Monday 27 February 2012

The Psychopath Test

(February 2012)

’It’s a frightening and huge thought,’ I said, ‘that the ninety-nine per cent of us wandering around down here are having our lives pushed and pulled around by that psychopathic fraction up there.’

‘It’s a large thought,’ she said. ‘It is a thought people don’t have very often. Because we’re raised to believe that deep down everyone has conscience.’

Friday 24 February 2012

Wider Still and Wider

It’s almost that time of year again. We all have to file into the sports hall, bow, stand, look solemn, bow some more, sit, listen to interminable droning from various random dignitaries, bow again, stand, sit, clap (maybe), bow, stand, sit, stand bow, bow bow, clap (maybe), sing stand (are we still standing? I forget) bow listen bow sit stand clap (maybe) stand bow bow stand bow, bow bow bow bow…

Congratulations kids! You’ve finally graduated High School! Six years of spirit-crushing tedium are almost over, but not yet; we have to celebrate first. With more crushing tedium.

Celebration Japanese style. This is how we do it.

Monday 20 February 2012

Friday 17 February 2012

Worse Than Hitler

One - Off Topic

So. The context thing. Again. It’s a tricky one. Take this for example; a travel article by a travel writer in the travel section about travelling to Hiroshima. Unless the entire anglosphere has decided, overnight, to redefine the word ‘travel’ without telling me, most of the comments below the line are a little off topic.

It’s entirely predictable though. Absent the bombing, Hiroshima is a fairly unremarkable Japanese city. There’s always the other World Heritage Site, but pretty temples are ten-a-penny over here. The bombing is really what defines the city in the eyes of the outside world, and as such is the main reason for wanting to visit. It’s perfectly understandable that talking about the city and its various memorials provokes discussion on the wider issues.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

One Thousand and One Nights

(January 2012)

Framing stories then. Wheels within wheels. Matryoshka dolls, one inside the other inside the other. This is the granddaddy of them all. Grandmother perhaps would be better, with Geoff’s merry pilgrims acting as paterfamilias, ‘cos this is all about the ladies.

Monday 13 February 2012

Nailing Screws

Or screwing nails, one of the two. How we nail the screw which screws the… Fuck it, you know the drill by now.

Know the drill. God I’m a funny bastard.

Friday 10 February 2012

Pedagogical Epistemology

Or epistemological pedagogy, one of the two. How we teach how we know what we know. Or maybe how we know what we know to teach and how to do it. And know it. No. How we know what we want the students to know and how to teach them how to know it, and how we know they know it.

Bollocks. Let’s start again shall we?

Wednesday 8 February 2012


A Journey in North Korea
Guy Delisle, 2006
(January 2012)

A cartoon account of an animator’s brief stay in Pyongyang. Nothing to Envy covers the same ground more authoritatively and is frankly a better book. But comparing the two is perhaps as unfair as it is inevitable. This is basically just a travelogue, despite the uniqueness of its subject matter.

Friday 3 February 2012

(Don’t) Lend Me Your Words

Old joke. English couple on holiday in the south of France. Rent a darling little gîte just outside the most picturesque village imaginable. Visit the shops every morning to pick up freshly made croissants. Eat delectable coq au vin at a charming restaurant on the town square. On their final evening a band start playing. The music is beautiful and finishes all too soon. Desperate for more, but not knowing how to ask, the wife turns to her husband and demands, ‘Quick! What’s the French for encore?’