Mad for Manchester

There is little I can add to what has already been said this morning about last night’s terrorist attack in Manchester.

I am sure across the country, people will be disgusted and repulsed by such a heinous act.

However, I think what makes this attack even more contemptible is the target. This was not against a military target or some sort of symbol of the state. This attack was against mothers and teenage daughters, fathers and sons attending a pop concert.

No doubt as the initial shock turns to anger there will be the usual recriminations against the Police and Security Service. Why didn’t they stop it? Why didn’t they know? I would urge the politicians not to do that. An understanding of the who, what, where when, how and why does need to be gained, but I hope during this election campaign no candidate will be stupid enough to try and score political points as a result of this evil.

To the first responders, I would say this. No matter whether you are Police, Fire Service or Ambulance, never, ever be afraid to seek help after an attack such as this. The sights and the situations you had to deal with last night would affect anyone with the remotest shred of humanity.


Update: I just wanted to add a note of thanks to the Sikh community of Manchester who provided food and shelter to people in their Temples. Sikhs always seem to be the first to take action in the community of this nature whether the incident is a natural disaster or due to the evil of man.

Update 2: 12:51pm UK Time – BBC report that “so-called Islamic State” has claimed it was responsible for the attack.

Lonely

Adrift. Alone. Awry.

I have not posted here for the last few days.

In fact, I have really struggled to do anything these last few days. At the weekend it was all I could manage to get out of bed. I used to have a great plan in life. That disappeared years ago when it became clear it was totally unrealistic. Since then I have been adrift.

“Fake it till you make it” is how the old saying goes.

I have never been able to do that as I always felt it somewhat dishonest. For most of my life, I have been the family fix-it guy. Whenever anyone had a problem it would be me they came to for help. It was pretty cool being that guy. However, what I had not realised was I needed help as well.

A wave of depression has hit and I cannot shake it on my own.

So I will be seeing a doctor later this week to talk things through and get some help. When you are the family fix-it guy asking for help is not easy. I have been fighting off going to the doctor’s, worried that once it is on my medical record that it could affect any medical check a potential employer may want to do.

I am reminded of the line from the Abba song, Super Trouper.

Facing twenty thousand of your fans, how can anyone feel so lonely?

I don’t have 20,000 fans, but I have people around me that I cannot discuss this with. Finger crossed there are better times ahead.

Please stop. Please! Just make it stop!

I wonder if NASA have any vacancies on their next mission because if this nonsense continues, I will have to leave.

Universities are supposed to be seats of academic exploration. Where people can hold opposing views, test each other’s hypotheses, reflect and then refine their own view in light of the results and evidence. That is how enquiring minds are trained and enter society with a quizzical attitude to improve things.

I don’t know, or indeed care what a ‘microaggression’ is. I am not phased if people look at me or not. You see, that is because I am an adult who has matured due to life experience.

I would love to pursue further degrees in subjects that interest me now, subjects I could not abide when I was eighteen and making first degree choices. Yet, if this funded research is all the ‘best of the best’ can offer, I’ll not be spending £9,000 per year with them.

Having seen the video below, I looked around at some other university-based videos. I found people who were unable or unwilling to explain their points of view and how they arrived at their opinions. If that is the quality of 21st Century university education then save your cash and learn something useful like foraging for food. It is a skill we all may need in the future.

Writing

The English Language

Rightly or wrongly, I find myself judging the professionalism of organisations by the quality of the content they put into advertisements, their websites and their social media profiles.

If I am receiving a text message from someone, it is an intensely personal thing. I don’t mind so much if they use text-speak or abbreviations.

In the professional realm, I have much higher standards and your organisation should too.

Back in March, I wrote this post about people cutting and pasting text into job advertisements without checking the result. There were some pretty basic howlers in there.

However today on a professional networking site, I spotted someone asking a question with the most appalling grammar.

Now, keep in mind this was not an informal situation like Twitter, Facebook or a personal blog. This mangling of the English language was associated with that person’s employer, so not only did it reflect badly on the person, but their workplace as well.

It is so important to know the difference between “to” and “too”, “there” and “their”, “were” and “was” as well as “your” and “you’re”.

English is a beautiful, if somewhat quirky language, for those who are prepared to master it.

For those who are not, perhaps you should keep your online activities away from your professional life or even better, hire a professional writer to make those posts for you. 🙂

Story of my life

It seems to be the story of my life. Sit down to watch an Eagles video and each track invokes a memory.

However, they still remain the only band I ever wanted to see live but never managed to. One year they played the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield on my birthday. It was the only time I ever asked my then wife for a specific present, two tickets for us to go and see them.

Needless to say, the tickets never materialised.

With the passage of time, my chance to pursue that particular dream has gone.

Though I don’t think it directly contributed to it, these days my life can be summed up by the first line in the song of the video below. 🙂

How about songs from your life?

Sun through the woods

How long is permanent?

I got involved with a discussion the other day about time, history and what the difference was between temporary and permanent.

We argued for quite a while about what constitutes history. I took a precise science approach put forward the notion that as soon as a moment had gone by, it was in the past and therefore history.

Others felt that fifty years should pass before something was really considered history. A third perspective said a century should have gone by.

We failed to reach an agreement that would satisfy us all, but readers here know I am desperately looking for work and I made a comment about temporary versus permanent jobs.

In the 21st Century, there is no longer something called a permanent job.

Boy did that open a can of worms.

In previous generations, a permanent job would have seen someone working for the same employer from leaving full-time education, usually school, until they retired. That just does not happen anymore. People are much more mobile and not afraid to switch employers, especially in the technology & science sectors.

I used the analogy of a blog.

I have seen some blogs that have postings all the way back to 2003. They are not normally self-hosted blogs and using publishing platforms. I have always considered digital content transient. Let’s face it, the computer has only been around eighty years or so. That may be a lifetime, but in terms of history, it is barely the blink of an eye. If I want to create a permanent record of my thoughts, I have to resort to paper.

In the digital world, file formats change. Operating systems change. One standard becomes the fashion before being replaced by another. There is built-in obsolescence in the digital world. It is a challenge professional archivists have had to deal with.

Book of Kells Page
From Wikimedia Commons
With paper-based documents, as long as they are kept in the right environment, you can depend on them lasting for centuries.

The picture to the left shows an illuminated page from the Book of Kells which is believed to have been created in 800AD.

Now as it is written in Latin, you could argue the “file format” has changed. After all, Latin is by no means commonly used for conversation anymore. However, it is still a recognised “standard” and can be translated by those with the knowledge.

So the question I think we need an answer to is, how long should a digital format have existed and been in common usage before it is considered permanent?

I’m not sure any qualify.