Tuesday, July 31, 2007

i dearly hate psychometric testing

Who on earth invented Psychometric Testing? I would like to throttle them with a dead pigeon should I ever be given the opportunity.

I spent about an hour doing my first ever psychometric test today for some retailer's graduate scheme, which comprised of a verbal reasoning test, numerical reasoning test, a personality questionnaire, and a flash game where I had to protect one of their stores by fighting off evil Government Trading Standards officers.

Okay, I lied about the last one.

However, I now feel they know everything about me. Literally. They know I struggle to answer any question with a straight yes or no answer, they know I took 20 minutes to answer a question where I needed to work out some percentages, they know that I have an inkling of dislike for companies that "ruthlessly pursue profits at whatever cost" (as if this ruthless retailer would ever employ me now), and they know I took about an hour to complete an online exercise that should have taken 35 minutes.

URGH. I had enough difficulty trying to get a job when it was just an interview I had to stumble through, trying not too appear way out of my depth, now I've got to contend with tests designed to find out everything about me before I've even got through the front door?

They've taken the romance out of the recruitment process. Sod this, i'm going to be a barman for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

television is lying to you

Every journalist and his dog seems to be talking about TV and how it misleads us at the moment. With that in mind I went searching for something quite interesting I read a long time ago, that should add something to the whole issue.

Most of you will probably remember a Channel 4 TV show called Faking It. You might even remember this particular edition, where a Choir girl Laura-Jane Foley was challenged to fake being a Rock Chic in the space of four weeks.

Well, the day after the show was broadcast, she popped up on the Channel 4 website's forum putting her side across. The posting has long since disappeared from there, but I found it knocking around thanks to Google Desktop, and so thought I'd put it up here to see what people think...

Well, well, well. I've stumbled upon this forum and thought I'd contribute and clear up a few misconceptions and misunderstandings about me. Before any of you say differently this is Laura-Jane Foley - not someone faking being me (haha!) nor is it one of the many people who have pretended to know me/ be related to me! For my sins... this is me...like me or loathe me! And from what I've read a great many of you seem to loathe me. It's a good job I'm not a depressive kind of person because some of the vile comments some of you have made about me could have sent another person to the brink.

I'm not going to defend myself (those who know and love me know full well that the Laura-Jane Foley on Faking It was not the real me) but I will just point out some issues you may not be aware of.

Out of the many hundreds of hours of filming, Sidra Khan, the director chose to show one hour of the most negative parts of the four weeks. She did not show any of the occasions on which I threw myself wholeheartedly into the project. She did not show me having a tattoo in a tattoo parlour (bet that surprises you!) riding on the back of motorbikes with Nikki, dancing into the night with Harry and various other rockers and getting on with Harry... I never at any stage criticised Harry. The very careful editing and pointed questions made it seem otherwise. And by the way the house wasn't hers (she lives in Ascot... how very rock!)it was rented for the four weeks by channel 4... yet another of the many cons!! And did you know that I spent just as much time with my other mentor singing teacher, Nikki who has become a good friend of mine and with whom I got on really well. Strange that they didn't show any of that or the footage of her lifting me in the air after the final gig? Of course they wouldn't would they because those were positive aspects!

And another bombshell. Did you have any idea that Faking It is scripted? Every single event, movement and reaction by me and my mentors was planned well in advance of even meeting me! So much for spontaneity and life-changing experiences! At the beginning of Week 2 I found the script which Khan carelessly left behind after a days filming and discovered that I was to be reduced to tears the following Friday by the band who were going to tell me I was rubbish - even though I hadn't even met them at this point! and that my first gig was going to be lied about to me and then thrust upon me at the last minute with no preparation time. Nice people eh? When I found this the production nearly stopped and quite frankly I wish it had. From then on it was Khan's intent to portray badly. She'd been told off by her boss, Stephen Lambert and wanted to get her revenge.

Finally to those of you who have asked why did I do it... I didn't know what I was letting myself in for. Khan misled me from the beginning. I was conned into signing a contract by saying that the show would make good use of my classical voice. I was under the impression that I would be performing on the West End stage or something like that... at the beginning of filming I was told I would be transformed into a Blondie-style singer... it was only when I went for my make-over two weeks into the project that the punk rock element was thrust on me.

So there you have it. Faking It is one big fake from start to finish. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if this email gets removed. After all they've already removed me from the list of shows on this website!

Anyway, there's plenty more I could say but I'm really not bothered about it anymore. I am very happy with the REAL life of Laura-Jane Foley!"

Saturday, July 21, 2007

reader's comments 6: live earth

Plenty of responses (6 to be exact), to the Live Earth opinion piece I did last week. All of which arguing the opposite to my silly idealist standpoint. Let's take a look at some of the highlights.

Rachel Bullock, 19, from Derby, wrote:

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the politicians the ones that are telling us about global warming/climate change issues? The outcome of Live Earth has been a lot of people talking about things that we already know about (recycling, carbon footprint etc etc etc) and a lot more people slagging off the whole concept.

I really don't need the likes of Madonna and Al Gore telling me all about the little things I can do to help save the environment. Thank you very much, I already recycle, use public transport and turn the lights off when I leave the room. Maybe if they didn't fly everywhere in private jets that seat about 20 people, I wouldn't find it so hypocritical."

I think there's a big difference between what politicians are telling us about, and what they actually know are the most important issues to their constituents. The issues that the people are raising most are those that they then take back to Parliament and change begins to get lobbied for. If nobody puts on this pressure then nothing changes. This is the process Live Earth taps into: trying to get the people pressurising the politicians.

Well done for being one of those that doesn't need Al Gore and Madonna telling you what you need to be doing. If everybody was in your situation we wouldn't have a problem would we?

This whole "all the artists were flown in private jets" argument is way overblown as well. Performers took the minimal carbon producing forms of transport possible to the event, and backstage, were learning about their worse-than-most contributions to the problem, and how their impacts can be reduced. So Live Earth was partly about lobbying these musicians that everybody says are such major part of the problem.

Amy Harrison, 29, from Sunderland, wrote:

"Many people in Britain already know about climate problems, the people who really need to be educated about it are the Americans, and hardly any of them watched the event, so it was a bit of a flop there."

Again, not enough people in this country understand the issue, so the concert is worthwhile. Things still need to be changed. Once they have been, we can lead by example in convincing the rest of the world. Obviously, nothing is going to change over night, but with small steps like Live Earth, perceptions start to change and actions start to be taken.

Tom Riley, 17, from Gingertown, returns to reply:

"Muldoon Muldoon Muldoon! I was saying its a waste of time, effort and pollution. 31,500 tonnes, it was a waste of time. Why hold 10 concerts, why not 1 televised worldwide live?
Too much for too little mate!"

Well, because you need to go to these countries to put the point across. Or else the global interest would've been even lower. It's all about small steps, Tom. And for arguments already outlined, the ends justify the means.

Richard Stratford, 42, from South Korea, wrote:

"This thing was a waste of time. There will be no positive fallout from the UK concerts, and where raising awareness was a necessary issue, the event was bungled. As was said above, the American leg was a flop, and the even more necessary Shanghai leg was attended by a whopping 3,000 people.
Although i hold nothing against those that attended these concerts, and would even say that the intention of the organisers was noble, someone soon must realise that if you want to bring about real change, the answer is not always to put on a concert. People attend for the performers, and any impetus for change created by their attendance is fleeting and quickly forgotten."

See, I disagree. It's not as if Live Earth is the only thing that's being done to stop climate change, it's just one thing, as part of a wider movement. And as part of that movement, it's been successful. You cannot argue that it hasn't improved the attention given to the issue. And that all helps the process slowly come to the attention of the global community. Again, the perceptions of the local Shanghai population isn't going to be changed overnight by one concert. I admit that. But it still helps give the issue an airing where it needs it.

I think with all the global problems of poverty, climate change and the Iraq war of the last few years, we've created a generation of cynics. People who's instinct is to assume the worst, to critique everything, instead of getting behind movements like Make Poverty History and Live Earth. Everything is a target for a public mauling nowadays.

Meh, thoughts please.

Monday, July 16, 2007

my final harry potter book prediction

Can I make a prediction about this new Harry Potter book please? The one that's being built up around the fact that one of the lead characters dies?

Now, I haven't read any of the books, and only have vague recollections of seeing some of one of the films once, but I still want to be the first to make this prediction about which of the little ones is going to cork it. And that prediction is: none of them.

It's the best plot device in the world to base a book around the fact that at some point, one of the lead characters is going to die. Everybody will be super-tense while they're reading to find out who it is.

This JK Rowling woman will be able to have fun with it, playing with reader's emotions by mixing up who's getting into near-death situations. But the surprise factor won't be there when one of them pops their clogs now. Instead, why not surprise everybody and give them the fairy tale happy ending they'd all secretly love?

There you go, that's my prediction. Either that or all of them end up dying from an Anthrax attack or something. That'd be funny.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

drunken internet stupidity

Many of us will be familiar with the problem: you get home after a night out, drunk, log on to the internet, and send a couple of emails/instant messages/Facebook wall posts you might live to regret when the sobriety of morning arrives. We've all done it before, right?

So Lord knows what was going through my head last night when I got home and instead of logging in for a quick Facebook session, I started posting comments on the BBC News Editors Blog instead...

They haven't published any comments I made, so Lord knows what I wrote, but it can't of made much sense.

My actions scare me sometimes.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

in defence of live earth

Friend, former workmate and ginger person Tom Riley is amongst a few of my friends who disagree with my thoughts on Live Earth. He writes:

"Yeah, I read on the news that the carbon footprint of the event is akin to moving an entire army across the globe...See with Live 8 and Aid it could work cos people could donate, but this had no point apart from being a big knees up. Pointless, could have spent millions of pounds on clean carbon free technology, but no, lets listen to Kanye West and the Pussycat Dolls....hmm!"

Oh Tom, you make me cry inside. Cry like a disabled goat, or something.

Right: putting on the Live Earth events caused some CO2 to be released. True fact. No arguments there.

Most people seem to be arguing that you can't put on a CO2 causing event with the intention of reducing CO2. Right? Well, it's a worthwhile argument to make.

Worthwhile, but also a bit rubbish. Compare it to an event like Comic Relief. I'm assuming it probably costs the BBC some money to put on Comic Relief. Presumably a fair bit of money, yes? But, hang on there BBC, how dare you spend this money when they could instead just give that money straight to charity?

But every couple of years the BBC puts Red Nose Day on. Why? Because the end justifies the means. Far more benefit will come from the money that the event raises than what it cost to hold the event. So, explain to me how Live Earth and CO2 emissions differentiate from this?

What was Live Earth trying to do? Get word out to as many people as possible that they need to a) do the little things that reduce their own carbon footprint, and b) lobby politicians to let them know that this is a matter we care deeply about.

In terms of getting that message out, it's been a spot on success. Everybody certainly knew the event was happening, and it's kept the climate change issue very much top of the news agenda recently, where it otherwise might not have been - what with all this terrorism and stuff going on a the moment. Indeed, the controversy around the whole event has probably helped. Whilst everybody is debating whether it's right or not, very few are arguing that a reduction in CO2 emissions isn't necessary. And all this debate just keeps reminding people of that need.

Above all, this is a situation that desperately requires some action. Somebody needed to do something. The Live Earth organisers have got off their backsides and done something. What thanks do they get? A bunch of Daily Telegraph readers telling them they're pretty much solely responsible for climate change themselves. Which is unfair, and a really quite awful considering the effort they are putting in. If you haven't done anything, then they are better than you. People who are cynical about such things are, in my mind, tossers.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

smoking ban update

Well, that was a bit of a panic over nothing. Having worked the last three nights in a busy city centre bar (i.e. the last night of smoking and the first two nights of the ban) we have in total had to ask one person who was just lighting up not to. At which point they apologised profusely for forgetting. No need for bars to complain about losing trade either, last night was really busy for a Monday night.

Plenty of people seem to be taking it as an opportunity to give up the tobacco as well, which is great. Some people do disagree with the ban sure, but most - smokers included - seem to be all for it.

I'm working all this weekend which should be the first real test of the ban. I imagine it'll be just as much of a non event.

damn all the racists

Okay: is everybody suddenly a racist nowadays? I often chat to my regular bus driver on Nottingham's #99 nightbus home, but I only just found out the other night that he's actually a big awful racist. And would vote for the BNP if there was somebody standing in his area.

After that time the other night at Cookie Club, I made damn sure to challenge him. Queue a 40 minute argument on the topic.

Stupid racists. Of course, his mind wasn't changed one jot by my assertions. Racists seem to be like that. Do me a favour please: if you're thinking about becoming a racist, please don't. It's a really really awful thing. Thank you.