He’s at it again: Lansley has form on pauses that aren’t anything of the sort

November 9th, 2013 by john

Remember the Health and Social Care Bill listening exercise, anyone? When former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley ran into difficulties with his Dick Dastardly NHS plans, he called a reflective pause, just long enough to do bugger all, whilst the media conveniently forgot what he was up to in privatising our NHS. Jeremy Hunt may have finished the job, but Lansley’s listening exercise masterstroke was enough to buy off the fretting ranks of Lib Dems, and get the job done without too great a rebellion, and without any significant concessions.

Fast forward to 2013 and Lansley is mired once again in a dog’s dinner of a Bill, this time one ostensibly designed to deal with the lobbying sleaze crisis in Parliament, but which seems to actually do very little to upset the interests of the big money corrupting our politics. Business lobbyists have unsurprisingly avoided any significant changes, whilst 38 Degrees and Hope Not Hate are being thumped for daring to think about the government’s failings. And unions have been included too, mainly because it seems they haven’t been punished much of late.
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Embedding a Vine (for the sake of it)

February 19th, 2013 by john

Being a semi-professional Apple-hater, I’ve not had much use for Twitter’s new YTMND style videomaker toy, Vine. However, never let it be said I don’t like to fiddle with new stuff, so we had a go at one, just to say we did it, and so we could then forget all about it. The interface is very nice (leaving all discussion of the point of it aside), and it was easy to produce something speedy around a recent campaign graphic by a very clever colleague about the Working Time Directive.

However, it annoyed me a bit that it was so disposable – it goes out on Twitter and Facebook and that’s pretty much it. Hopefully the web services for Vine will come onstream at some point (and the Android app for the rest of us…), but in the meantime, here’s a slightly roundabout way to embed your Vine on your WordPress.org blog. Read the rest of this entry »

WCIT: The regulation of the Internet in memes

December 6th, 2012 by john

Having the attention span of a gnat, my head is getting proper done in by watching and reading the impenetrable stuff coming out of WCIT in Dubai – and we’re only 3 days in. Luckily persons smarter than I are making more sense of it online for me to read on blogs & Twitter – Thank heavens for a vibrant and pluralistic and open Web, eh?

So I thought the best contribution I could make for others like myself would be to present these complex and high level debates as a series of tired old memes. It’s my way of honouring Russia’s proposals to the ITU that countries should be able to restrict the Net to just “rational” uses.

All your base are not belong to us

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Unionmade Goods hipster clothing not actually union made. Whodathunk?

November 30th, 2012 by john

Unionmade Goods: unionbusters?

Via a rather pissed off AFL-CIOnow today, I came across a Gawker article about Californian clothing company Unionmade Goods. They sell upmarket priced downmarket looking clothing to the good hipster folk of the Bay Area.

All quite pleasant looking, if rather on the pricey side, and topped off with a woolly commitment to ethical sourcing, which is some way better than nowt for the fashion industry. But what’s this? Apparently the fact they’re called “Unionmade” and have a rip off US union logo,  is not to be taken as any kind of inference that unions have been involved at any point in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

ITU Net grab: Russia give us a taste of their ideas for the Internet

November 30th, 2012 by john

A Russian court yesterday ruled that websites which don’t remove Pussy Riot videos from their pages may be blocked. Judge Marina Musimovich (using a vaguely worded law originally aimed at curbing nazi and terrorist material) ruled that videos including the band’s controversial ‘punk prayer’ asking the virgin Mary to kick out Putin, had “elements of extremism” and called for “mass disorder”.

It’s a timely reminder of why Russia are so keen on some of the proposals they’re bringing to the International Telecommunication Union’s WCIT conference in Dubai over the next fortnight. If they pass, this sort of thing will get vastly easier for autocratic states to curb freedom of speech at home and abroad. Read the rest of this entry »

Samsung Galaxy Note ethical teardown

May 15th, 2012 by john

View Samsung Galaxy Note ethical teardown in a larger map

Work very much in progress here, but I wanted to take a look at how some of the supply chains fit together in a modern smartphone. The badge on the front of my shiny new device says Samsung, and the Korean electronics giant obviously did a large chunk of the work involved in making it, but there are technical and economic factors making the overall picture of its origins rather wider.

Given the pretty reliable maxim that if you turn over most stones you’ll find something creepy underneath, I thought I’d have a look at the bits that make up my gadget and see if I can find out a little more about they impact they’ve had around the world.

So here are my first two snippets of stone lifting so far… Read the rest of this entry »

Defending Mike Daisey (not that he needs it)

March 20th, 2012 by john

US monologuist Mike Daisey has gotten into a spot of bother over his current show’s syndication on This American Life, and they’ve retracted the episode they did with him – incidentally their most popular ever show.

As you now can’t listen to it, the show centred on Mike’s trip to China, to investigate working conditions at Foxconn, the electronics megacorp that makes iPhones, Nokias, Dells, you name it… Mike had worked up his experiences in China into one of his monologue performances, a short one-man theatre/comedy routine, exploring the connections between how we feel about our shiny tech gewgaws, and the company ethos and practical manufacture details behind them.

It turns out Mike embellished a number of the details of his trip. He didn’t actually meet a number of the people he wrote about (some were based on case studies of people in a totally different city), and invented more dramatic dialogue from poetic licence. Prior to his This American Life airing, most people probably wouldn’t have been surprised by this, unless they were the type who was rather late finding out about Santa. Read the rest of this entry »

Tired Old Memes Against The Health And Social Care Bill

February 21st, 2012 by john

What I Do

The Daily Show does Apple/Foxconn

January 19th, 2012 by john

After Mike Daisey with his Apple/Foxconn monologue, here’s Jon Stewart tackling Apple and other tech firms reliance on labour exploitation in China to produce their goods. Unfortunately us limeys can’t see the Daily Show’s online video, so check out this filmed-off-the-box grab of it (Before SOPA gets to it!)

Ethical Apple: The iPhone Monologues

January 18th, 2012 by john

I’ve been a fan of US storyteller Mike Daisey ever since I saw his 21 Dog Years show in a special UK performance at TUC towers in 2005. His current venture (a year old now but on a re-run in US theatres) is particularly interesting for me though, after the time I’ve spent of late looking into ethics issues in smartphone manufacture. Wanting to know more about the origins of his iPad, he took it with him in 2010 to the gates of Shenzhen’s Foxconn consumer electronics mega-plant.

The resulting show, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, deals with his Apple fandom (well, no-one’s perfect…) and its wider world implications. I’ve not seen the show sadly (he doesn’t appear this side of the pond too often), but I’ve been fascinated to listen to half of it, via a recent episode of the US radio show This American Life. Read the rest of this entry »