Tuesday, July 31, 2012


31 July was when it ended. My parents got married two years before they became my parents, and they were no longer free. That, at least, is one interpretation of it all.

But now, many many years later, they are free even though that which made them unfree is still in effect. Lesson learnt: you grow into freedom, and freedom grows in you, and it is not a right any more than being matter is the right of a molecule.

I love watching my parents. They do so well together.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Reach and Pull

I was reading David Baldacci's Zero Day when it hit me. The hero, John Puller, keeps comparing himself with people from NCIS and other agencies. But he also likes to draw comparisons with people from the armed services — especially MPs.

John Puller is the Baldacci anti-version of Lee Child's character, Jack Reacher.

Then it turned out that it was true to some extent; in an interview with Janice Kaplan dated November 2011, Baldacci had discussed that idea. Ah well...

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Impurities (Part 5)

Here we are, mortal humans, impossible biological impurities in the impossible expanse of the impossible universe. I listen to John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, and I realise that Lennox is right — when Dawkins says that the way the universe develops closely imitates something that is designed, it is circular thinking — how can we say even this thought is true or designed if in fact nothing is designed?

We recognize truth only if it corresponds with our ideas of the universe. That is all, and it only eliminates miracles as things that don't correspond. But why would natural selection necessarily value truth or design? The answer is likely that it does not value either truth or design. There is nothing, and so evolution too is an illusion. For natural selection is a blind force — what survives is what survives, it is a circular argument.

Perhaps then all is math, and local impurities in the fabric are what gives us this illusion. And math too then is a series of propositions that are really assembled from finding the best fit in what works. We think it is logical, but we only do so because the brain that evolved thinks it is logical, which itself is also a product of evolution. Ho ho.

In the end, all it boils down to is that God is harder to explain than the universe. But if He weren't, wherefore should He be God?

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Impurities (Part 4)

So... what to do when Atlantis is overwhelmed by the flood, the waves of migrating water? Well, I am reminded of the great A E Housman's Epitaph for an Army of Mercenaries:
These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

You see, quite often the ones who need defending are not the ones doing the defending. The ones who are living in a land of good roads and schools and many trees, they are the ones who wish it could all be so much better. And when others make it better by doing the jobs that you would prefer to pay others to do, they are 'mercenaries'.

But some mercenaries settle down in the land to which they were contracted. They fall in love. They go native. They form a special bond to the country which may be stronger than that of those born there.

Impurities, the cry goes up. Impure! Impure!

But who is pure in a world of shifting populations and allegiances? All of us are immigrants or emigrants. Some of us hide it well, or have it hidden for us well in the snarls of time and culture.

To remove the 'impurities' from the land might be the same thing as removing the carbon from the steel, or the nails from the timber. Just a few small 'impurities' taken out... and suddenly, nothing is saved.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Impurities (Part 3)

So is pure water water pure? Or does water carry the memory of its past lives? I have spent time thinking of how this can be, and my conclusion is that the memory of water, if such exists, must be heavily diluted by time and chance, for time and chance happen to every molecule.

Yet there are those, especially homoeopaths and dowsers, who contend that water remembers. And I should say, I believe that clay and other aluminosilicates can indeed remember, for all that memory needs is present in their most crystalline formations.

Today I had a conversation about that. Crystals and false-crystals, how they replicate memory at a distance. In the lunulae all of decayed bronze and gold, we see the moon; in the carbonaceous glitter of diamond, we see the stars. O, all the golden and silver apples!

Metal is the bane. Metals conduct, and in the sudden earthing of electrons, they wipe memories clean. Who knows what the clay knew, before heat-haze and electron-storm glazed it into the fired husk of itself? Yet the impurities that remain make it beautiful again, just as we humans are.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Impurities (Part 2)

From the universal to the purely (or impurely) human, last post. And here, if humanity is what humanity eats, then we must look at the ingredients of our food.

We've all been taught that major food groups are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. These are no idle assignments, but chemical divisions — carbohydrates, literally carbon-with-water, are sugars and their polymers such as starches; fats are the esters of glycerol, a substance that can add up to three long chains of carbonaceous substance, forming triglycerides; proteins are polymers made by stringing together large numbers of amino acids. Carbohydrates are fuel; fats are complex materials that serve to insulate and protect (and in extremis, be broken down to make more fuel); proteins are the building blocks of most of our working parts.

For bone and our electromechanical systems, we need inorganics with our organics. Mineral matter, the kind of stuff that the crematorium attendant sweeps out into an urn after the black grease of our passing has tainted the air. Without the minerals, we'd be goo, and rather insensate goo at that.

Yes, we are impurities in water, but the water would not have form without the stuff we use to shape it. Our impurities are to water as the structure of a building is to the air and light within it.

And that brings me to the issue of food safety. Food is mostly safe, and in the cases when it is not, we have only ourselves to blame. But the human body and its main metabolic organs — mostly the liver and kidneys — are able to clear most of the unwanted chemicals. The rest, presumably, consists of wanted chemicals.

Of all the carbohydrates, glucose is most prized. Without it, nothing works, since our bodies are designed to store and burn glucose. Of all the fats, animal fats are most prized, since our bodies are most equipped to move it around — after all, our own fat -is- animal fat. And of all the proteins, animal proteins are most prized, for the same reasons. We do not have the mainly-vegetable-diet construction of the ruminants; we can't digest fibre and we find it hard to extract value from plants.

However, the detractors are right to say we should cut down on animal-based food, simply because we eat too much of it. A steak should last for weeks; we shouldn't be eating a steak a week (or worse). Fat is good, but not more than a heavy spoonful a day or so. And if we aren't labourers on a farm or athletes in the Olympics, we don't need 5000-10000 kcal a day. We can get by on 1500 or so.

What I find amusing is the desire to have impure food instead of pure — sea salt instead of pure sodium chloride, honey instead of pure glucose, organic vegetables instead of those grown on ammonium nitrate and carefully-calibrated mineral content. Like the making of steel, pure foods ensure no unpleasant surprises compared to what is expected: no pollen-induced asthmatic attacks, no haemolytic attacks from allergy to added Vitamin K, no bone fractures from drinking too much added calcium and not having enough sunlight and fat.

Not that I mind impure food, perish the thought. It tastes better, even if it's not necessarily healthier.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Impurities (Part 1)

An impurity is a minority ingredient that which makes something less than pure. I look out into the universe, and realise that matter is the great impurity in energy, and energy the great impurity in the void. In matter, all else is impurity in a sea of hydrogen, the heavier elements like grit in an oyster which must be carefully nacred and sealed away.

And then there are humans, the impurity in the organic scum upon the face of the earth. Humans, who like all other life here are mainly water with impurities. For what else to call organisms that are 70% water and 30% other substances (including substances from which more water can be extracted)?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Educational Pressure

In Atlantis, coeval with the complaint about immigration and demographics, comes forth also a barrage of complaints about the education system. But they are facets of the same jewel — if you want an independent city-state, you will end up in the same place.

(Here I shall just interject that there are now only three such states in the real world, and one of them is full of the men and women of religious orders.)

What do I mean?

Well, if you want economic self-sufficiency, you need a huge piece of land with natural resources. But no such piece can accommodate populations as dense as 7500 people/sq km or higher. So 'independent' city-states are politically independent and practically (i.e. economically in the main) interdependent. That is, they need to trade in order to sustain their independent highly-dense population.

This again means that you need to make people economically useful quickly. Hence, mass education at compressed time and resource rates. There is really not much choice unless you wish to spend more money (positively or in terms of marginal costs to the system).

Enter the armchair analysts of Atlantis. They say, "Make the class sizes smaller and all will be well; we need a better teacher:student ratio!"

Well, that simply means you spend more per class and have more classes. More classes = more classrooms and less open space, even if the classrooms are smaller. Labs, lecture theaters, research spaces of all kinds, art rooms — all these will need to be re-planned, if not rebuilt. The total cost of making all classes smaller is too high unless the remaining people decide to work a lot harder for less pay.

Simple, no?

Not quite. More armchair analysis later, and it is spoken, "Then our value system is horrible and people should work less hard for more pay!"

This, from the intelligentsia. The solution is really simple: all these people should just emigrate to a bigger country, not a city-state. Some place like Finland is good; it's 75% forest and has the cheapest electricity in Europe simply because it has four nuclear reactors and some uranium mines. Also more fresh water per capita than anyone can drink.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Population Pressure

Down in Atlantis, there is supposedly an unhealthy trend of people getting married later and having fewer children, and then having to import adult immigrants to make up the numbers. But what is so wrong with that?

The thing is that all city-states are not self-sufficient. They need economic inputs. To pay for this, they need economic outputs. Hence they need high productivity per human unit. This means more adults, and more productive adults, per square kilometre.

Hence, like Monaco, population may top out at 15,000 per sq km (now it's only 7,500 per sq km in Atlantis). It will have, like Monaco, perhaps a 'native' population of only 20%. But that's okay, because many of the immigrants may choose to naturalize, or just spend a lot of money here and go off into the sunset.

This will leave Atlantis a staid old folks' home coupled with frenetic cultural activity (if you include, like Monaco, casinos and le Grand Prix). It is the only sustainable fate of the modern independent city-state. If you want more, you either have to surrender some more of your independence (oh come on, there isn't a truly independent state nowadays anymore), or you have to go conquer somebody larger (yeah, as if that's a real option).

There, I've said it. And I'm a fourth-generation Atlantean.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012


Hitler would have said 'Kampf' and meant it in a completely different way. I'm a researcher in the sociological 'sciences' and I have a problem, if not a struggle. The thing is that education, now globalizing like everything else these days, has got to think about what to do with itself.

As many people have commented, 'education' is from Latin educaré — a 'drawing out' or 'drawing forth' of something. That is why it's important to think about what rabbits you are planning to pull out of what hats. Stalin is reputed to have said, "Education is like a weapon; its effects depend on who holds it and at whom it is aimed."

Well, in that case, we need to think seriously about what to teach and how to educate — that is, what rabbits are to be pulled forth and how. How is the world to survive and make good the potential of billions? One kind of eschatology would say that it won't matter in 'the end' — but even that kind must admit that from now to the end, we owe it to the educable to educate them or at least offer them a good chance of a good education.

But what is a good education in this age? Is it different from that in any other age? And what do we educate ABOUT?

An example: in the sciences, we sometimes take for granted that objectivity levels the playing field for all subjects — if a subjective viewpoint cannot be dominant, then all of us are equal; therefore, teach more science and convert the humanities and aesthetics through postmodern strippery.

I don't subscribe to this at all. Science is supposedly neutral, but it comes easier to those reading a dominant corpus in a dominant language. Like money, it is a neutral tool. But like money, it also heavily favours the possessors, holders and users of such tools; it 'privileges' them, to use a popular discourse-perverted term — it makes them privy to secrets and powers and 'specials' which nobody else has.

So you can have a financial priesthood and a technological priesthood, and inequality will grow. But the other arguments all lead to inequality as well, it appears. Perhaps one should just adopt a Sam Harris style 'major in empathy and common sense without religious irrationality and you'll be fine' approach.

It looks good. But again, 'empathy' would require trying to think in the black cave of ignorance and 'irrational' belief and intuition without actually being in there. All scientists are human. They admit to leading irrational lives, but they try to rationalize them in a way that... makes them happy. And having the power to do so, they are good at effective trying sometimes.

But still, it doesn't answer the question of what to teach and how to teach it. It's not that I don't already have many answers. I have to question all the answers if we're going to do anything useful with the trillions of silver pieces yet to be spent on an education-hungry world.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Better Age of Daughters

My heart was warmed recently by a surprise invitation to a gathering of young ladies I used to teach. These young ladies are now in their thirties, and still as pretty as I remember them. Yes, I said this, even though in today's climate saying that your students are pretty immediately makes people want to call the police.

The thing is that I was brought up to be honest especially in the matter of compliments, whether accepting or offering. You could stretch irony, sarcasm, self-deprecation and suchlike only so far, because it was understood that humility was right but that pretence was not. And so if you said someone was clever, you had better have meant it; and if someone said you were a well-behaved young man, you said, "At the moment."

I remember the moment of crystal clarity when I realised I was not particularly good-looking but also not particularly ugly. I sought comfort in the phrase 'pleasantly ugly'. 'Somewhat uninteresting' was my second choice.

The other thing is that my paternal grandfather in particular encouraged us to see the good in people. That extended to trying to see people in the best light not only metaphorically but aesthetically. You looked them over until you could capture the best memory of them — something which modern digital photography tends to obviate by saturation bombing.

And so, yes, the students I remember were pretty. All of them. In different ways. And they have grown up well, and I am happy for them and the surprise invitation I received.

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Friday, July 20, 2012


It's probably true that some blogs are popular because of their narrow focus and deep examination of specific subjects. I must suppose that what I write is not attractive in that way.

One mode of writing I've seen a lot of, however, is the faintly elevated 'Oxbridge' form. Some of my family members write that way when provoked or being provocative. It is spiced with the kind of allusions that are meant for only those of the same crowd. This spice is in turn concealed by the assertion that anyone who's had a proper education, whether at such gleaming (oops, dreaming) spires or not, should appreciate such.

I don't know. To me it sometimes seems as if, having earnt their MAs or PhDs, such people are locked into a death struggle with the material, like two spent swimmers who do choke their art (haha). It has become too much of a defining influence.

At the same time, there is the tang of the arch and deliberately layered kind of irony and wit. This faint aromatic component is yet another in-crowd thing. It makes me itch, because it reminds me that I know enough to identify it, and thus must partake of some of the characteristics of that crowd.

Some days, it is like watching Wodehouse duke it out with Wilde, or Eastwood pull a gun on Torchwood under the malign influence of Wildwood. Ach, one must not take such things too seriously.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012


I open the newspapers, and I read about how the USA is (again) resisting ways of limiting gun ownership. And I read about how the USA is (again) resisting ways of educating the young. And I read about how the USA (again) is (again) is (again) is (again)...

And I realise something. This is the way the West was lost.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sanctimony Redux

If love makes the world go round and sanctimony makes the world go mad, then it might be interesting to map human responses against the shape of the world. We would be able to develop a geography of emotion, a dark grimoire which uses the spiky bits of the human mind as keys to the lumpy bits of the universe.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Simply put, self-sufficiency and keeping the world free, peaceful and abundant. And of course, an historical and practical impossibility.

Indeed, it's a mightily dangerous illusion, that this philosophy could be implemented. For the world has never been like that, and libertarianism triumphs only in bad science fiction novels after some kind of apocalypse destroys the things of this world.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Making the World go Round

The sweet scent of sanctimony. Antimony. And other monies.

Or is that sanctinomy, antinomy, and other nomies?

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Watching from the Shadows

In Atlantis, more and more people are complaining about shadow education. They claim the system is screwed up, or that the curriculum is. Most of these complainants know nothing about systems, nor about curricula.

Indeed, almost all of them know nothing about the rest of the world, and how the inequities and abuses are even worse elsewhere. Hint: it is not Atlantis which has the highest per capita use of shadow education.

The answer to how it all got this way is obvious. Given the suspicion that a game is being played for high stakes and that not playing gives a negative reward, all potential players are likely to go for it if they can.

That's what's happening in Atlantis. Everyone thinks the game is rigged, or that only the rich can play and win. But despite this, they play anyway, causing hyperinflation and expansion of the shadow market, the grey area, the twilight zone. Once they push the remuneration for shadow operators higher than that for teachers, teachers will defect to the shadows.

And here we are now.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Back to the Future

My thesis amendments have been accepted. And now they will do two things to me: they will put me to the question to find out if I really did what I did, and they will examine my ignorance to see if it is more illuminating than the ignorance of others.

In practical terms, what this means is that I have to become an expert on being me; I have to read all the stuff I thought I'd read from 1995 onwards. And I have to remember it even though a lot of it is no longer worth remembering. Sigh.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Shadow Education

I am a shadow educator now. What does it mean, to be one? It means that you are not in the business of direct illumination, not a priest of the Ministry of Enlightenment. It means that you dig where the light doesn't go, and you save the ones that they can't save. Or it means that you go where the shadow people hide, and you sell them a drug they can't resist. Or it means that you pander, as Pandarus did, to the illicit desires of the mugger barons. And so forth. And so, forth.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Word of the Day: Xanthinophile

A xanthophile (from Greek xanthë, 'blonde') is someone who loves the colour yellow. (This should not be confused with 'xanthophyll', from a Greek word meaning 'leaf-yellow' and referring to the pigment in yellowish leaves). However, my WotD is 'xanthinophile', someone who loves xanthine-containing preparations.

A xanthine is one of a small group of alkaloid molecules which are naturally formed in the body. However, the methylxanthines are stimulants that block sleep signals and thus keep you alert; they include theobromine (in chocolate, cacao, cocoa), theophylline (in dark chocolate, tea), and caffeine (in coffee, tea). They alleviate asthma and, as a huge number of modern scientific studies show, are boosters for almost all aspects of human health and well-being (the old word was 'wealth', but that's been corrupted).

Xanthinophiles are therefore people who love coffee, tea and/or chocolate and other preparations that are chemically related to these.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

And Did Those Feet...?

It's a common metaphor, to follow in someone else's footsteps, or to walk in someone else's shoes. But the reality of it is that all feet are different, and they feel the dust and the pain and the walking of the ways differently.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Just the other day, a fervent holder of a minority point of view asserted that if a group of people were silent with regard to something, it meant that they were doing an injury to whatever they were being silent about. Yes, I know, it twisted my head around a bit.

But this is really nothing new. It's part of postmodern reality interpretation, where what is not said, whether there is evidence or not, is actually 'negatively said'. So if you don't talk about fluffy purple swans, then you must have something against fluffy purple swans, fluffiness, purpleness, or swanniness.

The three main disciplines of the classical age were mathematics, history and art. It was asserted that one could know no truth, virtue or beauty without the ability to appreciate and to command these disciplines. Now however, because we are in the business of 'negative saying', to not say has the same weight as to say.

It is as if I, wandering down a street and thinking only of getting to my destination, am to be censured for not going to other places. Indeed, it is as if I am being taken to task for spreading calumny about these other places of which I have not even thought, for my not-saying is taken as tantamount to anti-saying.

Christe eleison.


Monday, July 09, 2012

Standing Room

Carnelian and chrysoprase, space and point group, mildew and shark, I look everywhere for examples of chemistry and physics, biology and mathematics.

And all I find is literature, and the tired eyes of humanity, desperately hunting bedrock to which the edifice of truth can be firmly nailed down.

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Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Night Circus

It is a dark tale and yet light. It is like two ravens, except that where both might be black and stare with amber ruby eyes, one here is white like a tall tower in the morning sun and has the blue eyes of that particular day.

I played the game, and then I read the book. And my heart is like a red banner, a bright flag of the many things I hold to be true while knowing that I do not know whether they are or not.

If you, gentle reader, come across Ms Erin Morgenstern's book, The Night Circus, read it and try not to weep. One cannot really lose what one never really had.

But, oh, the pain of loss even if that is true!

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Saturday, July 07, 2012

A Musing

A tribute to amuse a muse or muses, a museum, music, a musement, amusement. This is.

I sat on the cold gravel at the long end of a rainy day. No runner I, just a tired man with painful feet, likely to grow more pained with time as the physiotherapist had said.

The muses were goddesses, it is said, by descent if not by inclination. I have known many in my time. I take as their lowest common denominator the ability to inspire, no matter how briefly, no matter how fleetingly.

I have loved many in my time, and in fragments of my times. I have admired some while not loving them at all. And I have liked some, been made affectionate by some, been affected by others, and had my affect turned upside down by a few.

What indefinite and undefinable qualities of each encounter could lurk in crystal-cut vials or cut-crystal vials of tears, of perspiration, of inspiration, of laughter? I had a collection of such. But they did not exist, except in idea and not in rea, ideal and not real. Imagined.

You cannot grind the monoceros into a vial. You cannot place the dance in a capsule or the song in a pill. You can only dream them there, and then you must let them go.

Years later, I am still letting go, and yet they never leave me. They are part of my spiritual, my living, my natural, my vital. They are an incomplete sentence with dangling bits.

I got up and walked away from the cold gravel, my sandals crunching softly. My footsteps, I left behind.

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Friday, July 06, 2012

Systems of Government (Part 3)

Communism: See Christianity, early church, Acts of the Apostles II:xliv-xlv and IV:xxxii-xxxv... as Marx did.

Communalism: A kind of mutualism based on communes; that is, separate self-sufficient communities working tangentially together if at all. Hence commun-al-ism.

Communitarianism: A desperate attempt to continue complicating the issue by mashing communes into communities and asserting that this is not communism but libertarianism writ large. Or something like that. It reminds me of a moonbase in which everyone uses comm units to network.


I suspect the problem is communication.

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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Systems of Government (Part 2)

Fascism: taking 'spare the rod, spoil the child' to its logical conclusion — a bundle of rods and no innocent children.

Plantar Fascitis: being caught flatfooted and looking vaguely fascistic.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Systems of Government (Part 1)

Democracy: a system of government in which the most convincing win, whether they are good or not, right or not, smart or not. Also, a meritocracy in which being convincing is meritorious.

Republic: a system of government in which the public elects representatives only to find that these best represent only themselves. Duh.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Latest Readings

Again, a pile of stuff has formed on my desk. And so I idly pick through the stuff, hoping that it doesn't testify too badly to my state of mind or testify badly to that state.

I have about twenty books. I was going to list them but the computer ate my list. And so it goes.

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Monday, July 02, 2012

Defying Gravity

I hate this phrase, although it has some ineluctable attraction about it. After all, mankind has a thing for breaking the surly bonds of earth.

But talking of defying gravity is silly. Gravity does not impose its rule on you. You can defy gravity by jumping off a building and dying. It won't care.


Sunday, July 01, 2012


In a sunny little island somewhere between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, there is unrest at the sad state of an education system that is really only trying to do its best (although some chunks of the middle class there would seriously disagree). This post is about why extreme, radical disagreements are ultimately futile, even though the system can still be improved and I'm not against that.

All political and social systems are constrained in what they can achieve by the resources available to achieve them. Short of acquisition of more resources through ever more inefficient means, it is a fairly tough constraint.

Nevertheless, let's enumerate and consider the possible resources, while thinking about the 'Finland Solution' to Sunny Island's problems (i.e., make it like Finland and everything's good.)

1) People: With five million people, surely you can improve the education system, and if not, we can import more teachers and professors, no? Well, not quite. You need to spend resources to import and look after these people, get them acclimatized, house them, feed them... And you also have to assume that the people you're importing represent a nett gain in quality for the outlay you're making. Sunny Island has a population density of about 7500 people/sq km, while Finland is at about 16 people/sq.km. Heck, Finland is three-quarters forest; but even if you assume that nobody lives in the forest, they still have less than 1% the population density of Sunny Island.

2) Physical Venues: Build more schools, more stadia, more art galleries! Yeah, you could try that. But Sunny Island is a very small island (tight water resources in 710 sq km of space) and it's trying desperately to keep its green lungs while the citizens a) complain there are too many such spaces, b) complain there are too few. Finland, on the other hand has 60,000 freshwater lakes and 340,000 sq km of space. That's a factor of x500 in size, right there.

3) Material Resources: Sunny Island is resource poor, as all its citizens know. Even the guano on the other island that used to belong to us would have been a poor substitute for Finland's mineral wealth (uranium, silver, zinc, rare earths... the list goes on) and consequent potential for development. Finland has four nuclear reactors and the Eurozone's cheapest electricity. Also, capacity for renewable resources and other environmentally-friendly things. Water costs almost nothing.

4) Financial Resources: Sunny Island is very rich. Sadly, everything costs a lot, because... sigh, see the previous three paragraphs for a clue. So there's not much point in deciding to pay the teachers as much as doctors or lawyers, since that will just alienate everyone except the teachers. You should get what you pay for, and the tendencies of a normal distribution ensure that if you employ more local teachers AND pay them more, you get drastically less effectiveness and efficiency for your expenditure.

5) System Processes: Yes! But we can still make our system like Finland's, right? Adult education for everyone, more job-related training, egalitarian schools? Haha, bad news. The population on Sunny Island is 75% Chinese. I shall say no more. I will only note that the population of Finland is 96% Finnish, and that if all adults are highly trained, then you would have problems paying them.

The same kinds of arguments apply for "Canada!" and "Australia!" and most other places. Fact is, Sunny Island is the most densely populated fully-independent non-client state in the world. Having compulsory mass education is a good thing, most people would say. But in such a state, it has a cost which is painful and yet still must be paid. That cost is unending competition and standards-based testing. Live with it, or move elsewhere.

In closing, to the people who go 'why can't we be more like the Finns', I would like to add that we don't have a history which includes fighting both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (and winning). Neither do we live in an area where everyone has a similar culture and whose ancestors have been living there for millennia. Tough, eh?

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