childeric: (Default)
Clarification: As [ profile] dougs quite rightly points out, the 13% headline rate is actually 13% over 3 years, i.e. closer to 4% per year (and 2% of that is not even definite), as described here:
The pay increases agreed as a result of these negotiations are as follows:

August 2006: greater of 3% or £515
February 2007: 1%
August 2007: 3%
May 2008: greater of 3% or £420
October 2008: 2.5% or RPI (as at September 2008) whichever is the greater*

*if the review provides evidence of higher education institutions' ability to further improve the pay of staff in 2008-09 this would be included within these negotiations.

[Poll #744233]
childeric: (academic)
To say I am utterly horrified and revolted by this would be somewhat of an understatement. I'm reporting that to Historic Scotland, although I have a nasty feeling that they won't be able to do a thing, scheduled Ancient Monument or no. Abandoning my fluffy liberality just for a moment, I would happily string people like that up. (from [ profile] ta2gerlz)

And, now, concealed beneath this cut, probably the geekiest post I, or anyone else, has ever made on Livejournal. I see your computer witterings and I raise you an Old Norse orthography query. )

Update: Gosh, apparently I'm on strike on March 7th. A national university teachers strike, no less. The country will be on its knees by lunchtime and begging us to come back to work!
childeric: (Wicker Man)
Like many of you, I'm partial to Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in the Guardian, and its various exposures of flawed usage of scientific information or language in the press. It has its faults, certainly: Goldacre sometimes seems to be of the belief that humanities graduates as a whole are all engaged together in a vast conspiracy of unscientific muddle-headedness and woolly thinking, which seems most unfair. Perhaps it's just that all the humanities graduates he knows are Derrideans.

Nonetheless, I do enjoy the column: not only is it extremely amusing, it has the not-entirely-un-self-fostered feeling of a lone voice of reason in a lunatic and culturally relativist world, not unlike Francis Wheen's splendid How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World, which I would heartily recommend. In particular, the Emperor's-New-Clothes-ing chapter on the obfuscating rubbish perpetrated by some in the name of deconstruction and critical theory is vastly enjoyable to anyone who has to deal with those who parrot this nonsense on a regular basis. It was this that first properly drew my attention to Alan Sokal's superb exposure in 1996 of precisely how much unsupported drivel it is possible to spout in a reputable journal of Cultural Studies and still be taken seriously, so long as one throws in sufficient buzz-words. This is like balm in Gilead and needs always to be kept in mind whenever faced with the obscurantist and convoluted blithering which has somehow become acceptable currency in much writing on critical theory. What a damning indictment of how cowed everyone in the humanities has been by the postmodernist assault on reason that it took a natural scientist to do it...

Anyway, shattering all your expectations by returning to the point, I do sometimes wonder if there isn't somewhat of a need for a Bad History column for Livejournal. Perhaps this is taking an unnecessarily large professional sledgehammer to a very small (and amateur) nut, but, honestly, there are times when the wrongheadedness and misconception is just so egregious that it's a wonder hair is not being torn out and heads are not being beaten on desks after reading. And I'm not talking about my head...

So, anyway, yes, before the cut tag, an important health warning! The proximate inspiration for this rant is indeed something posted on livejournal (by someone I don't know) and extensively linked to by my friends in the past day or two. However, the points I make below are not necessarily aimed at that piece and reflect some more general statements and beliefs that I've seen expressed in various places. Update Ah, even better, I am informed that the piece in question was actually a hoax. Which is a relief, but if I took it seriously I guess it's only a sad testament to lowered expectations... At any rate, everything still stands.

Does it make your blood boil, Simon? )
childeric: (Default)
One of these days I'm awfully tempted to deliver a rant about the lurking horror that is critical theory. I'm concerned that you'll all write me off as an unreconstructed positivist empiricist if I do, though, no doubt alluding to the fact that I'm a white, straight, male, humanist, universalist, middle-class liberal living in an immensely wealthy western European nation. And tall, rather frantically good-looking, healthy and on the whole pretty cheerful into the bargain.
Read more... )

Outside the cut tag, I was going to put a flirty little mini-poll thing, but I have lost confidence that it's even momentarily diverting, so I'm not sure I'll bother (which isn't a poorly-concealed attempt to get you to insist that I do run it after all). Is there anything new to say and do on that front at all, really? I refuse to run a poll on the subject for fear of eternally receding from actually saying anything ('I shall run a poll on whether I should do a poll about whether livejournal polls are still interesting').

That's all far too much like a Derridean refusal to acknowledge meaning as more than contingent, due to its unfortunate habit of perpetually receding down chains of reference. Eugh!

I think I may have an existential crisis coming on. Buy me a drink if you see me.


childeric: (Default)

April 2009

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