Friday, 10 June 2011

I'm officially a bot!

I always suspected I would fail the Turing test and now it's official - according to my Twitter ratio, I'm a bot.

I've been reliably informed that if your ratio of following to followed is substantially less than one (i.e. you follow a lot more people than follow you) - then you're either a bit of a sad, unpopular, friendless creature or else you are a bot. And since the former is definitely not true, I must be a bot. QED.

I'm currently following 630 people and about 240 people follow me. I'm very happy with that. I love all my followers, bless their little cotton socks (and their long greasy overalls) and I believe that quality, not quantity, is what counts

And I'd like to think I'm someone who is very interested in the world around me and follows lots of scientific and technical sites, loves looking at Nasa pictures of Saturn's moons and listening in to all kinds of philosophical and scientific debates that don't really concern me either on a professional or a personal level.

I'd like to think so. But then again, it might be simpler just to accept my bot-dom. If it's anything like my bot-tom, there's not much I can do about it anyway.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Would love to know what teachers (and others) think....

I've just had a review on the Armadillo website of my young teens' novel, Coping with Chloe.

It's a lovely review and I'm not complaining. See

But the reviewer makes a very worrying comment about teachers. I've already discussed this with a young relative of mine who is a teaching assistant. She was surprised, and said she would hope to be this kind of teacher (the Miss Tough kind), one day. The kind, that is, who gets on her students' wavelength and cares about them enough to give them appropriate and kindly support, as Miss Tough did in the book.

What happens in Coping with Chloe is that Anna, aged 12, believes her twin is still alive and living inside her head. But no one believes her - the rest of the world thinks Chloe died in an accident months ago. Miss Tough appears to take Anna at her word and becomes the only grown-up who 'understands' - while at the same time keeping a firm grip on reality and alerting Anna's parents and the like. I.e. she does all the sensible things but shows an imaginative response to Anna's predicament, too.

Now I was half expecting objections that perhaps Miss Tough went too far in pretending to go along with Anna's delusions. Perhaps she did - I can't quite make up my mind. In the book, Miss Tough's intervention helped, but maybe in real life it wouldn't have.

But the reviewer's point was a different one. She said that, sadly, teachers nowadays would not respond the way Miss Tough did because of the way they are trained, and that however naturally compassionate a teacher was, it 'strains credulity' that any teacher could understand Anna in the way my fictional teacher did.

If you're a teacher, a parent, or otherwise interested - I'd love to know what you think.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Elderly people in hospital - luvvy, dearie and darling!

Luvvy, deary and darling are just some of the names my 88 year old father was called during his recent stay in hospital.

I've no complaints about the standard of care he received. It was reasonable - not perfect, but OK. I understand that the ward was busy and understaffed and that the staff were doing their best.

But what's all this name-calling? My dad, as I've mentioned on here before, was a rear gunner during WW2. He's a serious man who shows respect to others and expects it back from them. Especially from people a couple of generations younger than himself.

Would it really be such a strain on the resources of the NHS if nursing and care staff were to call patients 'Mr Smith' (or whatever), instead of 'Freddy, love' - at least until they'd been acquainted for a while? Or if they could go easy on the 'luvvies' and 'darlings', or the 'Ooh, we are ready for a shave, aren't we, Freddy?', or 'Is it the waterworks again, me dear?'

Maybe some elderly people don't mind being addressed that way. Maybe some like it. My father doesn't. Would a little respect cost so very much?