Alterna-Front

“Honestly, I think I would know if there were aliens”

It’s a long time since I’ve read anything interesting about UFOs, but this article for NBC by Rizwan Virk, founder of Play Labs at MIT, seems to indicate that – while the area of ufology is generally mocked by scientists and big tech – there’s obviously something significant happening. Virk...

Denial and Delusion of the Thatcher Years

As someone who grew up in Thatcher’s Britain, it’s hard not to see the parallels between how fragmented and bleak things seem now and how it was back then. I’m not the only one. Very good piece by Guardian columnist John Harris who notes how the visible decline of Britain...

MICROBLOG

Farewell, Super League

Up super-early for no other reason that having labyrinthine dreams and a headache… so listened to latest New Statesman podcast where Stephen Bush and Ailbhe Rea discussed the role football plays in public discourse. I tend to avoid thinking about football but, as the podcast points out it plays a major role in culture, identity and masculinity. Rea particularly makes some interesting comments about how football creates normative behaviours that exclude certainly women but also those of us who aren’t interested. She gives the anecdote of a political reporter taking up running as a sport so she had a mechanism for talking with MPs. Bush presents football “talk” as a working class equivalent of the old-boys network. Football gives men genuine pleasure – my brother for instance, who loves the sport more than I ever realised when we were younger.

The Patriarchs

Daily Mail comments section gives feedback to Simon Armitage’s elegy to Prince Phillip this morning. In the comments section the most recent from Tiggybeans exclaims: “A lovely tribute, full of meaning.” Winning2020 instead thinks that “The poem is as cold as the weather outside.” Most of the others – as expected – proclaim their dislike of poetry.

Think Tanks Ate My Brain!

Just looking at another educational think tank’s web site. What I can’t see is how the organisation gets funded. Doing even a cursory web search on some of the think tank’s members seems to indicate their members are more partisan than it claims. Lobbying for personal gain is one thing but there are a LOT of educational think tanks lobbying and influencing policymakers in Westminster. As far as I can see they all have more or less the same sorts of agendas. Wouldn’t be surprised if these educational think tanks work from 55 Tufton Street.

Microblog entries HERE

PREVIOUSLY...

Some Thoughts About Caitlin R Kiernan’s Black Helicopters

Professor Zeh sits in his office in Heidelberg. It’s 1969. Rain falls outside and Zeh’s office window is nothing but a dark grey rectangle. He’s smudged the ink in his notebook, jotting down a thought about Bohr’s interpretation of measurement he had while staring at his reflection in a mirror...

Popular Opinion

Frightening – and yet unsurprising – report explaining how Facebook is used by politicians to unduly influence public opinion through the creation of incredible numbers of fake comments and likes from a tiny number of users. The report is based around an interview with Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist...

Hauntology Defined

An excellent definition of hauntology by the A Year in the Country site. “This is an area of culture where the use, appreciation and romance of often older electronic music technologies, reference points and inspirations segues and intertwines with the more bucolic wanderings and landscapes of exploratory, otherly pastoralism and...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The 3rd Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1966)

In this introduction to the third Fontana collection of Great Ghost Stories, Aickman engages with the nature of our desire to read supernatural fiction. He views it as “the need we all must feel for some degree of reconciliation with death”. Ghost stories themselves haunt modern society, allowing imaginary freedom...

Problems in English

Notes from Making Meaning in English by David Didau (2021) Chapter 2: Problems in English This chapter defines English as a “folk discipline” where its teachers have limited understanding of effective approaches. Didau dismisses “skills-based” teaching and, instead, proposes a “knowledge-based” approach. He also shows concern that students practise the...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The 2nd Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1966)

Little new ground is covered in Aickman’s second introduction to Fontana’s Book of Great Ghost Stories series (1966). He retreads his previous suggestions about the nature of ghost stories from the first volume and notes that the 1960s seem to favour Nineteenth Century arts (ghost stories, music), blaming the “new...

What is English for?

Notes from Making Meaning in English by David Didau (2021) Chapter 1: What is English for? This chapter presents the current state of English, drawing on its history as a school subject to explain how and why English seems “lost” as a school subject with teachers ignorant of its past...

Introduction to Making Meaning in English

Notes from Making Meaning in English by David Didau (2021) Introduction David Didau offers a third way that appears to reconcile the traditional and progressive strains within English teaching. He notes how English does not have an agreed body of knowledge or purpose. Didau believes that changes to the academic...

Robert Aickman’s Introduction to The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1964)

Between 1964 and 1972, Robert Aickman sought to define the canon of supernatural stories and collected them in a series published by Fontana. The introduction to the first Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1964) has a bleak, nihilistic tone. Aickman sets the contemporary view of the ghost story in...

“Capital Punishment” by Danielle Jones (TES, 20210226)

“Cultural poverty is not the pressing priority,” Danielle Jones argues in a TES article. It’s economic disadvantage. Jones refers to Bourdieu and briefly draws a connection between wealthy families and possession of cultural capital. She believes that OFSTED’s interest in cultural capital has an “unarticulated assumption, therefore, is that economic...

The Fascist Painting: What is Cultural Capital? by Phil Beadle (2020)

“How many rich kids are there in your Year 10 bottom set?” asks Phil Beadle at one point in The Fascist Painting. He doesn’t need to present a reciprocal question about Eton or other public school. For teachers aware of the social inequities of the school system in the UK,...

Johnson’s Kulturkampf

Peter Jukes and Hardeep Matharu’s How Myths of Britishness Are Turning Totalitarian shows how culture is currently weaponised in the UK to enable a right-wing government that engenders a condition of disillusionment and delusion leading to the sort if paranoia seen in the US. Jukes and Matharu view this as...

Week One: Twelfth Night (1602)

On Twelfth Night 2021 during the lockdown COVID pandemic I finished re-reading Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It’s the first play in my attempt to read everything by Shakespeare by the end of the year. I studied Twelfth Night at A-level and taught it once for the old Key Stage Three SATs...

Madness!

It’s beyond question that Boris/Al and his ministers just aren’t up to the job of leading the UK in this crisis. Again and again they’ve avoided properly forward planning and left it too late when inevitable actions have to be taken. It’s time for them to go. Boris must resign....

Micronauts #7 (July 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #7 July 1979“Adventure into Fear!”by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden and Joe Rubenstein CoverMan-Thing is “Guest-Starring” in this issue. He is standing in water holding unconscious Marionette and Rann while the remaining Micronauts are positioned about his feet. While Microtron and Biotron appear to flee, Acroyear wields his...

Micronauts #6 (June 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #6 June 1979“The Great Escapes”by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden and Joe Rubenstein CoverThe Micronauts are attacking a Folorida Highway Patrol car. Bug is using his lance to melt through the windshield, Acroyear swings a piece of wreckage, Marionette points a gun at the cop. PAGES 1-6 (1-3,...

Michael Moorcock’s “The Dreaming City” (1961)

Moorcock’s The Dreaming City is the first short story featuring Elric, his silver-skinned Melnibonean hero. The story appeared in the wake of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (published between 1954 and 1955) as well as the renaissance of interest in Howard’s Conan tales (from 1932), Leiber’s Fahfrd & Grey...

Micronauts #5 (May 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #5 May 1979“The Prometheus Pit”by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden and Joe Rubenstein CoverTiny Micronauts – plus Muffin the dog – defending Steve from a Deathlok-type cyborg at the edge of a circular Prometheus Pit. (It’s a great cover!) PAGES 1-2: The Micronauts arrive at H.E.L.L. The Astrostation...

Micronauts #4 (April 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #4 April 1979“A Hunting We Will Go!”Bill Mantlo (writer), Michael Golden (artist) and Joe Rubenstein (embellisher) CoverKarza facing the reader, blasting rebels. In the background dog soldiers are shooting down unarmed people who are running from them PAGES 1-6 (1-3, 6-7, 10): Dog soldiers raid the underground...

Micronauts #3 (March 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #3 March 1979“Death Duel at Daytona Beach”Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden (breakdowns) & Joe Rubenstein CoverA space cruiser battling the Endeavour on a street corner. Acroyear and Rann flying. A couple of people in the street shocked by what’s happening (a typically Marvel cover). Michael Golden and Joe...