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reading the news (so you don't have to) - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2007-12-16 22:49
Subject: reading the news (so you don't have to)
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Mood:contemplativecontemplative
Music:porcupine tree
First up this evening when I booted up the laptop was the news that Tommy Sheridan has been arrested and charged with perjury. This comes after he won a long and eventful libel case against the News Of The World, which had alleged that he had taken drugs, attended orgies, and cheated on his wife. There was a great deal of conflicting evidence during the case, and the judge hearing it warned that a perjury investigation was well-nigh inevitable. Tommy Sheridan says the Murdoch press have it in for him. Developing...

A little while ago Boing Boing posted a link to John Scalzi's account of his visit to the Creationist Museum. And mighty amusing it is too. Although perhaps not quite so amusing in light of the news that we're going to have one here. Now, I believe very strongly in freedom of speech and freedom of religion, so from that standpoint I can find nothing to quibble about in this story. From what the people who are involved in the theme park say, they seem to have their hearts in the right place. But I feel the same kind of disquiet I felt when I first heard about faith schools. Free speech is one thing. Indoctrination is something else.

Over at The Observer, Henry Porter doles out a bit of a kicking to Polly Toynbee over the government's attacks on personal liberty. I like Porter's stuff.

And finally, it's been announced that Chris De Burgh will be playing a gig in Iran. I'll leave you to make up your own jokes.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2007-12-17 10:04 (UTC)
Subject: however
according to the good folks at Pharyngula, the supposed creationist museum is one of those daydreams, in this case of a demented couple. They apparently have only a few hundred pounds in the bank, no experienced, and no backers. So it is very unlikely to go ahead.

As for Sheridan, the Murdoch press have it in for him anyway, whatever the facts in this case.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-17 21:40 (UTC)
Subject: Re: however
Ah, that's interesting. I'd never heard of Pharyngula before. Thank you. I wonder if this is a case of them putting out a press release to try and attract investors? They seem awfully coy about a lot of stuff, now I think of it. It's the Observer who bring up Peter Vardy's name.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2007-12-17 14:38 (UTC)
Subject: What would Jesus do?
When I think of how many starving children that $27 million could have fed... but noooo, a giant pile of horseshit is far more useful. Still, as long as the horseshit isn't allowed to pollute science classes in our schools, I'm content enough.

I'm tempted (by way of apology to my brain for viewing the pics from the creationism 'museum') to go by my local library today and borrow one of Dawkins' books :-)
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-17 21:30 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
Absolutely. Free speech and freedom of religion and all that. I'm presuming the $27 million was theirs to do with as they wished, or at least freely donated, and if they wanted to use it to build a Creationist Museum or a forty-foot-high statue to the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, that's none of my business.
The schools thing is another matter altogether, which is why I felt a bit alarmed about faith schools.
Anyway, as calcinations says, the attempt to start one over here seems to be more an act of optimism than anything else.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2007-12-18 14:16 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
Ahhh, those wacky Pastafarians and their flying spaghetti monster! Not to mention those wacky Christians and their old, bearded, white caucasian dude in the sky!

Faith schools bother me somewhat too. I personally put it down to lazy parents who want their children to be indoctrinated into their faith, but would rather the school did all the actual hard work. On the subject of the indoctrination of children, I have a certain amount of sympathy with Dawkins' assertion that it is tantamount to child abuse.

Of more immediate concern to me is that my ex is catholic and wants to raise our son in that faith. Religion does seem to be a highly successful viral meme; if only we could get an anti-virus package for our brains.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-18 21:54 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
Back when I was in Infant School we always had Assembly at the beginning of the day, and we sang hymns and said prayers and we took it in turns to read aloud from those Ladybird Books versions of the Bible stories. Which, I guess, was a form of indoctrination in its own way. But the religion stopped right there. It didn't bleed over into any other lessons. Later on, at Comprehensive, there were Religious Education classes for a couple of years - half an hour once a week - and to be honest I can't remember much about them at all. And once again, along with assembly and maybe a quick prayer, it stopped right there. When we did Natural Selection, nobody said, "But, actually, this may be wrong..."
Which, I guess, you could say is another form of indoctrination.

I don't know about the Catholic stuff. My wife's a Catholic, and back in the days when we were still hoping to have kids I was fairly laid-back about them being brought up in the Faith. I figured with me as a father they'd get enough of an alternative view to make their own minds up when they were old enough.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2007-12-19 00:23 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
> When we did Natural Selection, nobody said, "But, actually, this may be wrong..."
Which, I guess, you could say is another form of indoctrination.
<

I'd have to disagree there, for two reasons: firstly because natural selection is demonstrably a fact - it can be observed in microbes becoming resistant to antibiotics, for example. Secondly, I can't see it as indoctrination when a science teacher sticks to teaching science... which neither creationism nor intelligent design can claim to be.

I had to put up with prayer in assembly and R.E. classes at school too, guess things didn't change too much in the time between your school years and mine! The main issue I had with R.E. classes was that they only covered one religion, and I left school knowing virtually nothing about Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc. I'd have much preferred to have had comparative theology lessons instead, but they weren't on offer.

On the parenting issue, I just hope I can be enough of an influence in my son's life to help him keep a healthily skeptical, open mind. As I only get to see him twice a week, I'll have my work cut out for me, I suspect.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-20 23:55 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
But if we're going to be even-handed about this, which is my default stance on most things, you should have alternatives, otherwise you are just indoctrinating people. I find intelligent design a complete cartoon doctrine, but don't you have to present all possible alternatives and let people make up their own minds, otherwise you're just brainwashing them?
I'll grant you, back when I was at infant school - and indeed at junior school and probably at comprehensive to - intelligent design was still just a mad gleam in the eye of some Christian fundamentalist, so we just got what was available.

I think there's a little less than a decade between us, so we would have overlapped in some iterations of the National Curriculum, before it got too weird for me to follow. Like you, we didn't get any grounding in other religions. It was solidly C of E, and comparative theology was something only universities did. Where did you go to school, by the way?

On the parenting front, I'm probably the last person on earth to be giving advice, but I guess all you can do is your best under the circumstances. I don't know how old your son is now, but I'm willing to bet the issue of religion will have changed out of all recognition by the time he's old enough to make up his mind.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2007-12-21 01:20 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
I'd have no objections at all if they want to teach creationism and / or intelligent design in schools, as long as it was, say, the R.E. teacher giving those lessons during R.E. class. They'd also have to present the creation myths of other faiths for it to be truly unbiased, of course...

Yep, a little less than a decade separates us; I'll turn 39 in a hair over four months from now. I went to comprehensive schools in the town at the opposite end of the Bed-Pan* line from you. They had (and for the most part still do) a three-school system of lower, middle and upper schools rather than the primary & secondary schools that most places have. Apparently, many teachers think this system is better.

*I find that name so amusing that I just had to use it instead of taking the easy option by just saying "Bedford". I'm easily amused :)
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-22 00:34 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
Good lord, it's been a long time since I heard anyone use the phrase `the Bed-Pan line.' Not since they opened the Snow Hill tunnel and trains from Bedford could run all the way down to Brighton. Yes indeed. I remember a time when the only trains that used St Pancras were Bed-Pan trains and the ones going up to the Midlands. That place has changed a lot.

I didn't mean to pry, asking where you went to school, I just wanted to get a handle on our respective LEAs. Okay, so you're about eight years younger than me, which means that by the time you did your `O' levels things had already changed beyond recognition from when I did them. Your school system was very different to ours, which interests me; I thought the infant/junior/comprehensive system was pretty much countrywide.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2007-12-22 01:47 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
I've heard that the revamped St Pancras station is quite the sight to behold (and I recall it being quite an impressive place anyway), I shall have to have a look the next time that I suppress my aversion to London enough to visit the big smoke. I didn't even realise it was no longer called the Bed-Pan line, which indicates how long ago was the last time I rode it! It shall always be the Bed-Pan line in my heart. Similarly with Opal Fruits, Marathon Bars and Blood Oranges. They can stick their new names where the sun doesn't shine :-)

When I took my 'O' Levels, CSEs had already been introduced (I took a few of those too), but it was before it all got combined into GCSEs. I'm personally in favour of the three-tier system as you tend to get smaller schools with smaller classes. Apparently Bedford is one of the few places in the U.K. that uses it (along with the Isle of Wight and Northumberland, I believe), and it is under threat even here. The cynic in me sees it as a thinly veiled attempt to close some schools and 'consolidate' (i.e. reduce) expenditure.

Still, even if we lose our three tiered schools, that shouldn't affect our number one spot for most multi-lingual (per capita) place in the world. Apparently. Came as quite a surprise to me, when I read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedford#Demographics
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-22 19:28 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
St Pancras International (and who'd have guessed we'd ever hear it called that?) is indeed a marvel. And now the new Thameslink (Bed-Pan) station - which itself is pretty marvellous compared with King's Cross Thameslink, which was a bit like a large public convenience with trains running through it - has opened there it means I walk through it every day to catch my connections to and from work. I haven't seen an Opal Fruit in years; did they change their name?

I'm not sure I understand what's going on in education these days - just as my parents were probably mildly baffled by the `O' level and GCSE system. It has seemed rather beleagured over the past few years, the result, I think, of this utterly incomprehensible passion for `targets' in all walks of life. I hope Bedford keeps its three-tiered schools if they're a good thing for teachers and pupils.

I actually knew about the Italian connection with Bedford because I did an article about the brickworks a few years ago, but I didn't realise the place was that cosmopolitan.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2008-01-04 02:32 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
Yeah, Opal Fruits were renamed to Starburst about ten years ago so they would be called the same name in all countries. Still, it beats the renaming of Jif cleaning products to Cif, which sounds like an abbreviation for an unpleasant STD...

You know, it's odd, but I never really thought of the London Brick Company plant as being properly of Bedford (even if most of their employees lived here), as it was located close to Ampthill, about ten miles away.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-01-04 22:20 (UTC)
Subject: Re: What would Jesus do?
Oh, so that's what Starburst is, is it? I hadn't realised; I just thought it was a new brand of sweeties. I'm not a big eater of sweets these days, but I retain an addiction to aniseed balls, pear drops and certain types of liquorice, which you can't easily get in the shops now but you can get online from a website called A Quarter Of. Sometimes I just look at their site and sigh.

My memories of the LBC - unless I'm wildly wrong here - come primarily from journeys to and from Sheffield on the train. At one point not too far from Bedford the line runs by a series of colossal pits in the ground, from which I presume the clay for London's bricks was extracted, and in the distance there is - or was - a chimney with the letters LBC down the side. Seeing those pits, and the airship sheds at Cardington, always meant we were leaving The South and entering The Midlands.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2008-01-04 23:01 (UTC)
Subject: Nostalgia
I'm not much of a sweets eater either, I've more of a savoury tooth to be honest. Although I do like to treat myself to a little chocolate every so often. I'll have to have a look at that website, as I've fond memories of going into my local shop as a child and ordering quarters of cola cubes. Still, you know what they say about nostalgia: "it isn't as good as it used to be..." ;-)

I don't recall seeing the clay pits and that enormous chimney from onboard a train, but in fairness all of my train journeys were southbound. I have seen them from the road, and I do believe the train line did / does pass pretty close by to them. Geologically speaking, Bedford is in what is called the 'Oxford Basin', which is essentially a huge clay deposit. Gardeners hate it, apparently.

Have you ever been up close to, or inside the airship hangars at Cardington? They look big from a distance, but up close the sheer size of them is literally staggering. I'm told that people have flown microlight aircraft inside them, and the Fire Service have set up burning building mockups inside them too. My dad used to be employed painting the exterior of them, and if I recall correctly it was almost like the Forth Bridge in the sense of when the job is done, it's time to start again.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-01-05 00:40 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Nostalgia
Do yourself a favour and check out A Quarter Of... I'm not sure where they find these things, but they have all the tastes of my childhood. Except Beech Nut chewing gum, which may not exist anywhere these days.

I've only seen the Cardington hangars from a distance on the train, but they're on my wish-list of places I'd like to see close up one day. I think I heard about the Fire Service mockups, but I also heard there was still an airship service of sorts based there.
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