Monthly Archives: July 2009

JQP in Brief

Allies

It may prove a strategic error for the Cambridge PD to have shown their collective asses right at the start of Blog Against Racism week. It practically guaranteed them the spotlight as “offenders of the week” at a time when thousands of honourable people were looking for a bigot to pillory. On the other hand, I didn’t even know it was IBARW until Jennie Rigg mentioned it: hat duly tipped.

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Surveillance Societies

[ Editor’s note: This article was originally written for PSUK and appears here by permission of the editors. ]


Surveillance, it seems to me, comes in two categories differentiated by purpose; that is, all surveillance efforts will fulfill one, or both in some mixture, of two purposes. The first is the easiest, and the most etymologically obvious: surveillance is investigative.

A typical example of such surveillance work would be a phone tap. You initiate a phone tap to find out things you didn’t know before; it is an investigative tool. A point-to-point communication which should thus limit information exposure is compromised by external surveillance, permitting the watchers to learn things they would otherwise be unable to learn. But it is worth noting that this investigative function for surveillance is effective precisely in so far as it is covert; a subject aware of observation behaves differently.

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The Wrath of the Righteous

I had a nice little list, today. Things worth bringing to the attention of my occasional lectors. I was going to write about how England won something. At cricket no, less. I was going to mention how Neil Amstrong wants us to go to Mars, and how strongly I agree: and how South Africa has finally redeemed itself after Thabo Mbeki by developing a potentially viable AIDS vaccine. But then I checked up on what the Angry Black Woman said today and now, I’m angry too.

In truth, I am not angry. I am enraged. Which proves I should heed Nojojo’s advice better in future, and not read the comment threads on articles about race in America.

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Ties That Bind II

Re-capping my last, the tie made a certain amount of sense as part of the consolidation of British pub trade, in the context of the generally anti-competitive run of business over the later 20th Century. But it didn’t really do any good for anyone except brewers. There were even advantages from the advent of keg lagers, and the occasional keg bitter: they are point and click. To be a real ale cellarman is a craft, with physical and intellectual skills that must be taught and learned, practiced and honed. You have to know the beer, you have to know the tools, and you have to use them every day. This meant that a bad landlord could really mess up your beer (I’ve heard dark tales of the drip trays going back into the top of the mild every night, for example). With keg, you’d have to take an axe to it to really mess it up.

But the over-all consolidation of the trade was, as I said, not really good for anyone except capital accumulators. It made the beer worse, it made pubs worse, it made publicans lives’ hell and it radically reduced competition within the UK market. We’ve gone some way to fixing that, partly through the work of CAMRA and others, partly by just making better beer. Where there were 60 independent brewers in Britain at the start of the 80s there are over 600 now. Brewing is beginning to be a competitive industry again. But the pub trade is getting even worse: 35 pubs a week have been closed in the last year. Think about those numbers for a moment.

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Ties That Bind I

It hadn’t occurred to me, though it really should have, that the British Government is now a considerable player in the pub trade. It was pretty much inevitable, given that the financial crisis is derived from an artificially inflated and then over-exploited property boom, that at least one of the failed banks was going to be a pubco owner.

So, my hat is tipped to Private Eye (1240, p29) who have had a good look at the ridiculous and incestuous relationships between the PubCos, the government, and the Government’s “independent” body of pub valuers, RICS. This Labour administration (by “this” I mean New Labour, not Broon Labour) has continued the trend established in the 80s of setting thieves to encourage thieves when it comes to regulation. In the process, they managed to create the conditions for a scam even more ridiculous than the tied lease.

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It’s better when you talk

Apologies to all British readers for reminding them of a truly dire series of BT adverts. Over at GeekaChicas A Nonny Mouse has been talking about the city travails of Bozeman, Montana. In brief; a major local employer who also happen to be the city administration and therefore publicly funded, decided that all job applicants must submit username/password data for their internet community sites, including Facebook, Livejournal and email sites. The purpose of this remarkable “background check” was to verify that servants of Bozeman should be “of the highest moral fiber”. Continue reading

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JQP in Brief

So I’m back on the Metro run for the first time in a while, having spent 9 days in a field in Somerset making actual things out of wood. A short list of things I felt rant-worthy appears below.

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