Progress or Symptom?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:13 am

So, Ms Smith and Mr Jones are in love, and have the big white wedding. But it would too, too archaic for Ms Smith to take his name and become Mrs Jones. How patriarchal! So they keep their own names, which is entirely fine.

Then they reproduce… young Master… well, there’s the rub. He can’t be simply Jones… how patriarchal! So the simple and obvious solution is the double-barrell. Sounds kinda classy, too. Young Master Smith-Jones, and a little later his sister, Miss Smith-Jones… or possibly Jones-Smith, just to keep the author order fair.

This is all terribly egalitarian and good, and I’m a big fan of it.

But time passes on, as it will. Young Master Smith-Jones has grown up, gone out into the world and fallen in love… with the daughter of similarly enlightened parents, Miss Knightsbridge-Humperdinck.

They marry, keeping their names, and in due course reproduce. Young Miss Knightsbridge-Humperdinck-Smith-Jones. A bit of an issue at school, and filling in forms in the space provided, but doable, I guess… Until, in the course of time, she too grows up, meets and falls in love… with young Mr Allibrandi-Tompkinson-Edwards-Fahd.

And they marry and give birth, and…

Clearly this system needs a little more work.


Small Experiment in Fiction and Truth

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:19 am

So I started a thread off with a little short story I wrote at the Netrider motorbike forum: Sweet vengeance

There’s a little disclaimer at the bottom that says ‘this is a work of fiction’.

The kicker is, as someone said in the reply comments: “if I had hypothetically committed something that could arguably be written up as assault, I would hardly go and vent on an open-access internet forum without putting a ‘this is fiction’ disclaimer at the bottom of the post, would I now? Hypothetically speaking, of course.”

So about half the responders seem to think it’s truth dressed up as fiction, while the rest accept the ‘fiction’ label at face value.


Different Worlds

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:27 am

Different people see the world in different ways. One of those differences is that some people recognise that this is the case and others don’t.


Just Dreamin’

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:23 pm

KTM 990 Superduke R

KTM 990 Superduke R – if I happened to win Lotto, or in any other way had more money than immediately needed…


Read me in Chinese

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:10 pm

Received a package this morning containing the Chinese version of a book – Dilemmas of Science Teaching – in which I have a chapter. Pretty cool to think my potential readership just increased by almost a billion and a half, or something like 20% of the world’s population. I just won’t bother calculating what percentage of those people will actually read it. 😉


‘Everything is Amazing!’

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:25 am

You might have seen this already, or seen Louis CK doing standup or something, but he’s so very right. In these artificially depressing times: everything is amazing.


The positive side of conservatism

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:52 am

Over the weekend my colleague Kerryn loaned me the DVD of the New Zealand TV series ‘Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby‘. Click on the Wikipedia link for more details, and for those in Oz I believe it’s available at the ABC shop.

It’s about a very old-skool, politically incorrect teacher, Mr Gormsby, arriving to take 5F, the toughest class in a small boys’ high school in New Zealand. He’s prone to huff and puff about ‘modern namby-pamby mumbo-jumbo’, and call the islander boys things like ‘kanakas’, but the program shows very nicely his real and deep affection and care for the boys and for teaching, and the positive effect he has on their lives. It also shows some of the negative effects of ‘modern namby-pamby mumbo-jumbo’ when it’s applied without real caring and commitment to excellence.

Any description of the show makes it sound more simplistic and black-and-white than it really is, and I highly recommend watching it.

It reminded me of what I like about conservatism, and about good conservatives like my friends Mark and Shane and Gerry. Some of them have got carried away with the polarised debate more recently and ended up sounding like the loathe the poor for being poor, but Mr Gormsby is a reminder that the best of conservatism takes no nonsense but is very concerned with keeping what is good from the past and giving future generations the benefit of that.


The dehumanised

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:05 am

I’ve given up on it. When I went to McDonalds, for example, I used to say “A medium Big Mac meal with Diet Coke1 please”. But it’s completely pointless, because the person behind the counter will invariably ring up a medium Big Mac meal and then look up and chirp brightly “And what drink did you want with that?” They’re on a script, and the information I’ve provided already didn’t fit the script, so it was completely ignored – they don’t want to know what drink I want with that until the correct point in the script. They’re behaving exactly like computers in their inflexibility, and not like humans. And I honestly don’t think that in general it’s because they’re not bright – it’s because of how they’ve been trained.

  1. I’ve actually given up Diet Coke ‘cos Cam convinced me that aspartame might be the root cause of the muscle and joint pains I’d been having (rather than all the abuse my body has taken over the years). Still waiting for the effects to cut in – haven’t had any for about 2 weeks but he said it takes about 6 – and will probably gain a little weight because I mostly have water but sometimes have normal Coke when I feel like it. Guess we’ll see what happens.


Horrifying for a teacher educator, but all too plausible

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:02 pm

Alan Moore, the author of ‘Watchmen’, ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’, ‘From Hell’ and ‘V for Vendetta’:

All too often education actually acts as a form of aversion therapy, that what we’re really teaching our children is to associate learning with work and to associate work with drudgery so that the remainder of their lives they will possibly never go near a book because they associate books with learning, learning with work and work with drudgery. Whereas after a hard day’s toil, instead of relaxing with a book they’ll be much more likely to sit down in front of an undemanding soap opera because this is obviously teaching them nothing, so it is not learning, so it is not work, it is not drudgery, so it must be pleasure. And I think that that is the kind of circuitry that we tend to have imprinted on us because of the education process.


All a bit quiet

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:30 pm

…on the blogging front, that is: because it’s been so crazy on all other fronts!

Still, teaching starts this week, which is busy but less busy than preparing to teach (though there’s still a bit of that to do as well). And I put in a good solid day’s work today on the chapter on Teacher Explanations that I’m writing for the Second International Handbook of Science Education (it was due on January 1 but is really, really for sure due before the end of March).

So I do feel as though I’m gradually floating back to the surface, but there still hasn’t been a lot of inspiration or ideas for blog posts for the last little while – hopefully soon again.

Thanks to all my Constant Readers for their patience.