Square Pegs

Sorry there hasn’t been much out of me lately, a brief sojourn in Brighton (eye-opener, and not for the obvious reasons) followed by a mysterious illness have put paid to posting for a while.

Anyway.

One of Leg-Iron’s recurring themes recently has been the Official Standard Human and the woes lying in wait for those who do not conform, and I think a story that hit the news yesterday morning demonstrates that nicely: Children labelled with special needs may simply have been poorly taught.

Brilliant. Education is so regulated today, so full of targets and key stages and whathaveyou that there is no option but to be poorly taught, unless your child fits into the Official Standard Human model, which pretty much states that each child must be able to do x in week y of key stage z with no regard to the blindingly obvious fact that all children are unique.
One of the examples given on the BBC Breakfast programme yesterday was a child that was labelled special needs because they had difficulty with long division at the alloted hour of the alloted week of their school career: a definition that would have captured your host for I too had trouble with long division (I still can’t do it) and yet went on to pass the 11+ and later had no difficulty at all with calculus, complex number and Fourier Analysis.
Attempts to fit all children into one standard model are doomed to failure, and fail the kids at the top of the ability tree as well as those at the bottom. The obvious tendancy to label those that can’t (and probably those that can, easily, and act up through boredom) as special needs is probably more to do with teachers covering their arses than it is to do with eugenic social engineering but the effect is the same, saddling humans with a label that will stay with them for years (possibly their whole lives should they come to believe it themselves) simply because they don’t fit.

And don’t even get me started on the whole ‘we’ve been saying this for years but now a government agency says it it’s news’ thing.                      

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S.O-S.O

Mid-Wife Crisis on the new housing benefit-council house system, illustrating

that while politicians may be moving in the right direction they are still congenitally incapable of thinking anything through…
God, all these changes with regard to Housing Benefit and council housing are stressing people out. It’s the uncertainty that’s getting to constituents more than anything else, although some are pointing out how many of the proposals are contradictory, at least in what their effects are likely to be. Mrs Jennings rings up to say that she has been thinking of trying to exchange her council house for a smaller one, now her children are grown up. She wants to know whether, if she goes ahead with an exchange, her tenancy agreement on the new house will be time-limited. I can’t give her a definitive answer, as no-one seems to have addressed this particular issue at all, though it does seem likely to me”They must think people are bloody stupid if they think anyone will move to a smaller house if that’s going to be what happens to their security,” she says”People will just cling on to their houses ’til they die.””It does seem rather ill thought-out,” I say. “But we will have to wait and see.” I don’t say that what we don’t know is what the exact nature of the carrots and sticks will be.

Do read the whole thing.

Again

Only a few weeks after Derek Bird, and there’s another crazed gunman on the loose. This time, however, the talking heads are strangely silent on the subject of the gun laws, presumably because -unlike Bird- Raoul Moat is a convicted criminal and therefore forbidden from owning a firearm altogether. That’s alright then…

Oh no, wait a minute! HE’S A DANGEROUS CRIMINAL AND COULDN’T GIVE A STUFF WHETHER HE’S ALLOWED A GUN OR NOT! In fact, the law didn’t stop him so much that he aquired weaponry in a very short time after being released from prison!

Oops. The people who didn’t have guns -who were also forbidden from having them- his ex-girlfriend, her new fella, a couple of coppers: remind me what happened to them again? Not to mention the poor, disarmed folk of Rothbury, quaking under their beds completely at the mercy of the homicidal maniac on the loose in their vicinity.

The gun laws need repealing now. When guns are outlawed… well, you know the rest.

P.E.T.A. (Polar-bear Extinction Team Associated)

Remember Knut? The ‘kute’ baby polar bear and superstar of the Berlin Zoo? Well, PETA, the international guild of dog-murderers are claiming that he is ‘disturbed,’ and that this shows quite plainly that ‘polar bears do not belong in captivity.’

Apparently, he sways to and fro, which is abnormal although PETA do not mention how long they spent in the company of polar bears in the wild to discover that they don’t do this. Also -and I would guess that this is what really upsets PETA- the most popular polar bear in the world has started to imitate the people photographing him by standing up and mimicking the action with his paws. Oh heavens! This animal has obviously been tainted by human contact… the end times are upon us, horses are going to start eating each other etc. etc. etc. Given PETA’s record with traditional human-companion symbiotes I suppose the idea that such a majestic wild animal like the polar bear starting to show signs of domestication (imagine if, after several generations in captivity and successful breeding programmes polar bears became as docile as dogs! Oh, the horror) is one step too far. PETA have had problems with Knut before, don’t forget, even when he was a kute liddle bay-bee.

Another thought that occurs to me is that if the breeding population of polar bears in captivity were removed, then that adds more ammunition to the ‘think-of-the-poor-polar-bears-with-no-ice-to-sit-on’ wing of the Climate Change Church. Despite the fact that polar bears are actually doing all right in the wild, thankyouverymuch.

Ignorant Cu ts

I despair sometimes, I really do.
I think yesterday’s Sun had something in it about ‘painful cuts’ to public spending and how awful it was going to have to be. I was (very uncharacteristically) waving the paper around at work remarking how it wasn’t going to be painful at all for me, and I wasn’t sure what the big deal was.

“Cuts to wages!” they said. “Not our wages,” I said. “Civil Servants, Public Sector workers. We work in the private sector,” I said. “Our wages have already been cut.”

“Cuts in pensions!” They cried. “Not OUR pensions,” I said. “Public Sector Workers Pensions. Besides which, the Brown Gorgon already fleeced OUR pensions.”

It just wasn’t sinking in. People -and these are otherwise intelligent people, some very so- just do not seem to grasp the concept that the money the government spends is their money that’s been taken away from them. They fully believe that it’s magic money that will be taken out of the economy by cuts in government spending. Even when I said that sacking all the civil servants and putting them on the dole would still be cheaper because you’re giving them less money for doing the same job (boom boom!) all I got was blank faces. Crazy.

What high-falutin’ libertarian types like the Samizdatistas would call the ‘meta-context’ is well and truly sewn up by the Keynesian left. Regular, credulous people the country up and down (and I know that this isn’t a scientific survey, but I bet you’d find the same story in tearooms everywhere) are totally bought into the notion that government spending is essential to the economy and the idea that the government and civil service are actually parasitic on the economy is totally alien to them.

What doesn’t help of course is supposedly highbrow programmes like BBC Breakfast (yes, I know) constantly pushing this line. Whether this is by design or just a symptom of the organisation being run by people who are also totally bought into the same idea I’ll leave for another time. This very morning they were discussing Cleggerton’s idea of following the Canadian model and both ‘sides’ of the ‘debate’ were worried that instead of a few hundred thousand people possibly being out of work (like in Canadia) we had several million public sector employees (the figure I think they quoted was 20% of the workforce) and cutting all their wages and/or jobs would be bad for the economy. Nobody saw fit to mention that 20% is an absurdly high figure to start with, nobody saw fit to mention that most of those employees are doing jobs that don’t really need doing (or are in fact completely undesirable for anybody to be doing full stop) and yet again nobody saw fit to mention that paying them JSA instead of £40,000 p.a. would be a hell of a lot cheaper anyway and most importantly nobody saw fit to mention that if they were not doing non-jobs at the other 80% of the populations expense they would be more likely to find work doing actual useful jobs, making products or providing services that other people were willing to pay for. And this from a programme that supposedly ‘well-informed’ people watch. Sheesh.

I feel completely despondent.

A Good Time Had By All

Saturday was spent at the Rochester Sweep’s Festival, an annual three-day drink-and-burgers-and-morris-a-thon held in Rochester High Street. The old forms of entertainment die hard, as we can see here:

It’s good to see youngsters getting involved in the ancient English traditions.

It wasn’t so good that I ended up with a fat lip however, as I attempted to vault drunk over a (wet from rain and slippery, in my defence) gate, landed face-first on the tarmac and proceeded to bleed over much of Strood Town Centre. Oh well, live and learn.

Multiversal Suffrage?

Our polling cards arrived yesterday (despite my worries that I’d forgotten) including one for my sister-in-law who was living with us for a while when the registration forms were sent out. I sent her a text message to inform her of this, and she told me that she had also recieved a polling card at her grandmother’s house (where she also stayed for a while). I was quite surprised to hear this.
She’s not planning to vote at all, but with two polling cards she would be able to vote twice in two constituencies and it leads me to wonder how difficult it would be for electoral fraud to be commited in this way, should anyone wish to. Or perhaps I’m being naive and this sort of thing goes on all the time?