“This is the Big Society. You see it must be big, to contain so many volunteers.”

Precious Moments figurine of a boy in uniform ...
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Leave the libraries alone. You don’t know the value of what you’re looking after. It is too precious to destroy.”

Philip Pullman

I remember the first day I was old enough to be brought to the public library. I was luckier than most of the other kids in my neighbourhood in that I had parents that encouraged reading, but it wasn’t until I entered that dusty bastion of oak-wood and furniture polish that I really discovered just how wonderful books were.

It was in the local library where I discovered Enid BlytonAsterix, the Moomins, Huckleberry Finn, and the Hobbit to the sound of a ticking grandfather clock and whispers of fellow readers.  That hardened paper ticket was the gateway to a lifetime of learning, of enjoyment, and countless worlds.

During Ireland’s last recession in the 80s the building, which had been a public library since 1884, needed some work to be made safe and so was condemned as libraries in poor areas were considered luxuries.  So we moved further afield and I found the many worlds of Clarke and Asimov, the joys of Adams, and had my noodle cooked by Ellison and Bradbury.

It was in a library that I met Roald Dahl. It was a library that started me programming. Libraries got me through school and into technical college and if it wasn’t for the groundwork laid there I’d never have made it through the Open University.

As Pullman points out, the fallacy of the market economy is going to drive out anything of worth in our society and it’ll be the less well off that will suffer.  It is nothing more than greed and selfishness couched in the language of ideology and stewardship.  A reduction to the lowest common denominator for those who can’t afford it, while the selfish classes get to keep more opportunities for themselves.

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Send them down the mines

In a Grumpy Old Man moment, I previously remarked the young people today seem to have too much self-esteem which leads to an inflated sense of entitlement and general rudeness. While I had nothing to back up my opinion it turns out that my rant was at least close to the truth.

An extensive study of 16,475 college students from the United States has revealed narcissism has risen steadily among that population since 1982 due to the last couple of decades’ obsession with promoting self-esteem.

Is it my turn to call for national service to be reintroduced?

The study is due to be published in April and, of course, the author has a blog. Ironically the blog is hosted on Livejournal – home of the narcissistic, illiterate, and rude youth she highlights.

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The Yoof of Today

Every year the mindset list looks at the world through the eyes of the current set of entrants to Universities. This year, those young minds would have grown up never knowing the Soviet Union, always with a mouse in their hands, and thinking that Google has always been a verb.

It doesn’t seem to mention that generation’s general lack of social graces and entitlement complex though. What that lot need is less self-esteem, not more.

[via Metafilter.]

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