Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Just because...

Rashida Manjoo has visited our country to look at our approach to violence against women.  She was here for 16 days.  She saw some of the things she wanted to see but claims she was denied access to the Yarls Wood Immigration Centre.

She discovered she believed sexism was worse in the UK than in other places, and warned that the government's austerity measures were having a "disproportionate impact" on women's risk of violence.

I saw a report on Channel 4 News and started to look at the story on the internet.

Then I started to look at the comments left beneath these stories.

There seemed to be people in three camps.  

The first, small, group agreed with Ms Manjoo.

The second, significant group were outraged.  Surely the UK wasn't as bad as other countries?  What about Saudia Arabia?  What about Pakistan? What about, what about, what about…?  The point was that there were other countries that were worse than us so the criticism was unfair.

Really?  So if we have a sexist culture then that's OK providing there's somewhere else that's worse?  Isn't that like condoning torture in the UK providing there are some other countries that have "worse" torture?  Saying it's OK to kill people but that our "kill rate" is lower than some other countries. I could go on but you get the idea.

And then there was the third, reasonably-sized, group who just thought she was wrong.  Maybe she is, maybe she isn't.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A riveting tale

This blog post is a misnomer because this is actually about a stapler.  Well a stapler and a minor personality defect.

A few weeks ago at work I needed a heavy duty stapler.  I wasn't just stapling a few sheets of paper, I was stapling a book.  OK, maybe not quite a book but a chunky wad of cheap paper.

Pete, the Stapler King, was out of the office but this didn't deter me.  I knew he wouldn't mind so I went and borrowed from his desk-based stapler display and grabbed the biggest, fattest stapler I could see.

My first staple didn't go too well.  The second attempt was also a bit rubbish.  After about seven staples I had a gummed up stapler with wedged staples.  You know the kind of thing, the more you try and staple your way out of the problem, the worse it gets.

I asked Al for help because that's what you do.  If you can't fix something yourself you ask for help.  I wasn't sure that Al had what it would take, but he was quietly confident.  It turns out that Al just added more staples to the staple mass that had wedged itself into the inner workings of the stapler.  I needed more help.

I turned to my best friend, the Internet, and found the Rexel website.  Surely there would be an instruction manual for this staple of office equipment (see what I did there?)

I searched in vain but I did discover a contact us link.  I duly clicked and filled in the brief online form explaining the stapler paralysis I had encountered and asked for an instruction manual.  I even attached a photo so they could identify the correct model.  I was being a little optimistic because the stapler I was dealing with was old, but, as I explained in my email, one doesn't buy a heavy duty stapler without expecting it to last for a considerable time.

I waited about ten minutes.  There was no email with an attached pdf and I still needed to staple things.  It was then that I took drastic action.

Ken also happened to be out of the office so I raided his tools and found some long-nosed pliers.  Brute force and long-nosed pliers succeeded where Al had failed.  I pulled a vast quantity of spare metal from the stapler and it was usable once more.

I thought nothing more about this until this week, three weeks after the incident, when an email appeared from Rexel.  An engineer had clearly been given the task of responding to "this nutter from Ford" because that's exactly how he addressed his email to me.

Actually he didn't, well he might have.  I just don't know because I haven't read the email, because I don't need to; I have my solution and I needed that solution three weeks ago.