Not Saussure

February 28, 2007

Education lotteries

Filed under: Education, Politics — notsaussure @ 11:13 pm

I wonder what to make of the news that

Brighton and Hove City council announced that schools under its authority will in some cases pick pupils randomly from within a catchment area, rather than giving preference to those living closest.

Should commend itself to people, I’d have thought, since I can’t think of a better way of guaranteeing equality of opportunity — of which I thought we were all supposed to be in favour — than giving everyone an equal chance in a raffle. A lot of people don’t quite seem to see it that way, though. Curiously, though, apparently

Brighton has argued they will have more people going to their nearest school, about 70% compared with the current figure of 40%. At the moment in theory parents can apply anywhere in Brighton and travel, so long as they can afford to.In future they will only go into the ballot in their catchment postcode area.



Cllr Kelly, again

Filed under: Garden gnomes, nemesis — notsaussure @ 10:04 pm

Via Clairwil and Mr Eugenides, I am delighted to discover that the Fates seem to be playing a little joke on Cllr Terry Kelly, a Labour councillor in Paisley, Renfrewshire, who is to political blogging what his fellow-countryman, William Topaz McGonagal, was to poetry.

A couple of weeks ago, Cllr Kelly, in the course of insulting (his only method of arguing) Clairwil, decided to try his hand at some intentional humour:

Having been involved in corrupt Labour politics for 40 yrs. I’m already rich, I don’t need the money I’ve stolen enough, so I’m retiring, now crawl back under your stone.

And, almost immediately, Nemisis turns up in the form of the Strathclyde Police, who investigating allegations of fraud and expenses fiddles by four Renfrewshire Labour Councillors (there’s no suggestion that Cllr Kelly is one of them, I hasten to add).

Clairwil comments,

Poor Terry he must be feeling very let down by his colleagues (more…)

February 27, 2007

Dr John Reid

Filed under: Politics — notsaussure @ 9:20 pm

has posted a comment on this blog. And he has a blog of his own. Well worth a look.

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Gordon Brown and National Purpose

Filed under: Philosopy, Politics — notsaussure @ 9:17 pm

Chris Dillow quotes Gordon Brown’s call for a ‘national purpose’

A strong sense of being British helps unite and unify us; it builds stronger social cohesion among communities. We know that other countries have a strong sense of national purpose, even a sense of their own destiny. And so should we. And it helps us deal with issues as varied as what Britain does in Europe; to issues of managed migration and how we better integrate ethnic minorities.

and, quite rightly, counterpoises Michael Oakeshott’s view of government; as Oakeshott says,

The spring of this other disposition in respect of governing and the instruments of government – a conservative disposition – is to be found in the acceptance of the current condition of human circumstances as I have described it: the propensity to make our own choices and find happiness in doing so, the variety of enterprises each pursued with passion, the diversity of beliefs each held with the conviction of its exclusive truth; the inventiveness, the changefulness and the absence of any large design; the excess, the over-activity and the informal compromise. And the office of government is not to impose other beliefs and activities upon its subjects, not to tutor or to educate them, not to make them better or happier in another way, not to direct them, to galvanize them into action, to lead them or to coordinate their activities so that no occasion of conflict shall occur; the office of government is merely to rule. This is a specific and limited activity, easily corrupted when it is combined with any other, and, in the circumstances, indispensible. The image of the ruler is the umpire whose business is to administer the rules of the game, or the chairman who governs the debate according to known rules but does not himself participate in it. (more…)

February 26, 2007

EU plans for low-energy light-bulbs

Filed under: environment, EU, Law, press — notsaussure @ 5:35 pm

I see from Ellee Seymour that

Germany’s environment minister Sigmar Gabriel wants normal light bulbs to be banned in the EU and energy saving lights used instead. Studies show that carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 25 million tonnes a year if both households and the services sector exchanged traditional light bulbs for energy saving lights.

I’ve never used the things myself since I’m under the impression they’re very expensive — at least in terms of the initial outlay, though I accept they may well save you money over their lifetime — and don’t actually do a particularly good job of providing illumination (cue joke about why they’d appeal to the EU). My impression of these things seems to be confirmed by the comments to Ellee’s article, which probably explains why various governments want to force us to buy something we’re all clearly too foolish to realise is a superior product.

My initial reaction is that I’d give more sympathetic consideration to any environmental proposals coming from the EU if they were to calculate, and justify, the carbon footprint caused by shifting the European Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg once a month because the French insist on it. It certainly costs a good deal in other respects; according to Wikipedia,

Moving various files and equipment between the two cities takes 10 large trucks and the costs for two locations are estimated at €200 million a year. A force of 30 people load the trucks for the 400 km journey between the two locations. Around 5,000 people attached to the Parliament, such as parliamentarians, advisors, clerks and journalists, also move between Brussels and Strasbourg. Most of the parliamentarians are against using Strasbourg and various initiatives have been taken over the years to have Brussels as the sole location. The latest of these initiatives was a EU-wide online petition, The petition was not accepted.

I mean, if they expect me to inconvenience myself for the sake of the planet, they might show willing by doing something seems eminently sensible and that most EU parliamentarians want, though the French — particularly the Strasbourg restaurateurs, bar-owners and prostitutes, one imagines — are, for obvious reasons, opposed.

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Naming and shaming juveniles?

Filed under: Law, press — notsaussure @ 4:26 pm

Puzzled about this. It’s generally illegal to publicise the details of young people appearing in court as witnesses, and certainly, if they’re under 18, as defendants, without the Court’s permission. It’s also illegal to provide sufficient information to identify them even though you don’t actually print their name — so called ‘jigsaw identification.’

Consequently, I’m rather puzzled by the case of the 17-year-old who was widely reported last week as having made rude gestures at David Cameron and who was equally widely reported over the weekend and this morning as having been arrested for possession of a small amount of cannabis, being identified in the reports as the lad who’d achieved notoriety earlier in the week through his gesticulations.

To my mind, all that could legally be reported, unless and until a court said otherwise, was that a 17-year-old had been arrested in Manchester for this offence, which might not, in itself, have been particularly newsworthy. The Court may have given permission for him to be named, though I rather doubt it since the BBC account of his conviction and fine still says he can’t be named for legal reasons. The Sun, I see, ignored such legal niceties altogether and went ahead and published his name in their report of his arrest.

I think this is contempt of court, certainly in The Sun’s case and probably in the case of all the other newspapers and broadcasters, too.

One might well argue that enforcing the rules in this case is a bit pointless, but to my mind that’s beside the point. Many people think the prohibition on cannabis is a bit pointless, too, but that’s no defence if you find yourself arrested for possessing it. I see the BBC reports that

The teenager had been held in custody since he was arrested on Saturday.District Judge Wendy Lloyd told the youngster she had been “concerned” that he had been kept in custody for possession of such a small quantity of cannabis.

She said: “That you have been dealt with differently causes me great concern.”

Seems to me this applies equally, or should apply, to publicising his identity. I wonder if we can get the editors of all the national newspapers, and various BBC news editors, arrested for contempt of court (I realise that I’m probably at risk, too, based on what I’ve said in this article, but it would probably be worth it). Certainly, at least prima facie, Rebekah Wade should get her collar felt again.

On a somewhat related topic, I share the disquiet expressed by Bystander JP in The Magistrate’s Blog about the press reports concerning the boy who has become seriously overweight. The Times, for example, sensitively headlines their story, ‘Fat boy may be put in care,’ along with a photograph of the poor child. As Bystander says,

If he appeared in court as a defendant he could not be named. If he were a witness or a victim the court would make an order forbidding the publication of anything that might serve to identify him. For the crime of being fat, he is being publicly humiliated.

The fact his mother, who’s clearly got problems herself, has put his identity into the public domain by agreeing to have a TV programme made about him is hardly any excuse, to my mind.

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February 25, 2007

More from Conservapedia

Filed under: Wingnuts — notsaussure @ 9:07 pm

Noticed this on the Conservapedia main Talk page

Only 10% of Americans believe in evolution the way it is taught in school. Ponder that statistic for a while. Can you identify any other activity imposed on 100% of the population yet accepted by only 10% of it?–Aschlafly 01:53, 25 February 2007 (EST)

The income tax? Dpbsmith 09:57, 25 February 2007 (EST)

Meanwhile, I note that their entry on Jesus contains a fascinating snippet:

In Christian discourse, the name Jesus almost always refers specifically to Jesus of Nazareth, believed by Christian followers to be God’s dad, who came to earth as a human c 2 AD. However, God has recently revealed on His blog that Jesus is actually His nephew, not His son

(I’ve saved a copy of this entry for Jesus, along with the one on the Pacific Northwest Arboreal Octopus, in case they vanish.)

Unfortunately, since liberals have clearly been making mischief with some of the entries, they’re not accepting new registrations at the moment. This is a shame, since at present there’s no entry explaining the game of cricket, and I think home-schooled Americans would benefit from learning a bit more about the sport.

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Imagine a world where Americans could read maps…

Filed under: Bloody Yanks, Politics, press — notsaussure @ 8:07 pm

The straw may well be flying over at Doughty Street, but I hope it doesn’t mean I’m an American-hating leftie because I found this rather amusing:


Incidentally, on reading the article that the Flying Rodent discusses, with graphs, about Western Europe’s America Problem, it struck me Professor Markovits’ account of the problems the Viennese gave him over his American accent while he was at school there in the 1960s is a bit partial; my Godmother Lisel, whose parents (Catholic converts) managed to get her out of Vienna on a Kinderstransport, still doesn’t rate anyone, outside family and friends, other than the Viennese very much (and she isn’t too keen on them, for obvious reasons), and she’s lived here for almost 70 years.

Knowing her, I can quite understand why he was admonished by his

English teachers, in their heavily accented, Viennese-inflected English, not to speak this abomination of an “American dialect” or “American slang,” and never to use “American spelling,” with its simplifications that testified prima facie to the uncultured and simpleton nature of Americans.

The Viennese, at least in my experience, take the attitude that, at most, there are only correct ways to do most things; if you’re fortunate enough to be Viennese, you do it the Viennese way — which is obviously best, because otherwise they wouldn’t do it that way — but, if not, you do it the echt way, which, in this case, would be to speak English the way the English speak it.

Margaret Beckett gets it right about something

Filed under: Politics — notsaussure @ 5:32 pm

On the day of the last general election, Margaret Beckett, then Environment Minister, received a phone call from Gordon Brown, who wanted to discuss with her the post-election cabinet he and Mr Blair were putting together, and they spent about 10 minutes discussing their cabinet colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, her caller was, in fact, Rory Bremner and he had a tape recorder running.

It’s not been broadcast as yet, since Downing Street apparently kicked up a fuss — Bremner tried the same trick on Peter Hain, who eventually rumbled him — and Ofcom have rules about broadcasting wind-up phone calls without the victim’s consent. Doubtless it’ll soon appear on the interwebs if it hasn’t already.

Mrs Beckett certainly got it right in one respect, though. (more…)

February 24, 2007

Who’d have thought it, eh?

Filed under: Opinion polls, press — notsaussure @ 10:05 pm

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I read this in The Guardian:

The gulf between parents and risk-taking teenagers is revealed in a unique Guardian/ICM poll which explores the realities of growing up in Britain today.

Teenagers drink, smoke, take more drugs and lose their virginity earlier than many of their parents believe, according to the results of the study.

Unfortunately the survey doesn’t reveal whether this is because of absent fathers or inequality.   Probably both.

Hat tip:  Fisking Central.

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