what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oh to be in England!


A great European artist is dead – Lucian Freud (above). It’s rare for an artist to make the front page – and its sad that it’s so often only on their death that such detailed information can be found.

Alan Bennett has become a very English institution – in the sense of someone much appreciated for the loving way his essays and diaries recreate th sense of life in the middle of the 20th century. You can experience his wry appreciation of the past from this video which is part of a campaign against the cuts which are engulfing public libraries in England.

I liked this quote from Machiavelli as a commentary on the culture of ignorance with which we were presented in the parliamentary cross-examination of the Murdochs -
ONE ERROR into which Princes, unless very prudent or very fortunate in their choice of friends, are apt to fall, is of so great importance that I must not pass it over. I mean in respect of flatterers. These abound in Courts, because men take such pleasure in their own concerns, and so deceive themselves with regard to them, that they can hardly escape this plague; while even in the effort to escape it there is risk of their incurring contempt. For there is no way to guard against flattery but by letting it be seen that you take no offense in hearing the truth: but when every one is free to tell you the truth respect falls short...."
In my own humble experience every organisation i have ever worked in has resolved this conundrum by the simple expedient of ignoring it - in fact every management I have seen has encouraged the maximum possible sycophancy towards itself and the maximum possible group-think among employees. Genuinely independent thought was absolutely not to be tolerated. It would never occur to me that the Murdoch Empire would be any different
.And for those who can’t get enough of this developing scandal, here’s a podcast discussion between the editor of the Guardian and the key journalist to whom we owe the revelations.

It’s good to know that there is a sense of humour in some bureaucracies – this is the written response Bristol City council gave when asked about their strategy for dealing with a zombie invasion from outer space!

I’ve blogged recently about dead Bulgarian villages. This series of videos reminds us that many British towns are also suffering a slow, ligering death.

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