Tuesday 24 April 2012

Enough with the passion!

They should have shown more passion, thus spoke the commentator and the various studio heads nodded in agreement. A simple diagnosis adopted by the press because passion is something we all understand, but since when did simple and the truth become such easy bedfellows? I’m pretty sure England’s failure to win the World Cup in my lifetime isn’t down to a lack of enthusiasm. Likewise I don’t think those who succeeded did so because they wanted it more.

These truths are self-evident, yet we persist in this nonsense. Popular culture - for example, cookery competitions - place a passion for what you’re doing ahead of knowing what you’re doing. Worse, far worse, this silliness has infiltrated our work. This is not to denigrate enthusiasm; it’s to challenge the idea that enthusiasm is a pre-requisite to doing good work. I don’t mean ‘good’ in its technical sense, more that definition alluding to professionalism and a strong ethic; sometimes I love my work, sometimes it drives me to despair, always I give my best. The notion we’ll only ever work on what interests us is absurd, so why suggest otherwise, and what use is someone who saves their best for those projects using the latest technology? I’ve worked with a developer who lived and breathed ‘the craft’ - I imagined shelves at home lined with books about coding, and their work when using the newest framework was often brilliant, but we also had a number of legacy applications, you can guess the rest.

Contributing to open source projects, writing a technical blog and all that other stuff is cool, doing anything you enjoy is really cool, but as in any way of life, when we start to think of what makes us happy and productive as the template for others, we should take a step back. Hence my appreciation for the tongue-in-cheek 501 developer manifesto, it’s a long overdue correction to those who have looked pejoratively at others with a different method. Yes, it’s a little bit rude and some humourless types have taken exception, but if you’re going to ‘pity’ anyone you ‘pity’ those on the pedestal because ... that’s how a joke works.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Burn ‘em, Burnham

To get his Bill thru, PM repeatedly told Commons #NHS waiting times were falling. We now know those claims were false. Cameron = NHS Conman.
-- 19-Apr-2012
This is, I presume, what passes for insightful political comment from the Shadow Health Secretary; or what we in the wider world recognise as frontier gibberish. I’m only commenting because 50+ unthinking sheep (and counting) have already re-tweeted this pearl. The trouble is:
  1. I don’t remember waiting times being a key subject of the debate, the implication they were instrumental in getting the bill ‘thru’ is too silly; and this is because ...
  2. If waiting times had been a key subject of the debate, you’d hardly claim they were falling and then use this as an argument for change. Conversely, if waiting times are in fact rising....
It’s almost as if Andy Burnham MP hasn’t thought it through.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Vanity of vanities; all is vanity

A victim of my never ending tinkering, I noted that of the two blogs using my custom domain, the naked domain was being redirected to the ‘blog’ rather than the ‘www’ sub-domain. On the face of it this is easy enough to fix in Blogger settings, yet when I changed the setting on one blog this was reflected on the other; either both were set to redirect or neither were. Whatever order I unset and then set I seemingly couldn’t change the destination of my naked domain. Until I remembered to clear the cache; fool me once, Blogger, shame on you, fool me twice ... actually, I think this is the second time.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

We need to talk about Ken

Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson
Tax avoidance to the left.
Oh dear, what are Labour going to do, what are any of us going to do should Ken Livingstone defy the odds - and the supposed intelligence of voters - by winning the London Mayoral contest next month. At the moment it doesn’t look likely, thanks to the recent discovery that on the subject of tax avoidance he’s a hypocrite, or as Boris Johnson is supposed to have said, “a fucking liar”. It turns out Ken organises his tax affairs in much the same way as I (when a contractor) used to, only - unlike the former and would be future Mayor - I never combined this with articles painting the Tories as “rich bastards” exploiting “every tax fiddle”. That would be a bit cheeky, yet Ken did exactly this in a 2009 article in The Sun. How deliciously ironic to find that because of the way he arranges his own tax, Ken Livingstone pays a far lower rate than that of his Tory rival. Indeed, Ken Livingstone pays a far lower rate of tax than most people, including myself, despite having a far greater income.

In some ways this is a relief, as otherwise we might be discussing whether the allegations of anti-Semitism and his association with certain anti-Semites would help or hinder his chances of becoming Mayor. Sometimes it’s what Ken doesn’t say that we should worry about; this from the BBC:
Egyptian-born Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has been criticised for condoning suicide bombings and having anti-Semitic and homophobic views. The Mayor of London [at that time, Ken Livingstone] acknowledged that he and the cleric would not see eye-to-eye on Lesbian and Gay views.
How odd then that despite the double standards on tax avoidance, his openly antagonistic stance to Jewish people and having previously campaigned against his own party, party leader Ed Miliband is today throwing his support behind Ken Livingstone’s campaign. Well... he’s in the club, though Labour party rules suggest he shouldn’t be.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Pet cemetery

Pet Cemetery
The goldfish is dead; long live the (other) goldfish. At 6pm on the evening of April the 7th, the father of Miss Ruse was called to a fish tank in a bedroom north of Bristol, there to pronounce Minnie the fish ‘dead on arrival’; dead on my arrival, it’s not like the fish could go anywhere. I’d expected a body afloat, not a ghost floating through a former home. Unsure of what should follow I asked my daughter, who fishing out her former pet requested a burial alongside Humphrey (the guinea pig) for the following day, Easter day, which entailed an overnight period of lying in state for the deceased. I can recommend Tesco re-sealable sandwich bags.

I am on the downward slope of my extended weekend yet nowhere near the arbitrary schedule imposed to complete Tender Is The Night. Unexpected deaths aside, I’m not too concerned as it’s achieved the desired effect of making me read, and when finished I can decide on Gatsby, recently read and Fitzgerald’s most famous, or this last and less well received of his novels. Of course I don’t really have to choose but I’m tending towards the latter. It’s decline and fall repeated; though extrapolated from where I am in his story, Dick Diver’s descent looks terminal in comparison to that of Logan Mountstuart whose own decline, whilst it might sometimes have been self-induced, was mostly one that afflicts us all.

Friday 6 April 2012

Rise and shine, readers

Yesterday, having woken at an ungodly hour I remained such for hours, until close enough to an alarm that getting up made no difference. I was tired, so much so that driving into work occasioned one of those “where am I” moments similar to when, having driven from Bristol to Manchester, I failed to remember Birmingham. This time it was an eerie one minute tumbleweed along what later transpired to be the M48, but that’s motorways for you; and my excuse for the second - and definitely not the last - latte and cinnamon Danish combo of the week. It wasn’t enough to protect from a malcontent office air conditioner, but then what is?

Today starts a long Easter weekend in which to recover, eat chocolate, repent, think about fixing the blog, laugh at Ken Livingstone’s predicament and finish that book. Hopefully not in that order; I can laugh at Ken anytime and I’m committed to Tender Is The Night which, though brilliant, teases with the possibility of becoming annoying or worse, ordinary. I have four days, and no excuses.