Monday, August 15

Why werent the bookstores hit?

First the story. I quote:

Are books just for the middle class? As society puzzles over its divisions, perhaps the publishing industry should follow suit

Oh how Twitter scoffed and acted unsurprised as we woke to find our local bookshops had escaped the attentions of the looting riotniks. Waterstone's even challenged rioters to loot them as "they might learn something". Ha ha! LOLZ! Sigh. It's difficult to argue with the stark economic realism of those who weighed up their looting options and came down firmly on the side of widescreen TVs and box-fresh kicks. Maeve Binchys don't fetch a huge resale price on the black market – especially if they're already in the 3 for 2.

But while the rioters' indifference to the intellectual riches on offer at Waterstone's may or may not be attributable to the much-touted death of the book, it does throw up some stark questions. Is reading just for the middle classes? Are you more or less likely to riot if you read? What could books offer the looters anyway?

As the riots fade and the talking starts, all the rhetoric is about community, education, offering the rioters prospects and life expectations and qualifications and journeys towards growing up as well-adjusted members of society.

How better to do all these things than with books?

Maybe it's just a question of class. As the author Gavin James Bower says, "Jobs in publishing overwhelmingly go to white, middle-class people. The product reflects this, which isn't much good if you're a working-class kid." If publishing is full of white, middle-class people is it any wonder that bookshops are too? The writing community can be as diverse as it likes – in class, race, religion and genre – but if publishers don't know how to market these books, they're not going to find readers. Or maybe it starts even earlier, in school, where according to the journalist Kieran Yates "young people often don't feel like they can empathise with a syllabus of literature that is so far removed from their own lives".

But as the children's writer Irfan Master points out, young people are reading "blogs, texts, comics, magazines" all the time. Poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz agrees, saying there is a switch in what is read and written, rather than a "demise" in reading and writing. "This is the first generation that is consuming more written content generated by their own age group than from older, adult writers," she writes.

This is indeed curious but sad as well. To see this from the perspective of race is stupid. Rioters were from all ends of society. They were teachers, unemployed youths, social workers, university students, etc. etc. Very many were young. There is no single common factor. They wont go to university? Or study at all? Or are they saying that these people will never pick up a book? Bah!

Sunday, August 14

Fatalism leads to more accidents in Bangladesh

From here.

This study was conducted to see whether fatalism is an important factor in explaining occupational accidents among medical waste operatives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Data were collected using a variety of qualitative techniques and included observation, formal and informal dialogue. Sampling strategies included formal representative sampling, purposive and authoritative sampling. Employers did not supply PPE or offer training to their staff. Most workers (73%) did not wear PPE regularly, and a further 18% wore only insufficient PPE. Consequently, most waste workers (95%) reported that they had experienced occupational accidents, mostly (75%) from used needles and other sharps. These observations were associated with fatalistic beliefs among the participants, both managers and employees, who attributed these events to “fate” reflecting their perceived lack of control over such accidents. This study reveals many examples of a lack of organisational awareness that can occur within a culture of fatalism.

Quite a sad state of affairs, eh? Even if they had proper equipment, they dont wear it thinking that if it has to happen, it will happen. Inshallah. Bhagwan ki Daya Hai. I hate this bloody philosophy. God has nothing to do with it, you muppets. You are responsible for your own life, actions and rewards. And this causes problems in business clearly. There is simply no drive. Where are the unreasonable men and women who drive the productivity, quality, customer service to excellence and beyond? Not many will come up with a feeling of inshallah I am afraid. Bah!

Train driver sues parents of suicide victim

Gobsmacking. First the story.

The legal hearing on the dispute was held in a court in Nuremberg on Tuesday, according to news magazine Der Spiegel.
The 52-year-old driver has ceded his complaint to his wife, who is appearing as the plaintiff, so the driver himself can appear as a witness.
The wife initially asked for €15,000 compensation. She says her husband has suffered nightmares, sleep disturbances and headaches since the incident. Additionally, he was unable to work for two weeks after the accident.
The dead man's parents, who are not appearing in court, are still grieving, their lawyer Julian Rösch said.
“They can’t do anything about it. They have been affected and punished enough.”
The parents, Klaus and Martha S., believe their 20-year-old son Stefan, was the victim of an accident, rather than a suicide, when he was struck and killed by the train in January 2009.
Stefan was hit by the train at about 1 am near the Rehdorf train station just west of Nuremberg. The driver had no chance of stopping, as is usually the case in such incidents. According to investigation documents, the driver thought he had hit a wild boar and continued driving.
On his return along the same route, he checked the scene and this time thought he had hit a deer. Only on his third pass of the site of the incident did he realise he was looking at the body of a person. He alerted a colleague, who finally discovered Stefan’s body.
Since January 2011, the driver had come to terms with the incident and returned to a normal life, his wife’s lawyer Stephan Baumann said. But for two years he had suffered “the most serious problems” coping with everyday life. The image of the young man haunted him.
Judge Jana Lux said the damages amount was too high and suggested €3,000 to €5,000 was more fitting. The driver’s wife accordingly lowered it to €5,000 and the driver said he was amenable to that.
“I have no desire to go through the whole thing again,” he said.
Stefan’s parents now have two weeks to decide whether to accept the settlement or fight on. Their lawyer Rösch said that was still “a heap of money” to compensate two weeks off work.

The chap wants to sue the parents of the poor man, and this too after 2 years? I don't have words to describe this behaviour. Frivolous or what?