Posts Tagged UK

BBC News – What Britain used to look like from the air

The BBC is soliciting personal reminiscences related to places in the UK photographed from the air by a company called Aerofilms (nothing to do with Aeros -hmm, yumm) in the 1920s and 1930s. Click the photos to see the video. High-quality photos of Britain before WWII. Amazing. Plus commentary in that “quaint British accent”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC News – What Britain used to look like from the air.


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GE-Hitachi Proposes to Burn U.K. Plutonium Stockpile | The Energy Collective

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has proposed to the U.K. government to build an advanced nuclear reactor that would consume the country’s stockpile of surplus plutonium.

The technology is called PRISM, which stands for Power Reactor Innovative Small Module. If accepted, it would be very different than the other proposals to process plutonium, including those that would turn it into mixed oxide fuel (MOX).

According to GE Hitachi, the PRISM reactor disposes of a great majority of the plutonium as opposed to simply reusing it over again. This process takes it out of circulation forever.

The UK government had considered building a MOX plant at the Sellafield site where the plutonium is stored, but it canceled those plans as the Japanese government stopped orders for MOX following the Fukushima earthquake.

via GE-Hitachi Proposes to Burn U.K. Plutonium Stockpile | The Energy Collective.


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Prepare for riots in euro collapse, Foreign Office warns – Telegraph

Mouse-tip to EX-SKF for the link:

As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.“It’s in our interests that they keep playing for time because that gives us more time to prepare,” the minister told the Daily Telegraph.

via Prepare for riots in euro collapse, Foreign Office warns – Telegraph.


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London riots 2011: Where were police? Shopkeepers mystified as they’re left defenceless | Mail Online

Angie Bray, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, said policing could be ‘more robust’ but added that it was difficult because officers were ‘damned if they do, damned if they don’t’.

Nonsense. They’re damned if they use violence unnecessarily or use a greater force than required, such as in the case of Mr. Tomlinson or Mr. Menenzes.

She said: ‘Policing is done by consent and we have to decide what level of policing we are prepared to go to. In my personal opinion they could be a lot more robust.’

Policing is done by consent? What nonsense!  It’s done by consent when that works, but when it doesn’t, other methods need to be employed.

It was also unclear if frontline officers were hamstrung as the disorder spread by fears that their actions could further inflame tensions.

Last night, several flashpoints in the capital were left completely lawless as Scotland Yard ran out of teams to send out to new troublespots.

Residents questioned why no police officers were available to combat rampant looting as thieves methodically cleared stores.

Groups of shopkeepers and young men were forced to take to the streets to fight off rioters to protect businesses in some areas.

Up to 300 officers were drafted in from the Home Counties to bolster the response but they were overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the fighting.

The relative calm in Dalston was laid at the door of ‘heroic mobs’ of Turkish men standing guard in the high street, one resident said.

In the busy shopping street of Green Street, in Forest Hill, there were reports that 400 young Asian men had chased off up to 150 rioters.

via London riots 2011: Where were police? Shopkeepers mystified as they’re left defenceless | Mail Online.

It seems clear that what works is determined people, even unarmed ones, acting in concert.


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The Commentator – London rioters are the pampered children of the welfare state

What is all the rioting in the UK about? The rioters probably have various motives, but here’s one commenter’s point of view. Click the link below to read the article joe is commenting on.

joe get Says: 09 August 2011

This is not a protest against government. It’s a protest in favour of government. More government – much more. More benefits, more handouts, more ‘services’, provided by the government for ‘free’. And it is free, because people and businesses who work and pay tax foot the bill. By looting businesses and stealing from them, they are simply cutting out the middle-man of the benefits office. Because the government has taken the first tentative steps towards removing the warm, milky teat of the state in the form of spending cuts, they don’t like it. So they are simply taking their freebies by force. It is likely their violence will be rewarded with more ‘benefits’, and ‘community outreach’. And so it will go on.

via The Commentator – London rioters are the pampered children of the welfare state.

Some will say the rioters are anarchists, which strictly speaking means people who believe in no government (or very small government) (although not many people seem to know that, including the London police), not yobs who shoot people in cars, or steal from injured people’s backpacks.


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Initial London riots / UK riots – Google マップ

At-a-glance map of where the rioting is in London. Tho it’s been superceded, apparently, see the links below. M/T to Ryuichi Kino.

Initial London riots / UK riotsVerified affected areas from Saturday 6 August until 06:00 Tuesday 9 August.http://james.cridland.net/blog/mapping-the-riots/T

HIS IS NO LONGER BEING UPDATED. A continually updated map of verified incidents is being run by The Guardian, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2011/aug/09/uk-riots-incident-map

via Initial London riots / UK riots – Google マップ.


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Mark Wadsworth: Philip Davies and reported speech

A good example of what English Secession wrote the other day, about how emotional appeal usually beats reason: “he wants to exploit the handicapped!!” takes less than 5 seconds to say, whereas explaining why and how the minimum wage creates unemployment takes rather longer (and the other party has to be listening, not always a given). Below, Peter Schiff explains how the minimum wage law destroyed the economy in American Samoa, something actually admitted to in a throw-away line in the liberal “60 Minutes” documentary.

The MSM and various ‘charities’ are up in arms about the fact that Philip Davies said that the disabled are second class citizens who should work for less than the National Minimum Wage etc etc. blah blah blah.

Only he never said either of those things, did he? Philip Davies simply stood up in Parliament and reported what other people had said to him.

via Mark Wadsworth: Philip Davies and reported speech.

Here’s the video of Philip Davies and his subsequent interview:

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TunbihVFBHA’]

And here’s the Peter Schiff video on American Samoa and how it’s economy was eviscerated by the minimum wage law:

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LaPGIIAyk4′]


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The Teens’ speech – UK teens get uplugged, raw and real

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Zemanta is a blog plugin that supplies a list of online articles related to the content of one’s blog entry. About one minute after starting to write this blog entry, Zemanta should have enough input to work on and start making suggestions (it also suggests photos).

One of Zemanta’s suggested articles was Global Youth: UK Teens Get Unplugged, Raw & Real, a 17-minute YouTube video which interviews a number of British teenagers about being a teenager.

(Privacy-enhanced mode enabled: YouTube won’t collect cookies from you just for visiting, only if you actually play the above video. Click here for more details.)

The present state of overall disorder and low achievement in some British schools is the direct result of certain beliefs and ideologies, as the British blog Scenes from the Battleground points out. While I am lucky in that I don’t teach in an environment beset by discipline problems, many of those beliefs and ideologies are either already popular or are gaining ground; therefore, what is happening in some British schools (and that seems to be a microcosm of what is happening in British society at large), may well start happening here in the near future – the ideological ground for it is being prepared.

What are some of those beliefs and ideologies?

Unfortunately, I had a difficult time following what the narrator (and some of those interviewed) was saying; I think they might have chosen someone with clearer diction.

I did catch the narrator reciting the following: “Now we don’t hear them when they speak”, and one girl in the video says, “Teenagers have difficulties sharing what they really feel”. The following was posted on the Teens’ Speech website: (my emphasis)

The Teens’ Speech was predicated on the belief that if we gave young people an avenue to express themselves, they would reward us with a genuine insight into a section of society that is, as one contributor in the film states, a ‘taboo’.

And so they did.

Actually, they were already doing it – on YouTube, mainly. We just cut a rip in the curtain and had a peek inside.

Somewhat undermines the video commentary. Nonetheless, the video is a fascinating peek into the minds of some young Britons today and what they think about being a teenager.

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“The students will not tolerate the teacher having power in the classroom”

This is a reply to a comment kindly left by OldAndrew of Scenes from the Battleground blog, which was a reply to this blog entry. I originally just replied to OldAndrew’s comment in a comment, but my reply got too long for a comment.

if students object to the very idea of the teacher being in charge, then there is nothing the teacher can do and still teach. You can make all the points you like about how the teacher is “responsible”, the point is that in that situation the teacher has responsibility without power.
Quite right. The situation is worse than I thought and I have edited my comment here from my original, flippant response. Obviously, little learning or teaching can take place in chaos.

You’re caught between a rock and hard place: you are denied the power (or authority) to act responsibly, and yet blamed for not acting responsibly or authoritatively. It seems a Catch-22 situation. The problem seems to be largely a legal and political one, yet also an ideological one in that a few teachers are not enough to make a difference, and if the school as a whole from the Head downwards is not backing up a serious attempt to impose order in the chaos (e.g. by recognizing, as OldAndrew says, that appeasement does not lead to increased order but the reverse; that some of the dearly held beliefs about children, their nature, and human behaviour may well be not only wrong but contributing to the problem), then most attempts will fail and the efforts of OldAndrew and his ilk will be limited. (I’m thinking of the example of Marie Stubbs, who was headmistress and managed to either bring around most of the staff to her way of thinking or hire her own replacements.)

I have found OldAndrew’s blog to be a fascinating source of information about British secondary school education. I especially recommend his Guide to Scenes from the Battleground

I recall reading about an incident earlier in 2009 in a British school, when a teacher was fired for forcibly removing an obstreperous student from a classroom: he physically grabbed the boy by the collar and the seat of his pants and pushed him out of the classroom. The police were called, and I don’t know what happened to the young man (15 or16, I can’t recall exactly), but the teacher had the book thrown at him: defrocked, disrobed, you name it. The poor guy was approaching retirement age, but I doubt if this is the way he had imagined leaving the profession. (I wish I could find the link).

(I’m reminded of the entrepreneurs and industrialists in Atlas Shrugged, forced to somehow continue inventing and producing despite a plethora of laws and regulations that effectively demotivate and prevent them from making a profit.)

“if the teacher were to slap anyone’s face the teacher would be suspended, fired and probably prosecuted.” I realize that times have changed since I went to school.

“the change in the law prohibiting this and all forms of corporal punishment in state schools was passed by Mrs Thatcher’s government, so I’m not sure where the “dominant socialist” thing came from.”
I interpreted the push for group work and mixed ability classes as coming from an ideology that said elitism is bad, ranking and streaming students is bad, hence (by implication) achievement is bad (or at least should be downplayed), in other words egalitarianism or socialism. I don’t equate socialism only with the left wing, or the Labour party (Hitler’s party was the National Socialists). I had not realized Thatcher’s specific responsibility, but it does not surprise me.

Thanks for commenting.

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Scenes from the Battleground – a secondary school teacher reveals the horrors of British classrooms

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I’ve just spent the last few hours reading the Scenes from the Battleground blog. Andrew Old is old-school: a believer in teaching facts and knowledge, in the importance of effective discipline, and he does not believe in progressive education.

He writes well, with zest and humour. Here’s a good example: someone sent him an email asking him to review the trailer of a documentary about education called We are the People We’ve been Waiting For.

After copying the original emailed request into his blog entry, Andrew provides his review:
Why Lord Puttnam Can Stick His Stupid Documentary Up His Arse

Andrew is not going for shock value here, he is genuinely furious:

But it takes the insanity of the zealot to blame educational failure on the academic focus of the education system, when anybody familiar with our schools can see that there is no academic focus for these children. This is a rant against authority in education, by the kind of people who do have authority in education. This is an argument for failed orthodoxy by presenting it as a radical departure. This is a polemic against academic standards by the kind of people who have already lowered the standards to nothing. This is an attack on the curriculum by the people who gave us the curriculum we have. This is an attempt to blame the failure of the educational system on the very values the system has already abandoned. This is a prolonged assault on a strawman education system that not only doesn’t exist, but would be far better than what we have now if it did exist. This is shameful lies combined with self-righteous sermons.

OldAndrew is intelligent and eloquent and knowledgeable (I’ve bookmarked his brief history of British education since WWII), but his blog entries pall after a while: it’s all rather negative – there are no success stories. It may be that success stories are impossible, given the kind of environment he describes (few serious consequences for children who misbehave, for instance, little or no backup from administration, and a steady stream it seems of arrogant, snivelling, rude young people who are never held responsible for their actions), yet I can’t help responding, “If you’re so clever, why can’t you make your approach work?” Maybe it does, but Andrew doesn’t seem interested in telling us the things that work. It’s more fun slagging off the students, or the staff, or the administrators, or the parents (everyone gets some stick at some time or other on his blog, including commenters).

He does a service, I think, to blow the lid off the “phony” approaches, such as Brain Gym and others that might be lumped together under the heading Snake Oil. (Here are similarly critical examinations of Learning Styles. The dominant philosophy of the times is in favour of such approaches, so it comes as a bit of a (healthy) shock to read a contrary opinion.)

A fairly frequent commenter on Andrew’s blog is Newsisgood. Here’s a question posed by Newsisgood to Andrew, with Andrew’s response:

Is it at all possible that a students’ misbehaviour could be down to unfair punishments from the teacher, or unfair discipline from the system?
If it is possible, would you still blame the student anyway? (You have said before that you must presume that the teacher is always correct when a teacher and student disagree). by Newsisgood June 4, 2007 at 10:11 am

“Is it at all possible that a students’ misbehaviour could be down to unfair punishments from the teacher, or unfair discipline from the system?”

No.

Strangely enough a student’s misbehaviour is down to the student. (The clue was in the word “student’s”.)

by oldandrew June 4, 2007 at 10:29 am

Andrew seems a mite intransigent. I don’t think the situation is as black-and-white as he sees it. For a start, he’s dealing with children, who by definition are not fully formed adults. In other words, it seems non-productive to insist that young people take full responsibility for their behaviours and choices as one might expect of adults. A lot of children’s behaviour, particularly in school, is a playing out of child/parent roles, in other words it is often a response to adult behaviour (tho the adult in question may not be in the classroom).

Andrew has repeatedly stated on his blog that he considers the bad students as people who bring their bad behaviours with them to school: he recounts experiences of students being rude and abusive to him or to other teachers whom they did not know. He feels stung by the (apparently) often repeated suggestion that teachers whose students behave badly are responsible, and that the solution lies in a better relationship with the students. Andrew dismisses this out of hand: “there IS no relationship” and yet students behave badly.

I feel Andrew is stuck in his situation. His attitude seems to preclude any satisfactory solution. I haveto admire his fortitude in staying instead of giving up. He sounds more intelligent than most of his fellow-teachers, which must make it increasingly galling when he is called to account by some dippy higher-up.

Update: here is another example of Andrew’s negativity andclosed-mindedness. What would be more helpful, then? “Focus on the negatives! Let the buggers get you down!” perhaps?

I think we all struggle with the attitudes of students and SMT alike. The trick is NOT to let it affect you. Life becomes a lot easier in schools if you can go around with a smile on your face and attempt to focus on the positives…after all, most kids are great.

It seems rather self defeating to allow the misery of a few morons to determine your own mood.

Who are the adults here?

     by treeman December 7, 2007 at 10:43 am

 

“The trick is NOT to let it affect you. Life becomes a lot easier in schools if you can go around with a smile on your face and attempt to focus on the positives…after all, most kids are great.”

Thanks, I forgot to mention that one.

That’s definitely one of the most unhelpful things you could ever say to somebody working in a stressful environment and only somebody who really didn’t get it could ever say it.

     by oldandrew December 7, 2007 at 2:32 pm
 
 

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