Category Archives: News & current affairs

Authors of their own demise

Japanese baby. They’re becoming rarer and rarer so women, savour the cuteness while it lasts!

Last Thursday (24/10/13) there was a very interesting documentary on BBC2 called No Sex Please, We’re Japanese, hosted by Anita Rani. It described a very strange phenomenon in Japan: a severe population  decline. It’s calculated that if present birth rates continue, the population of Japan could be reduced by a third within the next 4 decades! For many other nations this would equate to 2 generations but in Japan it’d be much closer to 1.

Reasons for this include:

  • Japanese men have become increasingly scared of real females, preferring virtual ones in games consoles. Worse, they’re not even virtual women but virtual schoolgirls! Such is the otaku (ultra-nerd/ geek) culture, and this doesn’t just apply to single men but even married men,
  • Many women (real flesh-&-blood women I mean) have stepped up their game and become professionals & businesswomen, while most men (the ones who are still into real women!) still want the traditional stay-at-home housewives,
  • Modern Japanese workplace ethics have left many people too busy to have sex,
  • Like China, Japan is ethnically extremely homogenous. Almost everyone in Japan is Nihonjin, with tiny percentages of foreigners because immigration laws are very tight. This means that Japanese are pretty much stuck with their own men, unless they’re open to interracial relationships (as many Easian women in UK & US are).

Interesting things this has resulted in include the over-65s being 25% of the country’s population, too few youth to pay taxes to support the economy and a resultant national debt worse than Greece’s, the closure of nurseries & maternity wards in hospitals, and adult nappies outselling baby nappies. Furthermore, about a third of the prison population (260 in total if memory serves me right) are pensioners, many of whom re-offend after release!

Oh yeah, and a cheerleaders club exclusively for women over 55.

American government collapse!?!

 

 

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Damn! Before yesterday I’d never thought a government could collapse or run out of money to hold up its economy! Non-essential government services like national parks and NASA have been closed, they have only $3 trillion left to repay debts & bills (ONLY? They should be so effing lucky!), and 800,000 people have been furloughed (put on unpaid leave)! With no backpay if the government gets up and running again!

Obama gave his speeches yesterday explaining that this could have very easily been avoided. It’s only happening because the Republicans in Congress refused to fund his proposed reforms to the healthcare system, known as Obamacare. On top of that, the Democrats in the Senate have rejected a Republican proposal to fund the federal government by delaying Obamacare’s implementation! In summary, Obama, the Democrats & Republicans are disagreeing on how best to manage their budget. Effectively, Congress is blaming Obama for the shutdown while he claims they’re holding the country to ransom. Wow, so how much power does the President really have then?

Government shutdowns have happened before back in 1996, 17 years ago during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and another 16 times before that. However, as the economy wasn’t recovering from a recent crisis back then it’s hard to know exactly how good the comparison is. It’ll also be less likely that whatever was done to rectify it then will work now. Which begs the questions: exactly what will be done now? And how exactly will it affect the rest of the world? We’ll have to wait and see.

Oh yes, important date to keep an eye on: 17th October. I admit I forgot why, I’ll type it up when I find out again.

And now I remember. If a budget deal is not agreed upon, that’s the date the US government is calculated to hit its debt ceiling, i.e. run out of enough money to repay its debts!

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Useful links/ more info: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_shutdown_in_the_United_States

http://www.usa.gov/shutdown.shtml

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/01/us-usa-fiscal-idUSBRE98N11220131001

http://rt.com/usa/us-government-shutdown-effects-550/

http://www.voanews.com/content/us-government-shutdown-primer-on-world-impact/1760193.html

GCSE dumped for E-Bac? (originally posted 7/2/13)

This morning I heard about the English government’s plans to scrap GCSE. It would, according to them, be replaced with an English version of the Baccalaureate (E-Bac). Apparently its purpose is to raise the academic standards of England, which everyone acknowledges have been dropping for decades.

(What follows is just my opinion. Remember, I’m in my mid 20s so I did GCSEs & A-levels)

There will be no real difference. All it amounts to is changing the name. It won’t result in any raising of standards because it will still completely fail to address the reasons for the poor standards. These reasons include but aren’t limited to:

 

  • Primary & secondary schools are boring. There was once a time when children had all kinds of extracurricular activities, like kayaking and martial arts. I’d have loved to do something like that! Now extracurricular activities are rare, and they still do much of the same things they’d do in school. This gives the impression that school is never-ending and you never get a rest from it. 
  • No freedom. Children are made to do subjects with no explanation of why they’re important (no, the “it’s to teach them necessary workplace skills” line doesn’t cut it for most), and leaves us with no real desire to succeed. If, for example, a 10yo girl wants to become a TV director and schools don’t teach that (which they don’t), what’s she to do? Just shut up and put up with a subject that holds no importance to her, and she may actively dislike. 
  • The media, more now than ever before, discourages children from academic pursuits. How many educational TV shows exist nowadays? And think about this – why should anyone want to spend 7 years in secondary school learning science & a further 7 years in uni doing medicine to become a doctor when David Beckham & Olly Murs*, for example, can just get on TV & get untold millions? Millions of pounds and fans, that is. 

*Or Pamela Anderson

Then there’s the fact that the media portrays yobs, gangstas, chavs and the rest as normal decent people. If children are made to believe parties are more enjoyable than algebra, it’ll take some work to convince them otherwise. And no-one is doing that work. 

    • Many teachers themselves don’t care about students. Of course this doesn’t apply to all teachers, maybe not even most, but enough to warrant mention. Teaching is just a job, for most it’s nothing to get passionate about. There are too few teachers willing to try to make the lessons fun, partially because some teachers actually don’t know that much about &/or dislike the subjects they teach (wtf?) and partially because some of them are just lazy. Some actively dislike the children, calling them idiots, failures, etc. and get away with it. 

The Inbetweeners‘ Mr Kennedy. He has an active dislike of most of his students, and if you think he’s kidding he assures you he is not

  • The goal of education. Children know the only reason for school nowadays is to learn skills to enter the workplace. Even if it did that well (which it doesn’t), why should children – who aren’t old enough to work – care about the workplace? Most of them don’t even know what they want to do when they are old enough to work, and the phenomenon of young adults going through life with no ambition or certainty of what to do is infamous. On top of that, the concept of making us “able to compete in the global market” is bantered around a lot, but why should the global market or the economy matter to us? What fulfillment can we get out of it? That’s conveniently left unanswered. 
  • The structure of the system. The fact that we have a difference in standards between public and private schools says it all. Private schools are paid for and thus guaranteed to give children good academic standing. Public schools, not so much. On top of that, GCSE grades are useless for the workplace. Even A-levels and uni degrees have lost much of their value. So what’s the point of school & uni? 
  • Parents’ failures. England has too pervasive a culture of people sleeping around, getting pregnant & not knowing how to raise the offspring, which often means they don’t see it as their responsibility to educate them. Education starts in the home but too many don’t understand that; they think that’s the schools’ & government’s job. Even for those parents who mean well, the cost of living has gone up so much that even with mum and dad working full-time they struggle to pay the bills which leaves them with precious little time & energy to teach their children anything valuable. Then there’s the booze-bingeing, drinking for the sake of getting drunk, which has been part of English culture for centuries. Despite the known medical effects of alcohol, it’s still seen as good fun for teens to get “smashed”, so drunk they don’t even know their way home let alone what 2 x 0 equals. 

Hooray for booze!!!

  • Ignorance of how to cater to children’s individual needs. It’s rather well documented now that all people have 3 main ways of learning: visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) & kinaesthetic (touching/ feeling/ moving). Most people predominate in one style, usually visual but even so everyone relies on all 3 to some extent. No school in England trains teachers how to cater for all 3 types, only visual & auditory. This means some kids are left unable to “get a feel” for the subjects (if you tend to use phrases like this, it’s a good clue you’re probably kinaesthetic). 

For these reasons, and probably more, I don’t see how changing the GCSE for the E-Bac will make any difference to English children’s academic achievements. If anyone has opinions on this topic I invite discussion. 

Ding dong! The witch is dead!

She is? Oh thank heavens… Oh wait, you mean me. Oh bother.

Margaret Hilda Thatcher (née Roberts, 1925-2013), aka. the Iron Lady, was to date England’s only female Prime Minister (PM). She gained the nickname the Iron Lady because she was known for taking s*** from no-one. Whenever she wanted to do something she did it, whether people liked it or not. This is no different from other PMs except that she was blunt and vocal, so she did what she said she would.

She was in office 1979-1990, therefore was Britain’s longest serving PM! She was a huge fan of privatisation, making most businesses private-sector. There are 2 sectors – public (parts and services of society owned & looked after by govt) and private (parts and services owned & looked after by laypeople). She thought privatisation would increase competition and thus create wealth. In a sense that was true, but it only increased wealth among those who were already in charge of businesses or could afford to be. And increasing competition meant that the rich & poor are in a constant fight, the rich to get richer and the poor to… get richer. Thus the capitalist status quo remained unchanged, and if anything was worsened. Under her unemployment, poverty & income inequality increased (see the figures here).

Privatisation also meant rather than closing on Wednesdays & Sundays, as most businesses did before her, they could open on those days – and most do. Before they had set opening times, now they choose their own opening times, leading to the 24-7 culture we live in now. This has increased foreign investment because foreign investors see our highly flexible working hours as greater opportunity to earn money. What they don’t see (or maybe do but don’t care) is that wealth is only generated for them and the business owners, everyone else is barely scraping by. It’s thus said that she was a PM for the rich.

She is even known to have called Nelson Mandela a terrorist (because back then it wasn’t synonymous for Muslim). That alone says what kind of person she was, but even worse she invited Pieter Willem Botha, a South African PM & apartheid leader, to London. Also bear in mind that the Brixton race riots happened during her rule, in ’81 & ’85.

Thatcher lived through both world wars. In 1982 she took the Falkland Islands back from Argentina during the Falklands War, which won her a re-election in ’83. For this reason she was (and still is) loved by patriots. However, people have been holding parades and parties over the past week since her death. One played the Wizard of Oz song Ding dong the Witch is dead, just to really get across their feelings about her. A police officer has resigned over an anti-Thatcher comment he made, and one of the parades was even planned from 10 years ago! Though I wouldn’t have gone so far as to throw a party (not because I respect her in death but because she’s not important enough to me), knowing what I know of her I sympathise with them.

Oh, and there was once a time in England when children got free cartons of milk at school. Thatcher abolished that, which is how she also became known as Maggie Thatcher the Milk Snatcher. You may even hear some people (who are grown adults now) complaining that she stole their milk.

As England’s only female PM so far, some may get the impression that our country has become more progressive. This is wrong, because she never went out of her way to help the disadvantaged. Societal progress shouldn’t be measured by who’s in charge, but by what’s being done by who’s in charge (ie. unemployment, poverty, education, job opportunities, etc). Some wonder that since we’ve had a female PM when will we have a ‘black’ PM. My answer is 32nd December 3-thousand and NEVER, and even if we did who’s to say he won’t be like Obama, making so many grand promises and not delivering? And considering his/her cabinet & party members & advisors would still be ‘white’, it’s extremely unlikely a ‘black’ PM will do any good for us. At least with Thatcher you knew what to expect.

Tomorrow (17/4/2013) is her actual funeral day, after the government spent the past week having her carried through London. What will the partygoers do then, I wonder?…

You either love her or hate her, just like Marmite

And now the actual funeral has happened, she’s been laid to rest in St Paul’s Cathedral. Finally it’s over and done with! Most attendants loved it, the protesters hated it. Some threw a mock cremation of her body in the street, someone even put up a charity tin to raise funds for a funeral party! Wow, they genuinely hate her.

An old-time friend & supporter of Thatcher

Scenes of the funeral procession

Scenes of protests