A Sideways View · Economics

A Sidways Look At The Carillion Debacle.

It’s world news now: the magisterial beast of the British construction industry, Carillion, is dead. Only it is no living thing, there is no successor in the way we used to say, “The king is dead, long live the king.” With this death, there are only more problems to uncover, not solutions.

Carillion worked primarily in the construction industry, and having run a business that was part of this charade, I know one or two things about it that few financiers would. As usual, these are the more obvious elements of the job – and it is always the more obvious things that are the easiest to overlook.

Continue reading “A Sidways Look At The Carillion Debacle.”

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Economics · Modern Times

Would You Adam And Eve It?

Adam, Eve and the Apple: The Problem Of Our Past And Our Future.

It’s Christmas and you will need something to mull over when falling asleep over the Queen’s speech at three. Because, it’s more that Christmas is so easy to predict: it comes at the same time every year. It’s not like Easter that comes and goes as it pleases. Christmas is the same date, the same time every year. Year in, year out. Ask anyone when Christmas is and you’ll get the same answer. Ask them about Easter and it’s not so easy. Continue reading “Would You Adam And Eve It?”

Economics · Mind The Gap!

Cutting Off The Continent.

A Very British Brexit.

Britain is, and always will be a very odd place to live for anyone who is used to the way Europeans live. Storms in the English channel that stop the ferries running between Dover and Calais are always headlined as “Continent Cut Off”. The British point of view is nothing if not eccentric. Britain, that small island just off the northern coast of Europe, is something of an afterthought in the mind of the average European.

Now I have lived in Europe for the better part of my life, and if there is one thing that has been consistent to any of the countries I lived in – Denmark, Germany and latterly, the Netherlands – it is the lack of understanding about Britain’s place in Europe. Here in Europe, it is necessary to register one’s place of abode, and on no few occasions, that is to say, in each case of registering, I had been asked to show that I, as a Briton, had the correct papers to allow me to live and work in their country.

I pleaded that Britain was a member of the European Union.

The response was as consistent as it was confused: “Britain is not a member of the European Union” later this changed to “Britain isn’t in the Eurozone.” After all, any European country of any sensible size was a member of the Eurozone, the gathering of countries who use the Euro as their currency. Ergo: if you weren’t in the Eurozone, you weren’t in the European Union.

Continue reading “Cutting Off The Continent.”

A Human Menagerie · A Sideways View

Books And The Building Industry.

What was it someone said to Dorothy Parker? “Oh, darling, I’m writing a book.” To which Dot responded, “I’m not writing one either.” It’s great to speak of writing a book, to actually write one implies a rather different situation altogether. Dorothy Parker was an experienced storyteller and journalist, and knew the pitfalls. Just wanting to write is not enough. But then, it never was.

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Beyond Newton · The Secret Of Systems

Painting By Numbers: The German RAL Colour System.

A Look At Standardization.

There is no connection between the nature of the colour and the number it was given.
We all know what colour this is: do you know what RAL number it is? 😉

Germany is well known for its ability to organize; its bureaucracy is legendary. There are downsides to this, though, and it is the German mind applied to colour that I wish to examine in this post. Standardization in German industry led it to be more effective at producing things, and one of the things needed to produce something is the need to paint it. It is the “Imperial [read centralized] Commission for Consistency and Quality Assurance”; the Reichs-Ausschuß für Lieferbedingungen und Gütesicherung.

One Example Of Standardization.

Continue reading “Painting By Numbers: The German RAL Colour System.”

The Secret Of Systems

Information In The Information Age.

So, is this a poem or an image… or what, precisely?
This is all a computer gets, and the algorithm has to do the rest.

We live in a world that is knee deep in information. Just walking to the supermarket in our village would add a few details to the log of my mobile phone’s activity.

Well, it would if I carried it about. Information of this kind can never be perfect, and that is on account of the nature of the computer itself. A computer can’t do anything without being told to do it – this can come from another machine, but that machine will have had to be programmed. There’s a problem with programming that I’ll address at another date; suffice it to say that the programmers act out of their comfort zones. What they see is all they can see. This post will take a look at a different angle of what people want that satisfies their comfort zone. That is to say, what people want to see, where the reality is a whole lot simpler.

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Architecture · Mind The Gap!

A Visit To The Bathtub.

Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/30/SMA.jpg/640px-SMA.jpg
The new wing is the grey, um, thing and the old museum is the stripey brick building. [Source: Wikipedia].
In the Museum Quarter of Amsterdam there is the unimaginatively named ‘Museum Plein’ – the Museum Place. No surprises that you’ll find museums here. Well, that’s what it’s all about: the Dutch are straightforward people. Well, that is when they’re aware that is; when they are, things are made very easy. Unfortunately, the kind of architects this breeds are unimaginative – something that is the direct result of a lack of awareness. They’re not alone in this, most of the worlds architects are the kind of people the world would be happier without.

Continue reading “A Visit To The Bathtub.”