target-based thinking arena that is dedicated to managing core competencies and rolling out goals-driven solutions to the end-user. And the last thing we need right now is solutions-focused efficiences.

"During my past ten years, in particular, as head of a human-capital rich strategic solutions department, I have been at the cutting edge of local authority, people-centred planning and services provision. Our initiative-based policy development unit has offered countless clients (i.e.end-users) the kind of robust ideas-endowed resources they demand and, in my opinion, are right to expect from a leading public-sector provider. And these resources, I have to add are the envy of public-sector strategic resourcing departments the world over.

"During my time, we have managed, through a process of interdepartmental and multiplicative collaboration both to enhance and progress a range of strategy-critical services that have, quite literally, pushed the envelope when it comes to public sector functionality. In education, we were first when it came to the new code of learning-centred and interdisciplinary competencies advancement - no small feat, even despite the human capital and the generous employment facilitation that the government of the day allowed us. In public sector health provision, through a series of holistic engagement initiatives, we redrew and reinvented the entire patient-focused experience. And in policing and public order resourcing, we have rolled out a range of cutting edge strategies, that have enhanced the surveillance capabilities upon those citizens and residents of our borough who are deemed to fall outside the envelope of what is considered acceptable in this day and age. Those of you who do not actively engage with our detailed refuse collection policies beware!

"So I have to object when I listen to the Prime Minister criticising the targets-based culture that has operated so effectively over recent years. Where would we be without targets? Where would we be without resource-efficient predictors of results-focused orientation? Where would we be if we did not grade any current or given situation against future aspirations within a defined timescale? Where would we be without verifiably holistic engagement initiatives?

"Up shit creek! That's where we'd be! Up shit creek!

"So I will say simply this to the Prime Minister: Mind your language, Prime Minister. Or else you are quite realistically in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Which in strategic terms would be a rod/back interface situation."

"Do you see where I'm coming from?"

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Love me love my bonus

Hello, my name is Robert and I am the CEO of the Royal Bank of Short and Curlies (RBSC). I have come here today to explain to you how bonuses work - for those of you who don't already know!

What happens is that you deposit your hard earned cash in something known as a bank account. We take your money and then invest it - and keep on investing it - until it's all gone. We do this by creating innovative investment vehicles called credit derivatives, that make you think that we are investing your money wisely. But these vehicles are so scientifically advanced that they generate what scientists call "black holes". These black holes make your money disappear without a trace. Clever, eh?

What we do next is even smarter. We now appeal to your "taxpayer instincts" and tell you that if you ever want to see your money again, then you better bail us out. You, being the wise and generous fellows that you are comply with our demands, handing over good money after bad. We then invest this new bailout money by placing it in what we call "bonus pools" which allow us to pay ourselves large bonuses.

It is therefore sad, I have to say, to discover that some of you taxpayers are unhappy with this arrangement. We have to make it clear that if you hinder us from paying ourselves these large bonuses, we will move to Shanghai. Then you'll never ever see your money again. This is what's called being Shanghaied. And it only occurs because we have you by the proverbial short and curlies.

Look at it this way: Imagine you allowed your entire food supply, your medical supplies, your right to breathe oxygen, your right to have sex, controlled by one group of very well paid people. Now imagine those people went bankrupt and told you that if you didn't pay them lots of money, they would move to Shanghai and you  could whistle for your food, your medicine, your oxygen and your sex. What would you do? Damn right! You would hand over the moolah pretty pronto. Am I right or am I right?

Well, that's what happens when you allow your money supply to be controlled by a small group of very well paid people. If you don't keep paying that fine group of men and women large amounts of money - or bonuses - you can say bye bye to your money supply. (That rhymes - I must be a poet!)

So please, please, please stop complaining about these bonuses of ours. You know it won't get you anywhere. You have to pay up. You have no choice. Do you really want us to go elsewhere and inflict our lovely credit derivatives on the other nations and the other peoples of this world? No! Of course you don't. It would be sheer madness to want that.

So, in the words of our great hero, our guru, our spiritual leader, one Delboy Trotter - he of "Only Fools and Horses" fame - "You know it makes sense."

Or else, remember the words of my great poem...

 "You're gonna kiss bye bye
 To your money supply.
 Just say bye bye
To that money supply!"

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The End of the Beginning of History

Distinguished academic, Professor Fukyu-karma responds to criticism that, in 2011, his thesis "The End of History" looks more than ever like it was essentially a pipe dream:-

"Okay, guys. I know what you're going to say. The End of History repeated itself, first as tragedy after 911, then as farce after the economic meltdown of 2008.

"You'll say I didn't take into account the power of ethnic loyalties and religious fundamentalism as a counter-force to the spread of liberal democracy. That's the tragedy, right? You'll say I didn't foresee that the economic meltdown of 2008 would leave neo-liberal democracies weak in the face of the nascent economic and political powers of China and Russia that prefer more authoritarian approach to capitalism. That's the farce, right?

"But I say that lots of people never really understand my thesis in the first place. And some of those who did "understand" - but now reject it - weren't real neo-cons anyway. They were crypto-cons, pseudo-cons, also-cons and also-rans. They just were pretending that they like my theory for their own particular ends, but they never really take it on board. They just thought it useful at the time because it help them get things they want, like power, like global influence, like money. And how neo-liberal is that? Right, guys?

"But none of that was what I was talking about at the time. I was talking about the end of history being in the making - not that the end of history was actually ended as in over. I was saying it was an end more as in the end game. And remember folks: The end of history, like Rome, wasn't built in a day! You can believe it!!!

"And whilst I accept that Iran isn't going to embrace neo-liberalism any time soon, and whilst I accept that Iraq and Afghanistan will end up as theocracies and whilst I accept that South and Central American people (like Chavez, like the Zapatistas etc) have yet to take neo-liberalism totally to their bosoms, and whilst I accept that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia aren't exactly showing a keenness for it either right now, and whilst I accept that Russia and China have a tendency to lock up opponents of the government and exercise a rather authoritarian form of capitalism... apart from all that... was it not indeed great, when at the Beijing Olympics, President Hu Jintao talked about democracy? He actually mentioned it. Democracy! Okay, he hasn't mentioned it again since. But it's a start, isn't it? Surely, it is a clear sign that "the times they are a changin'." Isn't it?

"So now I conclude by stating the following: This might not be "the end of history" as some suggested; this indeed might not be the beginning of the end of history... But, well... at least it could be the end of the beginning of history.

"Or something.

"Right guys? Help me out here!"