robin hood's very merry bankers

What does everyone think about this Robin Hood tax. Call me a cynical sceptic, but if this tax is made law, I can expect just about every bank to find a loophole, transfer all their trading arms overseas and put two fingers up to their customers and the government.

Given their reluctance to forego their vast bonuses for a job incredibly badly done and not even turn a well coiffeured forelock at the thought, how likely is it that they're going to become saintly philanthropists overnight? Not a chance. It is not those filthy rich rats who will be paying this tax, it'll be you and me who are going to end up paying it via megahiked charges, that's who.

It works well in theory. Banks pay a 0.05% tax on all their business transactions so as to raise (by the latest calculations) over £100bn pounds annually to further finance the NHS, education, global warming initiatives, and overseas aid.

Oh I can definitely see that happening. Yeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas.

The saving grace of the campaign, by my standards at least, is the casting of Bill Nighy as the banker in the campaign video. That at least takes my focus away from my lack of trust in the banking system for about three and a half minutes.


"infamy! infamy! they've all ..

... got it in for me!" Thus might Ms Pratt muse upon her swift decline from the dizzy heights of anti-bullying charity status, her Trustees swarming off the boat like rats off a proverbial.

Personally I have no reservations about her having stood up for herself in the past against people who thought they could push her around. It's not a stick to beat someone with, that they have done so; many in the Conservative party (oh and the Daily Mail - yawn - surprise) appear to think it's not OK to do it more than once. Surely the fact that she had to resort to making official complaints suggest that workplaces are not ideal and that bullying, racism, sexism and everything equally unacceptable still goes on despite efforts to eradicate them.

No, my gripe is her opening her big mouth and chewing up the people who sought help with bullying in the workplace, and who phoned her charity because they trusted the charity not to go public with the information. Opening her big mouth made the situation even more difficult for those employees - they went to her charity because clearly they weren't being helped at work. Opening her big mouth sabotaged the efforts of other anti-bullying charities, because now people are wondering if their worries will be made public too. Opening her big mouth showed she was prepared to put her own interests above those of the people who trusted her - thrown to the wolves is I think how the cliche goes. She betrayed people's trust and added to their existing problems. Then complains that Number 10 is bullying her.

If that wasn't bad enough, what's even worse is that she is going to release confidential emails (on the unpaid advice of Max Clifford) to prove what she's been saying. Nice work, Ms Pratt. Never mind the dread and the worry of those who confided in you, you're going to splash their names all over the press.

Nice work, if you're a Tory out to nail the Prime Minister. Oh come on, course she is - or at least, a Tory gopher.

I wonder if she is laying herself open to legal action, you know, breach of confidentiality and all that, and Max Clifford could represent them once he's tied up the loose ends with Ms Pratt. What an interesting thought.

Anyway, here's a nice little tome for Ms Pratt should she find herself without anything to read on the bus. The section on confidentiality will be completely new to her of course, but I always say you're never too much of an expert to take on new concepts and to stretch your horizons. If she just takes that section slowly, one word at a time, she could grasp the basic fundamentals.

As for the Trustees who have skipped off the boat, they might have done so a lot earlier had those emails about improper practices and capitalising on people's distress been acted on sooner. The employees who sought Ms Pratt's services might not now be chewing their nails and believing they can't trust anyone any more.

One dreads to think what kind of pressures they're going to be put under now at Number 10 from Human Resources, who should have been more "robust" (I planned to use that word at least once in this post .. ROBUST) in how they dealt with day to day pressures among staff. Disciplining managers ain't enough. You need to instill a working atmosphere that allows open communication and nip things in the bud before managers start bawling out their staff. Just a hint.

Photo: Laverrue under CC Att Licence

another star bows out - alexander mcqueen

It's a tough way to go. Who knows how things were. People don't last forever do they, and we all go at some point, whether by our own hand or courtesy of the old ticker that finally does its last tock.

People like McQueen add colour and vibrancy and inspiration if we have minds open enough to acknowledge it. He added spectacle, dash and in your face extravagence and he paid attention to the people he saw in the street and showcased them on the catwalks with his outrageous clothes. None of this fake mystique. He just grabbed ideas with both fists and flung them out for us all to revel in.

Wherever you are now, Mr McQueen, I hope they've got the antlers ready. Their gain. Our loss.

Just to remind ourselves of the man's creative genius and vision, here's a replay of the famous Kate Moss hologram from 2006.

who is writing college essays for money

What's with this growing trend for college students to pay freelance writers to write their college essays for them?

Why do some writers think it's OK to help someone cheat though their college course, deprive a student of the chance to learn or to deal with their coursework load or to get their college certificate or degree honestly?

Just recently there was someone asking for exactly this service on one of those freelance writing sites. Not only was this person a medical student but he had been caught out for plagiarism in his first effort at this essay and was now desperate to get someone to rewrite it for him so that it would pass TurnItIn. The onus, incidentally, was on the writer to access TurnItIn via the student's personal code, and check themselves that it passed 100%.

There are two issues here. The first is the ethics of the thing - cheating, lying and barefaced deception are being provided as a gift-wrapped service by someone calling themselves a professional writer. Professional? I don't think so. "Professional" means more than the fact that you earn your money writing. It also means a professional attitude towards the profession: following personal policies of honesty and integrity in one's writing, avoiding plagiarism like .. well, the plague, respecting the work of other writers by acknowledging sources.

The second issue is that clearly colleges are not keeping up to date with the students - why are students resorting to cheating? Is it that easy to hand in work written by someone else?

Are the students overworked? Are they trying to keep two or three jobs on the go as well as studying? Are they just plain lazy and want an easy way through their course?

Option three seemed to be that student's motivation. Given all the alternatives to cheating, i.e. talking to his tutor, asking for an extension, talking to the college counsellor, or writing the damn thing anyway, he said it was his choice to spend his money how he pleased and he wasn't bothered about doing the work as long as he could turn in an essay that would pass TurnItIn. This student, may I just remind you, is training to become a doctor.

Maybe colleges and universities need to check a little more thoroughly to make sure that an essay has actually been written by the student who handed it in. Isn't that rather easy, if you just ask a student about his sources and references?