Tuesday, 17 September 2019

No smoking here, dummy!

I'm retired now, but I can't help musing on certain things when I see them. One of those things I saw recently was on top of a partially built house in a new housing development near where my parents live. It was a chimney stack on top of a roof. Except the roof was as yet no more than flimsy timber trussed rafters. There was no actual chimney below the roofline to support the bricks-and-mortar chimney stack, nor any chimney breasts in the rooms further down. The stack, complete with earthenware chimney pot, appeared to balance unsupported above the uncompleted house as if hoisted wholesale into position. Which, I concluded, it probably was.

During my working life in architectural practice I came across fakes of various kinds, including plaster and glass-fibre pretending to be something else, and I've been against them on principle, despite many being such good fakes that without actual physical contact it wasn't possible to distinguish them from the real thing. My objection isn't based on how poorly they replicate the real thing, but on how well they do it. They do it so well that it's impossible, at a moderate distance, to tell that they are fakes.

But once you know such fakes exist, that knowledge devalues the genuine article. You see something that looks genuine, but is it? The existence of convincing counterfeits puts everything into question. Does this matter? In the grand scheme of things, probably not, but if you care about truth, it most certainly does.

So I now look at chimneys with a degree of suspicion. Nowadays of course, this also applies to news media.

From the Stormking website:
The Stormking GRP SmartStack dummy chimney applies the same principles of the Stormking GRP chimney that enhance the appearance of any building offering the builder virtually maintenance free product, with a traditional aesthetic look, but with the added bonus of incorporating a GRP lead effect plinth box and lead flashing detail, saving you time and money with installation. Whilst the chimney used to have a function to them in the past, today they are viewed as unnecessary features that add to the build cost but are required under planning restrictions.


Saturday, 9 February 2019

Non-faith primary school caves to minority creationist pressure

This would be disgraceful enough if the school in question was a religious or faith school, but Hartford Manor Primary School in Cheshire is a 'community school', of which there are precious few available for children whose parents don't want religious indoctrination to be part of their education.

A cursory perusal of the school's website reveals no religious agenda (as it shouldn't), and yet in response to threats by a few creationist parents the school have cancelled a play about Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. The National Secular Society have understandably made their objections to the cancellation clear:
NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: "Schools should have the confidence to face down unreasonable parental demands. Objections to children learning about evolution – including the Church of England's historical hostility to it – clearly fall under this description.
"We're seeing a worrying trend of parents pressuring headteachers and threatening to withdraw children when teaching doesn't fit their, often narrow, worldview.
"Schools should broaden pupils' horizons and need to be supported to do that when faced with external pressure demanding that the education their children receive conforms with parents' religious views."
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