What a shower

If you’ve finished your data project and have nothing else left to live for – why not put your email address into the box on the right?

Some of you may recall how, in November, my flat was left without hot water and heating for four days because the Sussex Housing Office forgot to use a competent plumber. The Rt. Hon. Residential Services Manager eventually agreed to compensate us when I pointed out how ridiculous her refusal letter was.

Since then, however, I’m pleased to report that the boiler has worked perfectly – with the negligible exceptions of Saturday 3 December, Tuesday 28 February, Monday 7 May, Tuesday 8 May, Wednesday 9 May (lunchtime), Wednesday 9 May (early evening), Wednesday 9 May (late evening), Thursday 10 May (morning), Thursday 10 May (afternoon) and Friday 11 May (morning).

Here be dragons…

Eagle-eyed readers may notice a burgeoning pattern here, for in recent days the hot water supply has lasted a maximum of 7 hours at a time without needing the Duty Porter to come and tinker aimlessly with it, often accompanied by a long and incomprehensible lecture on the finer points of central heating. Apparently the system’s been losing pressure: and coincidentally, all the residents have been feeling pressure.

On Wednesday evening, during the fifth outage, the Duty Porter remarked to me, “You know, a proper plumber really should look at this.” Pity no-one’s told the Residential Services department that!

Finally, light began to show at the end of the tunnel on Thursday afternoon. You know the saying: you wait ages for a plumber’s van…

…and then two come at once!

The building manager emailed us to say, “Works to your boiler will continue tomorrow. Unfortunately I’m not able to explain what the problem is as I have not been told. I have asked that you be left with heating and hot water overnight.”

Let me get this straight: these potty plumbers had to be specifically told that we wanted hot water? I’d say that the whole Estates Management Unit is ripe for being privatised…

If you don’t want the time…

Detached 1,277 bedroom house in a much sought-after area. Double glazing and bars on all windows.

I’ve had my attention drawn to the true joy of Inside Time magazine – “the national newspaper for prisoners.” Most of it is utterly hysterical, and in particular, its ‘mailbag’ is incredibly similar to the letter pages of The Badger*; people whining about noise in the library, the price of campus/canteen food etc.

One missive (from HMP Wakefield) complains about a lack of tissues: “I am one of the lucky ones having brought 3 handkerchiefs with me from my last prison.” Well that’s fortunate.

Somebody else made an entirely reasonable and well-thought-through point about the nature of British justice: “Poeple [sic] are locked up irrespective of whether they commited a crime or no [sic].”

However, my absolute favourite is this letter from an anonymous inmate of HMP Frankland. I think it really illustrates just how tough life can be:

Could be. Could be.

*In other news, I’ve acquired the position of Badger Comment & Debate Editor from September, and am thus dangerously close to a media monopoly.

‘The Adventure of the Privatised Porter’— or, Thatcherism sweeps Sussex

Late last week, the University announced that, from 2013, she will be privatising a number of departments “including Portering Services and Maintenence Services,” and advertised this in the Official Journal of the European Union for good measure! So future inmates will have a Porter provided by a commercial organisation: they might even pre-print signage for them. What a terrible blow to traditional Sussex handicrafts.

The Registrar & Secretary, John Duffy, says that the change is to ensure that things are run “efficiently and effectively” – but how could the Duffmeister possibly know that the current system is inadequate unless he’s been reading m’blog?

The Students’ Union, meanwhile, is concerned that “external providers may not be as responsive to the ethics-related concerns of students.” And it’s true, the Porter may take six-hour coffee breaks but I’m sure he only uses Fairtrade coffee.

However, there was one other entry on the departmental death-list which caught my eye. And I really love the fact that a cash-strapped 21st-century University is still clinging onto a Banqueting & Dining Unit! Banqueting? Seriously?

Drives me up the wall…

Google, not satisfied with propping up the Chinese government and invading the world’s privacy, has decided to market software which automatically drives cars. More disturbingly, the government of Nevada has agreed to this plan, according to this uniquely meaningless passage from BBC News:

I’m so glad that people will be driving these “driverless cars.”

Some loony state Senator has justified the scheme by pointing out, “The vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error.” However, Alex Padilla has forgotten two important facts: (1) there are currently no computer-driven cars to cause accidents, and (2) computers aren’t renowned for being error-free, especially those run by Google. And the idea of a computer-crash and a car-crash joining forces is not an appealing one:

Obviously, since this is a Google product, the profit comes from targeted advertising. But how would this work in practice…?

Careless conceptualisation

One lecturer has pointed out that research can often “carelessly conceptualise” concepts such as ‘democracy’, ie. examine them without defining them. So I’ve decided to examine a few different views of democracy.

Wikipedia: “Democracy is an egalitarian form of government in which all the citizens tw*t b*llocks LOOK I CAN EDIT THIS.”

Nick Clegg: “I don’t think we should subcontract decisions to the British people.”

Rupert Murdoch: [asked at the Leveson Inquiry, “David Cameron took quite significant steps to meet you, a detour from his private holiday to Turkey. What is your view on that?”] “I think that’s part of the democratic process.”

So that’s all good.

Sussex University campus: what a CATastrophe!

And by the way…
In tonight’s episode, residential services was run by the Residential Services Manager (HMP Bramber House). The campus was privatised by University Viceroy Professor Michael Farthing (HMP Sussex). Google Cars were developed by Sebastian Thrun (HMP Silicon Valley). The chair of News International was played by Rupert Murdoch (hopefully soon to be HMP…). This was an Gabrielquotes production.


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