Slugger O'Toole

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Comment Archives for Reader

North Down, MWC, Wage Slave, Commuter
  1. Comment on Belfast Telegraph’s Are you voting for the wrong party poll, and other political anomalies?
    on 18 April 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Apparently I ought to be voting DUP in council elections.
    That isn’t going to happen…

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  2. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 17 April 2014 at 12:52 pm

    SeaanUiNeill: It’s not “open the gate” its rather that even if Imelda has trained harder, the big bully nurtured on competition will still simply flatten her and use her corpse to make “over the gate” a shorter hop.
    That’s a misuse of the gate metaphor. In education, the main competition is against the gate. Any bullies that interfere with Imelda’s success will not be finely honed brutal competitors – they will will be the gasping, thrashing losers cluttering up the approach to the gate.

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  3. Comment on “Post-nationalist Ireland has arrived.”
    on 16 April 2014 at 11:35 am

    OB: You say Connolly has legions of “fans, admirers” and “political descentants”. But you also say he has no “actual followers”. The second statement is not only sweepingly inaccurate, but contradicts the first statement. People who, as you put it, are “fans, admirers” and “political descendents” are by nature “followers”.
    No they aren’t. How many people are working to implement the policies and principles he represents? What parties? What about his massive programme of nationalisation? Where’s the socialist republic?
    He gets lip service, not votes. Fans, not Followers.

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  4. Comment on Villiers: What Stormont needs is the revitalising influence of an opposition…
    on 16 April 2014 at 10:59 am

    Charles_Gould: it just means that if you don’t want to be or don’t have the numbers to be in government, you get formal benefits in terms of speaking time, and chairmanship of committees, etc. It’s not as difficult to do as you might think.
    My suggestion is to include committee chairs in d’Hondt. (so that’s maybe 20, 22? slots instead 10,11). A party that doesn’t choose to be in Government can pick committee chairs instead of ministerial appointments when their turns come up.

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  5. Comment on Trouble at NI21 mill…
    on 16 April 2014 at 9:39 am

    Mick Fealty: These could just be teething problems…
    Reading the Newsletter article, it looks like a selection tantrum and a bit of screening/housekeeping.
    So, yes, teething problems. But, as they say, “better out than in”.

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  6. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 16 April 2014 at 9:05 am

    Zig70, just a few wee problems with your analysis:
    1) The maintained sector is also selective.
    2) That isn’t the fault of Prods.
    3) You seem to have ignored Chris’s analysis which suggested it isn’t just one community with a problem. In which case faith-schools, or schools modelled on faith-schools, aren’t the solution.
    4) Selection can hardly be *the* problem – FSM children are mostly not even managing to be selected. The problem, whatever it is, kicks in – brutally – before year 7, and a comprehensive system from year 8 isn’t going to fix it.

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  7. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 15 April 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Pete Baker: That’s against a NI Executive Programme for Government target, for attainment of 5 ‘good’ GSCEs, of 49% of all young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2014/15.
    The target was surely set at a single level for all 4 groups listed because it was *presumed* that FSM was a suitable proxy measure for either financial disadvantage or (looking through the other end of the telescope) social and economic incompetence. However, we also know that 20% of Protestant and 30% of Catholic children qualify for free school meals, so that difference already shows that the proxy measure is a bit iffy in some respects. We are also comparing the ‘bottom’ 20% of Protestants with the ‘bottom’ 30% of Catholics, and it’s not surprising that they show a different level of achievement.
    We can also tell from the variation in the numbers that the lack of spare cash in the house isn’t the sole cause of educational disadvantage, otherwise the numbers really would be the same for FSM boys and girls, Protestants and Catholics.
    This dataset is crying out for a decent analysis rather than the usual opportunistic pillaging by tribal champions, bleeding heart liberals and stony hearted tories. We really, really need to know what is going on.

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  8. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 15 April 2014 at 7:13 pm

    SeaanUiNeill : So the skills that self examination develop in a child are quite dangerous skills for a society as rigid in its thinking as our own, especially when people begin to employ them on their own account.
    There’s some good news and some bad news for you then. The ‘Revised curriculum’, and the ‘Enriched curriculum’ rolled out to primary schools some time ago put a lot of effort into self-examination (goal setting, targets, circle time – all deliberately involving the child in their own education). Those children who have experienced this will be reaching GCSE level soon. Good news?
    Not entirely. While the changes were designed to help the disadvantaged (more precisely, the traditionally disengaged), the pilots seemed to show that it was actually the middle class that benefited most from the changes. Oops. The other wee bit of bad news is that the pilot schemes were targeted at schools with a large proportion of FSM, and the pilot areas should be showing the benefits at GCSE level already. While the report doesn’t go into nearly enough detail to establish this, the figures above certainly hint that the effect was not miraculous.

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  9. Comment on “Post-nationalist Ireland has arrived.”
    on 15 April 2014 at 4:16 pm

    OB: You suggest we read stuff by Connolly’s successors in the Labour Party for enlightenment. Who do you mean? Conor Cruise O’Brien?
    See, there’s the point. To this day Connolly has legions of admirers and fans. Even lineal political descendants. But does he have any actual followers? Nope.
    He’s the token lefty in a tradition that eventually gave us Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein – gombeen men, populists and petty nationalists – who pay lip service to a man whose politics they ignore and who would despise them all.
    As for the ‘relevant’ Connolly quote about Labour and Ireland – will any of the parties use that as a slogan in the next Dail elections? Once they had finished explaining what it meant they would have to spend the rest of the campaign trying to justify their use of it.

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  10. Comment on Come on BBC NI give us the bad news on our beaches…?
    on 15 April 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Charles_Gould: If so, then to what extent is NI Water, which comes under Danny Kennedy, in need of a massive criticism?
    NI Water appears to be very busy indeed (multiple links to multiple construction sites starting on the following page):
    http://www.alanlaveryphotography.com/gallery_605574.html

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  11. Comment on Could fracking actually be environmentally good for us after all?
    on 15 April 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Rossbrown: And the measurements of methane from fracking are not good
    However, the article lists loads of contributions to the unexpectedly large total, which *actually* suggests that fracking isn’t necessarily the killer-app.
    But thanks for your starter link, from which I went to the following:
    http://www.pnas.org/search?fulltext=methane+emissions&submit=yes&x=0&y=0
    - which overall suggest to me that natural gas is one of the good guys, and that all the fracking industry really needs is a bit of regulation. I am sure Europeans can manage that.

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  12. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 15 April 2014 at 12:03 pm

    zep: Best of luck to her Reader! A stressful time for all involved.
    Thanks – I’ll pass this on. However, apparently, as a non-FSM ‘Catholic’ girl in a maintained Grammar school they may as well skip the exams and just give her the certificates…

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  13. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 15 April 2014 at 11:45 am

    Charles_Gould: I would also like to see how people are defining protestant here.
    From a quick, inconclusive rummage through the report I think it is just
    Controlled plus Voluntary vs. Maintained
    - which means that today my daughter is away at school doing GCSEs while passing as a Catholic for the purposes of the next PMR report.

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  14. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 15 April 2014 at 11:09 am

    SeaanUiNeill: Now I wonder if Protestant boys were taught to analyse their motivations by having to go to “confession” from an early age would they use the opportunity to develop those skills of self-knowledge and analytical thinking they might just require to excel at secondary school?
    I expect that means that atheists must do terribly badly at school. I wonder what the figures say?
    And maybe it isn’t confession that makes the difference. Perhaps the difference in analytical thinking skills comes from believing in Transubstantiation, Intercession and the Assumption, not from confession.
    In any case, the base figures are “…63% of Catholic pupils and 60% of Protestant pupils securing 5 ‘good’ GCSEs…” and this suggests that Protestants, as a group, don’t need quite so much of a boost as you think you are offering.

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  15. Comment on “Post-nationalist Ireland has arrived.”
    on 15 April 2014 at 10:09 am

    OB: Murphy should read James Connolly.
    Connolly has been dead for almost a century now. He missed WW2, the Cold War and the troubles and would probably have picked the wrong side in all of them. Maybe it would be more relevant to check the more recent studies by Connolly’s successors in the Irish Labour Party?

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  16. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 14 April 2014 at 10:52 pm

    iluvni: Why is average spending per pupil consistently higher in catholic schools than state schools?
    Extra money for FSM pupils and a higher proportion of FSM pupils?

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  17. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 14 April 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Charles_Gould: I don’t think your bolded statement (“Catholics form the overwhelming majority of all children entitled to Free School Meals failing to obtain five ‘good’ GCSEs.”) says very much about education; I think it says a lot about the proportion of each religion in very low incomes.
    In fact, if only we could isolate other factors (educational sector, culture); the different proportions of FSM in each population compared with academic outcomes would give a clue as to whether deprivation is a *cause* of poor performance in education, or whether these are both common *symptoms* of something else (as suggested by Barnshee).
    We have a ready made laboratory here.

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  18. Comment on Educational Underachievement-Part 1: Are Protestants getting left behind in education? The statistically based answer is an emphatic ‘No’
    on 14 April 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Chris, good luck with the challenge here – surely we all have an interest in our children getting a good education – a moral, social and economic interest. And the first step is to accurately assess the problem.
    But you’re working uphill on this one – your diagnosis is counter to the recent loyalist mopery and the new flavour of nationalist triumphalism. This thread will attract a trickle of responses, and then everyone will drift back to business as usual.
    Look what you’re up against:
    http://bangordub.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/bangordub-meets-a-taig-with-a-phd/

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  19. Comment on McGuinness trying to assure ordinary unionists that he recognises their Britishness?
    on 14 April 2014 at 9:14 am

    Morpheus: Again AU, as per my post yesterday that you may have missed, reciprocation has nothing to do with functions or handshakes, those are protocol and the very ;least that is expected for people in those positions. The thread is about “McGuinness trying to assure ordinary unionists that he recognises their Britishness” and I was wondering when we can expect unionist reciprocation by assuring ordinary nationalists that they recognizes their Irishness.
    If McGuinness did “the very least that is expected”, as you put it; and exacly the same as he would surely have done in France or the USA, then in what sense has he *actually* assured ordinary unionists of anything?
    You can’t have it both ways. Either there are bonus points for UK/Ireland gestures or there aren’t.

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  20. Comment on What makes a good local Councillor?
    on 14 April 2014 at 8:59 am

    Vote flags? Or vote bins?
    The answer is obvious. The problem is that different answers are obvious to different people.

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