Valerie Yules Letters

September 22, 2014

Plastic bags in the oceans

Filed under: Waste, conservation, climate, economic, social innovations — Tags: , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 1:24 am

Action on plastic bags in the oceans

Until fifty years ago, the world lived without plastic bags. It can be done.
Most people do not realise what happens to plastic bags in the oceans.
One step to action:
Every supermarket should be offered posters to put near their doors –
These posters tell people what happens to plastic bags in the oceans, and offer alternatives to carry their purchases – like cotton re-usable bags and baskets.
Telling of Alternatives to using plastic bags to put their rubbish and dog poo in.
Telling of Alternatives to putting food scraps in their rubbish bins in plastic bags – like worm farms, compost, and waste packaging.
Using plastic bags again and again, not one-use.
See Dr Jennifer Lavers account of what happens to plastic bags in the creeks and oceans and

http://www.monash.vic.gov.au/environment/products/excessive-packaging.htm

Waste no plastic bags
Here’s how:
Re-use plastic bags. Keep them in a bigger bag hung on a door, or in your shopping jeep. When you go shopping, put some in your green bag, string-bag, basket or empty grocery box, and re-use them until they are tatty. Then use the tatty bags and empty packaging packets to put your squelchy rubbish in, to put in the rubbish bin what can’t go in the compost. Nobody needs to take home a new plastic bag from the supermarket just for the sake of something to put the rubbish in.
You don’t even need bin-liners, except perhaps a bit of newspaper or cardboard at the bottom.
Plastic bags can also be re-used as pooper-scooper bags, and large pretty bags can be kept for gift-carriers.
And it is amazing how, somehow, plastic bags will breed at home. so you don’t run short.
Reasons against plastic bags
Our billions of plastic bags are about the worst litter after cigarette butts. Plastic bags choke and smother dolphins, penguins, seals, fish, birds, pets and bushland animals.
Plastic bags are made of petrochemicals, increasingly costly. They wreck the environment. Even biodegradable bags can take longer to degrade than the life of the person who chucks them out.
It takes more energy and resources to make paper bags than plastic ones – the solution is to use neither. It is estimated to take 12 million barrels of oil to produce the 100 billion plastic bags used annually in the US alone.
Plastic bags don’t recycle. Anything put inside a plastic bag into your recycling bin will just be chucked away into landfill, plastic bag and all.

__________________________
.
What can people do instead of bringing home more plastic bags to put their rubbish in? or buying single-use bin-liners? It depends where you are, especially if you live in a multistorey apartment block, but there are solutions. Sooner rather than later councils and landlords, builders and architects must come up with answers.
But what can you do, wherever you are?
What did people do before plastic bags for their rubbish? Plastic bags made of thin, flexible, blown polyfilm only came in 1977, believe it or not.
In many countries people still throw their rubbish in the street, expecting pigs, birds or sweepers will get rid of it somehow. In places where rubbish is put out in big plastic bags, crows and rats peck, gnaw and multiply. We had hardly any rubbish at all when I was a child, in an Australian city with a Scottish mother. The dustbin was tiny, and the rubbish was wrapped in newspapers that had first been read and then used as kitchen table-cloths or wet-floor mats. Today, if you are able to have a worm-farm or compost bin or pets, or even pot-plants, the only food scraps that really must go out in the trash bin are chicken-bones – and even those can burn into fertiliser in the ashes of my garden-stove.
But if you live in a high rise flat, that does not even have a landing where you can keep a neat little rat-proof worm-farm for friends who like compost, or a rat-proof rubbish chute (very very difficult, because rats eat plastic) there are still other things you can do instead of automatically putting all your kitchen rubbish into plastic bags, hung on a peg or lining a bin. Or worse, putting it down the drains with an insinkerator.
New methods to recycle food waste for useful purposes are developing rapidly. For example, bokashi bins which use fermentation can sit in your kitchen, looking really trendy. The costs of such techniques will keep coming down.
You can look at what sorts of rubbish that you have.
* The only kitchen rubbish that needs wrapping of any sort to keep your rubbish bin clean and unsmelly is the squelchy stuff and bones. But you accumulate enough unrecyclable packaging to put the squelchy stuff into. Waxed cardboard boxes, plastic bags inside cereal boxes and other food packets, the unrecyclable plastic containers, plastic bags that have been re-used so often in shopping that they have become tatty – keep these in a grocery box. As needed, fill these containers with your squelchy rubbish to put in your kitchen bin. All this bin needs is a liner at the bottom, such as the plastic wrapping from a daily newspaper, or tatty cardboard.
IN THE KITCHEN keep your bin for rubbish on the floor or inside a cupboard, the size and shape you need need. If you don’t want to bend, your bin can sit on a box. I like a rectangular bin kept under the table. Just tip in the kitchen rubbish without bagging, except for bones and soggy stuff and bones, which go inside the old packaging. With a worm farm or compost bins of course there is no soggy stuff.
YOUR OUTSIDE WHEELIE BIN needs only a bit of old cardboard or paper, such as copy-paper wrapping at the bottom. The contents of the bin just get tipped into the garbage truck, with no human handling, so plastic wrapping isn’t needed at all..
Your kitchen-rubbish regime soon becomes as easy and automatic a habit as brushing your teeth.
MAKING LESS RUBBISH to go in your bin.
Re-use, recycle, mend, op-shop what you can. Use all the food you buy. Compost what you can for your garden or neighbour’s garden. Make a little worm-farm. Taking out the trash appears to be the major chore for teenagers in American comic-strips. No need here.
WHEN YOU SHOP
Take re-useable string bags, baskets, cardboard grocery boxes (keep boxes in your car) or a shopping jeep. (See the chopping chapter, for a description of the waterproof two-wheeled shopping jeep with a stander foot, that is the most useful and easy to pull or push or let stand.)
MORE THAN ONE USE FOR PLASTIC BAGS.
Re-use clean bags for shopping, storing things in, for carrying anything you like. Wear one as a hat if you are caught in the rain. It is far more creative as a game to find 100 uses for a plastic bag than finding 100 uses for a dead cat or a brick. Or, ‘100 ways to do without plastic bags’
WHERE TO STORE PLASTIC BAGS
You can keep your collection of re-useable multi-use grocery plastic bags in a box, or in your ‘green’ shopping bag, which you hang on a coat-hook or in the kitchen, or inside another large plastic bag on a hook, or in your shopping jeep . You find they will breed. More sensible than squeezing them into a bag, to pull out at the other end looking tatty already.)
Keep bags that have become tatty inside another box or bag, to end their working lives as containers for soggy-squilchy rubbish you can’t use for anything.
LARGE PLASTIC BAGS from clothing and other stores are useful for storage and for gift-bags. The labels can be appropriate for the gift – books in a book bag, surprises in a show bag. You can store large bags flat in a drawer, or inside each other on a hook in a back room, or slip bags over an old mop-pole in a corner. It is easy then to find just the one you want.
(But there is another problem. What about the supermarkets? Checkout staff can work quickly when groceries all go straight into the plastic bags that hang ready in dozens below the till. It can be slower when someone hands over green re-usable bags to be filled. When someone uses no standard bags at all it can take longer still, because goods are handed back to the customer to pack herself in her trolley, box or big shopping bag, while she gets in the way, but at present supermarkets with high volume turnover may want to keep on dispensing plastic bags, to avoid slowing down, even for a second. Yet even this can be solved, for example, by ergonomic improvements, or by computerised checkouts that are on the way.)
The old story runs—For want of a horse-shoe nail the kingdom was lost. Plastic bags are like horse-shoe nails in reverse. Smothered in plastic bags the kingdom was lost.
Save a fish! Save petrochemicals! Save landfill! Save the future! Twenty million Australians could save sixty million plastic bags a week! That’s a lot of saving.
_________________________
Biodegradable bags
Friends of the Earth say degradable and biodegradable bags are not an environmentally friendly option. Degradable plastic bags usually can’t be recycled with normal plastic bags, and people may think they can put degradable bags into their compost bins, which they can’t. Degradable bags are still made from plastic, continuing to place demands on oil. They contain a metal additive to make them degrade and tend to require sunlight to break down. If biodegradable bags end up in landfill, they eventually produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Paper bags are no better, says Friends of the Earth. They are less easily reused and require more energy and resources to make and transport than plastic alternatives. Bags made from recycled plastics, which are then reused or recycled, are considered by many to be a better option, but recycling points are not yet widely accessible. Far better to use durable bags, string-bags, baskets or boxes when shopping.

Re-uses for plastic mail envelopes and newspaper plastic wrap
Plastic mail envelopes and newspaper plastic wrap have more uses than you realize, if you cut or pull them off so they do not tear, and keep them in a handy flat box for the envelopes and a container for the newspaper wraps.
I use them for keeping my papers sorted, mailing papers and disks, covering food dishes in the frig, and in making flower bouquets.
DOG POOPER-SCOOPERS. It is not only undesirable but in many places illegal for dog droppings to be allowed in public spaces. They can spread diseases and parasites, they get washed into drains to pollute them, and mess up unwary footsteps. They cost councils and water-companies a surprising amount of money.
Plastic bags are useful to take with you as pooper-scoopers for your dog. Tongs or plastic gloves are used to scoop them into the bag. Rather than buy plastic bags specially for this purpose, however biodegradable they may be advertised, re-use the bags that turn up in your home anyway, including the plastic envelopes that come in the mail with magazines and reports.
There are now high-tech products advertised to be able to mechanically scoop poo into bags, or to solidify it with expensive sprays, but none so far are worth the money, or to be frank, the extra effort they really involve.
Sooner rather than later however, more environmentally friendly disposal method will be invented, so that all those tons of dog droppings in every city every year can at least be used as fertilizer in compost (since because dogs are not plant-eaters, their poo is not much good on its own.)

September 21, 2014

Experiment in teaching literacy

Filed under: children, Education, spelling — Tags: , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 11:40 pm

Teachers teach what they have been taught to teach. It does not occur to most of them to query what they have been taught. Some children will always fail to learn to read; the reasons are assumed to be intrapersonal, their own defects, if they are middle class, and their lack of educational background, if they are disadvantaged. Who dares think that the task may be at fault? Who dares think that the task could be easily amended so that more children and adults could read it?
Thousand of books and articles are published every year, and thousands of research articles are devoted to this terrible failure to learn to read in English. Yet the failure to learn in English is greater than in any other language that has half the resources dedicated to its teaching.
In Victorian times hundreds of the eminent and well-meaning sought to reform everything they thought needed reforming, and this Age of Reform achieved most of its aims, from abolition of slavery to the Industrial Revolution. But they did not manage to improve English spelling or its teaching. So the working classes spent a third of their primary education on learning spelling. The ‘dyslexic’ among the middle classes received remedial education once they had failed.
Today we realize that the spelling reformers went too far. They tried to reform English spelling root and branch – it was too much, changing the alphabet or changing the spelling so much it would need to be learnt all over again.
But now Anglo countries are running out of innovation. Are we afraid? The costs of our illiteracy and child difficulties are more than in other modern languages which have updated the ways that they teach beginners, making it esier for them – in alphabetic spellings updating them, and in languages like Chinese and Japanese making the beginning of learning to be easy, e.g.with hiragana, and leaving the hard way for later, when learners were more confident and readier to spend the time on repetition to remember their characters in hanzi and kanji.
In English the educators and dictionary-makers stick to the old spellings, and a vast literature exists to keep them as they are, for the sake of tradition.
Yet it would be easy to make life easier for the down-trodden in English spelling. The Left would be able to reach them, which it cannot now.
– http:// http://www.valerieyule.com.au/~ozideas/paraleltexts.htm

Innovation in publishing and education in English
.

http://www.valerieyule.com.au/litreadingcribs.html

April 25, 2014

cheap worm farms reduce landfill from rubbish

Filed under: conservation, economic, garden, social innovations, social problems, Waste, waste — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 6:24 am

THIS simple design for a homemade worm farm is rat-proof and fits a small shady space. It suits a family of four, as the worms eat the kitchen scraps so fast!
All you need are two empty plaster or paint cans, often thrown out from building sites, and two cheap plastic garden sieves. Builders and plasterers at a building site will usually be happy to give you the used cans rather than throw them in a rubbish skip.
Place one can in a depression in a shady space on damp ground. Put a sieve on top. Cut the bottom from the second can. Place the can on the sieve. Top it with the second sieve (if there are very clever rats around, weight this sieve with half a brick, so vermin can’t lift it).
The sieves stop rats, mice and blowflies getting in, but allow worms perfect freedom to come and go. A few fruit flies do not matter.
Start off the worm farm with some damp earth with a few worms in it. They will multiply quickly, so there is no need to buy worms.
Then all you do is add your kitchen scraps (except bones) to the top can. Worms don’t like citrus, eggshells or tea leaves much, so put those in your compost bin instead. After a few weeks, you’ll have made rich fertiliser for the garden. Just lift the top can off and take out the fertiliser (full of worms) from the bottom of it. You can also take rich worm tea (from the worm poo) from the bottom can.
Shift the worm farm around the garden if you like, but keep it in a well-shaded spot—a cooked worm farm is a sad and smelly thing.
Apart from the fantastic fertiliser, having a worm farm reduces your waste: only bones and packaging need go out in your rubbish or recycling bins. Your compost bin (or heap) will
a All you need is a couple of old buckets and two garden sieves.
also have less food scraps in it and so will be less likely to attract rats. As an added bonus, the worm farm also stops the used plaster cans from going to landfill; these plastic cans are useful as gardening buckets, too, and for making liquid manure.
It’s amazing how quickly the worms reduce the scraps to earth, so the worm farm is hardly ever full. And with a well-run worm farm there’s no smell.
Friendly neighbours in flats could share a worm farm or you could even keep this farm on a balcony in a flat.
Perhaps councils could promote or sell these very cheap worm farm kits, as well as the more expensive commercial worm farms that many sell already. Everyone could afford one! S

Nature Strips and Climate Change

Filed under: conservation, garden, social innovations, Waste, waste — Tags: , , — valerieyulesletters @ 6:20 am

Nature Strips and Climate Change

Monash Council, Melbourne, is about to allow other planting on nature strips instead of grass. This is a small contribution to reducing emissions through reducing power mowing (since people do not use manual mowing with mowers like my Flymo H33, shops sell only poor quality manual mowers, and CHOICE sees power-mowers as the only choice).

‘Sensible’ planting is of tough ground covers and small shrubs which require minimum care and no watering, and whose seeds do not spread across verges.
Cars can be parked on them; they do not mind.
They can be transplants of tough plants which are already established in your garden.
I have several varieties of gazanias and small daisies. ‘Strawberry creepers’ are also hardy.
Whether Monash will approve my two groups of agapanthus I don’t know yet, since these need trimming to avoid obscuring neighbours’ vision of roads, and their flowers must be cut before they seed.

At present many nature strips are simply dust that is power-mowed. Others bcome mud-patterns when cars and motor-bikes park on them. The tracks of a single car remain for months. People can hold off mowing their strip while all the weeds of the neighborhood flourish on them.

Once people enjoy the savings of time, trouble and petrol of their ‘Nature’ nature strip, they may turn their attention to the rest of their garden, to make it a useful place of beauty, flowers, vegetables, timber, play, relaxation, water-saving, clothes-drying and bird and animal life (except possums!) instead of just another area to keep under control. They can do this too without power-mowers.

Everyone with a pocket-handkerchief of a lawn thinks they need their own several-hundred-dollar noise-making polluting neighbor-annoying petrol-mower. Encourage them to think outside the strip.

Shops full of food

Filed under: conservation, economic, Waste, waste — Tags: , — valerieyulesletters @ 6:15 am

Shops full of food
The food Shops at our shopping centre are full of food. They have far more on display than we can hope to buy. Fresh food must be thrown out; food past its use- by- date must be thrown out.
The shops have to have this display because otherwise we shoppers think the shop has had it, and we will not buy from a shop that does not look full of goods.
But it means we pay more for what we buy, because we must pay for what gets thrown out.
SUGGESTION. Since shoppers will not learn to shop at shops that do not look full of goods, shops could have ‘pretend goods’ apart from what they have a good idea they would sell.
Made of plastic, they will look just like more of the fresh goods that are on sale. They are already on sale by the makers of artificial products for various purposes. They will just make more of them – artificial fruit, vegetables, meats, bread and cake.
When people in the world are starving, we should not insist that our shops carry more than they can sell or even put out for dumpster scavengers.

January 11, 2014

Truth, Lies and Pretends

Filed under: children, Education, Fantasy, social problems — Tags: , , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 6:46 am

It is almost always possible to tell the truth to children – and to others.
And it is necessary for the sake of our society.

The general agreement on a recemt Life Matters program that lies were inevitable to children is a change from the past, when theology not psychology would have provided the standard – however much people might have in practice fallen away from that standard.

When the children ask, tell them Santa and the Tooth Fairy are Pretends. Do you want to join in this Pretend? (Oh YES)

“There’s a bear under my bed.” “Mummy can shut that sort of bear in the cupboard.” (She leans under the bed and then shuts the cupboard door, and for as long as necessary at bedtime she shuts the ‘Imaginary Bears’ in the cupboard.) If a scent is used, it can be called a This-Can-Work,-We’ll-Try -This, without specific details or promises.
Promises. “We might be able to go to the beach tomorrow but I can’t promise.”

(Do I look nice in this? ) I like the blue dress better. (It is not fair to someone to let them think they look good in something that makes them look dreadful.)
(How are you?) All the better for seeing you, or Better than yesterday, or Battling on.
A dreadful dinner party. Choose the least worst thing to praise. “I particularly liked the – “

I believe that . . . but I may be wrong.

Dreadful questions – “Where is your father?” demand the baddies. “I don’t know where he is just now” or whatever can be told truthfully. Let’s hope we never are asked that sort of question. It’s not the sort that we usually are tempted to lie about.

If individuals have a reputation for truthfulness, we then know we can trust them. Nobody – neither me nor you – has never told a lie, but we can do our best.
A country with a reputation for dealing in truth has a great commercial advantage in the world as long as bad apples can be prevented from taking advantage of that reputation. We must keep our land incorrupt.
Victorian England and Scotland had a great advantage in an incorrupt civil service. The Quakers became wealthy because people knew they could trust them in business.

There are ‘pretends’, stories and fiction that can be shared around, as well as lies intended to deceive, not to amuse.

Suppose Truth became an ideal stronger than power or wealth or sensual pleasure. All of these goals are finally inaccessible in any ultimate form – but all of them direct our lives. What could happen with a goal for Truth?

A country with a reputation for dealing in truth would have a great commercial advantage in the world as long as bad apples could be prevented from taking advantage of that reputation. Currently the shift in business theory is to be quite open about deceit as a legitimate business manoeuvre, with best-seller adaptations of Chinese treatises on the art of war, such as Chu Chin Chang’s ‘Thick Face Black Heart’ so admired by the chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, which through a merger became the biggest banker in USA.
A great deal of time and money would be saved in politics with open government and even in diplomacy. ‘I am sorry we cannot support East Timor in this as we want the oil from the Timor Straits’. ‘We are backing X because we fear future invasion from Y.’ ‘We can’t ban landmines because we would need them if we were invaded ourselves.’ Such naivety would be so incredible that other countries would be stymied and incredulous.

No incoming government could be surprised by the financial situation it met – it would be open knowledge. No voters could be surprised by what a newly elected government would do – it would have told them. ‘We will do this, unless that happens, when we will do such and such.’ We could even have voting for major policies as well as persons on the ballot ticket – plus regular electronic voting.
Statistics would always be presented to the public with figures, not just percentages. For example, it could be made quite clear in an opinion poll on satisfaction with education that only 100 parents of primary children had been asked their opinion, so that the comment in a newspaper editorial two days later would read ‘as shown by the opinions of 68 of the 100 parents of primary children polled recently, the great majority of Victorian parents are very satisfied with primary education today’.
If a mistake was accidentally made in any reporting in the media, the correction would be given as much prominence as the mistake. When letters were published containing information that a newspaper knew was incorrect, the correct information would appear in an editorial note below.
A regular feature in all media, electronic and print would be features for viewers, listeners and readers, ‘We want to know’ – not just about pets, gardens, health, finance and kitchen renovations, but about what was going on. What special rebates are being given to which group where? Why can’t this be done? Why was this done?
Budgets and government accounts would be given mass media circulation in comprehensible detail, including spending on publicity and consultants. Calls for tenders would have open details. Government contracts, once made, would have no shield of ‘commercial confidentiality’. After all, a Victorian newspaper in the 1880s printed the whole of of the Westminster Confession of Faith during some local theological controversy.
Advertising – now that is tricky. At present advertisers are the real modern equivalent of Renaissance patrons for art – and they are the patrons of the art that the public really likes. And to a large extent, when consumers buy products advertised on television, it is really the cleverness of the advertising agency not the value of the product that has attracted them. I think my vision would be of ‘sponsored commercials’, rather like the present sponsorship of whole programmes – the advertiser produces a segment of pure entertainment, followed by a clear and accurate statement of the advantages of the advertised product. The policy of public benefactions and sponsorships would also continue to create goodwill for businesses. However, the disadvantage for small and new businesses in lacking capital for expensive advertising would be overcome by special chances for them too to advertise in print and in all the electronic and broadcast media. Truth in business and advertising would apply to prevent individuals simply changing business names to abandon responsibilities and to resurrect to despoil others yet again.

Mr Gradgrind of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times was suspicious of anything that was not a fact – and he backed teachers who would not allow that horses could be depicted on home furnishings because real horses could not prance up walls like that. Sometimes I sympathise with Gradgrind when I am fed up with too many whimsical picture-story books for preschoolers like ‘The elephant that wanted to be a geranium’ or ‘The best nest’ that get their laughs from depicting stupid and twee behaviour. Why shouldn’t reality be fascinating? Why shouldn’t a cabinet of crystals be delightful?
What would happen to schooling if truth was a priority?
In the first place, English and media courses could be radically different because they need not spend so much time and effort trying to warn the young against being duped by all the misinformation and misleading advertising they would face in the real world. They need not spend so much time teaching the young how to produce advertising copy that preached any side that was asked of them.
Historical novels such as The Hand that Signed the Papers would of course have disclaimers that fact and fiction were mixed; most would indicate the historical characters, and have a note about significant changes in interpretations and events – as many novelists already do.

History would contain many more connections and more context – it can never avoid interpretation, but readers would be given a note about interpretation. At present young students often study snippets of time without any overview, on the grounds that overviews are impossible – but they are necessary. The old memorising of dates was indefensible – but knowing about a time-line did give a setting for the present. Students need to know about how the past attempted to cope with its problems, and the results, and how it differed from the present, in order to stop repeating mistakes, and to have examples of ideals and heroes, with all their tragic flaws, and not just be fed models of the mean and mingy.

Drama is a special case – because here actors are deliberately trying to be other than themselves, in scenes that are not real events. I think that children, at least, are less likely to understand the characters if they act them than if they read about them or even watch great plays about them. This is because they cannot avoid injecting themselves and their own immaturity into what they play. After Socrates has died near the teachers’ desk or Captain Cook sailed on the playground or Antigone been shut in the cupboard or Jesus has had trouble adjusting his bath-towels, the triviality of the permanent impressions can make it unlikely that most members of the class will ever understand any of these above a childish level. Simply reading around the class divorces the present scene from the remembered language. That is what I liked about the way we ‘studied’ Hamlet and Macbeth at school, not the pundits who had written about them.

‘Honesty’ is often given the tag ‘brutal honesty’, in the same way that ‘reality’ is hard to dissociate from ‘harsh reality’. Here we face how much damage is done by people who think that if a cruel thought happens to come into their head, in order to be honest they have to say it and hurt people, often with barbs that never can be torn out. The matter is not as simple as that – the real truth is how to say what needs to be said in ways that will help not harm. If we have to say everything that comes to mind, we would all be the greatest bores, muttering all the time like so many Stephen Blooms.

If people felt bound in their inmost hearts to tell the truth, the law would be revolutionised, probably changing from the British adversarial to the Continental truth-seeking system. Pleading guilty or not guilty would solve most issues. However, I doubt if my vision can really assume a change in how easily human nature can deceive itself and in so many ways, when the personal costs can be so high. On the other hand, at present the law makes it often very difficult for the truth to come out. The only time I was called to be a witness, in a car accident case, it was possible to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, but to tell the whole truth was against all the rules of procedure – and yet the magistrate could not judge the case fairly without knowledge of significant facts that were necessary and relevant for the case. I managed to tell the whole truth but it was hard in the face of the legal procedures,

Religion is an interesting case about Truth. Faith has been defined as ‘belief in what cannot be proved, the experience of things unseen’ and certainly there are more things in heaven and earth than can be proved. Prophets and their followers can be sincerely convinced of their messages. However, today there is a good deal of religion-inventing that is not based on experiences of revelation, deluded or not. People can invent goddesses simply because they don’t want to be patriarchal, not because they genuinely think a goddess exists. Druids dress up imagining horned gods in Sherwood Forest. Superstitions multiply today without any concern for scientific evidence. “Do you think it is true? What are the grounds for you thinking this up?” are simple questions that should get answers. Do Satanists really believe in the Devil and seek to propitiate it? What if they were truly faced with what they conjured up?

A fairly general opinion now is that there is no Truth, not even at the bottom of the proverbial well. Everything is mirrors, illusions, change. This perception is increased by the scams and spams on the Internet, by computer imagery and by psychedelic drugs, which at one stage people like Timothy Leary thought might make truth more accessible to consciousness. Watch a few dozen videoclips or virtual reality, and the real world may only be recognised in the prick of a pin – ‘I dislike what I fancy I feel’.

In personal affairs, the Moral Rearmament people have found that living by absolutes is pretty hard. There is the joke about the competition for liars, which so shocked a parson who claimed he had never told a lie in his life – and so he was awarded the prize. Francis Bacon’s essay on Truth (‘What is Truth?’ said jesting Pilate and would not stay for an answer) is worth revisiting – Bacon himself had problems in the practicalities.

Truth is a journey that may never have an end. Old-time pilgrims believed they followed a track with maps. The modern tourist usually does not even have a brochure, but it would be the holiday of a lifetime.

January 7, 2014

NEW URL

Filed under: Political reforms, spelling, Waste — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 4:39 am

All my webpages that formerly had URLs including VICNET have changed their URL.

They now are called http://www.valerieyule.com.au and then their subhead,
eg http://www.valerieyule.com.au/spelling.htm

Tell me if u hav eny dificulty.

November 29, 2013

Australian population

Filed under: conservation, population — Tags: , , , , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 10:26 pm

We cannot hope to do anything about protecting nature while we expect enormous population increases. Melbourne growing to 8 million people
with the loss of some of the most beautiful country and wildlife in Australia is
No profit to anyone except developers and big retailers.
Great trouble for all other inhabitants with horrid housing, transport, loss of amenities and fertile farmland, more landfill etc.

We must keep our population low while we still can.
Climate change requires a smaller population to survive.
No more baby bonuses after the first two children is easy to do, for example.

October 16, 2013

The Israeli illegal settlements – could this be a solution?

Filed under: Fantasy, political solutions, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — valerieyulesletters @ 4:57 am

One solution to the illegal Israeli settlements’ oppression of the dispossessed would be the solution to oppression of the dispossessed in Exodus – as much of the ten plagues of Egypt as was necessary-
Water like blood (red algae), frogs, gnats, flies, death of cattle, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and if none worked, the death of the first-born.

October 6, 2013

How pepl would like to spell

Filed under: Education, spelling, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 7:35 am

1973. Illiteracy- and a problem we refuse to face. Three articles in The Melbourne Age. June 16, August 14 and 21. Over 250 responses came from the public ‘spelling as you would like to spell’ Possibly the first public experiment in spelling reform.
How would the ansers be like today? Try it as an online experiment.

My first spelling research began in 1973 when over 250 readers of a newspaper sent in ‘how they would like to spell’ a short story of 102 words. Its findings have been replicated many times since, although the research itself is somewhere in the garage, following many moves.

The composite spelling reproduced below is made of the most common preferences of 250 entries to a newspaper request for ‘the spelling you would like’ – although the spread of alternatives was wide.
Words and spelling conventions which were not respelled by more than half of the respondents are left as they are – and show how common words can be blindly accepted.
Words in in capitals are compatible with Speling-No-Traps apart from diacritic acsents. Quite a lot.

Wuns apon a TIM the BUTIFUL dorter of a GRAT majishon WONTED MOR PERLS TO poot AMUNG her treshers. ‘Look THRU the SENTER of the moon when it is bloo,’ SED her MUTHER in ANSER to her KWESTION. ‘Yoo MIT find yor HART’S DEZIRE.’ The PRINSESS lafed BECOS shee DOUTED thees WERDS. INSTED, shee yoozed her imajinashun and MUVED intoo the FOTOGRAFY BIZNES and tuk pikchers of the LOONER SFERE in CULOR. ‘I perseev most SERTANLY that it almost always APEERS HOLEY WITE,’ shee thort. Shee also found that shee cud MAK ENUF MUNY in eit MUNTHS to bie herself two ENORMUS hug new jooels too.’

This compares quite well with a collage made up of the most popular spellings for the story when two classes of children aged 9-12 took down dictation ‘spelled as they would like to spell it’

“Wuns UPON A TIM the BUTIFUL DAUTER of a GRATE magishan WONTED MOR PERLS to PUUT amung her tresers. “Luk THRU THE SENTER OF THE MOON WEN IT IS blue”, SED her MUTHER in ANSER to her QESTION. “Yu MITE find yor hart’s desier.” The PRINSESS laft becos she DOUTED thees werds. INSTED she yoused her imaginashin and mooved intoo the fotograffy BIZNES and TUK pichers of the loona sfear in culur. “I PERSEVE most SERTENLY that it ALLMOST ALL ways apeers HOLY WITE,” she thort. She allso found that she CUUD make ENUF MONY in ate MUNTHS to by herself too ENORMUS HUG NU jewls TOO.”

Both sets of the paragraf still leave punctuation, tho possessives are a problem. The children, still with lots of spelling lessons, are closer to conventional spellling, not seeing it may be silly. Children use the morfemic ‘s’ for plurals and tenses, but are stil fonetic when it comes to participls -d/-t.

I still have the entry of Guy, aged 5, to compare with the ‘preferred spelling’ of more experienced writers:
“Oens a pon a time the byootiFul dort of a grat mjishan wotid mor guls (graphic reversal of p and g. vy) to put umung her treshas. Look throo the sent of the moon wen it is blue sed her mother in asr to her cwesjan. Yoo mit find your hrts disia. The prinses laft becos she dawtid thes wrs. Insded she yoes her imajinashon moovd in to the ftografee bisnes and tooc picchrs of the loonar sfiar in colar. She thort she cod pseever cwit sutlee it Alwas Apiad whit. She arlsoo Fawd lat she Wos Abil to bi her self too inoormas huj ne eyols to.”
Guy also uses the morfemic ‘s’ for plurals and tenses. He is notably economical, and also still hears some speech sounds slightly difrently from older children and adults.

valerie yule

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