Category: <span>Blogging</span>

Look around Britain at the moment, teenage mothers, childish television (I’m with Melvyn Bragg on that one), millions claiming all sorts of ludicrous benefits, and a distinct lack of education. As far as I can see, there are two sides to this problem.

Side 1 (Heads)
The government is proposing, once again, a new way to improve our education system. They have offices full of people, sitting behind their desks, drafting the latest scheme. The scheme will drastically improve the standards of our education system, and enable Britain to grow and proper, placing us back into the position we should occupy. “Now, we have consulted the experts, the staticians, and the spin doctors (after all this has to appeal to the voters), is there anyone else? Nope, don’t think so – let’s publish it!

Remember your favourite teacher at school, everyone does. Miss Scott (now Mrs. McClusky) was mine. I actually started enjoying English, the Merchant of Venice took on a whole new meaning, she opened my eyes to the prejudices of the world, and taught me how to handle them. Anyway, I digress.

Do you think the government has bothered asking Miss Scott about the latest ‘improvement’ scheme? Of course not. They are quite happy to instigate new schemes and policies without actually asking the people, who will be expected to carry them out, if they will actually work.

Teachers these days have goals, and schools are placed into league tables. I used to work on a profit related pay scheme, and if I made my goals I got a bonus. If teachers reach the goals set, they get….more goals!! If they don’t reach them, they get ‘re-trained’, so they can achieve them next time. The criteria set for the ‘league tables’ is ridiculous in the extreme. Each school must fit the criteria. Period. Surely, individual schools should be graded individually. How can you grade one school against another? If one year’s exam results are good – the students have done well, congratulations. If the following year’s results aren’t as good, then the teachers or the education system are to blame.

Side 2 (Tails)
Quite simply we are already into second and third generations of non-education. It is too late for many kids, as their own parents suffer from apathy.

Yes, it is a vicious circle and kids today, living in the welfare state, have an increasingly difficult time getting a good education. This is not helped by parent’s attitudes. Let me put a picture in your head – Two mothers standing outside a shop, drawing on cigarettes, gossiping. Their kids running riot. One mother glances over at them, and says “Hey, stop that..” and returns to her conversation. The kids pause, and then continue what they were doing.

Why do these people have kids? They are obviously not interested in them, as the slightest diversion is all it takes for the child to be ignored (if Corrie is on for example…). These children are crying out for the attention the parents don’t give.

The rest of this is still brewing in my head – I’ll pick it up later on.

Addendum: I should point out that both my parents are teachers, Mum is a primary school teacher (infants), Dad teaches secondary school (young adults?) and my sister has just started University with the aim of….becoming a teacher. My view in this matter is probably tainted by what they have to say, but I make no apologies. I say it as I see it.

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“Hello, darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again.”

20 July 1969 : Apollo 11 : Tranquility Base –
A small step for man…

A defining moment in many lives (not least messrs, Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins), man had made it to the moon. Each astronaut on the mission new the risks, as did those of the backup crew (Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Bill Anders – the former two to experience their own problems aboard Apollo 13).

There were of course contingency plans in place, all situations were covered, including the possibility of the leaving two men to die on the moon. In silence.

In a 30 year old document, it has been revealed that NASA planned to cut communication to the moon-bound astronauts should they not be able to leave the surface of the moon. A speech was ready for Nixon to announce their heroic death, a tragic loss in the battle for space. As soon as it was confirmed the astronauts would not be able to get back to the re-entry pod, they would be cut off. The astronauts were not informed. They would be left with nothing but silence. Silence, complete blackness and a view of home.

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Human courage in extreme situations continually astounds. I recently heard about a Vietnam documentary which looked at the story of several American soldiers who were captured by the VietCong. They were locked in separate cells, and no communication was allowed. At one point in the documentary one of the soldiers, sitting calmly in a chair, vividly describes how one day he gave up, and tried to kill himself. With nothing in the room to use, no clothes on his body, he stood and smashed his forehead against the wall until he passed out. He didn’t die.

Many people say suicide is the cowards way out, but in this circumstance it was, without doubt, an act of incredible bravery. An act of a man pushed to the very limit. During the documentary, the man is asked if he was aware of what he was doing, after a slight pause he replies.

Of course I was….

In day to day life we will never get close to that kind extreme. Our bodies and minds are cushioned, protected.
How would you react in that kind of situation? There is no answer of course, you can’t simulate that kind of experience in your mind, and you certainly wouldn’t want to simulate it physically.

Another sequence in the documentary: Once again one of the captured soldiers sits passively, almost morose, in a chair and describes in graphic detail, one of his torture sessions. I will spare you the details. At one point, he says,

I was in so much pain that it no longer registered. I then realised that they couldn’t hurt me any more. I lifted my head, and looked my tormentor in the eyes, holding his gaze. He looked back, burst into tears and ran screaming from the room. I don’t know what he saw in my eyes.

None of the soldiers gave up any information. None were decorated by their country. None returned heroes. They were forgotten.

There is much more to say about the incredible strength of human will, the courage we can muster in extreme situations, but I’m not able to get past one thing – a sense of awe, a sense of relief. Relief that it wasn’t me.

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Silly adj : lacking seriousness; given to frivolity; “a dizzy blonde”; “light-headed teenagers”; “silly giggles” [syn: airheaded, dizzy, empty-headed, featherbrained, giddy, light-headed]

Love can be defined as silliness. I don’t mean silliness as in daftness (although the border between the two is very blurred), I mean silliness as in the daft (see!) little things we do to amuse the other. Silly voices, silly faces, silly words, just plain silly.

Personally I think silliness is massively under-rated. People frown on silly behaviour, and it is generally thought to have a certain time or place. This is true to an extent, but not, in my opinion, the places most people think.

I know my attempts at silliness is a ‘defense mechanism’ – using humour when I’m really nervous or anxious about something – but is that such a bad thing? I’m perfectly aware that a silly quip relaxes most people in a tense situation, so if used correctly can be a valuable asset. I have been told that I joke too much (guilty, m’laud), and that some people don’t appreciate my rapier wit…oh ok, sarcasm… and I know I should be more considerate, but hey, that’s their problem. I’m trying to deal with mine.

So what is my point here? Well there isn’t really one to make, or maybe there is, maybe a new doctrine – SILLINESS FOR ALL! STOP ALL SERIOUSNESS! (need to get something that rolls of the tongue a bit more easily though).

Or maybe not…

P.S. Steph – sorry for the ‘dizzy blonde’ reference, but that’s what the dictionary said – honest!

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Another shooting in the U.S.

The outrage, the shock, the pain.

Swiftly followed by the insight, the analysis, the reason.

Apathy? Is that what it is? Or an inherent numbness to the horrors?

The same arguments against will be countered with the same arguments for, and in a week or so it will all be forgotten. What will it take? OK, radical idea – why don’t the anti-gun lobbies get together and go around the U.S. and shoot one member of each family in the country. Is that what it would take? I fully admit to suffering from the same “it’ll never happen to me” syndrome, but life here in the U.K. hasn’t yet reached the ‘advanced’ stage that the U.S. has. We can’t walk in to a gun shop, brandishing any form of identification, and purchase the ability to kill someone. And surely, the shop owners can spot the ‘mad-gunman’ types…they are the ones with the twitch and generally ask about ‘big’ guns (I presume)

“Hi, can I help you?”
“I want a b-b-big gun”
“And what will sir be shooting?”
“eh….p-p-people”
“Ha ha ha, very funny sir…anyway, may I suggest
the…….”

OK, I know it’s not that simple (is it?), but that’s the impression we get here in the U.K. Want a gun? Go buy one! Add it to your basket at the supermarket, or ‘purchase the new range of road-rage rifles at any of our participating garages’.

It’s so easy to make fun, be satirical, and generally ignore the problem. Yet the solution is so blindingly obvious it’s a wonder that the U.S. government hasn’t stumbled on it yet – so between you and me…here it is.

Ban all guns.

Wow! I can feel the ripples of excitement pulsing their way across the Atlantic. Then slamming hard against the usual arguments.

Trouble is there is no argument, which do you value more? The right to have a gun, or your life. Which does the U.S. goverment value more? The money behind the gun lobby, or your life. Next time you see your local senator, mayor, or whoever, ask them that. Don’t listen to the argument, repeat until you get an answer. There is only one they can give, one they believe, only one they can say to your face. So how many ‘good’ men are voted in every year? How many ‘good’ men will stand up and say “Hey, guns kill people, and we can’t control them properly, let’s do something about it!”

If it wasn’t such a tragic topic it would be farcical. Problem is I don’t hear anyone laughing – do you?

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The world is shrinking, so my next comments aren’t as misplaced as they seem, is that an excuse?

Yet another shooting in America. Yet more calls for tighter controls, or complete bans. More arguments about free speech, and the right to bear arms (bare arms?).

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people

How stupidly small-minded, frighteningly short-sighted can people be? Is it just me? OK I know it’s not, but don’t these people realise what they are saying? Of course, strictly speaking they are correct, I could have a gun and never use it to kill people – but the counter-argument is so obvious.

It is our right as American citizens

I will admit to a not complete understanding of American political and legal systems, and yes I agree, free speech and an individuals rights should be protected. Shooting people is not an individual activity though is it? It requires the, unwilling, participation of other people, where’s their choice, their rights?

The view that drifts across the Atlantic is that the American government is bowing to the pressure of the gun lobby. So who, exactly, is running the country? And what is the real aim? In today’s political culture I thought it was all about votes? Which has the larger share of votes – the recreational gun users? or the scared public? Or is money the real issue?

Surely the aim has to be to remove guns from society all together. A change in society is much needed, a move away from fear, away from violence. I long to visit America, but is it really that safe? Is sensationalist journalism spoiling my view?

The right to express yourself has been taken too far, and is used as an excuse for many different groups and activists in America. Something needs to be done. Free speech should remain just that.

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“You’ll like her, she has amazing eyes”

Attraction is not a static, well, not entirely, and it comes in various states:

  • attraction to beauty
  • attraction to personality
  • attraction to lust
  • attraction to like
  • attraction to opposite
  • and many more.

Most people single out a few characteristics, for me it’s eyes. There is something bewitching about some people’s eyes, a certain quality that I find difficult to qualify or explain. Of course, there is more to it than that, attraction comes as a package and that package is never definite.

Physical attraction, or idolisation, is based wholly on physical attributes. I have never met Helena Christiansen, but she is the most stunning woman I have ever seen. Similarly, Lisa Nicole Carson fascinates me, yet I know very little about her as a person (but man, she can act sexy!). Physical attraction is driven by base instinct, lust, want. There are many aspects to this, and, as with any attraction, personal preferences differ wildly. I can never specify whether I’m a leg-man, breast-man, etc etc, as I’m never that specific. It’s not that I’m not fussy or demanding, it’s just that I tend to take in the whole picture, style, shape, attitude, and manner, from that I create a picture of the person, and the cortex activity thing kicks in, either to say ‘Hmmmm, she’s nice’ or to make me forget about her the instant I look away.

Of course, physical attraction is on a par (well slightly lower) with flirting, it’s OK to look – and I mean glance, not stare or ogle.
In everyday life, attraction has to be more.

Everyday attraction, is more than a glance at an attractive man or woman, it is based on the person as a whole. Their personality as well as their looks. I am constantly amazed at how often a personality will mask physical attributes, and I suppose that is true attraction. Now, this is not to say that everyday attraction isn’t physically based, more that it builds on the foundations of personal attraction.

Why do you like the people you do? Why do you find person X more attractive than person Y? Only you can answer that, and that’s what makes attraction so unique, and let’s face it…well you know the cliche.

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Research has proven that wearing sunglasses boosts your ego.

No…really, a British study by Dr. Glenn Wilson, a psychologist at the University of London, reports that measurable psychological benefits can be gained from wearing sunglasses.

But is it really so? I think Dr.Wilson is looking to deep into the matter and suffering from ‘can’t-see-the-wood-for-all-these-damn-trees’ syndrome.

Its simple really…when do people wear sunglasses, when its sunny! and how do you feel when you are sitting in the sun – GREAT!! So you are feeling good, and I bet you feel, measurably, better. Is it just me, or is it really that obvious?

The study goes on to reveal that “People wear sunglasses because they feel they look good in them. You feel in control”. It’s funny, I’ve come across various studies on wildly different themes, and they all make reference to control. Why is control such a major part of the modern day psyche? That’s another discussion, I digress.

One interesting (?) point – “People report having additional courage to ogle when their gaze can’t be detected” – now I wouldn’t class it as ogling, but your glance definitely lasts longer when you wearing sunglasses, and there is no harm in looking, unless you get caught!

The main point of the study does stand up, don’t you feel cool when you’ve got your shades on?

BUT! (You knew there would be one…)

BUT! (and it is a very large BUT!) do we really need to spend money on this type of research? Is the ‘name of science’ a credible argument for this sort of work? What are the benefits of this, and how much of taxpayers money did it use? So why do these types of work still manage to get funding? Now I’m all for scientific research, but it has to have some sort of focus in benefiting society, be it now or in the future. The argument of always finding something better to spend taxpayers’ money will always ring true, but never more so than in the face of such a blatant waste of money.

Whilst I am sure this study does reveal some of the intricate psychological values that modern society foists on us, surely there are many more important things to worry about. In fact, I know there are.

Thank you, rant over.

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