Category Archives: Ranty

Grrr Arggg Slow Internet

Having slow broadband is like having your arm cut off; well that might be a bit harsh. It’s more like when you trap your thumb in the door, and then it swells up a bit and then every time you do something it you knock it and start to realise just how much you actually use your thumbs for picking up stuff and holding on to things.

My Friendly Broadband Provider Virgin Media have told me that it’s something more complicated than they are willing to explain and it will take 6-8 weeks to fix – which is a long time to have a swollen thumb.

I’ve thought about moving to some other way of getting the internet into the house but the lack of physical BT wire means it would need reconnecting and surprise surprise that takes 6-8 weeks.

My Insecent moaning on twitter and in emails has gotten me £15 of my bill – but i still don’t have broadband I would call in any sense of the word broad.

Sorry for the rant I just need write that down.

the unknown internet

I hate not knowing – currently we have temporary slow internet, it’s slow between 5ish and 11ish every night.

belkin-wireless-n-routerSimple i think it’s the broadband provider getting all slow – except it’s not because when you plug a wire directly in it’s OK

Simple I think wireless in our house is broken/slow/getting interfered with. – except i don’t think it is – because copying between the pc’s on the wireless isn’t (that) slow.

At this point I am really annoyed – not at the lack of good broadband, although that does wind me up, but at the fact I don’t know why it’s not working I don’t even have a plausible theory.

So I harumph downstairs, and moan a bit, about it all to Ruth, who if she’s honest isn’t really that bothered – by not knowing what it is.

Despite this Ruth comes up with something I don’t have – a theory, it’s the bit of the wireless between the wireless and the wires, I’m not 100% convinced by the logic but given I don’t have a theory and if I’m honest because I would be really upset if it was right, I troupe back upstairs to try.

(un?)luckily for me that isn’t it – slightly but not much faster copying files from a wired PC to a wireless one.

So now here I am stuck, grasping at any straw that passes, but mostly really annoyed ! I hate it when i don’t know why something doesn’t work. For me getting something working or not isn’t the point of the exercise it’s understanding why and how it does or doesn’t work.

It’s really annoying (did I mention that) and all the time while i write this – I’m reminded I don’t know what’s wrong by the stupidly SLOW INTERNET…. Arggggh

Vindictive legislation – really, is this what we’ve come to?

So, it’s all gone a bit quiet at theJumps, hasn’t it? I expect you’ll be wondering what’s been going on.

Well, on the domestic front, we’ve just been pottering about. Seeing friends, learning about World War II (Daisy’s very interested, we talked about evacuees, this morning), visiting museums and galleries and whatnot, grabbing opportunities to get into the soft play cheaply, going to Gymbobs and Rainbows… you know, just stuff. Daisy’s in a very Resistant to Formal Education place, but I figure she’s five, she’d (hopefully) be spending most of her time playing even if she was in school, at this age, and the Formal Ed stuff is only to make me feel better, anyway. All the real learning around here goes on when I’m not looking.

On the political front – well, the government have published their education Bill, on the back of this week’s Queen’s Speech, and it represents an unmitigated catastrophe for home education. To summarize:-

  • It demands that local authorities maintain a register of home educated children, then lists a comprehensive selection of ways to refuse to put people’s names on it. The Bill lays no duty on the parents to notify the authority that they are home educating (if, for example, their children have never been to school and they are therefore unknown to them), but if they discover you, they can hold it against you (that bit is here). It specifically says that whether or not the education being provided is suitable, should not be considered. The important thing is that you didn’t tell us.
  • Similarly, it demands a detailed twelve month plan of how you plan to educate your child at home, to be submitted to the authority and accepted by them. If you deviate from the plan, then you will be judged, not on what you actually taught the child, but on the fact it was different to what you were permitted to teach them. Never mind if you quickly realised that your particular child needed something different – you will be punished for claiming the slightest degree of autonomy, for not taking your rightful place beneath our boots.
  • If you have already been refused a place on the register, or had your registration revoked, then that in itself can be used as a reason to deny a reapplication. Once you’re off, you’re off for good.
  • One of the reasons allowed for, for denying a child a place on the home education register, is “if the authority consider that it would be harmful to the child’s welfare for the child to become a home-educated child, or[…] to continue to be a home-educated child”. The subjectivity of this question is vast. Since there are local authority officials who believe that all home education is bad, and all children should be in school, then they could make this declaration about anyone. That single clause, there, has the potential to entirely outlaw all home education in England, irrespective of how good it might be. It’s almost enough to make you throw in the towel, isn’t it? For good measure, there are also officials who will see welfare issues for home educating disabled parents, unemployed parents, parents educated to a lower level than they would like, black parents, asian parents, gay parents, religious parents, etc, etc, etc…
  • Ed Balls has stated in the House, this week, that there is no compulsory interview alone with the child, but he neglects to mention that the Bill specifically allows for authorities to deny registration if you object. So, I guess he means there’s no criminal come-back, but you don’t get to home educate.
  • They have included the line about the child’s “wishes and feelings” about being home educated, both as an excuse to get them alone and ask, and as a BLATANT removal from parents the right to make unpopular decisions on their children’s behalf. How many children would rather not have to go to school every day?! I don’t see the DCSF enshrining THEIR right to over-ride their parents decision in law, do you?

All in all, it’s a very nasty piece of work. The thing I object to most, is the vindictiveness. It’s the idea that the education the child receives is of no importance, because we will use that child to punish you for not conforming to our absurdly convoluted and pointless bureaucracy. Home educators kicked up a fuss, and the Secretary of State appears to have responded by saying “I’ll teach you to argue with me”. Who was it who called him a bully? That’s exactly what violent partners do. They hit you round the head until you’ll agree with anything to make them stop.

Democracy is collapsing around our ears, people. I’m begging you – get up and do something to stop it.

Missing the point (as ever)

I follow Ed Balls on Twitter. I don’t really get Twitter. I’m only following ten people, and one of them is Ed Balls. I would not like you to gain the impression that this is because I am a huge and passionate fan of Ed Balls. I am not. I consider him, based on the evidence of his behaviour, to be a slimy, slippery, untrustworthy, manipulative, self-publicising, self-agrandising sort of career politician, who never says or does anything without calculating how it will get him more power. Not a fan, no. However, I think such people should be kept an eye on, and whilst Twitter is not exactly fool-proof, it is a way of making myself vaguely aware of what he’s up to.

Most of what he’s up to involves opening new schools, commenting on the adventures of Norwich in the football league, and writing inane articles for newspapers.

His pet newspaper is the Wakefield Express. I haven’t checked, but I imagine that this is because Wakefield is his constituency. It doesn’t come up much, except that he writes a column in their local paper.

I am sure that the good people of Wakefield are delighted  beyond measure, when he uses their local paper to explain the latest insanity to come out of the Department for Cushions and Soft Furnishings. I mean, I’m sure people are as het up about the vetting and barring database in Wakefield as they are everywhere else, I’m just saying, it’s not exactly a local issue.

Anyway, I follow Ed Balls on Twitter, which means I read his announcement of his Wakefield Express column on vetting and barring, and so I wandered off to read the article. As ever, in precisely the manner to which I, at least, have become accustomed, he has spent 586 words completely missing the point.

“Oh, no!” he says. “The press are misrepresenting my wonderful scheme. They are saying that parents will need to be checked to do each other favours. That is silly, to say nothing of unenforceable. I will correct their sad misapprehensions, and then they will realise that they only need to be checked if they do a favour for Brown Owl or Akela. Then they will be happy, and will like me.”

No, Ed, on a number of counts. The problem I have is not with the number of people/circumstances that the new system claims to extend to, although it does seem a short step from sticking everyone on one big über-database, where we can check on everything, all the time. Parrallels with Big Brother and 1984 stopped being funny quite some time ago.

However, my actual reason for loathing the proposed system has less to do with who’s in it, than what’s in it. It is not merely a list of people with a history of abusing power and position in relation to children and/or vulnerable adults. It does not refer simply to people who have been tried and found guilty of specific crimes. In the ISA’s lengthy document entitled Guidance Notes for the Barring Decision Making Process, this corker of a statement is found:

even where a jury has found someone not guilty of having done something, you must always remember that, at most, this means is that the court did not find that someone did something “beyond a reasonable doubt”

Not Guilty, it appears, does not mean Not Guilty. It means Probably Guilty, But We Were Confounded In Our Attempt To Prove It. Am I the only person who finds that to be utterly outrageous? Has the concept of innocent until proven guilty – that’s proven guilty, not strongly suspected by some over-zealous official somewhere to probably be guilty – really been dispensed with in this country? Don’t we believe in that any more?

I realise that my idealistic ideas probably wouldn’t have prevented Ian Huntley from attacking those two children in Soham. And it was the Soham murders that kicked off the seven-year process that got us to the Vetting and Barring database in the first place. But the answer is not to ascribe guilt to anyone who has ever had the finger pointed at them, however briefly, however unfairly, however maliciously. It is throwing the baby out with the bath-water. It is eliminating innocent people from large areas of paid and/or voluntary work for no good reason. It is diminishing the day-to-day lives of the children and vulnerable adults that those innocent people might otherwise have worked with.

The problem with Ian Huntley, if we assume for a moment that the previous allegations against him were true, appears to be tied up with the deplorably low conviction rate in rape cases and other sex crimes in this country. I’m no expert in this area – many people who are better informed than I am have postulated as to why the conviction rates are so low, and how that can be changed. However, compensating for this weakness by declaring the Not Guilty to be Guilty is a very low blow. It is unjust, it is anti-democratic, and it is a form of insanity that could turn around to bite any one of us on the behind. It is not my job to prove that I am not a criminal. It is yours to prove that I am.

There’s other stuff, along the same lines – the sort of information that they might use to bar you, unproven, subjective opinion, the sort of thing that might result from your having had a row with a social worker once, or stood up for your superior understanding of the law against a police officer. The sort of thing that might make such a person angry enough to imply things in a report. It’s all pretty seedy, though, and it amounts to the same thing. I am innocent, until you can convince a judge that I am not. Even that process is far from fool-proof, but it is at least a process.

And that is why I am boycotting the ISA and their Vetting and Barring database. I currently hold a CRB check, and if I renew it in the next few months, it could be as much as two years before this new monstrosity crosses my path, but when it does, some people in my church are likely to get very upset with me. Because I will have nothing to do with it, and if that means I can no longer staff the creche, or work with the asylum seekers, then I’m afraid that’s the price to be paid. Democracy is disappearing down the toilet, and I can’t look the other way, and vaguely hope that it stops doing it.