Tag Archives: Education

“Bad news coming” thought Winston…


Christopher Houseman

No, not the impending cuts of so many public payroll salaries (some of which have jobs associated with them), but rather a certain commonality in the Coalition about the motives for their present course of action.

Nick Clegg has assured the LibDems that he doesn’t want to cut the state for the sake of cutting it. No, he wants to cut it so he can rebuild the state differently. Likewise, Liam Fox has informed the Tories that he doesn’t want to cut defence and nor does David Cameron (cue Tory applause) – but at the moment, he has no choice.

Thus is the libertarian ideal of a smaller state smeared in the eyes of political activists and the wider public as a necessary evil, a stopping-off point to be endured on the road to the sunny uplands of a reshaped and re-expanded State tomorrow.

Unless libertarians can convincingly and appealingly present to the public the truly joyous reality of being able to work (or not) as we please, with whom we please, to offer goods and services we’re proud of to whomever we please, libertarians will remain marginalised and misunderstood. They’ll be seen as an articulate but callous bunch, perversely rejoicing over the wider dislocation and misery caused by the State’s champions ditching the minions they think they can most easily do without.

When faced with people determined to do exactly the wrong thing, Lenin’s “The worse the better” dictum may be an accurate response to their failures. But it’s no way to market anything to anyone.

PS. I note the Tories’ pledge to let headteachers discipline children for misbehaviour on the way to and from school. I leave the last word on this news to John Taylor Gatto:

As schooling encroaches further and further into family and personal life, monopolizing the development of mind and character, children become human resources at the disposal of whatever form of governance is dominant at the moment.

…that GCSE stuff’s not a “science paper”…THIS is a Science paper!


David Davis

A little time ago I published a recommended High School Science test paper, designed to better prepare those who were planning to pursue Natural Sciences of all kinds at a “University”. It’s been revisedf a little:-

Improved science paper for GCSE, devised by David Davis for the Libertarian Alliance, a free-market, civil liberties and Classical liberal education think-tank and publishing house in London, originally issued in Sept 2009.

PAPER ONE

TIME ALLOWED: THREE HOURS

1                                            Estimate the DC current, flowing in a one-turn copper coil which follows the earth’s equator, which would cancel the Earth’s magnetic field at either pole. (Take the horizontal component of field at lat 86o 30` N and longitude approx 30o W to be 0.18 gauss: vertical component = 0.9 gauss. State the relationship between the c.g.s Gauss unit and the MKS Telsa unit.)

2                                            Calculate the cross-sectional area of a square copper turn, smoothed and unblacked but not polished, and fully suspended, whose surface temperature will not exceed 800 K in dry air temperature of 310 K. Assume the specific conductivity of the supports to ground as being 0.2 Joule m-2 sec-1. If the young’s Modulus of the supporting material is 50GPa, calculate the minimum cross-sectional area of each support assuming you place one every five metres of copper conductor. State how many supports will need to be ordered to circle the Earth at your designated line, and, in still air, their minimum height to prevent the ground temperature rising more than 5 K.

3                                            Calculate the gravitational field strength existing between the Milky Way and a hypothetical galaxy 13 billion LY away. Use 2E42 Kg for the mass of the Milky Way: make an informed estimate of the mass of your further galaxy, stating clearly any assumptions you have made. Using your figures thus obtained, and your informed estimate of the mass of Galaxy M31 whose data regarding mass, position and relative speed you already will know, decide where approximately to place your spacecraft so that the resultant vector of gravitational forces from the three galaxies on it is zero, assuming no other interactions.

4                                            Estimate the cross-sectional area of each of two Duct-tape fixtures, (tape is of 48mm width and 0.5mm thickness) applied always parallel to the direction of force, which would be required to separate reliably two opposite charges of 1C each at a distance of one meter in free Space. (Young’s Modulus of Duck Tape is assumed to be 4E9 Pa.)

5                                            Estimate the number of moles of human DNA on the Earth as of now, its total estimated mass, and the molar mass of human DNA. (Assume that one haploid human genome, complete, = 1 molecule. Also assume that the mean volume of all human cells is about 1.9 picoLitres.)

Ignore human gametes in this answer, but also estimate the total number of human gametes present on the planet at any moment. Use your knowledge of human population trends and age-band-statistics to derive as accurate an estimate for this number as possible, differentiating male from female gametes. State the assumptions you have made about the relative frequency of each gamete.

6                                            Calculate the reduction in heat capacity of the Gulf Stream over a calendar year, caused by a wind farm of 10,000 turbines directly in the path of the airstreams above it at latitude 55oN, each turbine having an installed generating output of 100Kw, at a height of 100M and operating at a 16% duty cycle. Use your own knowledge of geography, natural climate movements, astronomy, the heat capacities of water and moist air. (You may assume that the Sun’s radiated power output is about 3.92E26 Watts and is deemed for this question to be constant.) Estimate the extra mass, surface area and volume of North Polar ice that would build up in the Barents, Norwegian and Greenland Seas in one year, assuming that no other areas are affected, as a result of this set of turbines. (For quickness of solution, assume polar ice above latitude 65 radiates IR into space at 25 Watts/M2 at all temperatures above 230K.) Specific heat capacity of water in liquid phase = 4.18KJ per Kg per degree K.

7                                            You are to deliver a shell weighing 1.5 imperial tons, at a range of 60 miles, from a barrel of diameter 460mm, at a target at the same elevation as the emplacement. (g = 9.81m/s2) Devise a suitable mathematical model from which the answers could be derived, and then calculate, in no particular order:

(a)   The barrel length

(b)  The time of flight

(c)  The maximum height reached by the projectile

(d)  The required muzzle velocity at 40o barrel elevation

(e)   The mean gas pressure (assume uniform) in the barrel

(f)    The acceleration of the projectile in the barrel

(g)  The muzzle velocity (you may neglect air resistance for this question.)

8                                            Calculate the number of 25Kg sacks of rice that would be required, and also the total volume of rice grains in cubic miles, if the Great King had been able to grant the wish of the Resident-Court-Mathematician who had invented Chess for him. The inventor asked for “one grain of rice on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth, sixteen on the fifth…..”. Assume a grain of rice is a cylinder of length 7mm and diameter 1.25mm and that they pack approximately efficiently. State your grain-packing-density assumptions in your answer.

If the sacks used above are made of polythene, and must be 850 microns thick, estimate the area of film to be manufactured including excess cutting-flash needed on the packing lines, this amount’s mass, and the number of barrels of Saudi Heavy Crude that may have been used to make it. Use your knowledge of thermal cracking procedures, the mean composition of linear alkanes in Saudi heavy Crude, and also of the average mass of a “barrel” and how much of this is realistically convertible into monomers for this question’s use. Density of polythene (MDPE type) is about 0.932 g/cm3.

9   Calculate the rate of change of mean global temperature, stating in which direction it will move, if unbroken polar ice caps cover the Earth down to latitudes 50 North and 50 South. Assume the boundary is a straight line in both cases. State what percentage (to 3sf) of the earth’s current land area would have to be moved by tectonic drifting to be below latitudes 50N/50S, to bring about the cooling you have calculated.

An Easter Message


Christopher Houseman

Today, April 4th 2010, is Easter Sunday, when Christians all over the world celebrate the Resurrection from death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man sometimes known by the title “the Son of God”. Christians claim, on the basis of written accounts handed down from eye-witnesses, that three days after enduring death by crucifixion, Jesus of Nazareth came back from the dead. Those accounts add that the risen Jesus was seen, heard and even touched by up to 500 of his followers at a time over a forty day period before ascending into heaven.

The Resurrection is an event which Christians have celebrated for about forty generations past, but to we who believe it’s more than an event – it’s the Event which changes human history forever. According to the Christian Church, the Resurrection shows that God in Christ has conquered even death, and that the Jesus who willingly offers everlasting life to his followers is able to do what he’s promised. In Libertarian terms, the Easter story is about the triumph of Life and Truth over an unholy alliance of Imperial Politics and State-sanctioned Religion.

The Easter week-end marks the climax of one of the most distinctive aspects of the Judeo-Christian revelation. The story of world religion normally revolves around human beings trying to reach up to God. The Judeo-Christian story, by contrast, is about God reaching down to us. It’s based on two contrasting but related assumptions: that on the one hand human beings can’t bribe, cajole, or haggle their own way into the good books of an all-sufficient God; but that on the other the God who loves us enough to make and sustain us won’t just leave us to live and die without the chance to relate to God.

You might be wondering what much of this has to do with the Libertarian Alliance. The Alliance includes many atheists and agnostics who would accept little or none of what I’ve just written about the Lord Jesus Christ. It has no unified position on much of anything except the right of everyone to speak and live by the truth as best they understand it – without the modern, centralised, over-regulating, greedy, grasping State to stand in their way. Where might Christianity fit into a Libertarian world, except perhaps as one life-style option among many? The truth is that Christians and Libertarians have much more to offer one another here in Britain than mere tolerance of one another.

For instance, the Christian Institute has recently pointed out that the current understanding of “equality” in British political discourse means that many Christians have “a growing feeling that ‘equality and diversity’ is code for marginalising Christian beliefs” (Marginalising Christians: Instances of Christians being sidelined in modern Britain, page 7). Christians, it seems, should be “free” to practice their faith privately but not publicly. They should be “free” to answer questions (although even this freedom is under attack), but not to initiate conversations. They should be “free” to live under the law of the land, but not to initiate (or even retain) laws which embody and reflect their beliefs and priorities.

If such limitations were successfully applied to an ethnic group rather than a religious one, the results would often be marginalisation and, eventually, extinction. As noted above, British Christians are increasingly concluding that this is exactly what some British and European political leaders and social commentators have in mind for them and their faith. And while this cadre of anti-Christians is currently small, it is vocal, well-connected and highly motivated. If its members succeed in their legislative and cultural objectives, I suggest that the results will be horrifying for Christians and Libertarians alike.

With the demise of Christianity, our primary cultural basis for distinguishing between the individual and the State would disappear too. Instead, the State would become the Western world’s arbiter of moral values, the assessor of the value of each individual human life, and finally (by a remorseless logic) the giver and taker of life on a scale unknown in the West (certainly not since 1945 at any rate). In short, the State would become a fully fledged pretender to godhood. During the 20th century, the loss of the boundaries between God and the State cost Eastern Europeans and Asiatics over 100 million civilian lives between them in what was probably the most expensive educational project in recorded history. You can read more about it in Professor RJ Rummel’s book Death by Government. How many millions of lives might the West be willing to throw away in the 21st century in order to learn the same lessons?

Would democratic humanists offer much resistance to such a State? I suggest their opposition would amount to very little. In the first place, if this life is all you’ve got, will you really risk it during the rise of an increasingly violent dictatorship to prevent an unknown number of complete strangers being killed? Some might, but most wouldn’t. Why lose so much forever in exchange for what one will never see? Some brave parents might make the ultimate sacrifice for their children – but what if the State subsequently took those orphans into “care”?

Secondly, the democratic humanist critique of dictatorship often rests on the twin pillars of utilitarianism and respect for legal procedure. This kind of critique is fuelled by current affairs. It suffers badly once State control of news and education can shape a nation’s understanding of what is socially “good” and can also spare a government’s blushes. What’s more, modern totalitarian States have often killed, exiled or co-opted prominent intellectuals and lawyers into ensuring that legal minutiae are complied with wherever possible. This second point in particular may help British Libertarians understand why their critique of the modern nation-state is only just starting to attract the mass media attention it needs and deserves.

By contrast to the democratic humanist approach, the Christian faith, rightly understood, proclaimed and applied, has the power to act as the moral conscience of the Libertarian movement in Britain and of the wider nation – as indeed it did to the Gladstonian liberals of the nineteenth century. In so doing, it would offer the Libertarian movement the moral ammunition it needs to see off the old criticism that Libertarians are really conservatives who want to smoke pot without getting arrested. It would also give Libertarians an acceptable basis for discussing the importance of family, community, culture and society. “laissez faire” isn’t rhyming slang among Libertarians for “I don’t care”, and I’ve yet to meet a Libertarian who thinks it should be.

But how can an assortment of classical liberals, cultural conservatives, voluntaryists, and anarcho-capitalists help the Church? What do Libertarians have to offer Christians, apart from the promise of leaving them in peace? To put it bluntly, if Libertarians could only offer Christians good-humoured toleration, it would be a great improvement on the current situation of the British Church. Even the most humanistic Libertarians I’ve met genuinely believe that the Church should be free to promote and live out its message in Britain to the greatest extent its moral, spiritual and material resources will permit. In Libertarian thinking, equality means equality for Christians too. Christian, if you really think this is what the current Establishment and its supporting chorus of so-called “New Atheists” are offering you, kindly reconsider. In fact, I suggest that Christians and Libertarians can and should actively co-operate in a number of areas.

Consider for instance the Libertarian slogan “For Life, Liberty and Property”, which potentially contains much that Christians should find appealing (see, for instance, John 10:7-10, Luke 4:18-21; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18). There can be no doubt that consistent application of this slogan would offer us all far greater freedom of conscience than we presently enjoy. Why, for instance, are Christians and everyone else in Britain forced through the tax system to pay for most of the 7 million plus babies aborted in the United Kingdom since 1967? How can forcible subsidies of the taking of millions of innocent lives be justified in a country that supposedly upholds our freedom of conscience as well as that of women who choose to have an abortion? I can assure any Christians who want to pursue this matter further that they’ll find a hearing and a number of sympathisers in the Libertarian Alliance.

For their part, Libertarians can help Christians put meat on the bones of lines such as “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Christian teaching has not only to be proclaimed and explained. It must also be applied, which begs an obvious question: how? Let me give but one example where Libertarians have put in a great deal of thought over the past few decades. Western governments are becoming ever more desperate to suppress reports of their national debts by blaming the media, “speculators” and anyone else they can find. The politics of State-run redistribution, financed by ever-larger government deficits and overseen by corporately-sponsored political parties, is about to collapse in on itself (as is the custom of oversized black holes).

The results will be devastating for many ordinary households. As in times past, adversity will bring many to the doors of their local church looking for answers. When that happens, Christian leaders will have a choice. Will they emphasize that we are given God’s grace to live here and now too? Will they prepare now to explain later that the centralised, politically driven issue of fiat money (mere pieces of paper) through central banks is an abomination to God? A government-run fiat currency violates God’s commands to use just weights and measures (Deuteronomy 25:13-15), and involves secretly moving the landmarks (Deuteronomy 19:14) of savers by diluting the purchasing power of what they own in favour of the politically connected mega-banks and multinational corporations who get the new money first. The end result is that Big Banking and Big Business get to bid for today’s resources at today’s prices with tomorrow’s money supply. Little wonder that the rich get richer and the poor fall further and further behind when the state controls the money supply!

Will Church leaders also call for the State-controlled, relativistic National Curriculum to be scrapped? The Bible places the primary responsibility for education on parents, supported by the leaders of God’s people (Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Joshua 8:34-35; Nehemiah 8:1-10). I’m amazed how many Christians keep imagining all will be well if they can just give a Christian gloss to the God-hating, Christ-killing, micro-managing, grasping, one-size-fits-all State – and if that sounds like an overstatement, try looking at governments as God and Satan see them (Daniel 7; Luke 4:5-8). The compelling, conformist violence of the law (especially in the field of so-called “social engineering”) and the exercise of free choice informed by the royal law of love (James 2:8) are fundamentally different in nature. True, God gave the Law of Moses – but that was to teach people the reality of their sinfulness and their need for Christ (Galatians 3:21-29).

Will Church leaders have the knowledge and courage to inform the Christian call to repentance with specifics about how foreign policies, government “aid” programs, so-called “free trade” agreements and “conservationism” have been used to retard the industrialisation of the countries formerly known as the Third World? Closer to home, will they call time on the politics of State-run redistribution as a massive exercise in electoral bribery from the voters’ own pockets? Or will those leaders just say that God wants the suffering crowds to know the presence of Jesus and ask them to keep coming back to learn more about a better hereafter? Such a message, while not false in its content, would clearly be an inadequate portrayal of the Christian life to a materially and spiritually impoverished people in desperate need of both eternal Truth and practical responses amidst financial ruin.

Whether you’re a Church leader, an “ordinary” Christian, or just someone looking for a principled, reasoned and radical alternative to the database state, please accept this invitation to contact the Libertarian Alliance. Meantime, regardless of your own beliefs, I hope you’ll accept best wishes for a very Happy Easter from the Libertarian Alliance and I.

How to destroy private schooling in the UK


David Davis

First, get to be the “government”. Then, get your hands on some shiny levers called a “ministry of education” or whatever: if necessary, build the machine with the levers on it and staff it with your fellow-travellers.

Next, make noises about “investing in people”, and that your priorities are “education, education, education”. (They are of course, just not in the way people think you mean.)

Then, get your digits round the windpipes of institutions that have flocked to your bait, of “money” and “funding”. Threaten them with cold turkey if they don’t admit who you say…

Finally, attack the already-struggling private schools, with threats to modify their “taxation status”, or with extra supernumerary burdens “in the community”.

I could go on: but you all know where this is heading.

And furthermore (to the last post)…


David Davis

Simon Heffer talks sense about our universities (too many) and history (too little and too truncated and deliberately-not-joined-up) as commanded to be taught by the GramscoFabiaNazis. The connection between this and misunderstanding the more serious parts of my post below, is obvious.

Very good and sound logic


David Davis

From David Farrer at Freedom and Whisky (.com)

And Freedom and Whisky finds more justification for leaving the State out of your arrangements.

Green Paper


David Davis

This is a day of minor observations about small things. I feel I want to say things about education this afternoon.

This matter which I will relate was commonplace in the early 1960s. Even in “State” schools, whose teachers still thought they were there to pass knowledge on, or at least some of them did.

When I was a young teenager at school, if you did a piece of either homework (it was actually called “prep” then by us, and you did some between 6.15 and 7.30 pm at school, before going home if you were not a boarder, to do the rest before tomorrow am) or classwork that fell below your recognized usually-achievable standards – and you were /told/ what these would be as required-  you would be commanded to redo the work on “Green Paper”, perfectly, for resubmission to the relevant master. Otherwise, you would not be classed in your class ratings for the “Tri-Weeklies”. There were four of these per term. If you missed a “Tri-Weekly” in all subjects fully…..

“Green Paper”, which was of a particular shade and was lined and punched and of Foolscap size – so you could not buy it at Pullinger’s “the stationers” in the town – could only be collected, in individual sheets of the prescribed number for the work, from your Housemaster. He would note how many sheets you were commanded to ask for, which master it was for, and which subject, and by when (usually tomorrow) and would note your marks from the failed-piece. You had to sign for these sheets.

If you “got” three Green Papers (over all subjects) in one tri-weekly, you would then go on “Satis”. You might be beaten as well by the Housemaster or the House Tutor, at his or his discretion, especially if you were thought to be “intelligent and lazy”. (Boris Johnson types please note.) Potential officers in the Prussian Army would have jumped over the wall by this time and buggered off to their favourite peasant-girls, in disgust, at their views of this attempted humiliation. “

“Satis” meant that you had a brown _Blauschein_ thingy handed to you, with all the lessons you had to go to marked on it in a grid, for the next three weeks (tri-weekly) and each master (all of them, for all subjects) had to sign it to the effect that you had performed “satis”factorily in his lesson. Each time,  it made you late as you had to queue up to see him at the end-bell of each lesson, before moving on to another building: (The boys moved and the masters stayed put then.) It identified you to the other boys as a person who needed watching. Some would withdraw the hem of their garment from you, especially the clubbable popular convivial not-very-bright-but-politically-able-boys, whom everyone wanted as their friends.These boys, who are now in their 60s all very rich and relaxed in their old age, did not want to be associated visibly with other people’s failures: that is only right and natural. It was a lesson in life.

It bloody made you perform.

If your “Satis” card was in order at the end, and you had not acquired any more Green papers, then the record of the previous Green Papers you had obtained was expunged.

I am not suggesting that a libertarian education system – if that is not indeed a tautologial notion – would invoke such a thing as this system for making people remember things learned. But if there was a Free Market in Schooling, then some places might go for this method, as in a “That’ll Teach-’Em!” strategy. I fully expcet that the children of people like Tony Blair, the Milibands, Peter Mandelson (he has children, but he is just dissembling for the camerae) and Harriet Harman would go here.

The problem today of course is that there is no failure and no success. Everyone has to be equally “advantaged”, and as well the “curriculum” contains no content of actual factual use or relevance. So I suppose they don’t need Green papers then.