Thursday, 8 March 2018

An Undiplomatic Diplomat

It was most unwise of our Foreign Secretary to hint in public that the recent use of nerve agents may be the responsibility of the Russian Government.

That possibility may have occurred to many of us, but official pronouncements on the question should await the collection of evidence. If the responsibility eventually turns out to lie elsewhere Mr. Johnson's remarks will be a great embarrassment. If investigations do reveal Russian involvement, the Foreign Secretary's premature comments will make it easier for the Russians to dismiss evidence by saying that we intended to blame them all along and manufactured evidence accordingly.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Expensive Tickets

From time to time there are media reports of high prices charged for tickets to sporting events and concerts.

The organisers appear to sell all their tickets rather quickly, but tickets are still offered for sale by secondary suppliers that charge much more than the nominal charge.

That suggests to me that the organisers of the events do not charge enough in the first place. Raise the official prices and the 'tickets touts' and internet re-sellers would no longer flourish.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Neglected Lavatories in Newham

A few days ago there were news reports that Newham Council had appealed to shopkeepers not to sell corrosive materials such as lavatory cleaners to anyone younger than 21.

The lower age limit for marriage is 16, so I imagine Newham has married couples both younger than 21, and some of those may have their own accommodation. There may be other households in which someone younger than 21 does the shopping for relatives too dilapidated to shop for themselves.

I do not envy them their unclean lavatories!

Friday, 23 February 2018

Making Education Fun ???

I note that the President of the USA considers arming teachers so that they can defend their pupils against armed attack.

How would the president respond if some teacher, infuriated by a disorderly class, shot them all?

Perhaps children would then be armed so they could protect themselves against berserk teachers.

Schools might then be as exciting as those computer games in which players try to shoot as many individuals as they can, and children could be judged by the number of their kills.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Facts of the Matter

Inspired by seeing an Internet posting suggesting that there might be no such things as facts, I wrote a short note on the subject. here it is

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Puritanical Over Reaction

I have reservations about the fuss over Oxfam staff employing prostitutes in Haiti.

The affair is being treated as if it were on a par with child abuse, or senior staff abusing their authority by making advances to subordinates.

The employment of a prostitute may be a straightforward transaction between consenting adults, in which case it is a private matter between the two people concerned.

There may well be other factors, but if there are they have not so far been explained.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The End of Home Chemistry

There are proposals to prevent people younger than 18 from buying corrosive substances.

Such a restriction in my youth it would have been a serious impediment to my intellectual development.

I received a chemistry set when I was about nine years old - I don't remember whether it was a Christmas present or a birthday present. It was made up by a colleague of my father's and contained several substances too poisonous to be permitted in a modern chemistry set.

For a year or two I just performed the experiments recommended in the instructions. When I started at the Grammar school, just before my eleventh birthday, I began to learn some chemistry and started to extend the chemistry set so that I could duplicate what we did at school. Chemistry became my hobby and I read well beyond the school syllabus, and by my fifteenth birthday I was studying Chemistry Physics and Mathematics at A Level, and had converted the small third bedroom to my 'laboratory', in which lethal substances abounded without ever causing me any injury.

Gradually my interest in Mathematics grew at the expense of Chemistry and I eventually became a Maths teacher, but it was Chemistry that led me to Science and Maths in the first place. What would have become of me without that stimulus ?