On Productivity

We run a driving theory course as part of our outreach and Christian love for the young people we work with. The logic goes; our young people are dropping out of education with no qualifications, they want money, realise that getting a job isn’t that easy and then realise that they need qualifications for a good job. Also, they want to learn to drive. But for the above reasons they can’t afford to learn to drive. Also, it turns out that having a driving license is a pretty good qualification. So we teach young people the highway code in small numbers every few months so they can pass the driving theory test. Hopefully one day we’ll be able to teach them all of the driving test, but the theory gets them farther along that way. We do all this because it is a a loving act. You should try them some day, they’re pretty neat.

Anyway, today saw me making a introduction quiz with some of the questions that you might be tested on during the driving theory test. Pick a random question from the driving theory test bumper question book, type it up, then repeat. Except it’s hard to pick a random question from a book, after all, a book pretty much always falls open near the middle (Section 9: Motorway Rules). So I wrote some 3 lines of php code to pick a random section (out of the 14 sections) and then a random number out of the maximum number of questions in a section (155).

echo rand(0,14);
echo '<br />';
echo rand(0,155);

So I started using that. And then I realised that it had a bug in that 0-14 is inclusive of 0, and there is no section 0 (unless you count ‘a message from the Chief Driving Examiner’, but that has no questions so I don’t). So I rewrote the code.

echo rand(1,14);
echo '<br />';
echo rand(1,155);

But lo, it wasn’t very long before I realised that if it selected a question in any of the smaller sections (eg Section 14: Vehicle Loading or Section 12: Documents) then the number for the question would far too often be far too high. I mean, Section 2: Attitude only has 49 questions in it, what do I do if the number generator pulls out a 127?. So I decided to rewrite it to make it useful every time.

$sectionlist = array(0,39,49,114,56,98,86,63,66,76,155,41,79,15);
$section = rand(1,14);
echo $section;
echo '<br />';
echo rand(1,$sectionlist[$section]);

And then on the way to lunch I realised that it was still going to be biased to the shorter sections and so actually I needed to work out how to weight answers to certain sections. And then I realised OH DEAR ME WHAT ON EARTH WAS I DOING.

And so that, in short, is how we’ll all live happier and more productive lives because of the ever growing abundance of technology in the world.

‘No-hoper’ now an Urban Hero

Short-ish article on the Message Trust in Manchester and their award ceremony for teenagers. Alas, being not a Christian paper, it doesn’t go into detail about the motivations of the volunteers, and treats the only mentioned conversation as part of this guys rehabilitation process, not foundational too it. If anyone knows anyone in the Message trust, I’d love to go up and see some of their work at some point.

The Grove Is On Fire

I’m loath to start up something that’s been done before, especially something that’s been done before in such a large amount and so recently. (I think I’m even loath to start something by saying how loath I am to start something because it’s been so much done before, so much has that been done before; alas.) In the last few weeks and months, it seems like everyone and his iPod has started up a website devoted to youth work and theology, and youth work and ministry, and youth work and church mission so throwing something else out there, another website about youth work and the Christian life, seems like a fairly awful idea. But the internet being the soapbox that it is, self-loathing aside, I’m going to start a website about it. And by website I mean weblog. I mean one person writing about youth stuff. They’ll be no ‘resourcing’ here, no informative sessions plans or curriculum built around self-esteem and the book of Judges, just links to things that might be helpful and tirades into the ether.

So, this is what this is then; a weblog about doing Christian ministry with young people from me, a youth worker from a reasonably reformed evangelical background.

Alright, mostly about doing Christian ministry with young people, occasionally about other important topics such as that photo I took the other day, music of the early 21st century, the promotion chances of Ipswich Town football club, and the difference between crackling and pork-scratchings.

Alright, from a youth worker who is a five point Calvinist.

It’ll be great.

The Establishment Paedophile: How A Monster Hid In High Society

The Spectator has a harrowing article on paedophilia and child abuse. It’s worth reading not thinking “oh gosh, there are paedophiles everywhere” but just to realise how hidden paedophilia can be.

Child abuse, like domestic abuse, happens behind the most expensive, salubrious of doors and we need to face up to this. It was the complacent conviction that it could not happen in a nice middle-class suburb that meant Fritzel could go about his hideous double life in Austria with his family in the cellar, unnoticed for so long. At least Fritzel’s house looks like a grim prison-block that allows us to set him apart and view him as a freak. Took, on the other hand, lived in a beautiful, spacious home in Chelsea, surrounded by paintings and books, and was able to blind those around him with the sheer weight of his glamour and assured social status. Many paedophiles can. It is as if a man of intelligence and achievement cannot take the intellectual leap into such darkness. But he clearly can — and has.

Advertising Condoms Before The Watershed

The Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group has handed their annual report to the British government and among the many pieces of advice contained in it, they recommend altering broadcasting standards so that “positive sexual health messages, including the advertising of condoms, are communicated effectively before the 9pm broadcast watershed”. Guess which headline the papers ran with.

People writing news stories; as good scare mongering as it is, this still doesn’t mean you’re going to see adverts for condom’s before Blue Peter. Also, people writing government reports, you think the young people needing to use condoms are going to stop watching TV at 9pm?