All posts by Steve Evans

College Lecturer, would-be Pirate

December dreaming

snow_traffic

This morning’s Radio 4 news was full of Brexit, this week’s Grenfell disaster inquiry, and snow.

The single statement that most resonated with me afterwards was “most of the rush-hour traffic has disappeared because of school shut-downs”.

Imagine a world, or just a little country, where it would be universally seen as TRULY WEIRD if a schoolchild was driven to school, and the school they went to was the nearest one to their home, regardless of OFTED reports.

True, segregated cycle-paths meandered from all points outward toward schools, colleges, high streets – as intra-town traffic filed gently past, at 20mph, on the narrowed streets.

Christmas dreams.

 

Advertisements

Rewards

rewards

I was sat on a bench just now, and a bus cruised past with the American Express advert across it – exclaiming about rewards.
Now I know you know this, but these rewards, they’re not are they?  You buy stuff, there’s profit involved – and some of that goes to the a C/Card company who charge you interest, and then they give you a tiny bit back, from the amount they’ve already just been paid – by the same people who you just bought the stuff off of.

Sort of mind games for idiots, to be honest. I wonder how many branding professionals could be told to fuck off if we just didn’t bother? If the circle of crap was broken, lost most of it’s spokes and the value was the price paid, full stop.

Reward. There’s a word. Reward, there it is again – the same one. Twisted into a meaning that’s meaningless. It’s the same with Loyalty cards. You get points, be it for stamps on your card in a coffee shop, or automatically for going back to the same supermarket, or visiting one of the outlets whose cartel involve themselves in the same branding program.

And here’s the odd bit – this is about Loyalty – get the poor sods into the frame of mind where they’ve built-up some perceived value (points), and now daren’t sway away too far because (ha! like saving?) they can add to and increase their future reward. They’re trapped.

Never mind if said supermarket charges 30% more than the German one down the road, never mind if the £75 you’ve saved-up in your points by Christmas could’ve been £275 LESS spent in the year running-up, if the supermarket hadn’t been involved in these shenanigans and all their attendant costs.

But it’s worse isn’t it – now they are tracking where you spend and WHAT YOU BUY, enormous chunks of your data roll around the planet – by god, if we used half this amount of ingenuity and focus on some real-world problems it would help n’cest pas?

Yet for the bigger stuff, the telecoms, the utilities, the insurance, the bankers – loyalty is precisely not going to get you any rewards is it? Deals go to new customers, advertising is pitched at new customers – we want your money, for this deal only.

One commentator even put it this way – They’re either a creepy way to monitor and exploit your habits or a desperate gambit by weak retailers to distract you from their own shortcomings. Most companies use loyalty programs as a crutch when they’re out of ideas, and, therefore, these schemes are ultimately bad for customers as well. If a cashier tries to shove a loyalty card into your hand, it’s a good indicator that you should be taking your business elsewhere.

I sort knew instinctively – all those (30-odd) years ago, that this was a distraction, somehow I wouldn’t be seeing what I needed to see and feel if I allowed myself to indulge in this crap – it never, never really pays.

Teresa May offering sweeties

composite
L/H side – Guardian 29/9/17

Oooowww . . . she husks (she’s been taught to Husk) on seeing the EU treats bag being slowly edged away from her – “if I offer them some sweeties, maybe?”

The sweetie she has in mind is “maintain security co-operation with the eu”.

She keeps just missing the target doesn’t she?  Conservatives locked in their bubble of themselves, London-centric, big-business-friendly, money, money, money – never life, life, life.

So – if the eu doesn’t feel like listening to more of the self-deluded drivel from the Conservatives, we’ll stop co-operating with security?

What! Really?

Return of the Grey Men.

Funny meetings going, featuring tricky blokes, sat around together plotting – (remember Thatcher’s disposal weeks)?

It all seems a bit outlandish, me saying this – until you hear just who it is that’s having this odd, away from everyday business meeting:

  • Liam Fox
  • Boris Johnson
  • Priti Patel.

Anyway, presuming they really are talking about trade agreements (why? On their own) – I thought I’d add here a thought on what they’ve been saying.

Radio 4 reported that one of these blokes reminded the nation that we have no trade deals with America, or Australia or New Zealand.

Simplistic view that I have – I thought these places were, like a long, long way away?

Australia (or New Zealand) by sea 11, or 12 THOUSAND miles.
USA – about 3000 miles.

So we’re going to use Container ships for this trade – what a giant leap forward, in this 21st Century: ship more crap around the planet.

That’s the best we’ve got to look forward to, post-Brexit is it?

Grenfell Tower – apologies mean nothing

There’s not a single reason to read
any apologies.

or, any trite little devices such as “recognise the response blah blah blah”, never mind some now housed in ‘Luxury’ blocks temporarily, nor even the money going to the homeless survivors.

The people that run us (not just the politicians) will know we soon forget – soon turn to the Next Big Thing (oh my god – “I’ve not got much charge left on my smartphone“)

Let’s do a bit of drilling, shall we?

  • Who owns the block?
  • Who profits from the block?
  • Where do the owners live?
  • How much do they earn?
  • How much tax did they pay last year?
  • Where are their second and third homes?
  • How many holidays a year do they go on?
  • What other financial interests do they or their families own?

But don’t stop.

Building/refurbishment/legal costs.
How much for each item?  I MEAN for each ITEM that makes up some ‘cost’ we’re told about (note – we’re told about).

. . . . . . and then – widen these questions to every single tower block in the country.

______________________________________________________________________

We hear such-and-such “just had a £20,000,000 refurbishment / build / new road / new pedestrian crossing / cycle lane / blah blah”

well show us where every single penny WENT.

  • Where does that money ACTUALLY GO?
  • Who owns the companies doing the work?
  • Who owns the companies supplying the materials? / Renting out the equipment etc etc etc.
  • Where do these owners live?
  • How much do they earn?
  • How tax did they pay last year?
  • How many days a week / month do they work?
  • What are their qualifications?
  • Who sets these Quals – who pays who?
  • Where are their second and third homes?
  • How many holidays a year do they go on?
  • What other financial interests do they or their families own?

We’re all getting too much CRAP. . . getting told and sold too much crap . . . . .

and they’re making us pay too much, for too much crap.

 

Scotland’s weather

Here’s a bit of news for you . . . .

non_news

This was the BBC front page for their news offering this morning, to be fair (god! I hate that expression) you could pick any channel, any website, any newspaper and you’d get worse, or better – it really doesn’t matter.

That’s the point – IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER, it’s all non-news, and a really large proportion of it is crap, utter crap.

____________________________________________________________________________________

So on this very same day – another little set of facts caught my eye.

tempmap_may17

The map above is today’s predicted temperatures – and it mirrors, largely, the UK temperature situation this past month, and a trend that is becoming alarmingly real.

In truth, if you’re as old as me – you’ll know that it was UTTERLY UNHEARD OF FOR SCOTTISH TEMPERATURES TO BE HIGHER THAN THOSE AT LOWER LATITUDES.
And yet there it is, for the umpteenth time this month, plain fact.

FACT – you notice?  Fact, not crap.

There’s your real news right there.

Embrace the Reds under the bed

guardian

Well, there’s a headline – privatise mail, railways, energy firms.
Not sure about the mail thing – unless you can get even more radical and insist nothing is posted unsolicited through a letter box.
Imagine the relief upon rubbish collections.

But to be a little more thoughtful – Energy?  Yes, of course – I was banging on about the unimaginably ridiculous need for a UK citizen to “do a deal” on their energy tariff.  This is truly ‘market forces’ gone mad – and you still don’t get good value, or a deal that works, or really anything other than hassle and time-wasting with no-one to defend your rights.

Bloody ridiculous.

Let me be clear.
(Ha – how many times have you heard that particular little device this year from a politician on the radio or TV?)
The tariff is the cost of supply, staff (watch the salaries), upkeep, modernisation.  Every householder pays the same.

Rail – that’s a bit less easy isn’t it?

In truth –  (you’re lucky I didn’t type ‘to be fair’ just there – but then I would have had to kill myself) – where is the logic in different companies running stuff on the same rails?  I think this idea needs teaming-up with a conscious push to get freight off of the roads, and again the same truths emerge – in Europe (god! what did I say???) – rail ticket prices are reasonable (they probably reflect true costs and needs) – here?  Do profits help to keep ticket prices affordable? 
Don’t make me laugh, profits go to shareholders.

I’ve long held the belief (since I was 15 – so for 45 years) that some sort of modern socialism is the only way the planet can get along, share-out stuff – if you will.

There are certain things in this life we need (our hierarchy of needs, incidentally): shelter, food & water, heat.  Anything more than that is a bonus.
And I don’t think it’s pandering to reds under the bed to suggest that, yes, such utilities should be run for the good of everyone not shareholders.