Radio

This week I have been showing most of my classes the same film. Under normal circumstance we don’t just show videos in RE – despite the reputation of the subject in some circles. And theoretically we shouldn’t show them in the last week of the year, as this detracts from the work ’em to the last minute ethic.

I was originally just going to show it to my Year 10s, but I realised that it has a message that all of my year groups could use and with only one lesson left to leave one message in their heads, I chose to show them Radio with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ed Harris. I wanted them to realise that they have the chance to make a difference to the world around them. They need to see a positive example of how the way we treat others can change us as well as them. And they can see that even someone who society might otherwise reject can make an impact on the world around them in a positive way.

Unfortunately I wasn’t surprised to learn that many of them cannot even sit and watch a movie without being unbelievably disruptive.  I had to abandon it altogether with one group because I couldn’t even get it started. Because it is longer than the lesson period, I offered to show it at lunch for anyone who wanted to finish it. I had some top set Year 9s take up that offer, but no others.

That doesn’t mean I’ve changed my view of the potential of the film. I’m trying to work it into my schemes of work in my new school. I think it deserves to be shown over two or more lessons, with opportunity for feedback and analysis.

If you are familiar with the film, you might be interesting in the page about James “Radio” Kennedy on the T. L. Hanna High School website, or the official site of Radio and Coach Harold Jones.

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Potter Profits

The excitement is building toward the release of the latest Harry Potter book. It’s not particularly exciting for me, because I’ve not read any of the books. I was going to pick up the first one a while back, but just had too many other things to read. But nonetheless, the world is abuzz with Potter fever.

One place you may not find J. K. Rowling’s latest blockbuster is Asda.  Asda intended to sell the book for $8.97 when the cover price is £17.99 (yes, that a bit more than $36 these days).  Potter publisher Bloomsbury didn’t like that. But what they really didn’t like was when Asda accused them of “blatant profiteering”. The giant retailer also accused the publisher of “attempting to hold children to ransom” because the cover price is twice the average child’s pocket money. Bloomsbury said the comments were “potentially libelous”. I’m not sure how they could be potentially anything after they have been printed, but I suppose that’s for Bloomsbury’s solicitors to work out.

Bloomsbury is says it not withholding the book because of Asda’s comments, but because Asda owes them money, though they wouldn’t say how much. Asda was much more forthcoming, saying they owed Bloomsbury £38,000 while at the same time Bloomsbury owes them £122,000.

It is a testimony to the popularity of the series that the publisher can afford to cut out the second largest retailer in the UK and an initial order for 500,000 copies of the book. Asda is convinced it is going to have the title in stock by paying their outstanding balance today.

I have a hard time seeing Asda/Wal-mart as having the high moral ground when it comes to complaining about profiteering, just because they are making a popular book a loss-leader. And does every child have a right to Harry Potter at a reasonable price? It’s not exactly food, clothing, or shelter. Also, since the release date of the new book has been known for ages, children have had time to save up their pocket money. Is there a reason Bloomsbury shouldn’t maximise their profits?

Breeding Terrorists

After the complaints that Farfour, the giant mouse character on Pioneers of Tomorrow, the Hamas children’s show on Al Aqsa TV was a clone of Mickey Mouse, he has been replaced with Nahoul the Bee.

Little Green Footballs has a clip of the show where Nahoul is introduced. They post the dialogue from the clip underneath. It was so shocking, I thought it must be a spoof. Then I watch the clip and saw that it was also subtitled.

Nahoul: I want to be in every episode with you on the Pioneers of Tomorrow show, just like Farfour. I want to continue in the path of Farfour – the path of Islam, of heroism, of martyrdom, and of the mujahideen. Me and my friends will follow in the footsteps of Farfour. We will take revenge upon the enemies of Allah, the killer of the prophets and of the innocent children, until we liberate Al-Aqsa from their impurity. We place our trust in Allah.

Nahoul the bee claims to be the cousin of Farfour the mouse.  I’m not sure exactly how that works. The Palestinians have clearly made remarkable advances in the area of genetics.

Historical History

As we left the local library and museum today, we stopped at the new Oxfam bookshop. Until recently, Oxfam had a few used books for sale in their main shop. The selected is now expanded, but still quite limited.

Nonetheless, I have a hard time passing up a used bookstore, especially if I haven’t visited it before. I saw several things that interested me. One I couldn’t pass up. For £3.99 I picked up a copy of The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. It is 632 pages, in almost perfect condition and was published in 1885. It’s not a reprint. It came off the press when William Gladstone was Prime Minister and Queen Victoria still had 16 years left on the throne.

I don’t know when I shall read it cover-to-cover, but it is nonetheless a jewel on the bookshelf and no doubt a useful Church history resource.

My Masculinity Isn’t Threatened

Visiting my cousin’s blog I was tricked into taking the Star Trek personality test. However, I’m man enough to admit that it showed:

You are Uhura

“You are a good communicator with a pleasant soft-spoken voice.
Also a talented singer.”

I was 10 percentage points off of my childhood hero Captain Kirk, but sadly I was just as likely to be one of those red shirt extras in a landing party that invariably get killed.

Click here to take the “Which Star Trek Character Are You?” quiz…

Two Wrong-Headed Views

I don’t know if I have ever come across two boned-headed people coming from such completely different perspectives about the same thing.

Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Jade Goody told a magazine that she felt her miscarriage was God’s punishment for the row caused by racist remarks she made to and about Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty on CBB. Apparently the British public got angry, the Indian public got really angry, but God decided somebody had to die.

Why the Anglican Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nick Baines felt the need to step into this, I don’t know. Nonetheless he issues a statement, saying, “Jade Goody can be sure that losing her baby wasn’t a punishment from God.” Master of the obvious, Bishop Nick. But then he continued, “God doesn’t punish people. He stands by them and shares in their suffering as we see in Jesus Christ.” What? I’m not sure how he sees the latter sentence relating to the former.

God doesn’t punish people? Tell that to Ananias and Sapphira. Or Herod Antipas. Or anyone who has read the book of Hebrews:

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “ My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

Chastening and scourging sounds like punishment to me. It sounds like God is a bit harder than I am on Aidan, who I have chastened but never scourged. Bishop Nick must be one of those liberals whose theology is entirely independent of the Bible.

No More Money for Nothing

Record companies are not happy these days. CD sales are slumping. It is predicted that this will be the worst year in nearly three decades. Of course artists and record company executives will still make lots and lots of money. Obscene amounts of money. Just less obscene amounts.

Legal digital downloads are much less lucrative than CDs, especially because customers can download just the tracks they want. Band and artists can’t put out two or three really good tracks on a CD and expect to get the full whack for it.

And what’s got to really irritate the grey suits that are used to running the industry? Not listeners who file share, but bands who don’t need them any more. They have to wonder how many more bands like Arctic Monkeys are out there. We are in the midst of a serious paradigm shift.

And I didn’t mean to leave out file sharing altogether. Record companies weren’t so worried when file sharing was making a cassette copy of your vinyl, or even your CD, for a friend. Really, that’s all that’s happening now. The only difference is that people have a lot of friends, with the means to share with all of them, and they are completely unbounded by geography.

I think the record companies are eventually going to completely lose out on the file sharing argument. I’m not saying they have a valid position in intellectual property law, but what we have is a new way of thinking about intellectual property due to the realities of the information age.

It’s a bit like why am I going to buy Encarta when I can use (and even participate in) Wikipedia? Or newspaper websites that have tried to charge for the news – still trying to live in the age of the cover price. Most of the time, I can find someone else with the story for free. The Times recently revamped their website and tried to put the newspaper edition with all the stories behind a subscription. When I went to have a look just now to see how much a subscription to that edition is, I discovered that it is free again, even though they haven’t publicised this and you have to know which link to click on (BTW, it is the “Our Papers” link on the right-hand side of the top row of the menu).

Record companies executives are just going to have to come up with other ways of making money that are viable in the current marketplace. Otherwise, they are going to have to put up with less stratospheric salaries.