Tattoo You?

Based on this article on BBC website and the research of Dr. Andrew Timming and various assumptions that can and are drawn from research regarding tattoos and employability.

I’m not really concerned with majority of the article. In many ways it’s a nonsense piece. However, there are some assertions made that require being put into some sort of perspective.

This passage from the section subtitled ‘Tidal wave’ is of particular note:

However academic Andrew Timming at St Andrews University, who has researched the role of tattoos in hiring practices, says a change in attitudes is inevitable.

“There’s a tidal wave of young people with tattoos these days and they’re not always going to be young.”

“Employers are going to have to accept that they’re integral to the fabric of society and accept that they may potentially have a place at work.”

 

The second comment is worthy of reading several times. Surely the BBC researcher/interviewer didn’t quite do their job as thoroughly as they should have? Makes Andrew appear somewhat confused in what he’s trying to say.

What’s even more ridiculous is the suggestion that tattoos have agency and a role to play in the action/decision making process. Are tattoos active? Let’s not try and gift them with some sort of power. The decisive power and choice lies with the people who have tattoos and those who decide against them or are concerned about the effect tattooed employees might have on their businesses. Are tattoos integral to the fabric of society? Perhaps that’s still a while coming.

A change in attitudes is inevitable, is also questionable. Yes, some attitudes change, perhaps soften around the edges, but someone who has a spider’s web tattooed on their face or CFC on their forehead, does not mean that they will be working for the Palace anytime soon.  We’ll have to wait for that revolution, regardless of what ACAS might say.

The final assertion in the section labelled ‘Missing out’, requires some examination.

In his research Dr Timming found there were some organisations where a tattoo might be deemed an asset – those marketing towards younger people, including bars and clubs or in the creative industries where it can be seen as a sign of original thinking.

 

Marketing towards younger people.  Are these the same people in the tidal wave of which some won’t even be young? Are those working in bars and clubs really going to spend a lifetime doing this job because of their tattoos?

The creative industries where it’s a sign of original thinking? Does that mean anyone who doesn’t have a tattoo is somehow lacking in original thinking? Really? The degree of modification, recuperation and absorption into the daily fabric is quite perplexing. A couple of propositions from Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle seem especially relevant and applicable here:

165 The capitalist production system has unified space, breaking down the boundaries between one society and the next. This unification is also a process, at once extensive and intensive, of trivialization.

and

172 … But the general trend toward isolation, which is the essential reality of urbanism, must also embody a controlled reintegration of the workers based on the planned needs of production and consumption. Such an integration into the system must recapture isolated individuals as individuals isolated together.

 

To my way of thinking, the recuperation, that this article is clearly an agent of, is generally presented by quite benign, non-threatening means. Slightly ‘fluffy’ newspaper articles, usually backed by some sort of research of a qualitative nature transformed into ‘numbers’ and attached to an illusory pretence of a scientific method. Humorous end of the news, light hearted pieces that everyone can chuckle about.

Essentially this is really an attempt to get everyone employed regardless of possible barriers or impediments and to create favourable conditions of reception and acceptance.

196 … meanwhile, from within the various disciplines in which structuralism has taken root, an apologetics of the spectacle is disseminated as the thought of non­thought, as an authorized amnesia with respect to historical practice. As forms of enslaved thought, however, there is nothing to choose between the fake despair of a nondialectical critique on the one hand and the fake optimism of a plain and simple boosting of the system on the other.

 

There are some marvelously, descriptive phrases here that really capture the working of the system and the promulgation of its ideology by unwitting agents using the scientific tools of the day to create the winning argument to create acceptance being disseminated by an official, authoritative outlet. I might well be using a very large hammer, in the shape of Debord’s text, to counter a ‘fluff’ piece but unfortunately this is a good example of the Spectacle at work. Ideology at its best!

Whilst the probable aim of this article is perhaps to offer solutions to ensure employment is maintained as much as possible and that exclusion, for whatever reason, is maintained at low enough level,s to ensure ‘full’ employment, one should keep in mind that whilst something might appear to have a sort of rationality, you should not confuse the things of logic with the logic of things.

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Why Markit/CIPS PMI is Speculative At Best

In reference to this news article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37274279

Why would the above article be of any use or news to either musicians and more importantly to economists who don’t do music? Well, here goes.

Before the introduction of barcodes and point of sales data, music charts were compiled by teams of researchers asking record store owners how particular records were selling/doing in their store that week. They were never asked how many units were sold. At best it was a guesstimate with no hard sales figures. Essentially a ‘quality’ was converted into a number, treated as an incontrovertible fact. Many records and artists received variously hued discs in recognition of sales of said items. Even the production numbers from record labels did not provide an accurate accounting of sales as record labels tended to press more than they sold, destroyed the unsold items and only reported the sold items. Doing this ensured that a record didn’t look like a ‘dud’!

Once hard data items were deployed using point of sales systems i.e. barcodes, the landscape of the music charts changed. Arguably streaming brings a whole other dimension into play but we’ll leave this for another day.


So what does all of this have to do with the article anyway? It struck me when reading it, and researching very quickly how the survey is compiled, that it is very similar to telephone researchers phoning up record stores and getting a less than accurate response back that is then converted into numbers to be treated as hard data that results in an improvement in the UK economy that results in a positive forecast of growth. If ever economics wanted to be a treated as a science then this piece of chicanery is a piece of arch deception.

Plainly speaking, it is a company (Markit and CIPS) ‘innovation’, PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index ) whereby they create a tool of impatience and charge you for the use of it whereby hard data is fed back to all interested parties resulting in one of three positions:

  • Positive – improvement in the economic outlook
  • Negative – a downturn in the economic outlook
  • No Change – better than the previous forecast but potential a downward trend

So what is the score required to result in a positive outlook? 50! Achieving a score better than 50 can improve the economic outlook of the country, improve currency value and growth predictions. The opposite, rather like being downgraded by credit agencies, can result in negative effects.

However, let us be clear, this is wholly based upon a business manager’s subjective opinion of how well their business is performing. It’s a tool of impatience and therefore a tool of false economy, because, allegedly, the real hard data arrives too late to be of use, so they end up creating something that is an impression at best and not real. Huh??!


Economics is illusory. It deals in a sophisticated and elaborate illusion of science and data mixed in a way that they should not have. Even the economist Fredrich Hayek had this to say about data:

But Hayek pointed out that the data are not “given.” The data do not exist, and cannot exist, in any one mind or small number of minds. Rather, each individual has knowledge about particular resources and potential opportunities for using these resources that a central planner can never have. The virtue of the free market, argued Hayek, is that it gives the maximum latitude for people to use information that only they have. In short, the market process generates the data. Without markets, data are almost nonexistent. Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

 

It could be argued that Markit/CIPS and their PMI survey are the free market but they are a bureaucratic instrument masquerading as free market agents. When they created the reporting mechanism they created an instrument that is very ‘Statist’. Secondly, by sampling the thoughts of businesses they could argue that they are operating mindfully of the ‘small number of minds’ and gathering data of a ‘market consciousness’. However the problem is already apparent when freedom/freewill is removed by the publication of this data. What in truth happens is that the qualitative views of business are transformed into numbers that affect the stock market that ultimately leads to affecting the Nation’s Financial health, prosperity and growth. Clearly not what Hayek was advocating and why this is a bureaucratic instrument rather than a business tool.


The key problem here is that Markit/CIPS and all the industry commentators must allow the illusion to exist without question. They do not realise the degree to which they are agents of the State rather than free market agents. If this were so then they’d behave in a more renegade/independent/radical fashion, for example, as George Soros or Warren Buffet et. al rather than in this ultra conservative herd mentality. In many ways they operate like A&R men where the classic joke punchline is:

I don’t know, what do you think?

 


In the end what should you do? In the absence of any other valid and possible game being played or system of measurement based on fact, you are going to have to rely on some bloke’s opinion of how his business is doing and that opinion being converted into data which is then used to determine your nation’s fiscal health and growth for the coming quarter. It’s an abstraction rendered as truth delivered by an illusory mechanism masquerading as business intelligence. An oxymoron if ever there was one. What we have here are risk averse people attempting to create as much false security as possible whilst profiting from the use of their tool, purchase of reports etc. Unless everyone chooses to reject it which is never going to happen.


All we are left with is a subjective personal opinion/impression that leads to a nation embarking on the roller coaster of uncertainty being navigated every quarter with no relief from the constant chatter of those who seem to not grasp what they’ve signed up for. File under: Intelligent for all the wrong reasons!

What’s Up With Dance Music, Steve Albini?

Listen to the tune:

OK, so I found this and didn’t really like the underlying message. Everyone can and should have an opinion but an opinion should not be viewed as a universal truth. The pseudo-scientific approach employed by Albini is questionable on a number of levels and this is exacerbated by the unchallenged access given to his diatribe by Mary Anne Hobbs and the BBC. I think we should be in a suitably enlightened position, particularly ones as experienced as Albini and Hobbs, to forego the ‘my music is better than your music’ merry-go-round.

I believe Albini to be so wide of the mark as to make the quintessential mistake of many by narrowly constructing music based on their own taste. In many ways Albini will probably claim some ‘punk ethos/methodology clap trap as giving him license to make such sweeping statements masked as unbiased thinking. It’s not. What Albini has perpetrated is an argument that is often presented by those of the high music art world against all popular music. These are the twin arguments of enrichment and impoverishment. In short, popular music (constructed to include folk, jazz and all other genres and sub genres including those that Albini is a part of) is not sufficient as a form or practice to be considered enriching and you need to listen to things that are ‘better’. In many ways Albini has played into the establishment ideology that continues to erode music making in schools and music making as a social practice. Clearly not one of his better days but also not a great day for the Beeb and Mary Anne Hobbs. In many ways one could sum it up using a Boards of Canada album title ‘Music Has The Right To Children’. Albini doesn’t like the ‘offspring’ but Music is a constructed and deterministic act whether conscious or not, artistic or economic. It’s use value is one that is determined by the listener and not necessarily just by an authority (authoritarian??) figure.

My response could have been one of anger and ranting at the injustice of it all. Instead I decided to put it in a piece of music. I submitted it to Fresh On The Net and to my surprise it got accepted and is on the listening post. Thank you to Louis Barrabas for his review and eloquence.

Also thanks to Steve Albini for the rant and the degree of ‘sprechgesang’ that seems to be a part of his speech pattern. I did very little editing of his speech in general. The bassline for the tune comes from his ‘specifically, for dancing’ section of the recording. As such this demonstrates an interesting internal correspondence between the music and his speech.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the tune and, more importantly any thoughts that might come up as you try to navigate the world of music and consider the politics of taste.

Cheers