10 Responses to Out of it – probably, but not out of here

  1. Stephen Moss says:

    Austin – I, for one, will be investigating your chess page (haven’t looked yet though). I stick to the on-line games, which although not very time-consuming can be a chore on those occasions when you don’t really feel like it but but face losing on time. About a year ago I also took part in I’m a Scientist, for which I also blame Stephen Curry. No strolling to victory for me unfortunately, though I managed to avoid being evicted in the first couple of rounds and found the whole thing rather enjoyable.

    The oddest question I recall was ‘who would win in a fight between a grizzly bear and a giant squid?’. The correct answer of course is that it all depends whether the fight is on land or at sea. And then of course one would need to stage at least six such encounters to ensure statistical reliability, and take care with variables such as creature size and age.

  2. Er… oh yeah, blog posting. I should get on that, too. 😉

  3. chall says:

    Look a post! 🙂

    I’ll read the Q&A for lunch. It’s such a fun idea, the ask-the-scientist thing. The span of questions must really be enormous. And the people hungry for all the knowledge…

    As for the Rooney comment, made me giggle and then turn sad. It’s really true, the disparity is mindboggling. I remember reading about the difference btw CEO and the lowest paid emploee at the company has grown from 1:5 (back in the day) to 1:20 000 or something like that in certain huge companies…. Seem to remember something about a legislation about it in France? Germany?

  4. Stephen says:

    I did not *stroll* to victory — it was bloody hard work. I flogged myself! 😉

    But profound apologies to Austin for the Twitter thing.

  5. Austin says:

    Thanks guys.

    @Stephen M Top-notch answer. I hope someone asks me the same thing (or something analogous) so I can steal it!

    @Stephen C Actually I managed OK on Twitter to start with, being merely a ‘social user’. And then … it got worse. But I’m still a *Cough* heavy social user. Really. Not an addict. Oh no.

    Anyway, the blame for my growing Twitter problem lies, I’m afraid, entirely with me.

    @Chall Although Stephen C warned me, I have been taken aback by the breadth of the Qs, in that people ask us biological scientists entirely physical science questions, like “Why does the sun look yellow?”. But the kids are quite young, so I guess a scientist is a scientist is a scientist, from their perspective. Though as I never did biology or physics at school beyond age 15, it is a stretch.

    As to the pay thing – what can you say? It has got worse in UK Universities, as elsewhere. You now regularly see articles in the UK questioning the inflation-busting increases in what University Vice Chancellors/Presidents (i.e. Chief Execs) are paid, which is now up toward or sometimes past £ 200K a year… and we have more people in the Univs year-on-year being paid over £ 100K. Meanwhile the pay offer for ‘ordinary’ academic staff this year is currently 1%, which would follow 0.4% last year and 0.5% the year before, so 2% over 3 yrs. Given that price inflation over the same 3 yr period period has been about 10% overall, it is pretty grim. Personally, after 25 years on the Faculty, I’m not even at £ 45K a year… but of course that is probably just about in the top 15% of salaries for all full-time workers, nationally. And there are lots of people out of work. At our daughter’s Birthday party today one of the kids’ parents was telling us he’d just lost his job.

    Here’s an amusing (and depressing) example of the differences in what people consider to be ‘highly paid”. Over on a chess forum I sometimes frequent, there was a discussion relating to a top British chess master who is not a full-time player, but instead works in the City of London (banking sector). Someone there commented:

    ‘only the top people in the City make REAL money’

    – and then added a bit later:

    ‘junior people in investment banking* would be on £ 100K pa plus a similar amount a year in bonuses”

    *This would typically be people in their mid-20s.

    • chall says:

      Austin> The pay increase for chancellors/vps compared to the “regular staff” is worrying me since I have this wondering naive notion that you want an investment in time and effort to be worth it – and since it’s hard times all over, maybe everyone needs to chip in?

      That said, I realise that Unis aren’t working in a vaccum, they need to be competitive in the whole “getting the best chancellor/vp”. I wonder though, when it started to be this big emphasis on “Bosses” rather than “former worker/staff with leadership skills”? I guess it might be something on this whole new era??

      /end naive rant from the swede 😉

  6. rpg says:

    Austin, if you identify some plugins I can set one up for you.

  7. Bob O'H says:

    “Why is grass green?”.

    Because it’s not red?

    (I don’t know if this hypothesis is still current, but I like it anyway)

    • Austin says:

      Or “why is sky blue?” (another famous question).

      I admit I did answer “Why does it rain?” with:

      “So that we’ll have something to complaintalk about in Manchester.”

      Actually, the question “Why is the grass green?” occupies a special position in science – see this old blogpost for some of the background.

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