Friday, September 02, 2005

One side can be wrong

Guardian Unlimited | Life | One side can be wrong
...and further to the musings on religious belief below, let's not forget that the Reverend Dubya, currently failing to organise a piss-up in a brewery, is also keen on the teaching of creationism as an alternative to evolution in America's allegedly religion-free schools. Richard Dawkins does a demolition job here, but it's really shooting fish in a barrel.

New Orleans

It's difficult to believe the scenes we are witnessing on TV originate in the richest and most powerful country in the world. I noticed that at the time of declaring a state of emergency, the Louisiana governor advised the people to pray. Since that didn't work, apparently, the anarchy is to be controlled by - what? food-drops? planned evacuation? Nope - by troops armed to the teeth to stop starving people trying to survive. The governor who was so keen on prayer as a solution now says of the troops: "They have M-16s and are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will." So that's all right then.
One other thing on the religious response - I saw a woman interviewed after being rescued from the rising water. She had seen neighbours swept away. "I was blessed" she said. Leaving aside the notion of feeling blessed when your home and everything you own has been destroyed, did she stop to think why she had been chosen? Why had God decided to rescue her, but not her poor and doubtless equally God-fearing neighbours? Or even why God had visited this catastrophe on the city at all? This belief that somehow a deity is watching and deciding who to kill and who to save is grotesque. I'm reminded of Gloucester's line in King Lear -"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods/ They kill us for their sport." Lear's Britain is of course a pagan country - but the New Orleans version of the all-powerful deity seems very similar.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bullshit generator > web > web economy bullshit generator
This handy tool should be on the desktop of all in management. It will provide an instant important sounding but meaningless phrase to chuck into a meeting. Promotion beckons for all who use it, I'm sure...

University of Bums on Seats

University of Bums on Seats - Welcome
My boss sent me a link to this - she thought (rightly) I'd be amused. The trouble is, many of us who work in HE see this kind of thing as only marginally exaggerating current trends. There will come a point when this won't look particularly like parody.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The f word

BBC NEWS | England | Northamptonshire | School gives pupils f-word limit
Another brilliant educational initiative. I wonder where they got 5 as the limit? Is there a sliding scale of punishment? If you use the offending word 15 times in a lesson, do you get twice the detention you would have got if you'd used it only ten times? Will the tally on the board be used to produce a league table at the end of the year? The headteacher says that he is introducing this rule because swearing is already part of the children's (sorry, "young adults'") vocabulary. A bit of a fatal flaw in his thinking, there, I feel. I imagine underage drinking is part of their culture as well - so is he proposing one Carlsberg Special Brew a lesson is OK, but half a bottle of vodka gets you sent to the headmaster's office?
What's wrong with saying, "Look, we all know you swear - as do your teachers on occasion - but a lesson is not an appropriate place for it, and it won't be tolerated."? Schools constantly go on about how they are preparing children (sorry, youngsters) for the world of work - you wonder how their foul-mouthed habits would go down with customers in a shop, or clients in an office.