Education standards in Bermuda

Politics.bm sums up the release of this year's secondary school 'graduates' information very well:
In reality, to graduate implies proficiency. You cannot graduate 99% of students if a mere 23% of them are proficient in math for example. The other 77% did not graduate, they were simply moved on from the education system.
This whole sugar-coating approach is terrible. We're declaring that these students have *graduated* high school but are poor at mathematics? No, that's plain wrong. School leavers, perhaps, but graduates, no. That term should be reserved for those who are at least somewhat prepared to enter the workforce - and to do that you need to have some proficiency in mathematics. Anyway, politics.bm covers this way better than I can, so read the article in full, especially the fifth paragraph.


Thinking about personal firearms in Bermuda

A few weeks ago, we visited some friends in Alberta, Canada. It was a true vacation, and it was the first time in quite a while that I didn't have work issues to contend with (mainly because, work had no way to get ahold of me, heh, and I didn't have the temptation to check in on work).

One of the 'firsts' that I got to experience was the holding and firing of a gun. I wouldn't have considered myself to be a shrinking violet or a worrywart about using a firearm, but on the way to the range, there was no mistaking the adrenaline rush and tension going on inside me.

It was very cold (by Bermuda standards; it was probably in the high 40s at the time, with cold rain as well), not the ideal situation to be handling and testing out guns, but my buddy gave me the overview, how to load the weapon, train the sights on the target, et al. We had a Glock 9mm and some kind of 22mm pistol. These guns, for one, are heavier than they seem, perhaps it was the ammo magazine, I dunno. And they're far louder than one would think.

One truth of the matter, is that those gangster types who hold their gun sideways when shooting, you probably stand a good chance of evading the bullet. You really have to aim with these things.

Finally, we pulled out an assault rifle, I cannot recall its type but it was a modified version of an AK-type rifle with a telescopic scope. All I can say after trying it out is that I have serious respect for those who shoot competitively, especially those who do biathlon. Holding the rifle steady and hitting the target, very tough to do, especially in cold conditions.

Anyway, what does this all mean with relation to the topic title? Besides making this one of the longest blog posts I've ever done, discussions with my friend and actually using guns on the range, made me think about aspects like the right to bear arms as it relates to the USA, and if banning their possession in Bermuda by individuals gives the new generation of criminals here a bigger carte blanche to do whatever they want when it comes to robbery and assault.

While personally I'm of the opinion that letting the average Bermudian own a gun is still a recipe for disaster (consider the amount of people who beat and cut up others over such trivial matters as a cell phone or an ex-boyfriend), I'm definitely not as hard-line as I would have been a year ago.

Sure, we can carry a bat in our car and at our bedside, but against a crook with a firearm, you're going to find it hard to protect yourself or your family. We can get burglar bars, security cameras, even dogs, but would these measures be enough? What if you're walking down the street and someone decides to mug you at knife-point or even gun-point? The law-abiding citizen has little means to defend themselves, but if they were adequately trained, licenced and made fully aware of the consequences of using a gun (or say a tazer or pepper spray, even) in an unlawful manner, would this help to make our country safer?


Update: The Great Wall of Warwick

A few weeks ago, the powers that be addressed the issue of the butchered sidewalk adjacent to the Great Wall or Warwick, and managed to smooth out the sidewalk, and move the old poles.

It's much better than previous, however while observing all the pretty plants that they placed at the top of the wall (must have been a special request from the property owner, hmph), it wasn't hard to see that there was still work to be done. Namely, that the end of the sidewalk is still a potential danger and needs to be flattened out properly.

Including that hole at the end which is a twisted ankle situation in the making.

The work equipment is nowhere to be found, unfortunately, so I fear that this is it for this area until the next election, at best.


Online billing hell - that means you, Digihell

Actually I have a beef with both Digihell and Belco, it's just that Digihell has been a pain in the behind for substantially longer.

I've arranged E-billing through both services, and yet things seem to fall through the cracks.

In Belco's case, I haven't received a bill via email for some time now, so I have to remind myself to go to their website and log in to see my invoices, et al. A bit of an inconvenience considering I gave them my email address so that I didn't have to go through a bunch of browsing around and stuff, everything is easier on all sides. Well, nope. Yet somehow, when I'm overdue, a customer service rep is able to send me an email, call my work phone, et al. Must be nice to be a monopoly and be selective with contacting customers that *need* your service.

As for Digihell, got one of their SMS messages this morning. Usually it's spam, but this time they're telling me that payment could not be secured from my credit card on file. Whatever, Digihell. You're not getting my credit card number so you can pull cash willy-nilly. I will pay you WHEN I get my invoice... which I haven't seen anytime soon. So instead, I go to their stupid website, log on and retrieve my invoice from there.

Anyway, bills are (hopefully) paid off now. Of course it could be worse, they could be like Cablevision Bermuda, and simply revel in inconveniencing customers day and night.

Rant done (for now).


Hoopla about Cabinet

Over the past couple of days, the ruling political party elected new leadership, and by extension, Bermuda has a new Premier. Paula Cox has taken over the reins, figuratively speaking.

A new Cabinet has been created, with a few veteran faces combining with some new ones to make up the batch of Ministers and Senators. Several are probably going to be considered controversial, to say the least. But you know what they say about opinions.

What this week has shown (if it hasn't already been made obvious) is that there are huge gulfs between segments of our community with regard to how certain political figures are viewed. Even if you don't see the extreme contrasts between some of the threads on BIAW with that on Ewart Brown's Facebook page for example, you'll know that for many people, the PLP leadership appears to be either strongly loved or strongly despised.

Is there middle ground? Probably, but it's muted. It's probably along the same lines as what's been happening in the United States lately. Unfortunately we don't have Jon Stewart around to push a Restoration of Sanity Rally in Bermuda.

Web page troubleshooting

I'm sure that many in the computer programming business experience this at one time or another.

You go through day after day of going through code, trying to figure out why a particular piece of code is not giving you the desired result, and eventually on a wing and a prayer, take a different tack...

And discover that you have a piece of code that you put in, in order to test some functionality, was not commented out when you ran the script in full.

That's right. In this case, within a few thousand lines of combined HTML, ASP.NET and SQL code, I could have saved myself three days of grief by adding a pair of hyphens in a procedure. Sigh.

Good thing the pub is nearby. (Kidding, boss!!!)