Valerie Yules Letters

May 23, 2010

Young women in Islam and the West

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 10:03 am

Westerners hear Muslims from the Arab world.  Yet most Muslims are in Indonesea and Malaysia.  Listen to Asian Muslims speaking about their headgear.   Traditionally they wear no head covering or headscarves (like Westerners during the war years, and the Queen still). The all-over cover is Arabic, not Islamic, but it is spread by the oil-money of Saudi Arabia which finances madressas, mosques and Wahibi Islam.

Travelling through Java in 1969 I never saw women’s headgear that was more than a hair covering. Most women did not.   Then in the 1990s young women were wearing head-scarves that were like nun’s wimples, but left their face and bodies free. Now even small girls are wearing bigger scarves.

In Malaysia my daughter sees Arab visitors in burqas, hot and sweating. They try to eat in burqas in restaurants, and they drown in their habits when they try to swim. They have to stand by and watch their husbands and children having fun in the park. But the Malays only have to cover their hair by law – the Indonesians have no law.

2. Pressures on young women. Young women are always pressured to wear what is bad for them, and give in.  Western young women wear stiletto heels, wax body-parts painfully, stick hooks in their face and bodies, tattoo, diet unhealthily, wear ridiculous clothes because they are fashionable, pose for underwear ads  – all things we thought we women would not do again. Men like this. A Muslim man’s attitude affects Muslim women  too– as when in France a woman was fined for wearing a burqa, her husband declared, ‘All right, she stays home; other men must not see her face.’ Religious?                     Young Western women are not only showing they have no spine, but their behaviour also affects the Muslim response of modesty to go to extremes too.  There is a reaction to other extreme, especially among Western women converts to Islam.


May 19, 2010

tip scraps for worm-farms

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 2:46 am

Tip scraps

If every residence had a simple inexpensive worm-farm made with two sieves and an empty can open both ends, with kitchen scraps reducing to a tenth in a few weeks, councils could collect the compost from filled cans with their green rubbish bins. Landfill sites would be saved.

Homes with gardens could keep their own worm-farm compost.

The ideal cans are from building sites, where plaster cans usually go in the skip. The worm-farms only need enough damp ground to put them on, in a shady place.

More about the worm-farm

This simple design for a home-made worm farm is rat-proof, and fits a small shady space. All you need is an empty plaster-can and two cheap plastic garden sieves.

Builders and plasterers at a building site will give you a can rather than throw it in a rubbish skip.

Place one sieve in a flat space in damp ground, about 5-10 cm deep.

Cut the bottom from the 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 cannot lift it off.)

The sieves stop rats, mice and blowflies getting in, but allow worms perfect freedom to come and go from the earth. 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 no need to buy worms.

Then all you do is add your kitchen scraps – but no bones. Worms don’t like citrus, egg-shells or tea-leaves much, so put those in the compost. After a few weeks, for some rich fertiliser from the garden, just lift the can and take some from the bottom, full of worms. Shift the farm around the garden if you like.

Advantages. Only bones and packaging need go in the rubbish-bin. No food-scraps in the compost-bin or compost heap to attract rats. No waste of empty plaster-cans. No smell. It is amazing how quickly the worms reduce the scraps to earth, so the farm is hardly ever full.

Suggestions. Neighbours in flats can share a worm-farm.

Builders need not waste empty plaster-cans, but put them outside a site to be taken. Paint and plaster cans are useful for gardening buckets too, and for making liquid manure.

Councils could advertise or sell these very cheap worm-farm kits, as well as the more expensive commercial worm-farms that many do sell. Then everyone could afford one.

Diagram and fotografs are available.

Assumptions about spelling

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 1:57 am

A striking exampl of denial (State of denial, New Scientist 15 May, p 35-45) is denial that English spelling can be updated without radical change. We deny other languages’ reforms, which update their existing spellings.  Scors of far-out English fonetic reforms ar invented; they ar impossibl, and therefor reform is assumed to be impossibl.

Yet experiment can demonstrate the benefit of updating to omit the unnecessary difficulties in present spelling for lerners and lerners of English.  Yet no-one seeks to replicate it.

There is evidence that unnecessary difficulties in spelling contribute to our serius literacy problems despite enormus expenditure on teaching reading. It is ignord.

A sientific spirit can challenge the assumptions that changing the awful spellings  is impossibl. Most assumptions about spelling fall down; the remainder can be made the basis for reform.

The famus Scrambld Spellings sent around emails since 2001 is one exampl of repeated false statements about spelling despite their demonstrated fallacies. It supposedly demonstrates that everybody reads words as entire elements. Untrue.

“Aoccdrnig to a rscheearr at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.”

(Written in updated spelling.)

May 15, 2010

Florence Nightingale, come back

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 11:46 pm

A recent development in nursing affects patients badly. Nurses have always risked bad backs, but are more liable todat because they have less athletic childhoods, and rules about not lifting patients are therefore strict. Porters are called but may be unable to lift.

* There should be accredited Diplomas of Weight lifting, that give extra pay loadings to nurses and council workers.  Today aged and disabled patients are suffering because often there are no nurses or porters with the skills or strength to raise or turne them, and patient-lifting machines can be ordeals for them, as I have seen.

* Practical Weightlifting could be an Olympic sport. Lifting could include paired lifting of people (as in hospitals) and hurling be throwing of recycling crates

* Many children today do not get the outdoor free play needed to develop strong arms and backs, so are unable as adults to work safely in jobs that need strength and physical skills. Modern housing developments are making it even more likely that our children will be effete, because parents cannot be expected to trek them out daily for the hours of exercise and free play in the fresh air that we used to have.

The condition of wardsmaids could do with a Florence Nightingale historian, because their conditions have improved at a slower rate.

During the war, in the forties, as a wardsmaid at Epworth Hospital in school holidays, my duties still ‘included removing flowers at night as they allegedly gobbled up oxygen’.  We scrubbed passages on hands and knees, and rejoiced when the patients weren’t hungry and left their meals half-empty because we ate gruel out of thick plates and bread and marg off deal trestle-tables.

Florence Nightingale, come again

May 14, 2010

The developed world’s aid to Africa

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 5:46 am


Linda Polman describes a developed-world interference of Ingos (International NGOs) that has not helped Africa, by inadvertently supporting the local corrupt and belligerent forces. Ingos now also  are increasingly seeing the gross error of 19th and 20th century aid to Africa.  They humanely stemmed the cruel forces that had kept populations down – disease, famines, wars, and tribal customs – but did not replace them with any humane population limiters of family planning and women’s eduction. ISAGIATT. That is a main reason why African populations have exploded. The results are deserts in which women search for twigs, lost jungles, lost wildlife, and human suffering still. The enemies are African and Western drivers of population growth, that still hamper family planning and women’s education.

The aid organizations still concentrate on saving the children, which increases the problems. Rather than Save the Children, we need Save the People. Appealing pictures of children need to be accompanied by pictures of them as adults, and the environment they will be living in.

May 10, 2010

Alternatives to antisocial pleasures

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 9:51 am

Newspapers could have a column filled with Alternatives to Problems, contributed by readers, and topical.

Alternatives for smoking, for drink-bingeing, for cosmetic surgery, for drugs, for suicide, for road-rage, for hoon-driving, for whingeing, for being bored, for diets, for English-style lawns, for money-gambling  – that’s twelve already.

If enough ideas don’t come in for a column on any topic, I can supply stacks of them.  Readers’ letters often have many good ideas that immediately are forgotten.

The Age has previously tried a column for readers ideas, but hid it in the back columns, published it irregularly, and the editor of it specialised in sledging all ideas that came in.  It could try the idea where it might succeed.

And it would be lively reading and funny.

Alternatives to social problems  – what can people do instead?

What can people do instead?    Instead of smoking, drinking, taking drugs, maltreating children, bashing wives, hitting the weak, rotting when unemployed?  Many victims who do these things do not know of alternatives.

Media could feature more of what people do instead who do none of these things. So many pleasures and consolations in life are healthy that an essential part of education should be discovering what each individual can enjoy and take comfort from. How do people enjoy themselves in non-alcoholic cultures?  – Because they do. How do men prove their maleness and adults their adulthood in non-destructive ways, as Mature Adults who do not need R-rated entertainment?

Most healthy joys and comforts do not make commercial profits for others to supply them.  We can work out how pubs and clubs can survive as social meeting places and places to practice skills, without depending on profits from pokies and excessive drinking.  How a tablespoon sipped of a favourite grog can give warmth and taste for a day, better than swilling a keg. A child with one to four presents at Christmas can have more fun with them than a child with twenty, who after tearing open the wrappings will only have learnt to ask for ‘More!’ Politicians and company directors too, may learn that Bigger and More may not be better to comfort, heal and prosper a nation.

How friendship or a good read can be a greater relief after stress than a cigarette. The joys and satisfaction of finishing a piece of work – when at last it is good.  Joys that are solitary and joys of friends and family.  The beach, the country, gardens, other creatures.  Children with freedom to play that is not organized.  Adventures with a taste of danger for the young, and mischief that hurts nobody.  The pleasure of just doing nothing as a re-creation between hard work.  The mutual pleasure of courtesy rather than vicious anger. What addiction is safe for an addictive personality?  When for a while at least you need to block out the world. I like a reading binge, or a binge of my favorite jigsaw, which at least I can be sure will come out safely in the end.

Alternatives to money gambling, for example are in better forms of using the human instinct to gamble, without which we would never have dared to take risks, and so made what progress we haave.  My nation of Australia itself is a gamble: its existence displays the human inclination to take risks, to attempt new ventures, to explore. These constructive gambles with our money or our lives are a far cry   from hundreds of thousands of people spending solitary hours at poking fruit machines.  The working classes lose the most in money gambling because they see no other means to economic mobility, and have few know of other legal ways to experience the excitements of risk-taking. So some state governments now rely on this form of taxing the poor to avoid raising taxes on the rich; meanwhile, programmes to help problem gamblers provide livelihoods for the middle class.

There are alternatives to suicide. There are alternatives to following whatever everybody else is doing.

Thinking is one of the great pleasures of being human. It is reckless for  society when there is so much discouragement for this hard sport, one of the great alternatives for curiosity, to pursue knowledge that gives more long-term satisfaction  than the banality of pornography.

For an example – Martin Parker, Valerie Fournier and Patrick Reedy  have produced The Dictionary of Alternatives; Utopianism and Organization (Zed Books 2007).  It provides ‘the evidence’ that there are alternatives to free market liberalism and managerialism’ and to the way we currently organize ourselves. ‘These alternatives could be expressed as fictional utopias, they could be excavated from the past, or they could be described in terms of the contemporary politic  . .  other possibilities, other dreams, other truths and other worlds.’

There is the road less travelled.

May 3, 2010

The dirty little secret of the press

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 11:01 pm

On almost everything, from sports to going to sleep, there are people who find it easy, and people who find it hard.  The most serious difference between children at school is between those who find learning to read fairly easy, and those who find it hard.

They are often in disadvantaged or minority ethnic groups or have dyslexic problems.  The unnecessary difficulties of English spelling are the final barrier.

Yet reading raises a child’s IQ, by adding to general knowledge, verbal skills and capacity for numeracy.

‘Whole language’ has proven inadequate.  Phonics is necessary for those who find learning to read hard. Yet it is sabotaged by the 20% of unpredictable English words.

Turn the reasons given why spelling should NOT be reformed into how it could be reformed. The visual and auditory routes to reading, importance of morphemes in English, links to our culture and etymology, the ‘Chomsky’ line about word families with underlying phonological similarity, the familar appearance of text, the problem of growing dialects, and the world-wide importance of English. Spelling reform of our present system to remove exceptions can improve all these.

The small costs of this reform compare with the costs of so much illiteracy and semi-literacy. (Forget about radical phonetic reforms requiring everything to be reprinted and a new system learned. We are mending the present system.)

Let us see how this could be done, rather than throwing up our hands.

The dirty little secret of the press is suppressing this discussion.

May 2, 2010

The enemies of addicts can be their friends

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 9:23 am


The enemies of addicts – are their friends

Probably one of the greatest ways to prevent addictions in teenagers and others would be an advertising campaign that you are not a friend if you try to persuade anyone else to start what they may be unable to stop.  Anyone who tries to persuade you is not being a friend.

I don’t know why people are so anxious to enlist others to participate with them.

I was an addictive personality at thirteen.  The addictions I had might seem minor, apart from uncontrollable temper, they were things like jigsaws, peanut butter, reading books – but they were all things I could not stop if I started. And they were bad enough to make me think it would be foolish to become addicted to anything worse.  Recently I have had to junk all computer games.

The trouble was friends who accused refusals of drinks or cigarettes as being due to  wimpishness.  It demanded more courage to refuse them.

Create a free website or blog at