Friday, August 31, 2007

Not 2.5%: an update and clarification

Just to clarify how 1.5% + 1% is not actually 2.5%...
Take a salary of 100.
Increase it by 1.5% for 6 months, salary is now 101.5, and the aggregate salary for 6 months is 6 x 100 x 101.5% = 609
Then increase salary by 1%, (new salary of 102.515) and the aggregate salary for the 6 months is 6 x 101.5 x 101% = 615.09.
Therefore over 12 months you have now earned 1224.09 instead of the uninflated 1200. This is a 2.0% increase. Not 2.5%!
Now some of the staged salary increases have occurred after 8 or 9 months. These would be real increases of 1.9% and 1.8% respectively. And that's how Frown is treating our nurses!

When is 2.5% not 2.5%

I find it completely maddening when Frown and co go on about the 2.5% settlement for parts of the public sector.
Firstly it is woefully below RPI (ie how prices have really changed, rather than the CPI "official" measure that the BoE uses to measure itself against).
Secondly it isn't 2.5%! OK if you take the two numbers 1.5 and 1, and add them you do get 2.5. But when you do the calculation of how much 100 has increased by after 12 months if you first apply a 1.5% increase, and then a 1% increase after 6 months, the answer you get is not 102.5, but actually 101.83. So its not a 2.5% increase is it?
What is even more annoying is that when this is reported in the media, it is normally only stated as a "claim" by the relevant trade union that it is in fact not 2.5% but something lower. Its not a claim, its a statement of fact. The lie is ever calling it 2.5%
Brown's claim that putting an extra £4.2m[1] into the economy will threaten the inflation rate uncontrollably is probably overstating it slightly.
[1] Assuming 28,000 staff with an average salary of £25k, this is the difference between a 2.5% increase and a 1.9% increase.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nine Inch Nails

No, not my latest excursion into DIY (see me covered in Cherub dust on Facebook), but a much delayed gig at the Academy last night.
The support were Ladytron, never heard of them, and will probably look them up post gig to see what they've done. V.dark electro 6 piece, although no idea what 2 of them were doing...
Then for the main course of Trent Reznor and friends. The show was lacking in spectacular visuals, which was only explained by Reznor towards the end when he said that they weren't able to get them in! (Someone didn't read the venue spec...) He also complained about not being able to hear himself all evening, despite that he managed to hit the notes and cues.
Despite the lack of screen visuals the lighting they did have was able to emphasis the energy and excitement of the music for over 100mins of show, with the fantastic climax of his most well known 3 tracks ending with Head Like a Hole. Of course we also had multiple microphone smashing and a guitar smash at the end.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How we are

This bank holiday has been spent in Watford, London, Wolverhampton and Birmingham...
On Saturday a well planned trip was taken to finish off the "How we are: photographing britain" exhibition at Tate Britain (which closes on 2nd Sept!). We'd had an interupted visit a couple of months ago by a fire alarm 30 mins before closing time, so wanted to return to complete the last 2 rooms of the exhibition.
I found it hugely interesting - it captures a large amount of social history, as well as photographic technology changes overtime.
The first stop though was to the South Bank, and the World Press Photo 2007 exhibition in the Royal Festival Hall (free). Some of the shots were already familiar, eg the series of photos of a US soldier being shot by a sniper and being dragged away and being treated. But most of the photos were by international photographers for international publications. There were only a handful by UK photojournos: Crouch's scissor kick in the Champions League, and the series of b&w portraits of footballers published in the Grauniad to coincide with the world cup last year.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dr May I presume?

Congratulations to Brian May on passing his viva voce today.
There are many PhD students who start studying, move to part time and take on a job. And before they know it, the part completed thesis ends up in the loft, never to see the light of day again.
Brian is in a very lucky position whereby the day job has been done, and he can go back to his research. Fortunately, in the 36 years its been sat waiting, no one else has come along and either invalidated the findings, or done exactly the same thing so that his thesis remains a novel piece of research work.
I hope that he does go on carry out more research, but also plows time into encouraging others to consider science, and reminds all those people with half written theses that they could blow the dust off and finish the last chapters.

International hockey

All this week all we can hear from the office when we open the window is the sound of stick hitting stick and the occassional ball hitting backboard.
The University is currently hosting the International Masters Hockey tournament, and there is a vast array of countries and age groups taking part.
It's quite nice to pop out the office at lunchtime to sit and watch some international sport.

minding my own business at 30mph

I was trundling along at about 30mph in a 30mph zone yesterday (I may have hit 51kph so may have been at 32mph). And the chap following me was hooting his horn at me to get past.
What I haven't mentioned is that I was on my cycle, and it was a car following me.
Of course this would never happen if I'd been in a car doing 30mph in a 30 zone.
Why do car drivers expect cyclists to hug the curb when there are a number of blind driveways, and some extremely well marked potholes awaiting repair (the sort of holes which are about as wide as a cycle tyre - long and narrow) - just to allow them to break the law...?
Of course you can use your horn to warn road users of your presence [Highway code para 92]. But not aggressively.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

taxpayers alliance hits wrong target

The Telegraph and BBC are reporting much the same story that the Taxpayers Alliance has timed to coincide with the annual dash for university places. [The Telegraph has a pdf of the full list of evil vocational courses here]
If their argument relates to vocational courses not being government funded, why have they been snobbish to only pick up the Salon Management etc. Surely they've missed the other highly vocational degrees of Law, Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Physio. Why did they draw the line where they did?
The TA seem to have also got their stats in a mix, and also missed other easy targets. The Birmingham College of Food shoots up the rankings because counting single courses with specialist streams. Meanwhile Birmingham Uni escapes unscathed despite our Advanced Golf Management Studies, and FD PGA Golf. While Bedfordshire is the only uni to be picked out as having Sports Science!
AGMS includes materials work, focusing on ball and club materials as well as sports psychology and physiology, while the FD is provided as an employer led initiative via the PGA.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Perseids Off

Well last nights meteor shower was pretty poor. We popped out for about 30mins after 10pm and saw a grand total of 3 meteor trails. In that time we spotted more satelites!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Reading Lists

What does it mean when the book I'm most likely to take on holiday is Dawkins' God Delusion (its next in the pile, probably after Frank Millers Batman - Dark Knight Returns), and that I've only ever read the first Potter book and have absolutely no desire to read no.s 2-7 while on a beach?