It's been a while...

...since I last posted. It's not that I have nothing to say: I've been busy with other things but am now looking forward to some more space. The first priority though will be to sort out the site: it hasn't been upgraded in a while, and MovableType may not be for the future. (I have recently had tangential experience with WordPress, helping Kath post hints on Big Dave's Crossword Blog, and it probably won't be that either. Maybe Ghost, maybe Squarespace (though I think I'd still rather host my own). Dynamic, or static (like Dr Drang)? Shall I allow comments? Who knows? Much to ponder.

It's also been a while since I set up my trusted MacMini servers. The main server still runs Tiger: it hosts both Apache and the long-gone Userland Frontier. Fragile. Easily broken. The upgrade path is ephemeral: come on Dave, fix it for us in node.js!

Lots of work here.

(Addendum Jan 5th 2015: See the About page for the resolution of some of there issues.)

When will they ever learn?

The Economist this week has a sympathetic obituary for Robert McNamara, the systems analyst-cum-defence secretary, who died earlier this month.

McNamara brought to American foreign policy and in particular the Vietnam war the economic logic and rigour that he had applied in industry: "The things you can count, you ought to count", but it did not work out as he had hoped.

In The Economist's words:

At the height of the conflict, he was called a baby-burner. His son marched against him. Jackie Kennedy once pummelled his chest with her fists, crying at him to "stop the slaughter". All this was difficult. He was an instinctive liberal, driving a battered Ford, living in university suburbs, where his recommended book for the reading group was Camus's "L'Etranger". Warmongering was not in his nature.

He was haunted by the thought that amid all the objective-setting and evaluating, the careful counting and the cost-benefit analysis, stood ordinary human beings. They behaved unpredictably.

That's the problem: friend or foe, we are still unpredictable. As we head into another recession, and the cost-cutters, bean counters and performance managers ply us with their metrics, let them remember that.

Is the NHS a bully?

HSJ: "Sir Ian Kennedy's parting shots and last month's staff survey both warn of a culture of bullying in the NHS...In a farewell interview as he stepped down from his role as Healthcare Commission chair, Sir Ian said bullying worried him "more than anything else" in the NHS and was "permeating the delivery of care", before calling on managers to "stamp it out".

Stamp it out! Did Sir Ian use those words, or was it the HSJ?

Not necessarily the goddamn truth

In an article part lamenting and part supporting the bureaucracy that nowadays underpins Wikipedia, Lance Knoebel reminds us of the need to maintain our critical faculties while reading Wikipedia (and, for that matter, Encyclopedia Britannica).

Not to mention the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Sun, Times, Daily Telegraph and, yes, even The Grauniad (to mention but a few).

The reality is that we are surrounded by and bombarded by a plethora of opinion masquerading as information. One can take it at its face (entertainment) value, be seduced by it—or savour it critically and enjoy the prose over the content, or vice versa—as the mood dictates. The choice is ours.