smhwpf: (Dr Who Tardis)
Well, it's sufficiently official and generally known by all concerned that I can make it public.

I will be moving to Boston, Massachusetts in the autumn (or fall as I should get used to calling it), to work at the World Peace Foundation, based at Tufts University, as Project Manager for their programme on corruption in the global arms industry and trade. I start there at the beginning of October. I was in Boston earlier this week to meet with them and discuss details and ideas.

I have in fact been involved in this project for the past few years, as part of an international group of academics and civil society people convened by WPF to discuss these issues and produce various materials on the subject (there's a book coming out fairly soon, plus various internet tools). The group includes South African anti-corruption campaigner Andrew Feinstein, whose book on the arms trade, The Shadow World, has recently been made into a movie, which everyone should totally see when it hits the cinemas.

The idea of the programme has been to take a rather broad perspective on the issue of corruption, looking not only at financial corruption, but at how the global arms industry and trade, and the militarist ideologies behind it, can undermine democracy and the rule of law.

Anyway, so this project by WPF has been edging forward for the past few years, but now they are able to hire someone full time, that someone being me.

The position is for 2 years initially, potentially longer if more funds are raised; however, I am taking a 2-year leave of absence from SIPRI, so I will have the option of returning at the end of this 2-year period. I am therefore not technically leaving SIPRI at the present time, but will at any rate be gone for at least 2 years. If anyone wants to apply for my position at SIPRI working on military expenditure (again, 2 years initially), or knows someone who might be interested, the ad is here.

As to whether or not I will return in 2 years, well, a lot can happen in two years, so who knows? But it is good to have the option.

I am very excited by this. It is a really interesting project, and a really good bunch of people I'll be working with, and from all I hear (and the little I've seen so far from the meetings there of our group), Boston is a fantastic city.

I am already a US (as well as UK) citizen, but this will be the first time I have lived in the US, or indeed been there for more than a week at a time. So that too will be an interesting new experience.

I will also be sad to leave SIPRI, and will miss a lot of people there, not least my team, who are also a great bunch to work with. After the storms of 2 years ago, SIPRI is now on what seems to be moving in a very positive direction, so in some ways a strange time to be leaving; but I have been crunching the military expenditure numbers for long enough, and feeling it's been time for a change for quite a while; and this definitely feels like the right move at the right time.

(Well, except that we might have President Trump a few months after I move. But since there are no shuttles to Mars Colony any time soon, there's nowhere to escape the consequences that may bring.)
smhwpf: (Homework)
Quick post, as I'm exhausted. Today was the big day of the year for my secret identity as Doctor Milex, when SIPRI released our new data on world military expenditure for 2015. Link is to the press release, which also has links to the fact sheet and the full database.

I also have an entry in the SIPRI blog discussing trends in military and health expenditure, and the costs of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in comparison to world military spending. Graphics, in particular the cool interactive line graph, courtesy of our new web editor.
smhwpf: (Warwick)
Our new Director, Dan Smith, has written an excellent blog piece, arguing for negotiated peace between Assad and his (non-ISIS) opponents - and, maybe even some time in the future, negotiations with elements of ISIS or other groups that are currently to extreme and absolute in their demands to have meaningful negotiations with.

He gives a long list of examples of nations and groups that have been in conflct, and that have ended up negotiating with each other (successfully or otherwise), despite one side or other having said for a long time that they would absolutely never negotiate with the other side. So, basically, get off your high horse about how you could never possibly negotiate with Assad or whoever because they are so evil, and grasp the nettle.

Which I completely agree with. But a rather pessimistic thought strikes me - while it very often is possible eventualy to find peace between apparently irreconcilable sides, can it be done when the fundamental point of contention is the ruler him or herself?

When the 'incompatibility' is, for example, regional or sub-national independence movements, or ethnic grievances, or visions of society (e.g. communist vs. capitalist), it may be possible to find compromises, half-way measures, ways in which different groups can live together, etc. But when it's about "Does this dictator (monarchical or presidential) get to stay in power?", where is the possibility for common ground? Maybe they stay in power with reforms, or power-sharing, or whatever, but the problem is always that the ruler, if they get to stay in power, has every incentive to renege once the rebels have demobilized. (And if they haven't demobilized, then renewed war is probably just round the corner).

So I'm trying to think of examples of conflicts - civil wars, revolutions, armed uprisings - with a goal of overthrowing a dictatorial ruler, where there has been a negotiated settlement that leaves that ruler in power. None of the cases on the list in Dan's essay fit the bill. The only example I could think of is Magna Carta, but that in fact is not an example - the Runnymede agreement broke down almost immediately, leading to the 1st Barons War; John himself died in the middle of it.

In the first phase of the Wars of the Roses, after the victory of the supporters of Richard of York, who claimed the throne against Knig Henry VI, a peace deal was achieved whereby Henry remained king, but Richard was named his heir. That broke down within 5 years.

The Russian Revolution of 1905 is another not-quite example - various reforms enacted in response to the demands of some of the rebels, but alongside the crushing of the more radical rebels. Not a negotiated settlement, and this didn't exactly stick.

Can anyone come up with any examples then? My criteria are as follows:

a) An uprising against a dictatorial ruler (including absolute or powerful monarchs), with a primary goal of unseating that dictator
b) A negotiated peace
c) That does not involve the swift departure of the ruler (which would in essence be a negotiated rebel victory)

Or does such an uprising inevitably end either in the crushing of the rebels or the departure of the ruler?

The western opponents of Assad effectively say that, while there could be negotiations, the result would have to involve Assad leaving, if not immediately then fairly soon. Which of course is not something that Assad or his supporters are willing to contemplate, and are not likely to unless his violent overthrow appears otherwise inevitable.

The only other possibility could be that Russia and Iran can be convinced that their interests can be safeguarded in a post-Assad Syria,and  that this is a better option than continuing war, and are thus persuaded to threaten to withdraw their support for the Syrian government unless Assad agrees to his negotiated departure.

Or, if there is some way round the fundamental problem with a peace deal that leaves a ruler in place, namely the incentive to renege?
smhwpf: (Treebeard)
SIPRI Director Tilman Brück has resigned, as has Chairman of the Governing Board Göran Lennmarker.

A statement by the SIPRI Governing Board on the SIPRI website has more information on the resignations, which followed the annual meeting of the Board on the 12th-13th May.

Prof. Brück will leave his position at the end of June. [Though I understand he will be on leave from 1st June.] He will continue to serve SIPRI as a "Distinguished Senior Fellow" working on the economics of Security and Development. [My understanding is that this is an associated researcher type position, rather than a staff position]. An Acting Director will be appointed by the Board following consultation with the relevant stakeholders [i.e. unions, government, etc.] The Board has also agreed to appoint an international expert to undertake a comprehensive review of SIPRI and to make recommendations for its future. The Board thanked Tilman for his "important, innovative and valuable contributions in research and management to the Institute", and expressed regret at his departure.

Although it is not mentioned in the Board's statements, the resignations come following severe criticism of the Director by the trade unions representing SIPRI staff, who also referred SIPRI to Sweden's Work Environment Agency.

I think this is for the best. I hope that SIPRI can now begin to heal and move forward, after what has been an extremely difficult time for everyone.
smhwpf: (Buffyanne)
Further to my previous post. The Chair of my union, ST, has actually made a statement about the situation at SIPRI, posted to their website. It says pretty much similar things to the previous press report, but it also attaches a letter sent by the two trade unions to the Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that is responsible for SIPRI. The text of the letter is here. My translation is below. I have capitalized some specific Swedish legal terms that translate rather oddly.

I will not add anything save to say that I fully support my Union's actions in this matter.

letter from ST and SACO to the Foreign Ministry )


Apr. 8th, 2014 11:56 pm
smhwpf: (Treebeard)
It seems that the situation at my workplace, SIPRI, has become the subject of media attention. I repost the linked article with my own rough translation, and without further comment.

Union: SIPRI could be closed.

Many employees at peace research institute SIPRI are suffering from stress, sleeping problems, anxiety, high blood pressure and suicidal thoughts, according to [trade unions] ST and SACO-S. The trade unions have therefore put the foundation under so called special protection measures.

"If the demands are not met, the workplace could be closed," said ST Press Secretary Sofia Johansson.

She states that the special protection measures involve demands for systematic efforts to improve the work environment, and to deal with specific identified problems.

According to the union, employees at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, which employs about 50 people at its Solna office, have experienced degrading and discriminatory treatment, and there have been no improvements since the previous work environment survey.

ST and SACO are pursuing eleven grievance processes against SIPRI, and more are to be filed. The local cooperation agreement and collective employment agreement have been cancelled.

There has been no comment from SIPRI's side.
smhwpf: (Going places)
Kate B. asks "If the world-wide web/similar hadn't been invented, and technology had stayed the same as when we were kids, how different would your life be now?"

Wow. Gosh. That's a tough one.

It wouldn't have been that different up to my 1st PhD, the Maths one, in 1996. I'd only recently discovered the web. I mean, I'd used email a bit, but it wasn't my principle means of communication.

Wouldn't have necessarily affected the first job I did so much, the one commercial job I had - I mean, not having the web as a research tool would have been different, but it wasn't yet so central. Or what I was doing as a volunteer with Campaign Against Arms Trade. I mean, it would have affected how I did these things somewhat, but wouldn't have fundamentally affected life path, I think.

The work I do now though... it is very hard to imagine doing it without the internet. The vast majority of the research we do is web-based. But SIPRI did collect military expenditure data before the web, so I guess it's like a lot of things where you can't imagine how people did them before, but of course they did.

I certainly wouldn't have a lot of the communities I have. I think. Certainly, there are some people I only know because I know them online. Others... I knew offline originally, but online became a principle mode of interaction. But maybe wouldn't have been so different.

Certainly fandom would never have been a thing. I might have been a Buffy fan, but it wouldn't have been a thing I'd have shared.

Apart from that, I'm trying to think where life-path would really have branched... maybe I wouldn't have been willing to make my first (temporary) move to Sweden back in 2002 had I not had internet community to fall back on. Or maybe I would not have been able to cope with the loneliness. No internet, so how would I have job-hunted back in Britain? THES delivered to my door in Sweden? Mebbe. I think here we've got to factor in the way the internet and other technological developments have made the world smaller. Made regular travel back and forth between countries feasible for people a lot further down the ladder.

So this is a big thing - I don't know whether I would have still gone to work for SIPRI, but it made moving country seem like much less of a huge thing.

So, 2001-2 is a real branch point for me. 2001 is when, after the end of Buffy Season 5, with Buffy's death and wondering whether there was going to be any more Buffy and what was going to happen, that's when I first typed "Buffy" into a search engine and encountered online fandom, and the first online community I was really significantly part of (save a political listserve or two at Warwick I wasn't that deeply into), the BBC Buffy forum, where I first met [ profile] whiskyinmind. Then 2002 when I first went to work at SIPRI.

On the flip side, I wonder if I would have been more productive without the distractions of the internet, but then I found all manner of ways to be unproductive before that, so probably not.

Any one else who wants to request a topic, you are most welcome! You may do so here. I am not out of topics by any means, but Easter is still four weeks away!
smhwpf: (Treebeard)
Really uninspired on the subject line front.

So I got invited to a workshop in Boston, organized by the World Peace Foundation, on corruption in the arms trade. That was last week, Tuesday and Wednesday. They were paying for the trip, so I took the opportunity to travel to Toronto over the weekend, thus visiting Canada for the first time, and more significantly meeting the awesome [ profile] sabotabby for the first time! Who is, apart from some of my old read-through buddies is one of my oldest LJ friends. (Oldest as in longest-standing, not as in most aged, although both she and I recently added a year to our respective tallies).

I came to Toronto at a turbulent time in the city's modern history. Fordism )

Aaaaanyway, the saga made for plenty of entertainment over the long weekend. As did the performance of Night of the Living Dead Live we went to with a bunch of Sabs' friends on Saturday evening, which was awesome; the first half was a compressed version of the original movie, which it followed pretty closely; the second half was a succession of increasingly absurd (and increasingly brief) alternative scenarios as to what else they might have done to survive, all with the same tragic but inevitable outcome. Then there was the scenario where they all worked together and sung a musical number, and I'll leave the outcome of that unspoiled.

At least equally entertaining was an afternoon of role-playing with a different bunch of friends on Sunday. We were playing Spirit of the Century.

The one annoyance of the weekend was the failure of my luggage to arrive. It had presents in it. (As well as obvious things like clothes). I eventually got it back on the day of my return to Stockholm, last Thursday. Bah. but I did, as part of my emergency wardrobe restocking, buy a T-shirt with the final words of NDP leader Jack Layton from Kensington Markets.

Generally, Toronto is very awesome.

The workshop in Boston was a small group of us, brought together by Alex de Waal of WPF, who I'd previously encountered through various Sudan-related articles, with a view to getting WPF into the issue. The other organizer, and probably the number one expert on the subject, was Andrew Feinstein, who I've met a few times before, including when I wrote a chapter of the SIPRI Yearbook a couple of years ago. Former ANC MP who tried to investigate the huge corrupt South African arms deal when he was head of the Public Accounts Committee, and basically got sacked for his efforts.

So his latest book, The Shadow World looks utterly fantastic, he's basically been going round interviewing a bunch of seriously evil arms dealers and exploring all the connections between them and the big companies and governments etc. Incredible stories.

Anyway, good meeting, lots of good ideas being thrown around. Managed to see a bit of the Freedom Trail before returning to the airport.

s'all for now.
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
We have a new Director for SIPRI! Prof. Dr. Tilman Brück, currently head of the Security & Development department at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). (In fact, the choice was made by the SIPRI staff and governing board some while back, but has now been confirmed by the Swedish government, who have the final decision in the matter. Technically we had made a recommendation and they could have chosen someone else, but it was not very likely).

I am personally very pleased with the outcome.
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
Got back today from my trip to the US for the launch of SIPRI's military expenditure data for 2011.

A good trip, though pretty exhausting. I presented the data in six subtly different ways to six separate audiences in Washington, DC and New York - all went well; our own launch event had about 60-70 people at it, while the side event at the UN we did with UNODA and the Japanese Permanent Mission had about 80. Meanwhile the media launch got covered in over 2000 separate outlets, so I think we can call this a success.

For those who have not already clicked on the link, the estimated world total for 2011 was $1738 billion; it was the first time since 1998 that the total hasn't increased noticeably in real terms (i.e. after inflation). The observant amongst you might notice that the press release talks about 13 continuous years of increase, although it is only 12 years from 1998 to 2010. Yes, it is indeed so - I officially can't count. ;-)

Anyway, 'twas a busy schedule, but it was not all work - visited the relatives briefly, spent the afternoon following our launch on Tuesday drinking beer with a colleague who happened to be over and came along, and spent much of Saturday mooching around Manhattan.

Now very tired and jet-lagged.
smhwpf: (Going places)
Ah well, the posting every day thing fell off rather towards the end. Still, posted way more than had been my habit.

Easter was good - didn't do a great deal. Went to the English Church in Stockholm, part of the C of E Diocese of Europe, for Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Kind of wanted something reasonably familiar for Easter. Seems a good place, and very good music in particular. Don't know if it's where I'll end up yet.

Anyway, tomorrow I am off to the US, Washington DC and New York, for the launch of SIPRI's military expenditure data for 2011. Very exciting. SIPRI has just launched our new SIPRI North America branch, so we're doing a series of events in conjunction with them - the data launches in particular - to make a bit of a splash Stateside.

Apart from our own launch event, I will be doing presentations at the World Bank, a UN side-event, the US State Department, and a group of peacenik academics at a New York uni. (Somehow I think I'll enjoy the last one most).

Plus I will, albeit briefly, get to visit the family in Croton-on-Hudson and New Haven.

What with the likely substantial number of info requests from journalists, promises to be a busy week, but hopefully stuff should calm down after that.
smhwpf: (Staying calm)
Today I will give myself an easy time, by pimping myself, specifically my comment on the SIPRI website on China's announcement yesterday of an 11.2% increase in their defence budget for 2012.
smhwpf: (Sandman)
We were privileged to welcome Dr. Izzeldein Abuelaish to SIPRI today to give a presentation. (and a few of us got to talk to him over lunch beforehand).

Dr. Abuelaish is a Palestinian doctor, a gynaecologist. Growing up in Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, he was both bright and fortunate enough to get a good education, succeed in all he did, become a doctor, go to Harvard, and become the first Palestinian doctor to work in an Israeli hospital.

Then in September 2008 his wife died of Leukemia, and then, exactly four months later, on January 16th 2009, shells from an Israeli army tank hit his house during Israel's winter assault on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, killing three of his daughters and a niece, and injuring other members of his family. He himself had left the room moments before the shells hit.

His story was not unusual from this brutal assault that claimed the lives of 1,400 Gazans. What was unusual is that he could tell it on Israeli television. Thanks to his Israeli connections, he had been contacted several times by an Israeli news channel to give an on-the-ground view, and to try to communicate a Palestinian perspective to an Israeli audience - part of a long-lasting goal of seeking to build bridges between the two peoples. So when tragedy struck, he called up his friend the newscaster and, between his tears, told the story live to an Israeli public, for one brief moment brought face to face with the human consequences of the war.

Since then Dr. Abuelaish has dedicated his life to both peace and medicine. He started a foundation, Daughters for Life, which provides scholarships for young women from the Middle East to study in the region or in the west. (He is a particuarly strong believer in promoting the education of women, and in the importance of involving women in building peace). He wrote a book published in 2010 called "I shall not hate", and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He now lives and teaches in Toronto. (I am now the owner of a signed copy).

One thing I was left pondering, not for the first time, is the relationship between seeking peace through political action, negotiations, campaigning, diplomatic pressure etc., and the more individual-led approach that says that peace starts in people's hearts, the refusal to hate, trying to get people from opposing communities to talk to each other and understand each other, etc. Sometimes I get rather cynical about the latter, especially if it's the sole focus. I've heard it said that there's any number of initiatives that seek to bring Palestinians and Israelis together and get them to talk and hug, but it doesn't change the politics of the situation, and most of the people who do those sorts of schemes are the ones who already believe in peace anyway.

It seems to me that working at both ends of the equation are necessary, and they are probably mutually re-inforcing, but I'm not quite sure how.

Like, Northern Ireland was clearly a case of both. There was a political deal between people who really, really did not love or trust each other, but there'd been a heck of a lot of groundwork at community level, with enough people who really believed in peace and enough more whose attitudes had been changed sufficiently to be willing to give it a try. Then you've got Bosnia, where peace came with the two sides still thoroughly hating each other, but where external powers did a bit of bonbing and then banged heads together till an agreement was reached. Except, the two halves of Bosnia are still barely keeping together and seem to have very little in common. (Though there's no sign of a resumption of actual armed conflict any time soon).

So I throw that out there as an unanswered question. But, when I hear a story like Dr. Abuelaish's face to face and see someone who has passed through such an unthinkable horror and come out with such obviously genuine faith, compassion and humanity, my cynicism kind of melts guiltily away.
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
As those who follow me on FB or Twitter may have seen, we at SIPRI just released our military spending data for 2010.

The world total for 2010, according to our estimates, was $1,630 billion. This is certainly a conservative estimate. The figure is an increase of 1.3% in real terms over 2009, and 50% higher than in 2001, just before the surge in world - and especially US - military spending started following 9/11.

I could say a lot more but I need to go home and sleep following website updatyness and suchlike.

For now I will content myself with saying that it is A Lot. I will even go out on a limb and say that it is Too Much.
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
Today at SIPRI we released the SIPRI Yearbook 2010. Our press launch focused on nuclear issues, Afghanistan, and my area, military expenditure. The main headline being that Military expenditure in 2009 reached $1,531 billion, an increase of 5.9% in real terms.

Coverage includes BBC, Guardian, numerous others.

I was interviewed (in English) by Sweden's TV4. Video clip - surprisingly lengthy - can be viewed here. I am reasonably pleased with what I said - got the points across reasonably concisely and confidently. But I look ghastly. Also ridiculously nervous, which is bizarre, as I didn't feel nervous. But hey.

The figures are really quite shocking. The increases in the US, China, Russia, many others, do not actually correspond to any increasing threat, but to a fundamentally militaristic outlook on the world. Obama may talk more about soft power in the new US National Security Strategy, but the continued increases he's making in US military spending - not just 2009, which he's mostly not responsible for, but also 2010 and 2011, shows that military dominance is still at the centre of the way the US relates to the world. (See my earlier post; the increases are continuing full throttle in 2010 and 2011, even as other "discretionary" spending is to be frozen as part of attempts to reduce the deficit.)

There are, of course, reasons, explanations, justifications, rationalizations. I could argue them all night. But when it comes down to it, it is - IMHO - a grotesque, sinful waste.

East Bank

Jul. 31st, 2009 07:37 pm
smhwpf: (Buffy fire)
Just got back yesterday from a three-day trip to Amman, Jordan, for a seminar sponsored by the EU and organised by UNIDIR promoting discussion on a possible Arms Trade Treaty.

More on the seminar )

Although it was a very short trip, flew out on Monday and back on Thursday, I got to see a bit of Amman on Wednesday evening when one of the Jordanian delegation kindly showed a bunch of us round the city. She also assisted us in the haggling process at a gift shop! (I bought a Palestinian olive-wood shepherd with a rather curious expression).

Amman )

had a red-eye flight at 3.30am on Thursday morning to Istanbul where I had an 8-hour stopover. Long enough, I decided, to get a visa and go into the city.

Istanbul )

Today, possibly due to yesterday's 20-hour journey, I am ill with an upset stomach. Went into work but had to come home. No respitory symptoms though, so I don't think it can be swine flu. I am taking stuff and am considerably improved this evening.

As I say, photos of Amman will hopefully follow.
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
Squee! The launch of the SIPRI Yearbook 2009 is currently the second item on the BBC News front page. And I'm quoted! They've also directly quoted large chunks of our press release sections on military expenditure and on arms production, the parts of the yearbook I was involved in.

Launch press conference was this morning. Some very good presentations by members of our staff and governing board - including new board member Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi; my talk also seemed to go down well. I will probably be appearing on Swedish TV channel 4 this evening, as I had an interview with them afterwards.
smhwpf: (Giles party weasel)
The SIPRI Yearbook 2008 was launched today in Stockholm. I was one of the panelists introducing various sections of the yearbook, speaking on military expenditure and arms production. The videos of the press conference, including Yours Truly, can be found here.

People say I was very good, but I was quite plainly looking down at my notes too much. I don't normally speak from notes, but we were asked to keep to some tight time limits, so I wanted to have what I was saying very clearly defined. Anyway, it seemed to go OK.

If you are interested in issues of global peace and security, do visit the SIPRI website. We have all sorts of interesting information on military expenditure, arms transfers, arms production, armed conflict, peacekeeping operations, nuclear, chemical and biological armaments and non-proliferation issues, conventional arms control, and much much more.


Nov. 28th, 2003 02:19 am
smhwpf: (Owl)
A meme from [ profile] the_alchemist

3 things which scare me: Snakes, dreams where I dream I've woken up but I haven't, the prospect of becoming my dad
3 things which I don't understand: Rugby, cars, relationships
3 things I'd like to learn: Web design, playing the guitar, lots of languages
3 things I am wearing right now: Blue jeans, New Internationalist T-shirt, checked shirt.
3 things on my desk: Celtic cross, empty whisky tumbler, ridiculous quantity of papers
3 things I want to do before I die: Meet the right person, save the world, travel through every continent (possibly except Antarctica).
3 good things about my personality: Generosity, integrity, resilience
3 bad things about my personality: Laziness, insensitivity, lack of confidence
3 parts of my heritage: English, Scottish, Jewish
3 things I like about my body: Facial expressions, reasonable slimness, hands
3 things I don't like about my body: Shortness, bags under eyes, lack of muscle
3 things most people don't know about me: My family lived in a ’commune’ when I was a teenager, and shared my room with a boy who once threatened me with a knife and once with a bow and arrow; I shoplifted as a young kid; I may be going to Palestine at Easter.
3 things I say the most: ’Right’, ’How’s it going?’, ’OK’.
3 places I want to go: I’ll second the Holy Land and heaven… and... hmm... India.
3 names that I go by: Sam; Samuel Mordecai Henry Wills Perlo-Freeman; Sam PF
3 screen names I use or have used: Does this mean online names? Rogue Demon Hunter; Slave of the Slayer; perlofreeman.

Well, got all the SIPRI referencing out of the way finally. Should ease off. Fair amount to keep me going on the teaching front, including reading up stuff I don't right well know before teaching it, but really if I can't keep on top of it it's my own damn fault for being a lazy bastard and spending all my time online and drinking with friends and colleagues and stuff.

Was out this evening, a social with my fellow lecturers/students on the Academic Development Programme (lecturer training). Good fun, well, OK, nice folks, not people I really have a connection with. Yesterday evening, spent way too long drinking with colleagues in the department, but we were talking Economics and the teaching thereof in a wide-ranging, outside-the-box, in vino veritas sort of way, so I can almost count that as work. *g*

Meant leaving my bike at the Uni yesterday. But then I was rather inclined to do that due to the wetness. It wasn't raining, but my route home takes me along an off-road stretch through the Frome valley. Very dark, and right now very muddy.

When I cycled home Monday night, not that late, but it was a bit foggy and totally pitch black. Even with my bike light, I could scarce see past the end of my nuggable bose. I'll have to develop eyes like my eyecon here. Do you get to see in the dark if you stay up ridiculously late often enough? Anyway, there was, in this stretch, no streetlight, no houselights, no moonlight, and only a few dim flickers of starlight, in any case obscured by the trees. I was crawling along, fearful of tumbling into the Frome.

I fell into a river on my bike once. The river Lee, just south of Hackney Wick. I was going too slow over a pothole, it was filled with water so I didn't see how uneven it was, and I overbalanced and tumbled in. Fortunately I caught hold of the side and pulled myself out, but my bike sunk without trace into the mire at the bottom. Then I had to squelch my way through the industrial wasteland that is Hackney Wick to the station, where the train fortunately took me near to my door. My fellow passengers must have loved me.

But on this occasion, Monday, I emerged from the Frome valley more or less dryshod, but for a ride through a very muddy puddle. But Wednesday it had rained even more, and I wasn't keen to sploosh my way back in the dark again.

Well, better head to bed, gotta be up reasonably early for seminar. Seeing a flat that one of my drinking economics colleagues wants to let out. Same rent as I'm paying but one more room. But it's in the notorious St. Paul's area. But then I lived for years in the notorious Hackney and the notorious Haringey, and not a peep of trouble. Whereas, here in not-so-notorious Bedminster I've already been chased down the road with my own box of washing powder by a drunken yob in the first few months. Besides, St. Paul's will have nice ethnic food shops. But I shall talk it over with my friends Ruth and Kevin who are visiting for the weekend. Must tidy the place up a bit. And spec out some cool places to go.

And so to bed.
smhwpf: (Worf)
Woah! Another near all-nighter on SIPRI stuff. Well, got my first drafts for Japan and India done, which is good. Still well behind schedule, but making clear progress. Gonna have the last two countries, Brazil and Russia, out of the way by next w/e.

I am writing pieces on military expenditure by some other major world spenders/regional powers (Japan, UK, France, China, India, Russia, Brazil), in the light of US military expansion, for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook, where I worked last year. This year I'm doing it as an outside contributor.

I'm finding it a ...demoralising/desensitising experience in some ways... not sure if that's the best word... I mean, I'm seeking to write essentially from the perspective of decision-makers in the different countries, trying to explain trends in military spending, how much and what they're spending it on, and it means I'm sort of absorbing the assumptions of 'defence' thinkers, getting into the language, the way of thinking, the priorities. The whole view of the world as one where security, influence and wealth comes from military power, and of course the whole set of euphemisms and techy language that veils the fact that what you're talking about is better ways of killing people. Network-centric warfare. C4ISTAR. (Computers, Communication, Command, Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target-Acquisition and Reconnaissance). Strategic lift. Deep-strike capabilities. Joint operations. Power projection. These are the sort of terms that gives the military guys and the defence analysts the warm fuzzies.

And, the worrying thing, it's beginning to give me the warm fuzzies too. Ooh, UAVs, or some new aircraft carriers equipped with fighters with long-range strike capability, that's what we need. (Where 'we' is whatever country I'm thinking about at the moment.) Which of course I don't believe at all. I'm pro peace and disarmament. Aren't I? Is there really no other way of living in the world, no other source of influence and national strength than more and smarter weapons? Is suppose what I'm saying is that I'm trying to get into the heads of these people, and I'm not finding their heads a very pleasant place to be.

Mind you, I did come across something that made me smile today, in all places on the website of Indian Defence Consultants:

Indian Iraq war ditty )

Always nice when you find something good where you don't expect it. :-)

Anyway, I ought to get myself at least a few hours sleep tonight. Bleagh, one of these days I'll get onto a more sensible schedule.


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