Friday, 15 August 2008

Sats Marking Company Sacked

A small glimmer of intelligence - ETS, the company responsible for screwing up SATS marking, has had its contract terminated.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Why The Labour Government Must Be Destroyed

Another compelling reason to say that the Labour government must not just be removed from office but destroyed, along with all its anti-freedom laws. They have totally betrayed the trust of the British people and are actively criminalising us. Councils get power to ‘spy’ on your e-mail and net use.

Any incoming government must make it a priority to remove all the anti-liberty legislation introduced by Labour over the last ten years and be closely scrutinised to make sure it doesn't start introducing its own similar plans.

It is also time that the British government defended our interests more robustly from the increasingly authoritarian EU.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Duz Speling Mater

Another gimp from academe recommends that people should be allowed to spell as they wish. Mr Smith is a lecturer at 'Bucks New University', as the papers describe it. A lecturer in Criminology, please note.

Or rather he says that the 'common mistakes' should be accepted. It's obviously not a great leap from 'common mistakes' to 'all mistakes' or to 'there are no mistakes'. The arguments against this kind of nonsense become apparent to anyone who spends more than ten seconds applying the grey matter: the obvious argument is that standardised spelling (and grammar) provides a level playing field to everyone, irrespective of age, ability, accent, dialect, social group, original language and geographical location - allowing everyone to reproduce their own way of pronouncing anything would lead to chaos and confusion. The opposite of communication, in fact.

Mr Smith is a lecturer. Surely he has read essays by today's students? If he has, he would surely know that their level of basic literacy leaves much to be desired. How is it that my mother left school at the age of fourteen seventy years ago with a greater ability to read, write and count than many kids leaving schools today with a clutch of top-grade A-levels?

For most people I accept that correct spelling and syntax of not always a primary requirement in everyday life. It still doesn't mean they are not important. There are multitudes of people for whom correct spelling and grammar are vital.

And since when did it become too difficult for youngsters to learn correct spelling (and grammar and arithmetic)? What's the point of avoiding something in education just because it's too difficult? Or too repetitive or a bit boring? English spelling is a pain in the backside, I agree with that, but it's not bloody submolecular physics, for God's sake.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Fat, Obese, Exercise, Cancer, Vitamin C Crap

Can't locate the original sources for this story; nevertheless: under new government plans, primary schools will have to measure childrens' height and weight and send the details to their local health authority. They will then calculate the MBI (Body Mass Index) and send letters to the parents, informing them of the results. They will not be able to use words such as 'fat' or even 'obese' (or even 'exercise'). Story via the Guardian.

I had assumed that the use of the word 'obese' over the last decade was in itself a PC device to avoid the offence given by using 'fat'; and was, in fact, a clinical term. Even that seems not to be enough.

What's also interesting about this story is the fact that this legislation has not been announced or discussed anywhere. And that the primary schools, having collected the information on behalf of the PCTs (and presumably without any extra cash or support for the time involved) are not themselves informed as to the results. Although, obviously, if you're a teacher, you have a pretty good idea if any of your pupils are 'overweight'.

This is just another small intrusion of the state into peoples' lives - and to no point. Either parents are told directly that they are responsible for making their kids obese and ought to do something about it, or they're left to get on with it. Avoiding 'offence' by pissing around with semantics will achieve nothing.

"Cavendish added: "Use of the word obese shuts people down. They associate it with 10-tonne mums and half-tonne kids ... We have not banned it, but we have chosen not to use it. There's no point giving them a letter that does not have any impact on their behaviour.""

And there's that other bloody word again - 'impact'. Try using 'effect' more often; it's usually more accurate.

As for irresponsible journalists and 'miracle cure' stories: Vitamin C as a cancer cure has re-emerged again, this time in Maryland. Story via the Beeb. Vitamin C does not cure cancer, full stop. The eminent scientist Linus Pauling went off on a limb about this a couple of decades ago, claiming that Vitamin C cured the common cold AND cancer. So convinced was he of his (flawed) research that both he and his wife put themselves on a high-dose regime. Unfortunately they both died - of cancer.

'Alternative medicine practitioners have already administered high doses of intravenous ascorbate.' - that's almost proof in itself that this is bunkum.

What's annoying about this article, however, is the acknowledgement that, well, actually, there is no proof that Vitamin C cures or slows down cancer. What was the bloody point of running the story, then? Journalists must know the effect this kind of story has on the public, especially those diagnosed with cancer. It's irresponsible to present this nonsense as news.