Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Half formed ideas...

Yesterday I admitted to being pathetic and not blogging because I didn't have anything I felt worth saying.

Today is a new day and I thought I would relish the fact that I am not a politcian. One of the things that frustrates me most about politics is that it tends towards the mean. Unless you can keep the idea hidden or secret, anything that you want to do has to survive the polarising glare of the red top media. As a result many politicians develop the ability to avoid saying anything in case it is held against them.

The reason I celebrate not being a politician is that I am happy to admit that I am wrong. And coming up with half formed ideas and having them knocked down by people who know better is a brilliant way of learning (and this form of informal rapid prototyping should be at the heart of new approaches to learning design). It is better to take lots of small risks than to take a few very big ones.

Last week I had a fascinating conversation in the pub about our current economic gloom. It started off with the obvious and general, "Dear me, isn't it dreadful... Government doesn't seem to have a clue... Bloody bankers..." your everyday superficial and shallow comments.

Until someone said,

"OK, it's alright criticising Gordon Brown for putting our children's future in hock but what would you do?! Would you have let Northern Rock go down? Or HBOS?"

This was followed by a pause in which everyone actually thought about it (good start!). Then we ventured ideas, everyone contributed and things were batted about. And I learned a couple of new things.

My thesis was I would reinvent FDR for the 21st century and spend on major public works that were in the long term benefit of the country, major rail network, renewable energy sources to make the country energy independent, etc. Until it was pointed out to me that most renewable energy sources still cost too much: wave power doesn't work yet (see great article in the Economist), nobody in the country wants wind turbines in their gardens (an example of my favourite new acronym BANANA - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) and solar power takes 15 years to break even.

This being a conversation in a pub I immediately and shamelessly shifted my investment plan to nuclear power. I'm not one of those who thinks the way to save our planet is a return to pre-industrial society although it was interesting to hear James Lovelock (father of the Gaia hypothesis and exponent of using nuclear power) on the radio yesterday saying that it was all OK, the earth would survive and so would humans provided that about 6 billion of us die...

Interestingly, for the £12.5 the goverment gave away in the VAT reduction before Christmas, one could have built about 8 nuclear power stations.

So what would you do if you were Gordon Brown?

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