Friday, 30 July 2010

Blow for academies policy as only 153 schools apply
Why is this a blow? No one wants schools to switch for the fun of it, but only if they think they can do a better job by switching.

PS: Why are the self-serving attacks by a vested interest and by a politician from another party part of a "news" story.  I would like to hear what Labour's education spokesman, Ed Balls, has to say about how to make schools better. I have ZERO interest in reading what he thinks of Mr Gove. (Or rather what he says about Mr Gove purely to score political points.) There is no chance that his comments will help a single student - nor were they designed to do so. So why do we have to be bothered by them in this article?)

Before anyone goes all party-political on me, I have no interest in reading about Mr Gove trying to score points on Mr Balls, either. I am just fed up with reporting of self-serving attacks made by politicians trying to advance their own careers - I'd like to read about solutions they propose to fix problems facing the people of the UK.
'We need to talk to the Taliban'
The conversation might go like this:

NATO: It is wrong to use force of arms to impose your views on others, you need to be elected. 
TALIBAN: We can't get elected, even though we are right and the people are wrong, and we need the arms to fight against the oppression of the local warlords.
NATO: So if the local warlords are disarmed, you would disarm.
TALIBAN: Well no, we would then need the arms to keep thugs and criminals from oppressing the people - the central government can't or won't do that.
NATO: How about a joint police force with the local warlords?
TALIBAN: That would work for us: they can oppress the people economically while we oppress them religiously.
NATO: Uh, that wasn't what we had in mind. We thought the local people might elect their own leaders and the joint force would obey those leaders.
TALIBAN: That wouldn't work for us: we'd rather fight, thanks. See, we can't take orders from people who have a different idea than ours about what religion is supposed to be. The people must behave as we tell them to. Oh, and did I mention that elections are actually an anathema. People should not choose who leads, that is the province of Allah.
NATO: And Allah has chosen you to run things? What evidence do you have of that?
TALIBAN: Evidence? We don't need evidence, we have faith.
NATO: Ah, this talking is exactly going the way we'd hoped.
TALIBAN: We're getting a bit bored too. Couldn't you just buzz off home and let us use our guns to force people to live the way we want them to?

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The GM revolution in Britain's medical research laboratories
So GM mice, like GM crops, will save lives?
Nah, we don't want it - it has GM in the label.
State pension is not enough to live on, minister admits
Well of course it is not enough to live on. 
None of us paid enough into the state pension scheme to buy a pension large enough to live on.
What does the word "admits" mean in this context?  
Has any intelligent person in this government ever suggested that it was?

Florida Church planning to burn Qurans on 9/11
How Christian of them.  Inquisition anyone?
Gove welcomes atheist schools
Why not? One religion is as good as another.
I hope there will be no prejudice against Jedi schools, for the children of the fourth largest religion in the UK.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

New benefits system forces three-quarters of claimants back to work
I have a problem with this issue on several levels:

1) "were forced to take part in work schemes" 
forced at the barrel of a gun, or does "force" just mean the public's right to get something back for the money they pay?
2) "more and more people are being found 'fit to work' when in fact they are living with severe health symptoms and disabilities" News Flash: having a disability does not mean one cannot do meaningful and valuable work - implying that it does is a serious insult to the disabled.
3) "Charity campaigners warned that the official figures published yesterday by the Department for Work and Pensions showed the new system was wrongly concluding that seriously ill people were ready to work." 
Based on any evidence at all, or just a feeling they have? The "wrong" decisions, based on the appeal record, seems to be about 5% - a bit high, but it is a new programme.
Momentum For Senate Filibuster Reform Builds
The party in power always wants to kill the filibuster rule, the party out of power always wants to keep it. If, depending on the year, the filibuster is so vehemently opposed by both Dumbocrat and Retroblican, it can't be all bad.
Illegal Immigration Fingerprint Program Has Advocates Up In Arms
What? How dare they try to find out if someone arrested for breaking a law has also broken any other laws? Isn't that profiling or discrimination or something?
Evidence Of War Crimes In Leaked Documents
Evidence of war crimes by committed the Taliban? 
About time someone bothered to published that!

Wikileaks founder is a hacker fighting for freedom of information
And he doesn't care how many western troops and Afghan soldiers have to die to prove it.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Education Quangos: Who will monitor the curriculum now?
Hang on a minute. Does the government fund the Bar Council or the Law Society? How about the Institute of Chartered Accountants or the Royal Institute of British Architects?
If teaching is a profession, why should a Quango be regulating it - why isn't it regulating itself?
If the Department of Education doesn't monitor the curriculum, what do all those bureaucrats do all day?
Classical music venues: Not for the faint-hearted
"Why can't we have venues in which we can see natural light; hear music, thanks to good acoustics; enjoy decent sight-lines; feel close to the performers even when we are far away; go to the loo without queuing for the whole interval; and, crucially, breathe? 
Because you won't pay for them.

Julian Assange: Wikileaks founder is a hacker fighting for freedom of information

And he doesn't care how many western troops and Afghan soldiers have to die to prove it.

Whistleblower's leaked US files reveal state of Afghan war
WikiLeaks 'Afghan War Diary' Provides Ground-Level Account Of
Okay, a few more of western troops will be killed. A few hundred more Afghan troops will die. A few thousand more Afghan civilians will be murdered by Taliban "insurgents". 
     But what is that compared to getting a "scoop"? Well done, Wikileaks.
Burka ban Tory MP could face legal action
      The cited Equality Act 2006 does not apply here as it "prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of a person’s religion or belief." No religion dictates the wearing of niqab, burqa or any other mask (though some perverters of the faith may pretend theirs does).  
     Let us suppose that there is a country where it is the custom for women to cover their hair and dress modestly in public.  When I am there, I could:  1) Respect the local culture and encourage my wife and daughters to wear a suit or a dress and a head-scarf   2) Disrespect the local culture and encourage my wife an daughter to go bare-headed in shorts and tank tops as they would in their own culture.   Which do think is the civilised way to behave, which the rude pig approach?
    I oppose a "ban" on burqas: the state's coercive power is not appropriate here. It is not for the government to legislate on civilised politeness versus rude boorishness. And yes, any Muslim female may behave as a rude, culturally insensitive, boorish pig, ignoring the local culture, if she chooses to do so. As can any person of any faith. 
    Some argue  that it is not anyone's business to decide what a given religion does or does not require: if the practitioner believes a niqab/burqa required then that is not only her choice but, because her belief is "religious," it is a choice that should be protected from any discrimination.
    I would be careful about allowing anyone to determine what their religion says is "necessary" and then giving that dress or behaviour special protected status. What, for example, if skinheads declare that their branch of Christianity requires the wearing of large swastikas? Granted, the state should not legistlate against this, but should it be given specially protected status?
It's Time to Inoculate Ourselves Against Slander and Falsehoods in the Media
Slander and falsehood will always be a part of the media, simply because it is easier way to illustrate a point than finding a true story to do it.   With the main goal to score headlines and grab votes, as opposed to enlightening the audience/electorate, making stuff up is the lazy reporter's/politician's route to success.  Quite often, even being found out doesn't matter: lying journalists and politicians gather a following because they speak to what their audience wants to hear.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Gulf Oil Spill: BP Tries To Block Release Of Oil Spill Research
Gosh, why would BP want to do that? After all, the media always treat them totally fairly and no one in America would ever sue deep pockets just to get some money

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Why does Citizen Service sound so sinister?
It doesn't sound sinister to us here in the Ministry of Truth.
Equitable report short-changes victims, claim campaigners
Oh dear, I put my money in the wrong fund. It went belly up. 
You should give me some of your money so that I don't lose anything. 
Yes, that would mean a loss to you - so what?
It is no good squealing about dodgy borrowers who cannot get bank credit
Why should the banks lend to UK businesses and home buyers? They can borrow from the government for next to nothing and invest in emerging markets for a much fatter return than UK lending will bring. And they can argue that, since the government has raised their capital reserves ratios, they don't have the money to lend.
No Burkas in the Boardroom
The use of state coercive power to dictate dress is inappropriate. But public opinion was high in reaction to the niqab/burqa wearers blatant disrespect for the local culture. France is a secular country that values gender equity. A couple in France with the man in khakis and a polo shirt while the woman is in a niqab/burqa is the equivalent of a western couple in Saudi both wearing short shorts and tank tops, or wearing leather strides to a party hosted by Jains: it is a deliberate insult.  It says: "Dear France: I spit on  your customs and your values and your people."
Sow the Seeds of Long-Term Growth
I was with you right up to: "more education spending at secondary, vocation and bachelor-degree levels, to recognize the reality that tens of millions of American workers lack the advanced skills needed to achieve full employment"
     Throwing more money at education will NOT fix this problem. We lack the skills because parents and kids view real skills (science, technology and math) as "too hard" and choose not to study them. America says it wants kids to be ale to compete in the modern world, then sends them off to get a degree in liberal arts or media studies. "Want fries with that?"
Venezuela Severs Diplomatic Ties With Colombia
Why would he want diplomatic ties with people he is funding guerilla mercenaries to kill?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


Forcing [Sherrod] to Resign was the Right Call, Agriculture Chief Says
Hey, David Howard aide to the D.C. Mayor, had to resign for using the word "niggardly" to describe a budget. 
Sherrod is just another in a long line of victims of super-sensitive political correctness. 
She should have known that most journalists do not have an attention span capable of listening to her whole story.
Iraq invasion 'increased terror activity against UK'
Doh!  Who'da thunk it?  You mean attacking folks who think disagreeing with them is a reason to kill you made them try to kill us?  Gosh.
Shirley Sherrod Confesses Her Racism to NAACP
This article by Bob Ellis is a deliberate lie.
The author KNOWS that she went on to say the incident taught her that her attitude was wrong - it wasn't about colour it was about poverty and, as white small-farmers were in just as bad shape as black ones, that she owed him as much help as any other.. In other words, the point of her story is that this incident made her become less racist not more.
In other words, Bob Ellis is a liar.
After Iraq And Afghanistan: More Of The Same -- Or No Thanks?
Lessons learned:
1) We cannot protect women in other countries
2) We cannot protect religious freedom in other countries
3) America has no stomach for sacrifice, even in the cause of freedom
4) A corrupt regime can undo twice as much good as troops can bring about
5) It is tough to sell " my corrupt and oppressive war lord is better than your corrupt and oppressive war lord"
6) It is tough to cut and run from a country we have stuffed without egg on our faces
But what if the Big Society doesn't work?
Oh, it might not work? Well, let's not try anything then.
    If we do want to try it, here are some suggestions for volunteers in the "big society" - things we should be doing for ourselves.
Criminal Justice
   Neighbourhood Watch
   Red-Beret-type vigilante groups
Healthcare
  GP receptionists and form-fillers
  Hospital form-fillers, cleaners and bed-pan emptiers
Environment
  Litter Pick-up teams
  Litterer thumping teams
Education
  Teachers aides (with the power to report bad teachers)
  School Cleaners
  Drama, music and sports coaches
  School librarians, indeed all public libraries
Banking
  Executive Remuneration Committees
Business
  Volunteer checkers (reporting to a Consumer Watchdog with teeth that is paid for by fines on violators)
The Big Society: a genuine vision for Britain's future?
This ain't gonna work, Cameron; this idea that people should do something for themselves.
  We want more government services, not less.
  We want less taxes, not more.
  We don't care if this bankrupts our children.
Stop asking us to be responsible.  All we ask of government and society is to make others give us the things we want and get someone else to pay for them.
Tories use terror laws to rush Academies Bill through House
Oh no! A government that actually wants to do something. "Very courageous, Prime Minister," as Sir Humphrey would say. Why can't the Coalition be like other governments: put this idea out for study, then water it down to just fiddling around the edges. Don't they understand that we want improvement, just so long as there is no change?
Letters:Slow progress for Haiti"the world had left Haiti before this catastrophe, a country largely ignored by the international community"
      What utter nonsense: the international community has been pouring massive amounts of aid - both cash and people - into the country for two decades. The Haitians squandered it.
Bar chairman backs calls to reconsider drug laws
Oh stop being so sensible, Nicholas Green. 
So what if the "war on drugs" doesn't work and makes things worse rather than better.
It makes us feel righteous.
The glass ceiling smashers
As my wife, who had a pretty successful career, would say: 
""Well the ceiling is glass, after all. Stop whining, smash it and step on through." 
She asks me to add: "An important tenet of feminism is that women have an equal right to be as mediocre as they choose."
Cameron's Big Society attacked as 'a cover for spending cuts'
Who is attacking? To what end: ours or their own?
The headline comes from 7 pars down in the story, which tells you where the media's bias lies. Okay, in this case The Independent's bias, but most media would try to get you to believe that the attack is the story; not the issue the alleged attack is about.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Leading article: A proposal worthy of exploration
Pretty good social engineering here: penalise the most successful, reward the least.
We face profound change – and it's not only China that is mapping the path
A cogent reminder. We see people on 6,000 a year as poor; the rest of the world gapes at us in amazement. They see 6,000 as middle-class and movin' on up.
Ellen Barkin - Still a natural blonde thriller
She gets 6.7 million a year for being married to Ron Perelman and folks are getting upset about head teachers getting 150k? Interesting set of priorities, that.
At least 17 school staff earn more than PM
Well, let's see. He has 430 kindergartners (sorry, Parliamentarians), 23 teachers (ministers), 6 teaching assistants (ministers attending cabinet) and a raft of student prefects (junior ministers). The scandal is not that 17 make more, the scandal is that MOST headteachers are not paid as much as the PM.
This genie won't go back into the lamp
Religious nuts and puritan book-burners are around in every culture. One test of civilisation is how much they are pandered to.
Leading article: The right to the wrong opinion
Fred doesn't agree with me: let's ban him - or at least ban any publication where he can state his views. Why not take the way of the Taliban and other jihadis - just kill him?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Root of Economic Fragility and Political Anger
by Robert Reich: Former secretary of Labor, now Prof. at Berkeley
Robert: The percentage of wealth concentrates in the top hands precisely because those at lower levels over-borrow: those at the top have the money to lend and the firms that supply the goods bought with the borrowed money.
   After the crash, the top 1% lost the income share they had built up prior to the crash due to default, business & bank collapse and swinging rates of income tax. Having learned their lesson in the 30s & 40s, the top 1% now have the government working hard to ameliorate all three. So it is unlikely that they will lose as much of their disproportionate share this time

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

If public spending is behind the recovery, what happens when we cut it?
Well, I suppose we will just have to get on with the recovery ourselves, without borrowing from our children. Reminds me of a piece from Haiti last night. A church group said: after 6 months no one had rebuilt our church, so we decided to do it ourselves. Both there and in our economy: 'bout time.
Union slams head teacher's 'outrageous' pay deal
Remind me again, how much do the Union heads get paid?
A footballer gets several million, as does a talk-show host, but a head teacher is not worth 200k? 
Are our priorities a bit skewed, here?
Another Katrina Myth Busted...by Science
"...almost every piece of information spread about the event by the national media has turned out to be, to use a term of journalistic art, wrong."
Yes, but isn't that normal? The purpose of the media is to sell products, not to tell the truth. Much media falsehood is not even lies, simply the result of lazy and ignorant reporters who can't be bothered to check on the facts and who reiterate what their colleagues say as received wisdom. It is a small minority who publish knowing their facts to be wrong, just so they can increase their own notoriety and sell more soap.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Did the media help to pull the trigger?
True, Johann, they did. 
Worse, in the larger scheme of things, the media help lower the tone of our politics by covering nearly every self-serving attack made by a member of one party on a member of another. The media know that these attacks will not help the electorate, they know that these attacks are made solely to advance the career of the attacker, and they know that the effect of a continuing media diet of such attacks is to lower the public's respect for politicians while increasing anomie and political apathy.

Why do they persist, knowing all this: because it sells copies/air time and they do not actually care about the country, only about their jobs and their profits.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Common to defence spending throughout Europe: if it is too costly, let the Americans do it; then whine that they aren't doing it they way we would if we were willing to pay for it.
Time for action [on Israel], Mr Obama
Typical British: we broke it, someone else should fix it.
I know!  It should be the job of America, the country where the pro-Israel lobby donates more money to politics than Wall Street and Big Oil combined and the pubic think the anti-Israeli lobby is out to bomb and kill them.  They're the most likely to be able to clean up the mess we made, aren't they?.
Nearly 70 graduates for every job vacancy
Well, then, it should not be difficult to redress the gender gap in the teaching profession. 
Using affirmative action, we could hire males only this year.

Monday, 5 July 2010

What really happens when the UK deports failed asylum-seekers
How should a person who violently refuses to abide by the law be dealt with?
It is a question that must be answered if we do not wish to say that anyone who claims asylum can stay in the UK forever as long as they struggle violently when their claim is denied.
Schools must 'gird loins' to get rid of bad teachers
Parental indifference make your students inattentive and unruly.
Government rules and regs make it difficult to control your unruly students.
Government rules and regs make it difficult to remove your bad-teacher colleagues.
Government rules and regs make it difficult to provide your students with an education beyond an ability to pass tests.
     It's a wonder anyone who is any good stays in the profession for even 5 years.
And the bad teachers will work their ticket when they see the sack coming - going off sick and/or filing bullying charges against the head (pity the head can't file a counter claim of harrassment by malicious complaint.  Even moving bad teachers away from pupils to some other job can draw "constructive dismissal" claims. Following the ACAS rules to the letter is crucial, as is being prepared to wear costs three or four time the bad-teacher salary to thread the legal process. Many heads decide the money is better spent elsewhere. 
    Opening an Academy is one way to do it: bad apples from the old school can be weeded out in the application process.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

White House Salaries Released
Terrific! Now I know how much CJ and Toby and Donna got paid. Helps a lot. Thanks.
Let's assume the over-100k folks have an effective income tax rate of 30% - 
at least that portion of their wages is paid by someone who thinks they are doing a great job.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

BBC's new pay policy 'could spark media war'
Max Clifford is right: if you build someone on a pack of lies and those lies get exposed, your credibility is damaged. Not only does the person you lied about get hurt, your lies about others will be discounted too. It's just a bad world, isn't it Max?

Friday, 2 July 2010

Arizona Police Already Feeling Pressure From New Immigration Law
This law is not difficult to enforce without being racist. 
A cop stops a car for some legitimate reason. The first thing he asks is "May I see your driver's licence and registration please." Licence presented: no probable cause to ID anyone else. Licence not presented: time to wonder and investigate further.
How Goldman gambled on starvation
Nice to blame all on GS, the scapegoat of preference today, but it was your and my pension fund doing the buying right alongside the banks trading on their own account. I did not read of you protesting while you and I were benefiting from the trade.
Yes, GS and the big banks are guilty, but so are most of us.
The Victorian roots of a very British ambivalence to immigration
Immigrants should be welcomed on a simple set of criteria:
1) will they benefit to the country, economically and socially 
2) will they accept British cultural values (equality of the sexes, rule of law, fair play, etc.)

The tests are then simple:
1) What work will they do?
2) What efforts have they made and will they make to adapt to our culture (learning our language, adopting our dress, etc.)
Meryl Streep takes on her toughest role: the Iron Lady
"Thatcher ... is likely to have considerably less singing and dancing than [Mama Mia]."

Darn! No cabinet meetings, then.
Scientists discover what makes us live longer
"there should be a public debate on the ethical implications behind such testing"
There are NO ethical implications in the testing, but some fascinating ones in how results are used: health insurance, pensions, annuities and retirement age, for a start.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Talking to Terrorists
Thoughtful piece and undoubtedly correct, if difficult for politicians to follow in practice. Had a British general or politician proposed talks with terrorists Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain boys in 1776, they would have been out on their ears.
      It is particularly difficult when the terrorists in question practice "asymmetrical warfare," attacking soft civilian targets that little to do with the issues and even less ability to defend themselves, simply because they are easy to hit. For all their faults, the ANC and the IRA usually tried to murder people directly involved with the conflict, in preference to just blowing up anyone who happened to be at a crowded marketplace. 
     In other words, it is the tactics, rather than the goals, that are so reprehensible as to make talking difficult. (Of course you are right about Al Qaeda: their only goal is to destroy western society. The Taliban goal: forcing all Muslims to live as the Taliban say they should, is not much better.)
Graham To Kagan: It's 'Disturbing' You DIDN'T Have An Agenda
Yep, that's the problem. People want judges with agendas that are the same as their own. Impartiality is good when it comes down on my side and evil when it goes against me. In effect, Graham is saying "I want judges to be partisan."     He, and politicians like him, say this because their entire world is lived and measured by political power: ether my lot is "in" or the other lot is. You are either with me or against me. That this is not good for the nation or its citizens is seen as irrelevant.