The Null Device
As the Blair government vaciliates on the issue of faith schools, this article, from an academic, argues that religion is of little benefit to education:
There is no additional educational value that derives from having teachers who share a moral outlook. If anything, universities expect and encourage a diversity of views and approaches among teachers and researchers. There may be unspoken norms, but broadly, doctrinal thought is frowned upon and is considered insufficient to a proper education.
Against all this, the ideal of the university as a place of free thought is not a bad model for understanding how people might learn things. I understand that we live in a society that regards the young as bestial creatures who must be civilised before education is possible - and that this is the job that is handed to religion, with a rolling of eyes at the alleged failures of liberal teaching and child-centred approaches.
The catch is that all must learn to hear and consider unfamiliar and, perhaps, unpalatable views and beliefs, not because becoming educated demands adherence to any particular view, but because becoming equipped to contemplate all views is what makes you educated.
Online humorist Lore Sjöberg has finally bowed to the sort-of-inevitable and joined MySpace, the obnoxiously spammy, rather rubbish social-network website which everyone is, for some reason, on; he documents the process here:
In signing up, I give my actual birth date, which is already a faux pas. I'm not clear on the details, but I understand that on MySpace, no matter your actual age, you generally say you're 14.
Step Three: Invite your friends to join MySpace. Seriously. I haven't even seen my own page yet, and already they're hassling me to shill for them. This is like going to a restaurant where the waiter brings you a glass of water and a basket of rolls, then hands you the phone and asks you to call your friends and tell them how great the food is. I pass.He posted a follow-up a week later here:
The immediate effect of my publishing a link to my MySpace page last week was that I started getting friend requests from people with names like "Senor Discount" and "Johnny One-Spur." It seems shallow to accept people I've never met as friends, but I like to think that anyone named "Senor Discount" is excellent friend material, online or off. Anyhow, after approving all my new friends and triggering about 400 server errors in the process, I now have 319 friends. That's what I love about the internet -- it allows you to have more friends than casual acquaintances.
Next step is to add a background image. There are pages on MySpace without background images, but all they have going for them is legibility. Take it from me, a massive picture of an anime demon kitty in high heels and an extremely skimpy nurse's outfit says more about you than a thousand readable blog entries could. I don't have a picture like that, though, so I put up a photo I took of a frozen pizza I once bought that was supposed to be half pepperoni combo and half cheese, but the cheese "half" took up a lot more space than the combo half. I think that says a lot about me, too.
I look upon my MySpace, and I see that it is good. Each part of it competes with the other for attention, creating an experience that blasts the senses, yet leaves the psyche unaffected. The many voices combine into a colorful but meaningless roar. A metaphor, perhaps, for MySpace as a whole, or the web, or perhaps all of human existence. I also had a shirt like that once.I've so far avoided having a personal MySpace page; primarily because it's much like all the other social-network sites (anyone remember Friendster? SixDegrees?), only more rubbish and obnoxious and full of parasitic marketers and carpetbaggers eager to waste your time. I spend enough time cleaning out the spam from my mail; I don't need to devote another 15 minutes a day to batting off friend requests from brand campaigns and random strangers with nothing better to do. However, I might set up a MySpace page for a music project or a night.
An article claims that sexual abstinence is bad for you:
Fans of abstinence had better be sitting down. "Saving yourself" before the big game, the big business deal, the big hoedown or the big bakeoff may indeed confer some moral benefit. But corporeally it does absolutely zip. There's no evidence it sharpens your competitive edge. The best that modern science can say for sexual abstinence is that it's harmless when practiced in moderation. Having regular and enthusiastic sex, by contrast, confers a host of measurable physiological advantages, be you male or female.
Its findings, published in 1997 in the British Medical Journal, were that men who reported the highest frequency of orgasm enjoyed a death rate half that of the laggards.Other claimed benefits of regularly gettin' it on include: improved sense of smell, weight loss and overall fitness, pain relief, and reduced risks of heart disease, cancer, depression and incontinence.