Social apathy seems to have stricken developed countries. I don’t see it fit for me to criticise what others should be interested in, but if there’s something that, as a society, we should all collectively be interested in, it’s how our society is governed. This is a subject that ought to appeal to all people – from the selfless who care for those around them, to the selfish who care for themselves. From the two opposite ends of the spectrum, both Russell and Rand were interested in government, and so should all of us be. If we aren’t, we actively hand the reins to those who are, who will always use that power for the securement of their own interests – including preventing us from taking those reins back.
Today is Friday, 21st December 2012, and marks the biggest end of the world prediction of our lifetime. I first became aware of the date around 8 years ago from watching The X-Files in secondary school, for which 21st December 2012 marked a major plot point.1 At that time I remember contemplating where I’d be so far ahead in the future. It was difficult enough to think about where I’d be just 1 year ahead, let alone 8.
No spoilers here since I like to remain optimistic that not everyone who’ll get hooked on The X-Files has already seen it. ↩
I used to think, as I suspect that most people think, that near enough everyone can learn to program if they were to put their mind to it. Recently I’ve been questioning this idea, and now I think probably not everyone can – probably less even than half. There seems to be a lot of websites out there encouraging everyone to learn to program, but I think all these programmes are necessarily doomed to failure if their intention is genuinely to get general society to understand programming.
Something I thought about a lot when I was living in France for the year was the nature of time. This was probably because it naturally went hand in hand with frequently considering how long I had left until it was time to leave and revert back to my old student life. The year was sort of like a long countdown.
The concept of identity doesn’t usually get much scrutiny, but it’s one we tend to have a lot of assumptions about that often haven’t been properly thought through. The implications of a change in our understanding of what it means to be an individual are enormous – it could affect our criminal justice system, our laws, politics, and our understanding of personal responsibility.
If there’s one habit I’d advocate as being the most important for living a fulfilled life, it would be self-improvement. Self-improvement is so important that for most people I’d even say it was essential. As humans, developing new skills and growing as people is central to our vision of self-worth and sense of achievement, but I think it goes deeper than this.
To those with it, it can seem the most valuable thing in the world, but to those without it, it can often seem completely unnecessary. I’m writing about education. Currently in Britain, statistics record that only 50-60% of students achieve the 5 A*-C grades deemed necessary for continued education or basic employment outside of apprenticeships.1 Is it me, or is this statistic diabolical? How is it that over 40% of all children leaving secondary schools are deemed unfit for basic employment or continued academic achievement – and this in the nation supposedly ranked 6th2 in the world for its quality of education?
The latest figures available were published October 2012 by the Department of Education:
58.6 per cent achieved 5 or more GCSEs at grade A* to C or equivalent including English and mathematics GCSEs or iGCSEs, a decrease of 0.4 percentage points from 2010/11 (Table 1a, Chart 1).
Recently I’ve been learning Esperanto. Esperanto is a man-made, consciously planned language that has no geographical region associated with it, nor a collected populace, and because of this it can rightly be seen as an unusual choice to learn as far as languages go. The usual reasons for learning a language generally don’t apply with Esperanto.