December 20th, 2007


War and Death Map

In 2002, there were an estimated 172,000 war deaths worldwide, across 80 territories. The Democratic Republic of Congo (dark red) bore the brunt - 26 per cent - of the total figure.

Nine territories accounted for 70 per cent of all deaths. Burundi had the highest death rate owing to war at 1.2 people per thousand of the population.

Maps that show the world via population, spending, and war and death.

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High School Certificate Marks

I have spent the last two days quietly concerned over the marks my students would get in the HSC.

High School is a shitty beast, but the final exams at the end are perhaps the worse of it, mostly because they're so unnecessary. A set of exams at the end of High School isn't going to decide what you'll do in life, and once you've got a few years on that, it's easy to look back and see the reality of, but when you're in it, you're just caught up in that distortion. It doesn't help that parents and teachers can be caught up in it as well (though not all, mind). It gets a lot worse if you want to go to University, where you need a UAI to get in, thus making the exams this once in a life time event in which you must succeed... which is, of course, bullshit, since it's not that, and anyone who has spent time at University will laugh at the notion, given the variety that ends up in there. But that's High School, and the fact that Reality is Not Needed Here, and while you can say this to students, and you can say it every day, the fake reality is one that eventually you've got to give into, especially on the private tuition bit.

Yesterday, marks came back. Today, UAIs. Why release them on separate days? Some random cruelty, I suspect. What's funnier than a State worth of students adding up tests results to see if they got their mark?

The strangest thing about this is that I am concerned. When my own HSC results came back, back when it was called a TER, I didn't sweat it. I didn't much care, though when the mark came back, I was a little shocked, mostly due to arrogance on my part. Considering I didn't bother studying, never really handed in assignments, and so forth, I shouldn't have been, but it was never a big deal at school, most because the school was such a shithole it expected most of us to go into the new slave labour workforce after leaving. Me, well, despite this, I just figured I'd end in University somehow, and it'd work out, and, hey, it did. Obviously I don't recommend that as a system in place of working hard and trying to achieve your goals, but it works for me. I'm pretty much the same for all sorts of other things. Well, I suppose that's not true: I do the work, but I don't sweat rejections, I don't sweat reviews. In fact, I like reviews, simply because it's someone engaging with my work, love it or hate it. In the end, it's all an opinion of someone I don't know, so it's all rather meaningless, and I don't solicit opinions out of friends about my work for the fact that it's not meaningless. When it comes to fiction, I keep my own opinion, and I figure I know what I'm capable of, and so long as I can write and publish, what's it matter about the rest? See how it goes along with the HSC theory? That is, I have to admit, kinda how I approach my whole life: so long as I can do what I want, what's it matter about the rest?

But these HSC results?

They're different. They're someone else's life.

And, since I only tutor people I like, it's a bunch of people I think well of.*

So I wait, and either the phone rings, or I get an email, and I feel good or bad in response to the news. Exam wise, they done quite well, with the results being centred round the 75 to 81 area, which is each of them performing well, and in fact sees a couple of girls go from barely passing at trials, to jumping thirty marks, which is very sweet, I assure you. UAI results are a different beast, since it takes in every subject, including school, and population, and some strange voodoo magic I can't yet quite understand... all of which means a couple haven't gotten the marks they want for the course they'd like, but as we all know it's not the end of the world, and there's a few back door ways to get into the course that you want. But it's been a rough couple of days, waiting for these marks to come in, waiting to see if the plans I had to prepare worked, waiting to see if I'd be chopping off fingers in apology and mailing them back, waiting, waiting, and waiting.

* No, seriously. Only people I like. If I don't like a person, I won't be there. I'm like a high class prostitute that way. Obviously.
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    grinspoon - don't change