* Posts by Arms Control Poser

11 posts • joined 1 Aug 2009

Hold on! Degrees for all doesn't mean great jobs for all, say profs

Arms Control Poser


"It seems safe to say, however, that [CS degrees] of more use in general than a degree in english.."

English (note we use capitals for proper nouns) graduate here, several times over. I work part of my time with clever technical people, filling-out grant applications for Eng Lit-related projects so that they can eat and we can do interesting things together. They seem to like working on humanities stuff a lot better than CRM data. Off the top of my head, I can also think of seven colleagues with graduate degrees in English who do Proper Coding - things like web-database development, server admin, text-mining, developing image-processing algorithms... it's true that they are in the minority, but so too are CS graduates who can apply deep and creative solutions straight out of university.

There's a wider problem with your snark, though: you don't define "of more use". Being of use is hardly a skill in itself: - did you mean of use to the country, to humanity, or to yourself ("in general" doesn't really cut it as a qualifier - it could refer to any or none of these things)? A humanities degree would help you be a lot more precise in future, but I'd specifically recommend, for you, a degree in English as the best way of thinking about how your language is part of you, makes you part of a community (we could call it a nation, but that gets messy, historically and factually, with the English language and the current politics), and as a member of a species who can make funny noises and squiggles which are somewhat meaningful to others, although - and this is part of the interest, not always in the same way, so comment sections, literary criticism, democracy etc.

Or would you rather carry on waving your tiny flag over those who you imagine to be your peers?

'Oppressive' UK copyright law: More cobblers from IP quangos

Arms Control Poser

Some historical and linguistic perspective

"As Mincov puts it: "The reason I respect Patry’s position so much is that he understands that the balance model is nonsensical." Copyright is simply an economic incentive, founded on a temporary exclusive property right. It's a business stimulus, designed to create monetary exchanges and rewards. It has nothing to do with consumer rights."

Don't like the word "balance"? Consider copyright as a bargain, then. You are correct to say that it is an incentive. Your admission that it is "temporary" points to the extraordinary nature of this right - that in UK law it has always been framed as a trade-off within certain fixed limits, ever since the 1709/10 'Act of Anne' or, as it is formally known, and this is important - "An Act for the Encouragement of Learning". [/quote]

Do you see what they did there? They enshrined a concept of public benefit as the goal of a complex and contested bargain between the interests of producers and consumers. 'Balance' does go a certain way towards explaining this reality. 'Consumer Rights' is certainly an emotive term, but there's no more need to knee-jerk against the interests that they describe than there is to bristle at the term "private", as you claim the report's authors want their readers to. Markets don't assign rights: politics does, and it's always provisional and open to claim and counter-claim. Aspiring towards "a long-term ecology" is wishful, bordering on mystical thinking, if you imagine this could be self-sustaining.

Lastly, neither Consumer International nor the A2K Network remotely fit the definition of a "quango."

Free uni opened for Tech City hipsters

Arms Control Poser

"Free University?"

In the UK the words "university" and "uni" are, at least for the time being, restricted by law and may not be used by any old organisation offering courses in e.g. "The Art of the Cold-Call." I can't see any evidence that this org has got a real university to validate their courses as degree-level, which does happen, but if not the term "free university" is a trifle meaningless.

Science, engineering PhDs to drop by a third

Arms Control Poser

Arts and Humanities funding is not a pot of gold

Quote: Personally, I see no problem with redirecting funding from the arts and humanities councils into the EPSRC (engineering and physical sciences), BBSRC (biology and biotechnology) and NERC (environmental stuff).

Well, EPSRC alone receives over seven times the grant given to the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which was already cut back substantially by the previous govt before the current lot "ringfenced" (i.e. cut) the total non-medical research budget to maintain growth for medical research. But let's, for the sake of following your "argument", cut the AHRC budget to zero (by the way, AHRC funds a surprising amount of sciencey activities such as archaeology and corpus linguistics - but you may not see them as "proper" sciences, so we'll let that slide). Shared out among your list of research councils (let's add the STFC, who could certainly do with a few quid), we find the net effect is .. not much.

Doesn't seem like a huge benefit to the nation, whereas you've now given up much of your ability to research, teach and critically think about languages, history, culture and traditions, including your own, which (regardless of any value that has in its own right, which you are free to discount) is a reasonably profitable enterprise, as any English-language publisher, or any university that offers language instructions to the foreign students that prop up their numbers, will tell you. Since the govt. is also planning to break up the block teaching grant and forbid the cross-subsidisation that also supports laboratory subjects with low enrolments in not a few universities, your plan will certainly hurt the sciences rather more than help them.

Acoustic trauma: How wind farms make you sick

Arms Control Poser

Scrolls I have unrolled

"Yet the ancient study, completed in 1996 and now so old it's actually in the national archive"

This is a remarkably silly criticism. The National Archives (formerly known as the Public Record Office) contains much more recent documents than this report. It's just a place where all sorts of public documents are stored. The word 'archive' doesn't imply anything about the age of its contents, or whether or not those contents are still meaningful.

I couldn't help noticing that the critique from Dr. Hanning is unreferenced. Could this be because, according to Google, it's not in any kind of scientific publication, but instead a document put out by a pressure group? It's certainly worth taking someone with his credentials seriously, but the Reg's presentation of this material is, overall, a bit of a dodgy dossier.

Psychology graduates remain poor for life, study shows

Arms Control Poser

Chem Eng and Psych

Chem Eng's entrance requirements, even at the best universities, are extremely low and the drop-out rates extremely high. The ChemEng graduates I know are all now bankers.

Psychology is an incredibly mixed-bag of a subject, ranging from hard neuroscience to simple statistics based on asking people how they feel (and based on the unfathomable mystery that is The Human Brain (dum-dum!) both approaches are understandable). The subject is a well-known credentialling gateway to jobs such as policing and social services, not all of which are terribly well-paid.

Many CS and IT courses, particularly conversion courses, are also not terribly demanding and rather dull. Then there's the fact that the A-level is historically not as highly regarded by admissions tutors as PhysicsMathsBiologyChemistry - even for admission to CS courses.

Apple 'spaceship' awaits landing clearance in Cupertino

Arms Control Poser


As a poster elsewhere said, it really is a walled garden.

Cameron: Carriers tomorrow, bombers today

Arms Control Poser

Less defence hardware pr0n

You would think from this website's coverage of the precise number and composition of planes and ships to be cut that the majority of UK IT contractors work in defence, or that it particularly matters.

How about giving proportionate attention to the likely evisceration of UK higher education? That's going to have a hell of a lot more impact to the nation's security all round than an 8 percent cut to one of the smaller departmental budgets.

Apple iPad

Arms Control Poser

Good old fashioned books

"It's the first digital device that strikes me as a genuinely attractive alternative to good old-fashioned books and newsprint."

Looks awful to me, and to this chap:


Is it ta-ta for Flash?

Arms Control Poser

"A dunghill with occasional jewels"

Thank you, FJ Child.

Government slashes final Eurofighter order

Arms Control Poser


Like hell was "the Typhoon was, from the start, supposed to be dual-role." It was designed as a no-compromise, pure air-to-air fighter, and represented to the public as such, from its inception right through to when 'sparse' air-to-ground capability began to be clumsily stuck on to the airframe for service in Afghanistan. It may be that, one day, it could usefully serve in this role: but to say that this was always the plan is just rewriting history.

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