bookmark_border40 år

Mum & dad in Georgia
Originally uploaded by viralbus

Det er i dag 40 år siden, mine forældre blev gift i Odder Kirke.

Tillykke til dem!

De fejrer dagen alene i Italien, hvor de i praksis nu bor, så jeg håber, de får en god dag.

Jeg véd allerede, hvad de giver hinanden i rubinbryllupsgave, da de købte den, mens vi besøgte dem tidligere på måneden: En Gaggia Syncrony Logic, og den er altså dejlig! 🙂

bookmark_borderAnna’s grammar

Anna’s language is developing rapidly at the moment – my recent posting is already out of date.

However, I feel I should write a bit about her grammar while it’s still simple.

For a very long time, most of her utterances consisted of one or two words.

The vocative would be expressed by a name on its own (Dade! Mimi!), but in all other cases, the name would be introduced by the copula/article ?, in the same way as all other words (? dade “It/that/he is daddy.” ? ?a?a “It’s a flower.” ? mi “It’s mine!”

The only other common utterance was a de? “What’s that?”

She then started combining these two sentences: a de ? ?a?a? “Is that a flower?” (lit. “What’s that, a flower?”)

Recently, she started using the a and de separately, so Phyllis recently was told about Marcel that de ? ? lal? “he is my sibling” (lit. “that is a Charlotte”).

As I wrote above, her language is changing rapidly at the moment. In particular, she’s starting to repeat words, sentences and even fragments of songs (“Lo, lo, lo, aaaaa!”), so it’s beginning to be harder to decide when she’s copying a sentence she’s heard, and when she’s actually constructing one on her own.

bookmark_borderThe ethnic composition of Balamory

Originally uploaded by marinegirl

The kiddie programme Balamory has eight main characters:

  • Archie, a white English man in a kilt
  • Edie, a white Scottish woman
  • Josie, a black English woman
  • Ms Hoolie, a white Scottish woman
  • PC Plum, a white Scottish man
  • Penny, a white English woman
  • Spencer, a black American man
  • Suzie, a white Scottish woman

That is, there are five women and three men. Four of them are white Scottish, two are white English, one is black English and one is black American.

That didn’t strike me as looking particularly as the Scotland I know, where the main immigrant groups are Asian (i.e., Indian and Pakistani) and Chinese.

So I checked the latest census figures. I’ll ignore the gender composition in the following, which of course should have been four men and four women.

If Balamory had been like Scotland in 2001, the composition should have been as follows:

  • 7 white Scottish
  • 0.8 white other (typically English)
  • 0.1 Asian
  • 0.1 others

If the BBC wanted to reflect the UK as a whole instead of Scotland, the figures are as follows:

  • 7.4 white
  • 0.3 Asian
  • 0.2 black
  • 0.1 others

Even if the casting was done in London, the figures are still skewed. Here are the figures for London in 2001:

  • 5.7 white
  • 1.0 Asian
  • 0.9 black
  • 0.4 other

So why did the BBC go for this set-up?

I’m all in favour of representing all of the country’s ethnic groups on TV, and of course you can’t have 0.1 Asian in a programme, but what’s the point in making the world look different?

Are they trying to make the UK look like America?

bookmark_borderDen radikale tunge på vægtskålen

Originally uploaded by hans s

Socialdemokraterne og SF’s beslutning om at ignorere Det radikale Venstre i formuleringen af deres fælles valgprogram er endnu en konsekvens af, at De Radikale ikke længere er tungen på vægtskålen.

Alt afhænger derfor af, hvordan situationen ser ud efter næste valg.

Hvis den nuværende balance bevares, har Enhedslisten + SF + SocDem + DrV ikke flertal, og der er hamrende ligegyldigt, om de fire partier er indbyrdes enige eller ej. (Medmindre Dansk Folkeparti skifter side, men det tvivler jeg nu på, de gør denne gang.)

Det er også muligt, at SF og Socialdemokraterne får flertal alene (evt. sammen med Enhedslisten). Så er det igen uinteressant, hvad DrV mener, men det må siges at være yderst usandsynligt – ved sidste valg fik de tre partier kun 72 mandater.

Det eneste realistiske valgresultat, der ikke fører til en fortsættelse af den nuværende regering, er derfor et flertal for EL + SF + SocDem + DrV. Idet vi nu antager, at de tre førstnævnte ikke får flertal alene, vil DrV pr. definition være tungen på vægtskålen.

Jeg vil antage, at det er udelukket, at De Radikale kan gå med i en regering, hvis de slet ingen indflydelse får på udlændinge- og skattepolitik.

Efter dagens udspil er det mest sandsynlige derfor, at DrV bliver støtteparti for en regering bestående af S og SF.

I et sådant Folketing vil det være sandsynligt, at et alternativt flertal vil bestå af S + SF + Dansk Folkeparti. Jeg forventer, at DF i en sådan situation vil være realistiske og samarbejde med regeringen, især om udlændingepolitikken.

Det er også sandsynligt, at de borgerlige partier vil friste De Radikale ved at komme med lovforslag, som er radikal (men ikke socialistisk eller socialdemokratisk) politik.

Så S-SF-regeringen vil ganske sikkert komme i mindretal mange gange, hvilket de naturligvis som Schlüter-regeringerne bare kan bide i sig.

Jeg gad vide, om S og SF i deres stille sind håber, at DrV vil pege på dem efter valget og derefter sidde i en krog og surmule, mens al den vigtige politik bliver gennemført med DF’s stemmer?

I så fald tror jeg ikke, at DrV vil pege på Socialdemokraterne ved det efterfølgende valg, men måske vil Dansk Folkeparti?

Det bliver mere og mere tydeligt, at De Radikale har begået en stor strategisk fejl ved at binde sig alt for fast til venstre side.

bookmark_borderGrade inflation

Writing Exams
Originally uploaded by ccarlstead

The English GCSE results are out.

Shockingly, 21.6 per cent of grades were awarded an A* or A, and more than 67.1 per cent of entries were at grades A*-C. [A* is a English invention because too many pupils were getting an A.]

This makes a mockery of having an international scale of grades.

In Denmark, where the A-F scale was introduced recently (disguised as the -3–12 scale), there is a target percentage for the number of pupils getting each grade:

A 10%
B 25%
C 30%
D 25%
E 10%

In that way, you can avoid grade inflation. Even if the questions get easier, it’s still only the brightest 10% that get an A.

Sadly, in England it seems to be the case that the grades are linked to the proportion of correct answers: A* – 90%, A – 80%, B – 70%, C – 60%, D – 50%, E – 40%.

That means that if the questions get easier, the proportion of pupils getting an A goes up.

This leads to grade inflation, and it also leads to some subjects being much better for getting an A* than others.

Just look at the figures!

If we look at Chemistry, the percentage of pupils getting A* has risen from 7.5% in 1994 to 23.1% in 2008.

Also, these 23.1% compare with only 3.9% getting an A* in Home Economics in the same year, so if you’re trying to get as many A*s as possible, it’s definitely worth studying this table before choosing your subjects.

I don’t see why it has to be like this.

Why not just assign a percentage to each paper at first, then pass all these markings to some central authority that could then work out exactly which percentage that would lead to 10% getting an A, 25% getting a B, and so on, and only then tell the pupils which grade they got?

bookmark_border1000 CCTV cameras to solve one crime

One nation under CCTV
Originally uploaded by jordi.martorell

There was a must-read article in The Telegraph yesterday about CCTV cameras.

It points out that very few crimes are solved due to the cameras: “For every 1,000 cameras in London, less than one crime is solved per year.”

I’m sure there are many other ways to spend the money that would lead to more crimes being solved.

But I guess Brits have got too used to them: “Britain has 1 per cent of the world’s population but around 20 per cent of its CCTV cameras – which works out as the equivalent of one for every 14 people.”

I remember that when I moved to Scotland, I noticed all the cameras and I really felt watched at all times, but after a few months they somehow became invisible – I guess there are simply so many of them that the mind doesn’t register their presence.

There’s also a revealing quote towards the end of the article: “The Home Office defended the use of CCTV, with a spokesman saying cameras could ‘help communities feel safer'”.

So the reason for having them is not to make communities safer, but to lull them into a false sense of security.

I think that’s a dangerous path. What will be next? Will they start publishing fictional accounts of successful police operation just because that would make people feel safer, too?

bookmark_borderWhen to write

This Is Disruptive
Originally uploaded by Subspace

The Study Hacks blog has a posting about when and how “real” writers write (hattip: Mailund on the Internet), and it makes the following recommendations:

  • Spread out work on an assignment over several days. Coming at it fresh increases its quality.
  • During these days, get up early. Probably earlier than you are used to. Say, around 7 or 8 am. (This means these days will be weekdays, probably early in the week so you can avoid temptations to party the night before).
  • Have a mini-ritual to jump start the day. It should probably involve coffee. Breakfast. Maybe the morning paper. Don’t take too long.
  • Go to the most isolated place possible.
  • To get your mind ready to think, review the last pages you wrote.
  • Work for two or three hours. Then stop.
  • Follow this habit regularly. Don’t write during other times. Don’t write in public places. Don’t start writing the day before.

One flaw I can see is that this was based on a study of professional non-fiction writers, but the blog posting suggests applying it also to other areas such as blogging, and in some of the comments it seems to be seen as applying also to fiction.

However, blogging is often done best once the idea pops into your head, for instance straight after reading an article that you want to say something about. I think a blog that was written for exactly two hours every morning would have a distinctly non-bloggy feel to it.

And while I’m sure many fiction writers are happy to work in a similar fashion, others are known to work differently.

Douglas Adams for instance was known not to write much before the deadline had passed and then to be locked up in a hotel room till he had finished the book.

Also, while this morning pattern suits early risers, I’m sure many people would work better if they scheduled the writing to start at midnight.