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Showing posts from November, 2010

How boys become men: advice for quiet dads and over-protective mothers ...

I have just read a fascinating book by a New Zealander lady who worked for fifteen years as a prison officer in prisons for young men. (He'll Be OK: Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men, by Celia Lashlie.) She was commissioned by a group of private boys' boarding schools in New Zealand to carry out a large research project, 'The Good Man Project', interviewing pupils, parents and teachers in about 25 large schools across the country.

Her aim was find out what is going wrong, and right, with the raising of boys.

This book presents the conclusions of 18 month of intensive 'action research'. In action research, the focus is on collecting testimonies and opinions from large numbers of people, and then coming to general conclusions. The result is chatty and easy to read. There are no tables or graphs.

There are some interesting conclusions, especially about the role of men in guiding adolescent boys through the most difficult time in growing up (around age 14, the au…

Well done, Monsieur le President

I saw President Sarkozy on the television the other day, being savaged by three interviewers at once. I had never seen anything like it. Three against one didn't seem fair. But Sarkozy equalled his performance in the interview just before he was elected, in which he showed up Segolene Royale for the sanctimonious old volcano of hatred that she is.

Sarkozy is a bit of a chancer, but he is a survivor also. And his public speaking gifts, born of his time as a lawyer no doubt, are impressive.

One issue he tackled was the high taxation and social security in France that made the country uncompetitive in the European market. He cited Spain as an example of a country in which even a socialist government was realising it had to keep tax and social security low in order to let the economy compete. All of this was of course completely rejected by Royale and Co. afterwards.

Sarkozy actually promised not to increase taxes, but instead to replace only one in two civil servants leaving for retirem…

Poland's whodunnit: paranoia or are they on to something?

A number of years ago I visited Poland and stayed in a special hotel attached to the parliament, as a guest of one of the deputies. It was an interesting experience: there was a gas mask under the bed - only one, even though we were two friends sharing a room, so thankfully I never had to face that dilemma, and in any case the instructions were in Polish and Russian neither of which are my strongest languages ... The only MPs around at the time (it was a recess for the parliament) were draped in gold bling, and looked decidedly unparliamentary. The old coldness and reserve of communist times was still tangible, especially among the staff ... and when I took my Polish friends out for a couple of bottles of Russian champagne (for the price of a London cup of tea) it felt like a revolution for them.

The country was in the throes of an identity crisis. Catholic or progressive; nationalistic or mulitcultural ... it was a long list of dilemmas. And on the country's western borders the G…

Was Shakespeare Irish?

On this blog I have discussed before the vexed question of whether Shakespeare was a Catholic. Listening to the following rendition in 'Original Pronunciation', the Bard certainly sounds very Irish, which is almost as good ... enjoy: