From Heinz with his tribute to Eddie Cochran, we move to another Joe Meek produced 1964 smash hit, 'Have I The Right?' A song often referred to in pub quizzes owing to the bands female drummer, Honey Lantree, and her then unique role. It's typical of its time; songs of longing and love were popular with the British public, as indeed they continue to be. With its Mo Tucker-esque primitive drum beat and a piercing guitar line, it's one pop tune that unites pop fans with a more alternative breed.
But the song title takes me off in another direction and stimulated the quesion: Does a state have the right to put cameras in classrooms? It's happening in England, a place where liberty is prized but there are more security cameras per head than anywhere in the world. People need to look even closer at what is happening. One writer who consistently does, Henry Porter, has just written a great piece on Comment Is Free entitled What Vaclav Havel Can Tell Us", which unfortunately has received far less comments that articles on stamping out prejudice in sport and the heavily funded advertisements for atheism adorning buses in the UK and US.
Havel, in a 1989 speech to the Czech people said, "Let us not be mistaken: the best government in the world, the best parliament and the best president, cannot achieve much on their own … Freedom and democracy include participation and therefore responsibility from us all."
But Porter notes that: "The British of today and the Czechs of two decades ago are hardly in comparable situations. The Czechs had moved rapidly from the long night into daylight, whereas we have slid from a society of enduring liberal values and respect for rights into a kind of half light that has been brought about by a determined state as well as the apathy and complacency of quite large numbers of people."
I don't know what it's like in the States, but in England people had better wake up quick. Here in Japan, as far as I have experienced, there are no schools which have put closed circuit TV cameras in the classrooms of four year olds. But in Britain, reports Jason Lewis, this is the case. A company called Classwatch is saying devices can be "set up to record everything that goes on in a classroom 24 hours a day and used to compile ‘evidence’ of wrongdoing."
Now, this automatically assumes that wrongdoing is everywhere. It isn't, but, as far as I have gleaned, seeing and experiencing wrongdoing is a valuable learning experience in itself. If a class is full of wrongdoers, then the teacher needs to change his or her approach. The cameras are an insult to all, and another tool brought about by that determined state that Porter has stated is weakening British society.
If we look deeper at the company 'Classwatch', a name which echoes Crimewatch - a BBC programme that reconstructs unsolved crimes, we find that the Shadow Children’s Minister Tim Loughton is the firm’s chairman. Does a Member of Parliament have the right to hold such a position? This interest appears to conflict with his parliamentary position, to represent constituents who may or may not have been consulted on the use of these intrusive tools. The Classwatch position, if reported accurately, is not mentioned on his blog.
I wonder if his children go to schools with CCTV fitted classrooms? It would be interesting to discover if they do, because I am trusting a Daily Mail article, after all. Classwatch have listed an article published in The Guardian on their website, that includes the claim that pupils like being filmed and that there are educational advantages to this. Have a look.
Lots of good advice in the messages to the last post. Somehow Barbara imagined that I'd be whooshing down the slopes, and though I'd love to have been, it wasn't quite that way. As a Brit, perhaps that's unsurprising. Though full of admiration for those who effortlessly weave their way through slalom courses, and as a former avid viewer of Ski Sunday on BBC2, the twists and turns that I hoped would be evident in some form were somewhat beyond me. But I realised, when trying to recover from my umpteenth tumble, that I actually resembled an Olympic participant from the past. My poor balance, lack of flair and self-deprecating spirit made me appear just like Eddie.
Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards was the first British participant in an Olympic ski jump contest. Despite him breaking down barriers, he was a figure of fun due to his lack of skill but a respected one in light of his will to challenge his self. Later declared bankrupt, he earned more than a pretty penny for his amateurish dares. He came up in conversation with the owners of Schiheil, the ski lodge we stayed in at Ishiuchi, within Niigata prefecture. Their service was nothing but first class, their lodge seconds from ski lifts that take you to the top of Niigatan mountains.
Their hospitality extended beyond the convenience for the slopes. The food served (delicious catfish with paprika sauce, home made bread dipped with blueberry yoghurt, beef stroganoff ....) was top notch over the two days spent there. Home comforts were also provided via an absurdly cute dog (Riku-chan), a ninja son the same age as my own and wireless Internet access. So, when my shortcomings at skiing were made clear, I could join in with making an igloo with the lad and the residents of the lodge.
Couldn't have been just like Eddie in a more suitable place!
After evaporating in the last post (which is worth a read if you want a typical, but up-to-date slice of Tagalogism) I maintained enough heat to manage a quick follow up. Phew! Two posts is more than I mustered in the past half of the year! Although I'm heading for colder climes, I'm not going to be put in cold storage. I'll even be taking notes (between family time and some proofreading that I'll take with me whilst staying in a Japanese German-owned ski lodge (ロッヂ名の'schiheil'シーハイル) in Echigo-yuzawa.
I've got lots of proofreading to do, including a research paper on differences in style between American and Chinese newspaper editorials, and my better half developed a furrowed brow when I told her of this. She's worried that I won't let my hair down. She needn't worry - the great lady arranged the short trip and I'm chuffed she chose a place covered with snow. She knows how much I love wintry weather. Junior Tagalog shares my feelings too.
So, I might just put my workaholic ways to bed and enjoy the rest!
Here's to a productive 2009 to all Friendly Visitors, past and present!
The views of personages on this site are sometimes factual, sometimes fictional and occasionally science-factional. Bearing in mind our multiple natures, it is impossible to pinpoint just who is the host of all printed, spouted words and phrases found herein.