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#oneaday 26: Flick’s Affliction

When I decided to take part in the ‘One a Day’ project with other citizen bloggers, I knew meeting the criteria would be tough. My judgement was sound, I have fallen behind, consistently. This is down to a few factors. In no particular order, my laziness, lack of time (or perceived lack of time), no carrot or stick and a desire to write too much on too many subjects. Far from writer’s block I have blogger’s bulge. As Flick from Bug’s Life said once, and I have quoted too many times, ‘my head is full of ideas.’ Too many ideas, not enough time.

So, getting this blog done is a nod to ‘just letting go’, I have knocked off blog 26 by simply listing what I need to write about next. Again in no particular order:-

Berlusconi and the women protesters.
Big society and how GamesAid was there first.
Scott Parker, a one man manager and captain who is officially neither.
Second hand games and how they effect the games industry.
The Games Consortium, a new project I am leading
The Gareth Thomas story, which will be made into a film starring Mickey Rourke.
People power and the sell off of the forests
Bankers, their bonuses and how Project Merlin is an act of magic – ie deception.
Internet dating and how people part with large sums of money.
West Ham’s plans for the Olympic Stadium.
What’s radio for? Ie the debate about Radio 4 (and 3).
Democracy – is Britain going to be caught up and then left behind, as normally happens?
Retribution to recovery – more on the bankers, their morals and the issue of president Mubarak’s hidden assets
John Sentamu Archbishop of York, Zimbabwe and his dog collar, or lack of it.

So put simply, there are 14 subjects to cover. Given it is day 43 and I have scribbled 26 episodes, I really need to catch up on these 14 and think of 3 more, just to stand still. Now there is a thought…..

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#oneaday 14: Peter is skint, but are banks perfect employers?

Isn’t it time to stop bashing the banks? Reading about the ‘total compensation’ (ie pay to staff by way of bonuses in everyday PAYE speak) of the US based investment banks, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs both being north of $15bn, you can’t help feeling a sense of awe and shock.  Incidentally, I am not sure if these figures are for all staff world wide or not, but whatever the spread is, it is a big number.

Interestingly though, it does rather suggest that these investment banks are founded on the principles of ‘partnership’. It seems that investment banks are capable of making astronomical profits, but they all seem to pay out a fair chunk of that profit to their staff who have made the deals work. This feels like fairness to me. Workers have worked hard to bring their company profit, and when they do so, their company has rewarded, or compensated, them very fairly and equitably. I bet many fellow workers would like to get a big share of the profits that they feel that they make for the companies they work for, right?

I am not sure I can argue with this policy. I run a business and our ultimate aim and neccessity is to make a profit. The problem seems to be that the sheer size of the profits made in investment banking are indecent to the vast majority of people, outside of sports stars and other investment bankers of course. No one can argue with that can they? But for this to work, and for these vast amounts to be sustainable, someone, somewhere has to lose out. However,  if the number of investment banks in any market is few, as it does seem to be today, then a small piece from trillions adds up to a big number  time and time again. If the number of players were to increase, as a  free market requires, then the argument could go that the pot of cash that they are all chasing stays the same, and therefore the share per combatant reduces. Except that in a capitalist system the winner takes it all and someone has to lose for someone to win. Therefore introducing more competition is only a temporary change, as winners get bigger than losers in the pursuit of market share, losers either die or are bought but winners or fellow losers who want to get bigger to beat the winners.  Still awake?

Ultimately, the obsecene amount of profits that investment banks continue to make suggests that our monetary system is either relatively worthless, because the numbers are so big, or simply many are losing out to a few. After all, investment banks can take away value, as is the case with most Hedge Fund business models, as well as add it, the way that they are supposed to do. Frankly, I cannot get my head around this system and the sheer amounts of money that seem to flow one way. Are these banks fair employers? Who knows. But one comment that was recently attributed to a banker recently when talking about their bonus being paid not in cash but in a mix of  share options and cash:-

“You don’t want to earn shares in your own company – it’s doubling a risk,” he says.

You want to own shares in someone else’s company. Because if your company goes belly up, you will lose your job and you will lose your stock options.”

So we are not really all in this together, are we, not even the bankers. It really does seem ‘all about me’.

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#oneaday11:Facebook vs The King

It’s 3.33am on Tuesday morning, 18th January 2010. It’s been bugging me, I am awake. I am thinking about films, but I am also thinking about the here, the now and the future.

In the early hours of Monday morning (GMT that is)  The Golden Globes were awarded and in 4 hours time, The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) will annoucne their nominations. In a few weeks The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will issue their Academy Awards nominations (ie The Oscars) and we are very much into the awards season. For most it  is a tale of two films this year. The very British ‘The King’s Speech’ and the very American ‘The Social Network’.

In many ways it is a tale of two cultures. One buried in tradition, history a class structure fascinated by a reverence for past times, the there and then if you like. The other is rooted in the new, the brave ,the here, the now and the future. A tale of social division geared by class and age versus one of social inclusion, built in a class by the young. An age of austerity versus an age of excitement. A fading Empire and a growing, vibrant, democratic empire. In short one difference between  British and American culture.

Both films centre on a key protagonist, a battle for power and the importance of communication.  ‘The King’s Speech’  tells the story of a young, socially inept man thrust into the spotlight by circumstance and betrayl and his battle to overcome his own shortcomings in order to make his own mark in a world on the brink of social meltdown. He has a speech impediment and he needs to get over it. He can speak, but commuication is very, very difficult for him and the people on the receiving end.  The ‘new ‘medium of radio gives him the power to connect to ‘his subjects’ all over the world, he just has to figure out how to do that. ”The Social Network’ tells the story of a young, socially inept man thrust into the spotlight by circumstance and betrayl and his battle to overcome his own shortcomings in order to make his own mark in a world on the brink of social union. He can speak, but he finds communication very, very difficult.  The ‘new’ medium of the internet gives him the power to connect everyone up around the world from the bottom up. He  just has to figure out how to do that. Technology plays a key role in both films. Something the British used to be good at, and something that the Americans are now very, very good at.

And therein lies the rub. For all its magnificence, its splendour, its craft and its sheer class, ‘The King’s Speech’ is simply not as relevant or indeed as important as ‘The Social Network’ today. Right here, right now. History is a brilliant way of looking at the past and seeing what, if any lessons one can draw for the future. But it is only relevant if you are awake. Even if you look at the way these films have been made, you can see key differences in both our cultures but also in our relevance. ‘The King’s Speech’ would not get made in Hollywood, it just would not get past the focus testing. It was in fact supported by The Film Council and the National Lottery, which given the quality of the result is probably a good thing, thank god not every decision is down to money . However,  ‘The Social Network’ may not have got made at Pinewood, or if it did, it would be a pale version of the Sorkin/Fincher masterpiece.

But one thing in the real  world seems absolutely certain and that is that the real social network, Facebook, would never get made in Britain, not in a thousand years and not whilst the culture of conservatism, tradition,  coupled with lack of vision and innovation pervades our creative industries. We ‘do’ history awfully well, we do future a little in the past tense over here. Faded glory of the British technological genius versus the innovative disruption of the technological force that resides in America.

Culturally the clue is in our Academies, the ones that exist to foster and then recognise the creative talents both of our wonderful countries have. The British one has ‘Arts’ in the title, the American one has ‘Arts’ andSciences’. That tells you a lot and may go some way to explaining why we lag behind the Americans in the technology business.

Don’t get me on the subject of interactive entertainment and video games just yet. That comes in future blogs. I attended a high level meeting at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) yesterday where we discussed, amongst other things, how the investment community does not ‘get’ the content creation community here in the UK. The appetite for investment into technological driven content is insatiable in California and laregly bereft in London.  So, in my humble opinion if Britain is to continue to make a living in the creative arts, an industry that does produce some of the very best content in the world, then Britain as a society needs to recognise the part that science plays alongside arts in our creative economic future.

The Coalition Government who have stated that they want to effect real change and fast, should start by decoupling ‘sport’ from the DCMS and adding in ‘science’ – Department for Culture, Media and Science. No need to change the signs, just change the key word and then change the culture. Simple really.

PS – a prediction – best film at the BAFTAs?  ‘The King’s Speech’. Best film at the Oscars? ‘The Social Network’. Both films ‘of the year’ in my view – one is history and the other is about making history. I loved both, for very different reasons, that’s the great thing about culture.

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#oneaday 9:Twitter Cricket

Whoooooooooaaaaaa.Yesterday had the most excellent 5 minutes of the year so far. Amazing. Unique. Fun. I am a huge cricket fan, but not completely bowled over by the 20:20 game if Iam honest. So when I saw, on Twitter that England were playing their first match against Australia, I wasn’t really that bothered. It was about 9.00am (UK time) when I found out we were playing. On the tube journey into the office, I picked up from various Tweeters, including the ex England skipper, Michael Vaughan and injured all-rounder Stuart Broad plus a few Twitter mates who were watching at home on ‘home husband duties’ that Australia had decided to bat. They got off to a flying start accumulating runs via Shane Watson, whilst we were travelling through Earl’s Court. Then my District Line train went into the underground section of the London Underground and my signal was lost, along with my Twitter feed.

As I exited Temple station and came up into the daylight, Australia were making very decent progess at 92-2 (per the @ECB-cricket). By the time I got to the office, around 9.45am, Australia were on 122-3. Then work kicked in and Twitter was put away in the box whilst I got my day planned, dealt with email and talked about West Ham’s lucky victory over Birmingham in the 1st leg of the Carling Cup semi final.  Three phone calls later, I thought I would check back and saw via @junioroufc that Australia were 140/4 with 12 balls left. Then the phone went and I was off Twitter again for 20 minutes.

When I checked back Australia had ended their innings on 157-4  and then settled down with my iPhone and watched events unfold – i was behind the timeline, but through Twitter, I caught up so that the result was actually in real time, complete with the suspense, tension and anxiety.

@junioroufc felt it was 25 runs light. Ex England captain @VaughanCricket felt the score was ‘just below par and Tait would be the key’ whilst @homeofcricket stated ‘ Majority of you think England are on top. Potential record breaking chase coming up in Adelaide then! Hope to see @eoin16 in action at last!’

Here’s the prize parts of my Twitter feed – many Tweets have been left out, but I have included ones that tell the story as well as just appear in my timeline to add some bizarre twists to this wonderful game.

@VaughanCricket then started the innings off with ‘Bell and Davies walk out to you look good on the dance floor…arctic Monkeys.. Sheffield legends..Music Mecca’

(Mr Vaughan being from Sheffield and a legendary Sheffield Wednesday supporter)  and then the game really started….in between other real world things happening:-

@junioroufc ‘Bell Dropped 1st ball!!! #T20 #EngAusT20’

@guardianfilm ‘How best to win and Oscar – try female oral sex! Hadley Freeman’

@timloveljoy ‘ How long do butterflies live? How about we set up a business sending boxes of live butterflies to people’

@gamersvoice ‘The hashtag for Gamers’ Voice Parliamentary Games Day is simply #gamesday’

@cidergirl ‘I wonder if postie can be arsed to deliver my CDs today’

@leongreen ‘A snap election says @tomwatson a move that would blind-side Labour and end the Lib Dems?’

@patlike ‘HAVE IT – source – Sony to announce PSP2 in Tokyo on Jan 27th’

@timlovejoy ‘ I don’t want to send bugs, I want to send butterflies’

@guardiannews ‘UK trade deficit hits record high’

@oneadayaproject ‘Hi everyone! On this grey miserable, rainy moring why not read some entertaining blogs to cheer yourself up?’

@johnnyminkley ‘Twitter! I want to speak to gamers (ideally London based) who regularly buy pre-owned games. Is that you? Tweet me pls!

@ECB_cricket ‘England 85-3 and need 73 to win from 59 balls #T20

@PaulHayward_gnm ‘Avram Grant says he’s lived with rumour since Day 1’ Will the club beat this and push it to Day Minus-1 ? ‘

@junioroufc ‘Classy stuff @Eoin16 great placement #T20’

@GrahamBM RT @jamesclay; ‘Blog post; Learning Without Frontiers, some thoughts #lwf11′

@cidergirl ‘As a completist should I get the complete Star Wars on Blu-Ray or continue my stance that ignoring the prequels will make them go away?’

@StauartBroad8 ‘Gonna be a real tight finish this’

@ Homeofcricket ‘Rats. @eoin16 gone in the #T20 – big wicket for the Aussies. 28 runs needed from 28 balls. Come on England!’

@pinotblush ‘RT @BenWinterArt: New Bond film to reflect government cuts as Daniel Craig returns to the role of 005’

@Arusbridger ‘Who is paying Glenn Mulcaire’s six-figure legal fees as he fights demands to reveal all? #coulson’

@fletch5live ‘England on a right wobble now!!!’

@MayorofLondon ‘Been doing my bit this morning planting some of the 20,000 new trees for our RE:LEAF campaign.Well done too the volunteers’

@timlovejoy ‘If you can, get this cricket on, its getting v exciting’

@jimrossignol ‘I wrote an article for design/architecture mag Icon, and it’s in the February edition. It’s about videogame cities. Looks snazzy.’

@ECB_cricket ‘ 21 needed from 22 after that 6 from Woakes’ #T20 #Eng/AusT20

@junioroufc ‘Poop’

@PennyRed ‘I actually have too much to write this week, which is a problem, because whenever I’m working on something I’m thinking about the next thing’

@Batsphinx ‘Technologhy historians and/or wise elders. Was there a price difference between VHS and Betamax? Or were they level pegging?

@PaddyOrrell ‘anyone got a electronic/techno spotify playlist? Anyone?

@timlovejoy ‘England 15 to win off 12 balls’

@junioroufc ’12 from 9 needed’

@junioroufc ‘Yes’

@junioroufc ‘6 from 8 keep calm’

@junioroufc ‘8 from 8 even’

@ECB_cricket ‘England need 4 runs from the last 6 balls’

@junioroufc ‘Bowled him! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 4 from 5’

@junioroufc ‘Hero time’

@timlovejoy ‘No run. 4 from 4 ‘t20 this is too tight!!!’

@timlovejoy ‘No run! 4 from 3 #t20′

@SarahPalinUSA ‘ America’s Enduring Strength

@junioroufc ‘2 from 2 …Come on!!! Woakes!’

@BBCBusiness ‘Mince pies help lift Greggs sales

@junioroufc ‘Yes!! Can’t lose’ #T20 #EngAusT20

@timlovejoy ‘Scores are tied, last ball #t20 f*ck me

@nesta_uk’ In Scotland, over 50 and have an idea to improve your community? Apply for Age Unlimited Scotland before 7 Feb deadline’

@Peston ‘Exclusive: Eric Daniels of Lloyds is to receive £2M bonus and more than £2M from long term incentive scheme’

@ECB_cricket ‘Scores level! England need 1 from 1 ball  #T20′

@junioroufc ‘Come on stick it up em again boys!!! Run your Bollocks off England!!! 1 from 1 #T20’

@timlovejoy ‘Yeeeeeeeees we got the run. Brilliant #t20’

@ajmurray ‘That was never in doubt. ha ha #T20’

@HomeofCricket ‘What a #T20 match in Adelaide! Scores tied with 1 ball left..Woakes hits winning runs from it. Great  #cricket’

@daraobrian ’20/20 really is a brilliant format’

@ECB_cricket ‘That’s England’s 8th #T20 win in a row’

@daraobrian ‘And I know I’m supposed t o write t20, or something. But if 20twenty teaches us anything, it’s that tradition is bunk’.

And there we have it. A thrilling match followed and ‘watched’ on Twitter in amongst some other great Tweets from a mixed bag of people, some wonderful and some clearly just mad. Phew. Twitter what a novel thing you are. Utterly unique.Sometimes special. Often compelling. Most of all mad.


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Bring it Back to Blighty

England need a World Cup song as well as a load of luck. This could be the answer. Mo and John put this together, a top, top tune


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Countdown; World Cup 2010 – South Africa – Greatescapers get ready

I am on the verge of my 7th World Cup following England and I must admit the excitement is building, fast. If the last 2 World Cups are anything to go by, following England will be a pleasant experience, rather than a test of  endurance and sometimes nerves. Plenty of scare stories are knocking around, but I am always a ‘brightside’ person and can only look forward to a completely new experience. A World Cup in Africa and the realisation of many dreams. Anyway, more of that stuff when I am actually ‘on site’. Today I am at home in the Cotswolds, tending the plants and trying to catch up on work ie trawling through thousands of emails and panicking, just a tad.

News of the day? More pre tournament injuries. To add to the awful news abouit Rio yesterday, three more top players have gone down with injuries today which look like they will keep them from taking part. John Obi Mikel, Didier Drogba and Arjen Robben. How many more players will we lose before kick off next Friday?

Off to think about packing. email, Twitter and Facebook…..

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