Only for the lack of an appropriate category do I include anything to do with the National Union of Students (NUS) in the politics category. To my mild surprise, however, I find myself defending the otherwise useless student representative organisation.
The NUS supports the Association of University Teacher’s strike action and as a result has seen students’ unions across the country pledge to hold referendums on their membership of the NUS.
Let us recall a few things here: first of all, the unions looking to disaffiliate are exactly the ones that were happy to march under the NUS banner against the recent higher education bill, opposing the introduction of differential fees and thus much needed resources to help get the higher education sector back on its feet. They lauded the NUS president, clammered to call holders of office in NUS by their first names and defended the NUS’ stance on the bill – despite it being incredibly untenable and unrealistic, proposing no alternative solution but to increase taxation.
Those very same unions are now angry that union action by the AUT, which will ensure that lecturers’ pay will meet inflation and make a very small indent on the lack of financial progression that university staff have suffered for the vast part of 20 years, might affect students, despite it ensuring that the education that prospective students will now have to pay for will delivered by highly skilled individuals that are being paid for their knowledge and ability. It is through the NUS that they are making their thoughts known.
What do these unions expect will happen if they are successful in their disaffiliation? Ee hear these people tell us that the NUS can only be changed from the inside and yet they are the ones jumping ship. Individually, students’ unions have enough of their own troubles, let alone attempt to influence any sort of national policy decision. Heck, even borough councils would laugh in the face of a students’ union.
There is no consistency here in any of the thinking; then again, what else would we come to expect from a students’ union?


Does this benefit us?

Matthew Parris’s article on the Times website today (via Harry’s place) reminds me why I simply do not identify with the Conservative ideology, despite the progression of history aligning the political spectrum in such a way that politics deals – for the main part – only with the details.

What has happened to the Tory insistence on putting the national interest first? At the end of all discussion of the ethical dimension of foreign policy, the question “does this benefit us?” should distinguish a conservative in politics. When Tories hear British ministers accuse France of acting “selfishly” our reaction should be to ask whether this is necessarily a bad thing in government.

How does thinking only of ourselves make everything better?

Avenue Victor Hugo books

The Avenue Victor Hugo bookstore is closing down. This isn’t just a result of advertisers and marketing executives whoring their products. It isn’t just competition.
Is it the result of the publishers? The charges against them are considerable:

Marketing their product like so much soap or breakfast cereal, aiming at demographics instead of people, looking for the biggest immediate return instead of considering the future of their industry, ignoring the art of typography, the craft of binding, and needs of editing, all to make a cheapened product of glue and glitz. For being careless of a 500 year heritage with devastating results.

Is the decline to be blamed on book-buyers?

Those who want the ‘convenience’ and ‘cost savings’ of shopping in malls, over the quaint, the dusty, or the unique; who buy books according to price instead of content, and prefer what is popular over what is good—for creating a mass market of the cheap, the loud, and the shiny.

The decline to be blamed on the public?

Those who do not read books, or can not find the time; who live by the flickering light of the television, and will be the first to fear the darkening of civilization. For not caring about consequences.

Taken from here.

Twenty faces

I have very much enjoyed the Twenty Faces feature on textism. As is clear from this article on A List Apart – and indeed from any cursory glance of typography-aware sites – the ability to choose a font from a group that to many seem to have no difference to each other is a fundamental part of the construction of websites, if not only for sanity-based purposes.
There was a time when Georgia would have done the trick for me but certainly any newsprint will involve one of the twenty fonts presented here, and if it wasn’t so difficult to sort out (apart from using images[!]) then that change would be reflected here. But, of course, it won’t be – too much time fiddling about with style sheets is sure to lead to some sort of frustration.