My Office today

Here is the view form my office window:

20171003_175851.jpgto be honest I have to go to the bottom of the garden and take the cane out to get this view…but the window is pretty close too…

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Crash course on economics


If you want to delve a little deeper some links I liked a lot below:…







I am intrested to hear your favourite links…

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What a hero that Steve Jobs – lucky industry has moved on…

Interesting article about Steve Jobs and how he made it so rich…and how we (by we of course I mean the neo-liberal owened “mass medias” ) love him for it.

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Intresting opportunity for budding writers

Seventh Movie-Plot Threat Contest

As you might expect, this year’s contest has the NSA as the villain:

The NSA has won, but how did it do it? How did it use its
ability to conduct ubiquitous surveillance, its massive data
centers, and its advanced data analytics capabilities to come
out on top? Did it take over the world overtly, or is it just
pulling the strings behind everyone’s backs? Did it have to
force companies to build surveillance into its products, or
could it just piggy-back on market trends? How does it deal
with liberal democracies and ruthless totalitarian
dictatorships at the same time? Is it blackmailing Congress?
How does the money flow? What’s the story?

That’s it: an NSA movie-plot threat. (For those who don’t know, a movie-plot threat is a scary-threat story that would make a great movie, but is much too specific to build security policies around.) Nothing too science fictional; today’s technology or presumed technology only.

Entries are limited to 500 words, and should be posted in the comments.
In a month, I’ll choose some semifinalists, and we can all vote and pick the winner.

Prize will be something tangible, but primarily the accolades of your peers.

Good luck.

Post your entries here:

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Nice film from the FCP



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Postes from other blog

Do you know YES magasine ?

Posted by Brian Hartley 19-Apr-2013

Here is an intresting example :

for those about to calculate their tax bill…


Annual General Meeting Vote – what do you think ?

Posted by Brian Hartley 19-Feb-2013

The HP annual general meeting is coming up.

I suppose it is a duty to  vote liek for the elections in our home countries..?

So I started to read the “proxy material”…

The board recommends how to vote as shown here :

Proposals  to  be  Voted  on  and  Board Voting  Recommendations

Proposals                                                                                                                                    Recommendation

Election  of  directors                                                                                                               FOR  EACH  NOMINEE

Ratification  of  Ernst  &  Young  LLP as  auditors  for  the  2013  fiscal  year                                 FOR

Advisory  vote  to approve  executive compensation                                                                    FOR

Proposal  to  amend  HP’s  Bylaws to  permit  stockholder  proxy  access                                    FOR

Approval  of  the  Second  Amended  and  Restated  Hewlett-Packard  Company

2004  Stock  Incentive  Plan                                                                                                      FOR

Stockholder  proposal  related  to  the  formation  of  a  human  rights  committee                      AGAINST

Stockholder  proposal  entitled  ‘‘2013  Hewlett-Packard  Resolution  on  Human

Rights  Policy’’                                                                                                                         AGAINST

Stockholder  proposal  entitled  ‘‘Executives  to  Retain  Significant Stock’’                                  AGAINST

If I start with the AGAINST. My instinct is rather to vote “for” these three.

The board claims that HP already does enough around Human Rights , so there is no point in having a committee or a policy. I  think it would help transparency and make it easier for the average employee or member of the public to understand what HP is doing in this field, And it is such a difficult exercise balancing human rights and profit that I feel this would certianly could only help : so I think I will vote FOR.

The last one about Executives must retain significant stock : it seems like a good garantee that in th efuture no executive would sacrifice long term viability of HP and the value of its stock for short term profit. On the other hand I wonder if it would effectively rule out a “small shareholder representative” being able to become executive.

Let me explain what I meean by a “small shareholder representative”.

In fact any shareholdr can propose candidates for the board of directors. I thoght it would be a good idea , if it was possible to organise for all small shareholders (liek employees for example) to vote for someone who woudl represent their intrests on the board. Probably a bit of a utopic idea : but with social networking, and  if the right candidate presented herself/himself maybe it could happen one day…maybe one day the majority of the board would be dedicated to health of the company rather than the value of the short term profits !! Tha t would be a revolution 🙂

Anyway that woudl mean proposing someone who by definition almost would not own “significant stock”.

Now working my way up the “FORS”

The employee stock incentive plan : I am not for these plans – because I am against “unfounded profit”. Why should we get a subsidy for buying shares ? I am not sure this is generally in the best interests of the company. But at the same time , I dont think it is particulry serious, so I woudl probably vote FOR also.

One thing to note : something is driving the value of HP shares down. There was speculation in the biased press that a buyout og HP was in the air. And we are voting a new stock incentive buying plan….reminiscent of the manipulating that went on before HP and Compaq merged : they say that a broad employee particiption in stock helps control merger attempts somehow (but that is all way over my head).

Proxy acces sounds good to me.

Ernst & Young : well for we are claiming that we got ripped off by bad accountancy in Auonomy – I would expect that Ernst and Young woudl have spotted this BEFORE we signed the cheque. So it would seem on the face of it that they really should be sacked immediatley – but hey what do I know….maybe things don’t work the same in the world of finance.

And then for the directors : who to vote for , and who to vote against ?

Not easy !!

If you have any ideas or info feel free to comment.

Dell goes private

Posted by Brian Hartley 09-Feb-2013

Who feels, like me, like encouraging our fellow IT workers in Dell on this major move forward for them ?

I am ever keen for HP to become better , more successful, even better products, better public image, more generous – but that does not mean I am not happy for other human beings  to do well too – human beings with families, children, hobbies, ambitions , just like us.

I think it is a pretty established fact, in the world of evolutionary biology,  that the “selfish gene” does not prosper as well as the “cooperative gene” (I think it is established, but far from sure about that – of course you have to accept a bit of evolution to even think it it might be established :-))

Anyway I am looking forward to seeing how Dell get on as a private company. I am sure that it will be hard and pitfall ridden road, and the destination is far from certain, but I am rooting for this move away from the public stock market control. I hope they can show the world that a company can go private, that it can shake off the manacles of the distorted logic of the financial barons, that it can still make a profit and flourish, and respect those around them, the employees, suppliers, customers and the local communities by giving a fair share of the profits. Like I say this outcome is far from certain – but this is a necessary first step.

With a bit of optimism we can imagine this deal as a real life lab experiment – if the results are positive maybe HP will take the same path – and of course they will do it even better !!

After the repeated financial crises, the cynical maneuvering by governments and banks to preserve the financial disequilibrium, the 1% to big to fail , 1% too big to respect the law , 1% too big to be condemned; nearly everyone – the 99% – feel that we need to somehow get our economy back on human tracks, following human ideals.

HP is in a great position to play a major role in turning our world around, big, powerful, successful; with a strong will to move things, imagine the impact we could have.

The story about HP pressure for fairer work in china is a good start : check out the story

I am not sure where to get reliable information about salaries paid out. I found this :

It suggests (to me) that HP pays  about average salaries for our industry in China. It would be nice to think that we were working to push those “industry standards” up rather than following reluctantly along (maybe we are) ….Let’s hope also that we pay a reasonable taxrate in that country too. (I checked the figures once, and I am not an expert, I find it very complicated to find and to understand the figures – but it seemed to me that in USA we pay something like 15 % on profits, which is very good for a large corporation – with GM reportedly paying something under 4% )

So let’s root for Dell as well as HP this coming year !

It is a shame that not all our customers seem to share the same ethical business standards as HP

Posted by Brian Hartley 13-Dec-2012


Read about how HSBC were fined a just couple of billion ( remember we were apparently ripped off nearly 4 times that when we bougth Autonomy !!) – for , basically, laundering drug money !! No prison sentances anywhere. The bank’s stock is up 31% in 2012. It almost makes you lose your faith in the West’s legal systems !!

Let’s hope that 2013 brings a bit more justice for all.

Merry Christmas.

My Dream HP

Posted by Brian Hartley 15-Sep-2012

Since I sat down and wrote my first post, I have been thinking about why I did it.

Thhe main reason is that I am reading and discovering a world I hardly new existedm, a world I find fascinating and I want to share with poeple.

What interests me is how the world works and how the economy works and what it really means to people.

Questions like “who cares about share prices ?”, Why is “growth” good ? Why is it necessary ?

Apparently even the most leftist economists seem to think growth is essential. But no one ever expalians (in terms I can understand at least ) why or how much is required.

All that stuff; it fascinates me that I am starting to find some possible answers.

But then I started thinking there of something more. A dream of HP in the future.

Imagine…HP becomes the first corporation to turn the economy on its head, to make it work for the greater good. Imagine HP becomes really something big in futur history: and imagine that you and I were part of that company at that moment !

I don’t know Meg Whitman, but I imagine that she could be soemone capable of leading such a shift. She transformed many peoples buying habits with Ebay. And she is so extremly rich that making more may not be her major deep down concern. Imagine that she likes the idea of becoming part of history. Of transforming the way HP thinks and acts, and forcing the rst of corporate world to follow our lead (way behind of course !! like sailors or cyclists behind an englishman in the olympic games :-).

Could Meg Whitman be the second Henry Ford ?

It is easy to critisice top management and the rich…but if it is true that the rich are all nasty and the poor all nice, why is it that everyone wants to become nasty* ?!

I hope if HP pushes in the right direction the employees will be behind the move as a block, solid and supportive of a better way.

* I hope french readers will recognise the source of this quote. For the others, check out the greatest(?) comedian ever – here for example :


Hello welcome to the 99%

Posted by Brian Hartley 07-Sep-2012

Hi. This post is about finding information.

For many years now I listen and read the mass media with utter astonishment at how ridiculous the inofrmation is.

If you watch the TV news from a sceptical and suspicious perspective, you immediately pick up the new stories and over the coming weeks you can see how the topic is repeated, changed, twisted, how each tv channel repeats the latest exageration or lie from another channel. Untill everyone is reporting such a ludicrous story no one could possibly believe it. But everyone oes believe it, since you have many hours following the build up you understand that this is stupid. But you do not always have hours to follow each and every story, and from time to time you catch yourself believing a bit of “flatearth news”: they always get you in the end (at least they get me), How often do you not notice at all ?!

Internet was no better, at first I gave up all hope of finding alternative news, but in the last year or so I think there has ben a breakthrough, and although the establishment continues to control the majority of public opinion, there is a growing proportion of people finding alternatives.

Occupy Wall Street is an example of enough people who refuse to swallow the party line getting together and making an impact.

So this is the start of my contribution to knowledge sharing. I hope you will share your ideas and sources with me by commenting on this post.

I just started to read the book “This Changes Everything” about the occupy wall street movement.

I hope my next post (or very sonn anyway) will be a resume of thie book.

It is published by Barret-Koehler Publishers. It is worth looking at their website for other good bedside books.

The occupy wall street was inspired by the Jasmin revolutions in Northern Africa (the Arab spring); maybe this sort of  movement can inspire us in turn to work together for a better fairer world. Sounds far fetched right ? But read the book (I am still on chapter 2 , but so far it is full of optimism). If it cannot perform miracles, it may at least nudge us in the right direction.

I also highly recommend another book published by  Barret-Koehler: “The Shareholder Value Myth” by Lynn Stout.  In fact this is th every next book you shouldread (imho :-)). Only about 100 pages, and so much fascinating info !

I have already started a resume of this book. But I urge everyone to read it as soon as possible. I think one of the most destabilising things in modern workplace is the feeling that nothing makes sense in the coporate world, but you cannot pinpoint the problem.

This book really helps pinpoint and name the problems (at least it helps me). You understand better how people like Mark Hurd can do what they like to corporations and make decisions which seem to have no link with the good of the company (because thy are purely aimed at the good of a special type of shareholder – the short term profit barons – who operate at the expense all others including the majority of sharehplders, the employees, the customers and the very company itself), why when our goal is to be number one we cut R&D to practically zero, why when we decide to increase R&D we do no take the money from these profiteers but cut costs and jobs instead – the very things you would think were required to right the boat (wouldn’t you ?)

What is your idea of a great company by the way ? A number one company ?

My personnel opinion is that the No1 company is the one which makes the greatest contribution to the community as a whole. Of course they will need happy customers and happy employees to do this, but I don’t think any “thumb in the air re-structuration“ really contributes much, neither does the “predictability for the investors” (maybe this helps a very few very rich to manipulate their share buying and selling profits !!). I hope we can all push our company towards the philanthropy and altruism and steer clear of modern dog eat dog philosophy so many lesser companies practice these days.

So web sites: – this is a major conributor to “This Changes Everything”. I have just started reading it. Have a look, see what you think. I find that their outlook on life, their explanations of economic issues and theories just make so much more sense. It is reassuring to see that you are not alone to think the world is crazy. In fact it is not the world, it is jus tthe mass media and the powers behind them – most people think like you. We just need to vote them into power now !! – this is a gret site, with lots of info for an economics dummy like me.

I also recieve a newsletter from Naked Capatilism which seems pretty radical, but is very easy to skim over and pick out usefull links and meet new contributors –

And one last book for this blog : “Flat Earth News” ( . This looks and sounds like a good airport “sensationalist journalism” book. But this was a real pin-down-those-annoying-anomalies book for me. It is all about the degeneration of british newspapers. But it transposes to all media in all countries I think.  Nick Davies explains where economic cuts are made and how it leads to such garbage news.

We all know individually journalists are great professionals who want to publish the truth – here we see how the system manages to keep the garbage on the surface – there is no time to investigate.

Everyone who has an economic intrest in generating news creates a PR agent. They create the stories and send them to the press – ministers, pop stars , companies, banks, investmemnt agencies, footballers – everyone and everything you see or hear in the press has a PR. Th ejournalist barely has time to edit the stories let alone check or cross reference the facts. QED.

I think it was in the introduction that he tells the story of how the year 2000 bug got to become a “reality”. That really struck me because I first got a job in IT thanks to that little multi-billion dollar “exageration”. :-).

He gives lots of other examples,, which you might o might not find intresting – I read a lot of the later part of the book diagonally (as they say in french).

And a really great DVD on the process around the sub-primes : Inside Job by Charles Ferguson. I really had to concentrate as it explained the technical details of the scams they dreamt up. I need to watch it again to revise some bits I did not manage to keep up with 🙂 : but it was fascinating stuff !! Real smart those banker guys !. Also it details some of the characters deeply involved in the whole crime. These characters who are still powerfull in the economic world even though they have proved to be walking disasters for the world over the decades; and today they are government advisors to Obama, or Professor at Havard or, for example  the head of Goldman Sachs UK is fired ignamoniously and finds a job as head of Goldman Sachs Europe and vice versa (I made that up , but the truth is little short of this…) .




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Christmas reading

I had a rest over christmas, reading a few easy novels: Lord of the Flies, Pastoralia (George Saunders), Fierce People, The White Tiger…

Now I have got back to non fiction with Bad Pharma (Ben Goldochre) !!

This book details how the pharma companies, the regulators, and the medical media manage to f*** up  something as vital (and relatively simple !!!) as testing new medicines correctly before putting them on the market. And how and why Doctors end up having virtually no real idea of what a drug is worth, and what dangers mat be associated with it.

So far I am on the chapter explaining how only the interesting tests are published…kinda obvious, but the author adds lots of detail, on failed “attempts” to solve the issue by legislation, and how people try to estimate the real facts (systematic surveys…).

Soon I will move to the chapters which describe blacker aspects of the whole business….sta tuned…

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Don’t believe all you hear on CNN and BBC…

John Pilger : The New Rulers of the World – it is only 215 pp of quite large print.
If you read it you will cry – with sadness, with shame, with anger, with despair….

I am only on the seconf chapter – IRAQ.

I did a quick search on YouTube : there are thousands of examples, here is one

What we did there was nuclear warfare – we knew that all the rubbish about WMD was just lies. So that is the second time in history that one country has massacared another population with nuclear weapons….

Take a look at this film and others…we cannot acept that people do this in our name ! And they continue with the EMBARGO. We have irradiated a population, children are born deformed, people are dying left right and center – and we block medical aid and supplies for them ! here Allbright says that 500 000 dead children is “worth it”. You have to see this to believe it. UN officials describes the embargo…

….search “embargo iraq” to see hundreds of opinions and descriptions of this horror…

That makes our politicians WAR CRIMINELS and MASS MURDERERS in my opinion. Should the occaision arise please, I urge you, encourage any move to condem Bush, Blair and their cronies to life imprisonment. People like that cannot be allowed to make these decisions with impunity: that is what justice is all about, punishment to deter further atrocities – that is what we call civilisation.

If you feel this is all bit one-sided, here is Obama praising the American War Effort…
(you should stop watching when Obama stops talking if you want to keep that warm tingly glory feeling…)

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Burnout seminar at work

Intresting seminar on Burnout – and preventing it by taking timeouts
My notes :
1) Burnout is a last ditched effort by your body to save your life
2) Go to india for a few weeks to get back on the rails
3) Workload, mobbing are likley factors
4) Do a hobby , this can be important in preventing overload at work
5) there is also bore-out
6) coffee (upper) in the morning, whisky (downer) at night – warning
7) Your subconcience is faster, cognative is slower. Cure, and change must come from action on the subconscience – it leads. So this is the difficulty.
8) Balance – look back when things were last good, keep moving (walk, run, move), Park problems and negative thoughts
9) write down worries on a piece of paper – store it somewhere. When thought coms back – ok, that is noted, I am stuck for now, but it is on the list…move on for no.
10) there is a 0800 number – employee assistance program, to give help
Managers shoul follow this course to make aware of issues of workers
HP should have a work-life balance KPI
Put a spot on a wall – to use as a timeout
Use light body contact to bring people out of bad-places
Imagine inflating +ve toughts and deflating -ve ones

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Croissance Growth

I am intrigued by the term growth. We hear it so often as a solution to our economic woes. And always I think but NO ! surely we want decroissance (negative growth), since we know the planet cannot support so much use of its resources for very long.
So I wonder what growth really means. Do we have to produce more cars, and more plastic toys than the previous year to have growth ?
Or, can we build more hospitals, and schools , and housing for the homeless ? Or better still , if there are old abandoned buldings and we convet thenm into nice cosy flats for the homeless, is that growth ?
Then say a company needs a helpdesk application: and HP provides one for 100000 ecus. Is that part of the potential growth ? If we sub-contract for 80000, is that 80000 or 1000000 of growth. And if we charge twice as much are we contributing to growth ?

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