On fire, covered in sick

Climate of despair: How the state of our environment is affecting my mental health https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/energy/2018/10/climate-despair-how-state-our-environment-affecting-my-mental-health

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On the power of just being there, when a child is in distress… and childrearing is not just for parents.

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/04/new-research-on-disciplining-children-will-make-you-better-parent-and-spouse/

I’m really fed up with all these parenting experts. Everybody yammering away, demanding that you fix your kids. Other people who aren’t parents can also help!

It is said that “it takes a village to raise a child”, and this has become an enervated cliché. Judith Rich Harris, in her book The Nurture Assumption, contends that children are raised by their peers, not their parents. You only have to look at how little time kids spend with mum and dad these days to realise that school and friends must have a significant influence as well.

Notice this word ‘parenting’. It’s a thing parents do, therefore! If we call it parenting we are embedding the idea that parents are the only people who can do it, or should do it. You are a parent, it’s your job! You are not a parent, it’s not your business! This is nonsensical and counterfactual. It ignores the potential involvement of all the other significant adults in the child’s life.

People like older brothers and sisters, and grandparents, and teachers and family friends, and as we shall see in a moment, playworkers.

Can we stop calling it parenting? I have developed a conceptual aversion to nouns being turned into verbs. Let’s call it childrearing. Not a thing reserved for biological parents. Which is just as well, because if yours are absent you can’t be parented, can you?

Childrearing. Who can do it, who does do it?

Jane Jacobs, in The Death And Life Of Great American Cities, describes how all the others that children meet as they make their way on the streets make a contribution to the socialisation of the child. Imagine a spoilt brat, who is given everything they need by doting parents. Now imagine this brat throwing a wobbly in the corner shop. A learning experience for them, yes? Tantrums don’t work on strangers. Through these everyday interactions with people who aren’t parents, children learn to get on with others. It’s socialisation, something that just happens, not something that parents can command and control like managerial managers at work.

But those adults can’t be expected to be supportive when a child is having a meltdown in their shop. Though they may care about the child, because humans do, their main focus is not the child it’s their customers and their shop.

Everybody has an agenda, except one, because they aren’t trying to educate or control or whatever: playworkers.

It’s unfortunately true that some playworkers have been channeled into becoming childcare workers, and thus an agenda had crept in. I’m not taking about them.

I’m talking about those playworkers who are still free to facilitiate {deleted: ‘allow’ replaced with ‘facilitate’} children to play freely. A vanishing breed.

The article I’m pointing you to is pretty witless. It’s based on the assumption that everything is down to the hovering parent to fix. It’s like every neurotic parent has Fix You by those mawkish poshboys Coldplay on repeat all day. Over-parenting is part of the problem, it’s not the solution. But buried in this tiger-mom piffle is an important insight, drawn from some fascinating brain scan research:

Because neurons wire and rewire themselves very rapidly when we are young, Siegle’s results, supported by numerous follow-up studies, suggest that an adult, by establishing a connection with a child at a moment of stress or conflict, can actually stimulate development in the parts of the child’s brain that control emotional regulation.

Translate that into the playwork context and you have a fundamentally under-appreciated contribution that playworkers can make in the lives of the children they work with.

Unlike parents and other authority figures, playworkers are expert in what Gordon Sturrock has called ‘witnessing’, the simple act of being there, being on hand, non-judgementally.

And this research validates the importance of this playwork role.

______________

NB:

I’m not that happy with this piece. I’m not convinced that I’ve got my point across. I’d appreciate any comments from readers and friends that will help me improve it.

You had one job, play advocates, and it was left to the Yanks to do it.

Hello playwork.

 

Hello Fraser Brown, Bob Hughes, Gordon Sturrock, Mike Wragg, Wendy Russell, Pete King, Adrian Voce, the whole bloody lot of you clever bastards. You failed to do this, and it’s been left to a bunch of bloody Yanks, who don’t even have bloody playwork, ffs, to do it. Doubtless bloody Tim Gill, even as we speak, is busy blogging that it is his success, because he is a mate of David Ball. Whatever. And now, precisely as the last few APGs are being smashed in Bristol, and local councils continue relentlessly to make some of the most monumentally short-termist, cheese-paring and pointless and counter-productive cuts ever conceived of by a bunch of bigoted little Englander dickheads who basically would legislate for children to be put into landfill if they could, and in Solihull, they’re probably planning that right now, while all that’s happening, 60 people are going to spend two days sat on their arses in Ely, wailing about playwork.

Playwork deserves to die with advocates like these.

https://www.treehugger.com/family/adventure-playgrounds-are-safer-kids-fixed-play-structures.html

Childrensaving and Ship Building (NB: it’s Shipbuilding, all one word)

Currently, Wallsend is having its children saved. Hurrah.

Childrensaving is happening, thanks to a government-funded programme, delivered by a national children’s charity, saviours of  children, heroes in their own lunchtime {a lunch of rocket, kale and organic polenta, to be precise}.

This is part of the ongoing long-term —some things are long-term, aren’t they— the ongoing long-term deracination and outsourcing of the role of local government in the public realm.

Successive governments, red and blue and yellow, have decided that local government can’t be trusted. Central government prefers to impose 3rd sector agencies from London on communities, because local government is infested with a ‘can’t-do’ mentality and is bogged down in local politics and can’t make the thrusting managerialist interventions, on absurdly short timescales [ie. before the next election], that politicians command but can’t control.

If you wanted to talk about shipbuilding to people in Wallsend, which is the topic today, BTW, you might start by learning that shipbuilding is all one word, it’s not Ship Building. A ship building would be the hut in which you keep your little rowing boat, by a river bank. Or is it riverbank? A river bank would be a bank in which you keep rivers, or something.

So anyway, here is The Theory Which Will Transform Wallsend, starting from the ‘Past Context’ of “Ship Buildings (Lost)”…Wallsend Children_s Community Initial Overarching Theory of Change

And here is another Theory of Change…

 

You’re all busy people who don’t have time to listen to some bloody lefty pop song from 1982, so here’s the lyrics for all you busy managers who need it one side of A4 by 9 o’clock tomorrow morning…

Is it worth it?
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy’s birthday
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we’ll be shipbuilding
Well, I ask you
The boy said, Dad, they’re going to take me to Task
But I’ll be back by Christmas?
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of  The shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
A telegram or a picture postcard
Within weeks, they’ll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin, once again
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls

 

some sage advice on choosing your ISP and an astute commentary on business stategy

https://community.plus.net/t5/Plusnet-Feedback/Why-I-have-left-Plusnet/m-p/1389353

Really worth reading the whole thing, here’s why:

“When I joined Plusnet they /snip\ enjoyed steady growth through word of mouth and the referrals system.  When they were bought by BT the whole approach changed.

It is now apparent that the over-riding aim of Plusnet’s management is to gain customers which is why /snip\ The /snip\ result has been a lot of users who bitterly regret coming to Plusnet have suffered the consequences of the poor support and leave again at the first opportunity. /snip\ The changed approach has also had other consequences:

  • It has changed the type of users /snip\ who want the cheapest deal and still expect first class support; they will show no loyalty at all and will leave again as soon as they are out of contract and a better offer is available./snip\
  • Developers are continually engaged preparing for new campaigns and small tweaks that could make improvements for existing users never rise to the top of the development stack.

What Plusnet don’t seem to realise is that just gaining new users isn’t the only way to increase the total user base – keeping your existing users happy is just as important. Plusnet’s churn rate is probably as high if not higher than any other ISP’s.

/snip\ Instead we’ve seen support so overwhelmed /snip\ They tried to blame it on “their suppliers” but it was strange that I saw no other ISP indicated they were having such problems. That was the final straw!

 

Go read it. And switch!

 

Clean Interviewing for Technology conversations

Some very useful advice for effective conversation and actual dialogue.

Make 10 Louder

giraffe, chris barbalis.

Alternative title:

Writing Software, hardest job in the world, 40 years man and boy…

Writing software that meets people needs, that is.

What’s the problem with just talking to people to find out what they want?

When we talk to people, we use shortcuts that help us to understand. We assume that what the other person means by, say ‘website’, ‘connection’, ‘usability’ or even ‘tested’.

Shared understandings can work fine, but very often problem arise when we think we have an understanding that isn’t there. Meetings can start and finish without the attendees really understanding the models in each others heads, and spend time discussing their unknown lack of understanding, rather than the pressing concerns.

Perhaps the HIPPO (HIghest Paid Person in the rOom) gets the last say, based on their unexplained model?

We let the things in our head get in the way of understanding the…

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I heart Taylor Swift

This ought to be a piece in Saturday’s Grauniad magazine, written by Howard Jacobson, who always comes across as slightly creepy, like the Latin master at a girls school. He’s like the evil twin of Michael Rosen, who would be the English master, loved by all the girls, who would suspect he is gay, which he isn’t, but they like to think so, so that they can hug him and squeal when they get their A level results, without having to worry about the whole creepy uncle thing.

All of which is, fairly obviously, me talking about me.

I am so not allowed to like Taylor Swift.

In order to like her, you have to be a thirteen-year old girl (I know that’s wrong, more like eight-year old), or the mother of a thirteen-year old girl (hopefully not the creepy kind that wang on about being mistaken for sisters, in a botox-sad way), or flamboyantly, Julian Clary on steroidsedly, GAY. Smithers off of the Simpsons has a Taylor Swift shrine, obvs.

Fathers of eight-year old princesses HAVE to like Taylor Swift, so that doesn’t count. If they actually DO like Taylor, they have to redouble their efforts to project that ‘I’m only doing this because that’s how much I love my daughter, how dare you think otherwise, you bastard’ thing.

Loved that that Ariane Grande concert (no, me neither, not until, you know) had lots of dads hanging around waiting for their teenage daughters who were simply screaming the whole evening, I imagine. I can picture the dads, in their casual wear, Clarkson jeans and new but unfashionable trainers, lots of Man U shirts, ugh, in some sort of roped-off area, rolling their eyes at each other, checking their phones. (Yes, there was a bomb, I’m not talking about that.)

There’s a thread here. (Please tell me who I’ve missed out.)

Madonna soon became annoying.

Kylie was typecast as the absinthe fairy in Moulin Rouge. (BTW, has Baz Luhrman done Midsummer Night’s Dream? If not, why the fuck not?)

Gaga grew up and started singing properly. She is a proper singer now, sang with Tony Bennett: that’s proper.

Katy Perry, I’m sorry, Katy who?

And now…

I heart TS.

(Not for the music: it’s pleasant enough pop fluff, quite inventive in it’s way. More the videos. I’m realising that the pop song isn’t the artform anymore: it’s the video. I never watch bloody videos unless somebody tells me to, somebody being some pundit, not a real person or even a friend on Facepuke. I hate being made to watch video pieces online, ‘vlogs’ FFS, that could just as easily be articles, I won’t sit through them. I can read twenty times faster than the pace of some dick orating his or her exquisitely mannered vid (No offence Eddie Nuttall, I know you understand).

Clever, sophisticated, expensive, witty videos, like seeing the brain of a snarky thirteen year old girl materialising briefly on your telly.

 

Here’s a piece about her latest vid, (yes I did find it coz there was a link on the page of that thing about the mum and her weasel). Now I’m off to actually watch the vid, whilst listening to Ahmad Jamal charmingly eviscerate Secret Love, my dad’s favourite song when sung by the toothsome Kathy Kirby, in 1962. You should check him out, he’s what Taylor Swift would sound like if she were a 1950s jazz pianist.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/08/28/taylor-swift-knows-youve-been-making-fun-of-her-heres-how-her-new-video-responds/?tid=pm_lifestyle_pop&utm_term=.b28f7e5672b6