Too Hard?

According to this report a number of schools who were presented with free classical books had them returned as being ‘too boring’ for current students.

I can sympathise to an extent. When I first studied Shakespeare in class it was mind-numbingly dull, the presentation was fundamentally flawed – Shakespeare’s work are plays meant to be performed, not read as if they were novels. Nor were they meant to be analysed and pored over until every bit of fun and entertainment was wrung from it until all that remains is a ‘carcass fit for hounds’.

Once I saw Shakespeare performed (especially by the RSC) I was hooked and realised just what these great works were all about. Not only that, I could then go back and ‘read’ the plays and gain an even greater understanding of them so that when I watched them again for a second or third time (which I did willingly) I was able to get even more out of the repeated performances.

What was needed wasn’t that these works be abandoned, but simply that they should be presented well.

Where my understanding and sympathies run dry though, is in reading the quotes from the ‘librarians’ at these thankless schools, who hold the opinion that Manga comics and “magazines” (and I’m sure my assumptions of puerility en masse are not entirely unfounded) some how equates to ‘reading’. Continue reading “Too Hard?”

Unto the next generation

When the Corvette was first conceived the idea was that it would be a lightweight, cheap (more or less…) car aimed at younger drivers unencumbered by the delights of mortgages, educational plans, pension plans or families. After all, who else would be interested in an impractical two-seat sports-car anyway?

Sadly, the relative price of the Corvette has risen dramatically in real term costs. When introduced in 1955 the base price was 84% of the average wage. As can be seen below, by the ’80s the base price had risen to almost 150% of the average wage and this trend has continued ever since.

Year Average Wage * Base Price %
1955 3,301.00 2,774.00 84.04%
1965 4,658.00 4,321.00 92.77%
1975 8,630.00 6,810.00 78.91%
1985 16,822.00 24,878.00 147.89%
1995 24,705.00 36,785.00 148.90%
2005 36,952.00 44,245.00 119.74%

*Wage data courtesy of the US Dept. of Social Security

That’s not to say that the later model Corvettes are poor value for money, the technology and power levels being achieved are incredibly impressive, especially when compared to other exotica such as Porsches and Ferraris. What it has done though, is made it much more difficult for the average guy in the street to buy one and, especially with rising insurance costs, it effectively puts them way beyond the budget of a lot of  (if not most) younger drivers.

The Corvette demographic is an aging one, sadly myself included, and seems to consist largely of people trying to recreate the misty golden days of their youth mixed with stockbrokers and other wealthier types hoping that they will be able to buy something that they can cash in on and see the kind of vastly inflationary prices seen recently on the early ‘vettes Younger drivers appear largely confined to children of existing owners who have received ‘hand me downs’.

So the question is – where are the next generation of Corvette owners going to come from? Continue reading “Unto the next generation”

Tax cuts for who?

So finally the promised and much vaunted 1% cut in GST has finally arrived and everyone is suddenly fantastically richer than they were this time last week.

Or not.

Conservatives ALWAYS pledge to cut taxes. It’s their number one sales pitch to the poor, overtaxed downtrodden. In fact often it’s the only card they seem to play. I saw this repeatedly in England and Canada’s Conservatives are grinding out the same stuck record. Elect us and we’ll cut taxes.

To be fair, they often do. The Conservative governments of England under first Thatcher, then Major, cut lots of taxes. They also then increased lots of other taxes too. Many of these were not ‘direct’ taxes such as income taxes, but rather indirect taxation such as reducing entitlement to benefits, cutting provision in schools and grants etc. The net result however was an overall increase in the overall tax burden for the majority of people.

One group of people who did seem to benefit from the changes however were people who were already rather well off. Strangely, these people enjoyed quite a bit of direct benefit from the changes in the form of saving them thousands on fancy houses and cars etc.

When Labour came to power in England it was under the banner of ‘no tax rises’. Since then, again there have been tax rises and it’s fair to say that the overall tax burden probably hasn’t changed a great deal; in fact it might even have risen again. With Labour though, the benefits do at least to occasionally benefit the poor instead of the rich (admittedly, probably only by accident).

The new GST cut is showing exactly the same trend. A lady buying a 700 thousand dollar house is happy to see an extra 7 thousand dollars in her pocket. While the rest of us see little change or even an increase in the overall taxes we pay because of the increases in income tax and higher duty on alcohol.

It would be easy to draw the conclusion from this that Conservatives always tax to benefit their rich friends to the detriment of the poor and that Labour/Liberal parties tax to take a little more from the rich to help the poor. In fact this position is often stated and repudiated by one branch of government or another (or indeed by the various media channels supporting the different factions).

The truth is somewhat stranger than the politically driven, newsworthy fictions though. Continue reading “Tax cuts for who?”

All you zombies

“I felt a headache coming on, but a headache  powder  is one thing I do not take. I did once – and you all went away.” – Robert A. Heinlein

I guess I must have taken a headache powder!

What actually happened was that my (now former!) webhost, suffered from a problem with one of its servers losing this site and several others I manage for various people.

This should have been a slight inconvenience. One quick restore from the daily backups and we should have been up and running again.

However, the backup was corrupt.

No problem you think, just go to the next backup set.

That’s what I thought too. But it seems there is only one backup set.

Now uniqueness can be a celebrated status, as human beings we are all unique and as such incredibly valuable. As a Highlander immortal, being ‘the only one’ is a state to be persued with grim determination and bloodshed.

As a state for a backup, uniqueness is about as desirable as sex addict’s visit to a nunnery.

Even after contacting the company repeatedly to ask for further efforts to recover the data for the affected sites, I received only a single reply that brushed off the incident with only a ‘we sympathise and will get back to you’. A week later, they haven’t.

I don’t expect miracles. I don’t expect people to run around doing my every whim on five minutes notice. But I do expect a company to act professionally and responsibly, especially when I am paying them for precisely that.

Host Depot has proved themselves to be thoroughly and totally unprofessional in this matter. I strongly urge people not to use them.