Monday, July 21, 2008

British slang under attack

"Chav" is a uniquely British word which has become widely used in recent years. It reflects the British dislike of colorful dress and assertive behavior. It refers to assertive but poorly educated white youths who dress in an ostentatious way. Chavs endeavor to impress others by their accessories -- bling of various sorts and accessories in Burberry check, as in the cap above. Burberry is a British luxury goods brand, which has probably been severely damaged now that chavs have shown such a liking for its emblem.

"I am not in the habit of agreeing with the socialistic Fabian Society, but they have a point. Chav does not derive from "Cheltenham Average" or "Council House and Violent". It comes from a Romany word for "boy". The origin is irrelevant, though, for it is the meaning that hurts.

Certainly the stereotypical chav is an absurd figure in his white tracksuit and bling, a silly hairstyle and Burberry accessories, perhaps accompanied by a nasty bullish terrier.

But many people use chav as a smokescreen for their hatred of the lower classes.


On my reading, "chav" is in fact normally used for a particular type of behavior rather than class identity. "Oiks" is the more general derogatory term for working class people in Britain.

If you read the article in full, you will see a reference to "public schools". Outside Britain, the schools concerned would be described as "private schools". Taxpayer-funded schools are described as "State" schools or, usually, "Comprehensives".

Ofcom was wrong and Fred Singer was right about Sir David King

The Kingly one succeeded in convincing the British regulator that he would never say something as insane about the Artic as Fred Singer said he did. But, under the heading "Why Antarctica will soon be the only place to live", Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor of "The Independent" (Britain's "Greenest" major newspaper) wrote as follows:

Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked, the Government's chief scientist, Professor Sir David King, said last week.

He said that the Earth was entering the "first hot period" since 60 million years ago, when there was no ice on the planet and "the rest of the globe could not sustain human life". The shock warning - one of the starkest yet delivered by a top scientist or senior government figure - comes as ministers are deciding whether to weaken measures next week to cut the pollution that causes climate change, even though Tony Blair last week described the situation as "very, very critical indeed".

The Prime Minister - who was launching a new alliance of governments, businesses and pressure groups to tackle global warming - added that he could not think of "any bigger long-term question facing the world community". Yet the Government is considering relaxing limits on emissions by industry under an EU scheme on Tuesday.

Sir David says that there is "plenty of evidence" to back up his warning. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - the main "green-house gas" causing climate change - were already 50 per cent higher than at any time in the last 420,000 years. The last time they were at this level - 379 parts per million and rising - was 60 million years ago during a rapid period of global warming in the Palaeocene epoch, he said. Levels soared to 1,000 parts per million, causing a massive reduction of life on earth.

"No ice was left on earth. Antarctica was the best place for mammals to live, and the rest of the world would not sustain human life," he said. And Sir David warned that if the world did not curb its burning of fossil fuels "we will reach that level by the end of the century".


British government education bungling

Could it be that, after over 11 years of the Labour Government's making a complete dog's breakfast of almost everything it touches, we just haven't the energy to complain any more? Do you, like me, notice how disasters and failures that, a couple of decades ago would have resulted in the immediate execution of a minister, and possibly even worse than that, instead pass almost without comment, because we have become so resigned to being governed in this third-rate way?

This must be the case, for I can think of no other reason why the appalling Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, still has his bottom on the Consolidated Fund this morning. Why, when one in five primary schools has not had its Sats results and the entire credibility of the testing system is in ruins, does this man remain in office? He is not the Health Secretary, or the Immigration Secretary, or the Corned Beef Secretary. He is the Schools Secretary. That means, unless somebody is keeping something rather important from us, that schools and the means of regulating them are his responsibility, and he has failed. That is not, though, the way Mr Balls sees it.

He has perfected the approach that so disgusts millions of voters, and which sets an atrocious example to our country today: he blames somebody else, and with maximum indignation. Rather than arguing, as used to be the case in high office, that the buck stopped with him, he instead proclaims that he is "angry" and "upset" with ETS, the firm which marks the papers. He says he wants "an explanation about why ETS has not delivered on its obligations". I am sure I am not the only one who would also like an explanation of why this bombastic little man has not delivered on his.

But this, of course, neglects an important consideration. Mr Balls is special and he is different. He is the anointed of Gordon Brown and he expects, God help us, to be the next prime minister. He has, as many who have met him readily testify, the sort of charm that curdles milk. His belief in himself is epic; sadly, it is a belief that recognises no scintilla of fallibility. Therefore, when something goes wrong, it cannot possibly, or feasibly, be Mr Balls's fault.

This is not an isolated incident of Mr Balls's recklessness and foolishness. How can we forget his disgraceful attack on faith schools earlier this year, where he either invented or exaggerated faults with them in order to do down establishments that by and large achieve much better results than the comprehensive system he and his sort worship so intently?

Mr Balls couldn't care less about how schools are actually run. He wants to leave as his monument, when he ceases to be Schools Secretary, the fact that he furthered the socialist, anti-elitist creed. That will help wreck the life chances of scores of thousands of children, but it will make him the hero of the most bigoted, ignorant, spiteful and narrow-minded sect within his own party.

We are so poorly governed today not least because, when ministers fail, it is now acceptable for them to blame someone further down the food chain. Their colleagues, who are all in the same boat, encourage this. For what do they do if they lose their jobs? Who would employ someone even supposedly so clever as Mr Balls, given his record of achievement? Would you want him on your board of directors, or on the board of a company in which you or your pension fund held shares?

Schools' rankings in league tables will be unfairly affected by the failure to mark the Sats papers properly. The reputations of teachers may be called into question. Bad decisions about children's futures may be made. If Mr Balls could stop playing politics and thinking about himself, he might see these matters are not trivial. Unlike him.


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