Archive for September, 2016

better to go to Deimos than Mars.

September 30, 2016

It occurs to me that all discussion, of colonising Mars, has ignored the Moons of Mars.
The two moons both have extremely low gravity and it would be much easier to land on them.
It would make sense to use them as way-stations, allowing interplanetary craft to repair and replenish themselves before a final descent.
They would serve the same purpose as our own Space station would do for return flights.
The added benefits include the possibility of mining into the moons, giving greater protection from meteorite impacts and solar storms (Mars has no magnetic shield).
Extra fuel and resources could easily be placed on either moon, using unmanned vehicles, to enable extra supplies, for emergencies, to be built up.
At some remote point in the future, we may wish to move onto Titan, or, preferably out of the Solar System and unless we get FLT drives, it makes more sense to proceed at sub-light speeds (more like crawling pace) on a very large craft such as Deimos, complete with a living population inhabiting it.
I think the future of Mars lies in providing agricultural supplies for the moon bases, rather than creating a race of Martians .

SF suggestions have been to use populations from Peru or Tibet, who are used to low Oxygen levels and/or terra-forming Mars, using mass and ice from the asteroid belt.
But why bother with such a great effort, merely to move next-door, when any catastrophe could easily affect both home planets?
Whichever way the future takes us, I think craft going directly to Mars, rather than its moons, are, unnecessarily, increasing the risks of a landing disaster.

@UKLabour Owen Smith criticises Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for shadow cabinet elections. He claims it is divisive but doesn’t say how, or why he has said this. What is so bad about this proposal?

September 18, 2016
Owen Smith criticises Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for shadow cabinet elections.
He claims it is divisive but doesn’t say how, or why he has said this.
What is so bad about this proposal?
I.e. a third of shadow cabinet posts are elected by members, a third by MPs and a third chosen by the leader.
Consider them.
Posts selected by member’s would likely be based on popularity, initially, but then member’s would likely look at their suitability e.g. A teacher as Education Minister etc. That couldn’t harm.
Posts selected by MP’s would still allow for a little bit of networking by careerists, hopeful of catching the eye of those looking for the next leader.
Posts selected by the leader would likely be the Senior posts, giving the Leader the confidence of being supported on most major issues, without the danger’s of cronyism, apparent in Cameron’s cabinet.
It is likely that the leader would also select member’s from the other groups, where they had shown proven ability.
Such a set-up would discourage the situation whereby Corbyn, Miliband and Brown were all undermined by MP’s intent on self-advancement.

@LucyMPowell @jeremycorbyn Comprehensives aren’t

September 15, 2016

The trouble with comprehensives is that they aren’t.  Especially when mixed in with Public schools and Grammar Schools.
They are too small to comprehensively bring out the talents of all pupils.
Consider the typical urban secondary school.
It’s built to house about 1000 pupils, i.e it has a 7 form entry with 200 pupils per year group.
What’s it meant to provide?
The core requirement is education in English, Maths and Science. English can be split into English literature and English Language. Science is essentially Biology, some Chemistry and a nod at Physics.
We actually have 6 core subjects.
Take in a foreign language (usually French), History, Geography and P.E.
We now have 10 topics.
How about Civics, Drama, Handicrafts, R.E., Domestic Science, Art, Business Studies, I.T. and whatever else may be demanded by various high-minded pressure groups.
That’s 18 topics, which we want to inculcate in a school week of 37.5 hours.

Allowing for movement between classrooms, registration etc., we can say 2 hours per subject per week.
This is jiggled around a bit, with some internal segregation based on staff procurement and administrative whim.
But, basically, we are offering the seemingly attractiveg goal of a rounded education.
Is that what we, pupils included, need?

I contend that we are producing generalists, when we need specialists and when we should be catering for the interests and natural talents of our Children, not squeezing them into a one size fits all.

Comprehensives, as they are, can’t cope with specialists, as well as a dedicated school can.
If we want to develop natural talents then we need a system, which allows pupils to focus on relevant skills, as and where needed.
This means either small class sizes, or bigger intakes.
Both cases call for extra facilities and extra staff.
(last I heard; in UK schools, budgets were 80% staff and 20% facilities, whereas in the USA, those proportions are reversed).
UK Government would never spend that much on Schools (Look at how cheaply built, the buildings are).
Either schools have to be coalesced into one large campus, or individual pupils need to attend more than one school.

Pupils, who may be destined for a sports career, needing extra coaching in caring for their physicality, understanding their bodies and how to avoid long term damage, whilst still young: With an eye to possible alternative careers, such as Physio’s etc.
Those with acting skills need relevant, coaching plus an engagement with literature, stage direction etc.
Doctor’s, nurses etc. need all three Sciences (plus Latin).
Engineer’s need the Hard Sciences, Mathematics and a good familiarity with structural handicrafts.
I’m sure experts from these fields could better outline the extra teaching and facilities required by pupils.

An extra thought is that Friday is the most problematic, in terms of maintaining discipline.  Making this the specialist school day would not only help, here, but would facilitate any out-of-school excursions.

Pupils would also need guidance and advice, which could probably be better provided by a social worker,  attached to the needs of the child rather than the school.  (as opposed to a Head of Year)
Such a person could better co-ordinate pressures from home and school, with power to swiftly change school provision, as circumstances require.
Personally I’d have such people directly controlled by Central Government, to avoid local political pressures on them, but most politicians don’t think in such terms.

@andyburnhammp @GdnPolitics @dailyexpressuk Comprehensives have failed, So have Grammars.

September 7, 2016

Instead of chanting “grammar schools bad”, “comprehensives good”, step back a minute and think about what it is you want.
I would say most (Parents and Society) want a populace doing what they are best at and what they enjoy most.

Generally speaking these are identical aims.
The old adage that “nothing succeeds like success” merely reflects that we enjoy doing what we’re good at.
It is a crime to force kids to undertake a one size fits all education.

Instead of railing at Grammar schools, we should think about what they were intended to do.

They were intended to “cream off” (an unfortunate allusion) the Academic slash professional classes and fast track them.

They were partially successful and helped Working class kids of my post-war generation to break through the class barrier. The fact that they neglected the remaining 80% of the population was abominable but all that Comprehensives did was kick those working class kids back into the stew.

We’ve had nearly half a century of the comprehensive experiment and only those blinded by political ideology would say it has been successful.
Instead of decrying selection, I demand that we consider greater selection.
We all have different aptitudes and preferences.
In my case the 11+ was ideally designed to select me as a Physicist i.e. good at Maths, seeing patterns and mentally lazy.
In Ancient Sparta selection was for hardiness and stamina. I would have failed miserably.
We need a system that allows people to show their innate skills and predilections.

Throw out SAT’s etc. and work backwards.

What skills are needed to be a linguist? A politician (integrity?), an artist, an actor etc.
Forget about what Industrialists say they need (they’re all pratt’s, antway), see what you’ve got.

I recall applying for a job as a fork lift truck driver and being rejected as being TOO brainy. I was told I’d get bored and bugger off, as soon as I was trained. They wanted someone, who would achieve satisfaction by such a job and take pride in being speedy and careful. All jobs have their own requirements.

Instead of shoving stuff into heads that reject that stuff, let’s identify what’s there and draw it out; that’s, etymologically what education means.

clickbait and other advertising images sent to my computer can not claim copyright.

September 6, 2016

Signing off from hotmail, I get clickbait. Fine if it’s telling me something interesting but usually it’s just wait 30 seconds, while we download more clickbait.



Number’s 1&2 are simply annoyances trying to play on the fact that my IP number gives my location.

This is an immediate ignore.

Number’s 3&4 are playing on the fact that these two women were much admired by male viewers in their day and hare now considerably older. If your curiosity is piqued just copy their names into Google and click images. No need to sit and watch the swirly for an hour.

5. would only be of interest to those, who are too busy starting the second year of sixth form.

6. Is obviously just a failing furniture company trying to part fools from their money.

How do companies make money from these irritations?

medals need a more tangible measure of gratitude attached.

September 1, 2016

Sent to Daily Mirror 29/8/16
I understand the Prince’s intent with the Purple Heart recommendation but its value is minimal.
I’ve heard it joked that G.I.’s could get one if they cut themselves shaving.
It would be a mockery to award one to those, who’ve lost limbs etc.
If we are to grant recognition. it needs to be more than just a badge/medal.
I would suggest that a pension and some kind of special pass, or concession, would be a better. more tangible and daily reminder of our gratitude.

As published (near enough the same)
I understand the Princes intent with the Purple Heart recommendation, but its value is minimal.
I’ve heard it joked that G.I.’s could get one if they cut themselves shaving.
It would be a mockery to award one to those who have lost limbs and suffered other injuries.
If we are to grant recognition, it needs to be more than just a badge.
I’d suggest that a pension and some kind of special pass or concession would be a better reminder of our gratitude

Other letters to Daily Mirror;  not published

Your editorial takes issue with Michael Caine for advocating National Service, with a comment about the young needing jobs not being trained to march and shoot.
However, the article referenced makes it clear that Michael Caine doesn’t advocate using them to be sent off to fight but rather that he feels it turned him and his generation into men.
I’ve seen how former pupils can be transformed into proud, self-confident adults, by a few years of Army life.
The point is that National Service doesn’t have to be about being trained to kill but rather being trained skills that transfer to being useful citizens.
At present, we have young men, testosterone surging, being tied to school desks, instead of being given an opportunity to release their energy in a productive way.
The recent water fight that ended in violence, the young muslims going off to join ISIS, the wanton vandalism and gang warfare could all be reduced by removing boys in years 10 and 11 from school and setting them challenges that let them test theirselves against common standards of self-discipline and fortitude found in Army training.
Maybe the Generals don’t want this role but their jobs isn’t to play soldiers, it’s to serve us in whatever capacity we demand of them and what better than a generation of fit confident young men with skills that can be used to help others and find future careers.
In times of Emergency, we call on the Army to deal with floods, train crashes, epidemics etc. What better, if people on the scene already have the training to cope.
Whilst I agree with Frances O’Grady about growing the economy by public spending on social housing, I can’t see how spending on HS2 will help.
Paying builder’s a bounty (or a tax break?) for new terraced houses will feed straight back into the domestic economy through British companies, supplier’s and employee’s.
The same can not be said of HS2.
HS2 is to be built by multi-nationals, using heavy machinery.
Some local employment will occur but it seems apparent that most of our tax money will filter abroad, possibly the USA, where only Uncle Sam and Wall Street will benefit.
All HS2 was ever intended to be was a vanity project, whether for Osborne, or for the EU, as some have claimed.
Who really needs to get from Central London to Central Manchester in 1 hour instead of 2?
If passengers need to travel from suburb to suburb, the trip would be cut from 4hours to 3hours.
Is that really the best way of using £1,000-£2,000 per head of population?
No doubt the Parliamentary Labour Party will be celebrating their victory in preventing genuine Labour party supporter’s from being able to vote for Jeremy Corbyn but it would have better validated
their position, if they hadn’t and Labour had then lost the next G.E.
As it stands if Jeremy Corbyn may be supplanted and Labour still lose the next G.E,.,
it will mean the extinction of Labour in Northerb England, as the popular vote flee’s the PLP , and the SNP consolidates its role in Scotland.
Politicians are citing Radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary as an example of the need for Social Media to censor its users.
In a perfect World this would seem to be a very simple solution but this is not a perfect World and this is asking some anonymous figure to be judge and jury on a public freedom.
Politicians shouldn’t be handing such a huge power into the hands of the rich and powerful.
If the likes of Choudhary are to be gagged, then it should be on the basis of criteria, which can be placed before a judge to obtain a court order.
It is alarming that highly rewarded politicians are asking for such a reckless attack on civil rights.
Jeremy Paxman was correct in his description of old age.
Everyone knows it. Dad’s Army was based around it.
When you get older, you learn to place each step and, as Billy Connoly said, you never miss a chance to go to the toilet, when you’re out.
The phrase “what did I come in here for?” is a standing joke for us old’uns.
Like too many, nowadays, Andrew Silk is overly sensitive about imagined slights.
Both the arrogant Jeremy Vine and the ranting motorist are in the right and both know their rights.
Further confrontations of these two groups is bound to happen, whilst they use the same roads.
The introduction of painted on cycle paths only adds to the problem.
I’d would love to buy a bicycle but as a motorist, I can see how dangerous it would be, especially during the rush hour, when people are focussed on getting there fast.
Motorists are constantly baulked by obstructions and many cyclists take extraordinary risks.
Local councils etc. need to look into how to separate not just these two groups but bikers, pedestrians, HGV’s and motability chairs.
Signs, fines and speed camera’s are no solution.