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Thoughts on Eurovision 2010

A good year, although some good songs, especially the Dutch entry, didn’t make the final.

Anyway, my vote goes for Germany. My anti-vote goes to Israel: it was better performed than the semi-final but still makes me want to wince. I would also like to see Turkey and Greece do well, and Serbia.

I find this one a hard one to predict. I have a horrible feeling Ireland are going to well but I can’t really see them winning. I wonder if Greece might be a good compromise candidate. I’ll say Greece. Possibly Germany. Null points could well go the UK- sadly the performance was weak- I know Josh could do it better, but we still wouldn’t deserve it. I think France are possibles. Russia would be too if it wasn’t for all the bloc voting.

Phil Bradley on CILIP in 2020

Phil Bradley has written a long “a stream of thought” post on how he would like to see CILIP looking in ten years’ time. I’m not sure how much I agree with a lot of it, but it is interesting and very positive nonetheless. What struck me (perhaps because I do agree with them) are the following couple of points:

I want information professionals to be able to look at what CILIP does and say to their employers – this is what my professional organization is doing – why can’t I do it as well?

I don’t think it is CILIP’s job to  just lead on technology (later on he gives an example of CILIP having something like an iPad that members could have a chance to play with)  or web design as this is getting beyond the remit of librarianship. Although those areas are vital I think one of CILIP’s weaknesses in fact is that it is in many respects a vanilla professional institute which, in moving away from some core of specific skills, is leaving us with nothing special to sell. For instance, trying to take ownership of the word Information rather than the word Library is dangerous as there are others, particularly computer scientists, who already own much of that ground, and have broken much of it too. Perhaps this is what Phil Bradley is driving at when he says,

I want librarians, backed by the professional body, to be the ones telling the technical staff what they should be doing, not the other way around.

However, I think that he talking about the role of librarians within an organisation rather than the acquirement of real technical skills that could increase our ability to adapt and increase our services.

Anyway, I do think it is important that CILIP leads the way as an example to its own community as well as a something to be pointed out to others as Phil Bradley suggests, something it certainly hasn’t done in the past.

I heartily agree with the following sentiment:

I want to see CILIP mentioned in the press and the media every single time there’s reference to a library, for good or ill. CILIP needs to be the organisation that’s pulled onto programmes to talk on behalf of the profession.

I think this is a must. Other issue-specific organisations are on the telly or pop up in newspapers quite often. I think if CILIP proactively offered its services and made a hue and cry on an issue, programmes like BBC Breakfast would probably listen. Incidentally, this is one area where I think changing the name from Library Association to CILIP was catastrophic: lots of people outside the profession knew the Library Association and its name is fairly self-explanatory; I don’t think the same could be said of CILIP, and I expect many people would still be mystified when the acronym is expanded.

In one other point I don’t think Phil Bradley goes far enough:

I want CILIP to continue to run courses, and I want those courses to be held, not just in London, but at your desk, with webinars, conference calling/training and so on. Why should it be necessary for me to come to London in order to sit in and watch a council meeting? Why can’t I do it at my desk?

I want those courses to be overhauled and more specific. In particular the monlithic MA needs to be ditched, a series of specific short courses needs to be introduced, and the CILIP courses on offer need to go beyond “An introduction to…”.

Photos of me

I expect most readers of this blog are desperate to know what I really look like. The photo at the top of this blog doesn’t really give a good image so I put some better pictures on Flickr, the most representative of which is below:



The caption reads:

Marble figure of a recumbent bull

Probably made in Athens about 400-350 BC. Perhaps from Kerameikos, Athens.

The bull may have served as a grave marker; it is likely that it was designed to be set on a high base and so seen only from below and from the front.

According to Wikipedia, Kerameikos is an area of Athens famous for its potters (the name is related to our word ceramic) as well being the site of a significant cemetery. Presumably the recumbent bull did some service there.

General Election prediction

Following my highly acclaimed* and wildly popular** predictions of Eurovision results, I offer my l33t sybilline skilz to the 2010 General Election tomorrow. All free of charge***:

The Conservatives will scrape a majority.

This is based on the principles that both the Liberal Democrat and Labour support will ebb away just enough and that David Cameron’s eyebrows have done a good job of looking serious while he says the word “values”**** a lot over the last week or so.

This is not to say that I hope it will happen. I hope the following happens, which is a little more complicated:

A hung Parliament with Labour the 2nd largest party: Labour form a government with the Liberal Democrats at least just long enough to enact proportional representation so that, whenever the coalition collapses (as it very shortly will, especially if Labour have to go through the rigmarole of appointing a new leader, which is likely as a condition of coalition in the first place) the Liberal Democrats have a serious shot at power in the next election or at least of heavily outflanking the Conservatives in a future coalition.

I think the Liberal Democrats would be foolish to enter a coalition with the Conservatives as they won’t get proportional representation with them, and they will then recede back into obscurity once the effect of the first TV debate fades and David Cameron’s eyebrows become yet more serious. Some of the implications of a Liberal/Conservative coalition are also quite dangerous. The Liberal Democrats, for instance, favour a referendum on membership of the European Union rather than, say, just membership of the Eurozone or closer integration. I don’t think membership of the EU is something that is even an issue anymore. Although they put a positive slant on it

Liberal Democrats have argued for a referendum on whether Britain stays in or leaves the EU. We are the only party confident enough to put the pro-European case to the British people on the big issue facing us – and let the people decide. Britain will only win the case for a flexible, democratic Europe in Brussels if we settle our arguments at home on whether we should be part of the EU or not.

…I fear what could happen in straightened times and in concert with a Conservative government. I am not as confident as the Liberal Democrats.

Anyway, this is by the by. More importantly, William Hill are running a book. As I write, the predictions are:

  • No overall winner: 4/7
  • Conservative majority: 6/4
  • Labour majority: 16/1

Interestingly, William Hill are also offering odds for the individual constituencies. For Bedfordshire North East the odds are:

  • Conservative: 1/500
  • Labour: 33/1
  • Liberal Democrat: 33/1

Normally, you’d say you’d bet your house on the Conservatives winning this one, but for 1/500 it’s hardly worth the hassle. No prices for UKIP or the BNP I see.

* I did correctly predict the 2007 result.

** Perhaps not.

*** I.e. not for prophet.

**** Sounds a lot like the equally meaningless and equally riding-for-a-fall mantra “back to basics” that John Major had introduced following his affair with Edwina Currie.