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:
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.
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!
Useful links/ more info:
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:
*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.
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
Hooray for booze!!!
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.
|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|
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