A Russell Howard quip

“Kids do really well in their A Levels, and how do we respond?

‘A’ levels are getting easier!’ In my day, you had to do 50 questions in a minute, and if you got one wrong, they killed your Dad!”


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Hedonism and gambling

Hedonists want to win. They really want to win. Losing isn’t fun making you unhappy, resentful and unpleasant. Hedonists like easy money but not losing, which is the central problem in gambling as it often involves losing. Obviously hedonists can avoid gambling altogether but they want easy money. Or, can work hard to make winning likely. Hedonists gamble knowing about odds and enjoy the challenge. Those who are poor gamblers stop as chasing losses is the road to ruin.


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It’s a bit extreme but….

Surely not!


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Book Review: Richard Davies ~ Extreme Economies: Survival * Failure * Future – Lessons from the World’s Limits (2019)

Davies book has three parts. Each part is a case study. Davies’s book reflects global fieldwork, which is done brilliantly.

Section one: Survival features an eye-catching analysis of Angola prison in Louisiana, USA. American justice(?) is barbaric,…average sentence for an inmate in Angola is 92 years…1 Not being sequoias these are death sentences by other means. Some prisoners have developed rudimentary businesses. Davies celebrates this. He also accepts Louisiana’s barbarism. Davies has a chilling, inhuman, dispassionate gaze.

Section two: Failure is also eye-catching. One case study is Glasgow. This is a shock for British readers who don’t mind poverty porn situated in faraway places: but Glasgow? His case is built on Glasgow’s historic failure to adapt to new economic realities producing welfare junkies.

.in Calton, a Glaswegian suburb, male life expectancy was just 54. (In Swaziland, where 27 per cent of the adult population has AIDS, it is 57.)2

The collapse of the social glue that holds people together and learning by osmosis destroyed Glasgow.

Section three: Future: Instinctively I reeled back from this section. The case study is Akita, Japan. The future according to Davies is super-aged people dominating and shaping the lived environment.

Akita is…. Japan’s most aged region: with an average age over 53 it was the first prefecture where more than half of the population is over 50 and more than a third is over 65.3

The future according to Davies is that old people will be catered for by cuddly robots with Artificial Intelligence benignly looking on. It’s an interesting thesis and may even happen

On balance sections one and two are invaluable and the third is a matter of taste. Warmly recommended.

1 Richard Davies. Extreme Economies (p. 77). Transworld. Kindle Edition.

2 ibid p. 179

3 ibid p. 213


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Chairing a School Exclusion Meeting

Many of us have Chaired various meetings in the past, but I think one of the most testing; for me was when I was Chair of Governors at one of Harold Hill’s more notorious schools. Yes the school had a reputation, but all four of my children had attended that school so I didn’t think it was a bad school.

Some years after my children had left the school I became a governor, and eventually the Chair of Governors. It was time consuming but also satisfying. I enjoyed parent meetings when pupil achievement  was discussed. Other times the disciplinary or school exclusion meetings could turn turn into constructive to destructive sessions within seconds.

One memorable meeting related to a boy of fourteen. He and his parents attended the potential school exclusion meeting on time. As usual, I introduced the members of the panel and their titles; Head Teacher, Form Teacher, teacher with pastoral responsibilities, the representative from the Council and of course myself. Next, I had to set down the meeting procedures which were quite straightforward. I would ask the Head Teacher to explain the reason for the meeting, I asked the Head Teacher to call witnesses he thought relevant to the meeting and then the panel to question them.

The case was one of insubordination towards teachers, being a bully in the playground and the lad had been caught selling cannabis to other students. Serious charges!

I invited the parents and pupil to cross examine what had been said. Usually the parent side started makingexcuses for their child. Sometimes it was difficult to stop and explain; both the parents and pupil would have the opportunity to question what had been said in the next part of the procedure. In this particular case it all went pear shaped. The parents didn’t like me interrupting them, said the whole meeting was clearly biased against their lad and he was being set up as a warning to other students to buckle down under the schools draconian rules.

I adjourned the meeting for ten minutes, to calm the situation; when resuming I again referred to the meetings procedure that I had laid down at the beginning. I pressed on inviting the parents to make their case to the governors. They should then explain why the case that the Head Teacher presented wasn’t accurate.

The parents started to repeat their tirade. After they had finished, I asked if they had any witnesses that they had asked to attend the meeting in support of their statements. Their answer was ‘No’.

In accordance with the procedure I asked the parents, pupil and Head Teacher with his witnesses to withdraw for the time being whilst the panel reached its conclusion. The young man didn’t do himself any favours, when leaving the room with his hands in his pockets, muttering… bastards.

The panel came to its conclusion. I called all the attendees to re-join the panel. I came straight to the point. I decided to uphold the exclusion for twelve weeks. During that period their son will continue his education in a central facility in Romford. I told them that they had the right to appeal the decision,  but the appeal had to be lodged within six weeks.

It was an acrimonious meeting. The boy was aware of the  parameters for behaviour and should have accepted his punishment without argument.


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Hedonists are adults

Adults make decisions and take the consequences. Everyone does stupid things and sometimes they’re really stupid. Hedonists don’t whine about bad luck. They know they fouled up. Even if they followed advice it’s still their decision and they accept ownership. If the advice was malicious it was poor judgement that meant the advice was followed. Yours! Hedonists don’t play the blame game. Hedonists are adults because they know whining is repulsive.


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Jack Dee on people with allergies

If I’m pushed, I’d also admit I don’t like people with allergies. They just annoy me. There seems to be something far too self-centred about it.

No thanks, I’m allergic.”

Why not just say ‘No thanks’? I wasn’t asking for your medical history. I was just passing around the nuts. Trying to be friendly, that’s all.


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