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Archive for February, 2009

Left alone in a cage with a mountain of cocaine, a lab rat will gorge itself to death.

Posted by Andrew Cooper on February 28, 2009

goodwinThat’s the first sentence of this article, which has nothing to do with Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension, but is the only explanation I can think of for why this banker is behaving as he is.  No doubt if we could interrogate the rats they’d say, shortly before they expired,  ‘you really can’t get enough of this stuff’.  When he was working and receiving bonuses he earned more in a year than most of the population would need for a lifetime of reasonably comfortable living.   He really doesn’t need the money.  It’s easy to think that his behaviour is driven by greed, but perhaps he – like the lab rats – is suffering from an addiction and is in need of help and understanding rather than pure approbation.  Just a second – no, it is just greed.

According to BBC Radio 4’s Money Programme today, if HBOS had failed – ie if it hadn’t been bailed out – Fred would have received £28,000 a year instead of the £695,000 to which, he maintains, he’s entitled.


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Posted by Andrew Cooper on February 26, 2009

dsc034961I expect that you’re wondering, reader, what happend to the project in Tanzania which I started way back in October ’08 and was which due to restart after a 3 week break.  Well I’ve just booked my flights – some four months later – and am looking forward to updating the Habari Tanzania blog I started here. I’ll be arriving in Dar es Salaam on 7th March, in the meantime there’s a lot to do.

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Doom and gloom predictions at gloomiest level since records began

Posted by Andrew Cooper on February 16, 2009

graphOK, chaps – and they are all chaps, aren’t they? – we’ve got the message.  It’s going to be really bad.  But talk about laying it on with a trowel.  Seems to me that every time I check the news headlines someone or other has come out with saying something like ‘ it’s going to be much worst than everyone says it’s going to be’.   Statements of this kind have, to my knowledge, been made twice in the last 48 hours. First the CBI said it’s going to be much worse than everyone thinks and now, unbelievably, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England is saying that the economy is ‘likely to perform much worse than the Bank of England expects’.  That’s right.  Charles Bean (I’ll avoid the obvious bean counter joke) is, according to the Guardian, saing that the economy is going to be in a worse state than the organisation of which he is deputy governor says it’s going to be.   

Extrapolating from the ‘even worse than we thought it was going to be’ announcements made over the last week, I think we can be confident that by the end of February the outlook is going to be the worst it has been since people stopped swapping sharks teeth for goods and services rendered and started using money (which, based on a quick Google was in Mesoptamia – aka Iraq – some 5,000 years ago).  

I propose that we all notify the assembled pundits, gurus, economists and bankers that we have got the message that things are worse than we can possibly imagine and that, until they inform us that the needle is nudging in the other direction, they can save their breath.

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Budhhism bus?

Posted by Andrew Cooper on February 12, 2009

I think I can safely predict that this website is going to cost the UK economy some billions of pounds today – the rate at which it’s spreading across the various web feeds I follow is astonishing.  Here’s my attempt:


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What goals and how goals – part 2

Posted by Andrew Cooper on February 10, 2009

Way back in mid-January I posted about the distinction that sports psychologists make between outcome goals and process goals.  In a nutshell, focusing on winning a race (an outcome goal) can be counterproductive because everyone else has the same goal and simply wanting to win clearly doesn’t guarantee that you will.  It’s much better, they argue, to focus on the things you need to do to maximise performance (process goals). 

Here’s the excellent Oliver Burkeman making similar points with better examples in his Guardian column last Saturday.

Posted in management, planning, psychology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The worst possible system of government, apart from all the others that have been tried.

Posted by Andrew Cooper on February 10, 2009

Earlier this morning I commented on the blog post here  which is about a subject that interests me.

Over the past three or four years there has been a lot of talk about re-engaging people in politics, much of it prompted by the idea that technology can help this happen.  But terms like ‘engagement’ and ‘involvement’ are often used without serious consideration of what they would actually mean in practice.  Our systems of government are deeply engrained, based in long established institutions, legal frameworks and, perhaps most importantly, customs and practice.  Just because current information technology enables broader involvement doesn’t mean that it will happen.  

As I suggested in an comment on the same blog, portable  networked computers been around for many years – I sent my first email from a laptop device over 20 years ago.  For most of those two decades pundits predicted that teleworking would revolutionise our working habits and travel patterns.  It still hasn’t happened – those of us who telework are at the margins, most people still travel to their place of work and the airlines still rely on business travel for much of their income.  The reasons we don’t telework (or tele-educate, for that matter) have nothing to do with technology and everything to do with how we best interact with one another in groups.

Posted in cognitive surplus, democracy, government | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Krugman on the meltdown

Posted by Andrew Cooper on February 7, 2009

I’ve been very unfair to economists here, once or twice suggesting the fact that very few of them appeared to notice the looming Global Economic Meltdown reflected badly on their profession.

This, however, is an economist who is worth listening to.  I’ve felt for some time that adversarial party politics simply can’t cope with the depth of our current economic crisis.  Krugman feels the same way, I think.  For example:

‘Somehow, Washington has lost any sense of what’s at stake — of the reality that we may well be falling into an economic abyss, and that if we do, it will be very hard to get out again.

It’s hard to exaggerate how much economic trouble we’re in. The crisis began with housing, but the implosion of the Bush-era housing bubble has set economic dominoes falling not just in the United States, but around the world.’

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Free laptops, anyone?

Posted by Andrew Cooper on February 3, 2009

According to this a £7 laptop is being developed by a ‘UK-Indian consortium’.  Makes the $100 laptop seem probitively expensive.  £7?  Surely that would only cover the postage and packaging?  More information needed, I think.

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