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How do we live and work alongside Covid?

On the eve of the Australian Open, nine-times winner, Novak Djokovic, is sitting in a Melbourne immigration hotel as the world No 1 mounts a legal challenge against Australia’s decision to cancel his visa. It is a high-profile case of someone potentially unable to ply their trade due to covid. And he is not alone. In the UK, employees have been asked to work from home where possible and the NHS is in virtual lockdown, with hospital trusts declaring emergencies…

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Christmas party etiquette: 2021

Christmas is the time of year when amateurs are often forced to party like professionals. It’s not their fault, but the annual shenanigans can leave a trail of victims in their wake. Here are a few pointers to help you through the festive period with, hopefully, your dignity and job intact.  On the day of a big Christmas lunch or evening party, there are some things you should consider. Not all of them obviously; that would be boring, but maybe…

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Should we worry about artificial intelligence or stupidity?

In 1997, Garry Kasparov was beaten for the second time by IBM’s Deep Blue, and ever since, the writing has been on the wall for humanity. Many believe that advances in artificial intelligence (AI), will lead to the development of superintelligent, sentient machines. Sci-fi films (The Matrix, The Terminator) have made us fearful of such developments.    AI, however, has a couple of definitions. One, the marketing term for anything that seems clever, like Alexa turning on a radio station, is…

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Bye-bye Boomers

In the UK, Adam Boulton, Sky New’s editor at large, has left his job. He didn’t seem too happy about it. Saying that he was still “young and healthy”, he told a Times journalist (63); “I’ve just got to accept to a certain point that you and I, we’re tail-end baby-boomers, and there’s a kind of move against the baby-boomers and the fact that we’ve had less time at the peak is just the way it goes.” This ‘tail-end boomer’…

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1.5 to stay alive

Last August I wrote an article about coronavirus, under the heading R, for Project Reset. In it, I suggested that the threat of a pandemic could be used as a possible smokescreen for governments to subdue their people, while sorting out various important issues, including the environment. COP 26 has been going on in Glasgow; it is being attended by representatives of 200 nations and on the opening day it was addressed by two 95-year-olds, the Queen and Sir David…

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Skills. Who needs them?

In the UK, we currently have 270k more people employed than ever. There are also a record 1.1 million job vacancies. How can this be? Simple really. Brexit. There are 100k fewer HGV drivers than needed, and a similar number of butchers who are needed to legally slaughter farm animals. Vegetables are rotting in the fields. Why? Brexit. It forced overseas workers to consider their position in the UK, and feeling unwelcome, they left the country in their droves, leaving…

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Covid; petrol, polls and angry youth

‘Plant a tree in ‘73, or there’ll be no more in ‘74.’ I vaguely remember this slogan from my childhood and now, as the environment and tree-planting top the UK agenda once again, people are fighting at the petrol pumps and the UK is concerned about where its winter electricity will come from, it looks like we are heading into the crap 70s again, complete with strikes, blackouts and food shortages. Compared to a year ago, covid seems to have…

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The tipping point

If there’s one thing we know about climate breakdown, it’s that it will not be linear, smooth or gradual. Just as one continental plate might push beneath another in sudden fits and starts, causing periodic earthquakes and tsunamis, our atmospheric systems will absorb the stress for a while, then suddenly shift. Yet, everywhere, the programmes designed to avert it are linear, smooth and gradual. Current plans to avoid catastrophe would work in a simple system like a washbasin, in which…

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Geronimo: The Musical

What is an R rate? I can’t remember. Do you have to wear a mask? I’m not sure. Is the virus all over? Who knows and does anyone care? So it’s back to normal then. But it isn’t really, is it. 12-year-olds are going to be vaccinated, without their parents’ consent. The UK government has a traffic-light system list of countries we can visit on holiday. A travel agency will happily let you book and charge you £10k for a…

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Should I stay or should I go?

Advertising used to be great fun. In the 80s and 90s it was a creative and exciting industry to work in. You got to travel the world (business class) and spend millions of pounds of someone else’s money.  Now, though, it is run by accountants and has migrated to the internet, where creativity is anathema. No way do I want to use algorithms to target an audience with a bland message, so advertising was out. So I turned to journalism,…

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