Wednesday, 30 September 2009

EVENT: Whither welfare-to-work? IES annual public employment policy conference 2009

9-10 Portland Place
Oxford Circus
London W1B 1PR

12 November 2009
10.00am – 4.00pm
Public and private sector organisations : £130 + VAT
Registered charities : £80 + VAT

From 2008, receipt of out-of-work benefits was made conditional on completion of work-directed activities for virtually all claimants. However, circumstances have changed and the unemployment registers are now replete with people able and willing to work; people without inherent barriers to work and for whom the unavailability of jobs is the main problem. This conference will consider:
· How should welfare-to-work policies adjust to higher unemployment?
· Where will this leave harder-to-help groups?
· What lessons can be learned from previous economic cycles or from abroad?
· Looking ahead to years of austerity imposed by the public finances: where does welfare-to-work go from here?

EVENT: Moving towards the creation of the Skills Funding Agency

Dearing House
1 Young Street
Sheffield, S1 4UP

6 November 2009
Time: 2pm - 4pm
Cost: £99 plus VAT. Friends membership rate £89.10 plus VAT

Bobbie McClelland, Deputy Director, Post 19 at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, will be setting out the legal position of the SFA and its functions as it becomes established in April 2010. Of particular importance will be the implications for learners, employers, colleges and providers.

Contact information:
Name: Karla McLaren
Telephone: 020 7766 0010

EVENT: Increasing participation for young people: have we cracked the youth unemployment problem for 16-17 year olds?

Campaign for Learning
19 Buckingham Street
13 October 2009

Time: 2.30pm - 4.30pm
Cost: £99 plus VAT

Rob Wye, Director, Young Peoples Learning Agency, will be giving an update on the September guarantee for 16 and 17 year olds, the extent to which unemployment among 16-17 year olds will remain a problem, and the transfer of funding for 16-17 year old to local authorities. Tricia Hartley, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Learning, will chair the event. Following the presentation there will be plenty of opportunities for delegates to raise questions and discuss the issues.

Contact information:
Name: Karla McLaren
Telephone: 020 7766 0010

Monday, 28 September 2009

Making Citizens in the Classroom: ...

An Urban Geography of Citizenship Education?

an artilce by J Pykett published in Urban Studies Volume 46 Issue 4 (2009)


This paper considers the construction of young people’s experiences in city schools through a new curriculum subject, Citizenship Education, in secondary schools in England. It demonstrates how citizen identities are constructed through discursive practices in the classroom and are shaped by geographies of education. The place-based identities formed within urban schools both reflect and refute the inequalities inherent in the selective education system which pertains in many UK cities today. A discussion of the urban context in which the research was undertaken is followed by an analysis of empirical research in two schools in and around Bristol, south-west England. This explores the ways in which particular place-based subjectivities are actively and knowingly enacted by teachers and pupils in the classroom through their talk about what constitutes the ideal citizen.

Getting educated about tax


Full-time students pay income tax just like everybody else but research from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) reveals that more than half of the UK's 2.3 million university students don't realise this.

Read the full press release

Sunday, 27 September 2009

On the economics of controlling an invasive plant: ...

a stochastic analysis of a biological control agent

an article by Morteza Chalak, Arjan Ruijs and Ekko C Van Ierland in International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management Volume 11 Number 1/2/3 (2009)


Invasive plants can cause significant problems in natural and agricultural ecosystems. It is recognised that biological agents may assist in controlling invasions, but due to stochastic effects of biological control, the biological agent may not be effective. In this article, we analyse to what extent the stochastic effects of a biological control agent affect the optimal choice of control strategies to deal with the invasion of the Californian thistle in New Zealand. A stochastic dynamic optimisation model is set up that derives the path and combination of control options that maximise the expected net present value of returns from a pasture. The analysis focuses on two situations: a deterministic case and a second case in which the effect of introducing the insect Apion onopordi to reduce thistle density is stochastic. Although one would expect that the stochastic specification would lead to different results, we show that the stochasticity of the efficacy of the insect in this specific setting does not affect the optimal control measure adopted compared to the deterministic case. It is also shown that chemicals can be replaced as a control option by more environmentally friendly control options at relatively low costs.

Hazel’s comment:
Knowing how many gardeners there are in the world I make no apologies for posting this abstract that I happened across.

(Re)Analysing Community Empowerment: ...

Rationalities and Technologies of Government in Bristol's New Deal for Communities

an article by Julie MacLeavy (School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol) published in Urban Studies Volume 46 Number 4 (2009)


Urban regeneration is increasingly framed around notions of community empowerment. Policy programmes seek to make communities visible and then strengthen and support them through the establishment of a leadership role in urban regeneration practices. At first glance, this appears to be a positive development. Yet commentators note how community partnerships – seen to invoke a “rolling back” of the state – are indicative of a particular economic logic that is governing urban policy provision. Partnerships, it is argued, constitute tokenistic organisations that do not represent the diversity of interests within a particular area. Instead, they work primarily in support of business or government agendas. This paper re-orientates this critique. Focusing on one example of a community-led urban regeneration programme – New Deal for Communities in Bristol – it explores the subjects and spaces to emerge in and through this new form of governance. By identifying the manner in which New Deal for Communities composes all participants as partnering subjects, it posits community engagement as the medium through which power is being reconstituted in extremely comprehensive ways. It then questions the possibilities for developing and sustaining alternative forms of collaborative practice.

Emotional journeys: young people and transitions to university

an article by Hazel Christie (Edinburgh Napier University) published in British Journal of Sociology of Education Volume 30 Issue 2 (March 2009)


This paper offers an interpretation of the role of emotions in understanding the transitions that young people make to university. I draw on qualitative research with a group of non-traditional students, entering élite universities, to argue that youth transitions are emotional as well instrumental affairs. I argue that choice-making processes incorporate both trust in, and fear of, the transitions infrastructure, and that these emotions infuse more instrumental judgements about the economic benefits of higher education. I also demonstrate that emotional aspects of class – including feelings of entitlement to education and the rejection of normative student identities – constitute the experience of “being” or “doing” a student. A broader understanding of how young people become university students then depends not just on developing a new identity but on the complex interaction between emotion and infrastructure.

Ten trivial (i.e non-work-related) items

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Alberto Fujimori defeated evil in Peru. On the other hand, he used evil to accomplish it. Who is to judge? Whom to be judged? Theodore Dalrymple wonders... more

The Vivarium (via Blisstree » Arts & Crafts by Cyndi Lavin) is a treasure trove of digitised rare books, old manuscripts, art, photographs, and other objects of beauty and wonder, all made possible by two Benedictine communities in Minnesota: the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. Some of the treasures are located in private collections, and The Vivarium was able to secure permission to photograph and document them for the use of scholars and artists in the future. The Ethiopian Manuscript collection is one of these: the manuscripts and scrolls are located in private collections all over North America. Gorgeous illustrated texts, pottery, Syriac manuscripts and artifacts… there's just amazing stuff in this collection, all available online.

Six-potato gatling gun via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Here's a video and how-to for making your own potato six shooter. Family fun at its finest!
The Potato Gatling Gun

Ethics & Overuse of Cost-Free Resources via The Business Ethics Blog by Chris MacDonald
How much water does it take to make a latte? That's the question asked (and answered) in this cool little flash video from the World Wildlife Fund: How Much Water?. The answer: 200 litres (about 53 US gallons). That number is shocking, and it's intended to be. What the video points out is that each ingredient of the latte – from the milk, to the coffee beans, to the paper that makes up the cup – requires water to grow or manufacture it. But the video is a wonderful little piece of awareness-raising, and a good opportunity to highlight an economic concept that is crucial to understanding questions about sustainability.

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
“I’ll scarcely be persuaded that anything good can come from Arabia,” said Petrarch. Little did he grasp the depth of Islamic thought... more ... more

Food ingredients with hard-to-pronounce names are perceived as scarier via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
Patrick sez, “I'm a neuroscientist and I've written up in lay-speak a really fascinating little study I came across recently. The gist of the research was thus: people were presented with the names of fictional chemical food additives and asked to judge which ones they thought were more ‘dangerous’. What they found was that the harder it was to pronounce, the riskier it was perceived.”

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Looking for real adventure? Then stay off Mount Everest, where Base Camp now offers hot showers, Web access, TVs, and fresh strawberries... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Literacy, the most empowering achievement of our civilisation, is to be replaced by a vague and ill-defined screen savvy. All in the name of progress... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
W.H. Auden, E.M. Forster, William Empson, and Philip Larkin: four men who lived and died by, with, and for the English language. Steven Isenberg had lunch with them all... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The killer's blood was on the weapon, but a DNA search yielded nothing. Why not comb through DNA records to find the killer's relatives? Just might crack the case... more

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Employment Outlook 2009 Country Notes: United Kingdom

a recent publication from the OECD


The recession is slowing or even ending in the United Kingdom as well as in other OECD countries. This being said, the average unemployment rate for the OECD area reached a post-war high of 8.5% in July and may approach 10% in the coming months.

Unemployment has risen about as sharply in the United Kingdom as it has in the OECD area as a whole. The 2.6 percentage-point increase in the UK unemployment rate between December 2007 and the second quarter of 2009 is nearly identical to the average rise for the OECD area (Figure 1). The recent upsurge in unemployment has been much sharper in several other countries where the banking and housing sectors also suffered strong reversals, in particular Spain, Ireland and the United States. By contrast, the rise in unemployment has been modest in a number of European countries, including large economies such as Germany and Italy.

Readers can access the full version of the OECD Employment Outlook 2009 by choosing from the following options:
Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the online edition via SourceOECD, our online library.
Non-subscribers can browse or purchase the PDF e-book and/or paper copy via our Online Bookshop or order it from your local distributor.

[American] Careers advice in 140 characters

JT O’Donnell is the founder of, a site for career news and perspective for job seekers and young careerists, ages 18-40. Adding to the list of career services, O’Donnell devised The Twitter Advice Project or T.A.P., which would be a series of experts tweeting advice in response to questions posed by readers. All advice would appear in the @CAREEREALISM Twitter feed and users could easily see all the answers to specific questions.

“Can't be done,” said the experts. JT, as she is known, went ahead anyway and – it works.

I'm not sure how well it will work for UK users but some advice is globally applicable, some you have to do a bit of language translation (a resumé is a CV for example) and some is pure American.

Monitoring and Evaluating the Performance of the Labour Market in Scotland

Working Paper 18 from the Centre for Public Policy for Regions by John Sutherland


Given the Scottish Government’s decision to benchmark the performance of the labour market as one of the seven targets identified in its “Economic Strategy”, this paper examines how the performance of the labour market might best be monitored and evaluated. It recommends that, with some caution with regard to the need for frequent disaggregation. four indicators are used:
  • the activity (or participation) rate;
  • the employment rate;
  • the unemployment rate; and
  • the inactivity rate.
The paper proceeds to apply these four indicators to examine the performance of the labour market in Scotland over two periods: 1995-2005 and 2005 (third quarter) - 2007 (fourth quarter). For the latter period the performance of the labour market in Scotland is compared with that of the labour markets in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Finally, the paper employs two of these labour market performance indicators (the activity rate and the unemployment rate) to examine the Scottish Government’s “cohesion” aspiration.

PDF 35pp

Benefit Simplification

A publication from the Centre for Policy Studies (August 2009) which I would argue is essential reading for anyone involved in careers guidance or job-search or people advice or .... You name it you'll probably find it useful. Not a short read at 81pp but my skim through it tells me that it will be worth the effort.

Free PDF here or purchase hard copy for £10.

Oh that “they” would. No more trudging from Jobcentre to council office to HMRC to DWP and back round the loop again – whether actually or virtually – and getting different answers from each point of call. Personal experience tells me that it has, over the years, cost me a lot of money!

Friday, 25 September 2009

The effective use of technology in personal knowledge management: ...

A framework of skills, tools and user context

an article by by Raj Agnihotri and Marvin D Troutt published in Online Information Review Volume 33 Issue 2 (2009)


The objective of this paper is to further explore the emerging concept of personal knowledge management (PKM) and to bring researchers’ attention to this notion. Specifically, this paper aims to address issues related to the effective utilisation of technology in PKM practices.

A theoretical framework incorporating PKM skills, technology tools, user context and skills-tools fit is proposed. Arguments are built on the task-technology fit theory, which explores the link between technology tools and task characteristics (PKM skills).

The impact of effective PKM will depend increasingly on skills-tools fit.

Practical implications
The success of technology utilisation resides not simply in whether individuals use technology, but if this usage actually improves effectiveness. For their own benefit, individuals should consider and assess the technology tools in the context of how they will be aligned with specific PKM skills.

Proposing a conceptual framework of PKM, this paper suggests that the core focus is individual inquest, that is, the effort to discover, share, learn and explore through combinations of technology and information skills. The importance of the user's context in the PKM process is also discussed.

Urban Regeneration: ...

From the Arts “Feel Good” Factor to the Cultural Economy: A Case Study of Hoxton, London

an article by A C Pratt (London School of Economics) published in Urban Studies Volume 46 Number 5-6 (2009)


This paper seeks to examine critically the role of culture in the continued development, or regeneration, of “post-industrial” cities. First, it is critical of instrumental conceptions of culture with regard to urban regeneration. Secondly, it is critical of the adequacy of the conceptual framework of the “post-industrial city” (and the “service sector”) as a basis for the understanding and explanation of the rise of cultural industries in cities. The paper is based upon a case study of the transformation of a classic, and in policy debates a seminal, “cultural quarter”: Hoxton Square, North London. Hoxton, and many areas like it, are commonly presented as derelict parts of cities which many claim have, through a magical injection of culture, been transformed into dynamic destinations. The paper suggests a more complex and multifaceted causality based upon a robust concept of the cultural industries as industry rather than as consumption.

Hazel’s comment:
If you want to know more about Hoxton then there is a good (in my opinion) article on Wikipedia (where else?) here. Recommended as time-waster for those interested in history!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Blogs, news and credibility

an article by by Barrie Gunter, Vincent Campbell, Maria Touri and Rachel Gibson published in Aslib Proceedings Volume 61 Issue 2 (2009)


The purpose of this paper is to examine the emergence of blogging in the news sphere. If blogs represent a genuinely new breed of news provision, then they should adhere to some of the founding principles of mainstream news and journalism. A key principle in this respect is news credibility.

This paper presents a review of recent literature about news blogging and assesses whether news blogs manifest many of the core attributes of mainstream news and journalism. The review considers the attributes that have previously been identified as defining good quality news and competent journalism and then applies some of these principles to “news” blogging.

There is no doubt that blogs have emerged as news sources of increasing significance and there have been occasions when they can be influential in setting news agendas. The essential qualities of credibility and capturing public trust in the news sphere, however, often depends upon the established reputation of known news “brands”. Although some blogs have emerged as reliable information sources in some specialist areas, they have yet generally to assume the key characteristics of mainstream news that drive public trust.

This paper provides an up-to-date review of a topic that is rapidly developing and attempts to set out some foundations on which further analysis of news blogging can be constructed.

Who actually offers opportunities for non-formal learning?

Companies provide the largest part of non formal learning activities in almost all countries (where final data are available).
Link to the full article and to further information via

Thursday, 17 September 2009

via Prospero by R.B. | LONDON on 15/09/11

INDUSTRIAL art is thriving. The shortlist has just been announced for a new pylon design in Britain, a government-sponsored competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects. The finalists have all come up with possible replacements to the 1927 construction of Sir Reginald Blomfeld, which continues to march across the landscape barely changed (except a little taller). The winner is announced on October 5th and National Grid, the company that runs the electricity network, will consider whether to use that design in the future.

There are some interesting structures in the mix: one is a painted, lattice cylinder; another has slivers of steel pointing up to the sun. Others seem to perform the function—there is a Y-shaped offering, for example—albeit with a less-striking form.

My personal favourite in design terms, though, is a pylon that didn't make this list but won the 2010 Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture award. Called "The Land of Giants", it features huge lattice men who look as though they're carrying the wires across the landscape (pictured). It was designed by Choi+Shine Architects, and the images on the firm's site are simply stunning. A feasibility study was under way in Iceland to see if the figures could be used, but when things got a little tricky in the Icelandic economy in 2010, the project was put on hold. It's unlikely to thaw any time soon.

These designs all try to do something laudable: make the functional beautiful. The problem for pylons is that they're not really meant to draw the eye. They should be chameleons that blend in to the landscape rather than dominate it.

In other spheres that constraint is not so marked. In March 2011, for example, in a triumph of clever thinking, a new design of energy-efficient light bulb, called the plumen, won a British design award. The original Edison bulb was pear-shaped, built around an internal filament. Until now, in a prime example of path dependency, most energy-efficient bulbs have roughly assumed that shape.

What the Plumen's creators did was to acknowledge that the new technology was more flexible: the bulb they sculpted has intertwining swirls of light which seem to flow like a current. I suspect others will follow this thinking and energy-efficient bulbs may become a little more interesting over the next few years, even if they still take a while to brighten a room.

Reclaiming industrial structures for aesthetic purposes has been a trend in real estate for some time. On September 8th the Tate Modern, a London art museum that was itself once a power station, announced plans to open three new gallery spaces inside former oil tanks. The chambers, measuring 30m high and 7m wide, will show art for the first time in the summer of 2012, in time for the Olympics.

Things you can do from here:

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Who is Heading for Higher Education? ...

Young people's perceptions of and decisions about higher education

Peter Bates, Emma Pollard, Tom Usher and Joy Oakley (Institute for Employment Studies)
BIS Research Report Number 3, September 2009 PDF

This research explores the attitudes and intentions among young people in England towards higher education. The main focus of the report is the results of the longitudinal study of young people in England wave four, consisting of face-to-face interviews during spring and summer 2007 with around 11,000 young people predominantly aged 17.

Source: info4local 15 September
Hazel’s comment
At 169 pages it will tax all but the most interested in the topic and whilst there is an executive summary it doesn’t seem to cover the detail of the Research Briefs produced by the BIS's predecessor departments.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Automated stress detection using keystroke and linguistic features: An exploratory study
an article by Lisa M Vizer, Lina Zhou and Andrew Sears (Department of Information Systems, UMBC, Baltimore) in International Journal of Human-computer Studies Volume 67 Issue 10 (October 2009)


Monitoring of cognitive and physical function is central to the care of people with or at risk of various health conditions, but existing solutions rely on intrusive methods that are inadequate for continuous tracking. Less intrusive techniques that facilitate more accurate and frequent monitoring of the status of cognitive or physical function become increasingly desirable as the population ages and lifespan increases. Since the number of seniors using computers continues to grow dramatically, a method that exploits normal daily computer interactions is attractive. This research explores the possibility of detecting cognitive and physical stress by monitoring keyboard interactions with the eventual goal of detecting acute or gradual changes in cognitive and physical function. Researchers have already attributed a certain amount of variability and “drift” in an individual’s typing pattern to situational factors as well as stress, but this phenomenon has not been explored adequately. In an attempt to detect changes in typing associated with stress, this research analyses keystroke and linguistic features of spontaneously generated text. Results show that it is possible to classify cognitive and physical stress conditions relative to non-stress conditions based on keystroke and linguistic features with accuracy rates comparable to those currently obtained using affective computing methods. The proposed approach is attractive because it requires no additional hardware, is unobtrusive, is adaptable to individual users, and is of very low cost. This research demonstrates the potential of exploiting continuous monitoring of keyboard interactions to support the early detection of changes in cognitive and physical function.

Hazel’s comment:
I’ve heard of keystroke monitoring for checking access rights – apparently we all have a different way of typing that can be recognised by the machine at the other end of the wire – but this sounds an extremely useful tool for social agencies to check up on people without being constantly calling round to find out if they’re OK. And hey, this system might tell my GP when the osteoarthritis in my hand is really bad (even I notice the difference in my typing).

Monday, 7 September 2009

The knowledge pyramid: a critique of the DIKW hierarchy

an article by Martin Frické (The University of Arizona, Tucson) published in Journal of Information Science Volume 35 Number 2 (2009)


The paper evaluates the data—information—knowledge—wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy. This hierarchy, also known as the “knowledge hierarchy”, is part of the canon of information science and management. Arguments are offered that the hierarchy is unsound and methodologically undesirable. The paper identifies a central logical error that DIKW makes. The paper also identifies the dated and unsatisfactory philosophical positions of operationalism and inductivism as the philosophical backdrop to the hierarchy. The paper concludes with a sketch of some positive theories, of value to information science, on the nature of the components of the hierarchy:

  • that data is anything recordable in a semantically and pragmatically sound way,
  • that information is what is known in other literature as “weak knowledge”,
  • that knowledge also is “weak knowledge” and
  • that wisdom is the possession and use, if required, of wide practical knowledge, by an agent who appreciates the fallible nature of that knowledge.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

RETAIN Conference

Careers Europe Newsflash:

RETAIN Conference takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden from 22 to 23 October 2009

In most European countries drop out from education and training is a major issue. Young people lacking proper qualifications and exams have difficulties finding stable jobs and the risk of unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, is much higher among this group.

The RETAIN project is a 2 year project, funded with support from the European Commission, to identify innovative approaches to retention. The the project is developing a manual/hand-book for teachers, trainers, mentors and guidance counsellors and training sessions built on the manual/hand-book.

A conference to present the results will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden this October. There is no delegate fee for the conference (although delegates will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs).

For more information and to register see:

Retain is a project supported by the European Commission's Life Long Learning Programme

Saturday, 5 September 2009

LGA Analysis and Research Employment Digest

This monthly publication keeps you informed on the labour market, pay issues and trends and the economy in general.

The August edition of the Local Government Association Employment Digest reviews:High performing working: a synthesis of key literature (UKCES) Employment trends 2009 : Working patterns in the recession (CBI / Harvey Nash) Quarterly review of the ICT labour market (e skills)
Employment Digest August 2009 (PDF, 12 pages, 787KB)

Friday, 4 September 2009

The height of madness...

is how LGA Daily News (3 Sept) titles this story.

I'd simply say: “I don’t believe it” and I don’t want to but the LGA does not publish without checking.

Rochdale Council has scrapped a scheme which has seen council workers paid for an extra two days work a year for waiting to catch the lift. Stephen Harper, Rochdale Council’s head of human resources is quoted: “Flexible working and faster, more reliable lifts mean it’s no longer as relevant, so as part of our recent pay and grading review we’ve proposed that this allowance be withdrawn.”
Express p17, Telegraph p7, Guardian p12, Times p20, Sun p17, Mirror p19

I grovel!

I should have picked up this training from the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI) in July when it was first run. The second “showing” is this coming Monday – far too late for you to do anything about it.

I promise I will read CESI newsletters more carefully in the future.

Effective information, advice and guidance as part of successful employment and skills pathways for adults

This highly participative workshop will help organisations to understand how they can be at the forefront of this policy driver by helping you to develop practical ideas and actions that you can put into practice to bring results for your customers and business benefits for your organisation.


More information

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Ten trivial (i.e non-work-related) items

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Can dogs talk? Kind of, says the latest scientific research. But they tend to have very poor pronunciation... more

Photos of food and their sugar-cube equivalent via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder has photos of different kinds of food (both processed and natural) showing how much sugar is in the the food by displaying a stack of 4 gram sugar cubes next to the item.
(Via Presurfer)

India moves to patent yoga poses via In through the Outfield by Neil Infield

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The cognitive capacities that have made us so successful as a species also work together to create a human tendency for religious thinking... more

Friday Fun: Relieve Workweek Frustration Playing Mad Monday via the How-To Geek by Mysticgeek
Friday is here again and you’re frustrated at the pointy-haired bosses and the entire workweek in general. Let out that frustration with Mad Monday, a quick paced online flash game that lets you shoot vehicles and run them off the road. It starts out with a soothing image of a crazy maniac ready to do damage and hard rock playing the background. Mad Monday is a lot of fun with some over the top scenarios and loud music and sound effects that you cannot turn down in game options. You might want to make sure volume is very low or muted when the boss strolls around.

3 Funny Flash Games That Make Fun Of The Gaming Industry via by Simon Slangen
The gaming industry constantly changes. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse.
Until now, we’ve mostly read about these things on gaming blogs and in magazines, but a new medium is rising. Over the past year, a number of satirical Flash games have travelled around the world, from browser to browser. These games ridicule and take on some of the critiques on the current-day gaming industry. We’ve listed the three best and most famous of these games for you, and the messages they are trying to tell.
You Have To Burn The Rope (YHTBTR)
This game has made its parade around the internet, and was instantly loved by nearly anyone who played it. The concept isn’t too complicated – you have to burn the rope.
If you can’t figure it out, there’s a walk-through on YouTube here.
The Message
You get told everything from the start of the game. In fact, the game is even titled to spoil the solution. Why? It’s a pretty obvious satire – games are getting too damn easy.
Achievement Unlocked
Try to unlock all achievements in Achievement Unlocked. Have you used the arrow keys yet? Try jumping up and down. Woah, you’re the best! Unlock all 100 achievements and show the world who’s the (wo)man!
The game’s concept? Story? Why, you’re earning achievements, aren’t you? Have fun!
The Message
This game, released a few months after YHTBTR, continued the satirical approach of the gaming industry. By pushing it into excess, Achievement Unlocked ridicules the increasing focus on Achievements and Trophies in games these days.
Nephew of Achievement Unlocked, UPGRADE COMPLETE carries on the flag of cynicism attacks. The only problem – the game’s such enormous fun that you’d almost start doubting the point it tries to make.
The Message
If this game weren’t so darn fun, it would make its point perfectly. All this upgrading is simply ridiculous. Like Achievement Unlocked, it wags its finger at a peripheral system that’s playing an increasingly bigger role in games.
Alright, maybe after you’re done with making fun of present-day gaming, you’d like to play some “real” games:
The Best Online Flash Games
Top 5: Addictive and Challenging Web Games
MUO Games – The Best Websites to Play Flash Games
The Casual Collective – Fun Online Multiplayer Flash Games

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
It was a great moment in evolution and it changed our bodies and our minds forever: Drop food in fire, then eat it... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
For Simon Schama, the American story is a compelling one. New plot lines may now emerge, but we’ve known the central character for a very long time... more

Ink Calendar: paper that uses capillary action to fill in one day’s number at a time via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
Oscar Diaz’s Ink Calendar uses capillary action to suck ink across the numbers embossed on the page, one day at a time, gradually coloring itself in over the month. So cool.
(via Cribcandy)

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Stalin would kill not just you for the wrong thoughts: he would kill your family, down to the last child. Not even the Czar at his worst did that... more