August 20, 2009

'Challenging' BBC Programming

First posted on Samizdata November 3 2008

What BBC types mean when they talk about their commitment to 'challenging' television that 'pushes the boundaries' is really a commitment to making shows that offend the sensibilities of old fashioned white people. Socially conservative whitefolk are the only politically permissible target for contempt, and mocking their foibles, tastes and standards of decency as meanspiritedly as possible is progressive and therefore right by definition.
America is the ultimate target for scorn because it is largely made up of and run by such people.

August 19, 2009

School Uniforms

Posted on Samizdata July 2009

I was in constant uniform related trouble at school, so much so that I was called into the heads office. To be fair he actually tried to rationalize uniforms to me, comparing them to workplace dress codes. When I told him that the comparison didn't hold water as I was free to choose my place of employment but not my school he reverted to the age old 'you will wear it because we say so.'

In other words
'We will force you to pretend that you endorse our 'community' our values and what we stand for, despite the fact that we can't convince you of their correctness using reason and logic'

To this day I have no problem with wearing a suit to work but despise school uniforms and all they stand for.

Anti-racism and authoritarianism

Posted to Samizdata in July 2009

Whatever you believe about race these days in the privacy of your own head is pretty irrelevant. Having the wrong opinions about these issues is professional and social suicide so broadly speaking people with a stake in society don't.

People higher up the socioeconomic pyramid aren't less racist than those lower down because of any greater enlightenment on their part. They are because they have far more to lose by refuting the orthodoxy.

The defeat of racism in this manner has given the current cultural establishment the idea hat such authoritarianism is a fundamentally legitimate means by which to stamp their political and moral assumptions upon the populace.

The elite's ideas about the evils of racism at least had the virtue of being essentially correct. Most of the other opinions they want to violently foist upon us are not.

Grade inflation

Comment to Samizdata 18 August 2009

I want to make a distinction for a moment between the value of education andthe value of grades. The value of the former is absolute. The personal value of being exposed to information and ideas can't be diminished by other people being exposed to them. Quite the opposite in fact; conversations between 'educated people' in the informal sense of the word are synergistic. When a group of people is talking from a higher shared base of knowledge and understanding there is a net gain for everyone in the group. Compare the quality of debate on Samidata with that in your local pub if you doubt this. However as many people have pointed out, education has nothing to do with grades.

The only purpose of a grading system is to enable third parties such as Universities and employers to make comparisons between student A and student B. A grade has no value in and of itself but only relative to and in comparison with other grades. In this it is just like money.

This should be a statement of the bleeding obvious, but given the education system's determination to print A grades the way the bank of Zimbabwe prints bank notes, it seems that is isn't.

The media obsesses about grade inflation every year but as usual it asks entirely the wrong questions. Are the A Levels easier than they were ten or fifteen years ago?
While the answer is obviously yes its also a pretty pointless question.

Generally speaking graduates at whatever level compete for jobs and university places with others of the same age cohort as themselves. Therefore the question we want to ask is not. "Is an A grade in 2008 the same as an A grade in 1988?" This is no more important than obsessing about what a pound today is worth today compared to twenty years ago. As long as it remains useful measure of value, whether the currency system has base units of 1 100 or 1000 is of little importance.

The real purpose of grade inflation in my view is that it serves as a political tool to obscure the vast differences in quality between a state education and a private one.

The grading system now in place serves to obscure information rather than reveal it.

If they set the grade ceiling is low enough that anyone reasonably bright and industrious can hit the highest grades they can mask the gulf.

It also means that they can determine who fills the places in the higher education system in accordance with their social engineering project and their egalitarian ideology rather than by academic merit. After all if every applicant to Oxbridge has maxed out grades they can use any criteria we want to distinguish between them .

Damn, I hate these people.