Wednesday, September 25, 2002


In an attempt to move away from the theorising of my recent posts I thought I'd add that I played 5-a-side for the first time in a million years on Monday. Although my muscles began to tire quite quickly my stamina is much better than it was and I was still running at the end, clearly my sporadic trips to the gym are doing some good. I played well too, my passing was crisp, and at one point I did a fantastic double Cruyff turn to get out of a melee of players, you never lose that kind of class. I even got on the end of a neat passing move to notch on my debut. Good finish it was to, It would have been two but for me hitting both posts with a strike during "next goal wins".

I can barely walk today, mind.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Domesticated cows

One thing I learnt from my years of Sociology and Geography at University is that you can’t domesticate cows. It wasn’t part of the course, but something that was told to us by our physical geography lecturer on one field trip. I don’t mean that you can’t get them to do the washing up, because that’s silly. What I mean is that you can’t have cows as pets. Their size not withstanding, a domesticated cow will become surly, big-headed, and ultimately destructive.

At work the other day I heard someone crying because a customer had yelled down the phone at her. It got me thinking, what is the process by which people feel it is right and acceptable to yell down the phone at someone just because they are in a working environment? Someone somewhere along the line decreed that this was acceptable, and it probably wasn’t their parents.

Simon expounds a convincing theory whereby your career begins to plateau around your early 30’s when you are no longer the bright star of the corporation, but a competent if uneventful employee. This leads to a degree of anomie, and forces you to fulfil your ambitions through other activities; i.e. children, marriage etc.

I would add to the list the concept of ‘Corporate Mothering’. In your thirties your experience and confidence no longer provides pay rises and promotions, so you look for a channel where your outputs can be rewarded. Children and marriage will take you so far, but it is work values you the least but occupies your time the most. At work, for many, the channel to continued vicarious success is a protégé. They willingly follow you, because they need a leg up the career ladder. You instil your values and beliefs into this person, you take great joy in their progress, and lay their successes down to your mentoring. Inevitably you also promote your prejudices and weaknesses whilst ignoring theirs, after all you are creating someone in your image you’re unlikely to be objective enough to withhold your more erratic traits whilst pushing all your best practice. In becoming a Corporate Mother, you are corporatising your protégé, instilling an arrogance which overstates their worth. When they are finally let off the lead they have been socialised to assume they are better than anyone else, providing them with licence to be rude and aggressive if they don’t get their own way.

Like the domesticated cow the corporatised protégé should be unacceptable because it’s obstructive and arrogant, yet it is allowed to continue its unpleasantness to all concerned.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

The futility of success

Whilst I don’t work in the world’s largest company, I work in one that acts like it is. We are currently going through a business process re-engineering project and a new IT system implementation. We’ve employed a recently re-branded expensive management consultancy and huge software vendor to build the systems we need to support the processes that drive our core business.

Jesus, I’m boring myself writing this stuff.

Re-engineering a business process is fundamentally about the manipulation of people, and the reconstruction of their values. It is therefore morally corrupt, business is morally corrupt, but this is morally corrupter. It is designed to change the way people think. Business in general does the same, but at least as a customer you can choose not to think in the way you are told to. In companies, if you don’t play the game, you’re fired. The members of the project team are at the sharp end of this corruption, acting as the faceless mouthpiece of the corporate ideal. Anarchists, opportunists and independent spirits need not apply.

Whilst I accept that it pays the mortgage and looks great on the CV, is this what they really wanted? Did they want to re-engineer business processes when they were teenagers. Did their hopes, dreams, ambitions and desires centre on the opportunity to “Reduced Unit Cost Delivery Processes”?

I’m sure they are all decent people, all immaculately turned out in their crisp suits droning on in front of their slick PowerPoint presentations about “Out of the Box IT solutions” and “To Be Business Processes”. But do they get home, drop their slim line laptops onto the settee, kick-off their polished uncomfortable shoes, sink to their knees and sob “It was never supposed to be like this”?

What is it like to succeed in something you never wanted to succeed in?

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Do you see what I did there?

So, Bush and Blair continue to swim against the tide of public opinion to push on with a series of please-ignore-the-state-of-the-economy air strikes on Iraqi in the name of the ongoing war against leading Progressive Rock band The Al Queda Network, who if I’m not mistaken toured with Yes in the 70’s.

Never the less, my concerns are not with the dubious value of these air strikes, but the recent reports that Tube strikes are also planned. Not withstanding that Tube trains are slow and limited vehicles to unleash hell with, the press are openly reporting when these tube strikes are due.

End this insanity now.

Friday, September 13, 2002

A whole new value system

For many years I have conformed to the conventions of commerce, Product A has value equalling monetary value X – the value is determined by “The Market”. I’ve always accepted that The Market was always better at determining value than myself. I am therefore happy to spend £12.99 on a CD and £250 on car repairs even if the former gives me overwhelmingly more pleasure than the latter. It doesn’t seem right, but it’s the way I’ve always accepted.

On Wednesday Emma was on a training course, meaning for me another walk to the station, on the way whilst staring blankly at the pavement I happened upon a crisp £10. There was not a soul in sight, what with it being 7.30 in the morning so I thought for a second about picking it up. I didn’t… partly fearing I would find it nailed to the ground and then bundled to the floor by Johnny Knoxville or Dom Jolly, but mostly because I didn’t think it was right to benefit from some others’ misfortune. I was tempted, but I walked on by. I felt a bit stupid, because the next person along would whip it into their pocket and blow it all on fizzy pop and sweeties. But I did feel, slightly, spiritually and morally enriched, pleased that my moral value exceeded £10.

On the way home, as the train pulled into the station, I stuffed my copy of Tony Hawks’ slightly inferior One Hit Wonderland – disappointing after Around Ireland with a Fridge and Playing the Moldovans at Tennis - into my rucksack. When I looked up there was a copy of this week’s Heat Magazine left on the seat. Spying it I actually held back and let everyone get off the train before scooping it up and stuffing it into my rucksack.

I am therefore happy to forego a free £10 note but not a free copy of Heat magazine, so if we lived in an economic environment whereby product value = pleasurable utility, a copy of Heat magazine, to me, is valued greater than £10. This troubles me.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Messy business

The Messyan conspiracy, which basically says that the US Government caused or knew of the September 11th attack, has made Messyan a hugely rich man.

I’m not particularly au fait with the details about his theory having just caught a bit of a TV programme about it. But he alleges amongst other things that a plane didn’t hit the Pentagon because a doorway is clearly intact in one photo. A ballistics expert claimed that the thickness of the Pentagon walls, coupled with the relative softness of the plane’s aluminium frame meant it was entirely possible for the plane to crash, disintegrate and the walls to remain intact. The explosion came from the ignited aviation fuel.

When this was put to him, he was asked to explain how, as he claimed, a US missile hit the Pentagon, he replied “It is not my place to explain this” and that “It’s up to the US government to explain what happened”.

Of course it is you silly sod, it’s your conspiracy theory, and the US government have explained… the Pentagon was hit by an aeroplane, haven’t you heard? it was in all the newspapers.

Furthermore, the planes that hit the Twin Towers, were remote controlled by the US Government because they were the only people who had the technology to do it.

Fuck me, what an annoying little prick he is.

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