Lot 31, miscellaneous, unclassified

I really needed a quiet night last night after a week of full-on CLAW engagement. I didn’t have high hopes of actually pulling it off, noting my rather parlous record this week, did actually enjoy a couple of hours post-dinner immersed in a massive leather armchair and glass of Bud (I have learned this week that the real deal bud actually comes from the Czech Republic) and worked through The Telegraph and The Independent.


The UK Attorney-General has to decide whether or not to order the prosecution of BAe for ‘greasing the wheels’ in its securing of numerous international arms contracts. The short-term gain; a billion £ fine for government coffers and an opportunity for UK pollies to morris dance their way around the moral high ground. The longer term pain: factory closures and job losses as BAe scrambles to pay the fine; loss of orders as other, less scrupulous competitors wing into the vacuum leading to more factory closures and job losses.

There are some unpalatable facts of life about doing business in most of the world and wheel-greasing is one of them – the moral high ground doesn’t develop much GNP…of course, the silver lining if BAe does step off centre stage is that the customers would then have a better chance of buying kit that a. works, and b. doesn’t need a PhD in Mechanics just to change the spark plugs…

The courts here have just issued their first order via Twitter. It’s a cease and desist order to an unknown offender who posts anonymously on a blog using the same username as the blog owner. Have fun enforcing that one and don’t too surprised if soon everybody starts abusing that username…there’s no Highway Patrol on the information superhighway…

There was an item on BBC4 this afternoon on the problems facing schools with yobbo students (this is in the same country that decided that yobs aren’t really a Police problem as the Police have better things to do – clearly if they can only manage 6 hours per bobby per week actually on the beat – and you should call your local council if you’re being harassed to the point of suicide, hammering your head beaten in with a hammer or having rocks hiffed through your front window every other night).

Anyway…there seemed to be some close parallels with current COIN campaigns: schools are disguising rather than confronting the problem; there is no clear or uniform strategy within any one school let alone nationally; the problem might go away if we can move it to another area; if we change the metrics (much as I hate the term and the philosophy), the problem might disappear; we don’t actually know what the problem is because we are too busy addressing the symptoms.

It kinda struck me as I did my 15th lap of the Oxford Ring Road (I spit on the Oxford Ring Road and all its descendants for a thousand years!) that the solutions might be similar as well: identify what the real issues are; identify what strategy will work in that society and environment; accept there are no easy answers or quick fixes; apply the strategy long enough for behaviours to change and become the norm. As schools deal with compressed generations of students, I thought it might be an idea to observe the various anti-yob initiatives and analyse what works and why as a possible cue for COIN concepts…after all, anyone with teenagers knows you don’t have to travel to encounter strange alien cultures…

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