Essays and discussions

Review of 2007

It feels like 2007 has been fairly quiet year on the world stage. Potentially, the most important event of the year was the Bali summit, to try and develop a successor agreement to Kyoto. It remains ‘potentially’ because it ended with not so much compromise as a kludge to allow everybody to get out of it and claim to their electorate that they were supporting their interests. The US remains a roadblock to the rest of the world getting anything done, with the major developing nations using America’s lack of commitment to mask their own. And our own leaders in Britain are completely failing to, on the world stage, in this regard, although some efforts are underway at home. However, without global action, this local effort can only be meaningless.

I’m watching the events unfurling in Pakistan with interest, and some dread. Ever since Musharriff decided to impose a state of emergency, the country has seemed to be descending into anarchy, an impression not exactly helped by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Now her 19 year old son is to be made (joint) chairman of her party – something that looks somewhat dodgy from where I’m sitting.

In Britain, this was the year that, ten years after he promised Change, Tony Blair stood down as Prime Minister, delivering nothing of the sort. Well, perhaps I’m being too harsh on him, but how different can the country really claim to be from 1997? We’re seeing the same old political scandals as in the Tory era and the same complaints over the NHS and education system. And in many ways, we’re worse off – New Labour has made many changes in the name of ‘anti-terrorism’ and ‘national security’, stripping away our liberties one by one, all the time explaining that “the greatest liberty is that to life”. But what’s the point in a life that’s so constrained as to be practically worthless? And the much-heralded shift from Blair to Brown hasn’t had any effect either, except that Brown seems even more paranoid and secretive than Blair was, making Cabinet government seem further away than it has in decades.

2007 saw an election for the Scottish Parliament, and saw the Scottish National Party become the governing party – the first time that a nationalist party has been in government in British history, I believe. While I don’t agree with their ultimate aim of breaking the Union, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by their behaviour in government. Not only have they made pledges, but they’ve actually made a good attempt at keeping them. The only major one from the election that hasn’t been kept yet was the pledge to abolish the graduate endowment for university students. This year also saw a PR system used for local government elections in Scotland – something which brought coalitions into town and city halls across the country apart from two regions. North Lanarkshire and Glasgow. Even with a proportional representation system, Labour maintain exclusive control in Glasgow. I suspect they could put up a trained monkey and have it elected in this Labour heartland.

Possibly the most important thing to happen to me personally this year is that my job has changed. I’m still employed by the University of Glasgow, but my previous department, the IT Education Unit, was closed down (after an inordinately long process, of which you can read greater details here) and I was redeployed into Management Information Services, the University’s ‘internal software house’. MIS develops and maintains the University’s corporate information systems, including the student records system (WebSURF), the finance and payroll systems, the degree programme information system and the research project management system. Moving from ITEU to this was a massive leap. The former being a tiny department of which I was the only software developer, to a department where just about everybody does software development, or related work. It’s taken a couple of months, but I’m finally starting to get to know everybody (although there’s still a couple of faces I don’t recognise) and get to the stage where I can feel comfortable with people (read, try to sell them TBD ;) ). Oh, and being based in the main building of the University, we’ve got a turret! With its own spiral staircase. This makes me very happy.

The other major development in my life is that there isn’t one. My search for marriage continues. I’ve spoken to a couple of girls this year and met one, and although she was gorgeous, we just didn’t have enough in common to attempt a relationship – it was hard enough keeping a conversation going for the hour or two that I met her. I suspect that my parents and grandparents are going to want me to turn an eye towards India this coming year, but I’d rather spend another couple of years looking in the UK before I take that step. To that end, I’ve signed up for the Indian matrimonial site We’ll see if anything comes of it in the coming year.

— 30 December 2007

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