Computer Education

Computer Studies in Scotland got off to a bad start. The government advisory panel had dominant Business Studies people on it and so it became totally Business Studies orientated from the start.

The mixture of names, Computing Studies, Computer Studies, Computer Education exemplified the confusion as to what exactly the subject was.

I believe I am right in saying that programming was dropped as an examinable part of the curriculum because it was too difficult. Like dropping long division from Maths.

Computing is a very fluid subject but too many bureaucratic blocks kept the subject too static linked to many teachers not being computer nerds and so unaware of many new ideas. I was once asked by a seconded computing development officer to explain the internet to her, admittedly in the early days of the World Wide Web.

Having said that I had amazing student programmers in the early days. One project was to simulate the dashboard of a car on a BBC Micro with moving speedometer, some feat. One of those students was using a Spectrum at home to develop programs to implement on a BBC Micro running COMAL in my classroom and an Apple II running Apple BASIC in Maths.

Scottish Independence for Improving Our Society

The UK has some major problems, not just because of Brexit or the pandemic. Too many of our citizens have been left out of the social mix through poverty, lack of suitable education and hence lack of opportunity. We can either spend money keeping them substantially in that state or we can spend money on creating a better future. Austerity and belt tightening will only exacerbate the problems.

If Scotland is to thrive it needs more control over its policies. Independence is an obvious route and selling the advantages of independent control in creating a better and more prosperous society is a better selling point than knocking Westminster and the UK government.

Who Are the Real Brexiters?

Who are the people who bankrolled the Leave campaigns during the 2016 EU referendum?

If they were some of the ultra rich Western oligarchs they have certainly achieved the primary purpose of maintaining the UK as the premier tax haven hub outside the new EU tax regulations. However they must be somewhat dismayed by the shambles this government is making of running post-Brexit UK.

If, on the other hand, it was Russians then that is a different matter. It is reasonable to, at least, speculate that it was Russian money that largely paid for the campaign as their interference in the American election is well documented. The team was well chosen and organised and Dominic Cummings may well have been recruited after his years in Moscow. Johnson was and is just an added bonus. He is a Johnny Come Lately, self-publicist and narcissist with a focus entirely on himself. However, the chaos and disruption he has brought upon the UK was unplanned for and must have gone beyond their wildest dreams. Not only has it weakened the EU but they now have nation destabilising the Western power bloc. Money well spent!

OECD Exams Report

I have just start reading the OECD Report on the Scottish Upper Secondary exam system. This reminds me of some long held ideas

Academic subjects appear to fall into a number of categories. Maths is an example of a subject that is almost entirely about acquiring processing skills, how do you solve numerical problems using accepted methods. Some subjects are a mixture of knowledge and process such as the sciences, e.g. the methods for dealing with chemical equations. Some subjects have methods that are valuable in any sphere of knowledge such as research skills in History.

In subjects like History it would seem to follow that open book, open internet access is a good way to go. The examinee would of course need to identify sources accurately and demonstrate an understanding of what conclusion that information leads to. Plagiarism would become much less of an issue.

Covid-19 Today

Most commentators, immunologists, etc., are offering three future options – it will get worse, better or go away. All hedge their bets so the future is more uncertain, the more we know about the pandemic.

However, I have not found an explicit mention of this. Assuming we learn to live with the virus in rich well vaccinated countries but the rest of the world is still in the grip of the pandemic travel to those countries will not be safe as the virus will continue to have avenues to mutate. Travelers could, therefore, become carriers of strains that would either spread rapidly in their home countries or could evade existing vaccines. We are a long way from the real end of this pandemic.

Resistance to Scottish Independence

Why do English elites want to stop Scotland becoming independent?

The propaganda emphasises the financial weakness, the so-called subsidies from the UK Treasury, the defencelessness and so on. This is just that – propaganda not belief.

First and foremost, is the shame at loosing yet another colony. No English PM would want to have that stigma attached to their premiership But more practically there are a number of other factors. There are the considerable resources in Scotland, oil but also renewables. A depleted UK would more than likely lose it permanent seat at the UN and with it its relationship with the USA. The nuclear base at Faslane has no obvious replacement in England but it might well be that the USA would lose interest in supporting the continuation of the independent British deterrent, always remembering that its actually dependent on the USA. An independent Scotland either in the EU or closely aligned to it might encourage some movement of private organisations out of England into Scotland. If Scotland goes first then Northern Ireland is more likely to follow and visa versa. This would leave England even further diminished.

The Brexit goal was always to safeguard the tax haven status of London and its overseas dependencies. England is not a nation with huge assets or a big manufacturing export base. It could well find itself back in the situation of the 1950s and 60s when it struggled to keep itself economically in the place in the world it aspired to. In relative terms the UK has already descended in the world and this would probably accelerate if it were England and Wales alone. Departing the EU may well prove to be a seriously bad move but one which will take many years to be acknowledged and even longer to correct.

Restarting My Blog

I think i am going to start writing my blog again, not particularly for others to read but more as a record of my thoughts in these last few months.

In March 2020 many people thought that we were very odd thinking that the pandemic might last to the end of the year. How wrong we were. 15/16 months and still no end in sight.

What is just as worrying is that the UK government is still without any clear idea of how to sort out their own mess The sense of exceptionalism is actually only manifested in the exceptional level of general incompetence.

Greek Tragedy, the UK

A Greek tragedy is unfolding. The people who voted for Brexit and the Tories at the last election are going to be the worst affected.

Rightly disillusioned and feeling left out of life, they were duped into the way they voted both for Brexit and the last election by massive digital and media misinformation and propaganda campaigns(The Death of theGods by Carl Miller).They believe that somehow their lives will be improved. In fact the reality of the direction of travel of the UK is towards a state which will neglect the poor and disadvantaged to allow massive increases in wealth for the shrinking minority of the super wealthy junta that is increasingly controlling the world economy. See the Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

They stand to lose workers rights, unemployment benefits and the NHS. They will find that holidays in Spain or anywhere will become prohibitively expensive. In short, their lives will be less worth living than they were before any mention of Brexit.

The Real Brexit Scenario

People are still puzzled by the reasons for Brexit. It is money. Look for those who can make money from it and you will find the instigators. It was not a sudden whim but a long held desire. The EU was and is becoming more and more regulated and bureaucratic so big finance of the Anglo American kind were always wanting out, not just to get Britain away but also hopefully to reduce the influence of the EU worldwide. It’s convenient to call them disaster capitalists(The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein). The pandemic has also been to their benefit, at least in the short term, with untendered contracts falling like confetti into their laps.

Authoritarian Regimes

Authoritarian regimes are characterised by the ruling Junta flouting the law and national rules.Generally they are racist, xenophobic and isolationist. The regime will deliberately facilitate the siphoning off of rich government contracts to their associates and the transfer of public services to private companies. Tax loopholes accommodate the spiriting away of taxes and profits to offshore accounts. All this is made easier by a subservient media, often owned by members of the junta. Misinformation, lies and propaganda are used in very sophisticated  ways to to raise public support from often already disillusioned and neglected sectors of the society. These people are hoodwinked into believing that the junta, who are only interested in exploiting them, are on their side and will right all their perceived wrongs.

Sound familiar?