Monday, 28 April 2008

Reality TV

I had the misfortune so see some of the end of a Simon Cowell show called "Britain called Talent" which seems to focus on members of the public performing bad karaoke and various novelty acts. I found that the reality show was every bit as bad as I imagined. Firstly if I want to hear something sung then the vast majority of time the professional is a lot better. The only fun of karaoke is that someone you know is singing. Most of the novelty acts where one trick wonders. A lot of the acts where so bad that they were laughed from the stage and it reminded me of a form of Victorian freak show. It may severely effect the mental health of the individual if they thought they had some talent. Secondly even if you do make it successful their career will be short and tainted with a reality tag. The most successful act are Girls Aloud but as they don't write their own music they make far less money than people suspect. I also worry that there is an attitude that you can do something for nothing and reality shows will be the answer. No need to work hard - success will be given to you. I would much rather see a program that encourages bands/ singers who have written their own music, toured pubs and clubs to find out what is successful and would appreciate it when they are given a chance to reach the top having had to work for it. Of course this would deliver a lot less cash into the pockets of the TV executives and Simon Cowell's sizable wallet.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

The Strike

I has been a quiet day at work with three years missing and some of the teachers but did give us a bit of time to chase Yr11 students for coursework and using lessons that we usually won't have to improve them. The interest has been in the way it has been covered and the level of disinformation that is being put forward. The government has been putting forward the fact the average salary is £34, 000 which includes heads at £100,000 in the equation and also the fact that there are three sets of evaluations that you need to pass to reach that level. ITV announced that only a fraction of teachers supported the strike but failed to point out that over 50% were not even asked if they wanted to go on strike. Comparing teachers to police, fire and nurses fails to take into account that you need to train for four years just to get to the basic pay level and PGCE's being free (currently four years training come with tuition fees at over £3000 per year.) It is always interesting to ask people who are criticising the strike if they would like to volunteer to become teachers and fill some of the vacancies in maths and science in some of the inner city areas but they don't seem to keen! Maybe it is not as cushy as it seems on paper.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Its the end of the season

Its the end of a satisfactory korfball season. Played quite well. Scored quite a few goals. Was concerned about the season early on but it all worked out in the end. The final table is below.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Trip to Coventry

The trip was as unnecessary as I thought it would be. The program is straight forward and the slow pace of the instructors only added to the frustration. I met some nice Ipswich fans going to the Wolves game, a bunch of vicars heading to St Pauls for a service and a couple of older ladies who I argued over Tesco with. No thanks to the group of chavs who got on at Chelmsford going for a night on Ipswich. If you use bad language then use it for effect and surprise people. If you do it every second word it loses effect.

Two issues arise from my escapade around the rail network. Firstly why did my ticket make me get on and off at Stratford and not Liverpool Street. It makes no sense to get off at the first station on the underground network and not at the mainline station. Secondly, what is the point of a train arriving at a station and only letting people get off. Instead I have to wait for 10 minutes for a train that allows people to get on.

Friday, 18 April 2008


I am not going on strike. My union did not ballot its members as we have accepted the lower than inflation pay rise that the "independent" pay review body recommended. The NUT on the other hand rejected the proposal, balloted its members, received a majority response and are withdrawing their labour next Thursday. The issue is a bit less clear however. Firstly although 75% of people who responded voted to strike the turnout was just 32% so 68% did not vote. The leader that organised the vote has since passed away to confuse matters even more.

Some of my colleagues are in an awkward position as they don't support the strike and did not vote for it. Do you go on strike supporting the union or do you cross the picket line and be a "scab". It is a tricky decision but if I had had a vote I would have voted against a strike but if I lost I would strike. I rely on my colleagues to back me up (for instance if a kid attacked me and the school refuse to permanently exclude the kid then all the teachers would act together) so need to back them up if there was a fair and legal vote on the matter. Unions only benefit if they stand together.

In the school there are very few NUT members (the reason I did not join was it is always best to be in the biggest union in the school) so we are going to open but only teach Yr 7, 11,12 and 13. The head can't ask me (or anyone in a different union)to teach a lesson that should have been taken by a NUT due to union rules. Supply staff will be in short supply so the senior managers will need to teach the lessons which should be amusing to watch as they dust of their atrophying skills.


Tomorrow I have to spend three hours going to Coventry. When I am there I will be patronised about how to use a new on-line program for marking exams. They sent me a preview copy and it is really straightforward and took about 3 minutes to work out but I have to go to Coventry to show them I am competent in use it. So three hours there and three hours back and one wasted Saturday. Bobbins!!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

I thought Luton had had a bad season and I have played for some rubbish rugby teams but it was nothing compared to Murrayfield Wanderers in the 3rd Division of Scottish Rugby. Played 22, lost 22, points 0, scored 65 conceded 1173. On average they lost 53-3
Their results were

0 - 44
3 - 50 Points from Kellington
0 - 73
3 - 112 Points from Kellington
0 - 31
5 - 72 Points from Bell
0 - 54
5 - 43 Points from McKenzie
5 - 63 Points from Sullivan
6 - 23 Points from Borland
0 - 76
11 - 31 Points from McKenzie and Borland
0 - 72
0 - 43
0 - 69
7 - 19 Points from McMahon and Borland
0 - 72
0 - 83
3 - 41 Points from Borland
7 - 30 Points from Prive and Harling
5 - 95 Points from Pellier
5 - 43 Points from Hastings

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

The Simpsons has been dropped from morning TV in Venezuela after being deemed unsuitable for children - and has been replaced by Baywatch. Funny old world

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Olympic protest

The "Free Tibet" campaign is being "headed" by the Dalai Lama who for years has campaigned in a non-violent way in line with his Buddhist beliefs and the dominant religion in Tibet. The people who use violence to try and disrupt the passage of the Olympic flame are doing Tibet a disservice as they are giving China an excuse to say look at what we are dealing with, all this violent and disruption surrounding normal events. I assume most of the protesters are not Tibetans as I won't have thought that there are many ex-pat Tibetans around the world so I say to the protesters if you want to espouse a cause look at the customs and culture of the people you claim to represent and act as they would.

This is not the first time that the torch has been used for protest. It was started for the 1936 Olympic in Berlin when Hitler had the idea for over two thousand Germans to bring the torch from Athens through countries such as Austria and Czechoslovakia to show off German strength, might and virility prior to invasion and annexation several years later.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Flying Penguins

I saw this and was amazed by the footage

Okay so it was an April Fool. Some of the other great April Fool jokes include

1. A Cheyenne, Wyoming radio station reported to listeners that during the previous night, a Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" steam locomotive was stolen from Holliday Park. Although the locomotive weighed more than 550 tons (500 tonnes) and had no tracks connecting it to any nearby railroad, thus making its theft near-impossible, several listeners fell for the joke and went to investigate. The road that overlooks the park was jammed for hours as people realized that it was a hoax, and the locomotive was still on display in the park.

2. On April 1, 1978 a barge appeared in Sydney Harbour towing a giant iceberg. Dick Smith, a local adventurer and millionaire businessman, had been loudly promoting his scheme to tow an iceberg from Antarctica for quite some time. Now he had apparently succeeded. He said that he was going to carve the berg into small ice cubes, which he would sell to the public for ten cents each. These well-traveled cubes, fresh from the pure waters of Antarctica, were promised to improve the flavor of any drink they cooled. Slowly the iceberg made its way into the harbor. Local radio stations provided excited blow-by-blow coverage of the scene. Only when the berg was well into the harbor was its secret revealed. It started to rain, and the firefighting foam and shaving cream that the berg was really made of washed away, uncovering the white plastic sheets beneath.

3. In 2006, it was that the town of Fribourg was planning to make people release their handbrakes in designated areas, so that if parking spaces were too tight, all people would have to do was to call for the police and they would push the car.

4. BBC's Grandstand sports magazine programme once featured a dispute between two production staff that turned into a fight, while the presenter continued oblivious to the scuffle behind him.

5. ActBlue 2008 ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising hub, announces on its blog that it will begin collecting funds for US candidates in Euros, due to the decline of the dollar.

6. The April 1998 newsletter of New Mexicans for Science and Reason contained an article written by physicist Mark Boslough claiming that the Alabama Legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi to the "Biblical value" of 3.0

7. The BBC television programme Panorama ran a famous hoax in 1957, showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. They had claimed that the despised pest, the spaghetti weevil, had been eradicated. A large number of people contacted the BBC wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti trees

8. In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, saying that people could get a Whopper for left-handed people whose condiments were designed to drip out of the right side. Not only did customers order the new burgers, but some specifically requested the "old", right-handed burger

9. In 1965, the BBC purported to conduct a trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odor over the airwaves to all viewers. Many viewers reportedly contacted the BBC to report the trial's success

10. BMW announced that it was introducing the "Toot and Calm Horn" (after Tutankhamun), which calms rather than aggravates other drivers, so reducing the risk of road rage.

However there are occassions where real news is not believed such as when British sprinter Dwain Chambers joined English rugby league team Castleford Tigers on 1st April 2008. The athlete was attempting a return to top flight athletics at the time following a high profile drugs ban, and his apparent unfamiliarity with rugby led many people to assume this was an April Fools' Day prank.

Friday, 4 April 2008

\Woman gets pregnant shocker

The news that a man has become pregnant is the latest story to annoy me. I have seen it report on-line. on the TV and radio news and in some of the newspapers. Slightly further inspection shows that Thomas Beatie has XX in each of her cells and despite operations and injections is still female. Now don't get me wrong. I have no problem with people failing in love with the same sex and if you want to change your appearance that's fine although you have got to realise some employers may not be so understanding. My issue is that is a major medical breakthrough as has been reported in the news. Even Thomas regards it as a miracle which must be putting the bar pretty low as pregnancy seems to have been occurring to a lot of people for a long period of time. None of the news outlets noted that Thomas will be the child's mother not his father. Now if Thomas had been the child's father that would be news! Not sure what forms will need to be filled in as the wife of Thomas will not be genetically related to the child and will presumably have to adopt it. Wonder what would happen if this couple walked into to see mum. I suspect the Registrar General would be called.

For some reason I just hate pillars

In the 18th and 19th Century the rulers of various nations thought that they were at the pinnacle of civilisation and in their buildings they harked back to when they believed civilisation was last at its peak. This form of architecture is called neo-classical and was in reaction to the over ornate Baroque and Rococo styles that preceded it. It was also designed to show civilisations were not corrupt and once again displayed the same ideals as the "pure" Romans and Greeks. The problem is that the answers were pillars and I find it a very dull form of architecture.
It started in France but there are some examples I have seen below

National Portrait Gallery in London built 1824

The Bourse in Brussels started in 1863

The Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 1866

The White House in Washington from 1792

The Supreme Court in Washington built in 1935

It reminds me of complaints now that all high streets look the same. The same style of buildings are appearing a;ll over the world and it is difficult to tell them apart. As it happens, this is nothing new.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

10 questions

One of the things about going away is that it gives you the opportunity to experience new things and new situations. These are some of the things that crossed my mind while I was away. Put up your hand (Literally or metaphorically) if

1. You think that underground trains should stop fully before the doors open
2. You wondered how much longer it takes the sun to set if you are up 205 metres a TV tower
3. You thought C & A had gone bankrupt
4. You have ruined a pair of trousers on a door handle (that's twice now)
5. You still get freaked out by cars turning right on a green pedestrian light
6. You have wondered if Ford make any effort to sell cars in Germany
7. You have wondered at the point of a language that keeps adding more letters to words and then using nicknames as they are too long (Kurfustendamm = Kudamm and Alexanderplatz = Alex)
8. You thought that Germans didn't have a sense of humour (Just because I can ask for a table in German doesn't mean I want the German version of the menu)
9. You have damaged a watch whilst changing the the time thus being 43 minutes behind local time for three days
10. You have wondered about the policy of rebuilding exact replicas of building destroyed up to 50 years ago

Just me then