Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Reactions to new arrivals, to prorogation, to having a conscience and to technically-aided cheating.

Yesterday saw the arrival of our newest grandson, weighing in at 7 pounds 10 ounces, which is not a bad weight but is still astoundingly small when you see it in the flesh, as it were. Small but perfectly formed, thank goodness. His very oldest sister has yet to see him, the consequence of being an almost grown up person with a job and a home of her own. The next one down, on the way to adulthood at 16, was very emotional about meeting him. His brother did the I-am-a-cool-14-year-old act and feigned indifference but later confessed to his stepfather that he was actually scared stiff he might drop the little chap. But the youngest, his three-year-old sister, won the prize for enthusiasm, amazingly gentle admiration and, so far at least, a total lack of jealousy. I was impressed!

Back in the wider world Parliament has been prorogued, with a whole lot of shouting of “Shame on you”, a fair bit of shaking of hands and some singing. I was particularly impressed by the fact that the report said the Plaid Cymru MPs sang their song with harmonies. It’s nice to know that there is still some harmony left in the world.

In a report about how private school should be abolished I came across this:

 “Patrick Derham, head of Westminster, one of the country’s leading private schools, wrote recently that the tragedy of Grenfell Tower highlighted “the chasm between the haves and the have-nots. It made me feel even more uncomfortable about the job I do.””

Well, he could always give up his undoubtedly well-paid job at Westminster School if his conscience trouble him so much. It seems to me that declaring you have a conscience while continuing to promote privilege is just a little bit hypocritical.

Somebody with The unlikely name of Owl Fisher was writing about how feminists should stand with transgender people to defend all their rights. Which sounds about right even though I am still very confused and disturbed in my response to the whole transgender question.

I wondered if the writer could really be called Owl Fisher. It sounds like a very made-up name, one you might choose for effect.

At the foot of the article came this bit of biographical information: “Owl Fisher is a writer, filmmaker and campaigner. They are a co-creator of the My Genderation film project and an adviser for All About Trans.”

And that brings me to a linguistic quirk that annoys me as much as the transgender question leaves me confused. I fully understand that that there is a need to find a non-gender-specific pronoun along with all the other related bits of language. And, yes, “they” and “them” and “their” are all nicely gender-neutral. But talking about one person as “they” offends the linguist in me. I wonder what the French do. I am pretty sure the feminists and transgender folk don’t like accepting the dominance of the masculine “ils”.

There seems to be an abundance of modern problems at the moment. As technology moves more and more into microtechnology the possibilities for cheating increase. And so the Independent Commission on Examination Malpractice, set up by exam boards, is recommending that ALL WATCHES should be banned from exam halls.

 “Smartwatches, mobile phones and other internet-enabled devices are already banned in exam halls. Sir John Dunford, the commission’s chairman, said: “It can look as if it’s a time-telling watch and actually, you press a button and it becomes an email-type watch. If you don’t ban them all I think you’re giving a very difficult job to invigilators who are looking round an exam room. So I think the obvious thing to do here is to ban watches.” The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which commissioned the review, said it would consider whether to ban watches for next summer’s exams, as well as the report’s other recommendations.”

So there you go!

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