Helping Bush with UK troops

Alarming press speculation that the UK will agree to US request to send troops north from Basra to help out the US. Aside from putting UK troops in danger, and drawing them deeper into a war, this would be an enormous boost to Bush's re-election campaign. It may come as a surprise to those who are not in the US at the moment to discover that the willingness, or otherwise, of the rest of the world to stand alongside the US has been an important electoral issue here, in effect dominating the first two Presidential debates. A key part of… Read More »Helping Bush with UK troops

The Corporation

Went to see The Corporation the other night. This documentary film looks at the history of corporations, and criticises the behaviour of many companies. Highly recommended. Check the film's website: www.thecorporation.com.

Darfur & the failure to act

At the Labour Party conference in October 2001, shortly after the atrocities of 9/11, Tony Blair made this promise: And I tell you if Rwanda happened again today as it did in 1993, when a million people were slaughtered in cold blood, we would have a moral duty to act there also. We were there in Sierra Leone when a murderous group of gangsters threatened its democratically elected Government and people. And now, genocide has been committed in Darfur. Who says so? American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in testimony to Congress on 9 September 2004: …genocide has been committed… Read More »Darfur & the failure to act

Alan Milburn returns to Government

It seems that Alan Milburn, now rejoicing in the feudal title of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (very New Labour), will have responsibility in No.10 for the policy directorate and the strategy unit. These staff obtain such influence as they have in Whitehall from having direct access to the Prime Minister, and being thought to be working directly for him. If they are now working for another Minister, however capable and influential, the influence of these key No.10 staff can only be diminished. Futhermore, they will have divided loyalties, and an increased workload serving two, rather than one, masters.… Read More »Alan Milburn returns to Government

Preemptive attacks

George Bush and Tony Blair must be very proud that they have created the precedent, through their action in Iraq, which has allowed the Russians to announce today that Russia will take pre-emptive strikes anywhere in the world. According to BBC news website "We will carry out all measures to liquidate terrorist bases in any region of the world," Gen Yuri Baluevsky said. "However, this does not mean that we will launch nuclear strikes." That's OK, then.

Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke, former counter-terrorism coordinator in the White House and author of Against all Enemies, spoke at Berkeley last night to a packed auditorium. He came across as civilized, well-informed, thoughtful; and genuinely contrite that he and his colleagues had failed to convince the Bush administration of the importance of pre-empting an attack by Al Queda. I disagreed, however, with his notion that it is desirable to create competing intelligence institutions, in order to promote diversity of opinion. If a challenge function is needed, it can be created within the institution.

Firing blanks

After a vasectomy, you have to give two semen samples, two weeks apart, to confirm that the operation has been a success. In a small number of vasectomies, the tubes join themselves back together; and it takes some time for the sperm to be cleared out of the system, so you need to do this to confirm that you can have unprotected sex. And yesterday, I had confirmation that I am firing blanks. So to summarise: – I have no pain – even running a marathon in a PB time – and I am now firing blanks – and Grethe… Read More »Firing blanks

Seven habits for effective marathon training

In 1998, I made a New Year's resolution to run a marathon in less than 3 hours. It has taken me six years to achieve this goal. I've tried many different approaches to training; looked for shortcuts; made mistakes; and learned lessons. I have learned a lot from books, magazines and articles; but I have learned most of all from my friends who run, who have patiently acquired immense wisdom and have been generous enough to share it. On May 16th 2004, I finally achieved my goal, running 2:53:28 in the Copenhagen Marathon. In this article, I've tried to capture… Read More »Seven habits for effective marathon training

Targets in public services do more harm than good

Targets for the management of businesses, including public services, do more harm than good. Target setting is based on a command and control mindset which assumes that the job of managers is to find a way to “get the workers to do the work”. The Civil Service has taught managers that our job is to manage people and manage budgets; and that we should drive performance through the organisation by setting targets, monitoring activity and appraising performance. This isn’t right. Our job is to understand what our customers want from us; and then to design systems and ensure that we… Read More »Targets in public services do more harm than good

Vasectomy update

It is now 6 weeks and a day since I had the snip. I now have only very occasional discomfort when running – usually just at the start, when I still sometimes feel as if I need to urinate. When I am not running, and most of the time when I am, I cannot feel anything at all. There is still some swelling inside the scrotum on the right vas deferens, where the cut was made. I began running after two weeks, but felt soreness around the scrotum, and a feeling of needing to go to the lavatory. It was… Read More »Vasectomy update