Who Won the Week (20 September 2020)

I always liked Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, and like to join in with some quirky stories from my own newsfeeds. All from our unique vantage points, the idea is to pick something (a person, organisation, anything) which “won” the week.


But this week, I’m treading on Fandango’s home turf. And going to write about US politics, to boot.

It’s unusual that, in death, somebody could “win” the week, but in all seriousness, I think RBG won the week. It was not a name I had ever heard of until maybe Friday, but on this side of the Atlantic, why would I? But today I looked up a few numbers – in that respect, thank goodness for the internet because all of these numbers were quite easy to obtain just by looking through the records from the U.S. Senate itself.

Let me throw those numbers out there. Don’t worry, there aren’t many.

In 1993, Bill Clinton had just been elected president. The Democrats were on a high. They controlled the Senate, at the start of the session 58:42, and even at the end, by 53:47.

So you would expect that, roughly, votes would go along those lines, wouldn’t you?

1993 was also the year that Ginsberg was appointed. In the confirmation hearing, 3 August, the Senate confirmed her appointment by 96:3, with 1 non-voter.

Think about that for a moment. Despite “party lines”, she was approved almost unanimously. 40-odd senators, despite disagreeing with her politics, voted for her anyway.

Now, ask yourself, could that kind of thing happen in 2020? Now, ask yourself why not. Were ahose Republican senators back then “wet”, for supporting a Democrat appointment? All except for three of them?

Ruth Ginsberg won the week because even in death, she leaves us with these observations.

Who Won the Week (13 September 2020)

I always liked Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, and like to join in with some quirky stories from my own newsfeeds. All from our unique vantage points, the idea is to pick something (a person, organisation, anything) which “won” the week.


My winner this week comes from south-western France, from the Dordogne village of Parcoul-Chenaud, but I’m afraid my winner’s identity remains anonymous. Despite reading several reports, I couldn’t find the poor old chap’s name.

My mystery resident, in his eighties, was merrily sitting down to eat last weekend. In the warm weather, he was bothered by a fly as he ate, so decided to swat it.

He picked up one of those electric racquet swatters, one of those where the surface is charged, designed to kill the fly by giving it a shock.

Following the fly into the kitchen, this octogenarian did not realise that as he tried to swat the fly, the spark it generated would ignite gas leaking from a canister being stored there.

The result? Well, fortunately this guy survived, with only a burned hand. He is currently living in the town’s camp-site, after the resulting explosion destroyed his kitchen, plus part of the roof, rendering his house uninhabitable. It is not known whether the fly survived.

Oops!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-54051423

Who Won the Week (6 September 2020)

I always liked Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, and like to join in with some quirky stories from my own newsfeeds. All from our unique vantage points, the idea is to pick something (a person, organisation, anything) which “won” the week.


A quickie this week. My homage this week is simply to technology. This news clip was dated 1st September 2020, so I guess this incident happened just a couple weeks ago.

How brilliant is this? James Bond, eat your heart out. I mean, the clip says that investigators were skeptical but this was reported in, independently, by two airplanes flying into LAX…

My other possibility this week was a certain elk.

Who Won the Week (30 August 2020)

I always liked Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, and like to join in with some quirky stories from my own newsfeeds. All from our unique vantage points, the idea is to pick something (a person, organisation, anything) which “won” the week. Poor old Fandango sounds really p’d off this week, so let’s hope this one will cheer him up.


I guess this is a feelgood story, all the way from Quito, Ecuador.

Julio Mora and Waldramina Quinteros knew each other because his cousin was married to her sister. Romance slowly blossomed between the two, and they were married seven years after they met, on 7th February, 1941 (79 years this year).

Julio was born on 10th March, 1910 (110 years old), while Waldramina is five years his junior, being born on 16th October, 1915 (104 years old). The pair have a combined age of a staggering 215 years.

Last week, they were named by the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s oldest married couple.

I bet they’re absolutely sick of each other!

Who Undoubtedly Won the Week (23 August 2020)

I always liked Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, and like to join in with some quirky stories from my own newsfeeds. All from our unique vantage points, the idea is to pick something (a person, organisation, anything) which “won” the week. So here goes…


In the UK, there is currently a politician called Gavin Williamson. He first came to prominence when, a couple years ago, he was head of our Defence Department, right there at the top table. Somebody had been leaking information to the press about Huawei’s involvement in the new 5G network. It took Theresa May about a day to decide that Williamson was the culprit and to proclaim the infamous “you’re fired”.

But with the arrival of Boris Johnson, all sins were forgiven. As a loyal sheep amongst…sheep, Williamson found himself in the fold once again, this time heading the Education Department.

In the UK, the last couple of weeks have been notable in the sphere of education. The four nations all do things a little differently, but almost two weeks ago, Scotland released the results of competitive exams for 16- and 18-year-olds. Ten days ago, England released the results for 18-year-olds, and a week later, for 16-year-olds.

The Plan With COVID

Because of COVID, there were no exams this year. So instead of just publishing exam results as normal, there was some creative accounting.

You might imagine that there are a few important ingredients to this. There are the grades predicted by teachers, front and centre. These are produced every year anyway. You might then ask how accurate previous years predictions have been. Are teachers overly optimistic or pessimistic? We have this information, from previous years. Then, you might ask how overall trend of grades is increasing or decreasing year-on-year. Again, known.

My point is, this can all be done openly, transparently. The Education Departments could say “first we take this, then adjust for that” and so on. Whatever factors they felt were relevant. And students would have known, and the general public would have known, And people could have decided openly which factors were relevant. And we could hopefully all have all bought into the “fairness” of the process. Of course, some students could lose, but this happens every year in exams anyway. Some might also win.

But the education departments kept these adjustments secret, so nobody could judge whether marks had been adjusted fairly or not.

The Results?

Scotland applied their fiddle factor, and released the results first. Many students (in the end, it was quoted as 40% overall) were significantly downgraded. Nobody knew why. Their Education Department stonewalled. In fact there was such a fuss that within a couple of days, the politicians in Scotland announced that they were abandoning their fiddle factor, and just using teacher predictions instead. As you might expect, this had knock-on effects. For example, students are offered (or not) places at university based on the initial grades, which were now null and void.

A couple of days later, England. Having seen the fiasco in Scotland, surely they would learn? Wrong. Using their own formula, exactly the same mistake, exactly the same outcry, exactly the same u-turn.

So where does Williamson fit in? Well, he is responsible for England, and nominally for the UK. England is, by far, the largest constituent of the UK. England also had the chance, but declined, to learn from Scotland’s mistake. This is still a “current” story – we now have this situation where Williamson has been blaming his Education Department, the department that he runs, for cocking up. I guess it depends on whether you think ultimate responsibility lies with the minister or not, but my winner this week is Gavin Williamson.

On the principle itself, I can absolutely accept that there should be some fiddle factor, not least to account for the things I mentioned, teacher optimism/pessimism and grade inflation/deflation. But it should have been transparent, up-front. Right now, grades have been applied based purely on teachers’ predictions. How do I (or an employer, or a university) know how accurate those predictions are? It’s not really a subject I have any personal interest in, but it seems blindingly obvious, how all this fuss could have been avoided, or at least minimised.

Oh, and lastly, what good sense by Wales and Northern Ireland to stay completely out of this mess.