For those who are interested in the current grammar schools debate, there’s a must-read article up at The Conservative Woman by Chris McGovern, who claims that the inadequacies of the current GCSE system mean that any recent research based on GCSE results (such as the research I blogged about here) is unreliable.
Warning — cricket post
I’m just wondering what was going through Steve Smith’s mind when David Warner came up to him and said, ‘Steve mate, is it all right if Cam takes some sandpaper on the field with him to work on the ball?’ Was Smith gelling his hair and not really paying attention? ‘Yeah yeah, whatever Dave, kinda busy right now‘. Or was he paying close attention and though it a brilliant idea? ‘Genius Dave, why has nobody ever thought of taking some sandpaper on the field with them before and just getting it out of their pocket and scratching the hell out of the ball? Why pussyfoot around with fingernails? If you’re gonna do it, go hard, or go home.”
Or were the three of them sitting around the table having a meal and pitching ideas of how you could get away with ball-tampering without being seen? Was this was the culmination of their mental efforts, the best that they could come up with after two hours of brain-storming? After razor-blade fingernails and false fingers full of acid and the belt-sander had been rejected as unworkable? ‘Let’s keep it simple,’ Warner may have said. ‘Less to go wrong with a piece of sandpaper. And it’s yellow, so it’s sort of the same colour as skin so no-one will notice it.’
(It wasn’t like Smith or Warner were under any great pressure. They wanted to win the series, sure, and they looked like they were going to lose it, but it’s not like the press was saying that heads would roll if they lost. It’s not like the English press who wanted half the side sacked after the Ashes loss. I think Warner just wanted to get one over on de Kock, and he probably thought the Saffers were cheating as well.)
And Smith clearly had no clue in that first press conference. ‘Mistakes were made, lessons will be learned, let’s move on, tomorrow’s another day when all this will be forgotten,’ seemd to be how he was thinking. He couldn’t have got that more wrong. And I swear Bancroft was still playing with that sandpaper while he was sitting there.
When Theresa May announced a year ago that the Conservatives would support more grammar schools opening in the UK I expected that this would result in education academics doing some studies that would conveniently show that grammars are a bad thing. You could expect that process to take a year or so.
And lo and behold a year on and some such studies have started to appear, and be given favourable coverage in the media. Here’s one that I’ll talk about in this post: ‘Differences in exam performance between pupils attending selective and non-selective schools mirror the genetic differences between them‘. I saw this in The Telegraph here, The Times here (by Matt Ridley, but I can’t read it), and the Financial Times here.
Mostly of the researchers are from the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. Normally this is the part where I point out that this is a Mickey Mouse outfit full of SJWs, but in this case I won’t, because this lab looks really good, and the Professor involved, Robert Plomin, is a proper heavyweight with a deserved reputation. And normally I say here that the paper is a joke, but I have to say that this paper looks well done. I had formulated a few problems that I expected the paper would entirely miss, but it mostly hasn’t, with a few exceptions that I look at below.
(I could also say something about the presence of Toby Young, the Toadmeister, in the list of authors, because as one of the leading proponents of free schools, which are non-selective, he has an obvious interest in doing down the selective grammar school system, the expansion of which would be a threat to his beloved non-selective free schools. But I won’t, because presumably his role was mainly to help provide access to some students, and also because I don’t regard him as a dishonourable man like everyone else does these days.)
The basic thesis of the article is that selective schools – both grammars and selective private schools — don’t themselves increase a student’s school marks compared to what that student would probably get at a non-selective school. Certainly the average result at selective schools is much higher than the average result at non-selective schools, but this is entirely, or almost entirely, explained by genetics, socio-economic status (SES) and previous academic achievement. In other words, non-selective schools do worse because they have a lot more average and dumb kids, and poorer kids, which the selective schools don’t have (they will have some poorer kids, but these kids will have more conscientous parents). The bright kids do the same at either type of school. So, the authors conclude, in most cases an intelligent kid will end up no better off academically if they go to a selective school rather than a non-selective school.
I haven’t read the paper in depth yet, and as I said it’s written by serious researchers who appear to have done a good job, so I’m not going to say too much here. But obviously one would want some strong assurance that we really are able to be so confident about the genetics. These authors do know their stuff, but still, these are strong theses.
Note that the authors are not saying that environment has no effect, they’re saying that a certain environment X (being at a selective school) has no more effect than a certain environment Y (being at a non-selective school). They do accept that school itself make a big difference. It wouldn’t be correct to characterise them as saying it’s all about genetics. But it would be true to characterise them as saying that genetics are more important than we realised, and certain environmental differences are less important than we thought.
The main topic I want to raise in this blog is that the paper seems to be not quite getting the point about parental input. The authors are well aware that higher SES scores generally mean more parental help. But here’s the thing. If you’re a bright kid who gets into grammar school, then your parents have to help you less, because the school will probably do a good job, and you won’t have misbehaving dummies around you. But if you don’t get into grammar school, either because there aren’t any around your area, or there are but you or your parents chose not to go, or you didn’t quite get a high enough 11+ score, then your parents will in many cases put a lot more effort into educating you at home after school and on weekends than they would do if you went to a grammar.
And I’ve heard many parents say just this: ‘If our kids have to go to state school then we’ll just have to make sure we put a lot of effort into educating them ourselves, because the school sure as hell won’t do it’. And they do. This doesn’t look a like a factor that has been controlled for. Indeed, it would be very hard to control for that. So that’s one prima facie reason I have for scepticism at this point. You can’t say grammar schools make no difference to these kids compared to (non-selective) state schools if what you’re comparing is not the same sort of kids educated by one type of school versus another, but one type of school versus another plus a load of parental help.
Of course, I can’t say myself for sure that this sort of parental help happens a lot, and is definitely a factor. But I’m not saying that. I’m saying that there is anecdotal evidence that it’s a factor, so the authors can’t make their claims unless they can rule it out. Which they don’t.
This is also one reason why parents are so keen to get their kids into a grammar school, or a private school, or even just a good normal state school. It’s not just that they think, rightly or wrongly, that their kids will do better, it’s also that it makes life easier for them. Or, should I say, it makes life so much harder if the kids don’t to go. Because then the parents have to do the state’s job for it. And that takes a lot of time. The sort of people who can afford to send their kids to private school usually don’t have that time. That’s why they pay a school to do it properly.
(More on this, and other grammar school articles, later.)
We are literally paying firefighters to run away from danger, not towards it:
Although two fire crews were stationed close enough to the Arena to hear the explosion, they were sent to a rendezvous point three miles away amid fears that there was a marauding terror attack and they would not be safe, the review concluded.
Surely we can get some people who will run away for less money? I’ll do it for half the salary. I’m very good at running away and hiding, and I’ll even accept a smaller pension, as long as I can claim some quality pairs of trainers on expenses.
(via Tim Newman).
The frightening upsurge in people saying they’re Communists has a flip side. Which is that public interest in, and knowledge about, Communism, which are both currently low, will start to surge.
I think this is already starting to happen, such as with The Death of Stalin film. I’ve noticed a lot more discussion of Communism in the last year than I have done in previous decades. And I think the endless (and mostly justified) interest in Nazism in the UK is starting to slow down, and I suspect Communism will fill this void.
Although I’m not holding my breath, perhaps then more people will start to realise what a horrific system Communism is. Let’s just hope we don’t have to endure a hard-left Corbyn-McDonnell-Milne government to discover it for ourselves.
The Galileo network, which is due to go live in 2020, received 15 per cent of its £2.3billion cost from the UK.
The system has important military advantages and will deliver encrypted GPS navigation data.
Furious officials inside No10 have expressed outrage the EU now plans to ban the UK from benefiting from Galileo by accusing the country of being a risk to security.
If membership of the EU is like being a club, then we have no claim on the system. Suppose you’ve been in a club for years, which has a snooker table. When you leave the club, you clearly have no claim on that table. The fact that you helped pay for it with your membership fees is no relevance. It belongs to the club.
But on the flip side, you also have no part in future obligations that the club has. If the club had decided to build an expensive swimming pool, and you leave the club when the works for it have only just started, then you have no obligation to help pay for the swimming pool once you’ve left.
So if the EU is like a club, then we can’t stop the EU denying us access to the Galileo system. It’s not ours. But equally, we’re not liable for any of the EU’s future expenses, like pensions.
If, on the other hand, membership of the EU is like a partnership, then we do have some financial obligations for future EU projects and financial obligations. But then we also have a claim on ownership of EU assets, such as the Galileo system, and many others, including all the buildings and EU property and the results of EU research.
So the UK government should tell the EU, if you want your £40 billion, then we get a share of the Galileo system and other such stuff (and you can buy out our shares if you want). But if you insist that the stuff’s all yours, and we have no claim on it, then the future bills are all yours too.
And we could also do with an answer to this question, which seems to be causing so much trouble: what exactly is the relationship between the EU and its member states?
Yesterday I blogged about Jonathan Pie’s plaintive but naive cry concerning the whereabouts of the comedians and the artists and the writers in face of the latest assault on free speech, and I noted that they’re no longer on the side of free speech any more because they no longer need it. Now this telling exchange of Twitter comments has appeared involving Count Dankula and Omid Djalili:
Q. What do leftists and immigrants have in common?
A. Once they start getting significant numbers they’re suddenly very much less interested in placating traditional Brits.
This is another great rant from Jonathan Pie (as acted by Tom Walker). But the problem all along has been liberals like him not understanding what the hard left is about. (It was the same after the February revolution in Russia.) “Where are the artists, the writers, the comedians?” Don’t hold your breath waiting for them, buddy. But for leftists, free speech was always just a vehicle to power. Once you arrive at your destination, the vehicle is no longer needed. It’s tossed aside; better yet, it’s sabotaged so no one else can use it to gain power.
Liberals still haven’t twigged that the socialists are not on their side, and certainly no longer on the side of free speech now that they are gaining power. The likes of Pie/Walker have always thought that the radicals are liberals just like them. They naively took the artistic leftists seriously when they talked about free speech, not noticing that in hard left countries free speech was not much in evidence.
Basically, it’s the problem of 1968 all over again. Half the rebels back then were liberals who wanted everyone to relax to some nice music and some nice drugs. The other half were revolutionaries who wanted Communism and gulags. That split hasn’t gone away. The Communists have let the nice liberals prepare the way for them, and now they’re finally taking over. Liberals get swept away quickly in such situations, unless they’re prepared to fight back and get nasty. Walker, at least, has some balls, which is promising.
If you took a read through last weekend’s Sunday Times Best Places to Live in 2018 supplement, you’d be forgiven for thinking something was awry. Because what the writers seem to think counts as a good place to live in ultra-modern 2018 is a traditional middle-class, somewhat old-fashioned but upmarket village, with lots of white people in it and good schools and rustic bakeries. The 1930s, only with broadband.
And it’s not just the Times’ writers who think this. When The Guardian runs similar pieces it’s largely the same, except the Guardian writers want slightly funkier places, and a few bistros.
It’s not that I disagree. I don’t. But it’s rather galling to find that after being told by the media elite for decades that such places are awful, full of snobby privileged people with the wrong attitudes and the wrong colour, and how it’s wrong to want to turn the clock back to bygone times, and how we should be living authentic urban lives cheek-by-jowl with gangs and graffiti and only using public transport, that really they themselves would personally prefer to live in a nice village out of an old novel, well away from the modern world and acid-throwing immigrants and concrete high-rises and knife crime and bad pronunciation and hip-hop. Why, it’s almost like they’re hypocrites.
Whatever would Billy Bragg say? You wouldn’t catch him living in a country pile in west Dorset, would you?
Years ago Tim Newman used to be a funny and insightful commentator on various blogs. Then he started writing the occasional funny and insightful blog posts on his own site, White Sun of the Desert. Then he started cranking up the blog output, with the result that at this moment he is one of the big names on the UK conservative/libertarian blogosphere, and certainly one of my top favourites. There’s probably no better current exponent of ye olde, ancient art of the fiske than Tim, and it’s rare to find a subject on which he doesn’t talk sense.
But blogging pays no bills, unless you’re Guido Fawkes, so Tim has turned to novel writing (although, as Will Self is always telling us, novels don’t pay many bills). His first effort is Window on a Burning Man. What’s it about? Well, the short version would be: the woman I just broke up with is a fuck-up. Longer version: the woman I just broke up with is a fuck-up who’s into polyamory. And fuck that shit.
That’s my description though, not Newman’s. He goes into the relationship at the heart of the novel in depth, and paints a detailed portrait of a doomed affair between a solid British chemist and a flighty wannabe Russian photographer, Katya. Katya might be a fuck-up, but she is painted realistically, with the good and bad sides of her equally explored. The jarring of attitudes between the two protagonists is sometimes amusing, and sometimes poignant, as the reader can see the fault lines deepen, even if the characters can’t see them so well. The sort of analytic mind possessed by the male character can seem attractive to an arty woman from a distance, but it’s rare to find a women from that world who can stomach it up close for too long. For that type, feelz trumpz thinkz. Which isn’t a completely bad thing when it comes to relationships, but there has to be some thinkz in there as well, at least if you’re the sort of person Newman’s unnamed narrator is.
Which I am, to some degree, so I enjoyed the dissection of polyamory and the putting together of Katya’ s backstory and baggage, although I would not have hung around her as long as Newman’s narrator does. But it’s always a tricky matter, balancing the need to give a relationship a chance with the desire to avoid things going sour, and I’m glad Newman chooses the latter so I can read about it, rather than live it myself.
In a way, it’s a unique book: it’s a detailed relationship book, written from a male perspective, but not from the usual sensitive or neurotic literary male perspective where a young man with an English degree has a nervous breakdown in Hampstead, but from more of a grounded working scientist’s perspective.
So a thoroughly recommended read. For his future efforts, though, Newman might want to move onto pastures new. His fans are going to be, let’s face it, mostly men, and men like him, and that sort of guy only has a limited interest in relationship books, even when they’re written from a male perspective. And most female readers would prefer less of the analysis and more messy relationship-in-action scenes. They don’t mind reading about female fuck-ups, but they’d rather see it happen on the page than have a man ‘mansplain’ it all to them.
I liked the portryal of the grubbier back streets of New York in the book; Newman can write good descriptions. And his stye is uncluttered and terse. That bodes well if he wants to move into more traditionally male-orientated genres.
Spoiler alert: they don’t end up stabbing each other, or anything like that. It’s a realistic book about relationships. And there are no mysterious orders of Franciscan friars. Maybe next time there will be.
and it’s possibly worse — in the sense of more entrenched — than the US deep state.
I’ve watched the establishment get taken over by the progressive left for twenty-odd years now. It was never going to end well. Recent events, such as the demonisation of anyone who criticizes Islam, the pushing of open borders, the discimination against conservative thought in most areas of life, etc. is bringing out into the open the existence of the deep state, although it was obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention that such a thing exists.
Yet it’s not a term that gets used much in relation to the UK, although a quick Google search reveals a Mirror article from a few weeks ago where Steve Hilton was reported as talking about it. Perhaps it’s time to start.
Or perhaps the term comes loaded with too many conspiracy theory overtones to be useful. The claim is not that there is a small cabal of ‘Mycroft Holmes’ types running things from behind the scenes, but rather that there are many tens of thousands of like-minded people — the Sociology strata, we could call them — in minor (and major) positions of power who can push things the way they naturally think they should go, and who don’t regard themselves as beholden to public opinion. Unless that class of people is divested of power, things will continue to get worse.
Brexit is seen by some as chance to wrest power away from these people, and this is right, but Brexit in and of itself will not change anything. There will still need to be a fight, because they’re not going anywhere right now. The likes of Theresa May and Amber Rudd won’t change anything, because they’re on the other side. The side of the modern Humphrey Applebys. They saw off Thatcher, and they mean to see off Rees-Mogg as well.
Great post from Raedwald yesterday, where he proposes an updated version of the Birkenhead drill, which basically means ‘women and children first’ in a sinking ship, or in a similar emergency. The new list reads as follows:
ORDER OF EVACUATION
1. Persons with protected characteristics in the following order
– LBGT BAME female
– LBGT BAME male
– BAME children
– LBGT differently abled
– BAME females
– BAME males
– Other LBGT
– Other female
– Other differently abled
– Other persons who identify as females or gender fluid, multi genders
2. Non-BAME males in the following order
– Graduates, those that work in the media, academia, public sector workers except Armed Forces
– Those under 25 and the children of the above
– Remainder of white males, inc. armed forces
3. Non BAME children
– Children of unprotected-characteristic non-BAME or non-LBGT parents enjoy no protection and the lowest possible priority in evacuation
This needs to be passed around the internet so we can get the progressives debating it, and then fighting over it, and then — hopefully — they will eventually end up killing each other over the proper order of the list.
What exactly is the point of the UK government talking all tough to Vladimir Putin? What are they proposing to do? Hide in their safe space if he doesn’t come clean? Hold a candlelit vigil? Make up some hashtags? Britain is no longer a serious country, and people are starting to notice. Britain is no longer a country that can stomach a war. Britain is now a country that shrieks when it thinks someone might possibly have put a hand on its knee.
I’m not talking about everyone. There are plenty of solid people still around. But they’re no longer in charge. We’re ruled by diversity coordinators, hysterical academics, Islamic immigration officers, teenage Trots, Guardian columnists, tweet police, sociology graduates, and… Theresa May. If Russia wasn’t itself a bit of a basket case I’d say we were in serious trouble. A country whose young people cannot face small, slightly unpleasant aspects of their comfortable modern life is not a country that will cope with the harsh realities of the world, which won’t always be a rainbow paradise.
Those who shout and scream at Donald Trump and America don’t seem to realise that they depend on him, and on America, for protection from some very nasty possibilities, and they are doing their best to drive their bodyguard away. We need to remove the infants from power ASAP, and install some grown-ups again.