What Puffles spotted on the blogs & online – 23 June 2012


A slightly new take on my blogposts and an attempt to make me browse through all the stuff I send through to instapaper.


Frances Coppola continues to dig around the Eurozone crisis with the quotation:

“JP Morgan estimates only €15bn of €410bn total “aid” to Greece went into economy – rest to creditors. No wonder they are cross”

That’s one hell of a statistic.

Jumbo Carr

Jimmy Carr got shredded on the telly over his tax issues. What’s made this episode particularly interesting is that it’s brought the issue of tax avoidance to the celebrity-magazine-reading types: i.e. something that’s gone far beyond the niche interests of the Westminster bubble and seasoned activists. Richard Murphy, who’s campaigned on this issue for quite some time goes for the legal vs illegal definitions.

Cameron got snared in all of this because while he was happy to give Carr a kick in the blokey-bojangles over tax avoidance, he refused to do the same with his chum Gary Barlow (who just got an OBE) and it went against his previous comments on expressing views on individuals’ tax affairs.

EU gets its testicles caught in a snare over science.

Well…it was either put together by a bloke or was designed with men in mind….wasn’t it? It was the “Science – it’s a girl thing” furore (which The Telegraph kept a copy of) that got a number of Puffles’ female science followers and followees – there are quite a few of them – understandably up in arms. Here’s one video response – and here’s another in the New Statesman.

On body hair…

Why is it OK for men to have body hair but not women? Actually, I remember someone saying that today’s footballers are proverbially bald compared to their hairier counterparts from the 1970s. Where did all the big beards go? Shutupcaf wrote an interesting piece about body hair and society’s expectations. Which song was it that said “Never read beauty magazines, they’ll only make you feel ugly!”???

While Femfresh gets its…now…what’s the word for it…?

There’s a theme developing here around women’s issues, but in part it’s a reflection of the articles that Puffles’ female followers are pointing out. This for me is a good thing. If I want to know what a male-dominated media & establishment are thinking & talking about I’ll turn on the telly or read a newspaper.

Stavvers pointed Puffles in the direction of this one. Femfresh got a kicking on two fronts. The first was on their product and the second was on the advertising. She blogged about it here. This is one of the rare occasions where a company has been absolutely nailed on both their advertising and their product – in a manner where it was very difficult to respond.  – and was one of the first to point out the company’s climbdown over the advert. While it was very well done, it doesn’t deal with the issues surrounding its product. As a standalone incident it’s quite funny to see a big company getting a kicking from social media users. But it’s not a standalone incident because there is a wider, darker context to this all around the treatment of women – reflected in the farcical banning of the word “vagina” in democratic law-making chambers.

The Government’s new policy is sponsored by…

This was an interesting one doing the rounds – Who funds you? is about transparency of think tanks. Just who funds them? Funnily enough the right-wing ones don’t come out too well on the transparency stakes.

But my chum Adrian said it was a good idea and he’s a good chap…isn’t he?

Adrian Beecroft’s report blew up in the faces of everyone after, under cross-examination by MPs he admitted that he had not done nearly as much detailed research as perhaps he should have done. The footage from the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill Committee from 13:55:00 is particularly interesting. But then we knew Beecroft’s report was not the greatest piece of work in the world. Jill Rutter of the Institute for Government tore it to pieces last month.

Civil service reform

I blogged about this on the day and took part in a Guardian Public Leaders’ Network Q&A debate a couple of days after.  But don’t worry, you won’t be seeing headlines such as “UK public sector led by magic dragon!” coming along anytime soon. They are certainly being much more open about the process compared to last time around – inviting people to post questions and contributions on Facebook amongst other things. Not everyone is happy with it. The PCS Union and Prospect have both come out against the reforms. Will Perrin gave an interesting perspective from a tech-ish point of view. Slightly linked to reform is the risks civil servants run when using social media by Sarah Burke. Essentially Puffles’ House Rule no.1 applies.

What about local government?

Some of you will have seen the fun and games Argyll and Bute Council had over their school dinner issues – as summarised by Adrian Short. Puffles gave the Council a kicking too. This incident will go down as a case study for many years to come. Almost everything they could have done wrong they did. But then Adrian also noticed that the Council had form on doing questionable stuff – as he spotted in February.

Localopolis in the meantime reminded local councillors of the roles they had – at least six different ones. There are a number of top ideas that are being collated in this blog – essential reading if you are a local government type.

GCSEs or O-Levels?

One of the things I like about Puffles is that on issues around education, Puffles is followed by (& follows back) a handful of people who are in the system – whether at secondary school or sixth form college. LissyNumber – who’s just done her GCSEs gives Gove an absolute kicking over the leaks around changes to the system. Interestingly, Ellie Sharman – who’s just done her A-levels turned her fire on the qualifications she’s just done, though was written just before exam time.

Dare to dream again?

Jon Worth posted this on his blog – and I sort of feel I’m in a similar situation. I’ve forgotten how to dream about positive things for the future to the extent where I get motivated enough to actually do something about it. Back in 2006 it was the opposite. I was having a huge amount of sand kicked in my face that year – some of it self-inflicted, but I never stopped dreaming of getting to a better place and never stopped working towards it. My mindset was “reach for the stars and get to the top of the tree” – or something like that. Better than staring face down in the gutter, where I feel like I’ve been ever since my mental health crisis back in April.

Turning up to lots of events has been part of an attempt to bounce off people (and get some positive energy back too) in order to get some motivation going. Easier said than done – I’m still at a stage where I can’t sit still for five minutes without checking Twitter. Just when does social media switch off? Comments on a postcard please.