Posts Tagged ‘ education ’

Guide to proper f*ck distribution techniques (via KC @ Autostraddle)


I found the following inspiring article via Twitter, my omnipresent link to the world. At some stage I may count how many times the F word is used throughout the article, but until then, I intend to refer to it often in an attempt to view life as a less stressful place to spend my time. Pro-read.

Autostraddle — This Is How We Live, No F*cks to Give: KC Danger’s Guide To Not Giving a F*ck.

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Comment: Liberal-Conservative coalition government deal


Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

…which surely is a contradiction in terms, right? Anyway, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next. This is both the first time the Liberals have made it to office and the first time the UK has had a coalition government in decades. Not to mention the all-to-late bowing out of Gordon Brown. Change, with any luck, is afoot.

The Guardian yesterday had a run down of the deal the two parties have made, including the concessions each has had to accept.

Deficit reduction

This is the focus of many people’s attention. The coalition has agreed to cut spending rather than increase taxes and those cuts will include, among other things, tax credits for higher earners (why do they need them anyway?).

Spending review for the NHS/schools and a fairer society

Increased funding for the NHS will go down well, but ‘scrutiny’ of the Trident nuclear defence system may prove to be a mere placatory device for the Liberals.

Tax measures

Increase in personal allowance for income tax is a definite plus for those of us who earn low wages, although the Conservative’s proposal to (frankly) positively discriminate against married couples —albeit hetero- or homosexual— has also made it through the negotiations. This recalls the old “married-man’s tax” of bygone years, reaffirming in some minds the true meaning of the name ‘conservatve’.

Banking reform

This seems to boil down to regulatory reform, the introduction of a banking levy and the encouragement of a competitive economy, all of which will hopefully reverse the damage done by Labour. With a one-year reporting period, it’s going to be a long wait before we see any real change.

Immigration

Another key word in this election, the coalition deal merely states this:

We have agreed that there should be an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work. We will consider jointly the mechanism for implementing the limit.

We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes.

At last, some sense. I’m not saying it should be a one-in-one-out system, but you’d think that someone would have considered the idea of a cap before.

Political reform

The parties will bring forward a referendum bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the alternative vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. Both parties will whip their parliamentary parties in both houses to support a simple majority referendum on the alternative vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.

Voting by proportional representation seems the fairer way to do it, if it’s as simple as you vote for the party you want in and who ever gets the most votes wins. If they don’t ‘pass the post’ they would have to form coalitions such as the one we have now, but it would make voting simple enough for the masses to understand. There may even be a ‘point’ to voting for those that would not normally do so, e.g. Liberal supporters.

Pensions and welfare

Retirement age is rising to 66 by 2016 for men and 2020 for women. This seems unfair in many ways and a long way off for me, but no doubt it’ll come [too] soon enough. A later retirement age reflects the nation’s need for more tax to be paid, but also reflects the modern (and increasing) longevity of the human race. The problem with a set retirement age is that, while some people will be financially/physically/mentally ready for retirement (at any set age), others will not and ageism, while frowned upon heavily in terms of employing new staff, it is still rife.

Education

The best bit? Increasing the possibility for social mobility.

Relations with the EU

No further transfer of sovereignty, defence of the national interest,

We agree that we will approach forthcoming legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system. Britain will not participate in the establishment of any European public prosecutor.

Oh, and we’re not taking the Euro in this parliament :):-

Civil liberties

Scrapping the ID card scheme, next gen biometric passports and the fingerprinting of kids in school (they were doing this?!), restoration of rights to non-violent protest and safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation all point to a reduction in the ‘big brother state’ we’ve been sidling into for a while now.

Environment

Lots of goodies here, including mandating a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles and increasing the target for energy from renewable sources, including marine energy.  The Liberals are permitted to maintain their anti-nuclear power stance without fear of reprieve or triggering another general election.

So…

We live in interesting times, times of change. Hopefully, maybe even possibly, for the better.

Who to vote for in the UK 2010 election


With both the main parties becoming ever more centrist and populist, it’s understandably quite hard to choose who to vote for, particularly if you’ve never voted before or, like me, never paid politics much attention because you find it boring and regard voting as a waste of time because it makes little difference anyway (in other words, no matter who you vote for, the lower & working classes get screwed. This is certainly not relevant to everyone or even everyone I know, but it is relevant to me).

Or so I though until recently. But think: if everyone who thought that their vote makes no difference) or that we are powerless in the face of governmental control) voted, then it is likely that a difference could in fact be made. Just as if all the people who would vote Liberal Democrat if they stood a fart’s chance in hell actually voted Liberal, they may actually get in.

So what to do if you have no clue who to vote for because you think they’re all scheming corrupt bastards out for their own gain, but do want the right to be able to bitch about them for the next four years? The answer is this…

Take the survey on voteforpolicy.org.uk. This website presents you with the six policies of the six major parties (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green Party, UK Independence Party, British National Party) that relate to nine areas (crime, democracy, economy, education, environment, Europe, immigration, health/NHS, welfare) without telling you which party you are actually selecting.

In theory this is great because it removes the temptation to:

  • not vote for Gordon Brown/Labour because of his negative press and because the ‘workers’ party’ hasn’t done much for us workers lately or because they are an ‘anti-intellectual’ party.
  • not vote for David Cameron/Conservatives because the Tories are an “old [rich] boys’ club” whose main position besides being pro- the middle and upper classes is opposing Labour regardless of their stance. Incidentally, ‘conserving’ is the opposite of ‘change’ and change is inevitable.
  • not know whether to vote for New Labour or New Conservatives because their policies are designed to be popular and win votes, not to fulfill the political ideology that a lot of people feel we should be voting for (and that were apparent in Old Labour and Old Conservative).
  • not vote for Nick Clegg/LibDems because they never get in anyway
  • not to vote for the Green Party because they’d save the country/planet at the cost of everything else, e.g. the economy.

The results of this survey can be very surprising, even if you think you know what your allegiances are.[Mine came up as 11.11% each for three parties and 22.22% each for the other three, leaving me to fall back on inexpert theories such as: I can’t vote Tory because they’re too backward, I can’t vote Labour because they made a pig’s ear of it this time etc…

Anyway, voteforpolicy.org has a running total of the votes on its home page, the results of which are below, if you’re interested. At the time of writing there were 128,302 completed surveys yielding the following results:

Parties
  1. Green Party     27.62%
  2. Lib Dems     18.01%
  3. Labour     17.42%
  4. Conservatives     16.45%
  5. UKIP     10.82%
  6. BNP     9.69%

Parties & Policies [top 3 of the current leaders only]

Crime: Green Party 31.89%, Conservatives 21.21%, BNP 16.73%

Democracy Lib Dems 28.21%, Green Party 27.78%, Labour 25.40%

Economy: Lib Dems 28.80%, Green Party 23.00%, Labour 16.52%

Education: Green Party 35.68%, Conservatives 24.53%, Lib Dems 17.63%

Environment: Green Party 33.91%, Lib Dems 18.27%, UKIP 14.44%

Europe: Labour 24.80%, Green Party 23.59%, Lib Dems 17.52%

Health / NHS: Green Party 27.12%, Labour 19.43%, BNP17.76%

Immigration: Labour 20.09%, Green Party 19.92%, Conservatives 18.74%

Welfare: Green Party 23.48%, Labour 19.78%, UKIP 16.17%

* The text is coloured here to enable at-a-glance summaries.

Does accent matter? [short version]


Martha’s Vineyard

The question [does accent matter?] can be taken in a number of different ways:

  • Who does it matter to; the listener or the speaker?
  • Does it have an impact on the intelligibility of the message?
  • Does it have an impact on the perceived credence or status of the speaker?

This essay, citing an international study from New Zealand and inter-regional studies from America and Italy, will conclude that across the world, accent —or the sociolinguistic cues imbued in them—does matter.

First then, does accent matter to the listener only or also to the speaker? Labov [1963] and more recently Cavanaugh [2003] have clearly demonstrated that it matters a great deal to both.

Cavanaugh’s study enlarging on Goffman [1974], conceived of accents ‘as the phonological representations of sociogeographical characterological figures’ [p.127] According to Cavanaugh, for all Italians, accent is very important because they perceive it as representing not only geography, socio-economic status and education, but also such things as friendliness, trustworthiness and authoritativeness [Galli de’ Paratesi, 1997, 1985, cited in Cavanaugh, p.133].

Vornik, Sharman and Garry did an experiment in New Zealand to see if the accent of people supplying post event information [PEI] would have an impact on the misinformation effect. The results showed that while accent does not per se affect the misinformation effect, it operates as ‘a vehicle for information about the power and social attractiveness of the speaker’ and this information was strong enough to influence the misinformation effect. [Vornik, Sharman and Garry, 2003, p.106].

In conclusion, does accent matter?  It has been shown on numerous occasions in the local, national and international arenas that it has a bearing on how we perceive not only others around us but also how we perceive ourselves. It is and can be used as a reflection and a projection of who we are, where we come from and of our social status —and what, should we be linguistically adept to do so, we want others to think about us— and can even infer details about our geographical landscapes as well as our sociogeographical, socio-economic cultures. We can use accents to influence the way others see and remember events and the confidence with which they make judgments when supported by the social attractiveness, power and authoritativeness of certain accents.

In short, yes, accent does matter.

The full version of this essay can be found here.

EDIT May 6th 2013: For examples of how accent if used in the media to convey different characteristics, backgrounds and classes, see the following article on Game of Thrones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Homosexuality is wrong, kids, God says so.”


happy to hate

Rachel Williams reported in the Guardian about the so-called U-turn performed by the government regarding sex education in faith schools, i.e. allowing Catholic schools to teach that homosexuality is wrong and ‘discourage’ the use of contraception.

What I’d ike to know is, how has this been passed? Religious freedom notwithstanding, surely it’s better to teach kids all sides of something and let them make their own minds up. Teaching that homosexuality is wrong because ‘God said so’ (aside from the ambiguity of the actual ‘truth’ here) is just going to perpetuate and exacerbate hate [crimes], misunderstandings and inhibit diversity.

In the words of Stonewall:

Some people are gay, get over it.

In addition, does the country need any more breeding teenagers, really? With very few exceptions, having a baby young is a waste of the lives of all concerned – the teenagers who don’t get to have a life until they’re in their 30s, the kids raised by kids who haven’t probably learnt some of the most valuable lessons to pass down.

A spokesman for the Dept for Children, Schools and Families, has said

“…schools will be required to teach full programmes of study in line with the principles outlined in the bill, including promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity. Schools with a religious character will be free to express their faith and reflect the ethos of their school, but what they cannot do is suggest that their views are the only ones.”

However, this translates to ‘a Catholic school will be required to teach the factsabout contraceptives and contraception, but would be free to contradict it all by foregrounding and reinforcing their views on the subject.

The question remains: who ensures that a balanced message of tolerance, objectivity and free will is  getting across?

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