17 Feb

Certainty and ignorance

Statue of John Knox

Although I write about and am engaged with politics these days, I haven’t always held much in the way of political opinions.  The impetus for beginning an interest in it came from one conversation too many in which I was left silent with no opinion to give.  As it seemed to me – and which I now know to be naïve – the people whose opinions I heard tended to carry their views with a certainty and conviction I rarely had about anything.  Not knowing the details of political circumstances, I concluded these people were better informed than I was, so I generally felt no reason to interject or disagree with them.

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10 Feb

The budo lifestyle

Lately I’ve been thinking a number of things concerning my attitude towards life and my understanding of the ‘budo lifestyle’.  Particularly on my mind has been the nature of necessity and how it’s comforting, but ultimately disingenuous, to view things as needs when in reality they are wants.  The absence of some things can be psychologically difficult, but making life difficult is not the same as making it impossible, and that, it seems to me, is the true distinction between a want and a need.

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21 Dec

Social apathy

Social apathy

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.

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19 Dec

Programming’s not for everyone

Programming

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.

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12 Dec

The importance of self-improvement

Self-improvement

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.

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09 Dec

The future of education

Education

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?

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  1. 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).

    See DfE: GCSE and Equivalent Results (Provisional) and National Curriculum Teacher Assessments at Key Stage 3 in England, 2011/12, available here

  2. According to the recent study by the Pearson education firm, as reported by the BBC on 27 November 2012. 

08 Dec

Why I learnt Esperanto

Esperanto

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.

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12 Dec

The Stakes of Religion

The stakes of religion

I was raised in a Christian background — so much so that my parents used to take me and my family to an annual Christian retreat in the Spring. Consequently when I was growing up, Christianity was a heavy influence on my personal development. It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 that I began to really comprehend the implications of my beliefs — specifically that if my friends didn’t believe, they would go to Hell. And Hell no less — an unfathomably bad place for even the gravest of criminals, let alone people that simply didn’t know any better. After this I began to have strong reservations about the ethics of a God that would punish my friends just because they didn’t believe in something they had no tangible experience of.

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