OK, so I seem to be batching things up and sending them off to my web log in big chunks. Maybe this is missing the point, but what the hell. In other news, `Stay Calm April' is still going OK, just about, though obviously mentioning it was a mistake, since the result was that my so-called friends spent yesterday evening trying to shatter my air of calm. (Can you shatter an air? Probably not.)
Compare and contrast:
Hard Numbers (from The Economist). Maths teaching is in decline; there is a shortage of 3,500 teachers per year, and only 350 new teachers entered the profession last year. The suggested solution:
An obvious long-term answer is to pay teachers more in hard-to-fill posts such as maths and physics. That would breach the taboo that all subjects are of equal value.
Which seems fair enough. After all, that's what private schools do. And yet, this is deeply controversial. Why?
Maths `should be optional' (from the BBC):
Allowing pupils to drop maths at the age of 14 would create more time in the curriculum and would alleviate the shortage of specialist maths teachers, Mr Bladen [of the NAS/UWT] suggested,
This story was the subject of a really awful bit of reporting on Today this morning, in which a few kids coming out of a mock exam were interviewed about how much they disliked maths, and then some hapless professor was wheeled out and repeatedly asked for an `everyday application' of quadratic equations. Naturally the real point -- that people do (hopefully) use the analytical skills they're taught in maths -- was ignored.
But the same programme had the BBC berating the Liberal Democrats for putting up candidates in local elections who are campaigning on local issues and local policies, so at least the idiocy was applied without prejudice.
- Martin has asked me to point out that his letter about Kim Howells was much more facetious than mine.
I've been listening to music from MP3.com, which seems to work fairly well. It does, however, lack the feature I really want, which is `people who listened to this song also liked...'. The problem with music that random indie bands have uploaded to The Webternet(TM) is that I've never heard of any of it, so a means for finding stuff I'd actually like better than `clicking on things at random' would be helpful. MP3.com insist on setting all sorts of cookies and other shite, so they presumably are tracking everything their users download; it should be possible for them to `leverage' some of this information to `add value' for their `stakeholders'. Excuse me, I'm going to have to shoot myself now. (At least I didn't say p---, so I avoid having to pay £1 into the p--- penalty fund....)
Obviously the MP3.com people (Vivendi Universal, in fact) have thought about this a bit, since for each band there's a link that says something like
Find more artists in place.
... but that's completely pointless, because the whole point of recorded music is that I don't care where the band is! (OK, if they were really good I might want to go to a gig, but that's hardly likely to apply to
Find more artists in Kawasaki, Kanagawa -- Japan
or the slightly surreal
Find more artists in PO Box 1837, Wonder Valley, California -- USA
or indeed most of the myriad other garages and lock-ups from which these people presumably hail.)
So, actually legal free music on the internet isn't quite there yet. (It's not like Napster or whatever had this feature either, but it didn't matter, since all of the mainstream media are churning out publicity for the bands which have record contracts and airplay, so it wasn't necessary.)
- Tired of all that Tom Clancy crap? A little vignette of how a `third world war' might really have turned out....