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Month: January 2009

Not the News of the World

I’m not entirely sure what’s newsworthy about a group of guys having nicknames for each other as The News of the World reports that Prince Harry called one of his fellow cadets a ‘paki’. Apart from the fact that the story is years old so hardly ‘news’ and The News of the World is hardly without blemish itself, this simply is not interesting.

In his position as a member of the Royal Family, so the mindless ones say, one should be more of aware of, and more sensitive to, these issues. True, but we don’t want to have to have every single word we utter subjected to a political correctness check before we get permitted to utter. And with that comes the possibility of – shock, horror – an error of judgment!

In a World increasing sullied by the hysterical rants of those pea-brained muppets in the Politically Correct Ministry the real tragedies of life struggle for exposure. So, unless Jock tells me he doesn’t like being called Jock then Jock he is; and I don’t really expect Bruce is going to stop calling me ‘pom’ but the PC brigade will have us believe this somehow prevents social integration. Crap. Different cultures don’t integrate because they don’t understand each other and probably don’t want to integrate but that doesn’t mean there can’t be mutual respect. After all, we will never understand the French love of snails nor will they understand why roast beef has to be in an oven for a ruinous period of time before we ‘ros-bifs’ deem it edible. This is a culture only a few miles away so what chance for one thousands of miles away?

Young men in groups, working together for long periods such as the military, tend to give one another nicknames. Sometimes these sound derogatory but rarely are. It’s been like this since before records began and the combined efforts of the PC brigade and the media are not going to stop it. Why? Because it’s none of their damn business; it’s not illegal and the people getting the nicknames don’t seem to be complaining. If you’re such a sensitive soul that being called Jock, Yank, Brit, Pom or even Paki is offensive I guess you’re not going to be much bloody use in Afghanistan where lavender water and soft toilet tissue could be in pretty short supply.

My sympathies to Prince Harry and I hope someone gets the bastard who nicked the video…

What value a degree?

Years ago I used to admire those who had gone to university and gained a degree, so much so that I went as a mature student and got one of my own 10 years after leaving school. Not any more. It used to convey so much and demonstrated the differences between us all. Of course, that was in the days when differences were allowed! And, of course, schools were called schools and not “places of learning”.

The approach was different then, of course, as we all went to school and the cleverer (or harder working) passed exams while the others didn’t. A smaller proportion secured places at university while smaller again went on to take multiple, or higher, degrees. Universally, though, the more education the more you seemed able to extrapolate, to deduce and to add to knowledge by using what you knew to produce new information. That doesn’t seem to happen any more, probably because everyone is too scared to make a mistake.

Take a visit to the vet, they seem to have a checklist of those limited things that can be guaranteed to be (that is, safe to treat) and if your pet’s complaint isn’t on the list they can’t help. Nobody thinks for themselves anymore they just tick boxes. Now, I’m not singling out vets as it happens in many other areas. Take your local garage for example. To maximise profits employees have to be cost-effective (cheap!) and they have to check boxes because services have been reduced to this. Send in something out of the ordinary and they’re universally baffled. End result? Usually, a huge quote to replace something which includes the fault by a wide margin. Like the BMW 4×4 last week (not mine, incidentally), quoted £6000 to replace transmission, fixed by a brake service costing £250.

Another example, my neighbour’s wife called out a guy to look at the computer. A few head shakes, grunts and low whistles later and the offending item was pronounced dead and a new one advised. Our good friends at Computer Medics got involved to transfer the data. It’s generally easier to transfer data from a working machine and they didn’t know it couldn’t be fixed so they installed a replacement power supply for around £30 and got it back on its feet.

Of course, all of these people, whether with or without degrees, have been taught to operate the checklist. If it’s not on the checklist it can’t happen, try this when you get cold-called:

Caller: “If I could show you how to save money on your ‘phone calls would you be interested?”

Me: “No!”

Caller: “But everyone is interested in saving money…”

Me: “Not me, I prefer wasting it thanks”

They hung up soon afterwards.

The point is their checklist couldn’t cope. There was no option for Mr Grumpy. Now, checklists are a great idea but, like many other things, if you place too much reliance on them they become like the proverbial millstone. We need at least some of us to think outside the circle and not rely on checklists. After all, if you’re dying of something and it’s not on anyone’s checklist you’re gonna be pretty pi**ed off about it…