Election fever has started in the UK. Much akin to the people who put out their Christmas lights in October, the real “keenos” have been putting up their posters, haven’t they David Cameron, in preparation for the big day. I remain sat in my bah-election mood exhilarated by the prospect of the smarmy one, the getting in touch with his emotional side one, and the other one. Only joking Nick, I don’t want to be accused of political bias. Well, not yet anyway.

Labour's Gruesome Twosome, Brown and Darling

Politicians are voted for by people who formulate an opinion based on a 6 month popularity contest, thus making the posturing and bravado a very important part of modern politics. There is an added emphasis on this 6 months because the past 2 1/2 years has been all about the Blue Team basically being a Government in waiting, however now that we are getting down to the business end of the political cycle more people are beginning to realise that maybe they don’t want the baby faced assassins taking control of the economy and that maybe boring Brown drab Darling are a safer pair of collective hands.

But Brown and Darling have had their chance surely? Brown’s vision for the UK started in 1997 and 13 years later we should be in a better position than we are currently. Brown was the Chancellor who failed to bring in more transparency for investment banks that resulted in the UK being hit by one of the most severe recessions in recent times. Now before you frog march down the street with your Brown OUT posters we have to consider the alternatives.

Cameron and Osbourne – Sounding like a Jermyn Street tailors these two have consumed over £250,000 of private school education (inflation adjusted) but are very keen to be men of the people. Cameron wants to be your mate, he’s trying to manoeuvre himself in to a them and us position. Them being the big bad incumbent Government and him the people’s champion. In reality he’s just plastering pictures of his very smooth face up and down the country telling people he is the change you want to see in the country

Vince Cable, he's not young but is he able?

Clegg and Cable – This Lib Dem

Duo sound more like local tradesman than Jermyn Street outfitters. The Lib Dems have impressed many people and seen a rise in polls as voters become disillusioned with the main two parties. However that’s hardly a banner upon which to launch your election campaign, “We’re the least disagreeable of a distinctly average bunch of alternatives”. Old Vince Cable had a good showing in the live debate of the chancellors elect and really showed himself to be a safe

pair of hands, but has he got the legs for a long and stamina testing campaign trail? And more importantly the lasting power to bring in the changes that would be required to fix the Economy?

In all likely hood the Lib Dems are not in the picture to take over power but the potential of a hung parliament puts them in a very strong position to make a significant impact on the future Government. But after the “We agree with Nick Debate” he must be wondering if there is even more available than the decider in a hung parliament. I for one will be steering clear of all the madness though after finding out my vote has 7 times less influence than the average voter in the UK.

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I’m pretty sure I thought I could become a poker pro because I had heard about all those students who dropped out of uni to play poker full time. And I was a student! Perfect, how could my plan go wrong. I already had thought about how I was going to break the news to my parents that my degree was pointless as I would soon be raking in fifty gs a week with the extra time I would have to enter a few more tournaments and multi table for a few extra hours a day. Oh come on Mum, this is a serious career choice.

Whilst the story of student making loads of money by playing poker is one covered often, the story of student tries to play poker but then loses everything and develops gambling problem receives slightly less coverage. However I can only imagine that for every success story there are many more sob stories of students losing big trying to get rich quick, these stories of course getting far less coverage. I myself am probably about even in my poker career, having spent little but still won a little bit. So still some way of becoming pro then.

Unlike most casino games poker is a game where knowledge and skill can drastically improve your ability to win, luck does of course still have a large part to play and is why the game is a form of gambling and not just a sport. The large rise in it’s popularity has seen many rank it alongside professional sports, enveloping the top players to the world of celebrity, and dominating the early morning TV schedule. The poker celebrities generally are the louder and more abrasive players on the circuit (or super aggressive), and coincidentally this also means that they would be incredibly annoying to play with and is probably the key to their success.

My current ability is that of not losing too much money in live games with my friends nor online, but to develop I’d probably have to read a book as it seems to be clear that my natural aptitude isn’t quite there. However reading a book about table position and pot odds is not my idea of a night well spent.

I’ve had a bit of a sledgehammer to the conscience recently whilst reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, the level of oppression that he and Black South Africans faced beggars belief. Even before the apartheid the oppression existed in very real yet much more “manageable way” for the ruling government. Black South Africans were thought of as savages and mentally unable to do the same things as white South Africans, and the only way they could “develop” was according to the ideals of Europe and already developed nations. The Apartheid brought with it a whole new level of oppression that squeezed and restricted the rights of Blacks even further.

This attitude to develop our way or suffer is a form of oppression that still exists today. The interruption of developed nations actually serves to slow down development. I am not trying to regurgitate existing arguments about foreign aid ruining, it is more the hypocrisy of giving aid and then expecting crippling debts to still be repaid. We didn’t save the banks in the financial crisis by giving them bailout funds, only to then charge them unmanageable levels of interest. We give this foreign aid as developed countries but are not prepared to remove the crutch (the debts) that makes the poor countries reliant on us.

Why developed countries choose to maintain this economic crutch is morally inexcusable, as it often comes down to things like access to cheap raw materials and cheap labour. There is a real economic advantage to keeping the poor poor for the rich. Now to a lot of people this will sound like a lot of socialist and almost communist nonsense, but my arguments are not for that but for a balance in consideration of the hardships that developing countries have been put through by rich countries. The UK would not be the country it is today without it’s Empire, the extraction of raw materials and use of cheap and often enslaved labour of its colonies played a pivotal role in our economic development. And now we play a pivotal role in theirs.

Economic factors like those come hand in hand with the social factors and often it is difficult to separate the two, Mandela talks about South Africans believing that they were just second class citizens and that was just the way things are. Social oppression creates and maintains this stigma; making it difficult for change to occur. Mandela mentions his own struggles to get on in a white man’s world and how he tried to change his fellow South African’s opinions about the way they should be treated. Now there aren’t many “colonies” out there that are still under oppressive regimes at the hands of the British, however there are still plenty of former countries around the world, especially former Soviet states, that are in that situation and whose people are still denied basic human right. And who, although being technically free of their imperial rulers, are still very much debilitated by attitudes that view the people as inferior citizens (think Chechens and Bosnians).

I have likened the climategate scandal to the war in Iraq, because somewhere along the line mistakes were made by those leading the campaigns and gambles on information were made.

Leading organisations got to a point where they had to make definitive decisions, and in hindsight the whole strategy and approach has proved that the decision making processes were completely at fault.

We went to war because we thought that Saddam had WMDs.

We need to be greener and cut down on fossil fuel consumption because if we don’t the Earth’s climate will warm up.

By saying that we were going to war because of the injustices and crimes against humanity that Saddam was performing then fewer people would still be protesting the West’s involvement in Iraq.

Earth

Who's data can we trust?

By saying that we have to cut emissions and consumption because the earth has finite resources and if we consume all of them now, as we are doing, there will be nothing left for future generations then we wouldn’t have to face the strong tide of people rejecting climate change because of the meddling of data sets by a few renegade scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.

No one can argue that the earth is running out of oil, not even the ultra conservatives can say that the gas under the North Sea will last for ever. So why pick on climate change as the be all and end all strategy for greener economies. Economies powered by oil should be able to see that there current economic climate (let alone actual climate) won’t last so should be investing in sustainable alternatives anyway.

The problem of course lies with the chosen “vehicle of change” that many government’s have used, by backing “a warming climate” slogan instead of a more inclusive approach using sustainability as the forefront for change governments and green supporters have now opened themselves for a lot of criticism.

I understand that getting people to sit up and take notice is a difficult task in this day and age, especially when it is the average individual you are trying engage as ultimately it is they (all of us) who have the responsibility of trying to live more sustainably. It means getting people to do what they don’t want to do, sort their trash/rubbish, recycle, remembering to bring a reusable bag to the shops, using public transport and eating less meat. People have become used to this in our society and it will take plenty of persuading for them to give up their ways. Those UEA scientists however took “attention seeking” for their cause too far by justifying to themselves that fudging the numbers and covering up their lies would some how serve the greater good.

The motives of those UEA scientists will be released in time but the only facts we now know for sure is that the cause of sustainability has suffered because of their actions and that because of it the Copenhagen summit will have to deal with this issue instead of concentrating on setting real targets and initiatives.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

One lasting question from all of this will be whether the timing of the discovery was merely a coincidence or in fact a well planned attack by those with vested interests in stalling Copenhagen’s talks?

The marketers dream is the viral video or web page that spreads out across millions of people who are amazed by how cool the dancing sheep are or the billion to one basketball shot. They are filtered out by a few sources on to the popular social network sites such as digg where they can become a global phenomenon within days.

Some sites are purely based on the power of social plugs, this cheap form of advertising is a very strong one because of the strength of personal recommendation. Just as if a friend told you about a great restaurant, you can see clearly which websites are worth looking at because a friend has posted a link, a review or even a comment. Trusted blogs are also a good source of links to good pages. This social media helps smaller companies with great products and innovative marketers make large profits in markets where there are traditional dominate companies.

Viral marketing, in my opinion, works best when used to promote events, charities, and campaigns. On it’s own it is unlikely to encourage people to buy products because the campaigns are often gimmicky, take the fun theory and their campaign to take the boredom out of simple tasks such as recycling and exercise. The campaign here is to encourage innovation in to making things that help the world more fun. There is no product to buy in to it is more about ideas. VW have sponsored this project but this more a case of corporate alignment, as they want people to see the brand as fun and environmentally conscious.

Prolific: The best facebook app

Big News! This week whilst trying to concentrate on applications I have set some personal best scores on most of the online games I play. Including a rather hot streak on Facebook’s prolific (think online boggle) that has seen me enter the top 2,000 palyers in the world.  So despite not being where I would like to be with applications I can’t say it hasn’t been productive.

Online gaming has two levels, one for the serious mega gamers who lock themselves in their parent’s basements. The second is for the mild, but time stealing, procrastinators. Whilst the second one is slightly less consuming than the first which has the potential to really take over and ruin people’s lives.

Just in case you did have a bit of time to waste then here are a few of my favourites:

  1. Super Stacker 2
  2. Pillage the Village
  3. Desktop Defender 2
  4. Zombie Cricket
  5. Jumpers for Goalposts

I almost apologise for putting these up because for anyone who clicks them there isn’t a way back. You will be hooked until you finish them all!

I don’t want to say that gaming is a dirty little secret however as many of them help energise the mind, particularly word games such as prolific and help you sharpen up. Much like many of the games on Nintendo Wii and DS are advertised to do.

Now it’s back to the applications… just after one last game of…

With my application’s heading out in a slow trickle I was surprised to get a response from a big graduate recruiter so soon. Of course a preliminary phone interview is far from a job but it is a great start to a busy application season.

In my last post I whined about the number of applications I’ve been writing but the early success has reminded my that it is of course quality not quantity that truly counts. Check and re-check and then, if possible, get someone else to read over your application. Whilst you may think the story of the time you and your co-workers managed to build a castle out of empty delivery boxes is a great example of teamwork it is best to stick with relevant examples and projects that you are truly proud of. But it may take someone else’s opinion for you to really see that.

This is a great example of the “early bird getting the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese” because whilst it is important to get in early it is also important to maintain thought processes of what the employer is looking for. Tough job markets call for top quality applications as the employers have a greater choice of people to select their final candidates from.

And remember a misspelled word can affect your life for a long time

So besides my huge blogging income from my many blogs (this is actually my only one, and more than likely your the only person to have read it today) I’m now looking for a job. This means I am joining the other 2.47 million people in the UK currently out of work and on the hunt for gainful employment. Although for all intents and purposes probably only half of those unemployed are actually job hunting and the other half are just happy to pick up the unemployment benefits.

The 30th application as you would expect is a lot harder than the 1st. And for good reason to, it is always going to be hard to make your 3 month internship at a small office where your only job was to ensure pencil sharpness consistency sound a tad more interesting. But do to do it 30 times for 30 different employers wanting 30 different key words (analysing, researching, quantifying, staring, sleeping, capitulating) is nigh on impossible.

By far and away the hardest has to be the open applications. In no more than 300 words introduce yourself, that would be code for if you go over 300 words to describe you entire personality, traits, passions and desires then we are just going to throw that application straight in to the trash pile. Of course if you dare put less than 299 words there will be a similar outcome. What makes you tick? Well I guess that would be a result of my application Tourettes. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Still writing applications.

So in the last week I have been watching about 5 TED videos a day. TED literally standing for Technology Entertainment and Design, but in a more holistic way it stands for and is devoted to giving interesting, smart and in some cases, witty, people a platform from which to share their ideas and thoughts. Many of which can be streamed from their website.

Bjarke Ingels of Big.dk architects particularly grabbed my attention because of his amazing Danish-ness. That isn’t amazingly impressive given that he is Danish but they are a clever bunch and have an innate sense of design. Walking down Copenhagen’s Strøget you can see the effortless style that Danes exude daily. Ingels’ designs however are mind boggling brilliant (even for a Dane) and if I had a couple of billions to spare and land to be developed I would be breaking his door down demanding he emulates the Azerbaijan Island development in the London docklands, but using Ben Nevis and Snowden instead of course.

I guess TED is very much suited to my million thoughts a minute style brain as the topics are so broad, you also feel that you have been given a real insight in to the work and lives of these brilliant talkers. So much so in fact I end each speech with a strong feeling that I am now number two in the world for the most recent development they talk about, behind the guy/gal who made the actual speech, as well as a strong urge to applause despite watching them on my own.

I got carried away watching Ingels thinking I probably should go in to design because it looks amazing. In hindsight I’m probably not quite suited to it because I can’t draw very well and, most importantly, I’m not Scandinavian. But that’s the point of TED because there will be people out there inspired to do something because of what they saw in one of these talks or even better they will see the solution to a problem that the presenter is having with implementing his technology to help the world.

TED: Teaching Everyone to Dance

TED: Talking to Everyone Directly

TED: Tickling Each one inDividually

Blogging, that’s what I’m doing.  But why? Why do people blog? Some do it for the £/$/€, some do it to share a passion (me!) and others to champion a cause/promote a product. Doing it for the money is probably a rather harsh way of saying it but some lucky people out there are professional bloggers. Darren Rowse @ Problogger for example not only is a professional blogger but the basis of his blog is to teach others how they can do it to.

To make serious money you need a Unique Selling Point, an area that other people are interested in hearing about but hasn’t really been covered well so far. The gaps in the market are filling up fast as many people are now entering the world of blogging. I like to see blogs as the magazines of the internet and as such they cover a wide range of topics, but they also have a chronological dimension that also makes them like a diary for recording past events.

Championing a cause is a great platform to start a blog on whether it be something small like hotels4families trying to improve the attitude of the hotel industry towards families, or something much bigger like encouraging social innovation @ The Social Enterprise Blog. People enjoy seeing the progression of campaigns and having the chance to interact with the minds that started them.

Most people blog about their own passions, take perez hilton he is now a celebrity because of his no bars hold blog about… celebrities. He loves following them, gossiping about them and analysing their every move. That passion was transferred to the people using his combination of witty writing style and loud brash video blogs. Because people have passions about almost anything there are blogs about almost everything.

I will give you a few of my favourite blogs now, however whether you like a blog or not depends entirely on whether you find the bloggers subject matter interesting. Writing style, humour are two other important aspects of personal preferences and often make the difference between following two similar blogs.

Blog Honour Roll

  • Boing Boing – A Directory of Wonderful things, literally.
  • Seth Godin – Marketing gurunius (gurunius is half guru and half genius)
  • Mashable – Social Networking explained. They let you know the latest developments and trends in social media.
  • TED Blog – Blogs about the TED talks and shows. TED is currently my favourite website on the internet!
  • Matt Cutts – Mr Google, resident expert and all round entertainer.

I will add to the blog honour roll and publish the links on the side bar of the website.

Twitterings