Dividi et impera

Dear followers,

I am really sad I have abandoned you in the last few weeks. I still follow the global events but given the huge amount of study I am supposed to do until the end of 2017, I am sure I won’t be able to post as often as before. I apologise if I am getting so boring, I wish I had more time to dedicate to my blog, given that I had committed to, at least, 2 posts a month.

Furthermore, I have started to research for my dissertation, which will have to be handed in during the summer of 2017. Please, be patient…. after that study committment, I am sure I will keep updating the blog. The funny part…I am not sure FROM where I will do that. Heck, considering the actual political climate, I am not sure I will be ALLOWED to do that either!

I think many of you share my feelings that the world was never filled with such uncertainty for everybody before, not at least in the last two decades. I have followed the end of the cold war…. seen the Berlin’s wall finally crumbling down more than 25 years ago… in 2013 I have even seen the pieces of it standing in a Berlin’s street, stark remnants of a past that it was never supposed to come back… I have visited a nazi concentration camp twice… I have never forgotten the butcheries and the ‘showers’ (the gas chambers)…. why are people so eager to resuscitate a past filled with hate?

I have listened to countless explanations about controlling immigration. Controlling immigration is a task for a state, it should not be on top of priorities for anyone in daily life, regardless of country. Instead, many of us have bought into the governments’ propaganda that use immigration as a scapegoat for their own failings. Even my mother is one of many people who reason like that, when super-offended she yelled at me on the phone “but, bbbuttt… you are not an immigrant like the others, you’re Italian!” which basically meant ‘you’re white, cultured and well-educated, so you don’t deserve that’.

This shows that not only some politicians have managed to manipulate society’s thoughts towards a concern that shouldn’t be theirs in the first place (and in doing so, they also divided whole countries in groups on one side or another), they have even managed to divide the ‘other’ in many, many subcategories, in some sort of list decreasing from the ‘most deserving of hate and disgust’ to the ‘least deserving one’. I don’t want to paint Trump voters, or LePen voters, or Brexiteers, with the same brush, because except the ones who are really racists, fascists, white supremacists and KKK card-carrying members, the others have something in common with the rest. We all have been CONNED. We are all deluded into thinking that a better future awaits us, somehow. The governments and the rulers fear the ‘mob’ when it is united, not when it is divided into millions of pieces. The ‘will of the people’ counts shit when the powers have been passed out of people’s hands. We are only instrumental in producing an outcome (an election or a referendum result), after that…. it’s like we’re on a boat at the mercy of captain and his officers… and if they are all a bunch of nutcases and go all random, they can sink us all (and now the world has boarded a huge Titanic…). We are allowed to live in denial that we can preserve and protect what we have and who we love for the moment, and maybe we can take action later on. That is only an illusion. This time, unless some of you are so stinking rich to have a space station to board at will, we are all in this together, none excluded… regardless of nationality, race, creed, age or gender.

Unfortunately the famous Roman rule for good government ‘divide and rule’ (dividi et impera) has been a successful propaganda for 2 millennia. Well, it was even before, it’s just the Romans who have transformed it in sort of ancient slogan. It is so sad though that mankind keeps falling for it, one way or another.

Sad Merlin xx

Archaeology A-levels won’t be available anymore.. what’s happening to England?

Hello everybody,

It doesn’t happen often that I have the chance of writing about the subjects I’m studying at university. Unfortunately, when it has happened it always was for negative reasons. It is no different this time.
This week, AQA (the organisation responsible for GCSE, AS and A levels in England) has announced that AS and A-levels in Archaeology and Art History will be suppressed in the next two years and the ;last exams will be sit in 2018. The official reason behind it was that there are not many students applying for them, hence the cancellation (see link below)

http://link.aqa.org.uk/m/1/93755737/02-t16287-8cfd083f910a4012a7c95d5c8d28d555/0/1/1

As it was for the Building Bill (that will be discussed and maybe passed in autumn), the outcome of such measures seems only one. To penalise the subjects that are not ‘hard’. If you followed Rudd’s comments at the Tory conference, you might have an idea about what cutting humanities and classical subjects means for the government ruling the United Kingdom in 2016. It means offering a narrower outlook and general education to the young generations. It means that legions of teenagers will grow up with less cultured ideas and many will probably lack critical thinking too. STEM graduates also benefit from such subjects. My husband is an engineer and values a knowledge in history and heritage as important as all the rest. So why should pupils of the future have less opportunities than their counterparts living at present?

This new direction in government policy could be addressed in a few points:

1 ) It is undoubtedly true that many humanities subjects do not always offer professional careers later on, hence they are deemed ‘useless’ or ‘unprofitable’ in the long term. This could explain why so many students preferred not to study classical studies, archaeology or history of art at A level.

2 ) However, they are a useful tool to develop critical thinking; the latter seems increasingly dangerous in a country where the politicians demonise anyone having a different identity or nationality as non-patriotic and treacherous. As of yesterday, a Tory councillor had started a petition to consider support of EU membership of the UK as treason. Thank God the imbecile was suspended later on.

3 ) Many countries do suffer from lack of scientists and engineers. A quick look to any skilled immigration list in every western country will make you regret you didn’t study a STEM subject.

The main issue I have with the last point is that not everybody is inclined to study a technical, scientific or math subject. I suffered for ages at school in Italy because Maths and me live on two different planets. Beyond simple mathematical calculus, I’m in the fog about all the rest. Main reason why my dreams of studying Astronomy were… doomed to remain dreams! I wouldn’t have gotten far, clearly 😉

In conclusion, the suppression of general culture and classical studies is never a good idea and should have been encouraged instead of taking such an opportunity away from English students. An opportunity that English government is not very fussed about after its members have decided that uneducated and uncultured masses are easier to rule, this is quite evident from the Brexit referendum onwards. Strange that this line of thought comes directly from ancient governments and politics; funny that the above mentioned members of Parliament probably enjoyed to be educated in Classical studies only to realise that the plebs should not learn what they did.

Merlin x

 

 

Studenti italiani post-Brexit: ma che c…o ci venite a fare in Inghilterra?

Ciao a tutti,

Breve post incazzatissimo, mi ci vuole lo sfogo.

Dopo un tira e molla di quasi 4 mesi, lo Student Finance England e’ arrivato alla conclusione che durante il mio matrimonio io sia stata ‘illegale’ in UK dal 2011 e che quindi se non dimostro che lavoravo con payslips e P60s, non ho chiaramente diritto ad avere uno student loan (che peraltro ho avuto continuativamente dal 2014!!). A parte che il concetto di legalita’ non esisteva nemmeno per ogni cittadino EU prima del referendum ma…. come farebbe il mio matrimonio ad essere valido se non vivendo insieme?!?! Mio marito paga le bollette e il mutuo e io…. non ero legale ad usufruire di cio’?

Pazzesco, folle. Queste sono decisioni personali, se a tutte e due le parti della coppia (indipendentemente dalle loro country of birth) decidono che va bene, lo stato non dovrebbe entrarci!! Oppure e’ questo un sottile messaggio che si stanno preparando a separare le famiglie, come implicitamente ‘ventilato’ dall’home secretary Rudd? Perche’ nascere British e’ un privilegio ma diventarlo significa che sei un cittadino di seconda classe?

Chiaramente, gli stronzi dello staff allo SFE devono avere ricevuto circolari simili a quella che hanno ricevuto i genitori dei bambini nelle scuole, cioe’ total crackdown su chi e’ nato in un altro paese! E qui faccio una correzione, le forms dove era indicata la country of birth non erano molte (piu’ che altro quelle statali) e quindi qualsiasi persona che dice il contrario o non e’ informata bene o non se ne ricorda.

Che in Inghilterra la xenofobia sia stata legalizzata dal 23 Giugno e’ ormai un fatto accettato. La cosa fastidiosa e’ la moltitudine di persone che nega il fatto ‘ma e’ tutto come prima’. No, non lo e’!! Polacchi e cechi ammazzati o picchiati non sono normale routine in Inghilterra; chi considera certi fatti e dice ‘ma qui si sta bene e in fondo non e’ toccato a me’, come essere umano deve avere la dignita’ sotto i piedi.
Eh si, fanno fuori gli altri… e chi se ne frega, no?

Che pezzi di merda st’inglesi. Voglio tornare in Scozia, magari saranno freddini ma non rischio di essere fatta fuori da clown impazziti, Ukippers fuori di testa o giusto xenofobi che scambiano il mio accento per uno dell’Est Europa (gia’ successo, questo!).

Merlin

P.S. sto cercando di contattare press outlets in UK, per vedere se faccio arrivare la mia voce piu’ in alto.

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Brexit per italiani – seconda puntata

Ciao a tutti!!

Mi scuso per i pochi aggiornamenti dal precedente post, ma pure io ho passato l’ultimo mese in completa confusione come milioni di altri britannici e non. Anche se al momento ci sono ancora poche cose che sembrano accuratamente definite riguardo al gran casino chiamato ‘Brexit’, però sicuramente si può cominciare a lavorare verso il futuro.

Mi sono decisa a scrivere un nuovo articolo dopo aver attestato la totale mancanza di messaggi, annunci, articoli (tranne i soliti a sfondo politico!) e pure un solo piccione viaggiatore da parte italiana. Le autorità italiane ‘ci’ hanno completamente dimenticato, a parte nell’incontro di ieri tra Renzi e il primo ministro inglese Theresa May. Un fatto che è stato ribadito da May a Renzi ieri è che NON ci sono assicurazioni di nessuna sorta per i cittadini italiani (o EU, in generale). http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/693875/Brexit-Italy-prime-minister-Matteo-Renzi-talks-Rome-Theresa-May-EU-referendum-EU-nationals

Questo lo voglio sottoscrivere poiché, dopo aver letto qualche commento online di italiani su forums o social media, pare non essere entrato nella testa di nessuno. Vediamo se viene capito da tutti se lo scrivo in lettere maiuscole e in grassetto:

NESSUNO HA MAI GUARANTITO CHE I CITTADINI EUROPEI SONO DESTINATI A RIMANERE IN UK DOPO BREXIT.

Mi sembra inutile ribadirlo ma … “EU citizens” include i cittadini italiani! Quindi nessuno vi sta guarantendo da parte del governo inglese che dobbiate rimanere. La May, al di là di quel che si dice, è abbastanza convinta che un Brexit ci sarà. Senza andare in analisi disfattiste senza senso stile sceneggiata melodrammatica all’italiana, molto più semplicemente prendete le dovute precauzioni per non farvi trovare impreparati, simple as that.

  • LAVORATORI DA PIU’ DI 5 ANNI (e meno di 6) in UK con contratto permanente

Fatevi la Permanent Card. Costa 65 sterline, quindi non è la fine del mondo spendere una cifra modica per mettervi al sicuro da eventuali ‘sviste’ xenofobe del governo. La Permanent Card (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-document-certifying-permanent-residence-or-permanent-residence-card-form-eea-pr) serve a definire il vostro stato di cittadino europeo perché il governo inglese a Ottobre 2015 ha ratificato che i cittadini EU devono esercitare i diritti di residenza permanente tramite l’appartenenza all’EEA/EU facendo appunto tale carta. Non farla adesso è sciocco o vi potreste trovare a far inutili file quando Brexit verrà ratificato o addirittura quando l’art. 50 viene invocato. Ho visto qualcuno dire che è bene fare anche l’iscrizione AIRE. A parte il fatto che l’ho fatta subito 7 anni fa, comunque farla vi mette al riparo da eventuali multe da parte dell’Agenzia dell’Entrate quando l’Home Office britannico incrocerà i documenti con quelli in possesso dell’ambasciata italiana. Non interferisce con la Permanent Card però, perché ai fini della PR vale solo il vostro periodo lavorativo; se eravate senza lavoro dovete dimostrare che avevate abbastanza fondi per mantenervi da soli.

  • LAVORATORI DA PIU’ DI 6 ANNI in UK con contratto permanente

Potete farvi la cittadinanza britannica. Al di là del costo (esorbitante), se avete dei risparmi per farlo e avete anche i requisiti richiesti, FATELA. Ciò vi mette al riparo da eventuali brutte sorprese future e non vi fa neppure perdere la cittadinanza italiana. Vi ricordo che gli accordi tra le due nazioni in materia di cittadinanza non hanno nessuna attinenza con l’EU e quindi la ‘dual citizenship’ rimarrà in vigore, Brexit o non-Brexit. Una postilla: dovete obbligatoriamente fare anche la Permanent Card per chiedere la cittadinanza, più Life in the UK test e test in inglese approvato dall’Home Office. Se siete laureati in Italia o altrove e avete traduzione del Naric, c’è una casistica diversa. È scritto nei guide & the booklet for naturalisation. Per entrambi potete fare il download dal sito governativo.

  • LAVORATORI DA MENO DI 5 ANNI, con o senza contratto permanente

Questa è la categoria più incerta da definire. Non ci sono documenti che attestino la vostra permanenza qui, escluso quelli lavorativi chiaramente. Se siete qui da almeno tre anni, aspettate 2 anni e fatevi la permanent card. Se siete qui da meno di 3 anni, sarete un po’ in balia del vento e di ciò che viene stabilito negli accordi…. Accordi che sono avvolti nella nebbia al momento.

  • STUDENTI UNIVERSITARI che hanno già iniziato un corso di laurea

E’ un problemone. Perché’ zitto zitto il governo britannico ha istituito anche una Permanent Card per studenti EU che sono iscritti all’università in UK. È OBBLIGATORIO avere l’assistenza sanitaria privata se non avete mai lavorato su territorio UK e siete segnati solo come studenti. (http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/home-office-what-happens-to-eu-international-students-in-uk-after-brexit-a7132631.html ). Se non l’avete e pensavate che automaticamente eravate nell’NHS, beh sbagliato… Se siete ancora segnati all’ASL italiana e pensavate che ciò bastasse per garantirvi qualcos’altro oltre che i servizi di emergenza, beh sbagliato… Insomma, questa è stata una poco-pubblicizzata pugnalata alla schiena per tutti gli studenti. L’SFE (Student Finance England) pure garantisce i fondi per le tuition fees solo fino al compimento dell’anno universitario 2017/2018 per i cittadini EU. Io sono addirittura nel loophole di tale legge, perché sono sposata a un cittadino britannico il cui lavoro provvede assistenza sanitaria privata che copre pure me. Peccato che i cittadini britannici non sono compresi nella lista di chi può essere sponsor di uno studente EU!!! Quindi personalmente ho solo opzione di diventare cittadina britannica ma cosa succede a chi l’opzione non ce l’ha?

  • STUDENTI e LAVORATORI CHE SONO IN CORSO DI TRASFERIMENTO

Se non avete già in mano un contratto permanente con almeno 20-25,000 sterline lorde all’anno… scusate ma chi ve lo fa fare?? Perché’ la burocrazia italiana sembrerà un giochetto in confronto alla babele di documenti che dovrete presentare qui in UK da ora in poi. Non molto dissimile dai visti australiani, canadesi e statunitensi, VERO. Ma preparatevi a ciò da qui in avanti perché il Brexit è stato deciso in modo esponenziale dal voto che riguarda il fattore immigrazione dall’Europa. Questi controlli fanno felici i locali, che non vogliono essere invasi da gente non qualificata che (secondo loro) uccide il mercato del lavoro per i locali.

Se avete bisogno di ulteriori informazioni, commentate sotto l’articolo e provvederò un indirizzo email 🙂

Alla prossima,

Merlin

Being ‘different’ in Italy is a real curse

“Dedicated to all the ‘different’ ones out there, regardless of where they are from”

From my arrival to UK, one of the things I enjoyed the most was to have the privilege of wearing whatever I liked, without necessarily being shunned by the rest of society. This was something I felt strongly about, because before leaving Italy I had completed a 7-year streak working for fashion designers companies. In these companies, an invisible dress code was the accepted rule for all the employees. I say invisible because it was not written in any contract, but if you didn’t conform to it, chances were your employment contract was not going to be renewed. This invisible dress code meant that the employee had to spend a crapload of money in clothes and shoes to be ‘like the rest of the staff’, regardless of their job titles. Not necessarily these clothes had to be made by the same brand we were working for, but that was a plus, of course. This also meant that all my wages earned in two years and a half (length of my employment in the first fashion company I worked for) got wasted for the invisible dress code.

Do you think it’s fair? No, of course it’s not, but there’s an underlying message there… that many Italians, on a general scale, had and have to conform to that ‘dress code’ too. If you’re an electrician and has to work in a uniform, when you’re out with friends or in a disco you’re expected to wear ‘branded’ clothes. It doesn’t matter if these clothes are kitsch or indecent, they need to possibly sport a colossal writing somewhere, subtly informing everybody that you paid 100/200/300 euros… for a t-shirt. It is your claim to cultural uniformity with the mass. You’re actually telling everybody that ‘hey I’m like you’ and you can approach everyone, without fearing that others will wag their fingers at you like you’ve just got the plague. This custom is unrelated to real social standing, type of work or class. If even a millionaire thinks to enter a supermarket where he never was in and he’s dressed with a shirt and trousers bought at a Chinese warehouse, see what happens 😀 (might be not a bad idea though.. so you avoid that all the Italian customers bump their trolleys against you).

Now all the above does not include race or sexual orientation. I won’t go there because I cannot speak for those two groups I don’t belong to, although from what I’ve heard if me being different is a curse, for them everything is downright hell. Anyway, back to the main topic. I’ve always identified differently in terms of ‘personality’. I never gave a crap to be born a woman, being told off because I was a woman didn’t compute with me. I didn’t like fancy dresses as a child and I didn’t dream to be a princess whilst I was a little girl. I wanted to drive race cars or motorcycles, fly jets, be at a ship’s wheel or fly into space as an astronaut. Heck, I wanted to be a piano player at 5 and I wasn’t allowed because I was too poor and a woman! I was reading at 3 and by the time anyone else started primary school and they  had started to read ‘I am blah blah’ I was already reading whole books and consulting a dictionary. However, that made me a ‘different’ one, which was and is the biggest fault ever if you’re born in Italy. I ended up wasting years trying to fit in and conform to rules that might have been acceptable for anyone else but not for me. They made me feel like I was in jail all time. ‘Don’t do this, don’t say that’ was the daily portion of wisdom I was administered. Well, whoever was close to me was right. It was not my task to change ‘them’, it was my task to remove myself from the equation. I’m glad I understood it, late but I did!

I was the ‘wrong’ one. And after all this time, years, if I speak to anyone who’s born and lived/lives in Italy, I’m still the wrong one, disliked, sometimes despised and unpleasant one. Even if they don’t know me personally. I embody the voice that is singing out of the choir; I’m a soprano, so quite a loud one at that!! 😀 Italians, whether by way of heritage, religion or simply customs, don’t like to be answered by someone whose voice is not in unison with theirs. They end up taking the high road immediately (if any American is now reading this part, no… don’t even try the comparison between your fellow citizens and mine, Italians are a lot less evolved than your country citizens, believe me!), because they don’t like to hear a different opinion. Many are not even able to start a civil discussion. Anything against the ‘normal’ trend is bad or wrong, end of story. Mostly, they do NOT know anything about the concept of personal identity. Personal identity for an Italian does NOT exist. It’s what the mass tells you is right that you need to heed. God forbid if you think that one of their regional dishes is crap or say anything against one of their beliefs or prejudices. I got kicked out of catechism when I was 8 because the catechist was trying to teach us how our world started and I went to the following session branding an astronomy book and telling the lady that she might be mistaken about this ‘God’ she was talking about because Earth is part of the universe and you know, it all started with the big bang! If she was gifted with any critical thought she might have answered that God had created the universe, but only because I dared to speak out and against what I was told, needless to say… I was subsequently grounded and treated as a heretic. At 8 years old LOL

As a now-middle-aged adult, I also find difficult to deal with some stuff I’m required to do for my studies. I just received the feedback for my last module. A nice grade and a constructive feedback at that…. But I felt bitter afterwards. At some point the module tutor expressed a sort of disappointment because if I had used my critical thinking and my analytical skills more, my grade could be first class. Which would be a huge achievement for someone who was not even born in an English speaking country. But how could I explain to my British tutor that my critical thinking has been suppressed by birth because it was an expression of ‘unconformity’? That I was impaired by the whole Italian school system, which aims to discourage students and make them losers, so less of them graduate and stay stuck in the menial jobs and poorest classes?

I don’t even think social mobility ever existed in Italy, many people are still stuck in the Roman Empire… ah wait, I want to add this. Many Italians take pride in believing Romans are their ancestors. This belief is so strong that nearly ALL books written by Italian academics about the Roman Republic and Empire are useless on an academic level. I cannot use any of the texts written in Italian because it’s mindboggling how biased and useless they are concerning the whole historical period.

However… Let me clear this: Romans were the inhabitants of the city of Rome. FACT. All the other people on the ancient Italian soil were a mix of tribes and different populations coming from Etruscan, Greek, Celtic and Lydian heritage and ancestors. They were NOT Romans. Roman citizenship was extended to the tribes of the Italian peninsula at the end of the Roman Republic, 1st century BCE. Italia as a concept was created by Augustus, for military purposes. Not because he was a generous man who thought equality was due… The Roman elite treated the Italian tribes like crap, but they needed manpower and electors… Do the math. 😉 The extension of the Roman citizenship to everyone didn’t transform in Romans all the inhabitants of the Italic lands overnight, like by magic. So claiming a Roman ancestry when there might be none is a bit silly. Well, I guess it goes hand in hand with wearing a 300-euro t-shirt and faking that you actually earn a wage where you can afford to spend that amount of money for a worthless piece of fabric.

Note:
Clearly not all the Italians are like this; although I found out that many like me didn’t speak out because they are afraid of their peers’ reaction. However, the mass is certainly like that and it’s not even a mystery  🙂

 

 

The long-winded translation of ‘saccente’

If any of you has ever studied languages, there’s no appropriate translation for many words between many languages. Linguistics is not an exact science, of course. For example, ‘accountability’ in English has no proper translation in Italian or ‘buonismo’ in Italian has no effective translation in English, at least in the modern meaning of the word. One of those words I always found difficult to translate is the Italian adjective ‘saccente’ and, for your information, it’s a pejorative term too.

In my opinion it’s no coincidence that this word exists as an ‘only word’ in Italian whilst in English it could translate with ‘arrogant, pedantic, conceited know-it-all’. Despite the renown snobbery of some English people who could easily be described by such a word, that is nothing compared to the same level of ‘saccenza’ (the noun at the root of the adjective) displayed by many Italians. Unfortunately…. I guess it is the heritage left by those pompous Romans 2,000 years ago… (I’m neck-deep in studying Augustus’ Res Gestae… most presumptuous thing ever!!) and it seems it’s still ongoing nowadays.

Italians generally hold a grudge on anyone who’s definitively showing some kind of superiority in any field compared to them, whether that’s the truth or not. They regard their lifestyle and ‘their’ system as one of the best in the world (guess what.. like the Romans!), but this particular side of them doesn’t show when they are in Italy, it rears its ‘ugly’ head when they are abroad. No population all over Europe has anything better than in Italy and the worst thing I can do at the end of my day is reading online comments written in Italian and read all that crap about how cleaner, smarter and more beautiful all things are in Italy. I had promised I was going to stop doing it, but sometimes the temptation is strong, sorry my dear readers! Of course, it is an illusion. There are pros and cons in every situation as well as living in every country. There’s no perfect country to live in, there’s only a place you can call home, regardless of where that is. Unfortunately, this is not the message that many accept as truth, even if it’s the person ‘feeling at home’ who’s speaking/writing. I was reading comments on FB on one of my articles in Italian (not written for this website) and the general lack of humility and understanding was appalling. They’ve to tell you that what you’re feeling or experiencing can’t be possible and it is not the truth.

You’ve to know that Italian students have to study ten times more than anyone else in Europe. That doesn’t make any of them a lot smarter, of course, you are smart or you aren’t. However, many graduates still insist they are smarter or more prepared than others abroad. Needless to say, that is not true because quantity doesn’t equal quality most of the time. The quality of their learning process is very low and stiff, many students goes on repeating/parroting what they read in their ‘assigned’ books and usually they have no practical knowledge at all. The information is also politically manufactured most of the time and at present I’m in the middle of unlearning what I had learnt in my secondary school years (Thank God I didn’t complete it in Italy!!). Is this the rule for everybody? Of course not, many brilliant students detach themselves from such a method and bin it (only doing the ‘parroting’ thing at the exams but in the end they actively learnt something). For the others, a huge, general bitterness is felt when they find out what they had to stand for…nothing. Once confronted with a foreign method and process of learning they find themselves at a loss. In a few words, they don’t know how to justify they spent years learning a huge pile of crap and someone got there in half of the time… They’re looking for graduate jobs at 28 and the others at 22-23… And here the ‘saccenza’ and the need of justifying ‘useless study’ come back… “But I know more”, nope, they just read more: reading lots without learning doesn’t make anyone more skilled or smarter. In some cases it just makes them appear as losers (not my opinion here, just what I’ve heard locals say).