Sunday, 31 January 2010

Broadband and the Conservative Party

According to the BBC, the Conservatives are looking to install 100Mbps broadband in most homes by 2017, and fund this for rural areas where it may not be profitable to supply by the licence fee.

Internet is good, broadband even better. It has revolutionised the way we work. That is the reason it has spread - it has huge benefits that outweigh the costs. In fact, some people pay for high-speed broadband to be wired to their house, at a cost of several thousand, to make their houses worth more (according to the Economist, I think). That's the market at work - and it's done the job well, and is still doing the job well.

The first issue to grasp is why rural areas don't have broadband - not profitable to supply. That's fair enough - if you live in a rural area, that's a choice you make - you tend to be rich enough to choose to, so the government shouldn't be subsidising your broadband. Rural area or broadband, that's the choice.

It's not government's place to be involved in broadband, TV, etc - simply because of all the old arguments about not knowing individuals' needs. Sell it all off, that includes the BBC and Channel 4, abolish the licence fee, etc. No need for the government to own it. And not only that, but if we allow government to pay for the broadband (even if it is with our own money), we hold ourselves open to government saying they should be able to control what goes down those cables.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Hayek vs. Keynes "Fear the Boom and Bust"

Whoever made this is a genius.

Some thoughts on exams

Having heard the uproar about the Biology paper, I thought I'd investigate. Interesting results. The Daily Mail comments interest me (click top rated) - students saying that they don't like the "new age nonsense" - their words not mine. In fact, I thought the whole comment was good enough to copy across.

As the member who made the latter picture (a satirical reproduction of one of the examiner's comments in the official textbook), I wish to clarify for the readers of the Mail what exactly the problem is - this is not a sulk for more marks or easier exams.

It was meant to be a biology exam; and we are, unfortunately, guinea pigs for a new specification in which traditional knowledge-based learning has been dumbed-down by holier-than-thou 'progressive' examiners have attempted to replace this partially with 'How Science Works' questions which are not based on the subject matter.

This last exam was the worst yet; out of 75 marks on the paper, no more than 15 (I estimate) could be gained through any knowledge of Biology. One had to see it to believe it; there was page after page of new-age nonsense, followed by a single question on Biology.

Everything that we had learnt and revised was utterly worthless, since actual biology was all but omitted from the paper. This is our quarrel!

I did an exam earlier. It was A Level, and it was AQA, and it was the "new syllabus", etc. Geography rather than Biology, but it was the same rubbish - basically glorified coursework. "Geography Skills" they call it - it was so blatantly not "skills" that I had to pre-write answers to questions in order to get anything above a D (I tend to get As). The questions weren't Geography - they were asking me how I did my fieldwork, about statistical tests - and yes, I put some theory in, but that won't get me many marks. And that's 30% of my A2 I believe.

Yes, I haven't made a post in nearly a fortnight because I've been learning how to answer exam questions.

Questions like "Assess the usefulness of one method used to collect data for the investigation" in the first section, then "An A Level student has proposed this hypothesis...with reference to the data, is it valid?". It's not Geography. I only got anywhere with it because I had practice at the questions, not because of my knowledge, not even because I "applied knowledge" or whatever this week's buzzword/phrase is.

Back to the Biology paper - I was one of the "guinea pigs" for the new Science GCSE a couple of years back - and I know people that have done science A Levels have struggled, mainly because the new GCSE is so awful. Apparently it's meant to be more relevant; shame it's not proper science that will get anyone anywhere.

I want to read PPE at a good university next year. Will this utter dumbing-down help me? No, it won't. I want exams that require rigour, that will reward extra reading, that reward knowledge and reward understanding that knowledge. Train me to succeed, train my mind to work so it applies what knowledge I have so it gets decisions made and things done by all means, but not with exams that require certain answers. "Applying my knowledge" is nothing to do with these new-fangled exams. They are nonsense.

Proper exams, please. Throw as much money as you want at education, if you control the Curriculum and exams so they don't reward knowledge, students won't learn, and education becomes altogether pointless.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Quote of the Day

"So what about the BNP? The trouble is that it is a national socialist party. Take a look at its 2005 election manifesto. You won’t find much about reducing the power of the state and increasing that of the individual. It has a curiously dated air of the 1960s and 1970s, with talk of controlling the commanding heights of the economy and building barriers to trade. To be kind to the BNP, one might call it a corporatist party. To put it more roughly, one might say that it is a fascist party, a Left-wing authoritarian party. One thing is certain. As a socialist party, the BNP can only be part of the problem, not part of the solution."
Norman Tebbit.

His decision to start blogging is one of the best decisions he's made. Great writer and one of those politicians you have to respect.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Faith schools and homophobic bullying

Nick Clegg says faith schools must not become "asylums of insular religious identity" and must try to stamp out homophobic bullying, because apparently it exists more in faith schools.

He needs to stop talking nonsense. I go to a good faith school, it has that Christian ethos to it, but is not something "insular" and is not "homophobic". In fact it's more tolerant than the local state school, something indeed taught in Christianity. As a matter of fact, I'd say it's easier to be openly gay in that school than openly Christian. It's easier to be openly atheist than openly Christian. Yes, in a Christian school.

As mentioned elsewhere, for the leader of an apparently liberal party to make such an illiberal statement ("let's force this on schools") is also, I suppose, incredibly intolerant of individual cases, and parents' wishes.

Clegg claims to preach tolerance, but is in fact being intolerant of what faith schools are, and what real Christians believe. Not only this, but he is not being some sort of liberal, but in fact preaching the same centralisation and control he claims to oppose. It's about time he took a look inside a faith school for himself and sorted out his prejudices.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Progressive Conservatives

I don't consider myself a 'total' libertarian by any means, more of a classical liberal, so when the new Progressive Conservatives grouping came about I thought it fit my principles quite well.

Led by MP Syed Kamall, I think it gets straight to the point of what progressive conservatism is - shifting power back to the individual, be it social or economic. And I think that sums up my views quite nicely - give the responsibility of as much as possible to the individual, so government can't become too involved, too responsible, or left to do everything.

Take the snow. Why can't people clear their own "bit" of the pavement? Wouldn't that be more efffective than government? Sorry, Health and Safety doesn't allow it.

About time we trusted individuals, voluntary groups, just real people instead of government. The ends to my political philosophy.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Quote of the Day

Fraser Nelson:
In fairness, I wouldn't break my lunch to say something nice about Brown either
This is why he makes such a good editor of the Spectator. What a great one-liner.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Barnet Council will not be allowed to use their "easy-Council" model because the High Court has told them that it is foul of regulations.

Since when did judges overrule elected bodies? Since when did local authorities become unaccountable?

Serious changes are needed so that local authorities have much more autonomy, and won't just be overruled by courts - they can always be voted out at the next election.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Gordon gives up the class war

According to an interview with Andrew Marr.

He also rejected claims that he was engaging in class warfare against David Cameron, saying that his jibe about Tory policy being dreamt up on the playing fields of Eton was a joke.

He told host Andrew Marr: ''If you think the playing fields of Eton was anything other than a joke then I am afraid you take your politics too seriously.''

Mr Brown said he attacked Mr Cameron for "having the wrong views... he will take us backwards" rather than because of his background.

Yeah, say what you what, you meant that jibe, you're just trying to cover your own skin. We've all used the "I was joking" excuse, this is a U-turn on tactics because you've realised it won't work. Pull the other one.

On the day he allows the use of full body scanners. When did Parliament vote on it?

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

I'd like to wish all my readers (if they exist) a happy new year.

Here's to 2010!

(and we can finally get rid of this lot at some point in the next 6 months)