On the subject of busy students, something I read today in the Guardian is that the English work much less than those in other countries (studying for just 26 hours a week compared to 41 for the Portuguese, 35 for the French and 34 for the Germans). These 26 hours are said to include 14 hours tuition and at least 12 hours private study. In my three courses the maximum time spent a week in lectures and tutorials (provided I went to them all) adds up to just 12 hours so maybe the Scots are even lazier. As for private study I didn't do nearly as much as 12 hours a week last year but then it was only my first year and I'm probably quite lazy. But I think the fact studying hours are generally much lower in the UK must have something to do with the way in which many students here have to devote so much of their time working in crappy jobs to cover their costs - something made far worse by the abolition of grants and the introduction of tuition fees (in England and Wales at least).
Not all news is bad news so here's some positive stories I've seen over the last week or so:
* After a recent reshuffle Norway's cabinet has, for the first time, more female than male ministers – by 10 to 9. Added to the fact that 4 out of 7 of the country's parliamentary parties have female leaders this is certainly a positive sign for gender equality in the country, at least at a political level. Another good thing about Norway is that it was the first country to introduce compulsory gender quotas within company management positions and soon no less than 40% of such posts can be occupied by women. Patriarchy of course goes a lot deeper than simply creating a lack of female politicians and business leaders but at least the Norwegians are doing more than most. And I'm very happy that they're likely to follow Sweden's example by criminalising the purchase of sex later on this year, a move which will hopefully have a significant effect on public attitudes to the sex industry in general.
* Scottish Labour's new leader Wendy Alexander appoints 7 women and 3 men to her party's 10 most important posts with hardly a mention and significantly less criticism than you might expect from our sexist media (although if I remember correctly the Daily Record had a big full page story titled “JOBS FOR THE GIRLS”).
* Italy considers fining men who pay for sex as well as serving legal papers in their own homes to shame them. Any action against these evil bastards is more than welcome but should surely also include keeping them behind bars for a good few months.
* The emergence of a new mass struggle against the brutal military dictatorship in Burma which has, for 45 years, been torturing and enslaving its own people and starving them of the nation's resources. Western countries might now be expressing their support for the protesters but let's not forget that they've done nothing up to now and have always been perfectly happy to let their corporations profit from the misery of the Burmese population.