Sunday, July 04, 2010

For Absent Friends

Just over 20 years ago, the concept of owning a personal computer was a dream - for those that knew about home computers, it certainly was; despite the fact that the earliest home computing systems didn't actually do that much and what it did do was pretty underwhelming.

It's hard to believe that now we depend on our once expensive boxes in the corner, possibly far more than any other gadget of the last 100 years - even the television and radio. Obviously, the Internet was responsible for this change and has become this massive controlling aspect of most of our lives. The good thing about the Internet is that it has become a valuable tool to help with our lives. I've spoken at great length for years about what's wrong with it.

On Thursday, while I was at work, my good old geriatric PC bit the bullet. It packed up and died. I wasn't surprised, I'd sort of expected it to happen at some point in the last two years. But... the void it created! At least five times during Thursday evening, and I was out for two hours, I had reason to need to check the computer or go on line and find out information. Of course, I couldn't and that was frustrating. I remember the TV breaking down back in the 1980s - the wife knocked a vase full of water down the back and blew it up. we didn't have a TV for over a week, yet amazingly, we managed to find things to do.

In 2010, without a computer, I managed to watch more TV; do a bit of extra gardening and um...

The new PC is a cheap one. it cost less than £400 and makes my old PC (which cost £1000) look like an abacus. In fact, it's so quick, I've spent 40% less time in front of the computer. This might have something to do with my need to lift my spare hard drive out of the old computer and fit it into the new one. it's only an 80gig drive, but it has so much on it. The last back up I did was in January.

What I have lost is my bookmarks for the net and over 10 years worth of emails and addresses. yes, 10 years! The way I upgraded my PCs back in the late 90s up till the last one, was done by copying the mbx file and loading it back into a newer version of Outlook Express. I no longer have OE and as Virgin Media screwed up our pop3 accounts a couple of years ago and I'll be buggered if I'm going to spend another hour talking to a Mumbai call centre, with a support technician who can't support. So, if any of you have an email for me that ends in .ntlworld.com then it don't work any longer.

Try squonk_uk@yahoo.com - it's an email account I've had for 17 years!

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I don't think of myself as politically naive, but I'm beginning to struggle to understand what is going on at the moment. We're slowly coming out of recession - possibly due to the fact that something was going to happen rather than not - and from where I'm standing, it looks like coalition is banking on the private sector to fill the void made by the billions in cuts we're about to suffer. As the private sector no longer pays anything like the public sector and is likely to employ less people - not more - than is needed; how is this going to make the mood of the millions who suffer better? How is it going to stimulate the economy if 1.5million people are going to be effectively living on less money in a far more unstable jobs environment? What are charitable organisations and the care industry going to do when the squeeze on money starts to hit them the hardest? How are the ignorant, socially excluded or challenged going to understand that they are having to suffer for the good of the country, when someone 'better' than them isn't going to suffer nearly as badly?

I cannot see these 'austerity measures' doing anything but causing similar social divisions as Thatcher caused in the 80s.

I'm concerned, because I can see massive job losses and not because these positions are obsolete, but because they can be cut; and that means that these peoples jobs will need to continue to be done, which means those that remain, regardless of their own workloads, will have extra responsibilities, an extra burden. And they'll have to do it because their own jobs will no longer be as safe as they once were and in many cases, good workers will become bad because of the pressure of expectation.

I'm already going to be a victim of cuts and on Thursday, I met with someone who knows the score about all the shit that I could only dream of knowing. I wanted to talk to her about the future and what I heard, I have to be honest, scared me a little. She doesn't know for a fact, but she believes that a series of measures will come into place in this 'new world' as she liked to call it and none of them will be to any one's liking; but, as she says, quite emphatically, we might have to accept what's offered of get nothing at all.

She claims the best I and many of my colleagues can expect is a 5% wage cut. this might offset the need to make 1000 people redundant. However, she believes that job cuts will become a necessity, even after the deadwood has been axed. There is going to be no money for projects, community development, crime and disorder reduction partnerships. Many voluntary agencies and organisations dependent on grants and funding are either going to have to have major rethinks or are just going to cease to exist. She reckons that by 2012 we'll have councils radically different from what we have now, doing a different job and there will be nothing to fill the void. For some people life will not change that much, for others it will be the end of years of struggle, because now they face a massive struggle, especially if they are the victims of the cuts and there will be so many that are.

By Christmas 2011, I expect there will be a growing movement to pull the troops out of Afghanistan and scaling back on defence spending - people struggling in poverty will be asking why we're fighting our own personal Vietnam, when our council estates start to resemble 3rd world regions...

The thing that frightens me most though is if we pull out of this huge budget deficit and have nothing left to show for it; we're not going to generate enough money to ensure that worthy things and projects get reinstated; there isn't going to be a sudden mass investment by the government into youth work, community development and social schemes; because by the time we're out of debt, everything will be far more expensive and the only young people getting anything are those with parents that can afford it.

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I've been very prolific over the last few days - blame it on the weather.

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