Towards the bizarre and the macabre

This from downunder:

Children as young as five are being taken to “life coaches” by concerned parents pushing their youngsters to get their little lives on track. Schoolchildren are being booked in by their parents to help them get friends, achieve more and work toward positive outcomes in their life.

One company, Be Happy in Life, writes on its website about coaching children:

“Why wait until they are 40 and miserable? Isn’t it better to give them a head start in life? Why let them develop ineffective habits? Isn’t it better to help them develop powerful ones instead?”

Am I the only one who finds that disturbing that parents are happy to abrogate their own responsibilities either through lack of confidence, because the child’s got beyond them or through a disconnect with their children for reasons which might include time, e.g. working two jobs to keep the credit card debt down?

Has anyone other than fellow bloggers stopped and really looked where we’re headed?

Changing tack, Hollywood, always a whore for trends, has swung right into the macabre:

These films, 2012 and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, may well represent the utterly vacuous end of the mass market for culture in the US and across Europe; but commercial lightweights they have not been.

The trouble with these films is the deep pessimism and as the article says:

Armageddon movies from Hollywood … have inevitably focused on the arrival of an external agent … heroism in the face of adversity or redemption through actions above and beyond the call of mundane duty.  All that though appears to have changed … for this is an end-of-the-world scenario where humans are completely helpless against a ground that shifts quite literally from under their feet.

This is only the latest in a long line and one of the worst was The Golden Compass whose values were deeply suspect, especially as a kid’s film.  It’s dark, the enemy is straight out of melodrama and the supposed hero turns out to be essentially evil.  This is the world turned on its head which powerful forces behind society wish to see become the norm.

Such scenarios can only lead to doom and gloom and that’s fine with Them – the juggernaut is too far gone to oppose, too powerful, resistance is useless so they say and they might as well tack on the end: “Abandon hope”.

This is the dystopic state written of in literature – the zombyized, unhappy but compliant  entities in human bodies, awaiting the inevitable and too weary to oppose – a semi-catatonic state.

In the absence of our traditional code of values, what has emerged to take its place?  A libertarian paradise where all are free to do as they please?

Not a bit of it – drugged out children doing sex, with nothing else to aspire to except becoming vampires or anorexic or both, a deep lethargy and apathy across society and a dog-eat-dog, look after N1 outlook in the face of economic oblivion.

It’s a 1984 scenario of lies and spin, where everyone who seems a hero lets you down and all values are both negotiable and tending to the dark and bizarre.

Does our society look bustling and vibrant, happy and kind?  Does it heck as like – it looks sick.

How are people reacting?  Trolls go round the blogs and say no, all is fine, we’re coming out of the recession, employment is coming back.  People, desperate for any sort of good news, swallow this.

No, employment is not coming back and let me give you an example.   There is a library job going but you don’t even get to first base without a qualification in that specific area, irrespective of decades in literature and library experience.  There is a tutoring job but that is not for anyone in education – it’s only for someone with the SVA or the NGQ or whatever they now call it.

How do you get one of these?  With money and by waiting in a queue with seven dozen others for the eighteen course places.  Experience counts for nothing, ability counts for nothing.  Only the newly created bit of paper.  This is what’s going to keep people unemployed so it doesn’t matter how many new IT jobs are going – if you haven’t that latest bit of paper, there could be thousands of them going but you’re not going to get near an interview.

Plus there is an economic crash coming.  The figures don’t add up.  The FT tries to make out we’re over the crisis but then concedes:

From global output on a persistently lower path than expected before the crisis, to severely weakened public finances, to the evils of long-term unemployment, to rising inequality and to a permanently altered balance of global economic power, the effects of the 2008-09 financial crisis and recession are akin to those of a war.

It also speaks, in the same article, about double dip and yes, this is what is on the radar.  While the Bank of England squandered £62bn to lenders on the point of collapse, none of that trickled down into the community.  Though the Big Finance has turned around and this is what the FT is crowing about, none of that means diddly squat to any of us.

We can start by getting out of the clutches of the EU and it’s bizarre and often sick values and practices, then it becomes a case of rebuilding from the foundations up but even here there is the enemy within – people who really think that everything’s basically fine as it is.  Heaven help these people but they are going to put a spanner in the works of any recovery worth living for.

Despair?  Slash our collective wrists?  Nope – just plug away stay artificially cheerful and never let the bu—rs wear us down.

Rule by votemeter 2


In the first part, it was mooted that we could, today, easily move to voting from home via votemeter and that parliament becomes a bureaucratic executive for the legislation coming out of the votemeters.

They would still propose legislation arising from PMBs from the voting chamber but that legislation would be voted on directly from home by registered Electors.

To be an Elector, there are two stipulations – firstly, that you are at that time a registered voter in the country under the same criteria as currently and secondly, that you pass the exam, as it is set at that time.

The test – setting the questions

The difficulty is in the formulation of the questions and that would be the subject of hot debate. As the initial questions would be the subject of a poll and would be set by “experts” from three universities, most like and as those “experts” are Marxist, most like, then the questions could well be skewed.

If, however, reps from a cross-section of professions were to set the proposed questions, they could have the raging battle first and would be obliged to consider the public’s suggestions not unlike in flag design competitions but needing to explain why they rejected certain questions.

It could be further enhanced by only public suggestions agreed by three or more currently registered voters would be considered.

Anyway, once these are thrashed out, the initial set would be put and registered voters invited to go to their local council offices and take the test.

After a quota of, say, 20% of voters had passed the test, then the initial votemeters would be available at major outlets and you’d need to produce your certificate or electronic confirmation from the government to buy the set.

Now the parliamentary committee, association, whatever, puts the set of questions up for editing and the new voters can tweak the list. The old set of questions runs for six months and at the end of that time, the new set is put in place for the period of one year.

Thereafter, the questions, which are up for review all year round, are altered once a year to reflect the new voting over the past year across the country.

Thus the test is slowly honed and the people educated at the same time.

Parliamentary structure and electoral terms

The trick in all of these changes is to make the bureaucratic changeover dovetail more nicely and not to throw people out of work. Public sector employees have ample time to retrain into other professions and indeed are given a five year grace period that if a job comes up they’re interested in, then they must automatically go to interview stage with that employer.

Beyond that, merit takes over as the criterion.

By now, we have a new relationship with the EU, the bad legislation of 1997 – 2009 is rolled back, more or less, such as wheelie bin crime and other inanities, the police are now local, as mentioned in part one and all of that has taken place.

Parliament now consists of the same number of MPs but they are now MPAs – members of the parliamentary assembly and directly preselected by people via council offices, not of any party unless they choose to stipulate that on the form but their former party, if any, is on the form.

Voting is not on one day but within a period of time at the local council offices, should registered voters care to attend.

There is a new method of recall in place, based on the American system.

On a stipulated day, total votes for each candidate within the constituency to that date are tabulated and published, although the progressive tallies, like church appeal boards, are always available to peruse.

Each constituency returns three people but the constituencies are larger and fewer so the council offices mentioned as the venues would be those in the larger towns. It still doesn’t alter the suffrage of those from outlying areas but does mean they’d need to travel further, unfortunately.

Cows at Ten

200px-CowbI really don’t understand what the woman is going on about below. Cows are lovely creatures, as I’m sure many would agree.

I once taught at a rural school where they were forever coming in the door and going for mini-stampedes around the place. One once ended up in the Headmaster’s office.

When I was a toddler [yes – it did happen], my mother apparently hit a cow over the head with a broom. Why? It only wanted to talk to me.

How’s your relationship with cows?

Puzzle at Nine


Two players play the following game with a fair coin. Player 1 chooses (and announces) a triplet (HHH, HHT, HTH, HTT, THH, THT, TTH, or TTT) that might result from three successive tosses of the coin. Player 2 then chooses a different triplet. The players toss the coin until one of the two named triplets appears. The triplets may appear in any three consecutive tosses: (1st, 2nd, 3rd), (2nd, 3rd, 4th), and so on. The winner is the player whose triplet appears first.

1. What is the optimal strategy for each player? With best play, who is most likely to win?
2. Suppose the triplets were chosen in secret? What then would be the optimal strategy?
3. What would be the optimal strategy against a randomly selected triplet?

Apart from the table above, here some more hints:
The only way for HHH to appear before THH is if the first three tosses come up heads. Any other result will allow THH to block HHH. Therefore, the probability that HHH appears before THH is 1/8.

HTH: HHT wins with probability 2/3

Answer when anyone gets close and wants it.

Late evening listening – fragmented music

sherds-752522How narrow are our musical tastes and they may be getting even narrower.  Even when two people agree, for example, Dearieme and myself on jazz, he likes certain instruments and angles and I like others – differences in emphasis but nevertheless differences.

I blogged on it once before but in Russia, one of my many mistakes was to have both my mate and my girlfriend in the one room for a dinner I’d made.  The dinner didn’t poison anyone but the music choice did.

For a start, I don’t like background music, do like the window open and like a port afterwards.  She wanted to be dancing or doing something else like going out.  He wanted to talk and was happy enough for there to be music.

Well, that’s where it started.  She wanted anything womanly, from Sting to Enigma, he wanted Paul McCartney or Zeppelin.  I don’t mind those but would have chosen something like twenty4seven or Neil Diamond or whatever.  I put on a Doors track.  Well, they both hated it.  She put on some modern howler doubling as a crooner and we both hated it.  He wanted Paul McCartney and neither of us were putting up with that.

All three, after a polite time after the dinner went our separate ways and I’m sure were listening to our own music at our own place.  I’ll never forget that look we gave one another when it was clear we could have NO music that evening, as we simply could not agree – three strong-minded people.

Below is a selection which illustrates what I mean about it being a highly personalized matter.  All are my favourites but it would be interesting to see how many you also like.

You might not like Hawkwind so turn it down but still look at the fabulous phot/vid collage of the space/Vietnam era.

Didn’t have space to fit in jazz, The Doors, Vivaldi or Bob Marley. By the way, if you want an insight into my true character [and let’s face it, who would?] then the Hawkwind from around 3.05 to 4.30 is what I’m like and the film clip from 4.38 to 4.46 is so James Higham in every way.

Speak tlhIngan Hol – your passport to promotion


Speak Klingon – the most popular non-national language after Latin.  Or teach your baby son to speak it.  Learn at the Institute.

You might like to read up on it:

A description of the actual Klingon language can be found in Okrand’s book The Klingon Dictionary (Published by Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, 1985, second edition with new addendum 1992, ISBN 0-671-74559-X). In May 2009, Simon & Schuster in collaboration with Ultralingua Inc., a developer of electronic dictionary applications, announced the release of a suite of electronic Klingon language software for most computer platforms and handhelds including a dictionary, a phrasebook and an audio learning tool. Other notable works include The Klingon Way (with Klingon sayings and proverbs), Klingon for the Galactic Traveler and the two audio productions Conversational Klingon and Power Klingon.