17 February 2013

Good morning to you all. Boy, did our weather change in a heartbeat! One evening we went to bed with about six to eight inches of snow on the ground and temperatures hovering just below freezing. The next day we wake up to no snow and temperatures a balmy, Spring-like 46o. We’d had rain over night as well as rising temperatures and naturally, with so much snow on the ground, there was widespread flooding. Our regular trek around the Edgecote estate was impassable due to the flooded Cherwell – not even Penelope with her high-legged Wellingtons was able to cross the river this time!

I wonder to what extent our current horsemeat saga has hit the news outlets in other countries – it’s been big here. In short, inspectors have found significant quantities of horsemeat in pre-packaged ready-meals advertised as beef which has, not surprisingly, caused uproar. Of course, there have been those who suggest that the coalition government’s decision to slash the Food Standards Agency’s budget and sack three-quarters of the already surprisingly low number of inspectors has come home to roost, but I suspect that’s somewhat unfair. This sort of thing has undoubtedly gone on for ever as this Pathé News footage from 1948 illustrates. I do, however, suspect it’s easier to get away with substituting horse for beef when there is no one around to carry out the necessary inspections.

The one “light” side to the scandal has been the number of amusing cartoons and PhotoShop manipulations, a small sample of which you’ll find below. Click for a larger version.

For the past couple of years we’ve had the pleasure of attending the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and the deadline for this year’s competition is approaching. I did think of entering, of course, but the likelihood being beaten by all those ten year olds has made me change my mind. However, I did run across a short film on the BBC site on how to take the best shots for the competition which might prove helpful in the future. There are some great shots here.

Nice to see a couple of examples of disabilities being overcome this week. Firstly, a video from the Guardian about a piglet born without the use of its hind legs. The obvious solution, construct a little “wheelchair” that it can get around with. And secondly, a 25 year-old turtle which was the victim of a shark attack being fitted with prosthetic limbs.

Finally this week, is this the ultimate definition of irony? Michael Gove, our idiot Education Minister, has undertaken a review of the National Curriculum and has come up with a number of “innovative” suggestions. As mentioned in dispatches previously, Gove and his advisers seem to think that using technology in learning is all about learning to become a programmer – he is proposing to throw out almost all instances of the fun, exciting and innovative things kids get up to with technology and drive them all down a route which is of interest and appropriate to a small proportion of students who almost certainly already have a propensity in this area and who probably know more than most of the teachers who are going to be charged with delivering the new computing curriculum. The consultation period has just opened so, I thought I would go along to the web site where one can give online feedback to let him have the benefit of my wisdom – forty years’ of teaching and nearly thirty years working with teachers and children using technology to enhance learning and teaching. What do I see when I get there?

Online Consultation

Love to you all,

Greg