Up the house of lords.

So, the lying tts are upset about the ‘unconstitutional’ way the house of lords have upset their plans to rob more from the already poor whilst the kleptos continue to increase their ill-gotten gains. Hands up all those who believe s&m osborne and co when they say that they want to reduce the ‘welfare state and make work pay’? Well I’m sure hands shoot up with the first part but anyone who believes the second should immediately look out the window at all the flying porkies with you know what in their mouths. And yet this privileged shower were elected on this very premise and so many believed them, just like the woman on question time a couple of weeks ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9NPF1iXBjw

This should be shown repeatedly between now and the next election, this is the true face of the tts.

And so the tts are going to do what exactly about the epidemic of obesity and diabetes? The evidence is now in, for example a recent study showed simply replacing added sugar from various foods and drinks with the same amount of carbohydrates in the form of vegetable starch that within 10 days reversed sufferers metabolic diseases. This is absolutely startling, but we can’t have a nanny state and the kleptos should remain free to exploit and cause ill health and actually kill people. Such is the world we live in.

Grace has some friends who were in a horrific car crash over the weekend. Such is the nature of our society and social media that already, whilst some lie seriously injured, probably dying, there is talk of compensation, scapegoating and blaming of individuals. We are quick to point the finger yet less inclined to take responsibility. Such is the way of the world when we extol the kleptos and the likes of moanrinho.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

It’s official: ofsted is shit.

Took Grace to Winchester University open day on Saturday to check out the place and it’s education courses. It’s unfortunate for my children to have me as a father as when I go to universities I get all excited  and over-stimulated and want to join the academic party. I thought I managed to contain myself quite well, but Grace said after that she’d rather go on visits with Kate in the future.

It’s a lovely university with a central ethos that shines through, I know it’s them putting on a show but you do get a strong sense going round a place. Now I know that there is a very strong bias for kids from a wealthier background getting into university, especially oxbridge (I love watching University Challenge but I’ve had enough of that arrogant, oxbridge biased twat paxman presiding in his sneering way towards the non-oxbridge teams). But once at university there is at least some mix of students that many won’t have experienced at school, especially those from private schools, from both perspectives (some privileged oxbridge colleges excepted). And there is increasing evidence that those students from comprehensive schools perform better than their peers at university.

I think that part of the reason for this is that intelligence is mainly genetic, there is increasing evidence for this, so that when young folk get to university the not quite so clever as they’ve been led to believe suddenly find themselves struggling when on a more level playing field.

As long ago as 1957, a year when a number of significant individuals were born, a psychologist by the name of Philip E Vernon reported after his investigation of secondary school education and selection that: “Experimental proof indicates that performance on intelligence and achievement tests tends to be raised by attendance at the better grammar schools and to drop relatively, or fail to increase rapidly, in the less stimulating modern schools. Greater flexibility can be attained when all pupils attend a common school.”. So, the selection of the apparently more able into schools such as grammars leads to raised performance and those who suffer rejection perform worse in the ‘secondary moderns’.

Now there has been ample evidence to confirm this since but we still have the old bollocks trotted out about selection and grammar schools as good old English class bollocks and the like trumps actual evidence. And Mr Vernon’s other conclusion that when all attend a common school there can be ‘greater flexibility’. Now I think this is what happens at university, despite there being still selection it is more nuanced and based on slightly more evidence than the 11 plus. And those from comprehensive schools do better at university.

So why don’t we have a proper comprehensive school system? Well, can’t you just hear all the howls of indignation and gnashing of privately tended teeth? All the old tropes trotted out with the underlying class bollocks. It is and has been a political choice, one made, for example, by the Finns who opted for a totally comprehensive system with highly educated and supported teachers and where are they now in international comparative terms? Certainly higher than dear old blighty.

And I have lived through the introduction of a national curriculum which has been altered annually and is, at last, falling apart under the weight of all it’s contradictions, ill-thought through ramifications and general distortion of our much abused education system. Which brings me to the latest report from a Dr Paul Cappon called: ‘Preparing English Young People for Work and Life: an International Perspective’ http://www.skope.ox.ac.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Paul-Cappon-Preparing-English-young-people-for-work-and-life.pdf

Now one of the mantras oft repeated at schools and teachers is ‘accountability’ and one that, despite teachers  understanding and appreciation of our accountability primarily to our pupils, has been used to impose an extremely unpleasant system upon schools and teachers called ofsted. It has resulted in incessant governmental meddling and abuse of the teaching profession, probably the main reason there is an incredibly high drop-out rate of teachers soon after qualifying. I’ll quote one of the report’s recommendations:

“By rebalancing accountability, England would reverse the current reality whereby central government approaches are empiricist, innovative, highly mutable and inconsistent; whilst local educational institutions are frequently rigid, conformist, compliance-driven, lacking innovativeness and risk averse”

It was increasingly my experience of this as a teacher that really fucked me off; I and other teachers were not respected enough and had to work within institutions that were ‘rigid, conformist, compliance-driven, lacking innovativeness and risk averse’. I even did an M Phil that explored this risk averseness!

The report reports that this country is now the ONLY country in the OECD “whose young adults have literacy levels lower than older generations”. And that the “ofsted-led accountability system” has presented no evidence of improving national standards, in fact more the contrary. So it’s official: ofsted is shit. And so is our current school system and we have piddling little england bollocks about grammar schools and the like and I am so pissed off with it all.

But I really liked Winchester University, despite being overwhelmingly white, I really got a strong sense of them making their students feel safe and supported. And it is this that should underpin any proper future developments of our educational system. I’m sad I feel like this after being a teacher for so much of my life, I’ve held on to my beliefs, I kept practising them as a classroom teacher and eventually I created classes in which pupils felt safer, were more able to respond positively have fun and learn and that I could as quickly as possible tick lots of twattish boxes.

Going to meet up with my fellow crabby ones on Wednesday with Kate.

And an Aussie Kiwi final, who’d have predicted that eh?

 

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan

Yes it’s the same the whole world over…………………

“The government has volunteered to make debt reduction a greater public purpose than the ends for which the public sector is designed.” A line from Will Hutton which so resonated with me that this particular blog was immediately begun. Yesterday my daughter Grace asked me what did being left and right wing mean, such  a simple question that both excited and concerned me. Excited because it indicated what a thoughtful daughter I have and I’d been given the opportunity to explain my understanding of left and right politics. It concerned me because I wanted to give an objective answer and not include too much of my beliefs. My response was OK, I think, but you’ll have to check with Grace.

However, the sentence from Mr Will encapsulates much that differentiates between left and right. I believe the left want to create conditions in which society is fairer and there is greater opportunity and equality for the many and that the state can play a big part in this. The right see this as a ‘burden’ and it’s up to the individual so they should ‘keep’ as much of what they earn as possible and that the state breeds dependency. There are lots of ‘grey areas’, for example I would like more localised power and support for individual/small scale ‘entrepeneurship’.

So we’ve had the so-called ‘neoliberal hegemony’ for quite a while now and lets just look at what’s happened with the right’s relieving of state run industry, for example energy. We were promised that privatisation, competition and the ‘rigours’ of the market (sounds vaguely sexual that, no wonder so many tts are into s&m) would lead to lower prices, better service and more responsive industries. Yet we get the opposite: higher prices, worse service, poor planning for the future, lower investment from the companies with the good old state having to pick up the tab (or the suckers like us who actually pay taxes) and of course more opportunity for more kleptos. Oh now I get it, that’s what they tts mean by greater opportunity. And they’re grabbing these tt created ‘opportunities’ and lining their pockets with unbelievable amounts of loot.

But we’re getting so much more choice Duncan, isn’t that a good? Well, no. We have the illusion of choice as it’s between what are essentially more expensive services/goods, that we are now living in times that are so marketised that we are awash with and surrounded by so much bollocks that we’re fearful and boggled. Talking with Mr Hector and how difficult it is to sort out and decide what to do with pensions. The madness of our education system. The sadness of the tts running down our health service. The badness of blaming the poor and unfortunate; only the other day whilst in the dead lion talking about my condition and others who suffer an acquaintance casually  repeats the tt trope about those who cheat the welfare state/benefit system. I agree that some do but the money they blag is as nothing compared to the kleptos and he has no wish to continue the conversation. Such ignorant opinionating shows how effective the tts and kleptos have been in hoodwinking so many.

But I read between the lines say many, often when they are justifying reading right wing rags. Well. I’ve used the biggest magnifying glass I can find and still can’t find anything written ‘between the lines’.

So yesterday we had a bit of role reversal as I went with Kate to Bournemouth Hospital for her cardiac check up. All is well, which is good as Kate was worried. She has ‘ectopic heart beats’, the heart has an atrial node that controls our heart beat but also each heart cell has an individual ability to fire itself, sort of a failsafe mechanism if the main one fails. Pretty incredible our body. Anyway, Kate has the odd heart cell firing every now and then causing the main node to take stock and waiting to get back to a steady beat. The doctor was very good although she was a ‘fellow’, the indignities that women still have to suffer in our sexist world.

And to finish what I started, the latest example of the subsuming of the state to the tts and the kleptos with the sugar study report and Public Health England recommending higher taxes, better labelling, less advertising and the like. All anathema to the kleptos and what is condom features default response?  Fuck the poor, they can just get fat, ill and continue to line the kleptos pockets.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

Go on, let your kids take risks.

Poor Kate; feeling somewhat unwell, annoyed by the carpet layer not coming today so we have bare stairs and the unpleasant smell of the previous occupant of the house and leaving for work in inclement weather while her husband lies abed. This retirement lark isn’t all a bed of roses, which might be painful with the thorns and all, especially on a waterbed as there could well be a few leaks and Wales could have beaten the damn bokke.

Anyway, we generally had a lovely little break in Spain: Kate had some sun and topped up her tan, great little hotel, Grace and Ruby had a good time, very tasty food and wine (a bucket list of tasting all the tastiest tastes in food and wine would be a reasonable thing in the scheme of bucket lists but obviously unreasonable in the actual doing so, with this one example it shows up the rank stupidity and intellectual redundancy of bucket lists). Only cloud, apart from the storms on the final night, was my bollocks with my mum. As ever I tried to talk about stuff and as ever failed dismally, oh the inadequacy of family communication. It’s one of the many reasons I love Kate so much is that she is great at communicating with Jaike, Ruby and Grace (and hopefully one day with Fay again), oh, and her emotionally stunted husband.

Just read a piece recommended by Mr Hector of this parish about over-protecting our kids: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/18/real-risk-to-kids-play-mollycoddling

Now this has long been an issue for me, I even did my bleedin’ MPhil on risk, and there is a massive disconnect going on. All sentient adults know at some level that risk is important and particularly for young folk if they are going to develop healthily. But at the same time too many of us don’t allow them to take risks. As Viv Groskop writes: “Somehow, in the course of a generation, we’ve lost all the normal rites of childhood. And in attempting to protect children (often because we fear things happening we can’t control), we expose them to very real and obvious dangers we could actually control.” So our children get fat and physically unfit and stare at screens way more than living and experiencing the ‘real world’. In Spain Grace really wanted to go go-karting, Ruby wasn’t as keen. We went and both girls really enjoyed it and it was a pleasure to witness them experiencing something that gave them such simple, visceral pleasure. Of course this experience had to be recorded and shared via various screens but the order of events was in the right order. We went karting again in Benidorm on the way back to Alicante and Ruby, with a little help from Grace, managed to ram her kart under a barrier at speed. Kate was briefly alarmed but it’s another story to add to the family history. There’s a Norwegian saying: ‘a child who hasn’t had a broken bone hasn’t had a childhood’.

We’d planned to stop for a drink in Benidorm but driving around the place caused me middle class repugnance and I had to carry on driving and get away. Maybe MCR could be added to the ever lengthening list of Diagnostic and Mental Disorders. We had a far more tasteful drink on the waterfront in Alicante. What a fucking middle class ponce I am.

And yet I reaffirmed my working class credentials by making my debut for the local pub’s pool team last night. It is part of my continuing fitness regime. We lost heavily to the bleedin ‘con club’, the Swanage conservative club, so it was particularly galling for me. I should have thought more beforehand and worn some Mr Jeremy stuff or strapped a pig’s head to my waist. Being the opening night of the Swanage pool season may also explain the non-appearance of the carpet fitter today.

Now the poorer folk have been hammered with the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ whilst at the same time richer folk get all the financial breaks to buy bigger houses and make money as rentiers. As George Monbiot writes there is not a housing shortage in this country just a very fucked up housing policy that contributes to kleptomania, well these weren’t his exact words. But his, and other sensible folk’s solution, is to change the council tax system and tax bigger houses more. Just like the tts ‘bedroom tax’ on council housing. Oh the howls from the tts and kleptos about all the lonely grannies in their large houses being forced to sell up and live in smaller places, how cruel. Bollocks. Far more cruel on the homeless, the families living in appalling B&Bs, the young who will never have their own homes (actually it now includes the middle aged moving into shared housing). So, will we have a proper grown-up debate about housing? Repossess the drax estate I say.

And well done to Messrs Giggs and Neville allowing squatters to live in their luxury hotel. Squat second/holiday homes I say.

And squat in places owned by kleptos where the property is held by offshore, i.e. tax avoiding, companies. So I had a look at the Private Eye map showing private property held by companies registered in tax havens and the nearest one to me is a property owned by cambian (my former employers) in Corfe Castle, check it out: http://www.private-eye.co.uk/registry

So mr saleem klepto, cambian is a tax avoiding company, there’s a surprise.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

Journalists eh?

We need a better media if the world, or at least the human centric world, is to survive. There are so many levels and aspects of our dysfunctional media that any proper debate, let alone proper presentation of any facts or positions, is extremely difficult. There are all the obvious culprits: powerful people and corporations controlling ‘output’, appealing to the lowest common denominators and to folk’s baser instincts and the relatively recent phenomena of social media that as soon as anyone ventures an idea or opinion then it’s attacked and people abused and threatened. But reading ‘notebook’ in today’s Grauniad by Mr Gary Younge triggered new thoughts for me. He related how at a social gathering a journalist opined that Mr Jeremy had already lost the election, but he’s just won one replied Mr Gary adding “Are we talking about 2020 in the past tense now?” The journalist became ireful and stated that as journalists “We’re supposed to analyse and make predictions”.

Now let’s deconstruct that statement. So many journalists, who remain pretty powerful opinion formers, don’t analyse properly and do make snap predictions. And these predictions often typically follow the prevailing tropes. Any analysis is skewed to fit the prediction. For example they haven’t bothered to analyse the irresistible rise of Mr Jeremy in any meaningful way and blindly follow the agendas set by so-called ‘opinion formers’. They don’t even apply any thoughtful reflection, and don’t get me going on them having any reflexivity as they (warning: Duncan bias in operation) are typically privately educated, have followed the singular path to their current positions including unpaid internships supported by wealthy parents and been subjected only to a narrow self-reflecting culture. This is why that journalist was upset by Mr Younge asking simple questions and making simple observations that hadn’t figured in her thinking.

As is becoming increasingly obvious our recently developed ‘meritocracy’ has rather rapidly ossified into a ‘closed shop’. My argument then has it that within this rather narrow self-referential hierarchy certain tropes rapidly incubate and soon become the prevailing ‘gospel’, such as Mr Jeremy will lose the 2020 general election.

And as soon as the tts are in power alone again they allow the first new grammar school to be created in that educationally benighted county that is Kent. Further evidence, as if we need any, that condom features talks bollocks when he spouts on about wanting equality. Just look at the evidence on selective education.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2015/oct/15/moment-boris-johnson-japan-knocks-over-boy-in-rugby-match-video

de pfeffel twatface bully, he was playing TOUCH rugby, the clue is in the name. And the funny thing is the little 10 year old boy brought him down. What an absolute twat.

Off to Spain today to see my mum and a little family holiday.

Just looked for a cartoon about journalistic bias and most were about liberal/left wing bias in the media. Wonder what that’s about?

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

Fuck positivity

Fuck me, not another blog on the same day, don’t you know I’ve got better things to do than read your ranting bollocks? Well the new me, pretty much in the same vein as the old me, doesn’t care. Not in the doesn’t care way about all you lovely folk who sometimes peruse my ramblings but more in the doesn’t care way of realisation that I am in a privileged position and can write stuff that acts in a therapeutic way for me. Often I’m inspired to write in response to something that’s triggered my ire and I feel better after writing about it. Sometimes I’m inspired by something life affirming like Mr Okri’s poem. And sometimes, like this particular piece, by something personally pertinent which is an article by one Deborah Orr (Will Self’s wife by the way, but that sounds like I’m validating her by association, which I’m not but I like Mr Self). She writes about what I’ve learnt about the  crabby one, namely that there are so many different types of cancers that afflict any number of unique individuals. She also triggered in me a thought about how I am advantaged in being able to write about it.

She also discussed one of my favourite hobby horses: positivity. She writes that writers who write about their crabby experience claim to “demystify” cancer but actually only “simplify” the experience. This is pretty obvious as we write only of our own experience and this is unique, whilst there might be similarities with others no two of us undergo exactly the same experience. This simplification is then unfortunately linked with “being positive”, a term I am increasingly at odds with. For starters there can be no “positivity” without “negativity”, no ying without yang, no good without bad, no up without down and no meaningless “centre ground”.

But also, as Ms Orr writes, that those with a poor diagnosis and facing imminent death “are a failure”. As I write this Kate tells me that her sister in law who’s had cancer for a while has just been told she has secondaries in her brain.

But people like Ms Orr, and to a large extent myself, have been told that our cancers have a reasonable chance of survival, that for a while I had a sympathetic employer (not the kleptonic ceo), supportive family and friends and other factors that allowed me to feel more positive. This is not the case for many others, especially those with no voice. How we deal with misfortune is intimately linked to “the advantage or disadvantage of the state of your life before diagnosis”.

I feel sad about Kate’s sister in law and family.

I am re-energised to put on a fund raising show for monies for individuals with cancer who have real difficulties with simple travel expenses to get their treatment.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan

Imagine another way………………………

They say there is only one way for politics.
That it looks with hard eyes at the hard world
And shapes it with a ruler’s edge,
Measuring what is possible against
Acclaim, support, and votes.

They say there is only one way to dream
For the people, to give them not what they need
But food for their fears.
We measure the deeds of politicians
By their time in power.

But in ancient times they had another way.
They measured greatness by the gold
Of contentment, by the enduring arts,
The laughter at the hearths,
The length of silence when the bards
Told of what was done by those who
Had the courage to make their lands
Happy, away from war, spreading justice
And fostering health,
The most precious of the arts
Of governance.

But we live in times that have lost
This tough art of dreaming
The best for its people,
Or so we are told by cynics
And doomsayers who see the end
Of time in blood-red moons.

Always when least expected an unexpected
Figure rises when dreams here have
Become like ashes. But when the light
Is woken in our hearts after the long
Sleep, they wonder if it is a fable.

Can we still seek the lost angels
Of our better natures?
Can we still wish and will
For poverty’s death and a newer way
To undo war, and find peace in the labyrinth
Of the Middle East, and prosperity
In Africa as the true way
To end the feared tide of immigration?

We dream of a new politics
That will renew the world
Under their weary suspicious gaze.
There’s always a new way,
A better way that’s not been tried before.

Ben Okri

Or we can carry on with all the old bollocks of class ridden, white male dominated, fear mongering, dysfunctional ex-private school alumni.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan