Category: admin

Open newslist 7

It’s a little while since we did one of these. Candidates include:

Think Defence has finished their epic series on the disastrous FRES procurement. It has much in common with classic IT project failure, for example, the NHS NPfIT. Also, we wanted to have at Eric Pickles on a related issue and we might yet do it.

A review of Dan “Not that one” Davies’ excellent biography of Jimmy Savile.

Alternatively, I have drafts for several Savile posts, so if you don’t behave I’ll declare a whole Savile Week. Pick from:

  • Savile, the first truly postmodern celebrity?
  • The icon of unpopular populism: Savile and politics
  • The social and economic context: Savile, the postwar era, and showbusiness

Among tried and tested themes, as well as Jimmy Savile, there’s also the Israel/Palestine conflict. We’ve written about Palestinian rocketry, about the role of modern anti-tank guided weapons, so how about something about tunnels, bulldozers, landscape, and again rockets?

This piece about Singapore is interesting, but confused. Scenario-planning isn’t a Big Data methodology and doesn’t require surveillance. Also, Americans shudder with the horror that someone somewhere might get required medical assistance, and get away with it!

On a related theme, an information security expert dabbles in international relations theory and this is the result. As an IR MSc who dabbles in computing, I have opinions! Again, Americans shudder with horror at the thought someone somewhere might get required medical assistance, and get away with it! More importantly, there are real problems with classical realism as a theory and some of them have been answered successfully as long ago as the 1950s. Who knows, maybe they might be interesting for geeks, too?

This might also involve Decentralisation: I Want to Believe. Trying to understand why P2P is so hard.

Iain Duncan Smith, intergenerational transmission, Universal Credit, and the protector of aborigines and his big clock. This one’s deep into Glenn Beck schizophrenia-as-a-methodology territory but I think I might be able to pull it off.

Predictions based on China’s sex-ratio skew are mostly wrong. Further, Tyler Cowan completely forgets a whole and intellectually fruitful branch of economics when it would have been really handy. What gives? Both are case studies of how just a little feminism would have delivered a huge return of wisdom, or at least, much less stupidity. The problem in No.1 is a stupid stereotype of masculinity, in No.2 a stupid stereotype of femininity combined with a weird attitude to sex.

It’s struck me, rereading this, that the Treasury/Downing St duopoly has become akin to that between CCP institutions and Chinese government ones, a parallelism between political, i.e. propagandistic and violent, and technocratic, i.e. making stuff work, structures.

Update: I was hoping the answer to this wouldn’t be “all of the above”. There’s also been a twitter conversation about this, and so far it looks like this:

FRES/Project Failure/Eric Pickles is strongly supported
At least some Savile content is strongly supported

Weaker support for full Savile Week
Weaker support for Singapore/Data

Proposed extra idea: how’s this ISIS lot beating the Kurds?

Open newslist 4

Looking in my notebook:

1) A substantial piece on JW Mason’s Disgorge the Cash (as requested) and John Seddon’s Freedom from Command and Control, plus Simon Head’s Mindless. You know you want it.

2) Two case studies on this post, and the House of Commons Defence Committee.

3) Steve Levitt, radical scepticism, and responsibility in economics (like so)

4) Someone wanted thoughts on 50 years of BASIC. This is interesting.

5) ‘Kippers. This contains some truth, but not enough, and a variety of pollutants.

6) Christopher Clark. I have three things to say about The Sleepwalkers but I suspect I’ve already said them.

7) So the Soviets built a third Kirov hull and weird combined nuclear and oil machinery, and instead of the weird 80s battleship, built a mammoth SIGINT listening post on top. After years swinging round the buoy, she’s just being scrapped now. If you read my series on Richard Aldrich’s book on GCHQ, you’ll know that the UK considered building such a ship in the 1960s, based on either a carrier or tanker hull, nuclear-powered, and accommodating the equivalent of one of their big overseas stations. Question: did we ever really intend to do it, or just to troll the USSR? Clue.

Owt else? Material, as always, is here.

TYR open newslist, the first

I like this idea of Andrew Gelman’s, under which he publishes a weekly blog post with a list of potential topics and invites readers to comment on which ones he should blog. So much so, I think I may introduce it myself.

1) I recently read Orlando Figes’ Natasha’s Dance and also Svetlana Alexeivich’s La Fin de’l Homme Rouge. I have a sketched-out joint review.

2) If you follow the Stiftung on twitter, he’s been talking about intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance as a deterrent to the Russians doing anything else to Ukraine.

3) Also on Ukraine/Russia, everyone involved keeps getting their phone calls tapped and released, probably by Russia but quite possibly by nonstate actors. SIGINT proliferation is a major issue.

4) A music post.

5) I need to review a biography of Gertrude Bell. It wasn’t very good.

6) Why don’t more people vote FN?

Ideas may be found here: for TYR, and for AFOE.

An opportunity that may never come again

OK, so here’s your chance to be me for an evening.

I have two tickets to the last-ever Belleruche gig, at XOYO on the 13th of November. Unfortunately, I will be in Dubai. I’m out fifty quid. The successful candidate, having passed the programming test, quiz set by the readers of Jamie Kenny’s blog, simulator checkride, etc will be expected to a) uphold the ethos of Harrowell and b) not get me barred. Beyond that, knock yourself out.

Blogcast: a self-binding admin notice

Things I’d like to post in the near future:

A Critique of Pure Reason, James Reason – if there was nearly a run on Barclays yesterday, would we know?

Perhaps some more on the pathological firm – this is dependent on me working out whether the rest is worth writing.

Celebrating the genius of William Langewiesche – I was once asked at an interview for a journo job who I admired. I said Robert Fisk. I hadn’t yet noticed that Patrick Cockburn’s reporting is better, and I don’t think I’d read any Langewiesche. It was the Financial News and they gave me a telling off because Fisk was apparently weak on facts.

Design considerations and engineering requirements for m-health apps, from a pro-patient perspective – I am regularly horrified by this, and I think a rant might do it some good

My favourite aeroplane in 200 words for Hushkit – I’m planning something influenced by Erik Lund’s awesome blog, but I think it’s going to need writing and then cutting down.

Others: Something on AFOE about the fragmentation of the right, swinging off UKIP, the UMP fiasco, and a rather fantastic Le Monde profile of Alain Orsoni.