Search

Paul's Blog

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.

Uncategorized

Posted by on in Uncategorized

I'm not sure why bosses are so impressed by people who do "extra stuff". I used to work with a guy on the news side of a newspaper who also wrote a column on football. I couldn't help feel that if someone had the time and energy to write a football column, perhaps they were not putting all they could have into the job they were actually being paid to do. But the bosses were impressed, the guy got promotion. And twice he was in charge on the very very rare days when the paper got its backside kicked by the opposition - an opposition that was so incompetent that they couldn't report a broken street light to the council. I don't think us getting beaten was unrelated to his extra curricular interests interfering with his real job. I think if someone is being paid to do a job they should focus on doing the best job they can and that usually means not having the energy left at the end of the day to write football columns or take night classes. I'd be suspicious of such characters, if I was their boss. Same as the Germans are not impressed by the whole "first into the office in the morning, last to leave at night" approach to work. To the Germans, people who can't do their job in the time allocated simply can't do their job. So, yet another bunch of "workers" who should be viewed with suspicion but actually seem to get the promotions. 

Continue reading
Hits: 127
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

I was shocked that so many people were supposedly surprised by Donald Trump’s election to the Presidency of the United States. When people asked me last Monday and Tuesday how I thought things would go I told them that it was too close to call and the vagaries of the Electoral College system made the outcome even harder to predict. I am not special: but it did not take a genius. What I am not is a member of the chattering classes. The surprise at Trump’s victory among the media was as much a result of wishful thinking and blindness amongst the chattering classes as anything else. The media on both sides of the Atlantic is now firmly in the grip of a surprisingly narrow section of the population. Hence the surprise at the Brexit vote. Most of the media these days have no idea how the average person lives or how they think. Its members are increasingly drawn from the ranks of the privileged. To me a good newspaper had a staff drawn from a wide range of backgrounds. Now the only diversity is in skin colour. But the privileged come in all skin colours; however, they all have pretty much the same prejudices. The time has come to look at more than colour of a person’s skin when hiring reporters.

Continue reading
Hits: 113
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

I have been reading a lot of histories written in the late 1960s and early 1970s recently. They say as much, if not more, about the late 60s and early 70s, as they do about the events they supposedly cover. The pre-occupations and prejudices of the historians and British, the books are mainly British, are to the forefront. All history is to a large extent political. About the only thing historians seem to agree on, and even not always, is the date of the event. Even deciding who really won can be a matter of debate. History as an academic subject is about the interpretation of events rather than a simple recounting of the facts. What is highlighted and what is swept under the carpet by historians is often a political choice. The same is true of Remembrance. What precisely is being "remembered"? Different people are actually remembering, honouring or commemorating different things in the days around November 11th each day. Is it only "our" dead or everyone's war dead? Should veterans who fought against us be part of the parade? Which conflicts are involved? Which recent ones? Only Just Wars? Some of these questions are matters of personal choice. Others are definitely  political. Australia's ANZAC Day started out as a celebration of those who volunteered to fight and in some communities the noses of those who had not were rubbed in the dirt - those of Irish descent have sometimes proven laggard when they regarded a conflict as "England's War". And in another twist, the Ozzies don't do much for November 11th, preferring their own Anzac Day for commemoration to the day selected elsewhere in much of the former British Empire for such events.  Here in Edmonton I remember the Italian veterans marching in the Remembrance Day Parade a few years back but not the Germans. I don't think anyone insisted that the Italians involved had fought alongside the Allies after Italy's surrender. Certainly there were Germans in the Second World War who were in much the same boat as the British, ANZACs and Canadians and basically were the same kind of guys whose uniform was a matter of chance. But the Nazi system promoted and even celebrated tremendous cruelty and inhumanity. Should "Good Germans" be given a place in their former foes' commemorations? How does one identify a "Good German"? And not all the British and Commonwealth dead were exactly angels when it came to how they treated defeated foes. Others want to remember on November 11th but cannot face the pomp and parade. There are those who feel that some ceremonies spill over from commemoration to celebration.  Some people like the parades. Others prefer to observe an individual two minutes of silence at 11am on the 11th. No-one should be forced to do anything they don't want to do, or prevented from commemorating the dead. Were these not two of the things "we" were supposed to be fighting for and purportedly still do? It's all politics with a small "p".

Continue reading
Hits: 105
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

When the Canadian media wants to have a go at the Canadian military there are a couple of dial-a-quotes who will usually feature in the story. No matter the issue, these characters will have something critical to say. It doesn't matter how much or how little they actually know about the matter being discussed, they will be disgusted and/or outraged. Most are former members of the Canadian armed forces. Some are very former, in that they haven't worn a uniform for decades. But journalists are guaranteed a quote for their story which is highly critical of the Canadian forces. My guess is that British journalists have a similar call list. But sometimes there are reasons, very good reasons, why these pundits are former members of the military. Privacy rules, particularly when it comes to medical records, mean that the public cannot properly judge their credibility and impartiality. I suspect many of the "journalists" are just as ignorant about these characters' backgrounds as the public are; though whether that's down to a lack of professionalism or something more sinister I would hate to speculate. I have worked with, and for, some people who decide what the story is before they've spoken to a single person involved and know exactly what quotes they need for it. Those who fail to deliver the required quote just don't get quoted. And some of them are real publicity hounds.

Continue reading
Hits: 122
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

I was listening to a radio documentary about former British soldiers and the problems they have suffered since they left the army after serving in Afghanistan. The programme billed itself as being about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But listening to what the ex-soldiers had to say, I was left unsure how many of them actually had PTSD. PTSD is a very specific diagnosis with definite symptoms and treatment. The media as a whole has only recently discovered PTSD, though it is as old as warfare, and tends to bit a cavalier when it comes to the use of the term. Some may even be rather cynical in its use as a headline grabber. While anything that highlights this debilitating condition is welcome, I am not sure this kind of mislabelling is entirely helpful. The ex-soldiers appeared to have a wide variety of problems, ranging from psychological trauma to simply having trouble adjusting to civilian life after several years of a highly structured lifestyle which happened to include several unforgettable adrenalin highs. Dealing with, and preventing, the wide variety of problems this collection of ex-servicemen suffer from will require a number of different approaches. Sticking them all in a box labelled "PTSD" could mean that a number of easily rectified problems end up not getting the attention they deserve.

Continue reading
Hits: 150
0
Go to top