Archive for April, 2016|Monthly archive page

More on privatising schools by stealth

NickyH&SJan10A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on the UK government’s assault on schools in forcibly converting them into Academies and then, by default, passing them, their assets and their curricula over to the private sector. Seemingly, there has been a lot of opposition to this, not least from local authorities whose schools they are. Nicky Morgan, the education secretary (left) for England told the UK Parliament on Monday that she is listening. So the new idea is to force schools to be academies, but for local authorities to manage chains of academies. Best of both worlds, it seems?

Hang on a minute. One of the objections was cost. Conversion costs money. So far, £32.5m has been spent on conversion. Another £100m is required to finish the job. So no. Second, conversion is the precursor to privatisation. Schools cannot easily be privatised without conversion because, presumably, ‘academisation’ is just converting the school into a bundle of assets and contracts. The kind of stuff that private companies understand. So, even if in the short-term, local authorities run academies, it is the conversion that is critical. We must ask ourselves why this is a suitable compromise for an ideological government. Because it is the academisation that they want. Eventually they will be sold/passed on to their friends to make risk-free money from.

Picture: Wikipedia

Born that Way, JPS latest

20160418_070730Maybe the translation does not work, but JSP‘s latest “always upright, never overbearing/presumptuous” is a curious tagline. Three men, one woman, two visibly smoking. Clearly an engaging conversation, but as usual it is a bearded man leading the important discussion and discernibly impressing, if not charming, the woman. Bearded man at the back is the person when four people try to walk a pavement together who has to move to the back in order to avoid being run over by a car. Or maybe he is the poor one who cannot afford cigarettes so he stands behind those who can in order to get a passive hit? Just a thought. Not much else going on.

Marlboro’s You Decide goes raddled old man

20160331_183858 Naturally I thought the point of advertising was to sell products. So, use beautiful people doing interesting things in the sunshine. Clearly, I am no marketeer. However, I need some guidance on the logic of Marlboro’s latest use of a raddled old man lighting up a cigarette (left). As for the strapline, will the world care what your name was (assuming he does not have too much life left in him)? No idea!

Marlboro has another You Decide poster current (right). This is more like it. Handsome, fit, bearded man with20160331_184704 cigarette looks into the camera. Another seemingly meaningless strapline, ‘Will you stay real’? ‘Will you turn into the raddled old man?’ strikes me as being more appropriate.

Das Brauneck from Lenggries

20160402_170037Das Brauneck is a mountain of 1540m accessed from Lenggries (left), a classic wealthy rural town in southern Bavaria. It does not have a pointy peak but in the winter it hosts a ski slope. And in the spring it persists as a ski slope, facilitated by snow-making machines dotted along the piste. 20160402_131200

Ask at the cable car ticket office and they will tell you that there is no open path to the summit. Walk the 30 minutes to the Reisealm (910m), a delightful eatery and hotel through the forest, and they will advise the same. My advice, ignore them, but be prepared. There is the false sense of security when one leaves the 20160402_132952Reisealm. It all seems benign (right). But the snowline is around the corner. Unlike our walk on Monday, the gradient is starker. At various points one essentially has to climb the piste (left) and that takes considerable energy, poise and a bit of nerve (at least for a novice like me). It is also clear that there is no way back! And the signage is largely non-existent. There are yellow signs at the top and base, but the route is made up as one goes. Fortunately at this time of year, the piste is quiet. Seemingly the snow is just a little too wet. This is the time of year for higher altitude skiing.

Talking of which, it makes a difference. A number of years ago I hiked in the Moroccan Atlas 20160402_153216Mountains. We peaked at 4000m. I suppose on that basis I thought 1500m would not cause a problem. I was wrong. The photo on the right is a relieved hydrated man at the peak with a sandwich inside him.

20160402_154002Getting back is a cinch, though not cheap. We took the cable car, itself pretty spectacular (left).

Equipment wise, I am wearing North Face Northotic Pro boots. My partner wears Salewa Blackbird Evo GTX (both bought as last year’s model – North Face from Millets in England, 20160403_122241Salewa from TK Maxx in Gemany).

A couple of sticks are essential kit. Crampons maybe next year.