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This website is a continuation of Digital evidence that Bruce has a life (my CSS/HTML photoblog) and Just another bipedal sack of DNA and neuroses, because that’s what humans are (my original blog). Posts from Just another… have now been copied to this blog, so that I can eventually get out of LiveJournal altogether.

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16 April: Random Bozo has had enough!

The last thing I need after spending an extra night and lots of extra money is more hassle. So that’s what I got: my hold bag has not arrived in Edinburgh. Graphic ‘bah!’
The office at the baggage hall doesn’t handle FlyBumble baggage issues, I’m told after waiting 20 minutes, so I should go to the Swissport desk, which is outside the baggage hall. I won’t be able to get back in if I leave the hall. Swissport have 3 staff on duty but only one is handling FlyBumble issues. She is occupied dealing with a couple whose medication has gone awol. Eventually they leave very dissatisfied

I understand why when I’m told my bag is on a later flight, due to ‘failure to present’. Something in the staff-member’s tone implies this is my fault, so I ask what I did wrong. Apparently nothing, just that my bag didn’t arrive at my flight in time to be loaded on it. I’m not surprised: my flight to Manchester was late arriving after a delayed take-off at Schiphol.

I’m told that while my bag might be delivered to my home this evening, this isn’t guaranteed. It might be delivered tomorrow morning. I am sweaty, sleep-deprived, in pain and not in a good mood. You have been warned!

13 July: winding up

So I planned to got to these:

  • Speed Dating: discuss our ideas for a better Europe (10:00 to 10:30)
  • Brexit Breakfast Briefing (10:30 to 11:30)
  • Advanced principles in democracy: let’s challenge basic democracy and find a consensus (12:00 to 2:30)
  • User experience = Supporter engagement: websites for political engagement (13:00 to 14:30)
  • Where to from here? Redesigning democracy (16:00 to 18:00)
  • Festival closing party (20:00 to 22:00)

Here’s how I’ve got on so far! Continue reading

12 July: little to report

I woke around 9am again, staggered to breakfast, and then crashed out again.

I next woke around 3pm, did some shopping, had lunch and then came back to my hotel to blog. You’re reading the results. It’s now 10:40. So I have not done any democracy events today. So sue me – this trip is meant to be a holiday! Part of being away from work (both academic and local democracy) is catching up on sleep. Nighty-night!

11 July: First day of DemocracyAlive!

I woke around 8am UK time, with a stinking hangover. Not fair! I’d not drunk any alcohol. I finally found the online programme for today’s DemocracyAlive! events. I don’t mean it wasn’t online before, just that I’d not made time to read it before now. I decided on going to these events:

  • What public services for the future? Digital Transformation and Low-carbon economy
    (12 noon to 1pm)
  • Festival launch (2pm to 3pm)
  • [Koffiepauze (3pm to 4pm)]
  • Democracy as a culture (4pm to 6pm)
  • Talking Europe with Commissioner Vestager (6pm to 7pm)
  • Talking Europe with Michel Barnier (7pm to 8pm)

Here’s how I got on, mostly recalled from tweets, texts and emails I sent at the time.

Continue reading

Join the conversation on Scotland’s performance towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the First Minister confirmed that the Scottish Government would be one of the first anywhere in the world to commit to meeting the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, both at home and overseas. Since then, all 193 UN member states have signed up to the 17 goals that seek to end poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. Continue reading

A few thoughts on Brexit

Everyone else is having their say, so why shouldn’t I?

Full disclosure, in case I’ve not made it clear: I think Brexit is a mind-bogglingly stupid thing to do. This doesn’t mean I see myself as superior to those who did vote for Brexit… hang about a bit, yes it does! I sympathise with anyone who believes that the EU has harmed them personally, but this does not give you the right to stuff it up for everyone else.I have slightly more sympathy with those who believe that the EU has harmed a majority of the UK – at least that is altruistic in aim, although it’s harmful in outcome.

I have no sympathy for anyone who believes that any group of foreigners – or even all foreigners – are bad or evil. Anyone who believes that is wrong and evil. And as for those who brought about Brexit thanks to attempts to solve problems in their own party party, may the fleas of a million camels eternally chew on your scrotum!

Rant over for the moment. Having said what I’m against, what am I for? That’s a difficult question to answer just now… Continue reading

Family fortunes?

You may remember my list of moans about the DWP and my sister’s claim for personal independence payments (PIP). You may remember that on 25 October of this year, 13 months after she was refused PIP, a tribunal set aside that decision.

On 4 December, HMRC restarted paying my sister working tax credits. (She qualifies for these because of her disabilities and because she works part-time. When PIP was refused, HMRC had to take the view that she was no longer disabled, even though her conditions are congenital and hence incurable.) HMRC’s letter to my sister was along the lines of ‘we now understand we need to start paying you tax credits, and make up for the time when we didn’t’. It almost felt like an apology. A few days later, the standard ‘this is what we will pay you’ letters arrived. Also on 4 December, HMRC sent my sister a certificate exempting her form NHS charges.

DWP didn’t get around to paying my sister PIP until 14 December, over 7 weeks after they were notified of the tribunal’s decision. There was not even a hint of an apology in their communication.

I’m still scared to think what would have become of my sister without support from me and other family and friends, and especially from Worcester Citizens’ Advice Bureau. And I’m bloody angry too, for the people who don’t have such support.

Edinburgh Council budget group challenge

I’m interested in local government finance mostly because of my interest in participatory budgeting (PB), especially £EITH CHOOSES. This leads to the question ‘where does PB money come from?‘ I’m also interested in how Scottish local government will ‘mainstream’ PB, leading me to consider ‘what budgets will be opened up to citizen input?‘, ‘how will this be done?‘, ‘how will citizen-control be squared with statutory requirements?‘.

On a personal level, I’m curious about how Edinburgh Council (CEC) decides how to spend its (our!) money, not least because it needs to make massive savings in 2019-20 onwards. I’m concerned about the effects this will have on me, on my adopted home city and above all, the many people who absolutely need government services and benefits. So I jumped at the chance to take part in a budget group challenge last Thursday.

Continue reading