simbagirl asks about why teenagers just aren't ever happy
I can honestly claim to have no understanding of teenagers at all -- not the tiniest little bit. When I was a teenager, I didn't understand very many of my fellow teenagers, with only a few exceptions. So I can't speak on this subject with any authority. I was a seriously atypical teenager. So my theory should be treated as the deluded ramblings of an ignoramus. Nevertheless I present it for analysis: It seems to me that the teenage years are the point at which the drive to take control of one's own life emerges long before the authority to do so. There isn't a good way to handle that mismatch -- which leads directly to the teenage state of mind which is so easy to caricature.
elfy asks about capitalism
"Capitalism" is one of those words with loads of different definitions, and almost everyone who wants to talk about capitalism has an agenda which predisposes them to choose a definition which most suits their purpose.
I'm in favour of capitalism, if that means private ownership of the means of production, the ability to trade freely, and minimal intervention of the state. But I'm in favour of proper working conditions, I'm in favour of employees who are able to assert their rights, and I'm in favour of mechanisms which enable small players to survive in a market dominated by large companies. As usual, there's a balance to be had.
loneraven asks about the importance of passing one's A-levels
I took A-levels in 1983, and 22 years on no-one cares whether or not I passed them. The people who might care about them are instead interested in whether I'm competent to do my job, and the A-levels I took don't have much to do with my work. Pure Maths, Applied Maths, Physics, Computer Science -- even the Computer Science bears hardly any relation at all to the work I'm doing today.
A-levels results make a crucial difference, however, in the immediate aftermath of their publication. University of Oxford, Formby Technical College, Morrison's. That's where it makes the difference. In ten years time, no-one will care. You'll have subsequent qualifications, and work-related experience, and colleagues or clients who think you're great. That's what will make the difference.
For now? A-levels. Very important.
The poll is still open.