February Half Term 2018
You are now over half-way through the academic year. The exams are getting closer, but you have been told that all the time by your teacher ("We are so far behind; there is so much more on the syllabus to cover."). It remains cold and dank as I write this. We didn't have a white Christmas; it is more likely that we get a white Easter. I am now keeping a weather diary of conditions at home. I also do a daily weather report for the BBC Weatherwatchers site. I can hear you say, "Hasn't he got anything better to do?"
I have now reviewed all the material in the A-level Core Physics syllabus. I have had my attention drawn to a couple of typos in the notes. I have corrected these. They are stupid mistakes that slip my review. I have noticed some strange things that I had written when I first wrote the options. I have corrected things and rewritten them.
I have written a lot more for the Medical Physics. It has taken me ages. However I hope you have found it to be worth it. I now have to update the Turning Points in Physics. The Electronics notes are up to date, but I will change the formatting to my new style.
I Have now changed the Home Page. I hope you like it. I am sure it's more friendly to those who view these pages on mobiles. A development that I will put in place in 2018 is to have a contents page for each syllabus and map the topics to the pages. I will need to write one or two new pages.
I still use FrontPage as a web-editor, and that's the way I have learned to use it. It is fifteen years old which is, as far as software is concerned, positively antediluvian. The appearance may be rather dated, but I am as well. So there. On this theme, a number of professional website developers have touted for my trade suggesting that the appearance of the site is dated, etc. I would say to them:
It's the content that my readers are interested in. This is an educational site, not a commercial site.
I do not have the money that would no doubt be charged to upgrade the site with all bells and whistles for the many hundreds of pages that there are.
If I do decide to go for it, I shall approach a web-developer of my choice. That will happen when my boat comes in - the fact that it's lying on the sea-floor...
I block any such approaches. They probably won't read this as they use bots to send out their unsolicited e-mails.
As those of you who regularly read this blog well know, I hate Brexit with every cell of my body. I have not written about it for a while. Unfortunately, though, if I ignore it, it does not go away. At least when I ignore Sunday, it does go away after 24 hours. But not Brexit; it hangs around like the miasma from a full wheelie bin on a hot summer's day. I have taken an interest in current affairs since when I was a long-haired teen. I have never seen such a shower for a government that has been so unfit for purpose. In the last election, they talked about a Coalition of Chaos with Corbyn. Now we have a Coalition of Mayhem, propped up by a party from Ulster whose members live in the 1930s and regard the 1950s as a scary new world.
As the clock ticks, our riven country faces a crash-landing. The experts tell us that the areas that voted Brexit are the ones that are most likely to be hit the most. Cumbria faces a total loss in prosperity of about 16 %, and the North East not much better. All sectors will be hit hard. As for ignoring experts, as the leading advocates of Brexit say we should, I know nothing about national-level macroeconomics, in the same way that most macroeconomists know little about Quantum Physics. So I trust what the economists say, in the same way as the weather-forecasters are trusted in giving an accurate forecast for the next few days. Yes, they can get it wrong, but they give it their best shot.
What I do know about Brexit is that it is about the Conservative Party. The former Prime-Minister, Rt Hon D W D Cameron, took a gamble. The Rt Hon A B de P Johnson decided to campaign against the EU because he wanted to "get one on Cameron". It shows he's is 53 going on 13. No plan for what would be the outcome when he won, and still no plan. It's all a jolly jape. No doubt he will become Lord Johnson of Jolly Jape. As for his sidekick Gove, he will be Lord Gove of Diddley Squat. Don't forget Baroness Mayhem of Wheat Fields.
The damage limitation is about how to save face for the Conservative Party. It cannot be embarrassed, whatever the cost to the country. It looks to the Daily Mail and Daily Express to pour out their bile onto those who dare question the chaos that is so obvious. (If I handle either of these publications, I wash my hands, just as I do after going to the lavatory.) "It's the will of the people," so the mantra goes, the sacred idol of the Conservative Party. But of course we will get back our national symbols:
Blue passports. We could have had them anyway. Croatia has them. The dark blue passport was actually imposed by an international treaty after the Great War.
Crown on pint glasses. Big deal.
Our national symbol is the bulldog - an ugly brute that is a mutated parody of what should be a fine animal (I am a dog-lover, but my wife is very allergic to dogs, so we don't have one). It has many veterinary problems, which seem to be quite analogous to the state our country.
So is this what we are getting for the thousands of millions that are being spent on the process, money that should be spent on housing, hospitals, and policemen? If there is an incident in the evening in our area, the police have to travel 35 km - plenty of time for the villains to make good their escape. One evening, a speeding car ran into our neighbour's van and made a real mess of it. The police did not attend until the next morning. I and my neighbours wondered whether they had stopped off in the pub on the way. Yes, the motorist owned up and my neighbour's van was repaired (not much of it is original), but supposing someone caught a burglar. It doesn't bear thinking about. There are a hundred and one other pressing things that need to be legislated for, but Brexit has taken over everything.
It seems that the will of the people is no longer the will of the people. There are people who still want Brexit. They tend to be:
Old people who attended the old secondary modern schools. The kind who voted Brexit because it was all to do with foreigners. They will be dead before Brexit bites. They don't give a damn about their grandchildren losing their opportunities. Pure selfishness.
The xenophobes in places where there is little meeting of different cultures.
Those who are nostalgic for the good old days of the nineteen fifties. No it was not very nice in the 1950s. Cars were dreadful. Children were routinely physically abused by their teachers and anyone else. For many teachers, physical abuse was a first-line teaching strategy. I know; it happened to me. Some went further. The vile James Savile started to abuse people in the 1950s. Sex pests had an unopposed field day then. Food was awful. Britain was a monochrome place, riven by class, and dominated by the church, stuck as it was in the seventeenth century. Rivers were polluted, and the environment poisoned. Racism and discrimination were both perfectly acceptable. Xenophobia was mainstream. Boy meeting girl was frowned upon. As for boy meeting boy (and girl meeting girl), that was beyond the pale. Young gays were birched. Gay men and women were sent to prison. People were hanged (and one of two of these were innocent). Domestic violence was rife, but it was not the done thing to make a fuss of it. As for a girl having a baby, that was beyond the pale and such children were routinely dumped in church-run establishments where unspeakable things happened. (They would have meted out the same treatment to Mary and Jesus, no doubt.) Nineteen fifties? No thanks.
Those who want to revive the Empire. They are usually Colonel Blimp characters who live in the South and South West of England The British Empire was not a proud part of our nation's history. India was a prosperous, peaceful, and advanced civilisation until Brits came over to plunder it for two hundred years. We gave them railways, not out the goodness of our hearts, but to transport troops to trouble spots - and massacre the natives. Empire v 2.0? I don't think so. Our armed forces have been so weakened to the point that we have an aircraft carrier that cost the taxpayer £3000 million, but has no aeroplanes on it (and it leaks). The Russian Navy's answer to it is a rust-bucket that belches out diesel fumes, and has another ship in tow because it breaks down frequently. But it does have aeroplanes - which work.
What I write here will not have any effect on these. I won't persuade them.
However there are many people who voted Brexit who now regret what they did. For them, it was a howl of protest in the middle of austerity. In the Lancashire Telegraph some months ago, there was a report that surveyed all the council wards in Lancashire, which voted strongly for Brexit. Now, only one area was happy with the Brexit vote, Blackpool. The rest would vote strongly to remain. And that appears to be the case elsewhere. Few people want Brexit to make most people poorer, which it will. Most people would have been happy to remain in the Single Market (a construct of the late Baroness of Kesteven) and Customs Union, as was promised. Instead a small number of rich Conservatives are pushing for that. Only an ignorant minority would want young people to lose opportunities to work in Europe. But they will. The extra money promised for the NHS was a lie. The £350 million a week will not happen. Our young people will lose the opportunities offered by Erasmus and Horizon 2020. Our universities will become no longer research institutions, but delivery vehicles for Key Stage 6, governed by the dead hand of OFSTED. As for our long held membership of Euratom, it seems that few of our political leaders have a clue about what it is, or why it's there, let alone any consequences of leaving it. That has been at the back of my mind as I have written my notes in Medical Physics Tutorial 8.
The people have a right to change their minds.
As I have said before, those areas that have been disconnected from the prosperity of the fifth richest country have been left behind due to the policies of the Conservative Party, NOT the EU. From the lack of affordable housing to lack of decent work (the gig-economy), these have been the responsibility of Her Majesty's government. (The Labour Party cannot get high and might about it either.) The lack of regulation of benefits for migrant workers, which has caused much resentment, was due to the negligence of our government, not EU rules. EU rules provide for removal of workless people from any member state. The EU was a suitable target to divert the discontent away from the Conservative Party to the EU, a view pedalled by snake-oil salesmen and the newspapers who have given them advertising space. Farage, the marketing director of snake oil has spent much of the last year fomenting discontent not only in the USA, but also other parts of Europe. In the latter case, he has not succeeded.
Where is the leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition? Nowhere. The Labour Party should be wiping the floor with this current government. But they are not. Corbyn (an atheist) has the air of a clergyman who has been awarded an easy living for life. He dresses up in his vestments on a Sunday to deliver a church service of unimaginable boredom, using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. He does not care that his congregation live in a parish riven from top to bottom. Once he has delivered his service, with all its seventeenth century language, he goes back, full of himself, to the Rectory and locks himself in, only to be visited by those of the Parochial Church Council who agree with him. To be fair to Corbyn, however uninspirational and underwhelming he is, he does have a following ("Oo, Jeremy Corbyn"). I would have to admit that I am less inspirational than J B Corbyn, but I don't pretend to be a political leader; I was a very dull Physics teacher.
Jeremy, O Jeremy, wherefore art thou Jeremy? Or is he planning something spectacular and cleverly biding his time? And I am too thick to realise?
As regards the Czech spy revelations by the right-wing press, they are the ramblings of a fantasist, who claimed he organised Live Aid. Corbyn was stated to have passed on what clothes that Margaret Thatcher was supposed to be wearing. For someone who is as sartorially inelegant as J B Corbyn, the prediction of what the Late Baroness of Kesteven (a very elegant woman) was going to wear would be a hard call. The cartoonist Matt in the Daily Telegraph summed it up well. Two spies were meeting on a bridge in the dark. The caption was, "Mr Corbyn has reported that the runner beans are doing well, and that he's going to plant some courgettes."
Our country is now a joke on the world scene. And I take no pleasure in saying this, but the future is greyscale. I can only too easily see our nation closing the draw-bridge and becoming an insular nation of island monkeys living off fish, chips, mushy peas, and ultra-processed food. I can also see lorry queues of 30 km in a permanent Operation Stack on the M20.
All of this at the behest of the Conservative Party. Those who are pushing for Hard Brexit are, without exception, rich men who do not like to pay their share of taxes. Boris Johnson used to get paid £250 000 ("chicken-feed") a year for writing a weekly article in the Daily Telegraph, about the same length as this one here. At least, as you wade through this drivel, you can be assured that I get paid nothing. Their vision of the Brexit uplands is a society where the very rich become even richer, while everyone else lives in permanent austerity, with the weakest going to the wall. Forget workers' rights. Forget health and safety legislation. Forget environmental protection. Forget all the young people who will never own their own houses because house prices are absurd. (Farm-workers' cottages now house IT consultants.) Many right-wingers want food standards to be lowered so that we import hormone and antibiotic raised meat from the USA. All of EU safeguards have lip-service paid at the moment, but a Conservative Party led by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg will not keep them long. They get in the way of making money for the few. Instead the sop to populist pressure will be the revival of the death penalty. The Romans knew how to keep the plebs (feminine 3rd declension noun, meaning the people) happy with Panem et Circenses (Bread and Circuses). Yes, Jacob, I did do Latin as well (and in that sentence it should be cum pane et circensibus). Likewise the New Tories will get their tabloids to give us, the common people, the lumpen proletariat, celebrity gossip and soft porn. The Daily Telegraph is slightly more up-market; its celebrity gossip involves the Royals.
A trade agreement with the current administration run by the 45th President of the USA will be one way only. Large corporations will run our services charging large sums to the taxpayer and individuals to access them, providing little in the way of service, but lots of profits to shareholders. Not a recipe for a strong and stable society. Trump believes in a zero some game - the winner takes all.
Our strong and stable leader, who is not a quitter, once described the Conservative Party as the "Nasty party". Under her it is just that. It has a home secretary who under his amiable buffoonery is devious and manipulative. His sidekick does not allow boring things like facts get in the way of his good story. Both the latter were right wing journalists. A defence secretary who is advocating extra-judicial executions of ISIL fighters. Those misguided young men and women who went off to fight for Daesh have committed unspeakable crimes and richly deserve, on conviction, the severest punishment. They should, however, have a fair trial. To call for them to be killed, not captured, is tantamount to advocating murder. Then David Davies (the Brexit negotiator, described by a prominent advocate of Brexit as, "Thick as mince, and lazy as a toad") called for a border force consisting of unpaid volunteers, a kind of border Dad's Army. (They don't like it up 'em.) Then another government minister calling for a £10 entrance fee on the visa. And young Conservatives at a university had a party in which female students were indecently assaulted.
The Conservative Party is clearly a coalition of imperialists, bigots, the nostalgic, closet racists, and the simply prejudiced, the like I have never seen before.
The Rt Hon A N de P Johnson (known as Al to his mates, not Boris) gave a "Valentine's Message" to Remainers. It was long on rhetoric that was like a Whotsit, puffed up wheat, full of air - rhetoric of a posh Year 9 boy who thought he was highly amusing. It was short on reassurance and content. Although he denied that "we are sticking up two fingers from the white cliffs of Dover", that is precisely what he had encouraged us to do. There was certainly nothing statesmanlike about it. Oh yes, stag parties can go to ancient cities - and cause trouble. We see that all the time with drunken British louts completely out of control. It seems to be our export, like the football hooligans of the Eighties. (Lots of them voted Brexit.) To me, not only a Remainer, but also an unreformed Remoaner, it was like receiving a Valentine's gift of a plastic rat in a paper bag. (Listeners of Classic FM will know what I mean by that. The rat in a paper bag was cited by a listener as the worst Valentine's gift she had ever had - the bearer of that gift was no longer her boyfriend.)
The plastic rat in a paper bag will not convert me to Brexit. The Conservative Party stole my European identity, which I have treasured since I was a teen. And there are many others who feel the same. They stole it in a scam, a national scam. I suspect that I will have at least half a dozen general elections in the rest of my life. In this case, I cannot forgive and forget what they have done. I will give my written promise now that I will never vote for the Conservative Party. Ever. And I am sure that a good many of you, my readers, will feel the same. If there is another election, or a referendum on the "Deal", you MUST vote if you are entitled to. It's your future more than mine. Another thirty years, most of you will be mothers and fathers in your late forties; it is quite likely that I'll be gone.
It's your choice - I have laid out my pitch, but you have as much right to disagree with this rambling rant as I have to write it. But if you don't vote, then don't complain if the outcome is not what you want.
Many years ago, a campaign amongst young people was started called Rock against Racism. It then morphed into Rock against Thatcher (the late Baroness of Kesteven). Perhaps someone should start a movement among young people called Rock against Brexit.
Some years ago, an advert appeared for Hovis Bread. It was shot in a reduced colour, voiced over in a Yorkshire accent, and was meant to portray Yorkshire in the good old days. However:
The scene meant to portray Haworth was actually shot at Gold Hill in Shaftesbury (the bit with the twee tiny houses with the massive prices);
The Yorkshire accent sounded like something carefully learned at the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts;
Hovis started in the Cheshire town of Macclesfield;
Most Hovis style bread is steam-baked by the Chorleywood Method and sold in polythene bags.
In the Sunday Telegraph, a report appeared that there is going to be a series of 16 "patriotic concerts", which are intended to instil national pride and patriotism. They will feature Elgar, and lots of images of Union Flags (the Union Jack is only used with the flag flying from one of Her Majesty's Ships of the Royal Navy). There will be lots of stuff from the Second World War and there will be a Nineteen Forties theme and atmosphere.
This is the second decade of the Twenty First Century. The Second World War was a thoroughly unpleasant time for all who witnessed in including for my late mother, whose 21-year-old brother was killed in the conflict. That finished my grandfather. Both World Wars should be commemorated with deep solemnity, and not be the theme of a nostalgia event.
Is it not time that right-wing reactionaries should get over it?
Marjorie Stoneman-Douglas High School
As I write the above, a particularly appalling incident happened in this Florida school. Nikolas Cruz, a 19 year old student who was expelled from the school for failing to submit to school discipline, took a gun into the school and set off the fire-alarm before shooting at staff and pupils. He will, no doubt, rightly be severely punished for what he has done. Florida retains the death penalty. My thoughts and prayers, along with every other decent person, are with the young people affected and their families. The premature death of any person is tragic. When it is meted out deliberately and mercilessly in this way, it's an obscenity.
The 45th President of the USA is normally quick on the draw with an unconsidered tweet; this time he was surprisingly quiet until he tweeted that "Pupils and teachers have a right to feel safe in American school". Quite. But no mention of the lunatic number of guns in the USA. Cruz bought his weapon quite legally from a licensed dealer. Yes, Cruz was deranged, but planned his murderous attack carefully. Mr President, Sir, should you not be challenging the gun culture of the USA? Since 1989, there have been a number of similar miserable incidents in US schools that have cost 97 children their lives and injured 126. There have been gun massacres elsewhere in recent months.
Instead of setting out to deal with bad guys with guns using good guys with guns, why not try getting rid of the guns before the bad guys get hold of them?
A few days after I wrote the above, the 45th President of the USA, His Excellency Donald John Trump, suggested that the way to stop this kind of miserable incident is to arm teachers. WHAT? Reports suggest that Mr Trump had a cue card to remind him to sound sympathetic. Says it all.
I have worked in schools where the atmosphere was that of a madhouse, where a quiet atmosphere of orderly learning was impossible to achieve. I may have cursed about the shower who were not in the least interested in Foundation Level GCSE Physics, the imbeciles who did not only not wish to learn, but also actively strived to prevent others from doing so. However I could never conceive of pulling a gun to restore discipline. As for protecting my pupils against a bad guy with a gun, I am a lousy shot, and would present more of a danger to my pupils than the villain. What planet do you live on, Sir?
Until the next time I saddle up my high horse, enjoy and good luck. I hope you do well.