28 June 1999.
Index of earlier issues.
"THE RSI is still a little bit of a problem, so there may yet be further interruptions in the regularity of The Other News.
(Those who like that sort of thing 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.)
NO 5-YEAR-OLD HAS YET COMMITTED suicide in this country as a result of pressures at school as far as I know, but I understand from talking to parents and reading letters to the educational and social press that four-year-olds do from time to time get diagnosed as having depression with the cause alleged to be the pressures of school - the state of anxiety and panic of the school often being expressed by the fact that these children are being given homework to do.
I suppose it is only a question of time. They couldn't keep up with their homework, you see, these unfortunate four-year-olds, and as our government has ambitions to 'give every child a good start in life', and to avoid the chance of children being excluded from the chance to compete, the situation for these children can only go on getting worse until they take the plunge - if, with all that rubbish flying round their brain they can work out how to do it.
As far as I remember this goal has already been achieved with children of 11 or so (and was there one of 8?) who have actually committed suicide owing to the pressures of school. In the main, these have been reported as being 'sensitive' and have been bullied until they couldn't face going back to school, and because school is deemed to be so important they committed suicide rather than just becoming truants. So that's OK. They were just sensitive, and most kids aren't. One must make the odd sacrifice if one is aiming for a master nation.
Now I should refer you to an earlier Othernews (10 May 99), in which was published an unedited and very long email from an American teenager that, although not absolutely brilliantly written, nevertheless gave a very strong and quite convincing explanation of why from time to time an American teenager runs amok with a gun and kills a few pupils before (not always) killing themselves. It was not the only explanation I could find, but it was the only one that did not come from a politician or some pompous psychologist who had never consulted a teenager in their life.
If this girl is right, then the pressure of school leads to bullying (if school makes you feel like shit, then you make everyone else feel like shit), the bullying leads to suicide, and if guns are available it can also lead to murder. There are far too few staff to be able to police all this, and anyway, being thoroughly demoralised and exhausted through the huge numbers of people they have to attempt to look after there is little chance of their being in the right place at the right time (I chose the word 'police' because in our society the behaviour of adults to kids can be - and often is - such that kids are not capable of self-discipline - they wouldn't know what to do with it because they have never had the chance to experience it).
Do we actually want people who can perform brilliantly in exams but who are as a result mental hospital material, murderers, bullies, and anyway just as likely to be incompetent in real life as the next person despite it? Or do we want a good mix of people, some of them 'academic' and some of them not, but all of an optimistic and forward-looking disposition who are ready to honour and accept each each other for what they are?
It seems to me we won't get the latter by bullying 4-year-olds - nor even 12-year-olds.
Last week on Monday I published the story of my attempts to get in contact with a government department and enter into dialogue - and on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday?) a man phoned from the offending department to say that he understood I had been trying to communicate! He had only been told a couple of days before. The dialogue was not too bad. He did know the answers to my questions, and referred me to some expensive books that could be bought if you had the money - or I might be lucky and find them in the public library.
But my article was about the whole government operation. The fact that the whole thing is crippled by telephone queuing systems, answering machines, too few staff, incompetent staff (this is not to do with 'untrained' - people will train themselves if you give them some self-respect, and do it much better than the average 'training provider'), lack of interest, trying to substitute ill-written general letters in response to specific questions requiring a considered answer.
These things, and stock phrases such as 'centre of excellence', investors in people', 'management initiative', are used as a substitute for doing the job properly, which might cost a little more money, but which in the long run might well get so much more done that money would be saved.
There is just one other matter to be discussed here, and that is the number of hours people actually spend at work (if they have a job). Many many people have discovered through trial and error that they can get more done in a three day week of about 24 hours than they can in a 5 day week of about 40 hours. Given that there is much unemployment, that costs the whole nation an arm and a leg whilst those who work do too many hours to be efficient, would it not be better to experiment with ways of reducing people's working weeks?
We have a plague of motors, and none of us likes it, but nobody is willing to get rid of their car, or their democratic right to have one. We also have an economy that is propelled largely by the motor trade.
The solution to this economic and ecological dilemma may well lie partly in Per Capita Motor Fuel Rationing (essay somewhere on this site, but shortage of time has stopped me locating it for you - I think you click essays, then PCMFR), which, although the idea of rationing of any sort does not appeal to voters (that could be changed with the right presentation), would allow anyone to keep a car and at the same time reward those who do not want one - all without reducing the takings of either the motor trade or the oil trade.
It could be worth considering, even if the idea doesn't come from a politician.
ADOLF HITLER, when working out propaganda campaigns was bright enough to have noticed that people would believe more or less anything you told them.
He was not enough of a thinker, though, to realise that in the long run if you told them a pack of lies they would stop taking any notice of you once they found out that was what you were doing. Luckily for all of us, he never had the chance to discover this, because he disappeared from view before he reached most of the world (but he still did an awful lot of damage).
Our politicians probably don`t think about this question much, but certainly a recent one whom I will not need to name seems to have read Hitler and used the same principle in almost all areas of British life, with the unpleasant result that nearly our whole civil service can barely do any of the things it is supposed to do, whilst it`s management teams spend their whole lives trying to find ways of not spending money (or is it 'because' rather than 'whilst'?), doing job strategies and working out new mission statements.
Coupled to this, we have a society whose socio-financial division grows by the minute, and if we now add the government which the badly disappointed electorate had thought would be a relief from the previous one only to discover that it is the same, and suddenly we have:-
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.
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. 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 last week but one).
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.
These people keep springing up and then disappearing again. They have used a selection of names, but the people always seem to be the same. They are a disco without smoke, alcohol or drugs, and serve refreshments (probably very healthy, macrobiotic, veggy, etc) and dance to a wide range of types of music - including "classical", I am told. Sometimes they go to the Bonnington Cafe afterwards. Also, they occasionally turn up at a LETSSwing gig as a dancing group, and make the dancing a great deal more fun.
Saturdays 7-10pm , 6 March, 3 April, 8th May, at The Contact Centre, 60 Hambolt Rd., London SW4. (10 mins from Clapham Common tube stn. or buses 137, 35, 37. For info ring Kathy Hughes 0181 671 7300. They would like more participants.
A person to help make up a subject index for the growing numbers of articles on The Other News From England. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
8- or more-track tape recorder. email email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
£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