UK Politics

The Tories and Labour: One’s a multi-party marriage of inconvenience, the other’s a single-party marriage of intransigence.

George Osborne & David Cameron – attention deficit order and attention deficit disorder respectively.

Ed Milliband – A union of debt history, tax brakes on the tax breaks and energy price pleas for an energy price freeze.

Political coalitions look a bit like elephants – government of the slowest progress, greatest compromise and greyest shades of meaning.

Boris-mania – pedalling London’s praises from island to Mayor’s Office, with windswept hair, camera-ready expression and warming up for a pm run.

Nigel Farage – closing the door, so he can enjoy tucking into a full English breakfast.

NIck Clegg – promising not to let the students pay more and hoping the EU bureaucrats won’t charge more, to helplessly watching the students pay more and helplessly watching the EU bureaucrats charge more…

The MP Expenses Scandal – if you’re an MP, it leads to recollections and infighting. If you’re the investigating body, it leads to byelections and spin fighting.

Democracy only works when casting a vote results in making a difference. In the UK elections, we vote and the UK politicians can’t act. In the EU elections, we vote and the EU politicians still act against us…




UK Social Comment1

Education opens a door to awareness. Awareness opens a Universe to discovery.


Bank bonuses – less a reward for the past. More an incentive to generate value in the future.

In the time spent bank bonus-bashing, banks silently generate huge value for the UK economy.

Scandals in the banking industry, Parliament, or the Met Police, are like storms lashing the coastline. Learn from the experience. Take effective steps to avoid future damage, but most importantly, appreciate the strength of the underlying landscape.

If we spend time bashing the wealth creators, instead of upskilling, we’ll get the economic wasteland we deserve.

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Every person who rips off the system, takes taxpayers money that could have gone into investing in a better future for us all. And especially our kids.

Healthy living is a series of choices. Unhealthy dying is a consequence of not making the right choices.

People complain that immigration puts pressure on public services. And then choose to swamp the NHS system (A&E) instead of visiting their GP for treatment!

Taking drugs combines the worst of the Black Death with the worst of the Slave Trade.

Being proud to be English doesn’t mean celebrating understatement. There’s nothing understated about Newton or Shakespeare, the global prevalence of the English language, or the Westminster system of government.


Transformation of the Silicon Roundabout

I recently read an interesting Guardian article ‘The slow death of Silicon Roundabout’ by journalist Cory Doctorow.

The article and some follow-on comments, neatly highlight some issues tech start-ups and wannabe start-ups face in large urban cities. In spite of central government desire for tech SME’s to proliferate, create jobs, boost overseas earnings and boost the tax receipts flowing back to government, at the local government level (below city level), the priorities are different.

Local government (below city level) might argue that, as its funding from central government diminishes, it’s forced to turn to large property developers to build new, high-density property, to replace near derelict properties in its jurisdiction.  Urban renewal, particularly if on brownfield sites, is desirable and helps cities rejuvenate. Likewise increasing the supply of inner city space helps to offset rental price rises (eventually). However, in my view, there’s an important role for local government to ensure that replacement property plans allow flexible use and include park space to offset higher-density effects.

On the park space point, Central Park in New York is a good example of consolidated park space co-existing with high rise, in (relatively) close proximity. London’s approach on park space has been to scatter large parks all around the city, which also works well. In the London of the future, is there scope to create elongated ‘strip’ parks in Eastern London, to offset future high-rise while incorporating cycleways, to separate cycle lanes from existing road users?

Returning to the Silicon Roundabout/Tech City article, a final thought. If the local government institution (Hackney Council in this case), want long-term occupants (workers, property renters and live-in property owners) occupying as much of its jurisdiction as possible, to contribute Council taxes and reduce the social costs (crime, fly tipping etc) associated with derelict areas, then why encourage purpose-built student accommodation development at the expense of tech city accommodation? As the journalist quite rightly points out, tech city is a diverse community of start-up services and organisations. Encourage a critical mass and it will spawn ongoing replacement (successful start ups move on and are replace by new ones starting out), in a similar way to market traders. In contrast, in allowing developers to build (overseas) student accommodation en masse in the inner city, the Council risks putting too many eggs in one basket, if the educational institution occupants aren’t themselves of top quality and since education institutions don’t appear to benefit from clustering together physically* (Eton & Harrow, Oxford & Cambridge, the US Ivy Leagues, excepting MIT & Harvard).

Best case, if elite higher education institutions move in and then attract successful companies to relocate alongside them, the Council plan will pay off handsomely. However, worst case, the Council will find itself surrounded by empty new build space, purpose-built for the education sector, vacated by non viable education institutions. And therefore reliant on other educational institutions to move to the area.

*In contrast, there are mutual advantages for commercial organisations locating physically next to research-led higher education institutions.

Career Planning

Education and self improvement are the silent couriers delivering self-confidence and pride through your post box. How else will you make any sense of the World?

Teachers are like route guides not tour guides. When you graduate school, the route ahead will need plenty of skills to navigate a journey of safety, but with its own adventure…

Career plans start with looking outside yourself. Before you choose an apprenticeship or university course, think about future trends. Will electric engines take over anytime soon? Will inexpensive machines cut, style and weave our hair in five year’s time? If everyone’s going the same career way, be a creative maverick, but upskill early…

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The Human Design Version 1.0

Safety features

• Water and shock resistant

• Multi sensor

• Virus inhibiting


Comms features

• Self organising and self promoting

• Social network-enabled


Design features

• Form follows function

• Carbon and neuron network advanced construction

• Uninterruptable power supply

• Dual processor (head and heart)

• Dimension-scalable with time

• Richly-textured aesthetic


Value features

• Limited edition

• Love orientated

• Self replicating

• Entertainment friendly

• Value creating

• Global adaptability


Design improvement v2.0 opportunities

• Blind-spot reduction

• Humility attachment

• Human character-recognition sensor

• Essential-criteria filter

• Moral compass

• Narcotic addiction and alcoholism-delete button

London Banks and Rail Companies

‘Leaves on the track’, a special rail language that most commuters can’t understand. And encouraging the astute to run into the arms of alternative transport providers.

Train companies who want to dodge a bullet, have to be faster than a speeding bullet train in their planning.

Train Companies – training for gold?

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In banking, the 3-6-3 rule used to mean; offer at 3%, lend out at 6% and be on the golf course by 3pm. Now it means; offer 3 benefits to depositors (a competitive deposit rate, personal service and safe custody of their money), give 6 benefits to borrowers (a competitive lending rate, personal service, extensive product array, global reach, minimal red tape and minimal cross-subsidisation of risk) and offer 3 reassurances on the net reserves held.

Goodwill banks are the best banks of all, since the less  (goodwill) you give, the more risk you take.

For banks and rail companies, these days, market share is the displacement of water by a boat, on an ocean of uncertain size.

A brand that isn’t about innovation is one brand too many in the World.


Self Improvement

I’d rather have a design challenge in front of me, than a depressed economy.

Life isn’t about finding Nemo. It’s about creating yourself.

Problems in your neighbourhood cry out for design ideas from your head and courage in your heart.

The creative process – more Picasso, Dali and Pollock. The dependency process – more still life and pointillist.

Creativity; On switch, expresso shot, file create, discuss, argue, kiss and make up, file save, email samples to client. Cycle home and mental edit tomorrow’s revision, while dodging other commuters doing the same.

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Art and Galleries

Art galleries; national parks for the soul.

Art gallery tours – cutting through the cutting edge.

Art both saves the World one person at a time and gives the greatest good to the greatest number.

Viewing art is no more elitist than watching football. Like football, it’s only interest or disinterest that makes it mysterious.

Art for art sake? Art for Society’s sake.

Galleries – the barometer of social culture. The more we have, the more we are.

Art; eye candy for the Soul, or soul candy for the eye?

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Business Ironies 2

You need micro-level creative chaos, for macro-level coherency.

Design testing needs to be brutal, so the final output can be kind to the customer.

Find a job you love, so you never feel like it’s work.

Product design/development problems come from multi-functional teams, in spite of themselves. Not because of their input, but because of the stuff that quietly slips through the cracks between their functions.

You can’t just ask today’s customers to control development of tomorrow’s designs, even if they’ll love them. Input is valuable, but leave design control to the designers/developers.

If designers/developers are given control of the innovation budget, you’ll get the best designs for a bankrupt organisation. If accountants are given control over the innovation budget, you’ll get the worst designs for a profitable, but shrinking organisation.

More design or production haste is typically more waste of materials. More design or production haste is typically less waste of time.

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