January 31, 2007
Circa £30K plus benefits
We are looking for a driven, dynamic individual to take the lead in the Forestry Commission for all Diversity & Equal Opportunities activity and policies, to ensure their timely, pragmatic and successful implementation through the business.
Closing date: 25 January 2007
Too late! - with my degree in forestry I could have done that, and I know the Monty Python song by heart as well....
With Love from Italy
The Friends of the Amarone can be relied on to deliver mouthwatering recipes such as Stuffed Pork Tenderloin With Reduced Red Wine Sauce but today they have surpassed themselves...
Today, I would like to do a small gift to all of our male readers...hope that you enjoy it ;-)
Tax and Waste Brown
Gordon Brown will leave his successor at the Treasury a double whammy of £10 billion in tax rises and £10 billion in public spending cuts, a report from an influential economic think tank says today.
Since Mr Brown became Chancellor 10 years ago the total rise in tax revenue has been £40 billion or £1,300 per family, the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies found.
If, as now seems certain, Mr Brown succeeds Tony Blair this summer, his first years as prime minister will see not only the "tightest squeeze on spending" for a decade but also increases in taxes totalling £10 billion.
LONDON The number of police in England and Wales has fallen for the first time since 2000 with a warning from officers that budget shortfalls will bring further drops.
Crisis for families as 9,000 places at special schools cut
Nearly 9,000 places at special needs schools have been cut since Labour came to power in 1997, the Conservatives said yesterday. David Willetts, the Shadow Education Secretary, said that the figures revealed the true scale of the “crisis” facing children with disabilities and learning difficulties and their families.
Looks like Brown's legacy is already firmly fixed, before he even becomes PM...
January 30, 2007
Just getting next month's news ready....
The following is a transcript of the closed trial of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, as shown on Romanian and Austrian television.
The Ceausescus had fled their palace in Bucharest by helicopter.
The leader of the new provisional government announced their capture the next day. Two days later, the new government announced that the Ceausescus had been executed following a closed trial by a military court. ...
CHIEF PROSECUTOR: Esteemed chairman of the court, today we have to pass a verdict on the defendants Nicolae Ceausescu and Elena Ceausescu who have committed the following offenses: Crimes against the people. They carried out acts that are incompatible with human dignity and social thinking; they acted in a despotic and criminal way; they destroyed the people whose leaders they claimed to be. Because of the crimes they committed against the people, I plead, on behalf of the victims of these two tyrants, for the death sentence for the two defendants. The bill of indictment contains the following points: Genocide, in accordance with Article 356 of the penal code. Two: Armed attack on the people and the state power,
in accordance with Article 163 of the penal code. The destruction of buildings and state institutions, undermining of the national economy, in accordance with Articles 165 and 145 of the penal code. They obstructed the normal process of the economy. .
Esteemed Mr. Chairman, I have been one of those who, as a lawyer, would have liked to oppose the death sentence, because it is inhuman. But we are not talking about people. I would not call for the death sentence, but it would be incomprehensible for the Romanian people to have to go on suffering this great misery and not to have it ended by sentencing the two Ceausescus to death. The crimes against the people grew year by year. They were only busy enslaving the people and building up an apparatus of power. They were not really interested in the people. [Picture is cut off.]
After an outage of transmission of Romanian television, the speaker announces the verdict in the trial of Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu is the death sentence. All their property will be impounded.
Now how do I do a "search and replace" on the names.....?
Cash for Honours - hotting up
Labour's chief fundraiser Lord Levy has been re-arrested by police looking into cash-for-honours allegations.
He was questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and later bailed.
Who was it who said it would all blow over by Christmas? The net seems to be drawing ever inwards, it's the cover up that will do for them...
Today is the Red Letter Day of King Charles the Martyr
S.Charles's Statements at His Trial
"Remember, I am your King, your lawful King, and what sins you bring upon your heads, and the judgement of God upon this land. Think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater ... I have a trust committed to me by God, by old and lawful descent, I will not betray it, to answer a new unlawful authority; therefore resolve me that, and you shall hear more of me.
"I do stand more for the liberty of my people, than any here that come to be my pretended judges ... I do not come here as submitting to the Court ...
"It is not a slight thing you are about. I am sworn to keep the peace, by that duty I owe to God and my country; and I will do it to the last breath of my body. And therefore ye shall do well to satisfy, first, God, and then the country, by what authority you do it. If you do it by an usurped authority, you cannot answer it; there is a God in Heaven, that will call you, and all that give you power, to account.
"If it were only my own particular case, I would have satisfied myself with the protestation I made the last time I was here, against the legality of the Court, ... it is the freedom and the liberty of the people of England; and do you pretend what you will, I stand more for their liberties. For if power without law, may make laws, may alter the fundamental laws of the Kingdom, I do not know what subject he is in England that can be sure of his life, or any thing that he calls his own.
"For the charge, I value it not a rush. It is the liberty of the people of England that I stand for. For me to acknowledge a new Court that I never heard of before, I that am your King, that should be an example to all the people of England, for to uphold justice, to maintain the old laws, indeed I do not know how to do it."
Ah, standing up for the old laws, for the rule of English law over a "new court" that can overturn our fundamental liberties, would that such a sort ruled us now.
euro mach frei
European Union officials yesterday blamed "mixed up" people for letting emotions get in the way of a proper appreciation of the euro.
The remark came in response to a new FT-Harris poll which shows that most of the eurozone's citizens would like to have their old, comfortable national currencies back.
Feelings are particularly strong in Germany, the present holder of the EU's rotating presidency and Europe's largest economy.
Two thirds of Germans now prefer the Deutschmark to the euro and more than half believe that the European single currency has damaged their country's economy.
But the European Commission insists that ordinary people are simply failing to grasp the benefits of the single currency.
It's all our fault, maybe we should all be sent to a re-education camp where we can learn the joys of the euro, sing happy songs and salute the flag...
Or else maybe that is why the Germans seem so keen on alternative regional currencies -
The German Regionetzwerk (regional network) is a working group of independent initiatives, projects, and running programs for complementary regional currencies. The purpose of a regional currency is to stimulate regional economic activity, foster stronger relationships between people and businesses within the same region, and support the social, cultural, and environmental regional development in spite of global competition. The German regions active in the network usually have a strong feeling of regional belonging together and are centered around one to three larger and leading cities or agglomerations for a specific region.
Sysadmin running the show?
Downing Street faced fresh questions about the cash-for-honours affair yesterday as details were published on the internet of the Labour Party's high-security email and computer system.
The home page of Labour's secure network was posted on the Guido Fawkes political blogsite just days after it was alleged that a secret second computer system had been used by officials to send emails linked to the cash-for-honours investigation.
Downing Street spokesman said: "I can say categorically that there is no one in Downing Street who has access to that system. The Labour Party system is on a secure system but no one in No 10 has access to it."
Guy Fawkes' blog of parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy reveals that the PMOS session included:
Asked if it would be possible for someone to "hop on" using a No. 10 computer onto the Labour Party network, the PMOS said again that there was only one email system at No. 10.
Asked further questions about the possibility of an external server, or the possibilities of sending Labour Party emails, and did only one system allow for more than one email address, the PMOS repeated that there was only one email system in No. 10. As the PMOS said on Friday, people in No. 10 could not access hotmail, gmail etc because of security reasons, and he was not aware of anyone who had more than one email address.
Pretty clear then either some "clarification" of misleading statements is going to be needed soon or else the No 10 computer system is locked down with web filtering tighter than a ducks arse. The latter is actually more worrying, it would mean some BOFH controls what information the seat of Government can access. "Sorry Tony we have set the access level at "Super-parental" in case Leo gets onto a computer, therefore you can't see CNN, Google or Scouse Housewife Wrestling.... "
January 29, 2007
The real danger now facing Ulster
The danger for Ulster, therefore, is that it will shortly trade sectarianism for socialism. This is despite the evidence that the astonishing emergence of the Republic of Ireland as an economic force to be reckoned with has been on the basis of rampant Thatcherism. Low tax rates and a benign entrepreneurial climate explain why prominent companies have, or are considering, relocating their head offices from London to Dublin. The last thing that Northern Ireland needs is the peace dividend it is about to receive to be squandered in a shared orgy of spending by DUP and Sinn Fein ministers out of Stormont.
The core question facing Northern Ireland’s politicians of all stripes once devolution returns is whether the model for the Province should be Eire or Scotland. For permanent peace might prove surprisingly easy to achieve, while permanent prosperity may be elusive. Exchanging sectarianism for socialism would be the ultimate, deeply unfunny, Irish joke.
Healthy food list to take with a pinch of salt
Shoppers should boycott processed foods that still contain "unnecessary" amounts of salt, a campaign watchdog group is urging.
Some of Tesco's and Sainsbury's own brands are among 10 products identified by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash), a health pressure group which claims they have almost as much salt as sea water.
Ah ha I thought a handy list of foods still with real flavour, but apart from the crumpets, which need salted butter on them anyway nothing there that I would even feed to the dog - Tesco "Stayfresh" bread - what else is in that? And the healthy alternative is "Sainsbury's Stay Fresher for Longer Wholemeal Bread"? Sorry not for me...
PA headline of the morning
Cameron crusade for Muslim women
Tory leader David Cameron is to issue a call for an end to the oppression of Muslim women who are prevented from going out to work or attending university.....
Even a culturally insensitive oik likes me knows not to use the C word when talking about Muhammadans....
A Church of England bishop is to preside at this country's first "U2-charist", an adapted Holy Communion service that uses the Irish supergroup's best-selling songs in place of hymns.
In what is more rock concert than Book of Common Prayer, a live band will belt out U2 classics such as Mysterious Ways and Beautiful Day as worshippers sing along with the lyrics, which will appear on screens. The atmosphere will be further enhanced by a sophisticated lighting system that will pulse with the beat, and striking visual images of poverty and drought.
Despite his rock star antics, including swearing on live television, Bono is regarded as a Christian icon by many who point to the spiritual content of his music.
I'm off to church today, black suit and tie job, and I promise that the at the first hint of a guitar or thought of that bloated plutocratic preacher I will be sorely tempted to treat them as the moneylenders in the temple were treated, with a size nine behind them.
January 28, 2007
A tale of pigs and rampant rabbits...
There is another old country skill being lost to mechanisation, old Jed and his knarled old fingers and little rub of Boar taint behind his ears will soon be out of work, you can't expect a machine to bring a sow on heat as well as a skilled artisan, can you?
Posted just seven minutes after opening time - normally takes me an hour and a half to work myself up into such wonderful splenic rage...
Cash for Favours
Senior trade unionists hope Labour's cash crisis will force ministers to give way on key workplace demands in return for multi-million-pound donations.
Unions have already drawn up a list they call Warwick II, in reference to the Warwick Agreement of 2004, in which ministers agreed to implement a series of union requests in return for the movement's full support at the 2005 general election.
"It's a long list," said an official at Amicus, the most powerful manufacturing union.....
Sometimes I think we will look back at the selling of peerages and the very limited political influence they give as a harmless alternative.
How about a Favours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 2007
1.— Punishment of abuses in connection with the grant of favours. (1) If any person accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain from any person, for himself or for any other person, or for any purpose, any gift, money or valuable consideration as an inducement or reward for procuring or assisting or endeavouring to procure the grant of a favour to any person, or otherwise in connection with such a grant, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour. ...
The Lost Tribes of Brussels
The European Commission's website claims it has 25,000 staff. The British Government thinks the number is about 37,000. But the total employed by the Brussels executive is actually more than 54,000, researchers at the Westminster think tank Open Europe have discovered. It found almost 10,000 EU officials earning more than £54,000
Far more secretive than the remotest Amazonian fish spearers, more dangerous than Papua New Guinean Headhunters and costlier than Cherie Blair in a Gift Shop - ideal subject for Sir David Attenborough and the BBC Nature team.
No 10 Denies - Rhyming slang for Pack of.......?
Detectives have discovered a hand-written note from Tony Blair among new evidence that has widened significantly the cash-for-honours investigation.
It is the first time that the "paper trail" uncovered by Scotland Yard has led directly to the Prime Minister. ..
Last night, No 10 denied the existence of an incriminating document written by the Prime Minister.
In future developments No 10 denied Tony Blair was ever Prime Minister claiming he was just someone who had popped in when no one was looking..
January 27, 2007
Understanding a German Joke - the research continues
BERLIN: Problem drinkers often don't know how to take a joke or understand a punchline, according to German researchers.
It was Mother's Day. Anna and her brother had told their mother to stay in bed that morning. She read her book and looked forward to breakfast. After a long wait she finally went downstairs. Anna and her brother were both eating at the table.
The subjects were given a choice of four punchlines:
a) Anna said: "Hi mum, we didn't expect you to be awake so early."
b) Anna picked up an egg and smashed it on her brother's head.
c) Her brother said: "We have a new teacher at our school."
d) Anna said: "It's a surprise for Mother's Day. We cooked our own breakfast."
The researchers found a marked difference in the responses of the two groups, with less than 68 per cent of the alcoholics able to pick the right punchline, which the researchers said was option 'd', versus 92 per cent in the healthy control group.
January 26, 2007
Tell Kennet where to stick their wind turbine
UPDATE on this story:
An Englishman's Castle: Kennet District Council throws our money to the wind again.
Kennet District Council is considering a proposal to install solar panels and a small wind turbine at the Browfort offices in order to generate renewable electricity for use on site.
The total cost of the investment in fitting photovoltaic solar panels is in the region of £100,000 and this will lead to the generation of about 18,000 kilowatts of electricity a year (sic).
The council wants residents' views on the matter.
The form to tell them your thoughts is online
What happened to an Englishman's castle?
Robberies at gunpoint increased by 10 per cent last year in England and Wales, according to Home Office figures published yesterday.
The figures include armed robberies in the street, which rose by 9 per cent, and armed robberies in homes, which almost doubled. The figures, have been falling for the past four years and the sudden reversal will alarm the Home Office.
..killings by strangers have almost doubled to 302 since Labour came to power.
The total number of robberies at gunpoint rose to 1,439 and the number of gun robberies at residential properties jumped by 46 per cent to 645, an increase of 204 and more than five times the level recorded when Labour came to power.
Sleep well, don't forget to lock your door and if you hear suspicious noises remember that the police are only a call away. Where I live there is an 87% chance they will turn up within twenty minutes...
The police said that while householders could use "reasonable force" when confronted by a burglar, their advice was not to intervene.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said in a statement: "You can use force, but it has to be reasonable. Police are restrained by that as well.
Chief Supt Ian Johnston, vice-president of the Superintendents Association of England and Wales, said: "..Iif you are broken into - and I know most people will look at this and say 'It's very good for him to say that in the cold light of day' - really and truly, you should ring the police. You should not approach the intruder."
Senior officers readily concede that the public is sceptical about the speed of police responses and accept that their advice is of little comfort to residents - especially those in the countryside - who hear disturbing noises in their homes during the night.
However, police maintain that if householders make clear that an intruder is on the premises they will respond quickly.
Mr Johnston said: "People will also say - and I have some sympathy for their thoughts - 'What would he do at 2am or 3am when he hears noises downstairs?' I understand that, but we must give that very firm advice - do not approach the intruder."
He added that police were "definitely not" advising people to have weapons in their homes. "We would not tell the public to arm themselves with any weapon, legal or illegal. Burglars could be on drink or drugs and that's why we give the advice we do."
Mr Johnston said the legal situation in Britain was different from that in America. "If someone dared to enter someone's property in the States they would be within their constitutional rights to protect their property. And I dare say people in this country would say, 'What happened to an Englishman's castle?'
John Read's BOGOF offer
The Home Secretary was confronted with the consequences of his prison policies when a sex offender escaped custody because the jails are full.
He also had to contend with a new study showing that 25 convicted murderers had killed again after leaving jail.
On top of that, crime figures published yesterday recorded a big rise in muggings carried out at gunpoint and more armed burglaries.
Mr Reid's biggest embarrassment came when a judge in Wales made clear he was following his advice to send fewer people to jail......
Looks like it is a good week to go and commit a few of those crimes you have been waiting years to do, in supermarket parlance it is BOGOF week, "burgle one, get off free" or even in the case of kiddie fiddlers "bugger one, get off free!"
January 25, 2007
Honours Probe - Latest News
Updated: 19:05, Thursday January 25, 2007
Detectives investigating the cash-for-honours affair have reportedly uncovered a "hidden" computer network at Number 10.
ITV News claimed the system had been used to send crucial emails - which now appear to have been deleted.
Downing Street issued a swift denial to the allegations, saying the story was untrue.
Where as over at ITV:
It is unlikely anybody will face criminal charges following the cash-for-honours investigation, according to a source.
The probe into claims that honours were sold in return for donations to political parties has lasted for ten months.
It is claimed the Crown Prosecution Service may find it difficult to prove any link between donors and the honours they received.
We live in interesting times.
UPDATE - the BBC has now caught up with the story (19:29) - Vast numbers of journalists paid for by you and a mud plugging blogger from darkest Wiltshire can still beat them....
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner...
A for Horses
B for mutton
C for islanders
D for dumb
E for brick
F for vescence
G for police
H for teen
I for Novello
J for oranges
K for troops
L for leather
M for sis
N for lope
O for the garden wall
P for relief
Q for a bus
R for mo
S for you
T for two
U for me
V for La France
W for a bob
X for breakfast
Y for mistress
Z for motor car
Kennet District Council PCN notice 09 - an unadvertised contravention?
A motorist is Marlborough was surprised to be given a parking fine despite having paid and displayed, parked within the lines etc. The reason, she had "no more than half a dozen" old parking tickets on her dashboard.
I am seeking further information:
*Date:* Thu, 25 Jan 2007 09:05:16 -0000
I was surprised to note that a motorist in Marlborough has been issued with a PCN 09 - "Parked displaying multiple pay & display tickets where prohibited"- as you are aware this charge is only applied in some boroughs across the country and not nationally, and as it specifically say only
"where prohibited". I have failed to find any warnings that Kennet is applying it either on the notices, the leaflet introducing your scheme or on your website. Please could you indicate to me where the motorist's liability to this action is advertised.
This email and responses will be made publicly available on the Internet.
UPDATE: An email reply within half an hour:
Whilst we do not normally comment on individual cases, I can confirm that a
PCN was issued in error for contravention 09.
On challenge the error was admitted and the PCN cancelled.
Action has been taken by the Council to ensure that the error cannot be
Excellent news, and a bit different to local paper which says: "A Kennet spokeswoman said the council did not comment on individual cases but added that the display of multiple pay and display tickets was not permitted. "This is a nationally recognised offence under the recently introduced Decriminalised Parking Enforcement," she said."
Unauthorised Access to Kennet District Council's Website
Kennet Council Parking Pages
You have accessed this site in an unauthorised manner
All such attempts are monitored and investigated by the Council
Please do not use this method of access again
Oh get her! I really mustn't click that link again must I....
To the Youths of England - You Will Be British!
Schools in England should teach "core British values" alongside cultural diversity, a report will say.
Note it is only schools in England, and they mustn't teach "Englishness" but "Britishness". So that is Cecil Rhodes out the window then..
"Remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life."
Have we been conned about cholesterol?
...So how can I say saturated fat doesn't matter when everyone knows it is a killer? Could all those millions who have been putting skinless chicken and one per cent fat yoghurts into their trolleys really have been wasting their time? The experts are so busy urging you to consume less fat and more statins that you are never warned about the contradictions and lack of evidence behind the cholesterol con. In fact, what many major studies show is that as far as protecting your heart goes, cutting back on saturated fats makes no difference and, in fact, is more likely to do harm....
I'm off for Breakfast, I think an extra slice of fried bread is in order!
Snow business like snow business
The M23 from Surry heading into London was closed for two hours after a coach collided with two cars.
Hundreds of trains were delayed and dozens cancelled as the rail network was blighted by frozen points.
Network Rail said that the disruption was mainly due to the failure of the heating systems that are supposed to prevent freezing. Points failure struck at some of the network’s major hubs, including, in London, Clapham Junction, Waterloo and Wimbledon.
Other trains were left stranded after ice on the tracks caused power surges. An estimated 80,000 South West Trains users, a further 60,000 Southern customers and up to 200,000 Southeastern passengers were caught up in the disruption in the morning’s rush-hour, rail operators said. Several thousand passengers on One services between London and East Anglia were also affected.
Gerry Doherty, general secretary of TSSA, the transport union, said: “The number of failed track points is damning evidence that Network Rail did not take enough notice of the weather forecast.
“It’s quite disgraceful that at the first snow the trains come to a stop.” (Times)
Perfuckingthetic, the whole sodding system - according to the Met Office the highest amount of precipitation in the South East was 2.4mm - a tenth of an inch! You will find deeper deposits on Kate Moss's top lip.
Permission is now granted to readers in places like Dallas, in supersizzling Texas, which cope with whole inches of snow better, to roll around on the floor giggling at our incompetence. Of course they are allowed 4x4s to drive though...
Bring on the Curse Of du Toit™
Adopting the politically correct position
Roman Catholic adoption agencies would be given up to a year to prepare for a law barring discrimination against gay couples under a compromise being considered in Whitehall.
The Times understands that a delayed transition, proposed by the gay rights group Stonewall, would be accepted by supporters of the law to give agencies time to prepare themselves.
“If they wanted a six or twelve-month introduction period to prepare for the regulations, that would be a reasonable compromise,” (The Times)
So Stonewall seem to be running the process now and quite reasonably expects The Church to abandon a few thousand year's traditions and its teachings. Anyone who objects is obviously an unreasonable bigot.
I have been trying to find out what the other agencies think. For instance: The Muslim Fostering Society reminds us that:
"The Holy Messenger Muhammed (PBUH), himself was an orphan at birth. He was adopted as an orphan and placed in the foster care of his wet nurse Halimah who nurtured him with tender care and love, more than she displayed towards her own children. In the light of this historical fact, Muslims are no strangers to the concept of adoption and foster care. In fact, they have before them lofty examples of thesepractices right from the life of the Holy Messenger himself.
Having been brought up as an orphan himself, placed the Holy Messenger in a position where he was able naturally and instinctively identify with the plight of orphan children more than others. His teachings are therefore replete with the teachings and directives towards the orphan, of treating them with utmost kindness and compassion. The list of such teachings is lengthy... but do they allow Janet and Janet or John and John to adopt?
Guy Fawkes' blog of parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy has been niggling away with his Smith Institute Exposé for some time, even some of his regular commentators have become bored of it. But suddenly there is action, Newsnight picks it up that the Charities Commission is investigating it. With Mr Brown positioning himself as a clean pair of hands to take over it is all rather embarrassing.
Of course some others claim to be the investigating force behind it:
A think-tank being investigated by the charities watchdog because of its close links to Gordon Brown has held more than 200 meetings at 11 Downing Street since 1999, it was claimed last night.
The Smith Institute says it is "an independent think-tank, set up to undertake research and education in issues that flow from the changing relationship between social values and economic imperatives".
However, the institute is being investigated by the Charity Commission after The Daily Telegraph disclosed its close links to the Chancellor, and his supporters...
At least Tim Ireland isn't claiming at his scoop yet, is he?
January 24, 2007
Off to The Range
Fultons of Bisley have been Servicing one of my rifles, so off out now to go and pick it up, try it out and then an agreeable lunch - enjoy yourselves working for Mr Brown!
The Olympic Money Event - Britain Loses
The Labour-dominated Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee will launch a stinging attack on ministers today for miscalculating the cost of the 2012 Olympics.
The committee will also urge Gordon Brown to meet the current £900 million shortfall...
The MPs’ highly critical report warns Gordon Brown against raiding the National Lottery or increasing the London council tax further to meet the deficit.
The National Lottery has already contributed £1.5 billion to the Games, and Londoners are paying more than £650 million in council tax — or £20 a year extra until 2012...
“The cost of the Games is now estimated to be over £8 billion, including contingency and security fees, but detailed figures are now expected to be delayed until the summer. The cost of the Olympic Park in East London alone has jumped by nearly £1 billion, from £2.3 billion to £3.2 billion.” The costs have escalated because of construction inflation and project management costs, which at £400 million exceed original estimates.
Whitehall departments are still contesting whether VAT can be excluded from the cost, and who should meet the security bill, which has risen threefold.
Another dispute centres on the contingency fund, which the Treasury wants to set at 60 per cent...
The MPs are also wary about the escalating costs of the sports stadiums within the park, particularly the broadcasting centre, which is now likely to cost nearly £50 million more than expected. They also state that the costs of decontaminating the site could rise because only half the site has been surveyed....
I like the way it is suggested that Gordon Brown should pay for this folly - as though he is going to dip into his own pocket. What they are saying is that the rest of the taxpayers should be mulcted of even more of our money to pay for this vanity project.
Is it really to late to let Paris have it?
Gordon Brown - Where's my Pension Gone?
Campaigners for 125,000 people who lost their life savings when company pensions went bust accused the Government of persistent dishonesty ahead of a European Court of Justice ruling on the scandal, expected tomorrow.
Dr Ros Altmann, a former Treasury adviser and governor of the London School of Economics, said: "The Government deliberately misled people about how safe their pensions were in the 1990s – and they are doing the same thing now.
"Back then, in a series of official leaflets, the Government told members of company pensions their money was fully protected when they knew it was not. Now they plan automatic enrolment for personal account pensions, when they know that many people will get no benefit from them because of means testing."
Dr Altmann is in no doubt who is to blame for the pension crisis. She tells viewers: "If there is one person in the Government that is responsible for this scandal, it has to be the Chancellor."
Chancellor Gordon Brown, who has been arguing that Britain cannot afford to increase the state pension, is sitting on pension savings paid for by the taxpayer equivalent to £1.75m. This will ensure he has a pension of at least £53,000 a year for life. If, as expected, he becomes Prime Minister after Blair leaves office, Brown will see his guaranteed pension entitlement more than double, even if he only serves a few months as leader...
other ministers enjoying large pension pots include: Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett (£1.7m); Trade Secretary Alastair Darling (£1.5m); Social Exclusion Minister Hilary Armstrong (£1.2m;) and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell (£1m). Pensions Secretary John Hutton has a pot worth nearly £900,000. In total the most senior 15 cabinet ministers have a pension fund equivalent to £25m, more than the £20m the government has put into the Financial Assistance Scheme this year to help the 85,000 retired workers who have no pension at all because their companies went bust.
Sometimes, just sometimes I wonder if there is enough rope in the barn for the glorious day.
Senior councillors were sent for cultural awareness training after another councillor made a remark about suicide bombing a travellers' site...
"Cabinet members have taken part in cultural awareness training and a tour of traveller sites.
"Councillors have attended two SCDC-run successful workshops on traveller issues – the last one included presentations by travellers."
Councillors now have an adequate supply of "lucky" white heather and have all agreed to have their drives resurfaced. The council hopes to recover the two minibuses used to visit the travellers' site and apologises to the councillors for them having to walk home, they will be reimbursed for new shoes. Councillor Throbnob is making good progress from the dog bites and hopes to leave hospital soon.
January 23, 2007
Senator, you are no Maggie Thatcher
Stephen Bainbridge reports on Hillary's positioning as a Thatcher
HILLARY CLINTON is to be presented as America’s Margaret Thatcher as she tries to become the first woman to win the White House. As she entered the 2008 presidential race yesterday, a senior adviser said that her campaign would emphasise security, defence and personal strengths reminiscent of the Iron Lady.
“Their policies are totally different but they are both perceived as very tough,” said Terry McAuliffe, Clinton’s campaign chairman.
You bet their policies are different. Hillary Clinton favors paternalistic big government. As laid out by OnTheIssues.org, her education policy might as well have been drafted by the teachers unions: Testing only for new teachers. No vouchers. Limited parental choice. Opposes tort reform. Federalize health care. Rated 82% positive by the NEA and 85% by the AFL-CIO. Rated a "big spender" by NTU. Anyway, let's go to the record. When you compare key quotations side-by-side, it becomes clear that Lady Thatcher was all about liberty and prosperity, while Hillary is all about unions, big government, and high taxes and spending.
|Thatcher Quotes||Clinton Quotes|
|There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families.||We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society.|
|People think that at the top there isn’t much room. They tend to think of it as an Everest. My message is that there is tons of room at the top||Throughout the 1980’s, we did hear too much about individual gain and the ethos of selfishness and greed.|
|I owe nothing to Women’s Lib.||I'm not some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette|
|No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions—he had money as well.||We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.|
|If you want to cut your own throat, don’t come to me for a bandage.||Children’s lives are not shaped solely by their families or immediate surroundings at large. That is why we must avoid the false dichotomy that says only government or only family is responsible. . . . Personal values and national policies must both play a role.|
Given a choice, I'd go with Lady Thatcher all the way down the line. When Thatcher said of Ronald Reagan that "Others saw only limits to growth; he transformed a stagnant economy into an engine of opportunity," the others of whom she spoke surely included Clinton. While Thatcher said of Reagan that he "loved America and what it stands for - freedom and opportunity for ordinary people," it will be said of Clinton that she loved government and believed in a zero-sum world in which paternaliztic handouts are more important than providing opportunity for individual success.
The Magisterium on Justice
The criminal courts are in meltdown with a severe cash crisis forcing offenders to be sentenced on the ground of cost, not justice, magistrates say.
In an indictment of the Government’s penal policy they have told Tony Blair in a letter that his vision for criminal justice is failing and that a string of initiatives has “severely undermined public confidence” in the justice system.
Magistrates have already told ministers that sentencing proposals allowing probation officers to decide if an offender merited a community penalty or a fine were “wholly unacceptable”. Sentencing must be by the courts, they say, and not by probation officers on the basis of “saving money”.
Court closures, crumbling and even rat-infested buildings, staff shortages and funding cuts across the justice sector are delaying or stopping cases and adding to inefficiency, they say.
But plenty of money for "Respect Zones" and other half baked initiatives...
Trust me I'm a Doctor...
Rogue doctors and thousands of other health professionals who have been struck off for misconduct in other European countries are able to work in Britain because there is no mechanism in place to warn employers.
In a letter to The Times today, ten leading medical regulators have expressed grave concerns about the vetting procedures.
The number of professionals — including doctors, nurses, dentists and chiropractors — from the European Economic Area registering to work in Britain has doubled in three years. The regulators said that although most were of benefit to Britain, a small, poorly trained minority were exploiting the system and could put patients at risk.
The letter’s signatories, members of the Alliance of UK Health Regulators on Europe, cite several examples, including two nurses identified in the past year who had been banned from working in Ireland and a Dutch doctor who was allowed to work in this country despite being convicted of rape in his homeland.
The alliance says that there is no system in place to test fitness to practise or language skills or to flag up those found guilty of professional misconduct or criminal offences or otherwise considered to be a danger to patients.
They add in their letter that due to loopholes in EU legislation an unknown number of incompetent or convicted medical professionals could be working in Britain.
That will make you feel better when you get up on the couch today won't it!
Regrets, I have a few...
Half of young adults who dropped out of school aged 16 regretted their decision later, a survey suggests.
An alternative headline might be " School drop-outs don't regret quitting". With 59% choosing to go back to some sort of education within five years I would guess that the general level of education achieved by 60% volunteers is better than the 100% compulsion the government favours. Horses to water and all that.
January 22, 2007
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Hundreds of "souvenir" hunters flocked to the Devon coast yesterday as containers from a stricken cargo vessel were washed ashore.
Wine barrels, boxes of perfume and a tractor were among the flotsam on Branscombe beach after the Napoli was run aground.
Police closed the area as salvage teams tried to contain 200 tons of leaked oil. The Napoli, which began to lose its containers when it was left listing after a battering by force nine gales on Saturday night, contains a further 3,500 tons of heavy fuel oil.
Other containers still on board hold agricultural pesticides, toxic liquids and BMW motorbikes.
A total of 200 containers, one holding battery acid, have been lost overboard. Police said hundreds of people had turned up to try to collect "souvenirs". "Of particular interest were wine barrels and bottles of perfume," said a spokesman. "But people are trying to take anything they can get their hands on. Obviously, it is an issue of public safety because we simply don't know what is in a container until it is opened."
If you wake at Midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson.
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Running round the woodlump, if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don't you shout to come and look, nor use 'em for your play.
Put the brushwood back again - and they'll be gone next day!
Five and twenty ponies
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson.
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you "pretty maid", and chuck you 'neath the chin,
Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!
Five and twenty ponies
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson.
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Giving Responsibility Back to the People
The Conservatives are planning to publish a “green paper” on roads this year which will borrow heavily from so-called shared-space schemes in the Netherlands, where pedestrians, cyclists and cars are encouraged to mingle...
Owen Paterson, the Shadow Transport Minister, visited Drachten and other Dutch towns. He told The Times: “There are some great ideas here which I would like to see in Britain. It’s the opposite of the 1960s ethos of separating cars and pedestrians... Mr Paterson said that putting up more speed limit signs and painting more lines on the road had failed to make streets safer. “Instead of the State laying down the rules, we need to give responsibility back to road users..
I have written before about this "Shared Space" idea - apart from it seeing working in my local town I hope it is encouraged because the idea that "Instead of the State laying down the rules, we need to give responsibility back" might permeate the body politic in other areas as well....
News from a Third World Country
Many British people attribute Ireland's growth to EU subsidies, yet this is almost the precise opposite of the truth. While Ireland was, until recently, a substantial net recipient of EU funding, these grants went into the least productive sectors of the economy, notably agriculture. The EU has contributed nothing to the areas where Ireland has grown most impressively, such as software and financial services. On the contrary, Brussels has complained about the tax cuts that were the basis of Ireland's success.
The hard truth is that, while Britain has been raising its taxes faster than any other industrialised nation, Ireland has gone in the opposite direction. In consequence, for the first time since the partition of the United Kingdom in 1921, Ireland has overtaken its neighbour. As the Americans say, go figure.
Britain spends less of its wealth on defence than Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey despite the constant demands placed on its Armed Forces, official figures show.
Pensioners are being left hungry and undernourished in care homes and hospitals, a Government minister has admitted.
Ivan Lewis, the parliamentary under secretary of state for care services, said some elderly people were given only "a single scoop of mashed potato" for lunch while others were forced to eat with plastic cutlery.
Bedridden patients suffered the "torture" of not being able to reach trays of food.
So we are being taxed so heavily it is dragging the economy down, the money isn't being spent on defence, and the money being splurged on "Health" still leaves patients being treated worse than a Sandringham Fox.
January 21, 2007
Headline "Hope Fades for Castro" - he might live a bit longer...
Cuban leader Fidel Castro is making a "slow but progressive" recovery, although his condition is serious due to his advanced age, a Spanish doctor ...
The Duke of Edinburgh was at the centre of an animal cruelty row yesterday after a fox was clubbed to death with a flagpole during a royal shoot.
The animal was initially shot and badly injured when it broke cover during a pheasant shoot at Sandringham, the Queen's private estate in Norfolk. The animal lay twitching on the ground for up to five minutes before it was "finished off" by a beater.
Gordon Brown has condemned the manner of fox's death as 'completely unacceptable' and 'deplorable', leaving the Prime Minister isolated in his refusal to speak out.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a news conference with the Egyptian foreign minister on Monday, "We were disappointed there was not greater dignity given to the accused under these circumstances."
Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja said on Saturday evening that the European Union is opposed to the death penalty in all cases - including that of the Sandringham Fox.
"The European Union has always and consistently been against the use of capital punishment, also in this case",
Tony Blair last night broke his silence on the fox's death by acknowledging that the manner of his death was "completely wrong". But he coupled criticism of the chaotic scene with a plea for recognition of the vermin's crimes.
Until last night Mr Blair had refused to comment on the execution, despite a chorus from senior ministers, including the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, and the chancellor, Gordon Brown, who both condemned the filming of the event as deplorable.
January 19, 2007
Smoking out Cameron
"An Englishman's Castle Jan 15th
Firms could buy and sell permits to make alcoholic drinks or fatty foods under plans being put to Tory leaders.
The system would work along the same lines as carbon trading schemes aimed at tackling pollution.
The proposal, put forward at a Conservative summit on social responsibility, comes from an advisory group set up by leader David Cameron.
What the feck are they smoking?... "
Compare my question with The Times today (Jan 19th)
Cameron takes crackpot business approach
The Conservative Party’s Working Group on Respon- sible Business is likely to revive the debate about David Cameron’s youthful use of illicit drugs. For it raises one question: what has he been smoking?
If you've got a blog, please link to this story as it illustrates perfectly what's wrong with our country's immigration system. Mark Coleman is a white Zimbabwean national. He came to this country two years ago to escape Mugabe's terror regime. He's now being threatened with deportation. He doesn't qualify to stay under the Grand Parentage rule because both his Grandparents, although British subjects, were born in India rather than on British soil. The fact that his Grandfather fought for Britain during the war and was put in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp is by the by. The Home Office say they will deport him if he doesn't leave voluntarily. They say he is in no danger, yet he knows he is.
Looking for Justice in the Swill Bucket
DEFRA is set to be sued for up to £40m by a group of farmers who were put out of business during the foot-and-mouth crisis of 2001, Farmers Weekly can reveal.
The proceedings will be issued to the government tomorrow (19 January) claiming damages resulting from the alleged negligence of a government vet - Jim Dring.
The vet allowed Bobby Waugh's, Burnside Farm, Heddon-on-the-Wall, to continue trading in 2001, even though after his inspection he admitted that the feeding techniques were clearly deficient.
"Mr Dring was trained to spot potential disease risks," said Mr Megaw.
But when he visited Mr Waugh's farm, on 24 January 2001, it is claimed he ignored, missed or failed to appreciate, the significance of factors that then led to the 2001 F&M outbreak.
The vet had both the opportunity and the reason to shut the farm down before the disease took hold, he claimed.
Just 10 days later, Burnside's pigs developed F&M and the disease engulfed British agriculture.
The government blamed the outbreak on the entire swill feeding industry, banning it on 24 May 2001 without compensating the 62 farmers who lost their livelihoods.
FWi can exclusively reveal the dreadful conditions on Burnside Farm,Heddon-on-the-Wall, filmed by Trading Standards officers four weeks after the farm's swill feeding license was renewed. We also have a revealing statement which was withheld from a key government enquiry into foot-and-mouth:
* Video 1 of the Trading Standards visit
* Video 2 of the Trading Standards visit
* Witheld statement from the foot-and-mouth enquiry
Why is foot-and-mouth legal action coming six years after the event?
The need to get to court is that to wait any longer, the swill feeders would fall foul of a legal rule called the Statute Bar. This prohibits legal action being launched more than six years after an alleged transgression. The farmers concerned are left with no option but to act now as they risk running out of time.
So why have they left it so late? The 62 farmers have been waiting for a report by the Parliamentary Ombudsman into the government's alleged maladministration of the swill feeding ban and the hastily convened and concluded consultation that preceded it.
When the inquiry began in October 2003, the hope was that it would uncover vital information that would strengthen the case for compensation. The swill feeders opted to delay launching their legal claim until the inquiry reported.
A senior investigative officer, Neil Armstrong, began the process of uncovering information. But in September 2004 the investigation was broadened following Farmers Weekly's disclosure of Jim Dring's statement and the unearthing of the video showing the appalling conditions at Burnside Farm.
Despite assurances by Mr Armstrong that he would see the inquiry through, he left the investigation later that month. Progress slowed until a new officer, Christine Corrigan, took up the case.
She was joined by John Donnelly - a former police chief superintendent. During the course of his investigations Mr Donnelly named a group of senior officials at DEFRA involved in the consultation on banning swill feeding.
Ms Corrigan declared a possible conflict of interest claiming to be "a close personal friend" of one member of the group. But, given the delays already incurred, the farmers put their faith in Ms Corrigan's professionalism and asked her to continue.
Then in February 2006, almost two and a half years after the investigation began, the Ombudsman said a report, detailing draft conclusions would be published "in two to three weeks' time". It did not materialise.
As 2006 progressed two further publication dates came and went with no explanation. The farmers began to fear that the release would fall beyond the six-year Statute Bar....
The whole shoddy case stinks, no compensation for businesses ruined is just the tip of this iceberg. I will await to see what Miliband has to say:
The true cost of the London Olympics
The chairman of the Big Lottery Fund has voiced his fears that his organisation's budget could be plundered by the Treasury to meet the mounting costs of the London Olympics.
Sir Clive Booth said on Wednesday that "dark forces in Whitehall" want to find the extra £900m from existing funding for community projects.
He said this would have a "chronic and damaging effect" on the fund's aim to help those in most need, including disabled children, homeless young people and users of community sports facilities and village halls.
Sir Clive added that he believes ministers see the fund as a "soft target" to be used to cover the overspend with minimal political impact.
He said: "I don't know how anybody could live with themselves, let alone Gordon Brown, if they were taking money off projects such as that to close an Olympic funding gap.
"It would be criminal. We have already seen our budget top-sliced and we have already accepted that should go to the Olympics as our contribution.
"But I don't really see why all the wonderful good-cause projects should have to subsidise the Olympics beyond what we have already done."
Last November the culture secretary Tessa Jowell said that she had "never ruled out" the option of digging further into the lottery's coffers.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said any financial loss suffered by voluntary and community groups would be offset by the benefits of the Olympics.
He was right about "minimal political impact" - none of the nationals seem to have picked up on this. And to suggest the joys of watching over-paid drugged-up "athletes" crapping on the streets of London is going to make up for some small local facility to help disabled kids is beyond contempt.
That Oleaginous Hain Interview
The Northern Ireland Secretary wants to inject ethics back into foreign policy...
Well he certainly shows us how to turn the other cheek and forgive foreign murderers, but only if they are Irish.
Arms sales? Tough controls? We interrogate Hain on Blair's personal instruction to stop the Serious Fraud Office investigation into alleged bribery involving BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia. He does not justify the decision, resorting to that time-honoured get-out clause of cabinet responsibility. As we press him, his discomfort grows. He becomes angry. "We can do a dog-and-bone job on this if you like," he says, "but then we won't have space to talk about what I think is a very progressive record I'm putting out for the future.
Oh get her! - What does he think he is some avant garde pop star, "Hey guys listen to my new record!"
Hain could be seen as falling into that category of Labour ministers who express anguish about the war without summoning the words to apologise for their part. Or maybe his refusal to resile from it is a mark of courage? He says he still supports the original decision, not because he backed regime change, but because he believed the threat of weapons of mass destruction was real.
Ah the Peter Pan of politics - "I do believe, everyone clap if they believe as well..." If he believed that old tosh then he an even bigger fool than I thought.
Hain says the wipe-out of the Republicans in the US mid term elections provides Brown with a historic opportunity to disown Blair's neo-con allies and embrace the likes of John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Is that a political dream or does he just want to join in with some hot M/M/F (Fem Dom) action - don't bother sending me the video.
He is particularly keen to point to his achievements in Northern Ireland, where he has abolished the eleven-plus, brought in regulations banning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and increased local taxes to raise money for health, education and sustainable energy. He supported the Dublin government in its lobbying to keep the island of Ireland nuclear-free.
And that is a record he is proud of? That is all? But no worries the New Statesman is impressed -
Leaving his office, we are ushered through the waiting room and past the band Snow Patrol. You know politicians have become big hitters when rock stars agree to meet them.
Ah the true measure of politicians these days!
January 18, 2007
An English Parliament - No. 10 replies
You recently signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to
"Grant The English People A Referendum On Whether They Wish To Have An English Parliament."
The Prime Minister's Office has responded to that petition and
you can view it here: Eng-Parliament - epetition reply
Kennet District Council throws our money to the wind again.
Kennet District Council is considering a proposal to install solar panels and a small wind turbine at the Browfort offices in order to generate renewable electricity for use on site.
The total cost of the investment in fitting photovoltaic solar panels is in the region of £100,000 and this will lead to the generation of about 18,000 kilowatts of electricity a year.
The council wants residents' views on the matter. Anyone who would like to have a say about whether Kennet District Council should install alternative sustainable energy sources can call (01380) 724911.
Kennet Council claims: "the council needs to balance the budget and is seeking many ways to make efficiencies and savings to achieve this."
Let us assume that the capital cost hasn't been underestimated and that the "savings" haven't been overestimated. Let's also write the investment off over 25 years and assume that Kennet pay 10 pence a kilowatt because they haven't got a clue as to how to buy it cheaper.
£100000 over 25 years gives an annual cost of £4000, (and let us let them off the interest and running costs as well). Electricity saved = £1800 a year. And that is as optimistic as I can make it, in real life the costs will be much higher and the saving less, but why worry, they aren't spending their own money, they are spending ours...
Faire comme je dis pas comme le fais je.
Ségolène Royal, the doyenne of the French Left, suffered an embarrassing blow to her image as a presidential candidate yesterday when she was accused of tax dodging.
Faced with taunts about being a "gauche caviar", the Gallic equivalent of a champagne socialist, she denied being rich, instead claiming that she was just "well off".
Not only does she part-own three impressive homes with her boyfriend, François Hollande, the Socialist Party chairman, but the couple have set up a real estate company to manage the properties.
This has enabled them to reduce the amount they pay in l'impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF), a notoriously high tax imposed on anyone with assets of more than £500,000.
Miss Royal has also pledged to overturn tax cuts imposed since 2002, blocking a law limiting them to 60 per cent of income.
Mr Hollande, in turn, last week risked alienating the middle classes even further by proposing raising taxes on salaries above 4,000 euros (£2,860) a month. Last year he famously told a television chat show audience: "I do not like the rich."
"Rich Socialist Avoids Tax" headline - quelle surprise! next we will be told about ursine arboreal defecatory habits.
Snakes and Ladders.
Firefighters on Humberside have been told by their employers that it is dangerous for them to go up ladders.
Given that going up ladders to rescue people from blazing buildings is what firefighters do for a living, the news has been greeted with more than a spark of incredulity by the individuals who man the fire service for Hull and its surrounding area.
But it is not sending up extending ladders on the back of fire engines to deal with towering infernos that is causing concern. It is climbing mere stepladders to install smoke alarms in people’s homes, a popular prevention measure offered free by the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service. ...
Sean Starbuck, regional chairman of the FBU, said: “The use of stepladders to fit smoke alarms contravenes working-at-height regulations, which were introduced by the Government. We have raised the issue and the Health and Safety Executive has agreed that a review is needed.”
Poor old Bella, who will come to save her in Pontypandy now that Fireman Sam is confined to the station filling in risk assessment forms?
(I've got a stepladder, it's alright but I miss my real ladder sometimes...)
In the country with a rucksack on your back
Telegraph | News July 2005 reported on Government encouragement of Ethnic Minority visits to the countryside:
...two reports, costing £360,000, which were commissioned as a result of a 2000 White Paper which committed the Government to 'increasing and diversifying enjoyment of the countryside"....Jim Knight, the rural affairs minister, said: "We want everyone to be able to discover for themselves the sense of freedom, inspiration and enrichment which visiting the countryside can bring, as well as the health benefits that go with it."
It seems now that this encouragement wasn't needed for at least one group:
In surveillance pictures taken by Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorism squad 14 months before the July 21 attacks, five of the six men were seen on a Bank Holiday trip at a farm in Langdale, Cumbria. A group of about 20 were in tents in a field surrounded by dry stone walls at the top of the farm, well away from other campers.
Dc Mark Stevens, who was among the surveillance team, said the area was "heaving" with families on holiday.
His colleague, Dc Phillip Marshall, said: "I could see them milling around and running up and down.
"Some appeared to have rucksacks on their backs. They didn't appear to be running randomly. It was a series of men in a line, running."
When officers arrived at 11am on the Bank Holiday Monday in May 2004 the men, who had a teenager and two children with them, were packing up to leave. After going down to the farm they were seen lining up for prayer.
January 17, 2007
Four Letters, ends in UNT and is female*
From the hard 'c' to the sharp 't', it's a sensational word
Can you guess what it is yet?
Down here in Wiltshire we are one ahead of him - I live in a cup shaped hollow between two long outstretched limbs of hills, and it's name begins C*N.. Nearby there is the "Swallowhead" spring; in fact the whole Kennet district is alive to the word - (I often pronounce "Kennet", as in Kennet District Council without the second e...)
I reproduce part of a scholarly article below the fold - naughty language alert:
(And the answer to the headline - Aunt - what else could it be?)
Case Study: Topographical And Hydrographical Metaphors
We have seen how the Celtic 'cwm' was influenced by the feminine prefix 'cu', a topographical vagina metaphor comparing the shape and fertility of valleys and vaginas. Other water-related terms also have similarly vaginal connotations, such as 'cundy' ('underground water channel'), which is a hydrographical vaginal metaphor derived from 'cunnus'. Similarly, 'cuniculus', also from 'cunnus', means 'passageway', and was applied to Roman drainage systems. 'Konnos', the Greek for 'vagina', is derived from 'cunnus' and the Sanskrit 'cushi'/'kunthi', meaning 'ditch', as both vaginas and ditches are channels for water. The Spanish 'chocha' ('lagoon') is another vaginal metaphor. The Russian 'kunka' describes two hands cupped together carrying water. 'Cut', a further term meaning 'water channel', is a recognised euphemism for 'cunt', though is not etymologically related to it.
The vaginal water channel allusion is replicated by the River Kennet in Wiltshire, as Kennet was originally Cunnit: "At Silbury Hill [the river] joins the Swallowhead or true fountain of the Kennet, which the country people call by the old name of Cunnit and it is not a little famous amongst them" (William Stukeley, 1743). Adjacent to the river is the Roman settlement Cunetio, also spelt Cunetione, Cunetzone, Cunetzione, and Cunetiu (though now known as Mildenhall). "The name ['Cunetio'] must be left unresolved", insist ALF Rivet and Colin Smith (1979), though its origin, like Kennet's, is the Celtic 'kuno'.
The rivers Kent (formerly Kenet) and Cynwyd share Kennet's etymology, and, as Michael Dames explains, Kennet's link to 'cunt' is readily apparent: "we may yet rediscover the Kennet as Cunnit, and the Swallowhead as Cunt. The name of that orifice is carried downstream in the name of the river. Cunnit is Cunnt with an extra i. As late as 1740, the peasants of the district had not abandoned the name [...] The antiquity of the form is clearly shown by the Roman riverside settlement called Cunetio - their principal town in the entire Kennet valley" (1976).
The Value of Being Able to Patent Drugs
It is rare to find a drug that sweeps away decades of assumptions and reveals a radical approach to treating all forms of a disease. But a simple, small molecule called dichloroacetate (DCA) has done just that - and to that most dreaded of diseases: cancer.
The new findings, might also force a rethink on what actually causes cells to turn cancerous in the first place.
There's a hitch: dichloroacetate is an old drug and so cannot be patented. The upshot is that pharmaceutical companies can’t stop rivals making and selling it more cheaply, so it’s not worth their while to go to the huge expense of testing it in clinical trials.
This is not a new problem. Many drugs are left on the shelf because companies cannot make lots of money from them. It has happened for diseases that affect mainly poor people, such as TB, although there are now an increasing number of initiatives to help deal with these cases. But cancer is historically a disease that chiefly afflicts the rich, and testing DCA will need a one-off effort.
Drugs companies will be falling over themselves to find a patentable drug with similar action to DCA. Any of these that reach the market will be hugely expensive. It would be a scandal if a cheap alternative with such astonishing potential were not given a chance simply because it won't turn a big enough profit.
No Patents, No Innovation, apart from relying on philanthropy or Governments is there a way round this?
Having a Pop
The Bitch Girls :: Right to Bear Arms
The American vs the British Way... Hmmmm.
Big Freeze on its way?
The science behind climate change is anything but settled. Just ask Cambridge astrophysicist Nigel Weiss, or astrophysicist and mathematician Habibullo Abdusamatov, head of the space research laboratory at the St. Petersburg-based Pulkovo Observatory....
"Instead of professed global warming, the Earth will be facing a slow decrease in temperatures in 2012-2015. The gradually falling amounts of solar energy, expected to reach their bottom level by 2040, will inevitably lead to a deep freeze around 2055-2060," he said, adding that this period of global freeze will last some 50 years, after which the temperatures will go up again.
"There is no need for the Kyoto Protocol now, and it does not have to come into force until at least a hundred years from now - a global freeze will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions," Abdusamatov said.
The rush to reduce CO2 levels is not only massively expensive, but totally unnecessary, according to these learned solar experts. Certainly everyone with any knowledge should understand that global cooling is far more threatening to human life than the mild global warming currently being experienced.
Politicians such as Al Gore have vested monetary interests in exaggerating the climate effects of CO2. Likewise, climatologists such as Michael Mann have achieved fame, prestige, and easy grant money through the use of shoddy research methods. The route to grant money in climate science currently lies through the gate of CAGW--catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Those are the magic words.
Reality is much larger than that. It is foolish to fixate upon one seemingly obvious explanation for cyclic climate behaviour of epochal duration. Many junkies of "global warning" enjoy the thrill of the apocalypse. Others have more mundane motivations, such as going along with the perceived flow.
A Big Freeze is a much more worrying prospect than Global Warming, but the simple, and only answer, is for us, the world, to become as rich and innovative as we can so we can adapt to whatever climate is thrown at us, not for us to retreat behind the weight of eco-babble to a stone-age existence.
Turn the lights off on your way out..
Ann Treneman: Political Sketch
Mr Blair bombarded us with paragraphs we had heard before. He began by detailing what can only be described as a frenzied schedule. It is all rather suspicious. He used to pretend to be relaxed even though he was busy. Now he pretends to be busy even though he is on the brink of relaxation (for life). He painted a picture not so much of a man in a hurry as of a man racing in front of a speeding train, shouting into his mobile about saving the planet from annihilation.
His message is upbeat. Everything — inflation, the NHS, schools — is going to be wonderful very soon. Scotland and England should rejoice in their 300-year Union because, and he really did say this, each has lots of relatives living in the other. Plus, he noted, Scotland’s financial services industry is so very tied to England. ...
He refused to give a clue to when he was leaving his job. “I think I’ve said enough on the leadership issue,” he said. But he couldn’t stop himself warning his successor to be “new new Labour”. Is that even possible? He was asked, by the smooth operator who is Robin Oakley of CNN, if he would be around for the Euro summit in June. At first Mr Blair avoided this by talking about peace but Mr Oakley asked him again. Mr Blair looked away, then down at his feet, and mumbled: “Of course.”
The chairs are being put up on the tables, the chef left noisily half an hour ago, they have started hoovering the carpet, the shutters are down on the bar and the lights are being turned up, but still he doesn't get the hint that it is over and time to leave...
Tagged and Branded
Microchips for mentally ill planned in shake-up
Radical measures for tackling crime - ranging from monitoring the behaviour of the mentally ill with radio chips to hormone injections for sex offenders — are to be considered by the Government in a wide-ranging policy review ordered by Tony Blair.
The Prime Minister said yesterday that Labour had to renew its sense of leadership and energy as voters were getting bored with the party after 10 years in power.
He disclosed that he intended to stay in power until at least June....
The policy paper confirmed the Government's objective of creating a surveillance society despite Mr Blair's denials of a "Big Brother" state. It said new anti-crime measures include face and voice recognition, a DNA database, identity cards, microchip monitoring and satellite surveillance — and confirmed that Britain has the most public CCTV systems in Europe.
In other news:
Somark Innovations, a small company working out of Saint Louis, has successfully tested an RFID tattoo, on cows, mice and rats: enabling an identifying number embedded under the skin to be read from over a meter away....Somark are in the process of raising money to exploit the technology, and point out that what works for animals can, of course, also work for people;
Haven't we been here before?
January 16, 2007
Carteret Islands - prepare to be bored of them
I have just caught this:ITV News - Evacuations over islanders' ocean threat Watch the Video link
The Carteret Islands are being flooded because of global warming - sharks swim over their vegetable plots, malaria is spreading and judging by the video of the news reporter standing in water up to his waist on "the old main path" the ocean must have risen by about 30 inches.
It's bollocks of course, even the most ardent global warming campaigner doesn't believe the water has risen that much; the islands are sinking, whether because of tectonic plate movements or the fishermen's habit of dynamiting the coral reefs I don't know. But why let facts get in the way of a good story of poor islanders being evicted from their idyllic home because of 4x4 drivers?
For an aerial view: Google Earth kml file
Handbags - Call that a fight?
Bloggerheads (UK) - Guido Fawkes (aka Paul Staines) : The Plonker has been stirring up the three dozen people who take blogs seriously. On one side we have invocations of the blogger code of honour, "when I used the Usenet and every one knew how to double declutch", it's just not on and anyhow how can you afford to run a blog on a free service if you aren't in the pay of someone; on the other side you have someone who thinks it all stinks and can afford the time to say so, and have a lot of fun doing so.
You can guess whose attitude I prefer.
Remind me do people still argue over the correct etiquette for CB radios...
iJob - A site to learn from
Why are European and British companies not enjoying the dynamic growth and success of Indian and Chinese businesses?
Businesses in countries where government imposes lower taxes and less red tape succeed better. They can create jobs, seek out new business opportunities, and expand more easily.
Behind every job there is an individual, a family, and a community, that rely on its continued existence.
But excessive taxes and regulation threaten the jobs we all rely on.
The following example describes a typical job, with an average-level wage, in a typical (small/ medium-sized) company in the UK....
After all taxes are taken into account, Derek receives less than half of the total value of his package.
The company deducts income tax (£4,214) and employee's National Insurance (£2,229) from Derek's pay (£25,000) before he receives it, leaving £18,557. Then, from his take-home pay, Derek has to pay VAT on nearly all purchases, as well as petrol duty, alcohol and tobacco duties, TV licence and road tax. The Office for National Statistics estimates that these (so-called "indirect") taxes take up about 15% of the average household's gross income: in Derek's case, £3,750. In addition, Derek probably pays some £625 in council tax (average estimated by the Office for National Statistics). These additional taxes reduce his take-home pay to £14,182. Even after this, the costs of some basic items of expenditure are inflated by government policy -- for example, the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy more or less doubles the cost of a weekly food bill.....
The company that created this typical job, employing Derek, has a gross annual income of £21,150,000 (including VAT). The biggest beneficiary of the work the company does is the government -- not the owners of the company, and not the employees. If things go well, the government takes almost 50% of the company's turnover in taxes of various kinds. But if things go badly and the business fails, the government loses nothing, while the investors lose all the money they put into the business.....
Hitting Mr Blair where it hurts
Carol Midgley: Last night's TV
If Tony Blair is even a tenth as narcissistic as he appeared in The Trial of Tony Blair (More4; repeated this Thursday on Channel 4) — and I doubt many of us need to ponder too long on that one — then he won’t have been able to resist watching it last night. And if he did — stockinged feet up on the Downing Street pouffe — then genuinely, I feel sorry for him.
Because it must be pretty painful seeing yourself portrayed as a deluded, vain, tortured, friendless yesterday’s man whose own staff snigger behind your back and who can’t even get Kevin Spacey to return his calls. It must be painful to watch, albeit in satire, the ghost of your Christmas future as a paranoid wreck slipping into madness as your sins return to land you in The Hague for war crimes...
First thing I have watched on television for ages - a delightful skewering even though I'm not sure that Iraq is the utter pointless disaster portrayed nor that it will be what Blair is remembered for. But in this parallel universe as so often Kipling got there first with his Epitaphs of War:
If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.
A DEAD STATESMAN
I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?
January 15, 2007
Alerted by this:
somethingfishy: I've had enough of Cameron's bloody nonsense.
The latest bloody nonsense about fat licences/trading which I saw over on DK was the final straw;
I followed it through DK to the BBC:
BBC NEWS | Politics | Tories ponder fatty food permits
Firms could buy and sell permits to make alcoholic drinks or fatty foods under plans being put to Tory leaders.
The system would work along the same lines as carbon trading schemes aimed at tackling pollution.
The proposal, put forward at a Conservative summit on social responsibility, comes from an advisory group set up by leader David Cameron.
The advisers say companies that act responsibly could be rewarded by having less government regulation....
Mr Cameron told the conference such ideas contrasted with Gordon brown's "state-control".
Mr Cameron said: "The idea of some sort of trading system for social bads as opposed to environmental bads is also something we are looking at.
"I think that's much more difficult, it's still at quite a conceptual stage, but clearly emissions trading is working very well at putting a price on carbon, and reducing carbon emissions.
"So, the argument goes, well why not try and do this with some of the social bads as well as the environmental bads?"
What the feck are they smoking? Why wasn't the wonk who dreamt this up kicked twice round Smith Square and then impaled on the railings? The fact the Dave even floats this idea shows him to be a twat of the first water. Where's that UKIP membership application form?
Suffering the White Man's Burden
Carbon credits are being bought by the UK and other European nations at the cost of human misery in the Third World, it was claimed yesterday.
The Co-operative Bank found itself under attack over allegations that its 'green mortgages' - under which a percentage goes to a carbon offsetting scheme in the Kibale rainforests in western Uganda - were ruining the lives of indigenous tribes people.
This claim followed a report from the World Rainforest Movement saying that 8,000 other people in eastern Uganda had been evicted from their land to make way for a Danish re-forestation scheme, again in the name of carbon offsetting.
It is not often there is such a direct link between poor little brown people paying for whitey's guilty conscience as this allegation; whether or not this instance is true or not (the Co-op insist it isn't) the general principle is.
The old imperialist was far more honourable:
Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine,
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
(The end for others sought)
Watch sloth and heathen folly
Bring all your hope to nought.
By all ye will or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent sullen peoples
Shall weigh your God and you.
EU Free Movement of Criminals - Telegraph Trails the Blogs
A fresh row over criminal databases broke out last night with the revelation that immigration officials frequently cannot check on the criminal past of European Union citizens entering Britain.
The admission is contained in a letter seen by The Daily Telegraph and written by Joan Ryan, the Home Office minister caught up in the criminal records row...
Last night, the row broadened to include access to criminal records on people from the entire European Economic Area (EEA) – including all EU states – coming into Britain.
In a letter dated last June and addressed to the Labour MP Chris Mullin, Miss Ryan admitted: "The UK Immigration Service is unable to routinely access details of an EEA national's personal information or criminal record in their country of origin."
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said the admission showed "shocking complacency towards the matter of stopping dangerous criminals at our borders".
Do they mean this letter?
Whilst it is fantastic that the Telegraph has picked up the story - but don't they acknowledge sources anymore? Maybe they didn't pick it up from Neil's blog where it was put up on Friday, if they didn't they should have - the man is a national hero and required reading. He has strewn the road to metrication with caltrops, defeated the EU and Prescott's plans of regionalisation, exposed the parking and speeding shambles and now this.
School Vouchers - Now
Hundreds of thousands of pupils will be taught in dilapidated classrooms because the Government is abandoning its targets for a ｣45 billion schools rebuilding programme.
The plans, heralded by Gordon Brown in successive budget speeches, have become mired in red tape, forcing the Government to admit that three years after promising to rebuild all 3,500 secondary schools before 2020 not a single project has been completed. It expects to open just 14 of the 100 new schools it had planned to by the end of this year
Not a lack of money but "Red Tape" is forcing kids to endure leaking mobiles and antiquated classrooms. Look it is quite simple, government is hopeless at running local enterprises like schools, whether it is the curriculum, the admissions, the staffing or the buildings the dead weight of the bureaucratic hand prevents the parents and pupils getting what they want and deserve.
The political parties are running scared of the unions and refuse to back the obvious answer, so who will campaign for school vouchers?
January 14, 2007
I've got your number
A giant database of people's personal details could be created at Whitehall under government plans which ministers say will help improve public services.
Tony Blair is expected to unveil the proposal in Downing Street on Monday.
So-called "citizens panels" will gauge public reaction to relaxing privacy procedures so people do not have to repeat personal information to different public bodies - particularly at times of stress such as a family death.
Step by step, the government is logging details of every man, woman and child in 'Big Brother' computers
Officials think current rules are an obstacle to improving public services.
But such data-sharing is controversial. As well as criticism from the Conservatives, the information commissioner - the data watchdog - has warned Britain may be "sleepwalking into a surveillance society".
The idea of allowing different Whitehall departments to access centrally-held data emerged during the government's policy review of public services.
The review team, headed by Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton, has concluded that it is difficult for services to be as flexible and light-footed as people want because of rules on data.
Oh it is to help families in times of stress, to make the government "light-footed", and "citizen's panels" will review the proposals, how could you be so heartless to be cynical and oppose the idea...
Can we leave yet?
Just seven per cent of the European Union's budget has been spent legally and correctly, auditors have found.
THE army’s plans for a new generation of armoured troop and missile carriers costing £14 billion face new delays of at least five years, undermining its ability to fight land battles overseas.
The proposed 3,000 combat vehicles will not enter service until at least 2017
With that sort of timeline it's a good job we aren't fighting a war, isn't it? It wasn't always so:
The Government "commissioned Lieutenant Walter Wilson of the Naval Air Service and William Tritton of William Foster & Co., based in Lincoln, to produce the first landship in secrecy. Its codename, given because the shape of the shell resembled water carriers, was 'tank'; the name, assigned in December 1915, stuck...The first combat tank was ready by January 1916..Five months after its combat demonstration to the British, in June 1916 the first production line tanks were ready...the first truly successful demonstration of the potential of the tank, the entire British Tank Corps (consisting of 474 tanks) saw action at the Battle of Cambrai on 20 November 1917...By the time the war drew to a close the British, the first to use them, had produced some 2,636 tanks. The French produced rather more, 3,870. The Germans, never convinced of its merits, and despite their record for technological innovation, produced just 20...
بخشش The Gift That Goes on Giving
TONY BLAIR intervened to help an Indian billionaire buy a giant Romanian steel company a month after the tycoon donated £125,000 to the Labour Party, The Telegraph can reveal.
In an extraordinary letter, Mr Blair told Romania's prime minister that selling his biggest state-owned enterprise to Lakshmi Mittal, one of the world's richest men, would enhance the country's chances of joining the European Union.
Mr Blair later told MPs that Mr Mittal's company was British. In fact, LNM Holdings is based in a Caribbean tax haven. It operates almost entirely overseas and competes against British steelmakers that have shed 6,000 jobs in the past year.
BRITAIN’S richest man is preparing to bail out Labour by pledging £2m to save the party from financial ruin after the cash-for-honours scandal.
The donation from Lakshmi Mittal, an Indian-born billionaire, will help Labour to pay off huge loans it controversially took from wealthy businessmen before the last general election.
The deal is understood to have been negotiated by Tony Blair and Lord Levy, Labour’s chief fundraiser, who is on bail after being arrested in the summer.
The money is also likely to attract criticism from Labour backbenchers concerned about Blair’s apparent financial reliance on a few millionaire backers and on Levy.
Blair had hoped the £2m gift would remain confidential until May, when the Electoral Commission discloses all donations received by political parties in the first three months of 2007.
Senior party figures are now worried that disclosure of Mittal’s pledge may lead him to withdraw it.
There is an old Indian word for this, but it escapes my mind at the moment...
January 13, 2007
Prescription - more of the same.
Patients face much tougher rationing of treatments and restricted access to breakthrough drugs if the Government does not rethink its plans for health spending, the NHS’s treatment regulator has told The Times.
Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, the head of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), cited treatments ranging from new life-saving drugs to free food for the elderly in nursing homes as examples of care that could suffer if ministers slowed the rate of spending, as expected.
Other services that could be cut included the provision of gluten-free food for sufferers of coeliac disease, and antibiotics for children with sore throats or earache.
Describing the funding emergency as the “elephant in the room” for politicians, Professor Rawlins said that most accepted privately that a failure to continue to increase spending would have a direct impact on patient care. The achievement of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in bringing the share of national income spent on health up to 9.3 per cent, in line with the European average, would not be enough, he told The Times in an interview. “I don’t think we can keep it at 9.3 per cent. It’s going to have to increase, unquestionably.”
Quick keep shovelling the money in - one day it will work....won't it?
The Jelly-Bellied Flag Flapper
And so he worked towards his peroration - which, by the way, he used later with overwhelming success at a meeting of electors - while they sat, flushed and uneasy, in sour disgust. After many many words, he reached for the cloth-wrapped stick and thrust one hand in his bosom. This - this was the concrete symbol of their land - worthy of all honour and reverence! Let no boy look on this flag who did not purpose to worthily add to its imperishable lustre. He shook it before them - a large calico Union Jack, staring in all three colours, and waited for the thunder of applause that should crown his effort.
They looked in silence. They had certainly seen the thing before - down at the coastguard station, or through a telescope, half-mast high when a brig went ashore on Braunton sands; above the roof of the Golf Club, and in Keyte's window, where a certain kind of striped sweetmeat bore it in paper on each box. But the College never displayed it; it was no part of the scheme of their lives; the Head had never alluded to it; their fathers had not declared it unto them. It was a matter shut up, sacred and apart. What, in the name of everything caddish, was he driving at, who waved that horror before their eyes? Happy thought! Perhaps he was drunk...
They discussed the speech in the dormitories. There was not one dissentient voice. Mr. Raymond Martin, beyond question, was born in a gutter, and bred in a Board-school, where they played marbles. He was further (I give the barest handful from great store) a Flopshus Cad, an Outrageous Stinker, a Jelly-bellied Flag-flapper (this was Stalky's contribution), and several other things which it is not seemly to put down.
(Stalky & Co)
January 12, 2007
Thanks t the several readers who have pointed me to The Policeman's Blog and the funny comments regarding Gypsies etc in Wiltshire - but I'm a bit worried when I read these undesirables can be recognised thus:
.. Scrap and the odd shotgun.. Dogs roam untethered, ..animal waste litters the floor ( Well that sounds like every Wiltshire farmyard)
In relation to their physical description, the men are often stocky to large, hard features, ruddy complexion, wax jackets, moleskin pants, dealer boots, always a Jap 4wd to hand, a Shogun or similar, often difficult to get to the bottom of their identity .. (Ummm)
Telegraph shows Milliband how to get the answer he wants.
Blah blah, climate change, taxes, etc..
But the Telegraph has a cunning idea of running an online poll to see what the readers think:
Can you guess the result?
Sort of appropriate type of question for these repressive governmental measures - straight from the North Korean Book of Democracy. As the Telegraph says;
"Mr Dimas said that Gu(with umlaut)nter Verheugen, (ck) the anti-red-tape German Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry accepted that regulation was now inevitable if Europe was to meet its commitments on tackling climate change."
Maybe the subs are still at the pub....
Religious Quotas at Work
(Times) The force formerly known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary has been inundated by applications from young Poles desperate to become officers. And the wave of hopeful candidates brings with it interesting implications for a service required to recruit half of its new officers from a reluctant Roman Catholic community.
Nearly 1,000 of the Province’s burgeoning Polish community have responded to a police recruitment drive — and they are nearly all Catholics. Poles accounted for 12 per cent of the 7,749 applicants, which could provide a lifeline for a force that has struggled to attract Catholic recruits.
Under the policing reforms, the PSNI must recruit Catholics and non-Catholics equally, a restriction strongly disliked by Unionists because it leads to the rejection of able and willing Protestant candidates.
So a newly arrived immigrant with English as a second language will automatically be preferred over a local guy, all in the name of creating a force representative of the community....
January 11, 2007
Free Movement of Criminals
Neil Herron asks:
"Dear Tony ... under our EU treaty obligations, signed and agreed to without the consent of the British people, citizens from the other 26 Member States of the EU are allowed 'free movement' within the EU to reside, work and travel.
If you cannot manage the simple task (where you are actually supplied the information of convictions) of alerting the Police when a Briton has been convicted abroad then how on earth can you monitor people with criminal convictions from other EU Member States ... who travel, live and work here? This quite unbelievable state of affairs makes a mockery of our Sex Offenders Register."
- Remember, there are no requirements for any EU national to do anything other than show a Passport or ID Card when he comes into this country. Do you expect a convicted sex offender from another EU country to voluntarily place themselves on the Register?
Wiltshire Schools - Comprehensive Failure
It isn't easy to get the school results figures down into a spreadsheet to dig through the data oneself - but I have done it with the figures from Wiltshire
All the headlines dump all the schools together - whereas there is a huge divide between comprehensive and independent (of various sorts) schools. 46% vs 92% achieving the new "Gold Standard" of GCSEs in the core subjects.
According to the figures 4739 kids were of an age to take GCSEs at comprehensive schools last year in Wiltshire 2198 (46%) achieved 5 or more grades A*-C including English and maths GCSEs.
The independent schools figures are:779, 713 (92%) - I have taken out Dauntseys as they didn't enter pupils for GCSEs.
(The figures for Independent schools are pulled down by Stonar at only 65%, which claims GCSE results of "achieved a 100% pass rate yet again this year. With a 91.8% pass at A* - C grade and a significant increase on the number of A* grades, 18.6% compared to 16.8 % last year" - obviously some of the girls weren't entered for one of the core subjects, but then Stonar is a very nice school for very nice girls so maybe they don't need it...)
School Report - Comprehensive Failure
The annual performance tables for schools published on these pages are drawn from official data collected and supplied by the Department for Education and Skills.
They show how all schools and sixth form colleges in England performed in the 2006 examination cycle, except for special schools which are omitted because they are assessed on different criteria.
The publication of the school by school data is consistently opposed by the teacher unions which say it gives a misleading picture of how well pupils are taught...
Proportion of pupils achieving five or more A*-C grades including Maths and English
This is the Government’s new “gold standard” benchmark and is helping to focus attention on the need to ensure that as many pupils as possible leave school at 16 with a good grasp of the basics. The Maths and English requirement reduces the performance of schools overall by as much as 66 per cent in the worst case. Independent schools are furious that they may look to be doing less well because increasing numbers are entering pupils for the more traditional ICCSEs, which they say are a better preparation for sixth form study, mainly in Maths but also in English. The Government does not allow state schools to do these and so they are not counted in the tables.
One in 10 schools are failing to teach 80% of their pupils basic reading, writing and maths.
Four out of five teenagers at more than 300 state schools could not muster C-grades in both maths and English in last year's GCSE exams, league tables showed.
Nationally, the results showed that only 45% of pupils scored five C grades in GCSE subjects including maths and English - the government's new "gold standard" measurement.
January 10, 2007
From a Soldier
Graeme Lamb the three star DComd in Iraq (ex 22 SAS, former Director Special Forces, my old CO in 1 Queen's Own Highlanders and an all round good egg) has written a decent and interesting article. Funny how it will probably never see the light of day in the Mainstream press for some reason.....
No choice for the consumer
Middle-class families may miss out on the best supermarkets under plans to decide product choice by "lottery".
New buying rules, published yesterday by Alan Johnson, the Shopping Secretary, suggest that Shop Managers in leafy suburbs should draw names from a hat to stop supermarkets becoming monopolised by families who buy houses nearby. Supermarkets are also banned from considering customers' backgrounds, interviewing families or pricing poor children out by displaying goods from expensive suppliers.
The new code - which shops have to follow - is designed to eliminate selection "by the back door" and ensure all children have a fair chance of buying what they want in their preferred shop. A recent survey said that homes surrounding some of the best supermarkets were up to £25,000 more expensive.
To loosen the middle-class grip on successful supermarkets, a handful of Waitrose’s already operate so-called "random allocation" policies, ensuring that Turkey Twizzlers are sold rather than Duchy Original Organic Chicken .
The new rules, which come into force next month for entry in 2008, suggest that lotteries should be used by other popular urban supermarkets, although it is not mandatory and "may not be suitable in rural areas".
The code says: "Random product choice” can widen access to supermarkets for those unable to afford to buy houses near to favoured supermarkets and create greater social equity."
The Conservatives criticised the move and said it was tantamount to "social engineering".
Nick Gibb, the shadow supermarkets minister, said: "Lotteries, like fair-banding tests, are designed to get a cross-section of socio-economic groups in a shop. But to do that, you may end up rejecting a products which suit customer who live next door to the shop while bussing a customers from across the other side of the town.
"We are against bussing customers across towns for reasons of social engineering."
Back in the real world: "The NASUWT teachers' union welcomed the new code, saying it should "secure more clarity, fairness and equity".
General secretary Chris Keates said: "The outlawing of the process of interviewing parents and pupils, an invidious form of selection which was creeping into some schools, is particularly important."
Of course the bloody unions don't want parents choosing the schools their kids go to. If you give parents the choice the deadbeat teachers and pisspoor schools would be out of business by tomorrow week. It is only because schools get their "customers" by imprisoning those who refuse to send their children that they stay in bloody business poisoning the minds of the kids with their outdated failed bollocks.
a topless haka performed by a British women's rugby team has been criticised as offensive by Maori in New Zealand.
The team, from Canterbury, Kent, were smeared with mud and wearing only shorts when they were photographed leaping into the air
Ah diddums the girlies have upset some lecturer at the "School of Maori Studies" . Bet he wouldn't be brave enough to tell it to their faces...
Of course the proper British response to the Haka is " Front row "kneel and load", second row "fire", third row "cock"...."
UPDATE: Here's the picture...
And for more Haka nonsense - Fran Cotton - "look at those big poofs dancing" and the correct British Army Drill see - http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/archives/002117.html
Pour encourager les autres
The Secret Transcript:
"Doctor, I woke up sweating last night after an awful dream, in fact I am having this dream every night, and it is me with my head in the noose. But the people love me, they wouldn't want to do that to me would they? Doctor, help me, I feel I'm losing my mind......"
January 9, 2007
My Betty Grable number is three
Iain Dale's Diary: The Not the Florence Nightingale Award
Danny Finkelstein has a really interesting competition HERE. He wants to know the best person you can think of who has shaken the hand of someone you have shaken hands with.
Of course, if Danny was writing for The Sun and not The Times the competition would be of a rather different nature... So I want to know the best person you can think of who has ******* someone you have *******.
I'm ahead of him - here is a blog post from a few years ago..
An Englishman's Castle: Betty Grable
It brings a fond memory of "The Doc" telling a story down the King's Arms. He was on a welcoming committee in India when Harry James and his Orchestra came out to play for the troops. They were all a bit in awe of this Legend and the top brass were there to do courtesies. Harry James came down the steps, stuck his hand out; "Guys, how would you like to shake the hand, that holds the cock, that goes up Betty Grable?"
Bread Prices - the missing story
The price of bread could soon rise to £1 a loaf, bakers are warning. But why is the cost of bread so important?
But if you've been reading the paper over breakfast in recent days, it would have been hard to miss the headlines about the price of a standard loaf of bread rising to £1 any day soon.
The price hike has been blamed on poor wheat harvests overseas increasing the cost of flour by 15%
Wait a cotton-picking minute before you blame the price of wheat:
The price of a loaf of bread:
1970 - 9p
1980 - 33p
1990 - 50p
2000 - 52p
2007 - 94p
The price of a tonne of milling wheat from my copies of Nix and today from the Farmers Weekly Website:
I think you can spot the trend - so why can't the journalists?
There is about 500 g of flour in a standard loaf - so that is about 5 pence worths. So the millers blaming the price of flour is just hogwash.
I am sure the villagers of Great Wishford who have been inscribing the cost of a gallon of bread on their churchyard wall would not be so easily fooled (photo) A gallon of bread dough made eight loaves.
Not Hunting - an annual post
The view from my lawn this morning - the Hunt Meet to go Not Hunting.
A sight to gladden everybody's heart, surely?
You may wish to compare this morning's photos of a Not Hunt meet with a meet of the Hunt at The Castle from when hunting was legal.
Panoramic view below.
Wind power - or the lack of it...
Enlightenment from Tim Hunkin.... the key fact is that power is proportional to the cube of the wind speed. So when it’s blowing a gale, wind power is good source of energy. But whenever the wind drops a bit, even if its still a fresh breeze, wind power becomes pathetic. David Cameron (the leader of the UK conservative party) got a lot of publicity for fitting a ‘Windsave’ windmill to his chimney (www.windsave.com). Windsave’s website proudly claims their 2m diameter blades will generate 1Kw of electricity at a wind speed of only 12 meters per second. 12 meters per second is force 6 or almost a gale. By the cube law, a moderate breeze of 6 meters a second would only generate 120 watts, certainly not enough for a freezer let alone anything else that might be switched on, and a light breeze of 3 meters a second would only generate 15 watts, enough for one energy saving light bulb. And David Cameron’s windmill certainly isn’t on a high pole with completely unobstructed windflow so it could only produce much less than Windsave’s quoted figures. I can’t imagine how they claim it can save you 33% of your entire electricity bill. ...
So I now think wind turbines are principally green icons. Until I started playing with wind power I was completely in favour of them. Wind turbines are elegant structures, and its very clever how recent development has converted the relatively slow speed of their blades into significant amounts of power. But if I, who pride myself in having an intuitive sense of what works, can be so mislead by the power of the wind, there’s little hope that most other people are more clued up.
(lots of other good stuff on his web site)
Trust Putin, the Greens or yourself for power?
EU Referendum reports on the short-sighted reliance we are developing on whirly gigs and solar power as we shun nuclear power:
I was talking to a power supply engineer the other day, and asked him whether it was worth getting a back-up generator to protect against the possibility of power cuts. The answer was a most emphatic "yes", and he is by no means the only one who has given that answer.
And in other news today:
Russians turn off Europe's oil supply
Europe’s oil supplies from Russia were being held to ransom last night as the Kremlin fell into bitter dispute with a former Soviet satellite state.
Moscow abruptly halted millions of barrels of oil destined for the EU via Belarus in an increasingly hostile wrangle with its neighbour.
The move raised further questions over whether Western Europe can trust Mr Putin for its energy supply...
I think I owe an apology to a new house builder whose wisdom I queried as he had a generator built into his house....
More Rubbish News
Families should have to pay for the amount of rubbish they throw out, the Local Government Association said yesterday. It called on the Government to impose legislation to allow councils to penalise households that refuse to recycle and reward those that do.
The LGA, which represents more than 400 councils in England and Wales, warned that council tax bills could rise without urgent action to cut waste and increase recycling.
Councils that fail to meet recycling targets set under the EU landfill directive currently face penalties of up to £150 per ton of rubbish dumped into landfill sites.
All the usual suspects are gathering together like the four horsemen against the poor householder...
And even dodgy statistics come into it:
The warning came as the association named Britain "the dustbin of Europe", sending 27 million tons of rubbish to landfill every year, the equivalent of almost half a ton for every home in the country.
An area the size of Warwick, which covers 109 square miles, is currently taken up by landfill,
I will let you do the maths but 27 million tonnes spread over Warwick equals 100 kg per square meter (or 20lbs per square foot) - Waste in landfill weighs about 1.5 tonnes/ cubic metre so as long as they tip it a bit deeper than three inches it shouldn't take up so many square miles...
What a way to die...
An elderly stroke victim begged for a beetroot sandwich and macaroni cheese in hospital but no attempt was made to feed her, an inquest was told yesterday.
Olive Nockels, 91, a former school matron, died after surviving for nearly a month on a subcutaneous drip that delivered only a quarter of the calorie intake specified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a short-term starvation diet....
Her grandson, Christopher West, told William Armstrong, the Coroner, at the inquest in Norwich: “The only thing that was said most of the time, as the weeks went on, was that she hadn’t died yet.
“Immediately after her admission it became clear it was their intention not to treat her.”
Mr West, 34, obtained a High Court ex parte injunction on October 6, 2003, forcing doctors to reinstate artificial nutrition and hydration, but the next day Mr Justice Forbes varied the order on an application by David Maisey, a consultant.
In the amended version, nutrition and hydration were to be reinstated only “as far as medically possible”.
Mrs Nockels died on October 10, 2003 — three days after the amendments were made.
Mr West said that doctors told him that the quality of life of his grandmother would be so poor that “it would be in her best interests not to intervene and let her die”. He said: “You don’t just let someone die because you think it’s best for them. It’s inhuman. I would class it as starvation, actually.”
Mrs Nockels’s daughter, Ivy West, told the coroner that her mother’s hearing aid and dentures had been removed — for reasons given to her as comfort and safety. She denied that her mother, from Holt, Norfolk, was incapable of responding when she visited.
“I talked to her every day,” she said. “She would tell me she was cold and that she wanted something to eat. She told me she wanted a beetroot sandwich and some macaroni cheese. She could make decisions for herself.” ...
January 8, 2007
An invite to come Not Hunting
Tomorrow morning yet again we are Not Hunting at The Castle - if you want to come along to the meet for a warming drink and to wish the hounds good luck in chasing the old smelly sock then it's 11:00 at my place.
See you there.
How do you bone leather?
I work as a butler in a large country house and I would like to learn the art of 'boning' leather boots. Do you know where or how I can go about doing this?
Can anyone help this reader out - I just use this old deer bone, or an old toothbrush handle, to rub the polish into the leather to get a very high gloss finish. Is this the same as "spooning" a pair of boots?
Your help as always would be welcome.
Warm the tape measure
The normally discreet world of men’s tailoring has been shaken by a dispute over who has the best tailors: Britain or Italy?
Pitti Uomo, Italy’s annual showcase for menswear, opens this week in Florence, but for the first time in the its 70-year history, the show will feature clothing by Savile Row tailors, together with an exhibition entitled The London Cut: Savile Row Bespoke Tailoring.
The inclusion has incensed Italian designers. Gianluca Isaia, deputy head of the Italian menswear consortium Classico Italia, said that the Pitti show was “intended to represent menswear made in Italy. I would expect it to support Italian firms, not to offer a showcase for foreigners”.
Mr Isaia said that Italian techniques were “much more up to date than those of London tailors. We combine state of the art production with ancient origins — Naples already had an association of tailors in the 15th century.”
Yes, yes, yes if you want something flashy in polyester to wear with your two tone shoes I'm sure the Italians can knock you something up , but my money is on the few remaining craftsmen like this:
Desmond Merrion Bespoke Tailor
How to to check your suits. Were they sold as bespoke? Are they bespoke or factory made-to-measure?
Remember: A good, honest tailor has nothing to hide from you..
Labour faced fresh accusations of hypocrisy last night after it emerged that the child of a Cabinet minister had been removed from a state school to be educated in the private sector.
The move, the latest in a series of "defections" by the children of Labour MPs from state to private schools, was branded a "slap in the face" by a senior backbencher.
Ian Gibson, the Labour MP for Norwich North, said the decision was "wrong" and the minister involved should "set an example" by supporting state education.
"It's a slap in the face for the teachers and the pupils in the school that the child has been taken out of."
The minister, who cannot be named because of a court order, is an ally of Tony Blair and has been "closely involved" with the Prime Minister's education policy.
Hypocracy maybe - but the right decision - your family is your number one responsibility and doing what is right for your kids out trumps upsetting the poor teachers and unions..
January 7, 2007
Chad Sands again
An update on my story of the African dust which feeds the Amazonian Forests - guess who got there first...
Charles Darwin encountered African dust off the Cape Verde Islands early in the Beagle Voyage. He collected samples and later had them and similar samples obtained from another ship analysed. He wrote about the dust in his account of the Beagle voyage and, in 1846, he produced a short paper for the Journal of the Geological Society of London entitled An account of the Fine Dust which often falls on Vessels in the Atlantic Ocean,
Miliband goes on adventure.
Fish and chip shops are dangerous places for politicians, as Labour spin doctors know. Peter Mandelson’s image never recovered after he mistook the mushy peas for guacamole at his local chippie in Hartlepool; and in these health-conscious times, it wouldn’t do for an ambitious young cabinet minister to be seen tucking in to such fatty fare with too much alacrity.
So it’s a surprise to find David Miliband, the environment secretary, carefree when he arrives for the reopening of Colmans of South Shields, an award-winning fish and chip shop in his constituency.
Indeed Miliband is practically skipping with enthusiasm...
“The food here’s fantastic, and I’m having full lashings,”
A cross between Fotherington-Thomas and Billy Bunter - what a jolly little chap our Boy David is!
So how is the environment secretary going to get people to change the way they behave? While cynics and those with vested interests mock the efforts of individuals as small beer, questioning whether recycling the odd baked bean can and composting tea bags is worth the trouble given the dismal bigger picture, Miliband is convinced we must all do our bit.
“Individuals can make a difference,” he says. “If you count energy, transport and food, 44% of total emissions come from households. Individuals will make the difference between cracking and not cracking this global warming phenomenon.
Who could mock such rosy cheeked optimism, don't you just want to ruffle his hair and give him half a crown to spend at the tuck shop and leave all the worrying to the grown ups?
Lions and Donkeys - and the Ringmaster
Defence chiefs believe that the military's fondness for traditional values and conservative tendencies have left them with very few friends within the Labour hierarchy. Mr Brown, who is preparing to succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister, is known to regard the MoD as one of the most "financially wasteful" departments within the Government and is understood to hold the personal view that the military is a pro-Tory organisation.
The crisis has been fuelled in recent months by a deluge of leaked documents and a series of bitter attacks on the Government's defence policy by senior military figures, complaining that the Armed Forces are under-resourced but over-committed on operations around the world.
Senior officers fear that relations with Labour are so bad that the Chief of the Defence Staff will have to issue official orders at senior level, banning the leaking of stories damaging to the Government....
Patrick Mercer, the Tory spokesman for homeland security who was an infantry commanding officer, said: "The Armed Forces are not a political organisation but they have simply had enough of being treated with contempt by this Government."
Mr Fox said: "The reason that leaks are appearing is because of the build-up of frustration and anger in the Armed Forces about the way in which Labour are increasingly willing to commit our forces to combat without giving the support they require.
"These are men and women who are prepared to pay the ultimate price for this country's security but who have been betrayed by a Government which is possibly the most self-serving and party political in our history."
All good stuff but I wonder how this story alos came out today, Gordon is damned for calling the MoD wasteful and then lo and behold in The Times -
More than three miles of walls were demolished to create an open-plan “highly innovative” office space, costing £27,302 per square metre, with marble and oak features restored to the “highest quality”.
For staff, refit highlights include:
# Luxury office chairs worth more than £1,000 for each of the 3,100 civil servants
# The purchase of more than 3,500 oak doors for a total cost of £3m, or up to £1,200 each
# The restoration of a “terrazzo” marble and stone floor in the renovated “pillared hall”
# A restaurant, a coffee bar, three large plasma screens on each of the 10 floors, a gym and “quiet rooms” where staff can take a break.
Over the next decade, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will spend the equivalent of more than £75,000 for each top official working at the ministry’s headquarters on refurbishments, repairs and services.
Snodgrass at the door
Householders face rises in council tax bills every time they improve their homes under plans by ministers to revalue all properties every year.
...Last night Caroline Spelman, the Tories' shadow communities and local government secretary, said: "There is now irrefutable evidence that the Labour Government is preparing to introduce a new home improvement tax, on top of stamp duty, and a new levy on house prices in every part of the UK."
She continued: "Taxing home improvements, including sheds, double glazing and conservatories, is an overt Labour tax grab on family homes, punishing those who have worked hard and saved. I am very concerned that tax inspectors have been given the invasive power and tools to barge inside and inspect your home, and log and record every feature — including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
"Not only is this a sign of higher taxes to come but it is an unprecedented and unacceptable assault on the civil liberties and privacy of British citizens."
Quite - and good to hear a Tory opposition spokesman actually doing some opposing for a change.
Shooting up the popularity poll
The Times - PUT down those golf clubs and go for your gun: shooting is fast becoming the social networking sport of choice.
A survey of 2,000 companies and 14,000 directors shows that shooting is soaring in popularity. A decade ago, toting a shotgun did not even feature among the most popular recreations listed by company directors. But the survey ranks shooting as the seventh most popular recreation, almost level with gardening.
“Though golf remains the directors’ favourite recreation, shooting has come from nowhere and continues its rise, despite the current politically correct climate,”
Shouldn't that "despite" be a "because of"?
January 6, 2007
We're a week into 2007. Do you know what you want to achieve by the end of January? Have you set goals to reach by the end of the first quarter? How is it for you on the morning of January 6th?
No, Nope and hung over.
It would be nice to resolve some of the listless malaise that hovers around the Castle, but no solutions come to mind. Baa Humbug to New Year resolutions and so forth, but it is nice to be asked....
And the forecast for this year is..
Last year was reportedly the hottest since records began. This year, with the El Ni effect, is set to be hotter still. Only nine years ago, at the Kyoto summit, the predictions about climate change seemed weird and remote. A few cold winters in the 1960s had caused some scientists to speculate about a coming Ice Age; perhaps science would be wrong again. It seems not...
Ice caps are melting; peculiarly named snails are creeping along the Scottish coast; birds are forgetting to migrate. The climate is changing so rapidly that we can watch the process unfold....
our biggest problem could be the relative attractiveness of the climate, on which literally hungry glances will be cast by refugees from flooded coastal regions and the new deserts....
Don't mess with Grandma
A grandmother described yesterday how she fended off three wild boar with a dog lead to prevent them attacking her dachshund.
Rosemarie Hamilton-Meikle, 80, was walking her four-year-old, 14-inch tall pet, Bosun, in woodland on the edge of Dartmoor when the dog darted into the undergrowth.
She followed him and found him lying on the ground surrounded by the boars. She swung the lead at them and the two females fled. But the male boar stood his ground three feet away.
Mrs Hamilton-Meikle had another swing and struck the male boar on the nose, sending him fleeing into the undergrowth at Buckland Monachorum, Devon.
Oh so that is all I need for my walk round this weekend, the sort of Granny we can all be proud of!
The basic failure of comprehensive schools
The majority of teenagers are leaving secondary school without gaining an acceptable standard of education, according to new-style Government league tables to be published next week.
It will show that 58 per cent of pupils left school with five A* to C grades last summer. But, the proportion plummets to only 45 per cent when English and maths is added...
Only 25.7 per cent of children gained five good GCSEs last summer when English, maths, science and a foreign language is included....
In other words if you ignore the subjects such as "leisure and tourism or health and beauty" and concentrate on the core subjects, the basis for being educated the system is a failure - no if or buts, a failure.
January 5, 2007
Alternate Weekly Collection of Rubbish - I Smell A Rat
The reduction in rubbish collections is being blamed for record numbers of rats, which it has been claimed are an increasing threat to public health.
The brown rat population has surged by 39 per cent in 2005 according to the National Pest Technicians Association. It said that fortnightly collections and the widespread use of composting bins was exacerbating the problem...
John Davidson, chief executive for the NPTA, was particularly worried at the rise in brown rats, Rattus norvegicus. He said: “It’s a grave problem. The way this is growing, it is going to give rise to some kind of public health risk. What will it take for someone to take notice about what it going on?” Included among the risks posed by rats is the spread of Weil’s disease, a bacterial infection that kills about a dozen people in Britain every year. Other diseases spread by rats include toxoplasmosis and salmonella.
Despite tonnes of poison being laid out annually, more than 70 million brown rats are now estimated to be scurrying around Britain, more than one for every human.
Over now to Councillor Chris Humpries, Leader of Kennet Council who says:
As leader of Kennet District Council I am responsible for ensuring that the Councils services are delivered in a cost efficient and effective manner to meet the needs of the districts residents
One of the Councils major improvements in service delivery this year will be the way that your refuse and recycling is collected...
Strange he doesn't seem to mention encouraging rats and disease....
Liberty and Education
The Devil's Kitchen joins in the education debate:
Via Bishop Hill, this rather lovely quote from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty (chapter 5).
A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.
In fact the whole passage of Mills on education is worth reading - it isn't long, so here it is:
It is in the case of children, that misapplied notions of liberty are a real obstacle to the fulfilment by the State of its duties. One would almost think that a man's children were supposed to be literally, and not metaphorically, a part of himself, so jealous is opinion of the smallest interference of law with his absolute and exclusive control over them; more jealous than of almost any interference with his own freedom of action: so much less do the generality of mankind value liberty than power. Consider, for example, the case of education. Is it not almost a self-evident axiom, that the State should require and compel the education, up to a certain standard, of every human being who is born its citizen? Yet who is there that is not afraid to recognise and assert this truth? Hardly any one indeed will deny that it is one of the most sacred duties of the parents (or, as law and usage now stand, the father), after summoning a human being into the world, to give to that being an education fitting him to perform his part well in life towards others and towards himself. But while this is unanimously declared to be the father's duty, scarcely anybody, in this country, will bear to hear of obliging him to perform it. Instead of his being required to make any exertion or sacrifice for securing education to the child, it is left to his choice to accept it or not when it is provided gratis! It still remains unrecognised, that to bring a child into existence without a fair prospect of being able, not only to provide food for its body, but instruction and training for its mind, is a moral crime, both against the unfortunate offspring and against society; and that if the parent does not fulfil this obligation, the State ought to see it fulfilled, at the charge, as far as possible, of the parent. 12
Were the duty of enforcing universal education once admitted, there would be an end to the difficulties about what the State should teach, and how it should teach, which now convert the subject into a mere battle-field for sects and parties, causing the time and labour which should have been spent in educating, to be wasted in quarrelling about education. If the government would make up its mind to require for every child a good education, it might save itself the trouble of providing one. It might leave to parents to obtain the education where and how they pleased, and content itself with helping to pay the school fees of the poorer classes of children, and defraying the entire school expenses of those who have no one else to pay for them. The objections which are urged with reason against State education, do not apply to the enforcement of education by the State, but to the State's taking upon itself to direct that education: which is a totally different thing. That the whole or any large part of the education of the people should be in State hands, I go as far as any one in deprecating. All that has been said of the importance of individuality of character, and diversity in opinions and modes of conduct, involves, as of the same unspeakable importance, diversity of education. A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body. An education established and controlled by the State should only exist, if it exist at all, as one among many competing experiments, carried on for the purpose of example and stimulus, to keep the others up to a certain standard of excellence. Unless, indeed, when society in general is in so backward a state that it could not or would not provide for itself any proper institutions of education, unless the government undertook the task: then, indeed, the government may, as the less of two great evils, take upon itself the business of schools and universities, as it may that of joint stock companies, when private enterprise, in a shape fitted for undertaking great works of industry, does not exist in the country. But in general, if the country contains a sufficient number of persons qualified to provide education under government auspices, the same persons would be able and willing to give an equally good education on the voluntary principle, under the assurance of remuneration afforded by a law rendering education compulsory, combined with State aid to those unable to defray the expense. 13
The instrument for enforcing the law could be no other than public examinations, extending to all children, and beginning at an early age. An age might be fixed at which every child must be examined, to ascertain if he (or she) is able to read. If a child proves unable, the father, unless he has some sufficient ground of excuse, might be subjected to a moderate fine, to be worked out, if necessary, by his labour, and the child might be put to school at his expense. Once in every year the examination should be renewed, with a gradually extending range of subjects, so as to make the universal acquisition, and what is more, retention, of a certain minimum of general knowledge, virtually compulsory. Beyond that minimum, there should be voluntary examinations on all subjects, at which all who come up to a certain standard of proficiency might claim a certificate. To prevent the State from exercising, through these arrangements, an improper influence over opinion, the knowledge required for passing an examination (beyond the merely instrumental parts of knowledge, such as languages and their use) should, even in the higher classes of examinations, be confined to facts and positive science exclusively. The examinations on religion, politics, or other disputed topics, should not turn on the truth or falsehood of opinions, but on the matter of fact that such and such an opinion is held, on such grounds, by such authors, or schools, or churches. Under this system, the rising generation would be no worse off in regard to all disputed truths, than they are at present; they would be brought up either churchmen or dissenters as they now are, the State merely taking care that they should be instructed churchmen, or instructed dissenters. There would be nothing to hinder them from being taught religion, if their parents chose, at the same schools where they were taught other things. All attempts by the State to bias the conclusions of its citizens on disputed subjects, are evil; but it may very properly offer to ascertain and certify that a person possesses the knowledge, requisite to make his conclusions, on any given subject, worth attending to. A student of philosophy would be the better for being able to stand an examination both in Locke and in Kant, whichever of the two he takes up with, or even if with neither: and there is no reasonable objection to examining an atheist in the evidences of Christianity, provided he is not required to profess a belief in them. The examinations, however, in the higher branches of knowledge should, I conceive, be entirely voluntary. It would be giving too dangerous a power to governments, were they allowed to exclude any one from professions, even from the profession of teacher, for alleged deficiency of qualifications: and I think, with Wilhelm von Humboldt, that degrees, or other public certificates of scientific or professional acquirements, should be given to all who present themselves for examination, and stand the test; but that such certificates should confer no advantage over competitors, other than the weight which may be attached to their testimony by public opinion.
Paperclips by the right....
The ｣7 million guide to a tidy desk - Britain - Times Online
Red tape has given way to black marker tape for thousands of bemused civil servants as part of a £7 million paperclip revolution aimed at ensuring that they keep the tools of their trade in the right place.
Office workers have been given the tape to mark out where they should put their pens and pencils, their computer keyboards and to indicate where to place their phones.
A spokeswoman for Revenue & Customs said: “It is only right that those staff who now share desk space with their colleagues are given advice and support in deciding how to make the most efficient use of the space available.” She said that staff could still move things on their desk to positions that suited them best.
George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, joined the criticism of the project, blaming Gordon Brown. He said: “On the day that it is revealed that nurses are being sacked and operations are being cancelled, we hear that Gordon Brown is spending £7.4 million telling civil servants where to put their paperclips.
“People are wondering where their money has gone, and now they know.”
"A tidy desk is a sign of an empty mind" - If you can't organise your own desk you shouldn't be allowed anything sharper than a bloody crayon. No wonder the whole bloody system is in chaos if this the level of nannying they subject their staff to.
On a personal note I wonder if it is because they are regimenting their biros and corralling their post-it notes they can't get their fecking act together; Cheltenham tax office believes they owe me a couple of hundred pounds in tax rebate whilst Gloucester are sending me a court summons for underpayment of tax on money I didn't earn.
In the Navy...
Senior officers have said the plans will turn Britain's once-proud Navy into nothing more than a coastal defence force.
The Government has admitted that 13 unnamed warships are in a state of reduced readiness, putting them around 18 months away from active service. Today The Daily Telegraph can name a further six destroyers and frigates that are being proposed for cuts.
A need to cut the defence budget by £250 million this year to meet spending requirements has forced ministers to look at drastic measures.
MoD sources have admitted it is possible that the Royal Navy will discontinue one of its major commitments around the world at a time when Sir Jonathon Band, the First Sea Lord, has said more ships are needed to protect the high seas against terrorism and piracy.
Steve Bush, editor of the monthly magazine Warship World, said the MoD was bankrupt following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"After 10 years of Labour government, the Royal Navy is on its knees without immediate and proper funding. I cannot see how it can recover — especially if Mr Brown becomes the next prime minister," he said.
Spending on Health and Safety measures and recruitment adverts in the Gay press continues unchecked whilst there is a freeze on weapon maintenance. ..
The two nations of inflation
The Government's top statistician has conceded that many people do not believe that official inflation figures reflect recent sharp rises in the cost of living.
The Office for National Statistics is launching a "personal inflation calculator" to help individual households calculate how fast their own cost of living is rising. It hopes the calculator will help people understand inflation better and counter an increasing lack of trust in government statistics. The ONS hopes that the calculator will help people understand the balance between rapidly rising costs like energy bills and council tax and the falling cost of items such as electronic goods and clothes....
For some pensioners, rising council tax and utility bills have contributed to an annual rate of more than 9pc, compared with a 2.7pc rise in the Government's headline consumer prices index.
Two nations? Public sector inflation is running rife, private sector is negative. Poor bloody pensioners are caught in the middle
January 4, 2007
Kennet's Rubbish Web Site
All refuse and recycling collections will be collected on your usual collection day with no disruption to the service over Bank Holiday periods.
Kennet District Council would like to re-emphasise to all residents that there will be no disruption to the refuse and recycling collection services over the Bank Holiday.
All collections during the week commencing 1st January 2007 will be made ONE DAY LATER than usual.
Clear that - collections will be on the usual day, re-emphasised no disruption, except it is going to be one day later, and you can be fined if you put your bin out the wrong day....(Under Section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 the Council can state the receptacles and the steps a household waste producer must follow when placing waste out for collection. If waste is then placed out not in compliance with the policy this is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and a fine of 100 pounds can be charged.- Kennet)
And remember - "Wheeled bins must be presented kerbside by 7.00am on collection day; lids must be firmly closed with no side waste. Waste presented incorrectly will not be collected."
And they call themselves public servants....
That Wonderful NHS Again - don't fall ill before April please.
Operations cancelled as NHS runs out of money - Britain - Times Online
NHS trusts throughout the country are making sweeping cuts to services and delaying appointments in an attempt to address their debts before the end of March, The Times can reveal....
The cuts are widespread, although there are no central records to provide definitive figures. Among the most comprehensive plans are those from North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust, which faces a deficit of £24 million this year.
A letter from its chief executive, Janet Soo-Chung, says that all non-urgent admissions must be approved by an assessment team or they will not be paid for. A&E departments in Harrogate, Scarborough, South Tees and York have been told that they will not be paid for treating patients with minor ailments who could go elsewhere.
No patients will be given a hospital appointment in less than eight weeks, and none admitted for elective surgery unless they have waited a minimum of 12 to 16 weeks. Those treated quicker will not be paid for.
The trust also announced the immediate suspension of treatments for varicose veins, wisdom teeth, X-rays of the back, operations for carpal tunnel syndrome, bunions, arthroscopy of the knee, and grommets for the ear, among others. “We fully appreciate the difficulties that the introduction of these measures entail," Dr Soo-Chung's letter says...
On the delays to appointments and operations, a National NHS spokesman said it was a matter for the local NHS, provided that national targets were not breached. However, the department has not left it all to local managers but has introduced fines for hospitals that operate too fast. These can amount to millions of pounds.
This is mad beyond the madness I can imagine. A system this wrong is beyond reform. The whole stinking pile must come crashing down and central command and control eradicated, the NHS offices razed to the ground, no stone to be left upon another, the sites to be ploughed and strewn with salt....
Scots plea to retain the apron strings
A new political party is being set up by a member of one of Scotland's most historic families to try to halt the growing bandwagon towards a referendum on the break-up of the United Kingdom.
The reason - the "failures" of devolution.
"Two-thirds of 14-year-olds fail national reading standards and half fail writing standards," it says. "One in four Scots working for the public sector. A crime committed every 78 seconds. The highest infant mortality in the western world. A £20 billion subsidy from England to keep us afloat. We anticipated excellence. We have been offered only ineptitude."
And what is in it for the English?
More on Education - and a simple solution
Pupils would be able to choose what they study, ask each other for help in answering questions, mark their own work and grade their teachers’ performance under ambitious government plans to tailor education to the needs of individual children and young people.
Traditional grades or marks would go, to be replaced by “feedback”, where the teacher would suggest what steps a pupil could take to improve performance. Pupils would be entered for exams as soon as they were ready to take them, rather than wait until they reached a certain age.
Catch-up classes for those who trail behind and extra tuition for the brightest pupils are also recommended in a review of personalised learning published today.
The review, written by Christine Gilbert before her recent appointment as head of Ofsted, sets out the Government’s vision for schooling by 2020. It aims to stop some children falling behind by replacing a “one size fits all” approach to teaching with one designed to fit the needs of each child. (Times)
Boys should be taught separately to stop them falling further behind girls as part of an extensive overhaul of the education system, a powerful Government-backed review says today.
It says parents should get state funding to give their children extra private tuition if they are struggling with English or maths.
"for too many pupils, school does not engage them or equip them with the skills they need".
"Pupils and their parents could be offered a range of options, some provided by the school, some by other approved providers," it says. Officials said this could include private tuition.
It also suggests that high-flying pupils should be allowed to sit exams early and progress to the next year if they are clever enough — calling for a generation of schools focused on "stage not age". (Telegraph)
Let's cut to the chase here - the educational establishment is finally realising after forty years of failure that the one size fits all comprehensive system doesn't work. So they intend to spend billions creating literally millions of individual learning plans commanded and controlled from above. It is equivalent of David (Miliband or Cameron - I forget which is which) madly believing that he should control what each individual shopper buys each week (oh wait they do believe that). There is a simpler way. In politically acceptable speech it is called "subsidiarity", give the decision back to the pupils and the parents, get the government out of the way. Or even simpler, in a slogan that even Dave might understand - "SCHOOL VOUCHERS"
January 3, 2007
Motivation of Pupils in Compulsory Education aged 11 – 16
I know some of you take an interest in the education of our children, all of us should.
Below the fold is a draft of an investigation into the motivation of children at school - I have been asked to offer it up here for your comments and suggestions so it can be improved before it is presented for a PGCE course.
It also makes an interesting and alarming read...
Also available to download as a single file: Download file - Motivation of Pupils in Compulsory Education aged 11 – 16 - Word Document 500k
Excel Spreadsheet of the data available here.
Motivation of Pupils in Compulsory Education aged 11 – 16
This is a study into pupil perceptions as to their motivations during compulsory education aged 11 – 16.
C. Smith et al (2005) “A systematic review of what pupils, aged 11–16, believe impacts on their motivation to learn in the classroom” noted that “The fact that only eight studies were identified for the in-depth review suggests that there is a lack of suitably robust studies with a focus on pupil views available. While there were many studies that used questionnaires and interviews to gather pupils’ responses to pre-identified traits of motivation, only eight could be identified that concentrated on pupil voice. “
This limited study tries to fill that gap a little.
The study is based on anonymous voluntary questionnaires distributed to six different classes at a comprehensive school in Wiltshire in the autumn of 2006. If there is any perceived criticism of the school or the staff in this report please accept that it is unintentional. The whole of the staff were regularly going beyond the call of duty to promote excellence in the pupils in a caring environment. The Head provides progressive leadership which recognises many of the problems mentioned herein and has bravely championed innovative solutions.
The problem of the lack of pupil motivation is widely recognised – as an example the Scottish Parliament Education Committee’s Interim Report on Pupil Motivation (2006) reported that:
“…27 per cent of kids in Scotland did not want to be in school. That is better than the OECD average, but it is still a significant number. Fifty-six per cent—marginally higher than the OECD average—said that they often felt bored at school, which is clearly a concern. Thirty-one per cent felt that they were never given interesting homework”.
“…in the past three years, about one in 12 of the secondary schools that we have inspected has had wide-ranging issues of ethos, discipline and behaviour that involved more than just one or two departments. Many schools have problems with some classes or a small group of pupils, but about one in 12 secondary schools and one in 30 primary schools had broad issues. It is clear that a small minority of primary schools have serious problems of disaffection and demotivation”
The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (2006) data shows that the School Principals’ assessment of pupils’ morale and commitment is that English schoolchildren have above average, for the countries surveyed, levels. It is striking though the large range between the levels shown by the top and the bottom quarters of students. The student’s were not invited to assess their own morale and commitment but their rating of how much support they feel they get from their teachers in mathematics is a credit to the teachers with England again being above average, again with the same large difference.
One of the most striking deficiencies of most teacher training literature is a lack of instruction in the understanding of pupil motivation.
In business the art of motivating employees is recognised of being a primary competency of a manager, and understanding the theory and practice of it are widely taught.
Many of the management theories of motivation are widely recognised and used by school management in their relations to their staff. For instance modern management of teachers has taken on board the Douglas McGregor’s “X Y theory “ of management types in his 1960 book 'The Human Side Of Enterprise' which is ably summarised at http://www.businessballs.com/mcgregor.htm (Dec 2006) thus:
McGregor maintained that there are two fundamental approaches to managing people. Many managers tend towards theory x, and generally get poor results. Enlightened managers use theory y, which produces better performance and results, and allows people to grow and develop.
Theory x ('authoritarian management' style)
The average person dislikes work and will avoid it he/she can.
Therefore most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organisational objectives.
The average person prefers to be directed; to avoid responsibility; is relatively unambitious, and wants security above all else.
Theory y ('participative management' style)
Effort in work is as natural as work and play.
People will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of organisational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.
Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.
People usually accept and often seek responsibility.
The capacity to use a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organisational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.
In industry the intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilised.
Teachers expect to be treated type “Y” people but in practice, if not always in theory, subscribe to theory “X” for their charges.
Of course teachers have the choice as to where or if they go to school and so job satisfaction is important in staff motivation and retention.
Motivation of pupils is mainly considered in terms of motivation to learn – As an example Geoffrey Petty in his “practical guide“ Teaching Today (1998) devotes a whole chapter to valuable advice of achieving this but doesn’t mention a more holistic motivation to the whole experience of schooling that is needed by pupils.
Pupils are not just compelled to be at school for academic learning and to only concentrate on their motivation for learning while ignoring the totality of the school day is as incomplete as a restaurant review would be if it just mentioned the behaviour of the staff but ignored the food.
Dr Benjamin S Bloom's 'Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives' (1956) set out three educational objectives and skills “domains” that are taught at schools - Affective, Psychomotor, and Cognitive (Wikipedia - Taxonomy of Educational Objectives – revised 19:40, 28 November 2006);
Skills in the affective domain describe the way people react emotionally and their ability to feel another living thing's pain or joy. Affective objectives typically target the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotion, and feelings.
Skills in the psychomotor domain describe the ability to physically manipulate a tool or instrument like a hand or a hammer. Psychomotor objectives usually focus on change and/or development in behaviour and/or skills.
Skills in the cognitive domain revolve around knowledge, comprehension, and "thinking through" a particular topic. Traditional education tends to emphasize the skills in this domain, particularly the lower-order objectives
While this recognises the school’s role is larger than classroom academic learning I do not believe it goes far enough.
The provisional categorization of the roles of schools I have produced breaks them down into four:
Childcare and control
Training and teaching
Childcare and control - It is a simple truth that the economic prosperity of this country and the social system depends on parents having a secure and reliable place to look after their children during working hours for much of the year. This role for schools has recently been highlighted by the government's desire to increase those numbers of hours and broadening the childcare aspects of schooling.
Schooling is the most value-neutral term I can use for what for much of what schools do. Just as horses and dogs must be “schooled” to become of value, so must children be schooled to become useful citizens and pleasant human beings. There are a wide variety of initiatives that schools must follow to perform this function. Everything from instilling discipline, indoctrinating children with values of citizenship, institutionalising, or socialising, them to be happy and compliant members of society and so forth. This schooling also encompasses the encouragement of the psychological neoteny of young adults.
“(I)n which ever-more people retain for ever-longer the characteristic behaviours and attitudes of earlier developmental stages. Whereas traditional societies are characterized by initiation ceremonies marking the advent of adulthood, these have now dwindled and disappeared. In a psychological sense, some contemporary individuals never actually become adults. A child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviours and knowledge is probably adaptive in modern society because people need repeatedly to change jobs, learn new skills, move to new places and make new friends. It seems that this adaptation is achieved by the expedient of postponing cognitive maturation – a process that could be termed psychological neoteny. (‘Neoteny’ refers to the biological phenomenon whereby development is delayed such that juvenile characteristics are retained into maturity.) Psychological neoteny is probably caused by the prolonged average duration of formal education, since students’ minds are in a significant sense ‘unfinished’. Since modern cultures favour cognitive flexibility, ‘immature’ people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set the tone of contemporary life: the greatest praise of an elderly person is to state that they retain the characteristics of youth. But the faults of youth are retained with well as its virtues: short attention span, sensation- and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness.” (Bruce G. Charlton 2006)
Training has been increasingly recognised as a role that schools perform, whether it is how to write, to read, to use a computer, wire a plug or any of the other specific skills that are taught in schools. This is training. A lot of teaching also comes under the role of training, when it is designed to train pupils to perform one closely defined task such as pass a specific exam.
Teachers would like to believe they are educating their charges when they actually spend very little time doing it. Albert Jay Nock drew the distinctions between training and educating in his essay “The Disadvantages Of Being Educated”,
…while education was still spoken of as a "preparation for life," the preparation was of a kind which bore less directly on intellect and character than in former times, and more directly on proficiency. It aimed at what we used to call training rather than education; and it not only did very little with education, but seemed to assume that training was education, …. A trained mechanic, banker, dentist or man of business got all due credit for his proficiency, but his education, if he had any, lay behind that and was not confused with it. His training, in a word, bore directly upon what he could do or get, while his education bore directly on neither; it bore upon what he could become and be.
...Training is excellent, it can not be too well done, and opportunity for it can not be too cheap and abundant. Probably a glorified crèche for delayed adolescents here and there is a good thing, too; no great harm in it anyway. ….
Education is divisive, separatist; training induces the exhilarating sense that one is doing with others what others do and thinking the thoughts that others think.
Education, in a word, leads a person on to ask a great deal more from life than life, as at present organized, is willing to give him; and it begets dissatisfaction with the rewards that life holds out. Training tends to satisfy him with very moderate and simple returns. A good income, a home and family, the usual run of comforts and conveniences, diversions addressed only to the competitive or sporting spirit or else to raw sensation - training not only makes directly for getting these, but also for an inert and comfortable contentment with them. Well, these are all that our present society has to offer, so it is undeniably the best thing all round to keep people satisfied with them, which training does, and not to inject a subversive influence, like education, into this easy complacency. Politicians understand this - it is their business to understand it - and hence they hold up "a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage" as a satisfying social ideal. But the mischief of education is its exorbitance. The educated lad may like stewed chicken and motor-cars as well as anybody, but his education has bred a liking for other things too, things that the society around him does not care for and will not countenance. It has bred tastes which society resents as culpably luxurious, and will not connive at gratifying. Paraphrasing the old saying, education sends him out to shift for himself with a champagne appetite amidst a gin-guzzling society.
Training, on the other hand, breeds no such tastes; it keeps him so well content with synthetic gin that a mention of champagne merely causes him to make a wry face. ...
The success of the education system in enabling increasing numbers of pupils to pass exams is widely celebrated and shows that effective training is widespread.
The success of schools in actually educating their charges as well is more subjective, the evident delight of some school leavers in cultural activities suggests it happens, the extent and effectiveness is beyond the scope of this modest investigation.
To investigate the motivation of the school children I devised a ten question Likert scale questionnaire. The questions were intended to provide a broad overview of possible motivational incentives which covered the range of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology that Abraham Maslow proposed in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”, which he subsequently extended. His theory contends that as humans meet 'basic needs', they seek to satisfy successively 'higher needs' that occupy a set hierarchy, with deficiency needs being the first that need to be satisfied. (Source – Wikipedia - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)
The physiological needs of the organism, eating and drinking - those enabling homeostasis, take first precedence.
When physiological needs are met, the need for safety and security will emerge. These include:
Physical security - safety from violence, delinquency, aggressions
Security of employment
Security of revenues and resources
After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third layer of human needs is social. This involves emotionally-based relationships in general, such as friendship, sexual intimacy and having a supportive and communicative family. Humans generally need to feel belonging and acceptance by groups of others.
The highest level of need is “esteem”. According to Maslow, all humans have a need to be respected, to have self-respect, and to respect others. People need to engage themselves in order to gain recognition and have an activity or activities that give the person a sense of contribution and self-value. There are two levels to Esteem needs. The lower of the levels relates to elements like fame, respect, and glory. The higher level is contingent to concepts like confidence, competence, and achievement. The lower level is generally considered poor. It is dependent upon other people, or someone who needs to be reassured because of lower esteem. People with low esteem need respect from others. They may seek fame or glory, which again are dependent on others. However confidence, competence and achievement only need one person and everyone else is inconsequential to one's own success.
Though the deficiency needs may be seen as "basic", and can be met and neutralized (i.e. they stop being motivators in one's life), self-actualization and transcendence are "being" or "growth needs" (also termed "B-needs"), i.e. they are enduring motivations or drivers of behaviour.
Self-actualization is defined as the instinctual need of humans to make the most of their unique abilities and to strive to be the best they can be.
Maslow writes the following of self-actualizing people:
* They embrace the facts and realities of the world (including themselves) rather than denying or avoiding them.
* They are spontaneous in their ideas and actions.
* They are creative.
* They are interested in solving problems
At the top, there is self-transcendence which is also sometimes referred to as spiritual needs.
My questionnaire was given out to five classes on an anonymous and voluntary basis. The classes were chosen as ones I had built a rapport with the pupils in so they would trust my interest in their genuine views and handling of the data – over 95% were returned. The classes were among the lower achieving groups in the school. There were two small year 11 (15 year olds) classes, a year 9 and two year 8 classes. The one year 7 (11 year olds) class was of more “average” ability, according to the school.
Naively I set the questions and gathered the data before I reached any conclusions, with hindsight I would have broadened the scope of the limited questioning even further to encompass the whole school experience, especially the out of classroom time. The statements the pupils were invited to Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree or Strongly Disagree with were:
1) I enjoy learning.
2) My friends work hard at school.
3) I like to keep my test results to myself.
4) I like it when teachers praise my work in front of the whole class.
5) How well I do at school is important to my family.
6) I get rewards, such as treats or money, at home if I get good results.
7) I get punished if I don’t work hard.
8) I want to go to university and so I am working hard.
9) I think I need good exam results to get a good job.
10) I think what I learn at school will not help me as an adult.
The questions were written so that choices were expected to be across the range, any answer papers that showed a pattern, such as all “Strongly Agree”, could therefore be assumed to be non genuine. No such patterns were produced and no completed questionnaires discarded
All the results and derived graphs are available in an Excel Spreadsheet.
The most basic level of Maslow’s hierarchy is the need to avoid pain or discomfort. For thousands of years this motivator has been used; Sun Tzu (c. 400-320 B.C.) famously taught courtesans to drill to his orders by executing a couple of reluctant ones, “pour encourager les autres”, and from the Bible we get; "He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14) – attributed to Solomon c. 1000 B.C.
Within the changed zeitgeist of the last few years the use of physical punishment is unacceptable and the results – Graph “Q.7 Punishment” – show that punishment of any type is not a major issue for these pupils.
After the physiological needs are met Maslow believes the next most pressing need is securing resources, or in the terms of this questionnaire aiming for a “good job”.
Graph “Q.9” shows that believing they need good exam results to get such a job is almost universal among the newly arrived pupils. But this belief shows a marked and consistent decrease as the pupils approach the exams and employment. This, maybe more realistic, view of the importance of exams shows that despite the best endeavours of the school this motivational incentive does not work for a large minority of the pupils it is aimed at.
Graph “Q .10” shows as the pupils get older their belief in the long term value of what they learn at school also decreases along with the belief in the value of exams results. The question was set in the negative so care must be taken in interpreting the results but it is clear that the relevance of school to “real life” is perceived as much less than its relevance to passing exams.
The general finding of relevance agrees with Pippa Lord and Megan Jones (2006) who report in their review of the national curriculum:
• The academic relevance of the curriculum is prevalent in learners’ views.
Learners see the curriculum as relevant to passing exams, getting grades and as a passport to their next steps. These perceptions emerge more strongly as pupils get older, but are also apparent at all ages when nearing assessment.
….the real-life relevance of the curriculum would seem to need enhancing
and making more visible – pupils do not always see these connections.. Recognition of aspects relevant to adult life similarly narrow to literal interpretations (such as the ability to read a map so as not to get lost with regard to geography)
Why the pupils questioned show a decrease in belief of the importance of exams as a “passport” where as the review shows the opposite is of interest. The questions asked are obviously slightly different but this may show the bias of this investigation in choosing lower ability pupils who it may be argued are the ones whose motivation is of most importance.
Graph Q.8 shows that the incentive of a place at university largely disappears in the older lower ability groups. This may be a reflection on their prospects but also is indicative of a decreasing desire to learn.
The more short term motivation by rewards is shown in Graph Q.6 “Rewards”. This shows a slight decrease in the expectation of rewards at home for good results as the pupils progress through the school. Of course there is a probability that some of the more senior students never have “good results” and so that needs to factored in. From informal discussions with pupils it seems that such rewarding is seen as juvenile and is put aside as a childish thing as they mature.
But Graph Q 5 “Family Importance” shows that how well they do at school is of importance to most of them and actually increases from the start of schooling to the older years. This suggests that Maslow’s third level of Love/Belonging Needs are of increasing importance, unlike the more basic needs that the school inculcates. There is a populist view that many low achieving school children suffer from an uncaring home environment and that their listless academic behaviour stems from their out of school feral existence. The results and informal interviews with some of the pupils contradict this view. For the vast majority of even the lowest achieving pupils in this survey parental influence is the most important motivator.
As well as a feeling of belonging within a family the influence of peers is recognised as another group pressure to conform to a norm. Graph Q2 is intended to show how pupils few the work ethic of their peers, with the implicit implication as how they view their own efforts. The results are quite striking, the younger pupils believe their friends work hard, but as they age they mostly become neutral in their belief. It appears to be strange that they do not know if their friends work hard or not, or is it that they are non-judgemental?
Graph Q3 shows how the older groups like to keep their test results to themselves which suggests their views echo Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned”.
Maslow places the needs to be respected by others and to respect others as well as pride in achievement as higher needs. These needs appear to be unfulfilled by the students in this survey.
The pupils desire to be respected by others scholastically also shows a marked decrease as they rise through the school – See Graph Q4.
The highest level of need is “self-actualisation” the desire to be creative, to problem solve, to learn. The top aim of this school, according to its curriculum and mission statement is to “encourage a love of learning”.
Graph Q1 “I Enjoy Learning” shows that less than one third of the older pupils agree with the statement. In their first year at this school two thirds do. This is a dramatic fall, especially when set against the priority of the school to promote it.
Smith et al “The EPPI-Centre review of student motivation” (2006) summarises that:
Six themes were identified from the studies as key to motivation. These themes are presented in the order of frequency with which they were identified by the studies in the in-depth review:
1. the role of self
4. peer-group influences
We see that the curriculum and learning are low down on the list; it is the usefulness of the knowledge and most importantly the role of self that are most important. “The role of self” becomes the “dominant influence” when pupils have made the “decisions about school subjects as a result of a range of interconnected factors that occur over time.” These factors include family and non-school influences.
Motivation at school involves far more than motivation for learning.
More than not being bored in lessons, more than being shown the relevance of the knowledge, more than having self-esteem raised,
Pupils are subjected to disciplines, routines and lessons quite foreign to their experiences at home or outside the school gates. While it is relatively easy to see how to motivate within a set academic lesson there is very little recent research into motivation for the whole school experience.
As Slade and Trent (2000) found with regards to boys:
The theme that their experiences at school were out of date and bore no resemblance to the concerns of their lives or the environment and wider society kept re-occurring. The cause of disruption and behaviour difficulties was directly tied to resistance and feelings of frustration that they were bored, disrespected, and never listened to. Adult behaviour is almost impossible to achieve in an environment which has no basis in trust.
School presents too many contradictions: for example, it purports to prepare pupils for adult life but participation in adult activities – such as part-time work, establishing relationships, owning a car and taking part in sports, etc. – are seen as impinging on schoolwork and homework.
Boys see themselves stuck with an unsuitable learning environment that they cannot change largely because it is constituted by teachers who do not care. Although they identify the curriculum as irrelevant and unchallenging, their experience with ‘good’ teachers has shown this to be an unnecessary outcome. Furthermore, it is one that is made worse because it is dominated by making education an unpleasant experience, and creating a pre-occupying focus on getting out of school as soon as possible. Once again, their experience with ‘good’ teachers has shown them that this is also an unnecessary outcome.
Boys actually achieve a great deal in this age group: drivers’ licences, part-time jobs, physical, social and sexual maturity, and a largely optimistic attitude to the adverse conditions of schooling. Recognising these achievements, abandoning the discourse of ‘fixing boys’ and updating curriculum, teacher training, pedagogy and school organisation in light of the rapid and extraordinary changes in the wider environment would create less of a rupture between the culture of schools and the culture at large.
Boys would like an aging adult world to ‘genuinely listen’, and to ‘catch up’ to bring the culture and focus of schooling up to date so that it might be better placed to keep pace with the economic, social and cultural changes that are already making demands that cannot meet, and that in the coming decades will be as dramatic as they are inevitable.
This survey of pupils shows that parental influence is the foremost motivator of these pupils. It is of note that recently Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, was reported in The Times as saying;
“that a greater involvement of parents in the education of their children should have a dramatic impact on standards.”
“Parental involvement in education trumps every other factor in terms of whether a child is going to do well,” he said. “It is more important than ethnicity, more important than social background.”
Many parents, particularly from poorer backgrounds, do not get in touch with schools because they are intimidated by the educational establishment. “Parents are sometimes loath to trouble a school unless they feel welcome, so a strategy that encourages people to express their concerns is really sensible,” Mr Johnson said.
“When you talk about the most difficult to reach, it’s the parents who don’t feel particularly empowered, are not as pushy as they might be because they are inhibited or lack confidence.
Schools are seen as being an agent of the state and controlling the schooling of children. Whereas schools may hold themselves to be "in loco parentis" neither they nor the Government can be said to act "in loco discipulus".
The aims and purposes of schooling for the government and the professional educators do not necessarily align with those of the pupils. The holistic experience of school involves the school satisfying its governmental and staff stakeholders. Their objectives are different to those of the pupils and their parents.
As John Stuart Mill said in “On Liberty”, Chapter Five:
If the government would make up its mind to require for every child a good education, it might save itself the trouble of providing one. It might leave to parents to obtain the education where and how they pleased, and content itself with helping to pay the school fees of the poorer classes of children, and defraying the entire school expenses of those who have no one else to pay for them. The objections which are urged with reason against State education, do not apply to the enforcement of education by the State, but to the State's taking upon itself to direct that education: which is a totally different thing. That the whole or any large part of the education of the people should be in State hands, I go as far as any one in deprecating. All that has been said of the importance of individuality of character, and diversity in opinions and modes of conduct, involves, as of the same unspeakable importance, diversity of education. A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body. An education established and controlled by the State should only exist, if it exist at all, as one among many competing experiments, carried on for the purpose of example and stimulus, to keep the others up to a certain standard of excellence. Unless, indeed, when society in general is in so backward a state that it could not or would not provide for itself any proper institutions of education, unless the government undertook the task: then, indeed, the government may, as the less of two great evils, take upon itself the business of schools and universities, as it may that of joint stock companies, when private enterprise, in a shape fitted for undertaking great works of industry, does not exist in the country. But in general, if the country contains a sufficient number of persons qualified to provide education under government auspices, the same persons would be able and willing to give an equally good education on the voluntary principle, under the assurance of remuneration afforded by a law rendering education compulsory, combined with State aid to those unable to defray the expense.
The Government wants a well trained population for the benefit of society; the education system, in common with any other near monopolistic one, naturally has succumbed to a level of “producer capture” – defined as where a service is run for the benefit of the producers rather than the “customers” – and has influenced schooling for its own purposes. But as shown pupils are not motivated to be these considerations, they and their parents want them to be educated for their own reasons.
In a consumerist world families expect choice and control over the services that they are supplied with. The present system provides little practical choice or control for the majority of families. Without the buy in of families, and of pupils themselves, then many schoolchildren will remain the recalcitrant subjects of the system; whining, with their satchels and shining morning faces, creeping like snails, unwillingly to school.
The dichotomy is either schooling is imposed for the good of society over-riding any desires of the pupil or the principle of subsidiarity is applied to education and the pupil and family take control. The latter will result in better motivation and a differently educated population. The former can only be justified if it results in a far superior system, and for that there is no evidence.
The results of this survey and the research present a sorry picture of the comprehensive system. This is not a reflection on this particular school, it seems to be endemic to the system, as Sir Eric Anderson (2007) says:
“The 40 year experiment with comprehensive schools has fallen far short of its aims. It was meant to provide, in Harold Wilson’s words, “grammar schools for all” and it was meant to lead to increased social mobility. It has done neither. It has not raised the standards of all and, as recent studies show, we now have a less mobile society than we had in the 1950s and 1960s."
Within such an apparently flawed and failing system good teachers are more important then ever to enable all pupils to flourish and achieve the best they are capable of. The pupils I worked with were lucky to have such teachers and a supportive school.
Anderson E. Sir (Introduction) Three Cheers for Selection: how grammar schools help the poor - Norman Blackwell – CPS London http://www.cps.org.uk/cpsfile.asp?id=667 2nd Jan 2007
Charlton B. The rise of the boy-genius: Psychological neoteny, science and modern life • Medical Hypotheses, Volume 67, Issue 4, 2006, Pages 679-681 http://intl.elsevierhealth.com//journals/MeHy/Default.cfm
Lord P. and Jones M. “Pupils' experiences and perspectives of the National Curriculum and assessment: research review” QCA – Available online at http://www.qca.org.uk/17670.html - downloaded 29th Dec 06
“douglas mcgregor's motivational theory x theory y”
http://www.businessballs.com/mcgregor.htm downloaded 18th Dec 06
Gatto J. The 7-Lesson Schoolteacher New Society Publishers, New York, 1992 Available online at www.newciv.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt 2nd Jan 07
Johnson A. The Times - 28th December 2006 London – article available at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,173-2520873,00.html
Downloaded 28th Dec. 06
Nock A.J. The Disadvantages of Being Educated – originally printed in Free Speech and Plain Language, New York 1937 Copy accessed at http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/nock-albert-jay_on-education.html 18th Dec 2006
OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (2006)
PISA 2003 Country Profiles http://pisacountry.acer.edu.au/ Accessed 2nd Jan 2007
Petty G. 1998 “Teaching Today” 2nd Edition, Cheltenham, Nelson Thornes
Scottish Parliament Education Committee’s Interim Report on Pupil Motivation http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/education/reports-05/pmInterim.pdf downloaded 18th Dec 06
Slade M, Trent F (2000) What the boys are saying: an examination of the views of boys about declining rates of achievement and retention. International Education Journal 1: 201–229 http://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/education/iej/articles/v1n3/V1N3.PDF accessed 2nd Jan 2007
Smith C, Dakers J, Dow W, Head G, Sutherland M, Irwin R (2005) A systematic review of what pupils, aged 11–16, believe impacts on their motivation to learn in the classroom. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/EPPIWebContent/reel/review_groups/motivation/motivation_rv1/Motivation_rv1.pdf and http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Default.aspx?tabid=614 downloaded 18th Dec 06
The Holy Bible 1611 London
Theory into Practice, Vol. 9, No. 1, Motivation: The Desire to Learn (Feb., 1970) - http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0040-5841%28197002%299%3A1%3C%3E1.0.CO%3B2-C downloaded 18th Dec 06
Wikipedia - Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_of_Educational_Objectives revised 19:40, 28 November 2006 downloaded 18th Dec 06
Wikipedia - Maslow's hierarchy of needs
revised 03:01, 19 December 2006 downloaded 18th Dec 06
You want to know what it is really like teaching?
A new blog is out the trap with a must read - and a nomination to the Swear-blogger award of the week!
Cameron's Speech today - the corrected version
food political policies processed in Britain can carry labels which wrongly suggest they are "genuinely British", Tory leader David Cameron is due to say.
Food Politics labelling must be made more "rigorous and transparent", according to Mr Cameron.
Speaking at the Oxford
Farming European Union Conference, he will spell out Conservative policy on Farming Europe, food politics and the environment. He will say that many people want to eat vote on domestically-produced food politics as much as possible as " food politics patriotism" increases.
In a speech prepared for the event, Mr Cameron says: "Today British consumers can find it difficult to back British
farmers politicians, because of inadequate labelling.
food Policy can be imported to Britain, processed here, and subsequently labelled in a way that suggests it's genuinely British. That is completely wrong.
"I cannot overstate the importance of enabling informed consumer choice.
"Effective marketing can only be achieved if labelling is accurate and clear."
British consumers realise that
food political policy which has travelled long distances often tastes "second rate", he adds.
© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2007, All Rights Reserved.
Sense about Science
Madonna, Juliet Stevenson and Lady McCartney have all been singled out for not checking their facts before they speak by a campaign that aims to stamp out bad science.
Sense About Science, a charity that promotes the importance of scientific evidence, warns that celebrities are prone to backing theories and therapies that make no scientific sense and offers them the chance to check their facts first.
I'm pleased to see that Sense About Science also invite parliamentarians and journalists to call them as well..
And a Happy New Year to Mr Miliband
Farmers in the future will not be given any support for food production, the Environment Secretary, David Miliband, will say today. Instead they will be helped to maintain landscapes and tackle climate change....
He is likely to face a hostile reception because the latest Government figures show that the green farming schemes that he believes will continue to be key to the reform of European farm policy have been hit by a version of the late payment fiasco that happened to English farmers' subsidy cheques last year.
Figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph show that more than 28 per cent of the farmers who should have been paid in November for carrying out work such as installing skylark plots and planting hedges have not yet....
Farmers enter into a 10-year contract with the Government,...Payment was due on Nov 15 ...
The scheme is administered by the Rural Development Service, which comes under the new agency Natural England. But the RDS has similar problems with its Genesis software to those that plagued the Rural Payments Agency and its mapping system.
Officials at Natural England were unable to explain where the IT problem lay because those responsible were not working between Christmas and New Year.
Lucky them sat at home stuffing themselves with cheap turkey and sprouts on their extensive annual holidays while the poor bloody farmers are trying to balance their books having had their contrat with the government welched on yet again, the bank doesn't stop charging interest, nor the suppliers demanding payment because it is the twelve bloody days of Christmas. If they have cocked up they should stay at their desks until it is put right - and that includes the smiling boy wonder Mr Miliband.
January 2, 2007
Education, education, education
If you want to crunch the numbers of how well kids are doing in school compared to other countries here is the data base:
PISA is a survey of 15-year-old students' skills and knowledge as they apporach the end of compulsory education. This is the data set from the data collection which took place in 2003 and involved the participation of the 30 OECD member countries and 11 partner countries.
Professional researchers can download the data set. It is also possible to make an interactive data selection and submit a query to an automated servcie for multi-dimensional data requests.
For customer queries there is also a lind to a help desk.
Presumably the level of spelling and proof reading there is indicative of something....
Something for the weekend Sir?
DARTMOOR Walkers have been told to beware of wild boar after a dog owner was menaced by an escaped animal.
Farmers around Buckland Monachorum, near Tavistock, Devon, believe that a herd of around 30 boar is living on the western edge of the moor.
A number of local people have spotted the animals, which are thought to be breeding after escaping or being released from farms.
The animals have upset many nature lovers by rooting up land on the open moor and making it unusable for the resident sheep and ponies.
The first boar were spotted in the area just hours after 100 of them were freed by animal rights extremists...
Oh, I'm going down to a farm there next weekend for a lunch and a wander round, what should I pack?
Forty Years Of Failure
We have some very good individual schools, including some good comprehensives, but the system as a whole simply does not achieve enough. International results put Britain so far down the league tables that it must be time to look at another way of doing things. Between 2000 and 2003, for instance, the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) showed the UK slipping from fourth to 11th in science and from eighth to 18th in maths. However, there was one dazzlingly good result: when Pisa divided state schools from the private sector in 31 developed countries, our independent schools came top of the 62 groups.
So if Britain is running the best schools in the world, why are we not also running the best state schools? I think, after 46 years in and around teaching, that I know the answer. An outworn ideology prevents the country from learning from the successful model in its midst.
More than three quarters of people believe that bright children should be taught separately to push them further, according to a new study.
The overwhelming majority either want more streaming by ability in comprehensive schools or the chance to send high-fliers to selective grammar schools.
Almost as many people said that weaker children could also benefit from being segregated at school, said the report by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), a Right-wing think-tank.
Will the BBC listen to it listeners?
The winning law that you want repealed is:
The Hunting Act with 52.8%
Dangerous Dogs Act: 1.6%
Serious Organised Crime and Police Act : 6.2%
Human Rights Act: 6.1%
European Communities Act : 29.7%
The Act of Settlement: 3.6%
And that was just my votes.....
January 1, 2007
Fags, Sex and the Law
"Having a fag" age limit to be raised to eighteen - but of course homosexual acts will still be allowed at sixteen...
A doomed currency - Telegraph
When the euro notes and coins were launched five years ago today, the question was who would be the next to join; now it is who will be the first to leave. Of the 15 EU members on January 1, 2002, it is the three that stayed out — Britain, Denmark and Sweden — that have prospered. The two Nordic nations have voted by handsome majorities to keep their currencies. In both countries, political leaders warned that a "No" vote would lead to a downturn; and in both countries, the "No" was in fact followed by a surge in the stock exchange, a fall in inflation and a drop in long-term interest rates. In Britain, public opinion is granite hard for sterling, to the extent that no serious politician proposes joining the EU currency, and the lobby group set up to campaign for it has folded.
Meanwhile, opinion within the euro zone has shifted. In France and Germany, majorities say they would rather have kept their old money. In Italy, some shops have started to accept lire again, to the delight of their customers. It may well turn out that membership of the euro has peaked at 13 with Slovenia's accession....
How funny to look back at the predictions of the Heseltines and Pattens and Kinnocks. Had these men been City forecasters, they would all now be out of a job. But, for some reason, we continue to invite them to pontificate on the BBC, to decorate and defer to them. Odd, really.
Marmite, Flora Lite, half-fat cheddar cheese, Dairylea triangles, bran flakes, camembert, sugar-coated puffed wheat, instant hot oat cereal, Jaffa cakes, reduced calorie mayonnaise, multi-grain hoop cereal, half-fat creme fraiche, takeaway chicken nuggets, potato waffles, Greek yoghurt (sheep), ham, sausages, bacon rashers, low-fat spreads, peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachio nuts, peanut butter, raisins, sultanas, currants, low-fat potato crisps, olive oil, butter, pizza, hamburgers, tomato ketchup, chocolate, brown sauce, cola, lemonade
Foods that escape the advertising ban:
Plain fromage frais, fish fingers, lasagne ready meals, currant buns, malt loaf, frozen roast potatoes, chicken curry with rice ready meal, frozen oven chips, sliced white bread, cottage cheese, supermarket frozen chicken nuggets, milk, brazil nuts, canned strawberries in syrup, diet cola, chocolate-flavoured milk.
Well that is the shopping list sorted out, pick any six from the top and two from the bottom set.
First madness of 2007 noted.
2007 - you're welcome to it
Have happy and healthy one...