Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a Minnesota policeman while using clearly unnecessary force in trying to detain him. This started initially a US wide protest movement which has spread throughout the world. There was a demonstration in London earlier this week and many Labour local councils lit their buildings with purple lights to show their solidarity with Floyd and the world’s black population. The act of police brutality, repeated in many US cities and states coming during the pandemic which is hitting ethnic minority communities the worst has led to a massive uprisings, and demonstrations.  Below/overleaf are tweets from Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham and David Lammy MP who spoke on Newsnight bringing it home to the UK.  …

Some IT technology & economics history

Some IT technology & economics history

I have finally installed a version of CA-Superproject under W98/Virtualbox and the experience reminded me of a couple of things, about the software, about its final custodian, Computer Associates (CA) and also some critical software project management issues. I have written a more formal note on Linkedin and this is my mirror/pointer to that; the rest of this article precises that article.

I like it because it was good with both time and money, it had a PERT/CPM interface and thus was good with task dependencies, it was good with cash flow,  had some Earned Value Analysis tools and it had some powerful calendaring tools.

Its death is partly as a result of the victory of the integrated suites and while CA may have assembled the components to offer such a product, they lacked the engineering capability to integrate the products into a single compelling offering and both the technical marketing capability and marketing will & power to sell into the desktop market. They also lacked an OS and thus were locked out of the OEM market.

They were not the last to fail to understand that the economics of software requires the volume of the desktop, and today the pocket. In the end, the desktop market was too hard to compete in, for a company organised to sell high ticket software bundles to business. This article in the NYT shows how CA was captured and trapped in a licence sales model.

Superproject was designed at time when Labour was fungible, this is less true in the software engineering business and assembling a team of three engineers where often/usually the individuals assigned cannot substitute for each other is a more difficult scheduling problem. Managing this problem is hard and to my knowledge no project management software does this well.

One of the reasons that the more simple MS Project took over was, I believe, the poor project management techniques used in information systems project engineering although Microsoft’s ownership of the mindshare of the project management community cannot be discounted. By poor techniques, there was very little understanding of how to place a value on interim deliverables in software projects and performing “earned value analysis” was hard or impossible. The limited fungability of Labour was another problem that neither product solved. When we consider that time i.e effort is money and that much work cannot be speeded up by assigning more people to it, we had new problems to solve and needed new tools. The truth is that neither MS Project nor Superproject answered these questions.

Another product, not good enough to survive which ended up in the graveyard curator’s possession. …

Fighting Corruption

Fighting Corruption

Sadly I have been looking to see what’s being said about Corruption and Anti-Corruption. I made a wiki post which includes some links on management strategy, which includes an article from McKinsey’s Journal which offers a brief taxonomy of corrupt practices, this is augmented by Transparency International’s tool kit, to which I link. TI also note that, “The UK Bribery Act, which was passed in 2010, introduces an offence of corporate failure to prevent bribery.”. There are also some specific action plans inc. current advice from the MoJ. Interestingly, to me, the action plans share many ideas from risk management practices and IT Security controls that I have been working with for many years, and that having a robust programme of controls is the only defence against the aforementioned corporate crime.

Construct a taxonomy, develop controls, measure the effectiveness of the controls and fix those that are broken.

This costs money and time, and companies may lose business because of it. No-one says it’s easy.

I have now made a post on my linkedin blog, which while repeating some of that I say here, looks at the MOJ Guidance and their six principles and offers some important definitions of pertaining to bribery.  I highlight the concept of ‘improper behaviour’ from within the legislation. …

Sectarianism

Sectarianism

This article is a review of Anatomy of the Micro-Sect, by Hal Draper, dated 1973. It thus refers to political sectarianism. I was particularly taken by this quote,

What characterizes the classic sect was best defined by Marx himself: it counterposes its sect criterion of programmatic points against the real movement of the workers in the class struggle, which may not measure up to its high demands. The touchstone of support (the “point d’honneur,” in Marx’s words) is conformity with the sect’s current shibboleths – whatever they may be, including programmatic points good in themselves. The approach pointed by Marx was different: without giving up or concealing one’s own programmatic politics in the slightest degree, the real Marxist looks to the lines of struggle calculated to move decisive sectors of the class into action – into movement against the established powers of the system (state and bourgeoisie and their agents, including their labor lieutenants inside the workers’ movement). And for Marx, it is this reality of social (class) collision which will work to elevate the class’s consciousness to the level of the socialist movement’s program.

There’s more below/overleaf, including a commentary on the featured image. … …

Class Wargames, a review

Class Wargames, a review

I read Richard Barbrook’s “Class Wargames” having played his referendum game. I was unprepared for two chapters on the history of the Situationist International. The book has been inspired by Guy Debord’s Game of War; I had assumed that Richard was fascinated by games for the same reason that managements are, that one learns quicker by doing than by listening but his enthusim and praxis comes from the tactics of the Situationist Intentional. He categorises the tactics as provocation, détournement, urbanism & participatory creativity and while it’s a bit difficult to see how war games is a tactic of urbanism, it’s clear to me how the others fit in by challenging the states monopoly of military knowledge and strategy, the revisiting of military history and the liberation effects of personal participation. Anyway everyone, or nearly everyone enjoys a good board or table top game.

The “Game of War” is simple, some might argue overly so and would seem a bit too like chess although Debord argued that it was good enough, or better than that.  …

Class Struggle 1939-1945, & Elbe Day

I was pointed at this review of, Chris Bambery’s book The Second World War: A Marxist History (2014) which takes a different from normal view of the politics & the history of politics of the second world war; the story where the people’s of the last democracies in Europe united with the United States to fight its fascist blight. I wrote a little review of the review and posted it on my wiki, in an article called “Class Struggle 1939 – 1945”. The wiki article looks at the US financial contribution to the Allied war effort, the Tory Party, even Churchill’s, ambivalence in fighting fascism, and US Capitalism’s contribution to the fascist victory in Spain. The review is more comprehensive and the book would seem to be even more so.

While looking for pictures to decorate the wiki article, I looked at my David Low cartoon book to see if there was one cartoon that would work to be used to decorate my article and my review but Low was contemporaneous with the events and reproducing pages for the book is hard to do with quality of my lockdown IT. In the book, Low draws a cartoon to mark the meeting of the US & Soviet forces on the Elbe on 25th April 1945. Low’s cartoon is typical of his portrayal of allied solidiers but on looking I found this image, published in an article about the 70th anniversary of Elbe Day which I assume from the article is still celebrated in Russia.

 

 

While I think this is a fabulous picture illustrating the penultimate phase of the war against Nazi Germany in Europe, and the, at least, short lived solidarity between the US and Soviet soldiery I wanted to find something closer to Low’s cartoon with a bit more of a personal voice.

 

 …

Labour and the knife, fork & spoon

While younger,  the Labour Party used a symbol of a pen & shovel and the torch of liberty, that when stylised became known as the knife, the fork and spoon. You can work it out.

And since I am doing this, Clause IV group of Labour students used the PSOE’s Rose & Fist, which became more widely adopted including by IUSY. It was also adopted by the UK’s Labour and pro-EEC campaigners much to the probable chagrin of the Clause IV leadership who were mostly campaigners for leaving the EEC.

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Safe and Equal

A comrade writes,

I think the demand to raise SSP is very weak. the only way of maximising the chance workers will selfisolate when they have signs of Coronavirus infection is to ensure they can take leave on full pay. the demand for all outsourced NHS workers to get full pay if they need to selfisolate (contained in this letter) was implemented by NHS bosses in early march and has existed for substantive staff before then so that bit doesn’t make sense. agency workers in nhs still dont get full pay to selfisolate which is a problem and there is an issue of whether outsourced workers know about this provision. but the big problem on sick pay is in the care sector where almost half a million care workers have no occupational sick pay and are working with people most likely to die if they get the virus. It’s also a big problem in supermarkets, logistics and delivery sectors and manufacturing, including food manufacturing. the government is very vulnerable on this issue but labour and the unions (apart from a few exceptions pcs, rmt, unison north west region) are very weak. more on this here: www.safeandequal.org

I am of the view that SSP must become a state benefit (and increased) but the writing above addresses the short term issues about UK public health and the adverse impact that low wages has on the decisions to self-isolate and co-operate with the lockdown. ( The quote refers to a letter that I do not have.) …