July 25th, 2006

thoughtful

Dangers of blogging

I'm sure those of you who care about such things will be aware of the travails of La Petite Anglaise, the blogger sacked by her employers (the Paris branch of British accountancy firm Dixon Wilson) for, well, blogging. Most commentators have been pretty sympathetic, and so am I. She had never once identified herself or her employers on the blog, and never ever referred to the substance of her work (though did refer to two or three humorous work incidents, this supposedly being the cause of her dismissal). Most of her blog entries concerned life as an expatriate single mother, her relationships, and the usual stuff, told in a very human way. I am not a regular reader, but have skimmed from time to time.

There are lines between professional and unprofessional conduct that can be (and sometimes are) crossed by bloggers, and La Petite in my view stayed scrupulously on the right side of them. I'm delighted to read the analysis of French legal blogger Eolas (here and in more detail here) who reckons that Dixon Wilson don't have a hope in hell of winning the employment tribunal case she has taken out against them. The ironic thing is that she was sacked for bringing the firm into disrepute through her blog; in fact their sacking her has resulted in far more negative publicity, with articles in all the main British papers, than the blog on its own would ever have achieved no matter how vitriolic she had chosen to be.

One cannot help but feel, as Eolas put it (and I translate freely), that Dixon Wilson panicked at the discovery that a member of their secretarial staff had a) a private life and b) a brain.

There are better ways of dealing with this than Dixon Wilson's approach. About a year ago I disovered a blog written by an intern in a politically sensitive line of work, which talked perhaps a little more freely about the office environment than was wise. The line manager of the intern happened to be a friend of mine, so I took it on myself to mention the matter over drinks one evening; the relevant blog entries have now disappeared, but the intern got a full-time contract, so I assume that a request to take down the relevant entries was made and acceded to. That is what Dixon Wilson should have done; requested that the relevant entries be removed, and let her off with a caution. (Having said that, she might well have been within her rights in French employment law to refuse such a request, but it would have been a more sensible approach.)

And my advice for bloggers - switch to a system where you can post but lock your entries, such as livejournal. Though even then (as a recent incident on my f-list confirms) you have to take sensible precautions...
doctor who

The Evil of the Daleks

Spent most of this afternoon driving to the Ardennes and back, so finished listening to The Evil of the Daleks, the last story of Patrick Troughton's first season as the Doctor, and the one voted the Best Ever Doctor Who Story by readers of Dreamwatch in 1993. Only one episode out of seven survives on video, and I haven't seen it (yet).

I have to say that I was very unsatisfied with the plot of this classic story. The Daleks' plan to manipulate the Doctor, and the Doctor's attempts to manipulate Jamie, are both unrealistically convoluted as well as being very out of character. We never find out how the Daleks got photographs of the Second Doctor, whom they otherwise met only on the planet Vulcan, and of Jamie, whom they did not otherwise meet at all (unless you believe the Season 6B theory). (We also know that the first two episodes of Evil of the Daleks are contemporaneous with The War Machines, so the Daleks would have been better off trying to grab the First Doctor who was elsewhere in London at the same time.) When we hit the nineteenth century, Arthur Terrall's presence is not very satisfactorily explained, and the fact that he is a robot is just left hanging (or rather, Ruth is told to take him as far away as possible, as if this will somehow cure him of being mechanical). And it seems difficult to imagine that the Daleks are so bad at keeping track of individual units, however de-personalised they may be, that they simply lose track of the first three humanised Daleks. (The Discontinuity Guide further asks, "Why not just kidnap the Doctor and Jamie? Why does Terrall get Toby to kidnap Jamie? Since Jamie is so essential to Dalek plans, why are the traps set for him so lethal?")

Having said that, the acting is great, and it's clear from the BBC photosnaps that the series looked fantastic (Maxtable's beard!!!!!). It's also a really great idea to return to the Dalek City on Skaro (apparently the first time the Doctor had ever been seen to return to any planet except Earth). And I loved the Victoriana; I especially liked Waterfield's horror-filled explanation, "We had opened the way for them with our experiments. They forced me into the horror of time travel, Doctor" - sounded very HP Lovecraft! And the references to Poe were clear (and even at one point explicit). And Troughton is great, dominating every scene (and this partly accounts for the flagging pace of episode 4 when he was on holiday).

So anyway, more good than bad, but I'm very sorry not to have actually seen any of it.