Rathergate Rumbles on . . .

It’s always nice when a comment points you to something you’d otherwise have missed. Al Dorman’s rather acerbic post here took me on a search across the ocean to a publication called Texas Monthly which has published one of the best examinations of the whole Killian memos/Rathergate debacle I’ve yet seen by Joe Hagan. Read it all here.

It’s a long article so if you’ve not the time then the upshot is:

— the Killian memos were dodgier than a 6 pound note

— there are holes in Dubya’s wartime record.

This latter point is something not even the staunchest Republican would deny and one day we’ll know where George W. Bush spent those missing flight hours. I suspect the answer involves a drink or two, his secret service codename was ‘tumbler’ after all. One other thing I took away from this article, as I pointed out in 2007, Dan is still bitter . . . very bitter and is planning more coal-raking in a forthcoming memoir.

e-Mail: to snoop or not to snoop?

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald claims that 40% of IT administrators snoop on their company bosses’ e-Mails. As one of the commenters underneath the article succinctly puts it regarding that statistic: ‘crap’. I’d have to agree — 40% is way too low.

In a previous life working for a large US multinational word got round my office one day that the new CEO’s e-Mail was wide open for all to see. Sure enough, I proxied in and the unfortunate boss — fresh from a stint as CIO of a major tech firm — had his technological pants down in front of the entire office. What did I find out? Not much really, although the number of e-Mails from friends and acquaintances congratulating him on his new posting and in the same breath asking him to use his newly-found corporate might to consider buying out their lame-ass startups was a real eye-opener. The breach was shut down pretty quickly but from then on, whenever a new exec joined the company we’d all automatically proxy in within a day or two of their start date and sure enough, full public access was often there. I learnt that a maverick former employee of the company who was being prosecuted for intellectual copyright infringment had countered with a claim of sexual harassment against a senior female exec. If you’d ever seen a picture of this guy you’d know just how ridiculous this was. We also saw that on a regular basis the senior HR guys were being notified about breaches of the e-Mail usage policy (basically employees forwarding obscene images to each other) . . . talk about irony. It got to the stage where we could tell how influential the IT guys thought a new exec was going to be by whether they indulged in their little e-Mail chicanery or not. I don’t know who in the e-Mail admin team was responsible but eventually it petered out and our faucet of information was squeezed tight.

Do I feel guilty about doing this? A little to be honest. I never used the information for personal gain although with a bit more knowledge about M & A I suspect I could have. But from what I know about IT staff I reckon whoever was opening up the accounts was probably doing it simply because they could and not for financial gain. IT support staff thrive on knowledge — knowing stuff that others don’t isn’t just cool it’s also directly related to your own marketability in the job space. If everyone knew how to install and fix e-Mail then there’s no point in having support staff right? A manager once remarked to me how easy it was to manage IT guys ; to reward them for a job well done they would simply send them on a training course or give ’em some techie book vouchers thereby ensuring they’d have the edge on their colleagues in the skills department. Money was never a factor he  said almost in disbelief.

This desire for one-upmanship gets to the heart of it. And if you’ve ever had a patronising support guy at your desk tell you not to bother your little head and that what he was doing was “on a need-to-know basis” then you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Rediscovered track of the month: Apr ’12

Tony Basil, Hey Mickey

The Wolfson Prize — a warning for the Greeks

The Wolfson Prize shortlist was announced today.

11-year-old Jurre Hermans’ entry for the Prize got a special mention & contains the following instructions to be carried out in the event of a Greek citizen trying to change his Euros for something worth more than a drachma (like perhaps the Malian centime):

So if a Greek man tries to keep his Euros(or bring his euros to a bank in
an other country like Holland or Germany) and it is
discovered, he gets a penalty just as high or double
as the whole amount in euros he tried to hide!!!

I acknowledge Master Herman’s erudition (especially in a second language) and salute his courage to enter the competition, but is it a sign of the times when a young lad from the most live-and-let-live liberal society yet known to man starts getting busy with the authoritarian diktats?

If my government had destroyed my country’s economy through decades of easy life spending then I’d be doing everything I could to try and preserve what tiny bit of value I still had.

The Greeks better start getting their affairs in order now . . they have exactly 7 years until young Jurre is old enough to become an MEP.