Posts

Showing posts from September, 2009

No Rule on How to Write

Image
I see that Computer Weekly has run my column on social media and the public sector:

"The great Ernest Hemingway once said: "There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges", so when it comes to finding a really good read, local government publications can normally be found somewhere near the bottom of any bedtime book choice. Not that town halls don't try very hard to reach out to the public in every conceivable way but by its very nature, even the brightest and most positive news stories from the public sector rarely attract the traffic they might deserve.

Most lately, you may have seen on the BBC Politics Show, criticism surrounding Brighton and Hove City Council, which advertised for a new social media officer with "expertise" on both Facebook and Twitter at a time when other staff are facing pay cuts. The council offered the reason for this appointment …

The Jungle Below

Image
An interesting six hours or so in the air on Friday.

First stop was Calais and 'The Jungle' the sparsely wooded area adjacent to the port, for a national newspaper, having a good look at what was taking place in the refugee encampment below. I was struck by how many blue tarpaulin-covered shelters there were, lean-to's huddling miserably together in a relatively small and dirty space and the presence of scaling ladders visible and badly concealed on top of several.

Most surprising of all is how close the industrial estate and coach park are to the 'Jungle', quite literally on the other side of the bushes.

Below, there was evidence of organised activity, with one large group of men visibly being directed by a single individual in a leather jacket. Where they might have been going I can't say but there was no shortage of lorries or coaches within easy reach of any passing travel interest.

Back on this side of the Channel, it was back to nuclear reactors, taking in Br…

Orwell Was Right

I thought I would try blogging directly from Microsoft Word this morning as I haven't tried it before, normally making entries, 'on the fly' straight into Blogger.com, spelling mistakes and all.



This morning's weather is such that there's no great incentive to leave the house, other than to walk a reluctant dog and this gives me a good reason to finish reading and marking-up Cabinet papers for next week and finish a two thousand word feature on last Sunday's flight to Milan and the Gulfstream G200 for 'P1' magazine; a bit like 'Top Gear' and I'm no Jeremy Clarkson although I've attached a quick clip of the landing for anyone who might be interestedin such things!
Having flicked through the Sunday papers, I've decided not to pull-out any stories that caught my attention other than remarking that it's TUC Conference time again and Trades Union leaders were reportedly treated to beer and curry with the Prime Minister this weekend in a…

Tiger Tiger

Image
Over at Leicester today flying a promotional banner for the "Tigers" rugby team. Leicester is only 138 miles from Thanet as 'The crow flies' but I'm sure it seem rather longer by road.

From the air and on a lovely autumn day like today, it looks like a very attractive city with lots of green spaces and a very accomodating airfield to operate from too!

With the evening now starting to draw in, the banner season will soon come to end or at least quieten down until April of next year. It still runs through the winter but becomes increasingly more of a probability exercise, each time I fly as the winter weather depressions and shorter days make flying more challenging.

Into Linate

Image
I found myself on a day trip to Milan on Sunday, as a member of the flight crew on a positioning trip of a GainJet Gulfstream G200.

Ninety minutes was all it took, followed by several hours of aviation hell, as I caught the 16:50 (delayed to 18:00) Easyjet from Milan's Linate airport back into Gatwick with all the other poor souls squeezed on-board.
From the cockpit of the Gulfstream, the view over the Alps was breathtaking from 37,000 feet, giving way suddenly to the flat plain of Northern Italy and then a sharp right-turn and a radar-vectored descent into Linate.

It's easy to understand why Manchester United Football Club and the super wealthy prefer executive jet travel whenever possible. Passport control and travel formalities are a polite nod at both ends and the interior of the aircraft is lavish in mahogany and leather with all possible comforts supplied.

This particular aircraft was scheduled to go on to Frankfurt in the morning and then Istanbul and beyond, finishing-up,…

The Hejaz Trail

Image
Not many people have heard of Charles Montagu Doughty, the great desert explorer and a contemporary of the equally famous Sir Richard Burton.

In 1876 the young Charles Doughty set out to cross the interior of the Arabian Peninsula. His goal was the "lost" Nabatean city of Madain Saleh the magnificent sister city to Petra in Jordan. Several years of his life were spent in what were later called his "wanderings": explorations of a terrain little known to Europeans, the discovery of the remains of the sought-for city and detailed accounts of what he discovered there, with particular attention paid to the local geology.

I've noticed that the BBC 2 documentary, 'The Frankincense Trail' with the embrassingly naive, Kate Humble, looks as if she is to visit this same spot in the northern desert of Saudi Arabia. I was once lucky to see this almost thirty years ago, while following the path of T.E Lawrence and the abandoned remains of the Hejaz railway; carrying a …

Joined-up Smart.Gov

Image
While ideas on trying to be as cost-effective and practical as possible with our ICT budget may have proved a little tedious for Thanet's Labour opposition during last month's council meeting, I see that this week's Computer Weekly has picked-up the broader public sector theme that: "We need to be more joined-up, increasingly smarter in the way in which we integrate different processes and innovative in the way in which we use our existing solutions and partnerships with other authorities."

When the Lights Go Out

With the year now accelerating into increasingly darker evenings, I read today that “Demand for power from homes and businesses will exceed supply from the national grid within eight years”, according to official figures.

Apparently, our problem, here in Britain is caused by the scheduled closure by 2015 of nine oil and coal-fired power plants victims of the EU directive designed to cut pollution.

In the next couple of weeks I have to visit Bradwell, Sizewell and Dungeness, nuclear reactors also scheduled for decommissioning and over the next decade, one third of Britain’s power-generating capacity needs to be replaced with cleaner fuels.

As it is most unlikely that any new nuclear power stations will be built before 2018, any drive for renewable forms of energy in particular the wind farms springing-up around our coast here in Thanet, is unlikely to meet the gap left.

The admission that Britain will face power-cuts is contained in a document that accompanied the Government’s ‘Low Carbon …