Which is it? Higher education that can pay its way or pandering to xenophobia.

Posted March 20, 2011 by unnaturalphilosopher
Categories: Education, Politics, UK

The conservative party seems hell bent on destroying the U.K education system. This is becoming increasingly apparent as they bungle, backtrack and blindly blast away with no real understanding of the institution they are attacking. I would feel more confident of their ability to handle our public education if I believed any of them had ever been part of it.

But this new meeting of dumb immigration policy and bad educational policy has me astounded. One of the major ways that universities managed to exist at all in this country was a constant stream of foreign students drawn to the high quality of higher education on offer here. So the idea of reducing the number of visas available for students from other countries seems like madness.  Especially to a government who have complained endlessly about the costs of providing education for the citizens of this country.

Consider my last educational institution Bath University.  Around 17% of their students are international students, each of which pays 3-4 times that amount of tuition fees a UK student would pay. If the government is so worried about funding universities, it seems like madness to remove this regular income in the interests of pandering to a right-wing conservative base who are worried about too many people from other countries coming into the UK.

Even if, for a brief moment, you are willing to give their knee-jerk xenophobic ramblings the time of day, the people coming in on these visas are not the ones they are scared of. These are students coming here to study. Not terrible troublemakers here to nick your stereo, or nasty people here to take jobs that “hard working British workers” could be doing. (Honestly if the British worker is so hard working, why on earth are these people worried? I would have thought employers would be lining up around the block to recruit these super-workers.) These are students here to get higher education. Now there are many negative stereotypes about students, don’t get me wrong, I get as sick of idiot students vomiting in the street as the next man. But in my humble experience of six years in different universities the international students are the least of our worries. It’s the British students who have the unhealthy binge drinking culture, not some nice guy from Singapore here to learn computer science.

It is the end of civilization I tell you!

Posted August 9, 2010 by unnaturalphilosopher
Categories: Uncategorized

This painful attempt to defend right to oppress the gays the sacred institution of marriage is remarkable for many terrible reasons.

Firstly it takes victim blaming and the terrible uncontrollable phallus to a new high by suggesting that the entire institution of heterosexual marriage is the protect women from men who are powerless to stop themselves subjugating them.

Marriage is a necessary defense of a woman’s sexuality and her human liberty from determined assault by men who would turn her into a slave, a concubine – something less than fully human.

Thank goodness women can rest secure in their patriarchal subjugation, free from terrible subjugation…  And don’t his motives suddenly seem so laudable, it is not that he hates gays and wants to restrain them from having equality, it is that he loves women so much he wants to preserve the right to subjugate them. (He just lucks out when he gets to oppress gays while doing this, it’s an awesome twofor!)

But hard as it is for Walker to believe, most of us who prefer to leave marriage (with all its defects) as it is are not concerned with homosexuality at all.

We are merely voicing a sensible desire to preserve an institution that recognizes and protects the special status of women. If marriage becomes a legislative courtesy available to everyone, like a key to the city, it will be women who will lose.

But then Mr. Schulman moves onto to one of the more objectionable straw-men used in the fight against gay-marriage in the USA. That no culture or society every has every legalized gay marriage and it is some terrible social experiment.

Read the rest of this post »

An expanding glossary of terms.

Posted August 9, 2010 by unnaturalphilosopher
Categories: Uncategorized

Social experiment.

The suggestion by conservative commentators that an idea has never been tried before! Always used in situations where it clearly has been outside the borders of the United States, usually with great success. However, the suggestion that it is an untried and untested idea allow them to surround it with an aura of danger and doom that would be completely lost if they actually let their listeners look at the facts. Examples are such terrible social experiments as socialized medicine, social security, long term unemployment benefits, progressive tax codes and legalizing gay marriage.

Uncontrollable phallus.

The assumption that women must avoid being seen as attractive/vulnerable/having fun/female because that will compell men to rape them. Men are powerless to control the overwhelming force of their penis that makes them assault young women and are, as such, entirely blameless of the crime if the women in question showed the slightest sign of being sexually compatible in terms of species.

Victim Blaming and shaming.

The tactic of suggesting that women who are assaulted are to blame for their own assault due to some action (passive or active) that compelled the men to attack them. See uncontrollable phallus.

“Don’t hate me because I am cautious, I’ve been hurt before” and the shift between SCOTUS and the people.

Posted August 5, 2010 by unnaturalphilosopher
Categories: Politics, Queer

While the recent news out of California regarding proposition 8 did bring a brief smile to my face, the judicial path this must now take fills me with cynicism and dread.

Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that the ban on same sex marriage was in violation of the constitution is met with joy across the country, it sets us on a path which forces us to confront the generational disconnect on this issue as it heads to the Supreme Court.

Despite the attempts of the pro-prop 8 camp to say that young and trendy people hate gay-marriage the issue is strongly divided along age lines. A 2009 and Gallup poll showed that 59% of people under thirty support the recognition of same sex marriage (marriage, not civil unions but actual marriage) whereas that figure swings dramatically the other way the older the respondents get, with 66% of people over sixty-five opposed to it.

So the younger generations increasingly don’t see an issue with same sex marriage, and this is often taken as a sign that there is an inevitability to marriage equality (although that is no good for those wanting to marry now) and that in time the population will wonder what all the fuss was about.

Sadly the U.S.A appoints the Supreme Court for life. As the Segal-Cover rating for supreme court justice ideology shows the court has been trending to the right of politics for many years. The Roberts court stands as the most conservative court we have seen with this rating. It’s average rating of 0.33 (0 being completely conservative and 1 being totally liberal) makes it a very right wing judicial establishment, and that was with Stevens on the bench and his impressive 0.25 rating, who knows what Kagen will do to those numbers.

So as our supreme court slides to the right and the population slides to the left on social issues we have to wonder how this life-time appointment of ageing conservatives will match up to a population becoming increasingly permissive on social issues. How will people cope when those in the position of deciding the justness of our laws have such wildly different values as the people they judge.

A fun response.

Posted June 23, 2010 by unnaturalphilosopher
Categories: Uncategorized

Watching the lovely people who inhabit Pharyngula take apart a very silly online poll about the Pledge of Allegiance is always fun. This time it allowed me to witness the best response yet to the tired old claim that the founding fathers of the U.S.A intended it to be a Christian nation.

“Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.” — Thomas Paine “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.” — Benjamin Franklin “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.” — James Madison “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.” — James Madison “The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.” — John Adams “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.” — John Adams “We discover in the gospels a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication .” — Thomas Jefferson “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law.” — Thomas Jefferson

It’s a work of art.

Not our problem Bojo

Posted June 10, 2010 by unnaturalphilosopher
Categories: Uncategorized

So I have to say sitting here in the US I have heard very little of the “anti-British rhetoric” this gentleman is talking about. Don’t get me wrong; I have heard a hell of a lot of anti-BP rhetoric, and anti-corporate rhetoric. But multi-national corporations really lost their passports a long time ago didn’t they? Just because this one is based in the UK doesn’t mean an attack on it is an attack on Great Britain. Any more than an attack on Newscorp is an attack on Australia because its owner happens to come from there.

On the larger question though, so what if it was? BP has the worst track record of environmental and worker safety of any of the five biggest oil companies. It screwed up on a monumental scale and obliged to pay the consequences, since they don’t seem hugely enthusiastic about that then the country whose water and land they defiled should be making them pay the consequences. Just because Boris Johnson doesn’t like to see people having a go at Brits doesn’t mean the company should be let off the hook. It just means Boris Johnson needs to grow up a hell of a lot. The world is no longer about British Petroleum; even BP changed that name to just BP a few years back. Gone are the days of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI remember them?) dominating the world from London.

These companies do not belong to any one country; they are on the verge of being countries in their own right.

Also, and this is where I become cold and callous. If you invested in the oil company with the worst safety record out there, then you should expect to lose money when they inevitably dump a whole lot of toxic crude into the oceans. That’s the gamble you took. Deal with it.

A good start

Posted June 2, 2010 by unnaturalphilosopher
Categories: Politics

Tags: , ,

Now backpeddle a bit more away from that stupid idea!