Category Archives: Politics

National Science Week!

The Beeb is covering Antarctic lesson plans in UK schools, which are kinda cool. This also ties into The Big Experiment on Discovery Channel…

it’s great to see and anything which encourages more kids to take up careers in Science and Technology is a good thing, but I had not even heard that it was national science week… and I visited a school last week!!

It’s just all too familiar. The UK has an incredible place in the world of science, yet we squander every opportunity to build on that position.

Jules Verne launched today – and absolutely spectacular it was. In amongst the announcement is the big expansion going on at Kourou, ESA’s space port – to help keep up with the massive expansion of business: over 1 BILLION Euro last year alone.

It’s yet another glaring slap in the face for those people who carp on about spending on space and science programs in general, saying we should spend the money on things like the NHS.

France and the UK are the perfect point in case – Britain cancelled our space program back in the sixties opting to spend the money on the NHS instead, whilst the French persevered.

Forty odd years later, France has a lucrative satellite launch industry worth hundreds of millions a year… AND a better health service than us.

When we spend on basic research and high technology, the returns are enormous – the problem being that governments are simply too short sighted.

Totally messed up priorities.

According to the BBC, UK Science has only three weeks to justify the existence and continued funding of a whole raft of science research and development.

There’s an 80 Million pound shortfall, and key projects will be cut no matter what.

Here’s a better idea… how about bringing home the troops in Iraq TWENTY NINE DAYS early and spending the money on scientific research that advances knowledge, rather than spending 2.75 Million pounds per day on a war that nobody wanted anyway?

The problem with Education…

Interesting article and associated talking point on the Beeb website today – one very close to my heart.

I posted this:

The education system is utterly flawed – we concentrate resources on remedial education for the lowest performers, and provide little or no opportunity for the best and brightest – in the name of being ‘fair’.

our utterly lacklustre nation is the result – we champion mediocrity, celebrate idiocy and regard intelligence as something to be mocked.

Is it any wonder that so many of our graduates emigrate at the first chance?”

If the usual Beeb policy is anything to go by, it won’t be posted on the BBC, but that’s the beauty of your own blog – editorial control!

David Cameron has signalled his intent to have more academy schools, but to end selection. I’m torn. The Academy Schools have been disastrous, essentially handing over complete control of schools to religious fundamentalists like the Vardy crowd, at the same time, they spend dramatically more money per child than regular schools – no bad thing.

It’s an interesting point – and highlights wonderfully the odd nature of Secular/Atheist politics. When the Academy programme kicked off in anger, there was a variety of responses to it – including this one. The Vardy god botherers have had a much more free run of things, largely because the opposition to them is so fragmented.

I’m part of the problem on this one – I couldn’t really bring myself to support this campaign fully, nor in fact any of the others which appeared around the same time. Ultimately, I have nothing against Academy schools – I agree with selection, I agree with removing schools from local council control (although I would rather go the other way and have national control of schools) and I certainly agree with spending a bit more on education per head.

My own experience of education was disastrous – I experienced the very worst of labour controlled education: Strikes, the PC restriction on competition, poor materials, poor classrooms and demotivated staff.

It’s the sort of thing that leaves an impression.

Bliar, Bliar, Pants on Fire!

So, it looks like St Tony Blair will finally admit to what seems to be the worst kept secret in Politics – that he is a Roman Catholic.

To a certain extent, this is not news – it has been spoken about since 2004 (although denied vigorously at the time, of course) however, people are entitled to believe in whatever crazy old garbage they want.

Where that becomes a problem, of course, is where they have executive power over a government and seek to worm their religious nonsense into public policy. You can point to an increase in the emphasis put on faith schools, despite the evidence that they harm social cohesion, or the greater influence that fringe groups – and we really do mean fringe groups here – have enjoyed to the highest level of power, but that’s not the worst.

The most unsettling discovery for me has been the revelation by Lord Harrison that the government has been adding deliberately anti secular language into it’s documents, such as “Building Civil Renewal: A review of Government support for community capacity building and proposals for change” – pulled from the home office website after Lord Harrison mentioned it – which contained this little gem:

“by preparing to mount publicity and media-handling strategies to answer adverse criticism from the secular quarter”

Now, hang on a minute here! Nearly sixty percent of the UK population is secularist – higher if you take on board the various surveys that the Humanist Society has published in recent years.

It’s bad enough that Bliar has been pushing his religious nonsense for the past ten years – and making our country a less free, more divisive place in the process – but to find out that his government has been deliberately briefing departments to ignore the views of atheists and secularists like me?

Time for some action, I think.