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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Primary school education.

Never far from the news.

Parents up and down the U.K. always have their say on their child's education, never is this more true than on their child's primary school education. In these times of SATS, which are ridiculous for children under 11 years old as they prove nothing, nothing is more ridiculous than forcing children to sit tests. Tests that could determine their entire working future. Children of that age mature at different ages and alongside that maturity comes the ability to soak up that which they are being taught, therefore, making them sit for tests is an exercise in futility.

During the 1980's games where seen as a bad thing as they, they said, fostered a winning personality. Taking part became the mantra is better than winning. Most sensible parents debunked this mantra. Nowadays children are vilified for being lazy none games playing children. The truth behind this is that it was the government that stopped our children playing energentic games.

Again during the 1980's the governments educational policies frowned on children's creativity. Most primary and secondary schools removed everything to do with creativity from the schools daily work load. Again it was the governments educational policies that dictated this should be so.

Pre-school and primary school children need a lot of 'playtime' to help in soaking up the energy levels they all have. Added to this they need an avenue for their build in creativity. Both of these activities were removed from the curriculum during the 1980's. Perhaps more accurately they were squeezed out due to the curriculum being overcrowded.

Over the course of the last few years the Commons education committee has seen the folly or sheer stupidity of previous decades and is now coming out on the side of creativity for children. It has come as no surprise to sensible parents.

In 1964 I started preschool. The day consisted almost entirely on play. This play was punctured now and again with creative learning. In 1965 I started primary school. During the first term the format of preschool followed. During the second term the mornings consisted entirely on creative learning and the afternoon was playtime. During the third term, mornings were more mainstream, formal learning and the afternoons creative learning. During the fourth and final term the whole day consisted of formal learning. By the time one entered ones second year of primary education the scene was set for formal learning all day everyday. And so it went on until one reached secondary school age (back then that was 9 years old with 9 to 13 being junior school and 13 to 16 senior school) at which time at term end the children sat a test. This test determined what level the child started at at junior school. Once at junior school formal schooling continued until aged 12 or 13 the children sat another test which like the previous end of primary school test determined what level the child started senior school. The only important tests the children sat in those days were the A, O and GCE tests at the end of senior school years. Of course throughout a child's time at junior and senior school in those times peripheral tests were sat but these tests were more to determine what level the child would start at at the beginning of the following term.

The whole system worked fine and gave us some of the best brains this country has ever had.

This was from 1964 to 1976. Shortly after this the governments educational guru's started changing things for the sake of changing them. During the 1990's the government then blamed teachers for failing to deliver on changes the government themselves changed during the 1980's which the teachers did not agree with in the first place. Games playing was out. Creativity was out. It was a mess. And right in the middle of this mess was our children. Creative learning was out. The cane was out as was chastising unruly children. Is it any wonder we are now turning out more and more children that cannot read and write? Children that have no grasp of basic English? Nor mathematics? And children that have no grasp on general decorum?

Sunday, 28 October 2007


Ever more these days we see some random "expert" espousing on this or that. Sometimes the espouser talks sense and the article/TV interview is entertaining and informative. However, one thing they all do, which invariably spoils the whole thing, is pull some seemingly random figures out of the air.

Take this BBC article as a prime example. The, probably, eminant doctor says something we can all identify with. Tiredness. Especially tiredness when the clocks go back 1 hour (in the U.K. at least this occurance happened early hours of today. 28-102007 at 2am) but then he spoils it all by saying "six out of 10 people" are failing to relax before sleeping and that this leads to "semisomnia" and that this change in time can take 3 days to recover properly from.

It is not what he says overall that is annoying, just the obvious figures out of thin air bit. I mean, everyone can identify with tiredness, especially feeling just that little bit more tired after the clocks are turned back 1 hour and for a couple of days afterwards we all can identify with feeling that little bit more tired than usual. But where exactly did those figures, "six out of 10", come from? I would hazard a guess that he looked through either his own log book or that of the hospital he works in and then pulled out all instances of tiredness in the 3 days following the clock change then calculated that figure against the population count as a whole. Not exactly rocket science nor does it make those figures correct. However, "6 out of 10" looks very impressive and is sure to trigger something in the minds of the readers but here, all it does is provide evermore proof that this type of portrayal of figures is nothing more than an ineffectual method that annoys.

This pulling figures out of thin air to backup or bolster whatever point is being made is quite simply ineffectual to all but the lowest of the low on intelligence. It is annoying. It is almost an affectation in so much as the person talking seems to have a driving need to back up that whih they are saying by pulling out outlandish figures to back up their claims.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Blaming childhood things.

Blaming things that happened to us for the bad things some adults do in adulthood has long been the mainstay of people seeking to understand why adults do bad things.

Take this 'chessboard killer' Alexander Pinchuskin as the latest example of this somewhat modern thinking

His mother said she blamed his killing spree on a bump on his head aged 4 years old.

Other examples of this crazy thinking are sexual perverts that are claimed to have been abused themselves when children. Those child beaters who it is claimed were beaten themselves when younger. This list of things that happened to children that are later blamed as reasons why an adult did whatever he or she did is almost endless.

It must cause massive consternation in all those adults who were abused in one form or another as children or had something traumatic happen to them, but grow up into model citizens and parents. To hear these people who claim this or that happened to him or her as a child and it is that which caused him or her to do whatever he or she did in adulthood you would think it should transpire that all adults would be affected in someway and all adults would be out there killing people, abusing children etc etc.

I was physically and systematically abused by my father for many years. Only breaking free of the fear I had for him on the day I saw his body lowered into that 6ft deep hole we call a grave. Did I, as a parent, go on to beat my own children in likewise fashion? No, I did not.

I had my nose smashed into several pieces when hit full on by a swing in a childrens playground. Did this painful and traumatic event as a child lead me to an adult life on the dark side of human nature? No, it did not. If it did anything other than simply hurt it made me more careful of fast moving objects and gave me a constant reminder by way of a constant blocked nose in one nasal passage. Still, I have never killed nor physically abused anyone in the 44 years that have passed since it happened.

One of my still friends from my childhood days saw his mother kill his two sisters, two brothers and his father one fateful day. Only escaping death himself because he went outside moments before it happened to retrieve a football he had left outside. Did he go on to kill as an adult? No, he did not.

There is a very fine line between right and wrong. Between sanity and insanity. Between killing and wanting to kill. Between abusing and wanting to abuse etc etc. But, to blame an abuser or killers reasoning on something that happened to them as a child is to make light of all those who also had something happen to them as a child but did not go on to kill or abuse as adults.

Sunday, 21 October 2007


With the growing disquiet surrounding Comcasts blocking of P2P traffic and the issues surrounding net neutrality in the U.S.A., and elsewhere, it is about time our ISP, karoo (KCom) was outed for doing the same thing. Our ISP like Comcast calls it "Network Management" but in reality it is quite simply Traffic Shaping. They will not say who created the package they use nor which package they use siting "Company confidentiality" which is amusing at best and, as every other ISP in the U.K. uses similar, silly.

Our ISP openly admits to prioritizing Internet traffic. Low on their priority list is P2P and Usenet traffic with Web, email and VoIP being highest. VoIP and email are further described as "Time sensitive". Go figure for email...

While there is no proof or evidence to suggest our ISP diddles with the traffic as Comcast appears to do (forging packets etc) the similarities between our ISP and Comcast are striking.

As well as the now normal Network Management our ISP further slows all traffic down during a 1800hrs to 2400hrs "peak period". This drop in speed is prioritised on which Option one is signed up to. Users on Option 4, their so called premier package which gives the user a psuedo static IP and little else, get a higher priority than those signed up to Option 1. In reality it is broken as there is proof that the Option one is signed up to has little to no affect on prioritised speeds during this "peak period".

All our ISPs packages are slated as being "up to 8mb" but as the copper wiring they own is, in most areas they cover, 40-50 years old with some parts being older and a few areas (newer housing estates, private and council) being younger, some users are lucky to hit 1mb let alone any where close to 8mb. Add in the use of network management plus (obvious) misconfiguration by their own technicians the service offering speedwise here by karoo is poor generally.

Most people in their service area lack the knowledge to argue their point. So, when they ring the poor customer service line and they get told "as the service is up to 8mb, 1 or 2mb is acceptable" they cannot state their point that 1 or 2mb is not acceptable so they plod along accepting these slow speeds. A few of us however do have the technical knowhow and will argue our point over and over again until something is done for the benefit of all.

Karoo will not accept their service offerings are badly broken. Their technicians are utterly clueless on the software they use. The software they use for the Network Management is so badly configured it is a joke amongst us more knowledable users.

So, while the world and more notably Comcast users in the U.S.A. can moan on a world stage about what their ISP is doing and how Net Neutrality is big news in the U.S.A. passing as it is through congress, spare a thought for us backwater ISP users in the U.K., who are suffering exactly the same and have no choice but to use it as there are no other ISPs here to defect to.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Long time no post.

It has been a while since I lost blog posted. There is no shortage of things happening worldwide that have, in one way or another, annoyed me and not being able to write about them here was somewhat frustrating. The reason for the long delay is that I fell downstairs and broke my left arm. Well, fractured a bone more like but apparently it was a bad fracture. I also managed to break several little bones in my left hand and very badly sprained my right wrist. These things stopped me typing. Breaking my right leg is a bit of a bugger as my left one is knackered because of the disability anyway which basically means if I need or want to go anywhere I need to sit in a wheelchair until the left leg is mended and is srong enough to support me as i stand, walk etc. That alone could be a blog post as there is a lot of prejudice against people in wheelchairs, in this country at least.

So, with a plaster cast on my right leg, left arm and hand and heavy bandages on my right wrist and hand plus the bandages around my head I look like something of a disaster zone.

The bandages are off my right hand and wrist now and I am once again at home.

This unfortunate turn of events gave me my first taste of our wonderful N.H.S for many years. Sure, my disability means I go to hospital every now and again as an out-patient but actually being sat in a hospital for a week or so meant I got first hand experience of what the state of play is now compared to the previous time I stayed for several days. That previous time was some 22 years ago. A lot has changed within our N.H.S. in those 22 years and especially in my local hospital.

The first thing that struck you was how different the ward is. It is the same structure internally but it somehow seemed brighter, more cheerful. I was put in a side ward which is a one person ward rather than be put in the general ward which has several beds screened from each other with curtains. The side ward appeared to be well stocked with medical stuff and had a TV, DVD player, radio and the usual in the wall stuff available to the patient. As long as there is no technical stuff being used in there you are allowed the use of your mobile phone. All of these things where impossible to use for me due to the fact I had both hands either plastered up or bandaged up. Still, apart from the wall radio these things were not available 22 years ago. A significant improvement from the patients point of view.

One thing that has not changed on iota is the skill and dedication of the nurses. The nurses I had to deal with were firm but polite and knew what they were doing. This may sound an obvious thing but it is not. Having been unfortunate enough to have been in hospitals abroad I can testify first hand that our nurses here in the U.K. beat their foreign counterparts in skills. Their dedication is outstanding. Even in the face of abuse they carry on regardless.

There is a general undertone which comes out when you talk with the nurses and doctors. This undertone is one of disgruntlement amongst them about how the Government is destroying the N.H.S. with all the changes they are making. Pay also comes into it as does the long hours they work. Overall though the nurses are bright and cheerful only slipping into discontentment when questioned.

Well, this is a blog post with not a lot of substance but I basically wanted to let you all know my absence was because of something happening and was not because I had become bored with the whole blog scene. The posts will not be frequent until the bandages and plaster casts are off both my arms, wrists and hands but I will try to post something every few days or so.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

It has started.

Over the last few years we have seen smokers cast out as some form of leper on society. Some of the places where smoking is now banned beggars belief that we are a sane society. One such place is, or rather was, designed and created purely for the purposes of smoking. The patrons of such a place went into these places to enjoy a water based smoke and knew exactly what they were doing and where in fact adults who by their own actions knew that the smoke from their own pipes as well as the smoke from other like minded smokers was permeating through the air in the room they sat in. And yet with the blanket ban of smoking in public and private places this type of business has had to close down causing loss of jobs as well as the main income of the establishment owner. Madness.

Next up on the target list is car drivers. Use of mobile phones whilst driving is now outlawed. For years car drivers have had the in-car use of radios, cd players, dvd players and all manner of in-car distractions (passengers talking, children playing up etc etc). Radios need turning on and tuning, cd and dvd players need turning on and a cd or dvd inserting, passengers invariably talk to the driver and if there other back seat passengers, children are children and often times argue and are loud whilst doing it. Some drivers smoke which is said to be another distraction. In point of fact anything that causes the driver to take one hand off the steering wheel is open to abuse from the do gooders in our society. Use of mobile phones whilst driving is now outlawed and rightly so. But, the others? Most of the things mentioned here have been going on for almost as long as cars have been available. No statistics are available (I mean hard facts not 'meld the figures to suit your argument' percentage based statistics) to vindicate either side of the argument but it is only a matter of time before smoking in-car is banned, radios are banned, cd and dvd music players are banned and ultimately all talking in-car is banned. Of course road fatalities will not go down nor will the road accident count but they will all be banned nonetheless.

Madness. Utter and complete madness.