Tuesday, April 12, 2016

political selfie

Some of you might have noticed me trolling around social media trying to engage with people in meaningful debate about the forthcoming referendum on the EU. I've made a few observations (most the people prepared to actually have a discussion about the pros/cons are women. most of the men on the remain campaign are boring, most men that react to anything critical of the leave campaign get offensive almost immediately - both "sides" repeat a lot of stock (cut&paste) phrases that don't mean much).

A vast generalization of the two sides is that the leavers are emotional (have gut reaction, not always just xenophobic, but mostly not about evidence) and the remainers are over-rational, citing factoid after factoid. One thing i tried was getting an emotionally compelling argument for staying (e.g. "all us christian nations should stick together", or "we need to keep the English Language alive in Europe" etc etc), but that didn't work much - mostly led to people taking me seriously, or just being puzzled. Presenting the leave campaign with facts is a total fail.

So I tried a new approach I've called the "political selfie"

See, looking at the broad bruss emotive arguments ("they come over here, take our jobs, use up our NHS", or "we don't have any sovergn power" or on the other side "we're more secure in Europe" and  the 'scare-mongery' "If we leave, we will hit huge trade tariffs&barriers") - these don't speak to individuals, they speak to national organisations making decisions. Individuals have their own experiences - did you lose a job because of the EU? Did your company get some great deals in france last year? was your holiday saved because you got easier emergency medical treatment? do you know any colleagues who you depend on at work who came over from the EU? did you're research get scuppered because of ludicrous EU red tape? etc etc - these are questions people may have come across in their every day life. And this actually elicits sensible answers. Surprisingly. This leads me to hope that, since most peoples experiences are that the EU had no personal effect on them whatsoever, (directly), they will not vote to leave. I hope :-)

Friday, April 08, 2016

if music be the food of love, it probably isn't for peace and understanding...

so in the past year I read Berverly Martyn's biography (sweet honesty), that reveals what a toerag John Martyn was, and also Barnie Hoskyn's excellent Laurel Canyon, and now Small Talk (woodsmock), which shows what a lowdown double crossing son of a gun half of the CSNY, the Eagles, and then Bobby Dylan himself all were - only human, I hear you cry, but these guys were part of the self-declared Love Generation - but the women came and went  (they're foot servants too), and outside in the cold distance, etc etc

so moving along, then we read viv albertine's fantastic tales about her like, then Kim Gordon's Girl in the Band lament and it seems that the 70s and 80s did not bring much in the way of enlightenment to menfolk about the role of women at work or in the home

reading geezer (jah wobble) and Anger is an energy (john lydon) it seems at least these guys may have been a bit less crap, despite starting with less advantages, and being somewhat confrontational types - it would be interesting to get their respective partners' viewpoints, but is there a lesson (louder, harsher music, nicer guys) ?

and of course, lydon's well known views about hippies  - from the evidence, he was/is right....

shame, coz the music is gorgeous couldn't love you more

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Yes, they have no Exit Strategy, those brexit people.

i think a tactic for us that like being in the EU is to try is to write the brexit script - 

What are the exit strategies? oh, and some data

  1. law in uk affected by EU legislation
  2. impact of immigration on UK (net positive, a lot) and also note that there are about 5M UK citizens living abroad, roughly 2M of whom are brits in the EU, who will have to apply for visas, work permits, pay for healthcare, etc etc - add that to the mix, please.
  3. UK science cost of leaving UK
Current stats not at all clear:-
What's clear is that if the leave vote wins, there will be massive massive fractures in the UK (scotland, wales, london will beg to differ big time). Also begs the question why the outgoing tory mayor and the tory candidate are brexit campaigners when their (prospective) constituency isn't. How does that work, pray?

Now, what were those things the brexit folks have to have answers for:-

  • Where do we get our young employees for all those jobs the immigrants are doing? 
  • Where do we get our collective defence. 
  • How do we negotiate to not be outside the trade zone? what are the quid pro quos?
  • What do we do about healthcare costs for 300,000 retirees in spain, and more across all of Europe? 
  • What is it like to buy a holiday home in the EU if you aren't in it? 
  • What do our passports look like? Who's paying for that? 
  • What do we do without the 3B subsidy to NI&scotland? 
  • What do we do without the 1B science money the UK gets from EU? 
  • Do all EU citizens who want to go to a UK University now become full overseas fees? How does that work?
  • What do we do with border controls diferentiy than now (given we're not Schengen anyhow) ?
  • What do all organisations do about understanding the new legal/regulatory framework(s) they have to now add once the UK isn't in the EU so is subject to both if it is to do business? 
  • What happens to working time directive? do we now all get junior doctor contracts?
  • What happens to the channel tunnel? 
  • What happens with other joint industries - e.g. AIrbus?
  • Will Heathrow airport be a hub if it isn't in the EU? 
  • Ditto Eurostar/St Pancras - how does that play with HS2
  • Will the City be a financial center of the world if it isn't inside the EU? 
  • What happens to EU nationals married to UK citizens when we leave the EU- do they have to get visas? 
  • Are we kicked out of the Eurovision song contest ? (Oh, no, wait that would be a good thing now we don't have Wogan anymore:-)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Migrancy & the UK

They come over here, take our jobs & our homes, pay nothing (almost ) in tax
yes, I am talking about foreigners like the people from the middle and far east that park they capital in property in london as an off-shore investment make it unaffordable for local people to live there, and the americans that run US-based cloud business in the UK, and pay practically nothing in corporation tax.
These are the migrants the government should be doing something about, not the EU or other citizens who come here to do jobs there wasn't a UK person to do, who are a net benefit to the country.

we should stop the benefit scroungers who drive property prices up, by taxing empty property at some decent percentage of its capital value (say 10% per year), and we should levy tax on people based on the profit they claim in their home country if they choose to operate here - it wont drive the latter away - its a percentage of profit, so they still make money. it might stop the former, who need to go away as they contribute nothing to the economy and are the worst kind of rentiers.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Cambridge University's Sustainability as world leader?

Three things lead me to question the sanity of the powers that be in Cambridge University

First of all, always recall that there is no Cambridge University. It is an emergent phenomenon, a hologram made visible only through the lens of the Scholars, the Colleges and the Departments.

The Colleges are a mix zone, where social things happen, and housing, care and feeding of scholars occurs. Departments do research and teach. At least they have been for 800 years. This is all changing, very very quickly, without any evident thought of the unintended consequences.

1. Pay

I'm not complaining, but note bene - I am paid 2 bands up in the prof scale in recognition of being FRS and FREng. However, in Cambridge, what this translates into is that I am paid below the average professorial salary in the top 20 universities (ranked by pay) in the UK - these are'nt dodgy universities but include most of Cambridge's direct competitors. See
this tool if you want to check (and infer my pay:-)

Does this matter? sure;y the honour of working for cambridge is enough? sure, if you can live in Cambridge, or near enough in commute terms (strictly within 12 miles of Gt St Mary's church spire, or an hour's horse ride, originally) - good luck with that - and the modern scholar isn't a lone monk. They have a family, kids etc - the colleges no longer accommodate them. Nor do many of them work near a college so even dropping in for lunch is pretty unlikely.

2. Land Use

the university is hell bent on filling in all the gaps down by the station leading out to Addenbrookes Hosptial, and out in west cambridge, leading to the M11. Yes, we need more new good lab space. We also like the environment of Cambridge (elegant old buildings surrounded by park space like Midsummer Common, or Parker's Piece, or the Botanical Gardens). So why do we have to put up with this vandalism ? This includes stupid failures to even think about wind tunnel effects (we're in Cambridge with horizontal freezing rain on some days. How nice is that?).

3. Transport

Transport around Cambridge is ok (by bike) but useless if you live in an outlying village and have to drive in (and your kids to school). Compare with london - where people can get around....although they might have to live in Plaistow for an affordable home on a london academic salary...

house price by london tube station

So there will be jobs in lots of high rise buildings no-one can afford to live near, can't commute to and don't like. No shops, restaurants, pubs, green space, school, nurseries, adequate bike routes, etc etc

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mass Observations

today I finished a 2nd book on Mass Observation

Book the 2nd was Worktown subtitled nicely "The Astonishing Story of the Project that Launched Mass-Observation", by David Hall

Book the 1st was Dark Matter&the Dinosaurs, subtitled The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe

Both of course are beautifully written accounts, one of the working class in 1930s Bolton, in their every day life, and the other of every day life&death at the end of the Jurassic amonst giant lizards.
Both are ended by dark events, the first by the 2nd world war, the second, by a 10km radius comet that struck the Yucatan coast at 20 Kilometers a second and wiped put about 85% of life on earth.

Both contain interesting theories, but more interestingly, make commentary on methodology- the first is on how to infer new possible models for the Cosmos based on very indirect obsservations - the second, based on how to understand everyday working people based on overheard conversations in the pub.

Both include a lot of sex as well, which is surprising, in a good way.

Monday, November 09, 2015

dangerous cult movement

people may have noticed (although they could be forgiven for not) that I've joined the movemberment

Little did I realize that this is a subtle and devious way to get people to look rediculous (more than white middle aged men with dreadlocks, or comb overs) and indulge in very expensive habits but also to need to seek relationship counselling and other support to cope with their loss of self esteem.

the whole moustache thing is incredibly competitive, mad and macho (mostly)

and while it may be literally truem I cannot say it is growing on me, figuratively.