Book Review of
Disciplined Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System That Shapes Their Lives
By Jeff Schmidt
ISBN: 0742516857

I had the great pleasure of listening to this book in audio format courtesy of Lyn Gerry who painstaking read extracts of the book on her radio show Unwelcome Guests.

If you want to listen to it you can download it here:

Schmidt, a PhD physics graduate who spent 19 years working for Physics Today, wrote the book in an attempt to highlight the reality of what the salaried professional experiences. He made it clear that he was focusing on the issue not because he believed that they deserved a higher standard of living to other workers but because he believes they are exploited in a way not usually acknowledged.
He demonstrates through his research that the professional undergoes an experience of a system that works to subordinates people who undergo professional training to the capitalistic ideology. While this may appear apparent to the average anarchist on the street, Schmidt goes further than just stating that it is done. He demonstrates how it is achieved, namely through exams, admission, constant assessment and advice, bullying, exploitation of labour, and what the results are – non-political professionals who are subservient to a system that controls their beliefs in an extraordinary way, depression and suicide, and a lack of professionals who are in solidarity with other workers within society.
He examines the image academia has of being objective, non-political, left wing and open to ideas and change and systemically challenges this idea and exposes it to be false. He particularly focuses on conservative physics departments who demand the time and commitment of PhD students without giving them the support and acknowledgment that would help them. These departments carry out research that is primarily funded by or serves the interests of the military or business and not the egalitarian aims of advancing knowledge or the improving human conditions.
He ends the book with advice on how to subvert the system, how to survive professional training with your values intact and techniques for furthering your own egalitarian aims. One of the main things he mentioned was the necessity of skill sharing. He comments that it is the role of the professional to demystify their role and the work they do and to do that they should share their skills – that is to give them away for free.
I would recommend anyone involved in any professional training system or postgraduate programme to read this book and then recommend it to others.
For more information visit:

Money Savers Unite

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a worker living in a capitalist society must be in want of financial advice. The big name to hit the web waves is Martin Lewis and he’s hit it in style. His advice on reclaiming bank charges was a big success. Now he’s top dog when a surfer goes seeking vouchers off and cheap deals. The site has now grown far beyond the remit of one man and a large cohort of money savers are dedicated to finding and disseminating the latest offers. This week alone I’ve renewed my Young Person’s Railcard for a mere £12 and got free International Youth Hostelling membership into the bargain all thanks to the site. I’ve passed on links for free eye tests and checked out the best deals in bank accounts on the market.
It’s not all roses: my main criticism of the site is that it pays no heed to ethical considerations – so as a consumer you have to approach the information with your own ethics and considerations at the for-front of your mind. My second comment is just a mention that the primary funders of the site are the links found on it. The site is open about this information and claims that the links would be there whether they paid or not. However links are always a consideration when you indulge in the ‘free information’ and usually I would be skeptical about a site like this but Lewis has won me over.
I’m such a fan not just because I like free things and good offers but because this site represents what I really love about the internet: communities and free access to information. The site is a real online community as money savers help each other out on the forums, check out offers and inform others of the good offers they’ve come across. It is this free and open sharing of information that I really admire on the site and it’s rare to find something similar in non-virtual world.
Visit money saving expert at:

Making the most of your money

If you’re budget conscious you might well have one of the many points cards for one or more of the large supermarkets. It’s as well to remember that for the most part these companies are extremely unethical and the cards are not designed to enhance the shoppers experience but to gather data on shoppers to help them run their business efficiency and market successfully. Generally the treatment of famers, buyers, other companies leaves much to be desired and of course the big names like Asda and Tesco use sweatshop labour to produce their cheap clothing lines. While as a shopper there may not be lot on offer when it comes to making ethical choices it might be worth patronising the little fair-trade and organic shops that have been springing up for peace of mind.
It’s hard to live without the supermarkets so my one of choice is the Co-op because they of all of the supermarkets really appear to trying to make a difference. If you want to collect ‘shopping bonus points’ then I would recommend the Cooperative Dividend card. You earn points for shopping with the company, for money invested with the bank, for mortgages you have and other things you purchase from the company. The best thing about the cooperative is that it’s ethical and you know that you’re not supporting the arms trade or animal testing by using their services. In the financial year 2005/2006 they turned away £10 million profit because it wasn’t ethical enough business.
You can earn a substantial amount of money and it’s easy to use their website to log on and find out how many points you have. They are also very efficient at answering their phones. Last year 1 point = 1.43p so if you have a saving account with the bank and use them to buy your nosh you could be quids in.

To check out these two ideas use the links below to navigate yourself there:

The Information Revolution

Typed up by a Geek

In this age of doom and gloom, climate change, war and poverty it may be some consolation to think about social changes in the light of technology. The technological age has brought us mass media but it has also brought us citizen media. The Internet in particular has facilitated an explosion of information access. Never before have so many had so much access to so much information! Sites such as Wikipedia have allowed the ordinary person to record and contribute to the knowledge store.[1] The rise in the use of blogs has allowed people to document their feelings, beliefs or activities publicly. Blogs, potentially more than online diaries, could be very powerful tools of information sharing.

One particularly good example of this trend is OhmyNews based in South Korea.[2] Started in 1999 the news website has grown in size and stature since. The number of full-time staff has grown from 35 to 53 and the number of “citizen reporters” writing for the site from 700 to about 26,700. Every day about 200 articles are submitted and over 1 million readers visit OhmyNews.[3]

The mastermind behind OhmyNews, Oh Yeon-Ho, explained that dissatisfaction and distrust with the conventional press, coupled with the individuals’ desire to talk about themselves, has made the news site very popular. He chose to set up his scheme on the Internet because it was a cheap and efficient alternative to newspapers. His motto that “every citizen is a reporter” has successfully promoted the idea of democracy and information sharing.[4]

The unprecedented rise in the popularity of online news services is perhaps partly attributable to the internet access the South Koreans have. About 70% of homes have high-speed broadband Internet access, far more than anywhere else in the world.[5]

The political influence of the site was apparent in 2002 when an American military armored vehicle ran down and killed two South Korean schoolgirls. The story, little covered by the mainstream press, was covered exhaustively by Ohmynews. One “citizen reporter” even called for protests, an idea which snowballed and South Korea saw some of its largest anti-U.S. demonstrations in years as well as calls for a review of the U.S.-South Korea military alliance.[6] The site also had an effect on the election of President Roh Moo-hyun, who in return granted his first interview to OhmyNews a few months after his election in February 2003.[7]

The site receives international recognition at the fifth World Forum on E-Democracy hosted by PoliticsOnline, as a global player instrumental in changing the world of the Internet and politics.[8]

OhmyNews is launching a site in Japan and possibly in Britain so we will soon have an acid test for our own citizen journalism, let’s see whether we can live up to the example set by South Korea.[9]




[3] Japan Media Review, 17.09.2003.

[4] Japan Media Review, 17.09.2003.

[5] USA Today, 15.04.2003.

[6] USA Today, 15.04.2003.

[7] Asian Times, 25.11.2004.

[8] Asian Times, 25.11.2004.

[9] BBC News, 04.05.2006.