August 31, 2013

The Cult of University, Ctd "Lets stop being so snobbish about people working with their hands"

The leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage said on the Friday 30 2013 episode of Any Questions hosted by Nick  Robinson:

"Clearly we do have a problem with some of our young people and that problem is through a failure of education and through an absolute insistence that as many people as possible must go to university and get a degree in an '-ology' of some kind. I blame Maureen Lippmann for the whole thing myself. 

And it might actually be better if with more of our youngsters we encourage them, perhaps aged 16, to go and learn some trades and skills and we stop being so snobbish about people working with their hands [massive round of applause]. That to me would be a very good thing."

Matthew Syed - schools should do more to inculcate grit and resilience

On August 22 2013, GCSE results day, Matthew Syed wrote a piece in the London Times entitled, 'Dare to fail and train those mental muscles.' He said:
"Yesterday Nick Hurd, a government minister, argued that one of the most important qualities in life is grit. He is right. Grit, or resilience, is a powerful predictor of success in everything from maths to music. It is those who take risks, who keep going even when they mess up from time to time, who ultimately reach their potential. Mr Hurd argued that schools should do more to inculcate this virtue, along with other aspects of good character. He was right about that, too. 
But where does grit come from? When you speak to young people, it is striking just how often they blame their innate deficiencies when they are struggling with a subject such as, say, maths. “I don’t have a brain for numbers” is a phrase heard up and down the country. 
This may sound trifling, but it has deep effects. After all, if I lack the mental equipment to understand maths, what is the point of persevering? Surely it is as pointless as someone without hands trying to master origami. In effect, the belief destroys the grit that is essential to success. 

August 30, 2013

Quds Day - good old fashioned hatred

From Wikipedia here:
"In Iran, the day's parades are sponsored and organized by the government. Events include mass marches and rallies. Senior Iranian leaders give fiery speeches condemning Israel (which they often refer to as "the regime occupying Jerusalem"), as well as the U.S. government. The crowds respond with chants of "Death to Israel", and "Death to America". Many Iranians under the age of 30 continue to participate in Quds Day events; however, recent rallies have not shown a proportionate percentage of participation by young Iranians, with many Iranian students saying that the Arab-Israeli conflict has "nothing to do with us."

August 29, 2013

Belfast needs a gorgeously designed, non-bar

As one Twitter-user replied, "never a truer word said." And from an American of course. The non-doms always have the best ideas.

August 28, 2013

The Cult of University, Ctd

I recently wrote an open word of warning to GCSE and A-Level students considering going to university. The message was simple: think for yourself. Engage your critical faculties and make an informed choice. Absolutely do not opt for university on the altogether and very vague notion that university is a ticket to prosperity. Because a degree absolutely is not.

Future Talent tweeted and posted the article on their Facebook and gave the following response:
The only point we disagree with is the statement - "A good apprenticeship is better than a poor degree..." In the growing market of apprenticeships, very often a good apprenticeship is just as strong as a good degree.
I actually agree with this and am a settled advocate of employer-led project learning which produces work ready graduates who are at symmetry with the market on both informational and skills terms.

Chris Dillow writing here also made an interested contribution to the debate and did so without meaning to, for he was actually writing about Jamie Oliver and free will in a post entitled, 'Limits To Agency.'' But his analysis applies readily to this topic. He said:
"There's not much agency involved when an Etonian goes to Oxford and thence to politics or the City: As Owen Jones rightly wrote, David Cameron is also "a prisoner of his background."
 And that's it. The middle-classes and socially aspirational often don't act with agency when they go to university. It is the duty of their background.

Northern Ireland - A forever Groundhog Day

John Hewitt wrote of Northern Ireland in his 1970 poem, 'Conversations in Hungary':  
"Our friends in Budapest  
days later also, puzzled, queried why,  
when the time's vibrant with technology,  
Such violence should still be manifest.  
Between two factions, in religion's name.  
It is 300 years since, they declared,  
divergent sects put claim and 
counterclaim to arbitration of the torch  
and sword."

We can go back even further. A timeless observartion on the state of the Orange Order was made in 1925 by W.D. Allen MP, who wrote in an essay here:
"A remarkable feudal, patriarchal, tribal, historical anachronism in these days of moderation, toleration – whine, don't fight – enlightenment."
As James Joyce said, no longer is Ireland an "outcast from life's feast." When will the mindless swamp of backwardness end? Your country needs you - stop whining, fight back.


Think Big!

Think Big! Believe Big!
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin It! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
- Jon Minnis

August 27, 2013

Jullien Gordon - "Young people are competing against everyone in their age group in the entire world"


Jullien Gordon said two big things in his Ted Talk. The first thing:
"Your life is your vehicle to design, drive and maintain."
The second thing:
"You are competing against everyone in your age group in the entire world. So what are you going to do to stand out?" The world is now flat because of globalisation and the expansion of the internet."

August 26, 2013

W. D. Allen MP's 1925 critique of the Orange Order

An 1925 essay penned by the Ulster MP W.D. Allen on an Orange demonstration in Tyrone paints an eerily contemporary portrait:
"Under the streamers in the long and wet and narrow cobbled streets, in the early afternoon they are forming columns. They are marching in ragged line – that great nuisance of today – the Protestants of Ulster. Where are they marching along the muddy road, solemnly and ponderously, and fixedly . . . ? You may laugh, you overeducated, you supercilious, you townbred froth of things. The signpost says ‘to the asylum’ – their muddy hobnailed boots go splashing into a wet and peaty meadow bordered with rich, green, swaying trees, cut by a savage wind, needled with driving rain, grey cloud looming over. Cheerfully, quickly, methodically, they roll the banners, for they are expensive banners . . . bought with the weekly threepences and sixpences of working men. Four men . . . noticeable for their gaunt and bitter aspect, maimed and bemedalled, roll out a banner, bordered in black crêpe, Thiepval 1916 it reads. So comfortably remote, remoter even than the ‘relief of Derry’ [in 1689] they are celebrating. Silently, humorously, doggedly, they mass around a dripping platform, a remarkable feudal, patriarchal, tribal, historical anachronism in these days of moderation, toleration – whine, don’t fight – enlightenment." 
Frank McGuinness’s play Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme also hit on the Orange Order. 

When it's cool to be dumb, Ctd with Matthew Syed

Matthew Syed spoke on Radio 4's series Four Thought, Original Thinkers and made a very insightful comment on how young people see hard work. He said:
"It was an eye opening experience for me at university. Just before going into a tutorial I would say to a fellow student:
"Have you done much work this week?"
And they would reply:
"No, none at all. Been in the bar the whole time."
And I would think after the tutorial, "how on earth did you write such an insightful essay on Plato, when you haven't read anything about him?

And of course the reason is that often young people see hard work as an indictment."
Read the original source here.

Matthew Syed - The Growth Mindset

The author of 'The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice,' Matthew Syed (@matthewsyed) recently spoke on Radio 4 about 'the growth mindset' and his philosophy on how to succeed in the world.

Boiling things down, his belief is that we as a society have vastly overstated the talent-effort continuum to the point where our view is that success all comes down to talent. This has huge implications for our behaviour. On the episode, 'Original Thinkers,' on the Radio 4 series, Four Thought, Matthew Syed went into more detail and began with a probing question. He asked:
"Where does excellence come from? How do we get better at stuff?"
He responded bullishly that challenges the very basis from which we look on the world:

Dale J Stephens - Education's Skills Asymmetry, Ctd

Dale J Stephens explained his position on university and the 'Skills Asymmetry' problem:
"That is a notion that is put into our brains from a very young age. The notion that if you want to be a happy, productive person and want to contribute to society, you have to have a college degree. And the fact is college isn't actually training individuals with the skills the job market actually needs.  
In the US for example, there are about the same number of jobs in 2008 before the recession. But they're taking twice as long to fill. Because the graduates don't have the training to meet the needs of the job market."  
Dale was then asked: What skills does the job market want?
"The market wants self-direction, creativity and people who a life-long-learners, able to adapt, able to be flexible. Those aren't things you learn in a traditional college degree or in any school for that matter. What you learn in school is how to memorise facts, follow instructions, meet deadlines. Those skills are very important but they are not unique, everybody has them."

Katie Glass - leaving feminism

August 24, 2013

An Englishman's view of loyalism

A comment made in response to an article written by Brian Rowan on by an Englishman:
"I am an Englishman and the fag nonsense has to stop as do those Orange marches. How can you want peace and then march through your former enemies town taunting about a victory hundreds of years ago. The insecurity of the unionists has no basis in this day and age and prevents peace in Northern Ireland."
Original source here. Alex Kane said it again, as he has said many times before:

Will Self - "Eventually the relationship between words and money will be reconfigured, I can be sure of that."

Robert McCrum recently ran a series on Radio 4, 'Sins of Literature' and in the episode, 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' discussed with Will Self the very pressing, monetisation of words question. Will Self explained his position on the matter:
"I personally feel that the big impact of electronic reproduction and dissemination on print has got a long way to go yet. You talk to people in the industry and they seem to my way of thinking, bizarrely calm. They seem to be like people in the phoney war in 1939/40. They don't seem to have quite realised what very possible will happen. They don't seem to see an equivalence between the music industry and print; whereas I certainly do. And they don't even seem to see an equivalence between news print and book print, but I think there certainly is. That yes we're in the interregnum between the print era and something else and I think the publishing field have yet to really understand that there will necessarily be a period between which the relationship between words and money is going to become very problematic and tenuous." 
Presenter Robert McCrum then said: "That's the key: until we work out how to monetise that relationship, we're going to be in this limbo." Will Self responded bullishly, saying:
"Eventually it [the relationship between words and money] will be reconfigured, I can be sure of that." 

August 23, 2013

Northern Ireland - The Generational Cycle of Extremism and Pacifism

Churchill is well know for the following quote:
"If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain."
In a video here, former IRA volunteer Eamonn O Buadhigh said of the Provisional IRA campaign of the 1970s and 80s:
"Terrible things happened in the 70s and 80s. Awful things happened that in no way could I condone, but I do understand. I personally couldn't have anything to do with them, or approve in any kind or way."
Fellow former IRA member Tony Meade said in the same video:
"Were things worthwhile since 1969? No. Too many people died. Too many people died needlessly. Too many innocent people killed in the whole struggle. It's very hard to justify it in terms of what has now been achieved."
The reason I quoted Churchill was because just as Eamonn O Buadhigh denounced the dissident republican insurgency f the 70s and 80s, now a more senior Martin McGuinness (leader of the IRA in the 70s and 80s) is now denouncing the most current generation of republican dissidents, who he called "traitors to the island of Ireland." 
"These people are traitors to the island of Ireland, they have betrayed the political desires, hopes and aspirations of all of the people who live on this island. They don’t deserve to be supported by anyone.”
BBC correspondent, Peter Taylor provided a fascinating analysis on the latest generation of extremists. He said of his interview with Assistant Chief Constable, Drew Harris:
"I wondered if there was intelligence that other groups were contemplating joining the 'New' IRA? "We would watch very carefully for that," he (Drew Harris) said."    
On 'Radicalisation' it was said:  
"All these groups say to themselves that they are in this for the long run." His other concern is that a new generation of young people is being attracted to the dissidents and he described the process with words that I have come to associate more with Islamist extremists than Irish republicans. "Radicalisation is happening," he said. "Young men, even in their very early 20s, are being charged with serious terrorist offences who must have only been very small children at the time of the Good Friday Agreement.  
"They don't have any buy-in to the [peace] process and almost a nihilist response in terms of what a united Ireland would be like. That's worrying." Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has not pulled his punches in confronting the so-called "dissidents". There is no doubt about his visceral loathing, having steered the Provisional IRA from "war" to peace and power-sharing at Stormont. To call the dissidents "traitors to Ireland" with the PSNI's then chief constable, Sir Hugh Orde, standing at his side, was about the most damning insult that he could pay them, many of whom are his former comrades in arms.  
Nor was he daunted recently when the PSNI warned him of a serious death threat and his house was daubed with paint."

Peter Taylor feature in full, here. Here's what Fintan O'Toole said of McGuinness and his peers in their youth in 1998 in the New York Review of Books:

"Most of the current leadership of Sinn Fein is made up of men who were, in the 1960s, angry young Catholics."

Dale J Stephens - University's Party Curriculum

Dale J Stephens quit college and started a movement to break the college as the default career path mind-set called UnCollege. He appeared in Wired Magazine (March/April 2013) and said of his university experience:
"Going to college is meant to be the culmination of 12 years of hard work, determination and study. You're told that if you get good grades, ace your tests and do lots of extracurriculars, you'll get into a good university. The reasoning seems solid when you're at secondary school - after all, everyone tells you that university graduates earn more and are less likely to be unemployed.  
I enrolled... However any idealism was quickly squashed. For the most part, people weren't there to learn - they were there to party, and hangovers permitting, learn something along the way. I started asking questions."

Specifically he asked:
"If the best experiences happen outside the classroom, why was I paying $42,000 to sit inside one?... Is it worth getting into serious debt just to get a degree? Will your degree even get you a job when 35% of grads in the UK are working in roles that don't require one?"

 Stephens then said:
"[College] Rewards conformity rather than independence, competition rather than collaboration, regurgitation rather than learning and theory rather than application."

August 22, 2013

Loyalist - "Respect Are Culture"

Via L.A.D. 

Northern Ireland - Peace, it's up to us

"Catholics want to know more about what a united Ireland actually means"

Morpheus said 21 August 2013 on Slugger O'Toole:

"I agree that political nationalism is badly letting down those who vote for them.

A growing trend that I also see among my Catholic friends is that they are thinking with their heads rather than their hearts and want to know more about what a united Ireland actually means in terms of the important issues which will effect them and their families (jobs, health, education, economy, social security, housing, political representation, policing, justice etc) and until they see that then it will be a case of ‘better the devil you know’ ie. status quo.

SF/SDLP are making no effort to get that information and by the looks of thing are simply expecting those who vote for them to jump into the darkness without knowing where they are going to land. I mean, a mock border poll in a highly partisan area? Purlezze! No wonder it got zero media attention.

Individual people standing in the solitude of a polling booth are smart, they won’t simply jump over a cliff so politicians should grab the UI issue by the horns and run with it rather than hiding from it. They should give the electorate the worts-and-all information they need about all the options available to them and allow them to make an informed decision about which is best for them rather than telling them what is best for them. That goes for political unionism as well, they need to convince as many people as possible (including Catholics) that a NI within the Union is the best option.

It could be that support for a UI is low, maybe it’s not but at least we would know and we could move on instead of stewing in our own proverbials."

August 21, 2013

"Get the British out of Northern Ireland and on that happy day, all would be well with the world"

The conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott always wanted to take the world as it is: to enjoy present laughter over utopian bliss. As someone born in the north of Ireland/Northern Ireland I've never understood the Irish republican narrative, that if we can just get the Brits/colonists/imperialists out, all will be well in the world.

I never actually heard it said. But I knew it as the unbending belief. And here's the second but, at 3 minutes 40 seconds into the video above and here, a former IRA member gave expression to this simplistic narrative. He said:
"We thought we could make change here and the change we wanted to make essentially was to get the British out of Northern Ireland and on that happy day, all would be well with the world." 
He then finished by saying:
"It (Brits out) was as simple as that for most people."  

As I wrote in an earlier blog post here, the matter was not as simple as get the Brits out. Nor was it a simple majority sentiment. Many socially aspirant Catholics on the island were unionists pre-partition and protestants almost unanimously, as a religious minority, did not want to live in a country whose affairs would be directed in-large part by the Catholic church. And so by default were almost totally unionist.

And the matter was not as simple as, get the Brits out and "all would be well with the world". Clerical bullying, lecturing, interference, social illiberalism, de Valera's idealistic anti-industry, pro-agrarian society all contributed to the creation of an incredibly bleak and oppressive state, as I wrote about here (again on Fintan O'Toole).

More recently, Fintan O'Toole said at the 2013 MacGill Summer School here, that partition was inevitable and that the three pillars of the Irish state failed massively since partition.
"Partition, which was both inevitable and tragic, and produced perhaps two failed states, he (O'Toole) said. “The North failed in obscene violence but the South failed in a slower fashion and the southern State has also lost legitimacy."
Previously, O'Toole has said that 2016 should be a time for "national embarrassment" by the measure that such a degree of sovereignty has been exported to Europe since 1973 and to the troika since November 2010.

August 20, 2013

Northern Ireland is a 'pene-exclave'

Writing in the spectator, map fanatic Michael Hanlon presented and explained the three geographical categories that are more commonly referred to as enclaves. He said:
"Some definitions: an 'exclave' is a slice of one country’s territory not attached to the rest of it but entirely surrounded by another country. A ‘pene-exclave’, such as Gibraltar, Alaska or Northern Ireland, is partially surrounded by water. An 'enclave' is totally surrounded by foreign territory. An enclave in one nation may also be an exclave of another. Or not. Thus Lesotho, which is entirely surrounded by South Africa, is an enclave, but not an exclave as there is no Lesothoan motherland. Whereas Kaliningrad on the shores of the Baltic is an exclave of Russia but, since it borders two countries (and the sea), is not, technically, an enclave. 
These are simple cases, O-level examples of the surreal world of comedy border-drawing. Moving up a grade, we have Point Roberts, a tongue of US territory on the southern tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula in British Columbia. There is nothing particularly exciting about the geography of Point Roberts — it is a bog-standard pene-exclave — but the peculiarities of American border controls and its location as effectively a suburb of Vancouver make Point Roberts a jewel in the crown of territorial weirdness."

August 19, 2013

Northern Ireland's Abject Ignorance of History

In the overview of Owen Dudley Edwards book, 'The Sins of Our Fathers,' the book was presented like this:
"Many people are fond of saying that the Irish, particularly in Northern Ireland, live too much in the past and are over-influenced by it. In this corrosive analysis on the origins and character of the present crisis in Northern Ireland, Owen Dudley Edwards suggests that part of the trouble stems from too much indifference to the past and too little effort to understand it." 
In the book Owen Dudley Edward's presented his response to the question, if there was much unionist sentiment outside ulster before 1920 and the passing of the Government of Ireland Act 1920? ODE wrote:
"Certainly. The overwhelming strength of upper-class Protestantism, together with socially-aspirant Catholicism were stout supporters of the Union. Trinity College in Dublin was its intellectual bastion - much more so tan the non-sectarian QUB. It had a powerful Dublin newspaper in the Irish Times as well as other journals elsewhere. But Dublin unionism provided much of the thrust of the entire movement until the Ulster crisis of 1912-1914. Even Edward Carson, their leader, was a Dubliner."

August 18, 2013

The University Neurosis

Jeremy Paxman recently said on an episode of Newsnight, "The middle-classes are always going to want to go to university." A decision not to do a degree can be seen as the ultimate abomination, the total apostasy, the original sin. So deeply lodged is the university myth in popular psyche that it borders on a neurosis. However minds are changing among the young, and this can only be a good thing.

Harry Bird, 18, who recent sat his A-levels was featured in the Sunday Times in a story by the title, 'Boy Wonders.' The feature by the education correspondent Sian Groffiths, was on how more and more male teens are opting out of the default university pathway. Harry Bird said of his decision not to go to university:
"The education system is way too focused on going to university. My school never talked about doing an apprenticeship but I saw an advert, applied, and luckily I got through. My head of sixth form wanted me to go to university, but my economics teacher supported my decision.

Why would I want to go to saddle myself with £40,000 of debt? I'm working at Waitrose this summer and I'm alongside people who have degrees who are stacking shelves. What a waste of time that was for them. Now they're in loads of debt and struggling to pay it off."

When its cool to be dumb, Ctd

Irish Independent columnist Kevin Myers wrote in the August 18 2013 edition of the Sunday Times:
"Many working-class communities cherish a deep hostility towards any upward mobility, which is enforced by a variety of societal pressures so as to make the bright conform with failure. This perverse culture even had a laureate, Roddy Doyle, whose novels celebrated such weird and negative norms. What in other countries would be regarded as antisocial lunacies, in Doyle's fictional Barrytown were fetishised into a vainglorious victimhood."

August 17, 2013

Christopher Hitchens on Václav Havel

At 2 minutes in the video here and above, Christopher Hitchens talks about Václav Havel. He said:
"Václav Havel. Perfect for my profession and yours. Ironic. Understated. Non-fanatical. Non-violent. By folding his arms an putting on a smile, a knowing smile on his face was able to ridicule the whole edifice of totalitarianism."   
Czechsolvakia was invaded in 1968 and 20 years later the Civic Forum movement was formed in Prague during the Velvet Revolution of 1989 in the Czech part of Czechslovakia. The corresponding movement in Slovakia was called Public Against Violence. The purpose of the Civic Forum was to unify the anti-authoritarian forces in Czechslovakia and to overthrow the communist regime.

Families Don't Value Education The Way Immigrants Do

The above is a contribution made to the Irish Times and it raised a very serious point. And the point isn't a matter of being racist, but of highlighting a very real problem as it exists in schools across Ireland, Northern Ireland and GB. Families and children have become complacent and indolent compared to immigrant families who see the incredible value of a British or Irish education. 

August 16, 2013

Why law school? Ctd Maria Doran Chooses Law School

Rumpole and the Bailey, Suits, John Grisham, Lincoln Lawyer, The Good Wife, Silk, Legally Blonde - just some among the very many vague reasons why young people go to law school.

Liam Clarke - Statesman Wanted

Liam Clarke said in the Belfast Telegraph:
"Leadership is not all down to Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness, those further down the party hierarchy who did grab the microphone could have spoken more helpfully.

Anyone who knows Belfast and knows Belfast politics could see, tragically, this was coming down the line," Christopher Stalford, the DUP deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, said of Friday's rioting. His fatalistic, hopeless words, and his decision to put all the blame on the legally constituted Parades Commission rather than the law breakers, didn't just go out to a UK-wide audience on Radio 4, they were picked up in America and elsewhere.

In the end it fell to Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State, and Matt Baggott, the Chief Constable, to try and halt the drift.

Both spoke strongly and unequivocally against the violence and warned of consequences for those involved.

They filled a vacuum, but they shouldn't have had to. Neither of them was elected here. The fact that they had to hold the ring will make many question the overall value of the devolved settlement which is now in place." 

Eric Schmidt On How To Tackle Extremism

On the Charlie Rose show, Eric Schmidt of Google explained how we can combat extremism:
“In every case you have somebody who is not very well educated, has a lot of energy, has a lot of energy and he’s got somebody who is religious or over them who is teaching them hate. There is no question, if you just show them some other choice – get them to use the internet for entertainment, and train them a little bit, build education – we’re going to end up with a better outcome.”
The discussion on the Charlie Rose Show in full here.

Northern Ireland - The Old Order is Pushing Out The Best and Brightest

The above comment thread says:
"I'm a student at Queen's [University Belfast]. When I'm finished with my degree I'm probably going to get the hell out of Northern Ireland. I'm sick of the same old sectarian bullshit arguments peddled over and over again."
And another:
"I left for university. I've never looked back (except in despair and trepidation)." 

This darkness contrasts with the brightness of the news that Northern Ireland's A-levels students performed best of those on the home islands, see here.

Read the original Guardian editorial and comment section that followed the DUP decision to step back on the Maze decision here, 'Northern Ireland: history's hard lessons: It takes generations, even centuries, before the wounds heal sufficiently for rival communities to share a historical narrative.'

August 15, 2013

The artist's journey Ctd, Deane's wall art from start to finish

The picture above shows myself with my latest drawing for Michael Deane's seafood restaurant. Below is a timeline of the making of the painting from start-to-finish. It was done with indian ink, and a mix of watercolours, acrylics and a selection of emulsions.

'Drink and Draw' - Life Drawing at Loft Belfast (30.vii.13)

Check out the selection of my work below from an evening of life drawing at Loft Belfast, the art collective, 99 North Street.

Nate Silver - Be The Fox, Be A Polymath

Nate Silver, he's the man. Statistician, forecaster, consummate polymath and self-professed fox. A fox because "the fox knows many things." What's special about Nate Silver, who calls theFiveThirtyEight blog on the New York Times his online home, is that he takes a big-picture approach to using statistical tools in his analysis of politics.
Nate Silver rejects much of the mainstream, conventional statistical ideology and method taught in colleges and universities today. Like Michael Oakeshott’s practical cook, Nate Silver is a practical statistician who demands less theory, less hypothesizing and more on-the-ground understanding of how baseball, poker, elections and other uncertain processes work.
His philosophy as a fox is that multi-disciplined polymaths are superior to technocrat, single-subject specialists. His idea is that various skills serve each other well in a positive feedback loop. To find out more about Nate Silver I've transcribed some of the most salient aspects of his discussion with Charlie Rose which you can watch in full, above andhere.

Charlie Rose asked Nate: "What are your core competences?"

Nate Silver responded:
"It’s the combination of knowing about statistics but also being a good storyteller. Here’s a topic where the numbers are really dry; but no, it’s pretty interesting if you actually think through things in the right way. It doesn’t mean creating false certainty but talking about where the forecast is coming from and not just throwing up numbers and leaving the environment.

It's an odd form of loyalism that attacks the Crown's officers

The Wall Street Journal - The UK's Doublespeak on Internet Freedoms

Ben Rooney in the Wall Street Journal here, called up the UK for government for its contradictory remarks on Internet freedoms. Ben Rooney made a first observation: 
"Here are two conflicting opinions about Internet censorship. Can you guess which government said which? You can chose from the following: China, the U.S., and the U.K. First: Democratic governments must resist the calls to censor a wide range of content just because they or others find it offensive or objectionable. Second: Put simply, there needs to be a list of terms—a blacklist—which offer up no direct search returns.
He then answered his rhetorical question: 
"It is a trick question. The U.K. government said both. The first was by Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaking at the Budapest Conference on Cyberspace in October 2012. The second was by Prime Minister David Cameron in July 2013 at a U.K. children’s charity event." 

August 14, 2013

Alex Kane - Northern Ireland Needs A New Political Generation

Alex Kane also said on
"The present generation of former warriors and cement-footed political parties is not going to be able to drop the recriminatory language or whataboutery. It’s all they know. It’s all they have ever known. They are too old and too set in their ways to learn new tricks: so set in their ways that they have already lined up the spanky new clones to fill their shoes and seats. 
Northern Ireland needs a new political generation, a new agenda and new political parties. It needs people who will work together to make Northern Ireland a success. It needs a generation of politicians who will refuse to accept that stalemate, mutual veto and same-old, same-old elections are the best we can hope for."
Justice McCarthy wrote in the Sunday Times of January 3 2013:
"Adams apology was a reminder that lasting change can be achieved only when he and his generation walk away, because their personal baggage is becoming the biggest obstacle on the path to peace"

Northern Ireland Needs a 'George the Poet'

August 13, 2013

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart" - When It's Cool To Be Dumb, Ctd

No actually, it's not cool to be dumb. Why? Because being dumb means you can't develop your skills; it means you can't be a rounded person; it means you can't be open-minded; it means your employment prospects will be seriously curtailed; it means you life opportunities will be compromised greatly. As Ashton Kutcher said:
“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous. Everything else is crap!”

Rosa Luxemburg and Internationalism, Ctd


Paul Mattick said of Rosa Luxemburg and her internationalism:
'While Rosa Luxemburg did not fare well with her theory of accumulation, she was more successful in her consistent Internationalism, which was, of course, connected with her concept of accumulation as the global extension of the capitalist mode of production. In her view, imperialist competition was rapidly transforming the world into a capitalist world and thereby developing the unhampered confrontation of labor and capital. Whereas the rise of the bourgeoisie coincided with the formation of the modern nation-state, creating the ideology of nationalism, the maturity and decline of capitalism implied the imperialistic 'internationalism' of the bourgeoisie and therewith also the internationalism of the working classes, if they were to make their class struggles effective. The reformist integration of proletarian aspirations into the capitalist system led to social-imperialism, as the other side of the nationalistic coin. Objectively, there was nothing behind the frantically growing nationalism but the imperialist imperative. To oppose imperialism demanded, then a total rejection of all forms of nationalism, even that of the victims of imperialist aggression. Nationalism and imperialism were inseparable and had to fought with equal fervour.'

August 12, 2013

Rahm Emanuel On Helping 'The Troubled' Youth


The Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanual known as 'The Fighting Bull' has taken a tough stance on crime, violence and failing schools. The situation sounds very similar to Northern Ireland. But the difference is that Chicago is actively addressing the problems. And so it's from leaders like Rahm Emanuel and his administration that we can learn from.

TIME Magazine Cover, June 10, 2013

Read the Time Magazine feature on Rahm Emanual and how he is working to turn around the 'violence-plagued' city of Chicago here. At 30 minutes into a discussion with Charlie Rose, the Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel explained how his administration is tackling underachievement and youth delinquency, especially among African-Americans. He said:

August 11, 2013

The hypocrisy of the original IRA hailed as human rights idealists

Fintan O'Toole and Eilis O'Hanlon compares IRA with the Baader Meinhof

In response to the Gerry Adams apology for the murder of prison officer Brian Stack, Eilis O'Hanlon wrote in the Sunday Independent:
"It's hard to think of a senior political leader in any other democracy who would get away with this behaviour. Does Angela Merkel go for rides with the Baader Meinhof gang?" 
 She continued:
"If they could stop being so indulgent towards offensive terrorist pantomimes, that would be nice too."
Fintan O'Toole made a similar charge in 1998:

"This belief encouraged the IRA republicans to adopt in the 1970s a classic terrorist position—shared at the time with groups like the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy—that violence would produce a reaction which would display the state in its true, fascistic colors. Instead of trying to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Catholics, the IRA was intent on destroying rational reform and provoking repression. A defense of the IRA’s bombing campaign written in 1976 and published in its own newspaper was entirely explicit about this:

The growth of reaction isn’t to be frowned upon. We can inflate its importance and at our own leisure burst its credibility. As George Jackson, that great Black revolutionary, once said, “What would help us is to allow as many right-wing elements as possible to assume political power.”

August 10, 2013

Bill Gates On Reading And Making Notes On Books

Even though we're living in the digital age, I still love the smell and feel of reading from a book. Something I just can't get away from, no matter how digitised I become. It's the detachment and escape that it brings; it's a special thing the paper book.
And I have one special habit when I read a book: I make copious notes. Covering the cover, back sides, pages and jacket with a copious amount of notes. A habit others have thrown a dubious expression at.
But this is a habit I share with Bill Gates who explained to Charlie Rose in a recent discussion, here and at the bottom (at 47 minutes), his reading and note taking habits. Take a look at the various photos on this post which captures Bill Gates explaining his process.

August 09, 2013

Rahm Emanual and other US Mayors on Rethinking Education

Charlie Rose hosted a ‘Mayor’s Roundtable’ featuring some of America’s leading civic leaders. Education topped the discussion with each mayor bringing forward some fascinating insights into how their administration is tackling under-achievement and low expectations. The Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel (pictured above) made a particular impact, saying on the show:

“For too many kids, the link between school, college, job, there’s gaps. The way I try to explain it to people is this: I got kids who live 4 miles from down town and down town is just a world apart from them. Now all the possibility is there. And the education system: finish high school, so you can go to college. It’s (the business world) not part of their experience.
And so now we’ve set up systems (STEM high schools) 9th grade to 14th , it has the counselling, the mentor, and you finish all the way to the 14th grade till you’re at college. You get your first job interview at the school. Oracle, Motorola Solutions, Microsoft and IBM – all have taken a high school. 

August 08, 2013

Charlie Rose Discusses Creativity

Charlie Rose hosts a ten minute discussion on creativity and the art of creating new forms. Watch in full above and see the original source here.

Oliver Sacks said on the show:
"Imitation may be an essential preliminary to any achievement."
Oliver continued, giving the example of a poet criticised for copying the work of earlier English poets:
"He is first concerned to get the technique or to develop the language; and then only once it's developed he then infuses with his imagination. But you can't have anything new until a great deal has become automatic or second nature. The spontaneity and novelty are the most challenging problems in the world."

Watch This Video: Miki Agrawal, Author of 'Do Cool Sh*t'

Watch the video of Miki Agrawal talking on Big Think in full here.

Carries on well from the Tony Wagner piece in the NYT:

“Every young person will continue to need basic knowledge, of course,” he said. “But they will need skills and motivation even more. Of these three education goals, motivation is the most critical. Young people who are intrinsically motivated — curious, persistent, and willing to take risks — will learn new knowledge and skills continuously. They will be able to find new opportunities or create their own — a disposition that will be increasingly important as many traditional careers disappear.”

August 05, 2013

Maud Newton reviews Molly Crabapple

Read Maud Newton's review of Molly with excerpt here:
"Yet Crabapple’s work and story is not just about infusing politics into visual art; she represents an alternative to the mechanism through which many young artists today find success. Crabapple grew up thinking of art not as “something where you had to get an MFA from Yale then schmooze people in New York,” but as a trade that paid the bills. Her mother—a single mom—illustrated toy packaging for products like Cabbage Patch Kids and Holly Hobby. “Being an artist was how my mom fed me. … It was an almost working-class way to make a living."
Also watch and read the interview with Molly Crabapple on Stated Magazine here.
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