Sunday, 22 February 2009

Sunday 22/02/09

Yesterday I looked out of the caravan window and muttered: “I wonder what the temperature is today?” Hay replied in some quaint measurement called Fahrenheit. For all the knowledge it imparted to me, she might just as well have said: “Three shillings and fourpence ha’penny.” Unless a temperature is given to me in Centigrade I don’t relate to it. Along with feet to metres, the changeover from Fahrenheit to Centigrade was a measurement migration I made with phenomenal success. Fahrenheit has consequently lost all meaning to me, although feet still resonate.

As I remember it, water freezes at +32°F and water boils at +122°F. Where is the sense or logic in that? Apparently only the USA and Belize keep to the Fahrenheit scale of measurement. Ah – the Americans… (stand by, if you’re one of my American readers)…
  • A pint, which is an Imperial measurement (note the word Imperial), is 20 fluid ounces – but not in America, where it’s 16 fluid ounces. In most civilised countries, ‘a pint of water weighs a pound and a quarter’, but in the US they insist that ‘a pint's a pound the world around’. The Americans seem oblivious to the fact that world extends a tad further than from the east coast of the USA to the west coast of the USA.
  • A gallon is the equivalent of 4.5 litres – but not in America, where it’s 3.8 litres. Any why is that? Because America insists on 16 fluid ounces to a pint.
  • Not happy with mangling the entire Imperial liquid measure system by integrating it with the Imperial weight system, the Americans invent the dry gallon, which is 4.4 litres.

Remember the dressing gown I managed to leave at the hotel in Cornwall last weekend - the one Hay bought me for St Valentine’s Day? It arrived in the post yesterday and in the process of opening the package with a pair of scissors, Hay managed to snip off a corner. As a consequence we’ve renamed it “The Dressing Gown of Doom”. It arrived with the postman at 13 furlongs past the half hundredweight.

The government it using its Teflon tactic again. According to Professor Robin Alexander, an eminent professor of education and author of the biggest independent inquiry into primary education in England for 40 years, children in England are getting a primary education that’s too narrow because schools focus too much on maths and English. What’s the government’s response? They call it “insulting to hard working pupils and teachers everywhere and flies in the face of evidence”. Where have I heard that deflective argument before?

The statement on evidence seems itself to “fly in the face” of recent research from Manchester University which suggests that around 51 per cent of teaching time is already devoted purely to English and mathematics as teachers drill young children to pass their SATs tests. Ed Balls, the Education Minister is additionally on record as saying that the British Primary system is not “world class”.

In order to get the opinion it needs, the government is paying for yet another report, and will probably continue paying for more and more reports until such time as one materialises that supports government propaganda, using the principle that he who pays the piper calls the tune. However, my main concern is the increasing use of the tactic of shifting the blame to teachers and students and then trying to defend them by saying they’re insulted. It’s a classic strawman argument and shows how desperate the government is to deflect criticism of its own policies.

Talking of Teflon; Sir Richard Branson is considering buying the Honda Formula 1 racing team. Why is it that everyone likes Richard Branson? His trains run as late as a Puerto Rican Wednesday, yet Branson retains his Teflon image. Is it because he seems honest and is game for a laugh? Is it because he doesn’t take himself too seriously?

Home printers! When is the last time you used your home printer? When I lived on the boat I used mine at least once a week. Since moving to the caravan I haven’t used it in over a year. I do all my printing at work. Is there really a need for a home printer these days? So when was the last time you used yours?


  1. Dear Bill - you loveable old rogue - you know as well as I do that not all your readers are in full time work and that as the recession bites they will have to print their CVs at home rather that at work - 'cos they won't have any work. Then again a lot of employers would consider the use of their printers for private use to be theft - akin to stealing the office equipment, paper clips etc..

    However - in part I agree with you - why does anyone want a photo printer at home - it's really quick, easy and CHEAP to print photographs at your local Photo Shop or Chemist - or come to that on-line. I have a home laser printer that we use almost daily - the ink-jet photo printer is very rarely used.

    By the way if you are able to use your office printer I have a 700 page PDF file i want to get printed........

    Richard x x x

  2. You forgot to mention the USA'a habit of imposing their disgraceful spelling on everyone - How is Favourites spelt on your computer? And as for the word color!

    But this is of course just and only the great American Imperialism! And I do so wish they would stop and fall into line with the rest of the world and use metric measures.

    Richard x x x

  3. Funny thing about the English is that when it's cold they talk in centigrade (-10° sounds soooo much colder) and when hot they revert to fahrenhite (75° is soooo much hotter)!

    I use my printer at home every day - because I work from home! A Dutch guy has just brought out a new font which saves 25% of your ink costs - it's brilliant. It's no good for artwork but for printing off letters and stuff it's excellent. Will find the link and post it here.

  4. It's but the site seems to be down at the time of typing.

  5. I bought my latest printer about two and half years ago. I bought it specifically to print my university dissertation, and aside from the four hours it took to print the two copies of it, I've not used it since. I agree - I have very little use for a home printer; certainly a colour (note the spelling!) printer, and so I don't really consider it £50 well-spent.

    I do, on occasion, find it useful to have, however. I live in a fairly remote place and we don't have the luxury of a printing shop as far as I know, and so having a printer to print the odd letter as and when needed is great.