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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday evening bird blogging

It was recently pointed out to me that things have been far too quiet in this here bit of blogspace and since my better half is rather preoccupied at a conference in Canada I thought I'd take up the slack for a bit.

It's been a particularly frustrating evening of data processing for a poster I'm presenting soon in Austria - the bug I thought I'd fixed in the Fortran code has spontaneously re-appeared making me a very unhappy bunny indeed! A late night is in prospect, so here's a little light relief...

It's been a rather snowy March here (well it's snowed more than once - that's a lot for our little bit of England) and I caught this photo of the local birdlife making the most of the peanuts I put out for them...

Friday, March 10, 2006

...but not for me

Well I have to hand my KY back.

After all the talk by my (senior) colleagues, I did not even make the shortlist. Basically we had three candidates who were of exceptional quality and experience that placed them several steps above us other candidates. Of the remaining 9 candidates, I was apparantly up top but it was not a clear cut decision between me and others of similar experience and so they have opted to interview only the three.

I cannot say that I am 100% fine with this, but neither am I tearing my hair out and crying. It is a bit annoying that I wasted so much time preparing my application but hindsight is a beautiful thing. As the Dean said, I am young and in a relatively secure position, I have the future all ahead of me. Plus from my own point of view I am doing just what I always wanted to do.

Anyway, I may not have a job interview to prepare for but I do have to prepare two talks and a poster for three upcoming meetings so I will be quiet for some time. If this blog was more popular I would advertise for guest bloggers :-)

Apologies to those I am sort of in mid-debate with over various issues. I am afraid real life is getting in the way and as I have said before I am making stark choices on what blogging I do and respond to.

p.s. points for anyone who can name the song that the title of this post is a recurring line out of.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Help the RSPCA save British Badgers!

The RSPCA is asking for the publics help to stop the government ordering a cull of Badgers in the UK. The farmers believe that badgers infect their cattle with Bovine TB, however recent scientific evidence indicates the most prevalent source of infection is from other cows! There is also evidence that a badger cull may actually spread the problem since with less badgers around their territory expands.

There is currently a public consultation by the government about the proposed culling so now is the time for us to do something about it. The deadline is 10th March 2006 so do not delay!!

This RSPCA website has links to the relevant information and who to write to/email. They even have a handy letter template to help you.

Thank you

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Political rambling

This was first posted as a comment over at Cabal but I decided to reproduce it here. It is just a rambling collective of thoughts about political labels and our view of government.

The US President George W. Bush is not a conservative.

I feel more and more that the 'liberal' and 'conservative' labels are becoming progressively useless in defining our politicans. Tony Blair is not a 'liberal' or a 'socialist' in the traditional sense regardless of the fact that he leads the Labour party. There are few who truly embody the principles of the ideologies to any extent that might have been observed in the past.

Is that a bad thing?

Not at all, it just depends on your point of view. My take is that new ideas (or refined ideas or even recycled ideas) emerge depending on your time frame. We each view 'society' differently and we come up with certain ideas on how 'society' should function and we then think of government, rightly or wrongly, as our focus for influencing society. We are influenced in our views (in no particular order and by varying amounts) by the media, by the government, by our family and friends, by the woman talking in the ailse at the supermarket, by whether we think Senator such-and-such has an honest face. This leads to a hodgepodge of ideas from various camps. Lets face it, political parties today are nothing like their counterparts of 200 years ago, and they are dissimilar to their counterparts of 200 years before them. Politics evolves and the speed of evolution is not constant.

Yet over time we become invested in the ideas that we develop or steal, and we cling to them in such a way as to make it difficult, though not impossible, to see beyond them. Sticking to one's principles is considered a good thing in our 'society' whilst adapting your stance to fit the facts can be called 'flip-flopping' and then we may be mocked or scorned. This is a terrible thing and it is a triumph of rhetoric over reason. Evidence perhaps that we are too ready to allow ourselves to become mired in ignoring politics; we elect them, they should deal with things without bothering us - all kinds of things that if we thought about it we might not want them deciding for us. Perhaps we are too prepared to lose our personal responsibility for the convenience of not having to get involved.

Anyway, I digress. I feel that it is important to learn from the past without the need to pin ourselves to it. We invest too much in the labels and too little in the actions. We generate bogeymen by use of the words 'liberal' and 'conservative' without really understanding the makeup of those we wish to demean. At the same time we demand too much from our government whilst not demanding enough from our politicians, and then comes the final straw; we roll our eyes and claim that its 'just politics' as if that is really an excuse. It isn't.

I have been trying to construct a post entitled 'How the 'Left' was Lost' in resposne to a discussion that Winston and I were having over at Cabal. I am finding it difficult, not because I beleive my thesis is wrong, rather because it is all so depressing. The same can be done for the right with the same level of depression.