20 Sept 1999.
Index of earlier issues - click here.
THE RSI is still a little bit of a problem, so there may yet be further interruptions in the regularity of The Other News.
This week, the RSI continues, so articles will be short. Sorry they are not so bright this week.
(Those who like digging about will find that there are hundreds of articles on many subjects to be found on this site. Look at the Index of Earlier issues for a start. There are also some drawings and sheet music.)
(I presume the British Association of Science).
THIS WEEK SEVERAL RESEARCH RESULTS have been laid before the British public, but I was particularly interested in one area of study because the research seemed to try to prove something that mental health workers have known for at least twenty years - and probably a bit of research would reveal that it has been more like 150 years.
When I worked in Bedlam (the Bethlem Royal Hospital) in the eighties it was common knowledge amongst nursing and OT staff that a lot of what criminals got out of committing crimes was the rush of adrenalin thereby achieved. This then becomes an addiction, which the staff also knew, and so the criminal goes on to commit more and greater crime - until one day they are caught, and then there is the adrenalin and attention of going to court, and finally the excitement of being in prison - possibly and probably amongst other like-minded persons. The same principle applies if they are taken into a forensic ward instead of prison - and of course for the seriously mad the greatest buzz would be to end up in Broadmoor or Rampton.
In that way, this particular type of criminal is just the same as a heroin addict.
It might be that we all knew (even I, as a teacher, realised this was what was going on), and sometimes referred to, this phenomenom, but we had not written it down, recorded interviews and drawn up statistics - so therefore it didn't exist until this week!
I wonder if they got a research grant for their efforts?
(Some readers will know where this came from. Others won't)
I went to school at Summerhill.
There has been a lot of hoohah of late about school inspectors wanting to close the svhool down, and trying to see the wood despite the trees I have come to the conclusion that this might possibly be so, but that it is more likely that they viewed the school with their eyes and their background and found that according to their perception of how life and schools should be Summerhill was short on certain things - like just about every school I have ever had anything to do with, but perhaps not quite as severely short as most.
I don't think boarding schools are a good idea, but if we leave that part out for the moment I can talk about what I personally perceive to be 'education' - learning things - as opposed to the more general idea of a whole lifestyle that might also be called education.
I love the learning things sort of education, and have been learning things all my life, and at age 60 continue to do so as fast as I can. My most recent activities have been to do with designing and making a new member of the woodwind family (which involved of course learning all the technology to make prototypes) in co-operation with another Summerhillian - Tim Israel, who is very interested in the science of acoustics (and learning things).
During the past few years (say ten) I have learnt the basics of mechanical engineering, the stock exchange, economics, British Law, Company Law, first year university science........etc. Although I find the business subjects relatively uninteresting, they could be very useful in the kind of upside-down economy we have because they help you to be able to get a living without making what I would perceive to be a useful contribution.
During the years prior to that last ten (that is, the previous 50) I learnt speech (age 2 or so, I suppose), riding a bike, reading, maths, English, playing the ukelele, geometry, Physics, Chemistry, Geography, (horsemanship!), and all the other things one might pick up at any state school, which enabled me to go on and learn Commerce, typing, music, woodwork, drawing, screen printing, furniture design, business management, practical mechanics, building, surveying............in fact, I learnt a whole lot of stuff for some of which I have no qualifiations and therefore in which I am deemed to be uneducated, but in which I am sometimes found to be more capable than the qualified, and two subjects in which I am deemed to be qualified but in which I am no more competent than in many of the rest.
The things I learnt at Summerhill were reading and independance and (perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not) not only not to be ashamed of learning things, but also that to learn things can be fun. I learnt French to a reasonable level at Summerhill, and although I cannot do it comfortably now I was able at about 16 to read 'Le Monde', which arrived once a week from Paris, and of course like most Summerhillians I could make things with my hands.
The value of Summerhill for me as an educational (in my narrow sense) tool was that there was no pressure to learn anything - even to read - so that I was never tense about what I was trying to do. I just followed my nose.
I can tell you what I perceive to be the snag also. It was a snag I was unaware of until I reached about age 28, when I suddenly came in contact with a woman who had learnt a few scool basics, and I began to ask myself what I might have missed (even though I would not have enjoyed having stuff forced upon me). At that time I also began to wonder what information I might gain from books. I explored, and discovered a whole world that, although I realised it existed, I had not considered to be of any importance before and now discovered to be one of the most important parts of human existence and knowledge.
A kid does not know what information might be accessed, and although they should not in my opinion be forced to learn anything, I think it would be very sensible if they could see around them the example of adults learning and using their knowledge, and see around them sources of information in use and available so that they understand what the purpose of stored information is. No person can remember all the information even in a fairly basic technical manual, let alone more complex things, and so books and other sources of information are essential for anyone who wants the power to do many things - they store the information we have not the space in our heads for, and not infrequently lead us to realise things that we did not before know. There is also the question of the beauty of the written word (when it is), the interest of stories, and written humour, plays, words, and music................need I go on?
Interestingly, my youngest daughter, who has only a few books herself now she is 31, from age six onwards was in the habit of asking if we had a book with whatever bit of information she might have wanted at the time. Unfortunately, I did not at the time appreciate as much as I do now what she was doing, and did not respond as enthusiastically as I might have. Bloody parents!
As to such alarming questions as 'yes, but what do ladybirds do, Dad?' (with the emphasis on 'do') and the impossibility of answering, it taught me something about my own limitations.
(I think I would be a much better parent now than I ever was then.)
THERE ARE QUITE A FEW OF US CRIMINALS IN SOUTHWARK. Of course, the great majority of us don't actually choose the criminal way of life - it usually comes about as the result of Department of Social Security and Southwark Council incompetence.
If a person is unable to pay their council tax and the matter comes before the magistrates as a result, then they legally become a criminal if they cannot defend their position. Anybody who has tried this in Southwark will tell you that if you go to the magistrates' court on the appointed day, there is no hearing - just a table full of clerks telling you that there is nothing to argue about and that therefore you must pay up. As there is no dialogue the clerks decide that you are guilty of something, and give you a criminal record accordingly.
It is possible that you would fare just as badly if there were any magistrates there (in fact, knowing as I do certain local magistrates I would expect an equally ill-considered result), but that is not the point. You are being denied the chance to defend your position.
This sham court system seems to have been invented by Southwark to save money - resulting in people like me being extremely reluctant to pay because we have not been heard (although this year I have to say I really do not have any money - this being at least in part due to many years of other activities by council officers), thus making us even more criminals than we were on account of being both broke and uncreditworthy.
The Department of Social Security's part in this manufacture of criminals is achieved by doing everything too late, and getting it wrong regularly, so that many of those persons whose council tax they agree to pay get it too late to avoid conviction. This is then reinforced by the council sometimes not passing the benefit on when it does arrive - and evidently throwing most if not all correspondence in the wastepaper basket.
It is very inconvenient in several ways, but most noteable is the fact that I cannot be a company director, I cannot get any credit, I cannot stand for election to the council (and therefore can do nothing to change things), and although I can vote I probably cannot stand for Parliament next election - which is something I have been considering (it would be difficult to be worse than those already in parliament, after all, and you never know, I might invent something to say -or even do something).
On reflection, it seems to me one could say this manufacture of criminals creates exactly the kind of social division politicians need to keep themselves in a job.
This is a site concerned with one of the most unpopular planning decisions ever made in Greater London, the Crystal Palace Complex. It is so stunningly awful that only a handful of people who do not live near it appear to approve, whilst the rest are not entirely uninclined to mention such things as payola, freemasons....you name it! The site belongs to the London Borough of Bromley, but the aggro generated by it and the destruction of amenity caused by it will be almost entirely suffered by residents of adjoining boroughs and not the people of Bromley themselves.
This is a recycling site based in London, and offering materials to anybody. The organisation is a charity seeking to link suppliers of surplus materials with users. Especially good for the more ingenious designers amongst us.
The email of the people who run the above site is firstname.lastname@example.org. They are called Creative Supplies. Look them up for more info.
Here's an interesting education site - particularly for those who have young children and are not quite sure what to do to avoid the worst of what`s on offer in the mainstream of education.They are called www.edrev.org.
early Othernews - 1992, 93, 94.
There were a few essays that went out with the early Other News as a freestanding item. You can read these by clicking below.
The Soup Designer`s Handbook.
London Journey - a trip from Docklands through Beckenham and back to Docklands.
(Friday Woodworkers are suffering a temporary break due to some of the episodes not having been fully edited at the time of writing. It may take some timne to fix this problem.
(These articles were written in 1988, and were my first attempt at writing. Some people when shown these fell about laughing, some smiled faintly - and some yawned. I thought I was going to write a technical book, but it soon became apparent that I was much more interested in the people than the technology - and that is the main reason there are no drawings - although it might be rather good to do a couple of caricatures sometime.)
Index of Friday Woodorker articles (and a means of access).
We are still redesigning The Other News From England. Noticed the change so far?
There is at least one new article this week, and articles on many subjects in earlier issues (which can be seen by clicking below).
Index of earlier issues.
A READER COMPLAINED that it was not possible to go back more than 6 articles in Gabriele`s area. Regrettably this is because there is no index, and I have not the time to organise one yet. However, for those determined enough to find the early ones, they should be accessible by going to an early Other News and clicking through from it. This will not be fast, but I think will do the job. They started about November 1997 I think.
(I wish someone would make a contribution before I am forced to put in some of my own stuff here).
So new, in fact, that there is nothing there. I want to open a section of this site to be used as a kind of green reference. Ordinary folks usually know what to do in order to be green, but there are times when (a) they don`t know the technology, or (b)they are short of ideas, or (c) they would like to see what some other people think.
So the purpose of this area will be for people to describe to others how they made their own electricity, or saved a great deal of domestic water being wasted, or captured the methane gas from their cesspit, designed their solar bicycle with regenerative braking and portable overnight windcharger, caused plants to grow in a desert, made a solar water pump, etc.
A site for forward-looking people, in fact.
It may be very difficult to edit, but I would like a few articles and tips that are concise, easily understood and ecologically useful. Authors will be named if they so wish. These will be left on the site, and gradually as the number of articles builds up hopefully somebody will construct an index. I won`t volunteer myself, as I have yet to make a subject index for the whole Other News site.
One week carried an article that might be of interest to anybody thinking of taking out an Abbey National mortgage - or those who already have one.
Interestingly, one of the London papers described them as being "among the greediest".
There will soon be a new twist to this story, but I am not sure what it will be until it happens. They are trying to make it as difficult as possible instead of as easy as possible to resolve the present dispute.
(see several weeks back).
This Lexmark business gets worse. I refilled the black cartridge with an ordinary cartridge refilling outfit and it won`t print despite telling me that the cartridge is full and that it is printing.
In an earlier issue I told you about my feelings regarding Tempo retailers and the Lexmark 3200 printer I bought from them. I have now found out another thing about it.
The Lexmark 3200 printer I got from Tempo must surely be the most uneconomical printer I could possibly have bought. The black cartridge only does about 250 pages of ordinary type - for £28! That makes each sheet cost 11.2 pence plus the cost of the paper and probably another 11.2 pence more if any colour is used! - ABOUT 22.4 PENCE A SHEET! Nearly a pound for every four sheets!
I wouldn`t recommend you to buy it - but also look at my earlier article for an idea of Tempo`s service.
A person to help make up a subject index for the growing numbers of articles on The Other News From England. Email email@example.com
8- or more-track tape recorder. email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also want good working VW or Volvo 7 series 2.4litre turbodiesel engine. This is the type that goes in an LT van or a Volvo 740TD. email email@example.com
£2,000,000 at 0% interest would quite good too, although I would probably waste quite a lot of it employing musicians to do the great work.
All material on this site is copyright. Contact me if you want to use it. I am quite flexible. Educational non-profit use is free - but ask for permission and print an acknowledgement. If you can`t think what to print, put:
From The Other News From England. http://www.othernews.co.uk