Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Smoking Related Deaths And Middlesbrough

I was just reading an article on the BBC about the perhaps surprising news that 33% of women in Blackpool smoke while pregnant. Then while I was wondering if that meant there were three pregnant women in Blackpool and one was a smoker (as there are no figures given in the piece), I read the following nugget;
Smoking related deaths from lung cancer were highest in Middlesbrough, with the illness claiming 71 victims per 100,000 in 2006-08.
Now how do you define smoking related deaths?

Is it that you were a heavy smoker all your life and then died of lung cancer? Is it you smoked 10 a day from the age of 12 until you were 30, then died of lung cancer? Or maybe you lived with a smoker for your entire adult life, then died of lung cancer?

The reason I suggest the last of those is, well, it's Middlesbrough. You could not smoke a day in your life and get lung cancer in Middlesbrough - as you could, in fact, anywhere in the UK - yet be classed as a "smoking related" death due to you having lived with a smoker (who may not have smoked in your presence at any point).

This isn't to deny the likelihood of smoking being a potential (or probable) cause of lung cancer, but does kinda lump everyone into one group.

In the post, Middlesbrough's ratio of "smoking related" lung cancer deaths is compared negatively to that of Guildford. The main thing that irks me about that is, I don't recall several major chemical plants in Guildford spewing fumes forth into the atmosphere, whereas the football team and supporters of Middlesbrough are known as Smoggies for that exact reason.

I'm not going to call Bad Science, but it does look like sloppy journalism.

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Most Important Invention Of The 21st Century?

According to the most important invention of the 21st Century has been decided already. So suck on that inventors! The next 90 years will have NOTHING that will compare to, wait for it, dah-dah-daaaaaaah, the internet.

Yes, that internet. The internet that I've been using since mid 1994; which has been in existence in one form or another since ARPANET, but for the sake of argument I will say 1989 (when CERN opened its first external TCP/IP connections). 1989 - according to at least - now part of the 21st Century, rather than the 20th as we'd been previously led to believe.

Anyway, this irritated me - and I know I'm not alone on this - so I mailed them about it, suggesting that by their criteria, I could suggest penicillin was the most important invention of the 21st Century.

Much to my surprise, I got this reply (suspiciously similar to those on the above link)
Thanks for taking the time to email us regarding our new TV Advert.

Cara (the character in our ad) is saying that the internet is the most important invention of the 21st century, in terms of impact and not that it was actually invented in the 21st century.

We do believe this to be correct, but we also value your opinion on this, so I will definitely pass your comments regarding penicillin onto our Advertising Team. It's always good to have customer feedback.

Thank you once again,
So, if you get easily bored, remember there is a "Contact Us" tab on's website and you can mail them your suggestion for the best invention of the 21st Century. I reckon if enough people do it, we can get them to admit that fire was the most important suggestion of the 21st Century.


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Monday, October 25, 2010

The Future Of The UK, Uneducated & Chav Populated

There's a Facebook group of this name, who say;
The key is two government policies which are totally messed up, namely the cut in child benefit and the cut in unviersity places and funding.
That would be "is that there are two government policies"
If you are not familiar with these cuts, they propose that families who earn over £44,000 per year will no longer receive Child Benefit where as lower income families will continue to receive it. University funding will also be cut forcing a reduction in the amount of available places for students wishing to go to university.
I was fairly certain the policy was if there was ONE person earning over £44k there'd be no Child Benefit, rather than families earning over £44k.

It seems that the fact some families can earn nearly £88k and still get Child Benefit when others - where say the mother stays at home and the father earns £45k - won't get Child Benefit is where the actual arguments have started.
So if you put this into reality this will create a society where people who are higher earners will think twice about having a child, as the cost of the upbringing will have to be covered solely be them, where as a lower income family will not think twice about having another child as the cost of its upbringing will be met by the government in the form of child benefit and tax credit payments.
I think that the latter part of your suggested future is already happening.

If a single woman has more than one child, she is moved higher up the Council Housing ladder. You may also be interested in reading about these women who get quite substantial amounts of Child Benefit.

Also, if I were part of a family of higher income tax payers, just how much difference would my £20.30 (for first or only child, £13.40 thereafter) really make in my decision to have a child?
So what does this mean for the future of the UK, simple. The UK will end up being an uneducated, underachieving nation.
As opposed to now?
I ask you has the government never here the term "spend money to make money", if you increase university places, you get more educated people, who in term get better jobs, earn money money and pay more taxes, likewise if higher earners continue to propogate they will, in most cases, produce children who will also go on to be high earners and again pay more taxes.
Hell of a sentence there fella, you might want to start using full stops. Oh and "here the term" should be "heard the term" and then put a question mark after "money", okay?

If you increase University places, you do not necessarily get more educated people. If you apply a reasonable entrance requirement, you could easily end up with less people doing degrees. However, for the sake of argument, let's assume that increasing University places will increase the number of people with degrees.

If you increase the supply of something, without increasing the demand, the price of that object will fall. This is basic economic theory. If you increase the number of University graduates without increasing the number of jobs specifically aimed at University graduates, then the graduates will not get a higher salary than someone without a degree.

What you may do is make a degree a requirement for the most menial of jobs, as employers can pick and choose, meaning that graduates actually get paid less as a result of increasing University places. People without degrees - as people whose skill level is worth less than the minimum wage currently - will not be employed. The higher the entry requirements to work, the more people will be unemployed, the higher the tax burden on those with jobs to pay for them.
But I think the UK will end up being a CHAV populated benefit run society.
Which is, I think, where we were headed under Labour.

And I speak as someone who is unemployed, old enough to remember the horror of living under some of Thatcher's regime, and lived in the North of England when everything was shut down. I'm what was called a traditional Labour voter. Then NuLabour came in and frankly destroyed the country. While I don't agree with some of the Coalition's policies - nor the actual way in which this one is being rolled out - I do not agree with anything you have written. And I'm not going to join your Facebook group either.

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Educating Ritas, Bobs & Sues.

According to the Local Government Association Chair, Baroness Eaton, children need schools to be "safe, clean and attractive places in which they can learn."

Why? Okay, so I understand the safe bit as it can be distracting learning your times tables when someone is stabbing you - although there is research suggesting you learn things better when you are under stress - but do children really need clean and attractive places to learn?

We live in clean houses, with double glazing and central heating. Kids are kept inside to avoid them being raped and killed by paedophiles. They don't experience the dirt & germs of a normal childhood. A friend of mine used to lick the gravel in his garden as a kid, he's a healthy adult now. There was one kid with asthma in my entire school, the incidence has gone up a bit since then. Keeping kids in clean environements hasn't really helped them being healthy, I think a bit of dirt in their schools may actually help.

What point is there in making a school attractive? First of all, attractive to whom? The children, their parents or the staff? Because I doubt you're going to make anything attractive to all three of those groups. Something children find attractive - young children particularly - is likely to be life-threateningly gaudy for the teachers. Something parents find attractive is likely to be dull and disappointing to children. And something teachers find attractive is likely to be worrying to parents and scary to children.

If school is part of the way in which children are prepared for work, then schools should be dull. Classrooms lacking in stimulation should allow teachers to provide the only point of interest for children to focus on - education. You want to look at pretty walls? Go to an art gallery.

Perhaps it's my hatred of children leaking out again, but I do feel kids these days are mollycoddled and over stimulated. Part of my childhood was being bored, and I deal with being bored now much better because of it: I can make my own amusement. 13hr car trip? No worries, I can do something to amuse myself on the way. I don't need to watch a DVD or play handheld computer games to deal with the trip.

So Baroness Eaton, while I understand your attempt to grab money for schools, you may want to use a better argument.

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Spiralling Into Madness And The Death Of Others

It has been suggested to me that my depression is linked to the death of my father when I was 10. And it seemed quite plausible to me, until I saw photos taken from before he died, where I looked unbelievably miserable. Once I'd reflected on this I started remembering that I was a thoroughly depressed child from a very young age, well before my tenth birthday.

I have pictures of me looking frankly annoyed to be in Bergen, pissed off to be in North Cape, genuinely distressed to be in Norfolk, and many, many other places around the world. Despite the fact I had - as far as I recall - a fairly happy childhood. I was nurtured, encouraged, supported and taken to all these wonderful places and I was, for the most part, deeply depressed about it.

You may be thinking "the word you're looking for is ungrateful, not depressed" and I can understand why you'd think that. But I was genuinely grateful to have the opportunity to travel and spend time with people I loved and loved me. The problem was I just found everywhere a bit "meh". I was jaded and world weary before I was 8. There was nowhere I felt happy, not even at home. There were lots of nice places, wonderful views and experiences, but did I enjoy a single one of them? No.

And while I was annoyed at myself for not enjoying these things when they were happening, I was even more annoyed at myself when my Dad died and I realised I'd never do any of them again with him. Which made me more depressed and inward. And also began my hated of other children. To see them running around, blind to the worries and concerns that filled my head, made me bitter.

Again, it sounds like I'm an ungrateful bastard and I should just pull myself together and appreciate all the good things that have happened to me. I do appreciate all the things that have happened to me - good and bad - as they make me remember I am actually alive. My depression keeps me in such a state of almost suspended animation that when good or bad things happen I sometimes don't notice them. The date my mother died? Not a clue. It shames me to say that as I love her dearly, but I have no idea when she died.

So when the depression comes in and tells me that I could be in the most wonderful place in the world and not actually take pleasure from it, I believe it. That I could be doing the thing I most wanted to, and I'd just find it boring or I'd be useless at it, whatever you say my little black dog. I have analysed to death things that I have an interest in. I've made things I enjoyed so utterly unenjoyable that I take no further pleasure from them. I'm not sure if that's depression or me just being an idiot, but whatever light relief I had, I stopped it and got depressed about doing it.

And then annoyed at myself for being depressed when there were people who were much worse off than I was and had something to be genuinely depressed about.

My worst experience of depression so far (at least I think it was, others may have a different opinion) was in Exeter when I very nearly killed myself. I blame the anti-depressants I was on filling my head with serotonin when my head was not used to such happiness fuelled drugs. It could well have been the general unpleasantness of the shared house I was living in, who knows.

What I do know is that it was the murder of Tom Brown that made me snap out of it. Tom was one of my ex-staff from when I used to run a Students' Union bar in Enfield. Some mutual friends came round to tell me when it happened. I was utterly stunned. I was even more stunned when another friend of mine told me later that when she'd been phoned and told that there was some bad news, she assumed it was me killing myself.

I resolved to do something about my depression, my situation and my life.

I'm still trying to, and often still failing.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Make Sixteen Percent Less Shit Then

According to the BBC Trust, they're going to have to start paying for the over 75s to have a TV licence.

At the moment, the cost of this - £556m - is paid for by the Department of Work & Pensions. I wasn't aware that the Government had to actually pay for the over 75s to have a TV licence, I had (stupidly) assumed that they would just send out a different piece of paper with "FREE TV LICENCE" written on it that pensioners could hang on their wall. Or maybe, put a tick in a box on a spreadsheet so that the TV Licensing people wouldn't go round and bother them. You know, something cost-effective like that.

Now I've just worked out that means there must be at least 3.8m people in the UK who are over 75 and receiving a free TV licence. This seems to be in line with the TV Licensing people who say; "At the end of March 2009 approximately 3.97 million free over 75 TV Licences were in issue at a cost of approximately £518.9 million to the Department for Work and Pensions."

According to this document there were 4.7 million people in the UK aged 75 and over in 2006. The number is projected to increase to 5.5 million by 2016 and to 8.2 million by 2031, a rise of 76 per cent over twenty-five years. So the amount of money the BBC is going to have to "pay" for the free licences is going to increase heartily.

Although I think the number of people over 75 getting a TV licence seems to be somewhat high. Given that a fair amount of over 75s live in sheltered accommodation or in residential care (400,000 according to this report) or are in hospital - and the TV Licence for those places are either at a reduced rate or paid for completely by the care home or hospital - and you'd think a fair number of over 75s live together as part of a couple, where are all these over 75s who are living alone?

It's almost as if there's some sort of scam going on. "Yeah, my mother lives with us, we need to have a free TV licence." Free TV Licence appears, mother gets carted off to a nursing home. The BBC/TV Licensing people check mother isn't dead, free TV licence continues for many more years at a place where she doesn't live.

For some reason, I thought the BBC also got some money from the Government on top of receiving the licence fee. I didn't think it was from the DWP, as previously admitted. No idea what I was thinking, but it seems they get the licence fee only. I say "only", that came to £3.45bn in 2009/10. Yes, £3.45 BILLION. I'm going to guess that that figure includes the contested half a billion from the DWP.

So this is, essentially, the BBC complaining about not getting the full amount of licence fee from the Government because the Government will no longer be paying for the over 75s to have a TV Licence. They'd still be getting £2.9bn from the rest of the licence payers, plus however much money they make from their various commerical arms (sales abroad, DVD sales, tie-in merchandise etc)

A BBC Trust spokeswoman said it would be "unacceptable" for licence fee payers to foot the bill. "Anything at this stage is speculation as we have yet to see the detail of the Spending Review. That said it would be unacceptable for licence fee payers to pick up the bill for what is a Department for Work and Pensions universal benefit," she added. Newsnight's Political Editor Michael Crick added increases in the licence fee were unlikely to cover the cost, which was the equivalent of a 16% cut in the BBC's present budget.

Dear BBC, I have some suggestions. Send 16% less people to Glastonbury/Olympics/"major news event abroad". Stop paying stupidly high salaries to presenters (you might lose more twunts like Adrian Chiles that way). Move out of London (side benefit, London regional news stops being presented as national news). Oh, and finally, make 16% less shit than you currently do.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

My Depression And Me: An Introduction

This was going to be one post, but I think it would have become too long and rambling, so I'm going to split it into parts.

This post is quite difficult for me to write. Firstly, it's talking about me and my feelings - rather than just ranting - and secondly, it's talking about what many people consider to be a mental illness. I am personally of the opinion that an abscence of depression is more indicative of mental illness and that if more people actually acknowledged that they too were sufferers, being depressed would be seen as the statistical norm.

Some of you who know me may be aware that I suffer from depression. I say "suffer", I'm not usually the one who suffers from my depression. In many ways I used to quite like being depressed. It is quite possible that you've known me for decades and not realised I had depression. This is either because I find your company so utterly exhilarating or you too have something akin to depression. Or you just thought I was moody.

This isn't a recent thing: I've been doing it all my life. I remember being told I used to scare the other kids at Primary school by telling them how we could die in a nuclear assault and have no warning whatsoever. To me, that threat of nuclear oblivion didn't seem scary, just inevitable. So I accepted it and didn't worry about it. The kids I told about my (to them) terrifying world view thought about how they'd never see their families again and started having panic attacks.

To me I was doing them a favour. I was explaining a situation they hadn't thought of and what would happen to them and the world they knew. That didn't terrify me. Not knowing - or at least not considering all the possibilities - terrified me. Once I knew about the likelihood and the potential outcome, I could accept it and not be bothered by it.

Leading up to my exams, I think I spent the best part of three months at home. It wasn't that I had any fear of going to school (or of the exams), it was just that I *couldn't* leave the house. And not in an agoraphobia way either. It was just a debilitating mental block made physical. And it's not like I did anything interesting or exciting while not being at school. I'd sit in almost perfect silence just thinking negative thoughts.

And once I'd thought all the negative things I could imagine, then I'd be able to progress and do something positive. This is kinda where being depressed appeared to be quite helpful. In my head, I'd think that the exams would concentrate entirely on parts of the syllabus I hadn't revised. So instead of revising everything, I revised nothing. Not a single thing. This would - in my head - increase the chance that I'd know the answers, as there wasn't any part of the syllabus I knew any worse than any other section.

Brilliant. Obviously I do not suggest this approach to anyone who isn't me.

Surprisingly, I did quite well at both O Level & A Level, despite never revising for anything. Driving test, didn't revise. First Aid qualifications, never revised. Degree finals, no revision whatsoever. Any other single exam I have ever taken in my entire life, not a minute of revision.

And I continue with the same level of madness in many other parts of my life. If I watch a game of football, the team I am supporting are more likely to lose than if I am not watching. In my mind, this is a fact. I haven't actually done an analysis of the results as I don't want to break my intricately constructed world view. But even as I type this, I still think that it's probably true.

The effect of me listening to the game on the radio would reduce my overall ability to cause the team I was supporting to lose, but it would still be there. Following the game via text updates or on Sky Sports News also counts as me watching it. The only guaranteed way of getting my team to win is to not have a team. I'm like a jinx; Newcastle United have never won anything since I was born specifically because I was born.

This does not lead, you will be unsurprised to learn, to me having a joyful life.

With the depression I have - not the sexy bi-polar one, sadly, there's no days of ecstatic highs for me - and the length of time I've had it (I think it's probably been with me for about 35 years) I've come to expect never feeling competely happy. Not in a pessimistic kind of way, it's actually more pervasive than that. I have come to believe - not suspect, believe - that if I am actually happy about something, that something will fall apart spectacularly.

If I am very happy about someone, that someone will leave me in some way (die, move, get abducted by aliens). If I am very pleased with something, that something will stop (break, get stolen, burn down, fall over and sink into the swamp). So I moderate my happiness to stop bad things happening (no, really, it's all down to me). Despite being incredibly pleased with my relationship and my home life, I try to not become happy about it so that it doesn't all come to a crashing halt.

Now there's obviously a problem doing this: I remain ambivalent and my partner doesn't think I'm happy with her. I end up in the same situation as I fear being in from being happy, and I've never had the benefit of unreservedly enjoying any of it.

And I am fully aware of this. And yet I still do it.

This will continue. Probably tomorrow. Maybe not. I'll see how I feel.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Empty Vessels And Posting Anonymously

And it is so nice to be back blogging. I've been back for two days and I get a nice bit of anonymous feedback to my Let's Start Throwing Things post.
Empty Vessels make the most noise. Why didn't you do something YOURSELF when working to get the qualifications you now seem to believe are your god given right?
Page Up/ Page Down... don't make me laugh. You’re the typical "world owes me a living" bod that enjoys trying to show how much cleverer you are than the Jobcentre staff.

Good Luck in your job search. Your attitude to your previous job seems to carry over into your dealings with people who are trying to help you. as for you implied threat of violence... hmmmm.
Where to start.

First up, "Hi". Nice of you to read my rant and decide to reply. Always pleasant to get feedback of any nature. Shame you couldn't be bothered to make up a name.

"Empty Vessels make the most noise."

Really? Are you sure about that? Because as I recall from Physics (although I did do this when Pluto was still a planet), noise doesn't travel across a vacuum, and there's nowt emptier than a vacuum. I'm sure Plato wasn't aware of that when he allegedly came up with the original phrase, but let's not have facts get in the way, eh?

If you are asserting that I am the empty vessel because I make the most noise, please note the fact that this was my SECOND post in over 18 months. This was also my first post about being unemployed. If I was somehow revelling in my situation, I'd have been on TV about it complaining about how this world was not working out in the way God had intended and that I'd like my money back. As it is, I think I'm perfectly entitled to complain once in 6 months about having to go to a Jobcentre.

"Why didn't you do something YOURSELF when working to get the qualifications you now seem to believe are your god given right?"

Firstly, I don't think they're my God given right. Employers now seem to insist upon them for nearly all of the positions I've seen advertised. I personally don't think there's much point in doing ITiL, as it's supposed to be a "best practice" thing and I'm old school enough to remember when you tried to do things properly. MCSE & CCNA have been devalued by the huge number of "Pay us and we will guarantee you'll pass this" courses available.

I've recently worked with someone who had a CCNA. He was by far the stupidest person I've ever had the misfortune to work with - and my God that is a highly contested title. He had virtually no knowledge of anything to do with IT, yet managed to get the job purely because he had a piece of paper saying he had a CCNA.

The person who employed him - my ex employer - wouldn't pay for me to go on courses as he saw no point in them. I knew what I was doing, he knew I knew what I was doing. Plus what I was doing was so specialist in the extreme that there were no relevant courses. As I was working 10 hour days and had a three hour round trip, there wasn't really much time to fit a course in. Perhaps it would have been a good idea to do a course, specifically for when that employment ended, but you know what, I was too busy working.

Plus, and here's the kicker, I'm not the one who puts up posters in the Jobcentre telling me to retrain; I'm not the one who puts up posters in the Jobcentre telling me to get qualifications. I am the one who goes in asking about doing retraining and getting certification, and gets told that there's no budget for it and no real courses above basic computer skills.

"Page Up/ Page Down... don't make me laugh. You’re the typical "world owes me a living" bod that enjoys trying to show how much cleverer you are than the Jobcentre staff."

Difficult to believe, I know, but I did actually have to explain to the person doing my jobseekers interview that they could use the PG UP, PG DOWN buttons to go up and down the list of jobs, rather than scrolling way past the one they were aiming for.

I didn't go on to explain what the other buttons in the block of six did as that would have been unnecessary. I explained something that made the job of the person who was talking to me easier. That's not showing how clever I am, that's spreading knowledge.

And how dare you suggest I'm a "world owes me a living" bod! I was out of work for six weeks before I even went to the Jobcentre. This is the first or second time in my entire life I've even bothered to claim any benefits, and I was hoping that having paid so much tax I might be able to get some assistance in getting back to work, so I could pay more tax.

Despite the posters and the requirement to attend, there is nothing the Jobcentre can do to get me a job.

"Good Luck in your job search."

Thanks. I'm sure I'm going to need it.

"Your attitude to your previous job seems to carry over into your dealings with people who are trying to help you."

My previous job was dull, repetitive and involved dealing with people who were so stupid it was a constant surprise that they remembered to put on trousers. I believe a lot of jobs are like this. Mind you, a lot of people seem to like The X-Factor, so perhaps it's just me who is wrong and has a negative view of life.

The "people who are trying to help" I'm guessing are the Jobcentre staff who have told me that there's not really anything they can do for me? The same staff who have told me that there's no budget for courses? The same people who told me that they don't get many advertisements for jobs in my field, "whatever it is that you do"? Those people? Yeah, I may have some issues with them.

Not them per se, you understand, but inter alia. They know they can't do anything for me, I know they can't do anything for me. We both know this. We both keep up the pretence that it's for my good that I go and see them. I see the same guy every week and every week he apologises (quietly) that we have to go through this charade.

I've applied for over 100 jobs since I left my previous employment. I've had three offers of interviews, which is apparently quite a high percentage of replies. One of the positions was mis-advertised and paid £11k. They told me they were looking for someone a little less experienced. I'll keep plodding on with it, but it is a depressing experience.

So you'll forgive me my little rant at having to go through the whole belittling experience on a weekly basis with an organisation who can, by their own admission, do nothing to help.

"as for you implied threat of violence... hmmmm"

Capital A, missing r, incorrect use of implied.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Renault, Have A Word With Yourselves

The current advert for the Renault Clio - featuring Chesney Hawkes's "The One & Only" - has irritated me for some time now.

In case you are fortunate enough to have been living in a hole for the past year, this is the advert I'm talking about.

Right. Couple of things.

Firstly, why is the main character of the advert - who already owns a Renault, so I'm guessing we're supposed to empathise with in order to want one ourselves - such a complete twunt? He's rude, he's, er, metrosexual, and then there's the hair.

Secondly, how does the person later identified as the father of idiot boy's love get back to his house so quickly? They're at the same traffic lights. Idiot boy is in the SPORT option of the Clio. Idiot boy is still singing the song as he pulls up at the house. Yet the father has beaten him home, had time to put the car away and get into the house before having to go back out to meet him!

I want the car he's driving, not the one idiot boy has. Dad's is obviously much faster.

Oh, and see if you can spot the mother. She's there. She's just very very well hidden.

Renault, please sort out the narrative of this advert. It offends me.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Let's Start Throwing Things

I am currently unemployed. Have been for six months now, since I was kinda sacked from my previous job. I haven't actually been told that I was sacked, but I took the "give me your keys back" as enough proof and I haven't been back since.

To be honest, I was sick of the job, sick of the three hour round trip, sick of the stupidity of the customers and the management and sick of the boring repetitive nature of the work. So in many ways it was a relief. Okay so being unemployed doesn't pay as well, and is just as boring in many ways, but at least I get the joy of going to the jobcentre.

Which is where my problems really began.

They have no real clue what it is I do. Which is fair enough, as I can't actually work out what exactly they're supposed to do either. Although I did hear one of the staff complaining about being the purchaser of stationery and then discovering that she wasn't supposed to order blue pens.

Despite me working in IT for many years, I don't actually have any qualifications in IT - apart from an IT O Level I took in 1986. So I hoped - foolishly in retrospect - that I would be able to get some kind of qualification via the Jobcentre. Oh dearie me no. There's posters telling you to retrain. There's posters telling you to get qualifications. But there's no actual courses or budget for anyone who wants to do a specific course.

CCNA? No. MCSE? No. ECDL? No. ITiL? No. Learning how to use a mouse? You betcha!

I even went on a course to see if I could set up my own business - possibly training people who didn't know how to use a computer (like some of the staff in the Jobcentre, none of whom seemed to know what the PG UP or PG DOWN buttons do) - and went to a training place in Clapham.

First day there was probably 26 - 30 people. Second day, half that. Third day, maybe ten of us. And we learned nothing. I learned more about setting up a business in my Commerce O Level and Economics AO & A Levels than I was ever going to do at that place. And that irritated me. They're getting paid by the Government (read taxpayers) to provide training and yet they provide nothing of the sort.

Yet actual courses that could enable people to get back into work and paying higher rate tax (you'd hope to be getting £40k plus with a nice selection of Cisco courses and maybe some Microsoft certified stuff) are not available. There's not even funding for teacher training courses, or for anyone wanting to teach adults basic skills that they might be lacking - which again would hopefully lead to more tax receipts.

What is exactly the point of the Jobcentre? They can't train you in anything worthwhile, they told me that I would be better off looking on industry specific websites as they "don't get many job adverts for IT positions" so they're not really helping me get back into work, and they won't pay for me to be CRB checked.

I kinda despair at the pointlessness of having to go to see them every single week. But I do have to go, or they stop giving me the princely sum of £65 a week.

I wonder sometimes if the whole demotivational process is designed to weed out people who are actually working on the side and persuade them that they'd be better off not going in. Or possibly it's to drag down motivated people so that they become entirely reliant on the state. Who can tell.

All I know is, I think I'm going to go postal in there soon, and given the amount of IT equipment lying around, I think I could do quite a lot of damage. That's the benefit of having worked in IT, you know what's going to hurt the most when you throw it at someone.


Did I Miss Anything?

*blinks twice*

Wow. It's been about 18 months since I last blogged. That is quite incredible. There are many reasons why I've not blogged - some of which I may go into at a later date - although I think it can be summed up with "Meh".

I've spent most of my life wondering what the hell is going on with everybody and why no-one else is doing anything about the sheer stupidity of Government/business/cyclists and I'm sure you're delighted to learn I've spent the past 18 months doing pretty much the same thing with Government/business/NHS/cyclists/taxis etc.

Here's something. If you live in London and have the misfortune to be a car driver you will already be aware of the utter idiocy that is Cycle Superhighways. There's one on a road I travel down twice a day. Since its introduction, the lane width for cars, buses and trucks has gone down. Doesn't stop cyclists from still being in the middle of the road, you understand, but does increase the chance of people in vehicles having to swerve to avoid crashing into other vehicles. So I am now MORE likely to drive into a cyclist. Yay!

I say more likely, given the number of them who seem to think red lights don't apply to them, go straight through the junction then look daggers at me when they nearly drive into me (and I'm the one going through on green rememeber), then my chances of killing them hasn't gone up too much.

And they don't like it when you open your door when they're going past, do they? Some of them have even stopped talking on their phones or changing their iPod track to gesticulate at me. Probably. Not that I've even bothered looking.

So yeah, cyclists. Bastards. Taxi drivers however, utter utter bastards. My contempt for them has gone up now I see so many of them driving round with sat navs. What's the point of doing the knowledge if you're just going to use a fucking sat nav? Grr. Bus drivers, I will kill one of you very very soon. And you know the reason why.

But my main gripe is the complete morons who ring me up at all hours of the day and night to tell me there is now legislation in place that means I can get money back on all my debts. Or that my PC is apparently sending them messages telling them how slowly it's running. Or that they're not based in India (despite the accent and dialling code). I will definitely be killing each and every single one of those motherfuckers.

Still angry, still Silas. And now blogging again.

Peace, I'm out.

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