Archive for July, 2009

Going through the motions

July 31, 2009

Since accepting an offer to do a PhD this autumn, my relationship with job hunting has changed. No longer am I motivated to invest all my time in this relationship with a view to getting something out of it. And yet, it is difficult to let go of the guilt associated with not job hunting after ten months or so of committment. Any attention I go give to this relationshup is simply going through the motions, that it is something I ought to be doing without really knowing why.  This isn’t helped by continuing to claim Job Seekers Allowance until the start of the PhD. I have to show the government that I am looking for work when in a couple of months I know I will be signing off anyway.


I do not have swine flu

July 28, 2009

So, it’s just past four o’clock in the morning. I woke up earlier than expected and could not get back to sleep, so I did the first thing to spring to mind. Check out the UK’s National Pandemic Fluline. For a government website, it is amazingly easy to use.

It comprises an online assessment of presenting symptoms and existing health conditions. Each question is clearly worded. Also, any concerns about hyperchondriacs or overanxioous parents stockpiling on Tamiflu or Rolenza have, in my opinion, seem to have been dealt with – users of the service are asked to provide name, date of birth and address of the patient.

The service is aimed at people who are loooking after those who actually appear to present with flu like symptons. However, I would certainly recommend it as a tool of reassurance for those who just want to eliminate themselves – although based on the design of the site, if you can use the site, you are unlikely to be suffering from swine flu (that is not a diagnosis).


July 24, 2009

I haven’t found a job yet but I have finally received an offer to do a PhD, starting this autumn. Looks like I am going back to school.

Give me a break!

July 23, 2009

Despite my positive posts about Job Centre Plus lately, it is still fundamentally inflexible. I was suppose to have an “initial assessment” for the Graduate New Deal programme yesterday but had to reschedule due to a job interview (yeah, me). Apparently, Employer Engagement, the course provider, only hold initial assessments every two weeks. That’s not a problem. But today I have been advised by my “personal adviser” at the Job Centre Plus that I am running out of time before I have to be booked onto a New Deal 13-week course. If I haven’t been booked onto the Graduate New Deal course by the deadline, I will be booked onto the next New Deal course, regardless of its suitability. Come on, give me a break! It’s not like I am resisting New Deal. I have accepted that it is something I have to do and both my personal adviser and myself agree that Graduate New Deal is the best option. So, if I am lucky enough to get another job interview which clashes with my “initial assessment”, and as a result, have not been booked onto the programme, is it just tough shit?

Something for Jobseeking professionals

July 22, 2009

Those of you you have visited this site before will know that I have had major issues with Job Centre Plus, namely that they do not serve jobseekers from professional or middle class backgrounds. Well, in the space of the last two weeks, I have discovered four different initiatives that are aimed at white collar workers.

Employer Engagement are running New Deal for Graduates (or New Deal for Professionals and Management, as my personal adviser at the job centre called it). It’s only available after you have been claiming Job Seekers Allowance for six months and have completed the two week New Deal Gateway course. It’s a combination of job hunting skills and a 13 week work placement from which there is a 60-80% chance of job.

I picked up a leaflet at my local job centre for a programme run by GR Law for lawyers and legal staff, finance staff, professional services support staff, job seekers looking for work internationally and/or salary earners of £25K to £300K. It’s not advertised on the GR Law website, so I assume it’s by referral by Job Centre Plus.

I also picked up a leaflet in my local job centre for Response to Redundancy. A google search reveals quite a few entries so I think it is a larger project. Also, you can contact them directly without referral from Job Centre Plus.

Finally, there some useful online career tools available from Careerplan4me (yes, I know catchy URL). I clicked on a banner advert and was taken to a website, where I requested details online. I then received a letter to be shown to my Jobcentre adviser, who would then fill in a form and register you so that you can access for free. I have not proceeded with this service, so I don’t know what tools are available.

Why can’t a woman be more like a man?

July 16, 2009

Yesterday, I was in Starbucks. As usual with Starbucks, the lighting was dimmed. I saw a woman with Rapunzel-like blonde hair and wearing what looked like hot pants (or at least very short cut-offs). I found myself admiring their legs, as any hot-blooded guy is wont to do. Then I heard the voice and looked at the face. After much Animal Farm-like double takes, I realised that this gorgeous woman was indeed a man.  His companion had short brown hair and wore jeans and a what looked like a shirt…and was a woman.

From their comfort of their own homes…

July 13, 2009

In true spirit of global communication, and the risk of sounding like a right wing bigot or Daily Mail reader, foreigners do not even have to come to this country to take British jobs – they can do it from the “comfort” of their own land.

For clarification, I am not white or working class. I am British and Asian and middle class. And I have personally seen the effect of this outsourcing of skilled jobs halfway across the world for the sake of cost. At my previous employer, it was the legal administration team who were made redundant and their jobs were carried out by qualified lawyers in India. I have previously written about this concept of offshore outsourcing. Whilst I can see the benefits from a business point of view, it is just wrong from human point of view.

Blogging in Trafalgar Square

July 6, 2009

I just saw n TV news story on the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square, on which ordinary members of the public are standing for a few minutes at a time, instead of an inanimate statue. The reporter questioned whether it was art and the artist responded that it reflected the diversity in modern Britain. Which is possibly the worst answer anyone could have given.

But it is art and the idea is fantastic. In fact, it is very fitting for the world of Web 2.0. Websites, blogging, social networking, multiplayer games…they all provide opportunities for ordinary members of the public to express themselves in the public space of the internet. Likewise, this fourth plinth is a platform for ordinary members of public to express themselves in a real life public space. Furthermore, the constantly changing person on the plinth reflects how the modern world is more obviously constantly changing, with 24 hour news, easy to edit blogs and “What am I doing?” updates.

This is definitely something I am going to check out tomorrow after my interview.

Why would anyone want to rape Girls Aloud?

July 5, 2009

So, writing about your sexual fantasy to rape and murder Girls Aloud is not considered depraved under our obscenity laws. There would have been time not relatively long ago when I would have celebrated this week’s legal decision on the grounds of free speech. After all, I would have said, mere thoughts cannot hurt and in simply writing down your fantasy, no one has been hurt. However, the opposing argument is nicely summarised in the following citation from the article.

The relationship between porn and the exploitation of women has led to claims by some that “harm” caused should be viewed from a much wider perspective, an argument made in a well-known statement by Edwin Meese who, as the then US attorney general, conducted an inquiry into porn in 1986.

“Substantial exposure to sexually violent material leads to a greater acceptance of ‘rape myth’ in its broader sense,” said Meese. “That women enjoy being coerced into sexual activity, that they enjoy being physically hurt in a sexual context, and that as a result a man who forces himself on a woman sexually is in fact merely acceding to the ‘real’ wishes of the woman.”

The argument of a wider “social harm” still forms part of a lively debate about the ethics of tolerating material containing sexual violence.

“I would argue that the sexual free-for-all that pornography represents has caused serious harm in terms of the sexual health crisis, the rise in sexual offences and broken or unfaithful relationships, and the perpetuation of discrimination against women,” says John Mayer, director of Mediawatch UK which campaigns for “decency” in the media. “Pornography has invaded every aspect of modern life, particularly television, film and the internet, to which there is unrestricted access. If you do not recognise these as ‘harms’ … define your term.”

Some experts are also dismissive of arguments that regulating pornographic material amounts to an unjustified infringement of freedom of expression, now protected in the UK under the Human Rights Act. “The freedom of expression of women may be circumscribed in a society which condones extreme pornography and in which their privacy is invaded by unwanted sexual violence or objectification,” said Durham law professors Clare McGlynn and Erika Rackley, writing recently in legal publication the Criminal Law Review.

There have been several high-profile sex attacks linked directly to violent pornography, including the murders carried out by Frederick and Rosemary West and Peter Sutcliffe. In 2003 Brighton teacher Jane Longhurst was strangled by Graham Coutts, a 39-year-old obsessed with pornography showing strangulation, rape, murder and necrophilia, who then kept her body in a storage unit and continued to visit it for “sexual thrill”.

“There was shock at the revelation that access to sites such as necrobabes and deathbyasphyxia is so easy,” the Labour MP David Lepper said after her murder. “It provides access to the sort of material that fed Graham Coutts’ fantasies – and it led to Jane’s death.”

Not another one!

July 4, 2009

Oh please

First. Jordan Chandler lied, now Michael Jackson faked his own death and hiding out in Hungary. Hold on, has anyone ever seen Michael Jackson and Barack Obama in the same room?