What is this nonsense?

November 19, 2017

subjearn

Following our earlier discussion, the BBC has published an article on the financial benefits of a university education, with some results as shown above.  But it’s difficult to know what to make of it, since they don’t say anything about data or methodology or (perhaps more realistically) give a link to where these questions might be covered.

Questions which are not answered include what data are they using, what years are they covering, what is the definition of these subjects, what students are they covering.

What data are they using?

The real question is income data.  If it comes from self-report, then you will get low coverage and also inaccurate answers.  If it’s HMRC data, then you might also get some regrettable inaccuracies and omissions and you will miss foreign students and UK students who went abroad after graduation.  There’s also a question about what coverage you get of UK students who don’t take out student loans.  The work is ascribed to Dr Jack Britton from the IFS and there is a recent IFS study that covers similar ground.  Perhaps it’s the same data…the same years…whatever.

What years are they covering?

Search me.

What is the definition of these subjects?

It is hard (for me at least) to work out the coverage of Medicine & Dentistry, Nursing, and All Medicine.  I suppose that All Medicine does not enter into combined, but you never know.  Then you could ask whether Languages is just Modern Foreign Languages, or does it include Classics, Welsh, Irish, Linguistics…and so on…

What students are they covering?

At a guess, it might be UK-based students who have done first degrees at UK universities and who can be followed up.  But then in some subject areas many of them will have done higher degrees and a PhD would probably depress earnings at the 5-year mark.

gradearn

Finally, the figure above is interesting for its inclusion of the Open University, whose students may well be different on entry and retired on exit…

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The value of adjectives

October 31, 2017

adjectives

We apply our previous methodology, using the Indeed site that allows one to search for job postings according to particular keywords in a particular location and gives a summary in terms of numbers and estimated salaries. So we can compare these results for postings containing various adjectives popular in advertising, as shown above.

We see that more than a third of the jobs are exciting and more than a quarter are fantasticStunning and amazing are very close in meaning and in salary too.  Groundbreaking is rare but commands a massive salary premium while innovative is also well paid (but creative may well be a noun in some of these ads).

Lovely is the Cinderella here, both unpopular and ill-paid, as befits a word that belongs to human beings rather than advertising.

 

Antigone, Greenwich Theatre 30 October

October 30, 2017

**

antigone_drone

From AoD trailer

This was the first Actors of Dionysus production I had seen.

It was noisy.

For a large amount of the time, I sat huddled-up with my eyes closed wishing it would do away.  There was no poetry and no heroism and very little chorus, just people running and shouting and 1980s radiophonic effects.

Antigone did what she did with no inner conflict or anguish and she and Ismene shouted at each other.  Then Creon’s world fell on him and it was over.

I think the generality of the audience may have understood what the obeah woman Tiresias was saying but I didn’t.

On the positive side, well, drones, it was the first time I had seen a drone and know I know what they look like.  Three lines of actual Sophocles at the end suggested what might have been, in another world perhaps.  The description of Emily Davison’s death might also have become something if given a chance.

Dismiss me.  Enough.

The Death of Stalin, Curzon Goldsmiths 29 October

October 29, 2017

**

stalin

So going to see this at the Curzon Goldsmiths meant that I paid £ 8-50 rather than £ 5-99 at the Peckhamplex, but my cold and I had an easier cycle ride and the New Cross Gate Sainsbury’s was a bit better than the Morrison’s in Peckham. I suppose it was worth £ 2-51 (the kind of sum which does not grow on trees) to avoid the fascist bag search…

The film is…err…not very good. It seeks to satirise the members of the Soviet leadership panicking and plotting after Stalin’s death, but unfortunately it does this by making them student politicians from Oxford University from the early 1980s. In particular, Andrea Riseborough as Svetlana Stalin not only looks terrifyingly English but seems to be starring in Bad Day at Somerville College with Rupert Friend not so much her brother but more the louche boyfriend from Worcester say.  Simon Russell Beale as Beria–and I can remember him being very, very evil as Iago–too often seemed to be a rather kindly old gent who had somehow got mixed up with allegations of mass murder and raping underage girls.

It’s the ingrained English politeness and gentility that is the problem–there’s no point in trying to replicate the manners of another time and culture, but you need to ask yourself if people do and say such things, what are they like and so how do they do and say them.  Here, they need to be both terrifying and grotesque, not naughty ex-public-schoolboys having their day of fun and destroying their country in the process.

Contrariwise, Olga Kurylenko as Mariya Yudina clearly had the right reactions but her character was undercut for the sake of a cheap joke.  There were some signs that either she (had she not been so undercut) or Svetlana Stalin (had she ever got out of Somerville College bar) might have become some kind of positive pole, but that was clearly not what was required.

There’s nothing wrong in principle with the idea of reducing these monsters in scale to bring out just how grotesque they are, but cockroaches would have been more the level than student politicians.

The jokes got a few laughs a few times.

Even leaving aside contributions from Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky, the cod-Shostakovich of the score was a great deal better than the cod-history shown on screen.

On disobedience

October 28, 2017

disobedience

Fascist Italian police tired of growing their bellies demand your passport.

The management decide you can take on new staff as consultants rather than employees.

The boss decides you can take on his daughter, just because he says so, and she gets employee rights.

A hotel-keeper demands to see your passport just because she feels like it.

Your new employer sends you some demeaning documentation to fill in after you have conscientiously requested the contract terms before joining in the first place.

So, what to do?

I suppose as ever the things to do are keep calm, run through the options, realise what your objectives are, realise that it is you that you have control over, but first of all do not obey.

Do not obey

They want you to obey now, grieve later–when it’s too late.  But you can ask:

i)  what the requirement is exactly;

ii)  what the justification is;

iii)  for the points above to be put in writing;

iv)  for relevant rules/codes/enactments to be cited.

The demands on skills in logical reasoning and literacy may well be enough to defeat senior management, at least for a time.

Keep calm

If the enemy can reduce this to a direct conflict, they can pull rank and also accuse you of being irrational, irresponsible, unreliable, female…Let them explain why what they want is a good idea–they’re normally keen enough on the sound of their own voices–and help them to become thoroughly enmeshed in a paralysing mass of fabrications and contradictions.

Know your objectives

In a just world, your presentation of the facts should lead the enemy to a full realisation of their unworthiness and hence to death by self-castration.  /in fact, what you can aim at is them whingeing and whining and kind-of forgetting about it with an infantile display of ill-grace.  And that’s the triumph you’re aiming at.

You have control over yourself

Not over them.  Nor are they going to crawl away and die–they got where they are by shamelessness, treachery, bullying, and disregard of all decent principles.  Focus on your objectives.  Make it easy for them to whine and forget by suggesting a way out.  But a record in writing that they cannot wish away is also a good thing.

romans-13-1-2

What they want you to think–but we know better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That looks interesting too…

October 27, 2017

bathhouse

Some more things to remember not to forget:

The Bathhouse:
http://calderbookshop.com/pagebathhouse.html

Mark Bebbington plays John Ireland:
 https://www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-171101/

Angela Brownridge:
https://www.sjss.org.uk/events/angela-brownridge

Bruckner Symphony No.8:
https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/96422-london-philharmonic-orchestra-bruckner-symphony-no8-2017

Are there any good Russian words in English?

October 26, 2017

Bistro

That is a question I have often asked myself over the decades.  Russian words in English tend to fall into two categories:

i)  specifically Russian/Soviet referents:  tsar, rouble, Gulag, commissar, perestroika, glasnost, vodka, cosmonaut [Russian spaceman], sputnik [Russian satellite], samovar and so on

ii) terms with a negative connotation:  Gulag, commissar, ukase, pogrom, [actually maybe this is not a separate category].

So what might there be that is neither Russian nor pejorative?

It seems hard to derive bistro from быстро on chronological grounds, whatever the sign above might say.

Sable

The sable is tenné, not sable

Sable, as well as being an animal that lives in Russia and Poland is a highfalutin term for black as used by Shakespeare among others.  There are a lot more соболь in Russia than there are soból in Polish, but Poland is nearer.  Intelligentsia with that kind of spelling looks Russian rather than Polish (inteligencja) and the concept itself is just foreign rather than specifically Russian.

I quite like the word bolshie as a candidate here.  While it is clearly derived from Bolshevik (so Russian rather than Polish) it has no trace of Russianness attached to it and indeed has a semi-affectionate diminutive quality.  While the meaning of ‘difficult, recalcitrant, uncooperative’ may not seem especially positive, to the English mind these are not necessarily bad qualities–it may be different elsewhere, of course…

On valuing non-financial outcomes

October 25, 2017

We learned some interesting things about valuing outcomes from a talk about a Pro Bono OR project at a community centre in Chester-le-Street, County Durham today:

Equivalent value–the cost of an alternative activity that a beneficiary could have paid for in order to achieve the same outcome.

Contingent value–the self-reported value of an outcome by a beneficiary.

Revealed preference technique–the total cost to a beneficiary of attending an activity, including hidden costs such as childcare, clothing, equipment and travel, even if these things cost the beneficiary nothing.  [Even if no monetary costs fall upon the beneficiary.]

Travel cost method–an implicit method where the beneficiary indicated how far they would travel to obtain the same outcome.  The value is how much it would cost to travel this distance.

National surveys–the Family Resources Survey (FRS) or other national surveys indicate how much familes spend on average for certain activities/outcomes, which can be used as a value for a given outcome.

A History of Wales (John Davies)

October 24, 2017

*****

IMG_2255[1]

Reduced *and* patriotically rained-upon

I thought that this book was excellent, and enjoyed spending 765 pages in the company of somebody in such complete command of his material.  As well as relieving my complete ignorance of Welsh history, reading the book gave me some interest in and understanding of English medieval history, seeing it through the prism of how it affected Wales.  I was especially interested in the idea of the English national consciousness as being founded on recovering lands from the Danes, and hence inherently imperialist.

It was interesting to see how the idea of Wales as a nation came in and out of focus at different periods, and it would have been interesting to get Davies’s idea of what Wales as a nation actually was.  He quite rightly says that there is no genetic difference between the Welsh and the English and treats Herderian ideas of nationhood with some reserve at one point, but also seems quite attached to them.

Remembering A Winter in the Hills I might get worried about the lack of agency ascribed to Welsh people here–they rarely get to initiate action as opposed to having things happen to them or reacting to events.  But it could be a fault of history and geography, not John Davies.

The question that really interested me was how it came about that Welsh survived as a widely-spoken language when Irish did not, given that Wales was far more interpenetrated with Anglophone Britain.  The answer given here is that the development of the coal and steel industries meant that people could see hope for a future where Welsh might be relevant while in Ireland they could just see starvation.

Any of our readers interested in Russian literature will wish to know that it was probably on a rail bearing the letters GL (Guest Lewis, the trade mark of Dowlais) that poor Anna Karenina met her end.

Bacchae in Oxford, 21 October

October 23, 2017
bacchae

Picture from OGP20217 FB page

It cannot be said that my trip to Oxford for the Greek Play was a great success.  I discovered that the classical section of Blackwell’s had been moved up a floor to make way for the coffee shop )and the second-hand section had been reduced as well).  I felt mildly interested by a Collected Papers of Milman Parry but not enough to buy it.  I also visited the Oxfam Bookshop, as one does.

At the Oxford Playhouse, people had been moved forwards, sometimes into seats already occupied by others, and the masses of private school pupils were silent like a field of turnips.

Gosh, it was just so boring!  It seemed to have been reimagined as a ballet from the 1930s with music by Sir Arthur Bliss and an Art Deco cube for the set, but the chorus hardly moved, never mind getting off the ground.  The idea of having three Dionysuses meant there was never even an illusion of Pentheus confining them or him, and though Pentheus delivered his lines effectively that would not hold my interest on its own.

Then the thing had ground along so slowly there was an INTERVAL, so I rushed off to the station and quite by chance came across the rather lovely Chiltern Railway train to Marylebone, which also had decent free WiFi.  And there was a trilingual announcement in English, Arabic and Chinese at Bicester Village Retail Outlet.

Gosh, that was so exciting!  And not so long after I was back in South London!