INTRODUCING: musings|half-baked… ‘who should run the world and why’

Introducing ‘musings: half-baked

This is a new category, in some ways going back to my original idea of a scrapbook in the form of a blog. So half-baked musings are scraps of thinking, that I might do something with, or might pique my or someone else’s interest.

So here is the first one, file under ‘who should run the world and why’.

Very cool lady judge presiding over the Pistorius case. I’m going to extend the ‘the world should be run by 8 year old girls’ to include ‘successful black women of pensionable age’ (context: where black is an oppressed group within the dominant societies on this planet. Your culture may vary. May contain traces of nuts).

Despite being jovially couched, this is a serious notion. Its about experiences and perspectives. Its an idea emerging, slowly.

The idea is to specify, in a quasi-scientific manner, the ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ for a thing. In this case ‘running the world nicely’. It’s like a concept car for management systems thinkers.

Judge MasipaArticle is from yesterday's 'i'


KIND THINKER OUT IN THE WORLD: an elegy for Perry Else



Kind thinker, out in

the world, away 

from the white towers; 

down by the riv’r.

Forthright, flexible and firm — 

the three frees.

Living, in the realm

of the possible:

not ‘they should’, only

‘well, maybe we can…’ 

Else we forget, the

value of play

and the value of

his playful life.

Arthur Battram

10:26 AM, Thursday, June 12, 2014, revised 2:02 PM  Friday, September 5, 2014 , and again so the scansion is better Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 2:04 PM.

A fitting obituary is here:

Evidence you say? What is that? Away with you and your ‘evidence’! (NAMED AND SHAMED: GPs who miss cancer diagnoses)

Read this blog, please. If you value any of my bloggage, read this other bloke’s blog. We need to bring as much as we can of this level of surgical precision to management.

If psychology can be a science, (a claim I find dubious having obtained a degree in it from an excellent college ranked number 3 or 4 in the UK, Hindustani).

(Hindustani? How could this idiotphone think I meant that when I wrote incidentally? This is why the robots well not take over just yurt)

As I was saying, if psychology can be a science then so can management.

There was a brief kerfuffle in the business schools about why they didn’t see the crash coming and why they failed to teach ethics to MBAs. Six months later all forgotten. Gary Wossname would have put on a conference or earned a big fee for meaculpaing, or both. Business school profs make admen look shamefaced and moral.

I’m not advocating Taylor’s Scientific Management. We have some better science now. And proper true facts are harder to come by in management consultancy. But we could work a lot harder than we do to seek truth amid opinion and cant.

Please read the wise words of the junior doctor.

If you saw the Mail on Sunday today you would have seen the above headline.

According to Wikiquotes, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, 4-time US senator and academic, once said “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts”. Rather than writing an extensive counter-diatribe of rhetoric on the ridiculousness of the article, the irresponsible attitude to health reporting and Jeremy Hunt in general, I have decided to try a new form of discussion. I call it ‘The Facts’.

Fact #1
Here are the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines for referring patients to a specialist with the suspicion of cancer.*

Fact #2
This is how common bowel cancer is: there are 47.2 new cases per 100,000 people per year (crude). This equals around 40,000 new cases nationally, which means nearly 1 case per UK GP per year.

This is how common breast cancer is: there are 155…

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Out of sight, out of mind, out of the brain of Mr Chown, for your reading pleasure

Out of sight, out of mind.

Excellent blog by the wise Mr Chown. Sample quotes:

20 years on I still see signs of children playing out, unnoticed by adults. Surveys and questionnaires provide only a partial picture of children’s independent mobility. We need more direct observation and engagement with children and families in their own neighbourhoods, not just in schools, if we are to create policies to support children playing out and to measure their success.”

‘We have given up haunting the places where children play, we no longer have eyes for their games, and not noticing them suppose they have vanished’. Children’s Games in Street and Playground – Iona and Peter Opie.”

Out of sight, out of mind.

What do we learn from the CQC cover-up?

Continue reading

Even the sports guys think there is not enough play and too much testing



“I told a friend today that it’s time to take a stand. Here is that stand.

“I have been an advocate for, and more importantly a community worker in Active Play for quite a few years now, and have worked in a number of capacities.  Because of that, I have had the opportunity to watch our advocacy develop in the context of physical education, sports performance, the so called “obesity crisis”, and the push for academic “excellence”.”

Above and Beyond


“During this time, there have been herculean efforts made to justify ”moderate to vigorous physical activity” for kids and teens in terms of things like “productivity”, “test scores”, and “health”.  All you have to do is look at the terminology.  It is clinical and measurable.  That’s what I keep having to justify play against – clinical and measurable.  I will submit to you during this article that play can’t compete with measurable on it’s turf, but measurable is no match for LIVING.”



Go read it!






the PBI: ‘Pink Bicycle Indicator’ for play-friendly streets

Driven to put fingers to keyboard in response to Tim Gill and Marc Armitage talking about ‘the Popsicle test’ on Tim’s blog, I finally got round to writing up something about the PBI:

The PBI: ‘Pink Bicycle Indicator’

is one of (what I consider to be) my key ideas, first presented in  a workshop at the Play Wales’ conference  ‘Spirit of Adventure Play’ in 2007, PDF available on request.

The PBI:  my contention is that when a small pink bicycle (there are very few large pink bicycles) of the kind favoured by parents for 6 year old girls, is spotted lying on its side on a pavement, it tells us many lovely things. It tells us things like:

•  the owner is a young female child,  between 5 and 8 years of age,

•  who is allowed out on a bicycle in that street without adult supervision.

•  the area is a low street crime area.

I haven’t developed a crisp academic description of the PBI, so let me just say that its proposed application is limited to housing areas. A better name might be something like ‘PBOPCTHI’, for

‘Pink Bicycle On Pavement Close To Housing Indicator’.

The key point can be summed up like this: if I were a dad with a young family, looking move to somewhere child-friendly (and therefore human- friendly), and I spotted a PB, that area would immediately jump to the top of my list.

Sure we can disagree about individual PB sightings – maybe it was a stolen bike abandoned by a villain, maybe a parent rushed in to answer the phone and forgot to bring it in, but  I think my point still stands. The PBI isn’t the only indicator, but it covers a heck of a lot.

And notice the overwhelming advantages the PBI has over other indicators:

•  it doesn’t involve observing children in the street, an activity widely viewed as suspicious by nearby adults, sometimes leading to threats of violence with or without the calling of police

• it is quick – it doesn’t involve hours and hours of observations

• it is easy to capture and document- a photo of the bike and part of the surrounding area, geo-tagged on your smartphone will do the job in a few seconds

• parents ‘get’ it – it goes straight to their perceptions of their children’s safety outside the home

• it challenges comfortable preconceptions: ‘experts’ are often perturbed by it – those playworkers in my workshop really didn’t like the implication that their AP was in an area were younger children were not freely playing out and was therefore not meeting the majority of play needs in the area.

To recap the background briefly: in environmental sciences, there exists the notion of ‘indicator species‘. [that there, in highlighted text, is a link to the wikipedia entry] One such is the skylark. If you want to measure the ‘health’ of a field, say, you could run batteries of tests on the soil, – expensive lab tests, bug and microbug counts and so on, or you could simply look at how many skylarks nest on the site. Skylarks only nest in areas with high biodiversity, free from chemical residues from pesticides and the like. And the skylark is not just an indicator species, it is a ‘super indicator species’ – one species acting as a proxy for many species. The reason being that skylark’s diet is specialised to a narrow range of relatively rare insects and plants which will not be found in fields that have been recently sprayed.

{The notion of proxies is also important here. Respected and common-place proxies should always be examined with suspicion – such as the use of GDP to measure ‘prosperity’ – a well-worn example these days.  Most proxies will be less than totally satisfactory, depending on your viewpoint or agenda. Two examples of concern to the play field are the Tellus survey used by Ofsted, and the ONS’ well-being indicators (currently out to consultation until Jan 23rd).  My personal view is that both are unfit for purpose. Tellus suffers from a glaring over-reliance on a proxy: if I recall correctly, the answers to questions put to children aged 10-13 in a classroom by teachers, are used to gather data on the views of children aged 7-13 on a range of topics including outdoor activities out of school (I don’t think play is mentioned specifically). Just because a paper-based methodology is deemed unsuitable for gathering data on 7-9 year olds is no reason to not even make the attempt to gather their views! I won’t labour the point about the problems of identifying children’s needs via ‘consultation’ here, the point is – beware of proxies.}

So the PBI, like Tim Gill’s later broader notion of ‘the child as indicator species’, is a ‘super indicator’ of – well, I coined the term’ ludodiversity’ semi-humourously, in order to make a point to adventure playworkers about the narrowness of their provision in relation to the majority of unmet play needs in their neighbourhood, but more generally, I would describe the PBI as an indicator of the ‘child-friendliness of area of housing’. A PB in the middle of a school playing field is not likely to be an I of child-friendliness: it would  more likely be evidence of petty theft.

What I like about these kinds of indicators is both their ‘attractive graspability’ and their implicit world-view, by which I mean the notion that if somewhere is child-friendly it is also likely to be older people-friendly, people with disabilities-friendly and so on. Hospitable for humans. A habitable habitat.

People will keep repeating ‘children are our future’ – I do wish they would stop. Maybe they could start saying something like ‘children are the measure of our present humanity’, instead.


Amended today, Tuesday, May 15, 2012, to explain that in the above I have glossed over the distinction between a canary indicator and a skylark indicator which is remiss of me. Luckily Adrian Voce has done that for me here: