Monday, June 27, 2005

A Rant on Single Sex Schools

Not-PC rightly mocks Bill English's idea to establish more single-sex schools because they surposedly produce much better results out of their students. These sort of ideas are not vote winners nor are they likely to improve the performance of schools. Good conservatives - those who understand the necessity of reducing government size - would reject these ideas out of hand. It really is a stupid idea.
Firstly, plently of studies do not confirm that single sex schools are better than mixed schools.
In 1998 the AAUW Educational Foundation released Separated by Sex: A Critical Look at Single-Sex Education for Girls which found "no evidence that single-sex education is better than coeducation". This site declares "single sex schooling no longer offers middle-class girls any academic advantages according to new research conducted in America". I could waste time finding more, but I think you get the point. The issue is just not as simple as Bill English makes it out to be.
Secondly, no one addresses any non-academic problems associated with single-sex schools. For example, this study finds teachers tend to unintentionally reinforce traditional gender stereotypes in single-sex classrooms, often sending mixed messages about gender.

Personally I attended Hamilton Boys High School (HBHS). In retrospect I would have gone to Hillcrest High, as they were the top state school in Hamilton and also happen to be co-educational. This illustrates the point that what matters is what kinds of students goto the schools. HBHS attracts boys from middle class families, where as many of the co-educational schools have kids from lower class families. Hillcrest by contrast is where most of Hamiltons wealthy families live, hence they attract good students.


Anyone who cares to find out how to make schools perform better ought to do some real critical thinking. Minor tampering with the system isn't going to achieve squat. Throwing more money at it isn't going to either.
I think the problem starts with the basic principles that we've accepted. It's time to end state involvement (btw, when are we gonna see National get the guts and stand up for Vouchers?. we ought to be free to choose) in education.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Scientology

I wouldn't usually post on engagements of celebrities but Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes is no ordinary engagement. Why? Well Tom because believes in this pseudo-religion/cult called Scientology. And I can't pass up an opportunity to bash someones belief when it happens to be as obviously absurd as Scientology. A crackpot, mediocre science fiction writer, L. RON HUBBARD decided that "writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion" So he went on about making a religion, based upon the idea that Xenu, an evil alien, harmed us by putting evil spirits inside of us. But prophet Hubbard could save us through his "science" of Dianetics. This science eliminates these spirits thus curing us of all our problems. Trained scientologists, who are merely amateurs engaging in psychotherapy, brainwash people into believing this crap. Believing in something so obviously stupid does not come easy. Reportedly Katie Holmes must now have a Scientologist minder around her. I guess the brainwashing isn't complete.
Plently of celebrities believe in Scientology (e.g. John Travolta who stared in the Scientology flick, Battlefield Earth, and Oliver Stone who flirted with it after the Vietnam war). How seemingly successful people can come to believe in such ludicrous ideas amazes me. I will leave it to others to speculate why that is.

Good Quotes:
"Never discuss Scientology with the critic. Just discuss his or her crimes, known and unknown" - L Ron Hubbard
"Fuck L. Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones". - James Maynard Keenan, Tool, from the song AEnema
"Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious...It is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit" - Justice Latey, ruling in the High Court of London
"Scientology is evil; its techniques are evil; its practice is a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill" - Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia

Monday, June 20, 2005

More on China

Henry Kissinger, the former academic and US Secretary of State, writes on why China can't and shouldn't be contained. This piece is spot-on in every major way and I suggest it to anyone who still thinks China is akin to the Soviet Union. I'll give you an example. I came across this piece over at No Right Turn. Heres my problems with it:
- China is identified as a "totalitarian shithole". People use this word when referring to Iran as well. In both cases it is wrong, although understandable. They are authoritarian regimes, and in the case of China, it should be seen as closer to the East Asian tigers (Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea etc) before their democratic transformations. Totalitarianism seeks to remake the individual and China gave that up after Mao.
- The author argues that we shouldn't be trading with countries unless they accept the bare minimum of not torturing people or detaining them arbitrarily. Well i guess this means we can't trade with most developing countries then. $112.4million in exports went to Iran. Should we stop this too?
- The idea that China wants a free trade deal with New Zealand so that it is seen as acceptable by international trading community is sort of wrong. After all, they have joined the WTO and most are happy with their progress on adhering to commitments. I think its larger than that. Being the first Western nation to have a free trade with China will led people to believe it is a market-based economy when it reality that transition is still occuring. Our market is tiny and won't have a major impact on China. This allows us to be a suitable test case.
All i'm arguing for here is to have co-operative relations with China. Theres nothing wrong in pushing for human rights, but lets accept that China is a legitimate government who we can deal with. Particaption in the world economy and the huge volume of trade that results from this is remaking China. Lets not hold back the prosperty of 1.3billion Chinese.

Btw, first edition of inaugural edition of the Kiwi Carnival is up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Long Time No Post

As one of the more slack New Zealand bloggers I think its about time I made a post. I've been so busy with University work that I've neglected my side-project.
As an avid movie-goer I appreciate a wide range of films. I've seen some real gems recently, so here are my suggestions:
Penn & Teller - Bullshit. Well okay, it's not exactly a film, but it's still brillant. These guys are obvious libertarians and quite possibly influenced by Rand. I don't have any evidence for this, other than circumstantial evidence like their shared passion for Fallingwater. The show consists of taking a cherished belief and demonstrating why its bullshit (throughout the show they say motherfucker, wanker, cunt etc instead of lair, fraud or hack to avoid any legal entanglements). Targets include those who talk to the dead, believe in the end of the world, creationism, and environmentalist garbage. But being the good libertarians they are, they take aim at more widely held beliefs like the insane drug war. One recent episode features Christopher Hitchens ranting against Mother Tersea. Great stuff. Read this, this, and this to see more on their views. This sums it up well though: "I'm a hardcore libertarian. I want everything legal." - Penn Jillette in an interview on FilmForce.IGN.com
Hotel Rwanda. Akin to Schinders List. I'm a sucker for films of an historical/political nature. Hell, I even went and saw the Motorcycle Diaries and theres few political figures I hate more than Che Guevara. The film is about Paul, a hotel manager, who ends up allowing over 1,000 Huti and Tutsi refugees into the hotel thus saving them from genocide. A documentary is now out about the attempts of the Canadian commander of the UN Peacekeeping force to get the international community involved to prevent the genocide. More here.
In Good Company - A feel-good movie that may have its flaws, but was entertaining the nonetheless. Pretty much what you'd expect from Peter Weitz (About A Boy, American Pie).