Friday, December 15, 2006

Golly, Moses, naturally we're punks ...

I think West Side Story got it slightly wrong. I'm developing a theory that it's not that mothers may be junkies or that fathers may be drunks which ails society so. Those are problems, sure, but I'm beginning to wonder whether the root of certain problems lie in school.

Yes, it's easy to blame schools - but by the same token it's easy to blame parents, too. Let me explain.

Since we've home-educated our kids, I've noticed a few things. Their behaviour is different - towards us and towards each other. When they were in school, they had begun to follow the pack mentality that pervades such places. Their self-esteem was driven by how high or low their ranking was within the herd. Their attitude and approach to life followed suit. My eldest son had pronounced communication difficulties and whilst he had good friends, got picked on by kids and staff alike. Just before we deregistered him from school, he had started to say things like "I'm a bad person" and "they don't want me in school". Within a fortnight of leaving school he had started to gain some confidence in himself; he walked taller and spoke more clearly.

I now realise that a major cause of disaffected youth is school. Not school per se, but the abnormally high concentrations of almost uncontrolled children. This arrangement is so divorced from what I'd call "normal family life" that it has a detrimental affect on those involved. I've known since I was at school that the stress makes teachers ill. Now I see that it also affects the children. Without the family structure, kids become anti-social. It's the Lord of the Flies thing: releasing the "beast within". I'm particularly interested to see that small schools we've seen recently (say 100 pupils over four or five years) do not exhibit the same problems.

That's it, really. I'm unsure what the solution is, but the problem is the abnormally large groups of unparented children at school. Maybe we should all home-educate ...

Monday, December 11, 2006

And we all like figgy pudding ...

so bring some out here

*But* are we going to like our Christmas Presents?

I hate shopping. Don't get me wrong: I like getting new things. I don't even mind the mad scramble in the shopping centres. It's not even the spending money that pains me so. It's the making decisions that really gets to me. I desperately struggle to avoid buying the wrong thing. Or, worse: I struggle to buy the right thing. (There is a difference.)

So: will he like this? Am I wasting my limited budget on buying something that will never get used? Will she think I'm being unnecessarily stingy if I don't buy that? The problem is, I always have this feeling that there's a really great gift out there, round the corner - if only I can remember where to get it.

I think I'd be happier going back to simpler times. Before all the retail lunacy, there was a warm-hearted glow about Christmas. Of course I wanted presents as a kid, but I don't remember the greed for bigger, better, more expensive that I see in kids today. Maybe it's that parental amnesia again. Maybe it's the orgy of advertising. Now I feel I'd prefer to give and receive a "little something" - to show love, respect and caring.

Still, little by little I accumulate a collection of things I feel will be well received. Just now, though, I'm a little light on things. And time. I'll keep looking. Thank goodness for on-line shopping!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Food, glorious food ...

Don't care what it looks like

Nutritionalists: Pah! A bunch of self-important bureaucrats if you ask me.

I've always thought that Arthur Marshall got it right: when being interviewed, he was asked to what he attributed his longevity. He said "I've always eaten what I like, when I like" - or something along those lines. Me too, mate.

So where do these people get off with their control-freakery? An where does all that gobbledegook come from? Polyunsaturated fats indeed! What the bugger is polyunsaturated fat? And do I want any? Why should I allow someone in a lab-coat - or, worse, in a suit - to tell me what I can and can't eat? I'll decide for myself, thanks.

I notice that food manufacturers (and I use that term carfully) are now in on the act. Cereal boxes are labelled with percentages of daily recommended intake for salt, saturated fat, calcium and so-on. I don't want to eat by numbers; is it just me? Personally, I would rather get my food the way nature intended. I don't want a carefully balanced, nutritionally-correct meal. Sure, I don't want to eat unhealthily either - but I'd rather let my body decide what is does and does not want. I'm a great believer in that. We are all animals at the end of the day. We are designed to self-regulate our diet. Surely you've noticed that when ill you feel like eating more fruit? It's not a coincidence, people.

I'll get off the soap-box, now. A final thought. (It'll only really make sense to a limited audience.) Those single-finger Twix bars: surely, they should be called "Unix"?

damn! Management-speak. Sorry.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Here comes the sun ...

Dood'n do doo ..

Good thing #1: For the first time this Autumn, I set off before sunrise. OK, it was light, but the sun was not yet up. Alright, I'm getting to the point. There is a short stetch of road on my journey to work where I can look over a low wall to my left and see the countryside laid out before me - over a valley and beyond. This is a really uplifting sight; on a good day it warms the ol' cockles, so it does. This morning, as I approached, the sun peeped over the horizon and lit up the light cloud cover: it was a fantastic sight. That really made my morning and now I feel great.

Good thing #2: I've discovered Firebug. I've not even had the chance to play with it much, but as a web developer I would rate is as WayCoolTM - just from the specs.

Good thing #3: I've just discovered that - despite the fact I've only got a few regular readers - this blog is listed on technorati. Not so clever, perhaps .. but it's added to my general bonhomie. Today I start my campaign for increased readership; tomorrow: blogospheric domination [Mwa-ha-haa].

that's Fall for you colonial types.

bear in mind that I'm riding on the left hand side of the road .. and that this is a narrow road with enough space for a car and a half between my side of the road and the parked cars on the other side.

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's one for you nineteen for me ...

Grrr. Now you know this isn't a political blog. OK, some recent posts are leaning that way, but ...

Today's headline is Motorists 'must pay for road use'. I'm sorry? I thought we already do. The fuel I buy is taxed - to the hilt (honest, no agricultural diesel for me!). I pay a road fund license - for each vehicle (regardless of the fact that I may only drive one at a time). Apparently, that's not paying for using the road though. Not paying enough ...

So: this plan of yon BA ex-chief's. Build more roads .. to encourage public transport use. Eh? What're the public supposed to do inbetween now and this supposed improvement in public transport? Oh, yes. Pay.

OK, better use of existing roads: Of course. I can't help thinking that the minor - untaxed - roads will become much busier. The motorways were supposed to take traffic away from the towns, not drive more traffic into them.

My recommendation would be to encourage public transport use first. Then improving the roads should be much easier.