August 15, 2011
Dear Mr Cameron,
If you think the problems leading to recent rioting may be resolved with a review and an agenda on morality, you are in the wrong profession. I suggest, if you are serious, that you either consider violent means by getting on your pedestal (historically successful but with all sorts of unfair consequences) or appreciate that we are all to blame and get on your knees.
In the meantime, perhaps we should outlaw any media outlet glorifying theiving and looting, vanity or self-justification. Whatever did we expect, letting our kids watch this?
August 9, 2011
I am sure you have opinions about the very unsportsmanlike behaviour of some of the folk in our country; I would hope so. Civilisation depends on it.
If a certain social networking site I belong to is anything to go by, the reactions of 400 of my associates indicate that everyone is rather strongly against the rioting taking place in London and elsewhere. But the reasons vary. Some are concerned for friends. Some are grateful for mercies and new addresses. Some want the army to come back from wherever it is they are and show ‘em. Some think parents are to blame. Some think society is to blame. Many want to take positive action – a collective 8:30 pm cup of tea or a community street clean up or messages to support the emergency services. Several have found humour in the situation (what – Suffolk Police going down to the capital? Do they know the way?) No one thinks the politicians have the answer.
Sadly, many of us are not all that surprised. Angry teenagers with a grudge, a bit of time and nothing to do don’t need much persuading to do stupid things. And it is not only teenagers who are at fault: among the 32 who’ve already gone through court were: “a graphic designer, college students, a youth worker, a university graduate and a man signed up to join the army. Some gave non-London addresses.” Full story here.
A thought I had – a dangerous one at that - was that in this country we have the freedom to riot. Think what that means. A cost to the economy. Danger to life. Idiocy celebrated. But when push comes to shove and twits turn #aboutface there are things to burn and people to hurt and a case to make to shock the civil. Rioting is an option. We have taught our children to be themselves, to achieve the distinctive, that the sky is the limit and they can have any bargain they can get your hands on. And then we have chained them into a nanny state where these things are not really available unless you comply with the system or are really extraordinary. Unrealistic expectations cause stress and set people up to fail. Or maybe set society up to riot.
Yes, we can make our case using humour, politics, organised rallies, online voting, phone-ins and on walls of public conveniences, but in the UK it is generally a lot safer to riot than in many other places. In Libya, Syria, Burma or China to disagree with the government is really not on. At all. If you appreciate your neck bone’s connection to the head bone. Etc. Please don’t think I support rioting. In this week’s context it is unjustifiable. In previous times we learnt the hard way by not knowing when to react.
There is so much more to say here. The reasons for the rioting. Is something generating each generation in our country to feel so angry they want to hit out. The strength of reaction. The sadness of lost creativity and economy. The confusion of arson. The greed of those with no backbone. The recklessness of disrespect. The price of it all. The perils of technology. The choice of what to damage (any schools, sports venues or religious establishments?)
No doubt we will be adding it all up for some time. We will all have opinions. Some shocked and dissident countries may boycott our Olympics. If it means more medals for us, perhaps some of the looters will be happy. Assuming they were part of the elite or the lucky who got tickets, that is. Trade you in a 50″ plasma screen, no questions asked?
September 14, 2009
I am the sort of person who does not like being lied to. I do not appreciate double glazing companies repeatedly calling me and telling me they I’m wrong when I gently remind them of this. I don’t like people knocking at my door and telling me we share the same faith when we don’t. I don’t like people claiming to be able to predict the lottery numbers, and encouraging others to believe them.
Before we go any further, let me predict the winning lottery numbers for the next draw. With absolute certainty, barring the end of the world or the national lottery, I think you will find them in this list:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
A certain Mr Brown believed he could convince people that he could predict the winning lottery numbers live on television last week. If he had come up with a serious explanation, he might have saved his reputation. However, the explanation he gave was mathematical nonsense and just made people all the more sure that he had used clever trickery (read: magic) to confuse and excite his viewers.
I will tell you why he didn’t really predict the lottery numbers.
1. He did not win the lottery himself, and has not done to this date to my knowledge.
2. He has not given a convincing explanation for his ‘winning’ numbers. Otherwise you might find that the experiment is wholly repeatable (i.e. scientific) and this week we would have 9 out of 10 lottery players winning, and sharing a vast sum between the lot of them. Say, £3.65 each or something. The other 1 out of 10 would stick with the numbers they play every week, because ‘you never know’. Quite.
3. A certain Mr Daniels has been quoted as saying that there are ’99 ways’ of doing this trick. Great. And if he never got round to doing it, it was because there are certain stunts the public just doesn’t fall for.
Admittedly, if one person had the secret power to get the numbers right and did so every week (until they were caught), they could use the money for all sorts of good. But the chances are they might abuse the system. Hmm.
Now although I do not like lies, I am amused by trickery and clever sleight of hand. I just like to know that there is a reasonable explanation, even if I do not know it myself.
I get angry when suggestible people are told that there are ways to predict the lottery numbers when there are not. I have done the maths.
July 24, 2009
First – don’t muddle up Kim Jong-il (the one who controls the weather and who shot 11 holes-in-one in his first round of golf) with his father Kim Il-sung (Eternal Sun who created the world).
Secondly - please ignore rumours that there has been a body double parading as Kim Jong-il since 2003, who is 2.5 cm taller according to US satellites.
Third – photos don’t lie.
July 14, 2009
We are all hoping that the Rain, Rain will Go Away and maybe not come back this week at all. It is not up to me, but it has meant an early finish to the work in the garden today.
We deliberated and decided to take down the rest of the wall and rebuild it entirely. Having considered rendering the end of the neighbours’ house, we realised (thanks in part to dad) that a brick walled garden in a town house is the right thing and there isn’t a better time to do it for us. Because the builders have turned out to be particularly slippery we won’t be using them again after this, but the wall we have so far is good. It will be done by the end of the week, unless they feel like taking a month over it.
In a separate twist, the reclaim yard brick merchants who they use (the only one in the area for old bricks, and a company who ‘only take cash’) went into administration today. There were just enough of the bricks needed for our wall, which had thankfully been ordered in time and were collected today.
And by the way, who voted ‘Other’? Was it you dad? Or someone else? What do you suggest? Email me or leave a comment below.
July 8, 2009
I wanted to blog before, but haven’t been able to get to the computer much as our windows have been cleverly double glazed and refurbished this week. I have been looking forward to them being done and the result is good. Photos will follow.
The fixing of the fanlight, a final part of the job, revealed a great deal of rot, which is a shame as we now have to decide whether to do Something Drastic when our new front door arrives. And we are in a Conservation Area!
Now we are between tradesmen. Tomorrow the skip arrives and the bricks for the new old back wall in the garden. Owing to neighbours fixing the top of the wall without talking to us first and then admitting it probably is our wall, we are left with a gaping hole where a gaping hole does not belong. There was a buddleia somewhere along the line, but the story is too long to relate today.
All our decking and a small shed had to be removed to see the state of the wall. It is not good, and every time the brickies come to see it they pull a bit more off, to try and convince us. They also try to embarrass us by making me – a mere maths teacher – do the calculations in my head and on my mobile phone. This is Intimidating and Criminal and not the thing I like doing when Someone is crying. Anyway, the job is urgent and now we have to empty and move the large shed and also negotiate with the neighbours on another side about a small wall at the front. And they keep finding more things that need attention.
What with the new front door, paintwork and boiler, this is going to be an expensive summer.
February 3, 2009
Take God’s values out of society, and eventually someone will recognise the direct impact and damage it will have. I spotted this article today. I would love to know how independent the survey really was. If it was driven by a Christian group, I would not wonder that the recommendations are so close to what the church tries to do. If it wasn’t, perhaps now is an important time to reconsider how much wisdom we as a society have thrown out. And let us recycle.
Jesus summed up the law by saying that we should ‘Love God’ with every part of our lives and ‘Love our neighbours’. This second act of loving follows naturally. We express our love for God in serving others. We have to be selfless in order to protect and nurture the vulnerable, the young, the old and the unwell.
One of the biggest contributing factors the article cites is family break-up. As a Christian I hold an extremely high view of marriage and family life. I believe strong family life is central to a well-oiled society. With a family you have a place to be yourself. To be the same and different. To challenge in safety. To learn to respect. To celebrate and to repeat daily routines. Family is not new. It is not trendy. It is not cool. But – it prepares people for being part of society. I know many, many people whose families are not together. It is a function of my generation. I have met young offenders who claim never to have known of a working marriage in their experiences. I have many friends with many stories. I am not here to judge, and would never want to. But the report has suggested that society does not want to talk about this.
Why are we so scared of talking about something so important? Is it because there are consequences?
The Good Childhood Inquiry also reports that ‘excessive individualism’ is to blame for many of the problems children face. This is the same individualism Jesus challenges.
We agree that adverts drive greed and envy: we hate greed and envy in others and privately feel guilty that we cannot have all that we want.
Teachers resent the competitive bureaucracy in education. We know that league tables do not tell the whole truth and expect people to tell us the truth: we know that not everyone is going to be a winner. League tables are there to provide information for those who want to try and discern the most advantageous educational route for an individual. Not for others.
We know that wages are not fair: unfairness stinks. We all want to be treated with dignity and respect by others, including our employers. We want to be fairly rewarded for equal work. We don’t want others to swing the system to their advantage unfairly.
We know children need to play: play requires space and space costs money. But we also want young people off the streets and nurtured by those who know how to get the best out of them and help them through the difficult teenage years. We would like responsible young adults around us, who we can trust, work with and enjoy time with.
If we want these things, we have to face the fact that we cannot afford to be selfish. We must love others. In doing so, we ultimately benefit ourselves, as part of society.
October 9, 2008
I don’t have a good answer to the question of why teenagers feel obliged to carry knives, but my cousin does, and you can read all about it here.
Or, if you want to ask her in person about it, you can actually go here. There is wine after. I’m just saying. I hope it is good wine. And I hope it is safe to get home after the event. If in doubt, go in a gang with some others. It should be bare wicked, man. Safe.