Category: politics

Some SPOTY thoughts

It’s surprising that I was surprised that the SPOTY shortlist was all men. Afterall it’s usually pretty skewed towards male sport, but then there is usually at least one lass in the mix.

Telling Tales

Unless you’re watching sport live, and probably even then, you’re relying on commentators and journalists to tell the story. They don’t just report results, they provide background and narrative, and fill us in on the personalities involved.

If women’s sport isn’t reported, then it’s unsurprising that we don’t know or support the personalities behind the results.

I’m not holding out much hope for the mainstream media start reporting women’s sport well- but I’m heartened by coverage in some specialist media, and social media can provide direct access to sports stars and coverage of events you’d struggle to find elsewhere

Who Picks the List?

I was pretty surprised to see zoo and nuts on the list. Not that surprised that they picked only men though, I can imagine where they think a woman’s place is.

According to BBC Sport publications “are selected because they cover a wide range of sport throughout the year.

I’d love to see the list of sports covered by Zoo and Nuts this year, but I suspect it’s not that wide.

If lads mags are going to be in the list, then it could be balanced out with women’s publications. I’ve had comments that women would pick women to prove a point- but I’d argue that actually women who follow sport are more likely to follow men’s sport too than men are to follow women’s.

Promoting Environmental Information Ain’t That Hard

Under the Aarhus Convention all government bodies not only have a duty to make environmental information available when you ask for it – but a duty to go further, to publish and promote the environmental information they have.

Thanks to the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) and our Information Commissioners if you ask for some information you’re pretty sure to get it.  Thanks to the internet more and more information is now published online – finding it may take a bit of time and persistence, but it probably is there, somewhere.


Which leads us on to the promotion of information. The spirit of promotion is that you make information relevant to peoples, and this lets them make informed decisions about it.  The falkirk taxi driver is one example – why not show air quality data at site?  Why not show traffic numbers on roads and paths? Water quality where you bathe in it? Ecological status on the reserve? Sure not all data is appropriate for this kind of promotion, but i think it’s worth trying to find innovative ways to promote information, so people feel empowered to take decisions about it.

I like these examples:

Copenhagen Snow Counter

Simple counters on a bike path (i’m pretty sure our bike paths have traffic monitoring)

blue flag beach

Not a new idea, Blue Flags – a simple way of letting you know the water is safe to bathe in


We’ve already got these message boards on our roads – and we collect data on air and count traffic. Why not combine the two to let people see the information where it’s relevant?

There’s more example in this flickr gallery

Spirit Level

the spirit level

the spirit level

Just finished reading this book.  Really liked it.  Firstly it’s readable, second it’s funny, and third it resonates pretty well with some stuff I have been thinking about recently.  So yeah, well worth adding to your to read list (in fact that’s almost an order).

There is alot of reviews for this out there, so i’m not going to do that. Instead here’s a few bits I took my highlighter pen to.

The bit where we need to start thinking differently

Having come to the end of what higher material living standards can offer us, we are the first generation to have to find other ways of improving the real quality of life [chapter 2, page 29]

It seems sometimes we havn’t quite worked out that all this stuff that we’re supposed to be busy accumulating isn’t making us happier. I’m not sure how we collectivly wake up to it, and change the way society works so pursuit of wealth isn’t our
raison d’être, but maybe moving the focus away from GDP and economic growth might be a start.

The bit where punitive justice seems crazy

In California in 2004, there were 360 people serving life sentences for shoplifting [chapter 11, page 147]

Being this ‘tough on crime’ just seems totally disproportionate to me,  I find it a little shocking that no one thought ‘hang on a minute…” The book goes on to explain a bit about how and why attitudes to crime are tougher when it’s more unequal, and why that’s not a good thing.

The bit that made me laugh

Experiments have also shown that physical wounds heal faster if people have good relationships with their intimate partners [chapter 6, page 76]

There’s actually some good stuff in there about the links between good social bonds and physical health, which are better when life is more equal, but there’s always a bit about sex and it made me laugh that they snuck one in.

There’s lots more in the book obviously, a full exploration of why equality is better for everyone.  Well worth reading with highlighter in hand.

The Wife Deal


On the Campsite

I was retelling a bit of family history last night. The story of how when my parents worked for the National Trust running the campsite, the Trust (enlightened organisation that they were) didn’t pay my mum for working for them.  She was doing the same job as the paid staff. I’m guessing the logic was that they paid her husband, they got a house (well more a hut, but hey..), she shouldn’t expect paying as well for her 40+ hour week . 

After a bit of a battle the Trust started paying my mum. Times changed – Women no longer come ‘free’ as part of the husband deal… do they?

I think what I’m trying to say is FUCK RIGHT OFF with the leaders wife stories!

Too Tight?

One of the good things about the Scottish Parliament is it’s openness. The theory is MSPs aren’t put on pedestals, or enclosed in ivory towers, they are ordinary hard working people, there for the people. For the most part that’s probably true.

I used to work in the Holyrood building, and again openness and service seemed the norm. The attitude of the staff was refreshing, they really seemed committed to the ideal of a peoples parliament. Instead of an IT department that seemed designed to stop you doing anything (and most of us have this to battle with), the Holyrood IT team would call you back, with solutions! They had an ethos of enabling. This ethos was carried across the organisation, with everyone cheerfully working hard to provide the best service they could. Really, it was a great place to work.

Welcome to the Scottish Parliament The positive experience of working in Holyrood, deepens my disappointment, that security at Holyrood seems to be moving from enabling to containing. Attending debates one now feels like a naughty child. It used to be that you could choose your seat in the public gallery. Of course you choose the best seat you can – closest to the action. Now security allocate you your seat, and everyone has to sit in the same sector, corralled (presumably to make life a bit easier for security). This time it was the one with the worst view, furthest from the debate.

So is Holyrood a peoples parliament, or a building where the public are to be controlled, like the enemy? My recent visits suggest a move away from the former towards the latter.

Unfortunately I suspect security is only moving one way; tighter and more controlling. Remember folks you are there to help us use our parliament, not stop us doing so.