Bertie Mcboatface does an Outside Broadcast

March 31, 2016

 

Westie

A  dream inspired by a BBC news item that many libraries had closed and full-time jobs replaced with volunteers

Was it only a dream? It is still so vivid in my imagination.  The doors of the library open, and a man clutching a microphone enters.

Man with microphone: [voice quivering with deep emotional and empathic overtones] Hello. I’m Bertie Mcboatface from the BBC.  We are doing a programme on the wonderful and magical places that are our libraries.

Library Assistant:  I’m only a volunteer doing Tuesdays and Fridays. We run knitting circles, film nights…

Bertie Mcboatface: Our wonderful and magical tradition of service to others, so admired around the world.

Library Assistant [nervously]: If you wait, I can get the librarian…

Bertie Mcboatface:  Books.  The evocation of childhood!  The smell of furniture polish on the library tables.  The touch as you turn the pages over. It makes the hairs ride up at the back of my neck, just thinking of it.

Library Assistant: He’s just attending to another enquiry…

Bertie Mcboatface: The report out today says more than 20% of library jobs have been lost in the last five years. 350 libraries closed, 8000 full time jobs, gone. 25000 volunteers fill in. What would you say to  fifty year old Millie from Penzance who has been looking for another job for six months?

Librarian Person [hurrying up]:  Thank you, Library Assistant, I will deal with this request.  Mr Mcboatface?  How may I help?

Bertie Mcboatface: A very good morning to you, Mr Librarian Person.  You are live on BBC, talking to millions taking part in our wonderful and magical debate on library closures.

Librarian Person [worried]: Closure?  We announced our new opening hours after lengthy consultation.

Bertie Mcboatface:  But I noticed you are now a kiddies’ play centre and pensioners drop in centre.

Librarian Person:  Yes, we find the integration so rewarding.. We call it our cradle to grave project.

Bertie Mcboatface:  Humbling to learn of cradles and graves so beautifully put together. But why no spaces for bicycles outside, or indeed anywhere I could officially have tethered Jessica?

Librarian Person: Jessica?

Bertie Mcboatface:  My beautiful Westie. You can see the photograph of us I posted on our website.

Librarian Person, [weakly]: Dogs aren’t allowed, except for guide dogs.

Bertie Mcboatface:  We did that topic  in our people’s debate recently.  Most of our callers said that dogs should be allowed in libraries, shops, public toilets and crematoria.

Librarian Person: [desparately]: Excuse me, there’s something happening outside I must attend to

Bertie Mcboatface:  That will be my daughter. I tethered her to no-parking bollard with Jessica, to keep her company.  So it’s  back to the studio for the weather forecast. Don’t miss next week’s people’s debate: on are people who hire cleaners idle sluts, or the sort of hard working tax payers needed to keep the economy booming?


Charisma watch: in Westminster: Making a spectacle of themselves

March 28, 2016

 Joseph Chamberlain

 There is political turmoil in the Westminster bubble, with ministerial resignations, budgetary U turns, and emergency sittings.  The presentation of self through TV broadcasts makes a fascinating topic for investigation

Take, for example, the choice of ocular aids. The Prime Minister, spic and span, is only transformed as he whips out a pair of unobtrusive spectacles to read from a supplied answer before him. He then replaces the specs as quickly as possible.

The entire Government front bench has been a near Spec-free zone in the absence of Michael Gove with his heavy duty spectacles. Maybe childhood bullying and taunts of ‘specky four eyes’ means there is reluctance among leadership wannabes to risk revealing an ocular weakness. Nor was there sign of that symbol of the ruling classes the magnificent monacle as espoused by Joseph Chamberlin.

In contrast, the opposition were fearlessly flaunting their spectacles. Leader Jeremy Corbyn rarely allows his features to appear specless in public. I pondered on the way leaders build their self-image in public.

 The Charismatics

I tried to remember the spectacles favoured by charismatic leaders. Gandhi  and John Lennon gave fashion credibility to the style of the aesthetic and creative individual. Then there is another recent  charismatic American politician whose spectacles were part of a spectacular brand image. I refer, of course, to none other than Sarah Palin.

 The Intellectuals

There is an intellectual heavy duty design which I associate with French heavy duty intellectuals. England can offer Michael Gove, aready mentioned above, in this respect. From America there is the intellectual, humourist and film-maker  Mr Woody Allen.

 The proposed research project

How to study this fascinating subject?  Clearly it calls for an exploratory or pilot stage. The classification of spectacles will be of itself an interesting part of this.  Our political figues could be classified according to preferred choice of spectacle, leadership style, and perhaps political effectiveness.

To be continued

Perhaps with a comparison of beards, or even hairstyles …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


BBC Three Plans New Watchdog Programme on Scamming

March 26, 2016

anonymous

The BBC Watchdog programme continues its series on phishing and scamming. We report from a LWD subscriber on a classic scamming attempt

My first semi-smart phishing message purportedly from an old friend was realistic.  It said that he was trapped, having lost his wallet and passport in a hotel in Singapore. We had worked together there, and it was at least possible that he was there on a business trip.

This was a few years ago, before the scam became tiresomely obvious. Its slight error was to leave the impression through its style that it was that phoney. It was not quite how my friend would have written it (no mention of our shared experiences, for example, although these would not ‘prove’ much).

I can’t remember when my initial suspicion turned into certainty, but I ignored the message.

Since then I have had various versions, including the classics on:

The billions available to me in Africa

The unpaid bills I must pay

The inheritance awaiting confirmation

The ‘check’ on my corrupted bank account.

These are mostly implausible   A few I report to the IT department of my employer, whose name I will not mention here. These have always turned out to be rubbish to be deleted.

My advice is: do not reply directly. Never supply information of a sensitive nature. Check by other means where your friend is.

Best wishes

Suggestions welcomed

Suggestions welcomed, although I hesitate to publish any that might incur wilful scamming from malicious spirits out there [TR]

 


The strange case of Boaty Mc Boatface

March 23, 2016

Besemer

Creativity researchers have been trying to pin down  the qualities of a creative idea for many years. We look at how the prize-winning name for a boat meets the criteria

The research has been developed in factor studies of names voted creative.  This approach results in creativity being interpretative (some call it subjective).  Typically, a panel of experts rates names on factors believed to be associated with creativity. A contest to name a new boat would make a nice illustration of the research.  Or we could use the research to assess the creativity of the most popular name.

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Stan Lee is an inspiration to all Creatives

March 18, 2016

 

Stan_Lee_by_Gage_Skidmore_3

The creator of Spider-Man and many Marvel characters reveals how his fertile imagination is triggered

He was talking to a BBC reporter recently [March 2016] about his creative processes. His story matches dozens I have come across from creative individuals. According to Lee, he was looking for a new character when noticed a fly on the wall, and started playing around with ideas about a super-hero that could fly. He didn’t mention the great Superman, but in some way that didn’t matter, because he started adding ideas that would build on his first thought.

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Doping in Tennis. Nadal plays an attacking game

March 15, 2016

Rafa Nadal

Three years ago we published a post about doping in tennis. The story re-emerged this week as Nadal says he intends to sue for remarks about his alleged drug taking.

The original post suggested that tennis may be in denial about the state of drug taking in the sport.

A colleague with legal experience suggested I leave the specific aspects of the post out of the more recent publication Tennis Matters.

This post will be updated as the story develops.

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The BBC and the paradox of neutrality

March 11, 2016

thatchertank

The BBC has been hailed as an example of a broadcaster with a reputation for balanced reporting. However, its commitment to balance contributes to beliefs that it is institutionally biased. I call that the paradox of neutrality

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Sharapova shows her class facing professional humiliation

March 9, 2016


The story has shocked the tennis world. Maria Sharapova admits charges of taking performance enhancing-substances after failing a drugs test during the Australian Open

The superstar deals with the career-threatening blow with remarkable panache. This week [March 7 2016] a hastily-arranged press conference attracts a huge gathering of media journalists from beyond the world of tennis. A ‘significant announcement’ is promised.

It was assumed that Sharapova was going to announce her retirement after increasing effects of injuries. We didn’t see what was coming.

A contrite superstar fronts up

Looking upset but controlled, the superstar announces that she has continued taking taken a substance for medical purposes that was placed on the banned list as recently as January.

She accepts the error contravenes the WADA guidelines. However mistaken, she accepts her guilt, while hoping that mitigating circumstances will lessen her punishment.

An example must be made

The sports world splits into those calling for the most severe punishment possible (pour encourager les autres) and those accepting her mitigating circumstances includes her honest admission of guilt.

From a business perceptive, she behaved in the approved fashion and demonstrated leadership abilities rarely seen when a PR crisis blows up.

women in business, Maria Sharipova, Tennis, sports management, WADA, drug abuse, Olympic Games 2016, crisis handling, leadership the business magnate

Sharapova was world number one in tennis, and is proving a world-beater in her business ventures. At one stage, with injuries holding back her tennis, a story developed that she was considering changing her name to Maria Sugarpova. I leave readers to decide whether that was branding candy floss. In any case, the Sharapova brand is highly successful. In 2012 her on-court earnings at $5 million were dwarfed by her endorsements of $20 millions.

Damage limitation

This is damage-limitation big time. Within days of her press conference, three of her lucrative sponsorship contracts were terminated.

She still receives support from her national sports organization in Russia, itself suffering serious allegations about institutionalized drug-taking. The intention is that Sharapova will be in the Russian tennis squad to compete in the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer.

Reckless beyond description

Dick Pound, the instigator of the bombshell of a report into drug testing recently, described Sharipova’s actions as reckless beyond description. Brilliant PR and communication skills sometimes are not enough to protect a train wreck from taking place.


Is it Openreach or overreach?

March 2, 2016

This week’s report by industry regulator Ofcom concludes that BT will retain control over the Openreach operation, but with changes to permit more competition. We examine the arguments for complete spin off of Openreach

This is a more modest proposal than that offered by a cross-party parliamentary group which was very much in favour of splitting off Openreach to counteract what it described as BT’s monopolistic features.

In the analysis by Paul Hinks published in LWD recently., Paul concluded that if Openreach is split off from BT, and starts to either compete with rivals, or offer technologies that align with specific customer/partner needs, then really we may just have new different challenges around agreed technology standards and regulation.

BT agreed, but I found its response unconvincing. It repeated the message of the necessity for the business to have the backing of its own its powerful resources. There is something rather chilling in its protectionist tone

A Personal View

Paul sets out the strategic issues, but I would like to offer a more personal view. The BT model reminds me of the Network Rail situation. Ideologically appealing as a way of improving the sluggishness of the predecessor, the nationalized British Rail. Rail users remain unimpressed by the new system with its complex regulatory mechanisms and lack of adequate coherence ‘joined upness’ of to help customers make valuable choices.

Living with Dynosaurs

My personal experiences of both dinosaurs have mostly been frustrating. A few years ago I was locked into an apparently irresolvable four party struggle between myself, Openreach, my ISP and BT to reconnect me to the Internet. By far the most customer friendly was the ISP. I was left with the distinct impression that Open Reach would be better able to deal with me if I switched to BT and its then developing broadband system.

It took six weeks to sort it out.

Discussions on twitter (thanks to access from my local library) revealed that I was far from alone in my dissatisfaction in particular with BT itself.

It may or may not be relevant to conflate this experience with my sense that the BT huge venture to inject competition into televised sport is not resulting in a better consumer service.

I await change, bur remain less than optimistic about the leadership of BT in the vital challenges of achieving a Great Leap Forward in the necessary information highways of Great Britain.

Is it Overreach with Openreach?

Regular LWD contributor Susan Moger, Senior Fellow in Leadership,at the Alliance Manchester Business School, suggests that Openreach may risk Overreach. She notes:

What strikes me is that in managing all these ‘moving parts’ BT is struggling to cope with the changing nature of its customer base and that of a modern organisation, which BT’s Openreach is.

A good Quality high speed broadband service is a MUST for everyone now, not a luxury. In its advertising, BT has raised its customers’ expectations enormously, and is now struggling to meet them, for whatever reason.
There also appears to be an intention to manage the Openreach business in the same manner as the ‘BT in the days of copper’ ie as a command and control organisation, and this may not be appropriate.

Openreach may be a separate organisation. However, given the massive investment made BT in sports broadcasting. there is still a possibility that BT is hoping that there might be a ‘contribution’ from Openreach at some stage. In any event, underperformance and overtly bad performance by Openreach can’t help the BT brand.

Meanwhile, Ofcom’s new director Sharon White signals that BT is still under scrutiny, although there are voices suggesting the proposals need to be clearer with more specific and measurable outcomes.