Thursday, March 17, 2016

One More Prediction

Here's another prediction to add to the two below:

The vile Hillary Clinton will narrowly beat the vile Donald Fart in the US Presidential election.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Two Predictions

Blogs are great for sticking your neck out and making predictions.

Here are two from me:

1) The British people will decide to remain in the European Union on the 23rd of June this year.

2) Maria Sharapova, recently caught doping at the Australian Open, will be banned from tennis for two and half years by the ITF.

I really ought to back up my predictions with a couple of bets.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Tennis is hard

Many non-tennis players don't realise how hard the game is, especially if they just watch Wimbledon a few times for a fortnight every year.

But this diagram explains just how tiny the margins are, even at amateur level tennis, and why the instructors always insist you keep your wrist firm and 'follow through' on all your shots.

Courtesy of:


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Farewell 2015

The year ends in another couple of hours and guilt compels me to write something on the poor neglected blog.

As predicted I didn't find much time or motivation for the blog this year, despite there being a general election on the 7th of May, a trip to Wimbledon in June, and a lovely holiday in Symi in September. I've also had a promotion at work and a new boss and the team becomes part of a new department when we go back to work on Monday January 4th.

And so much for all that - hope you all had a good 2015, and I wish you a happy and prosperous 2016.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Be Careful What You Wish For...

A rare and happy event occurred this month - I was promoted.

But with the increased pay has come an increased workload and responsibilities. I'm working extremely hard and have no time for anything much outside the office.

So even in advanced middle age, I've been taught to be careful what you wish for.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

50 Today

I was half a century old today, and one of my birthday cards had a short list of stats from 1965.

A number of interest was the average price of a house in Britain, which was £3,820. Now I know average wages were much lower in the mid 1960s, but that's still a very low price.

 Basically, the great inflation of the late 1960s to the mid 1980s gave my parent's generation free houses. As early as 1980 I remember my father laughing about the mortgage on our family house. I think it was a few hundred above £2000, which even then was the price of a not-very-impressive new car.

As the old poker saying has it, sometimes it's better to be lucky.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Radioactive University

I was lucky enough to go to the University of Manchester between the autumn of 1983 and the summer of 1986.

The course was an honours degree in psychology, and because of the slightly ambiguous nature of psychology, you could graduate as a BA or BSc. The psychology department was the largest in the country at that time. It's probably laughably small today, there were about 70 people in my year and together with the phd students and researchers, the department was about 250 strong.

We were housed in the Rutherford Building, one of the older parts of the university around the back of the splendid Victorian Gothic administration building and the Manchester Museum. It was a very important building in the history of science, as in the early years of the 20th century Sir Ernest Rutherford, Hans Geiger, and various other luminaries did amazing pioneering work on nuclear physics. All over the building, here and there were brass plaques, blue plaques and various other kinds of memorials to their breakthroughs.

Unfortunately, messing about with radioactive compounds is very dangerous, but of course the pioneers had no idea of the consequences of their work. When I was learning psychology in the Rutherford building, the main lecture theatre, a splendid rather huge room up in the loft was dark dusty and semi-derelict. We were n't allowed to use it as the area at the front where the lecturers stood was radioactive. Likewise the actual bench where Rutherford set up the apparatus to split the atom was down in the cellar. There were stories that for many years it had glowed in the dark. I seem to remember one other place where Rutherford or one of his assistants had slopped radioactive liquid or something and that was sort of fenced off or something. The details are slightly vague now - it was nearly 30 years ago. 

So I was very sad to read this article from the Guardian in 2009 (how did I miss it?!?) that discusses the early deaths of three of my lecturers. Dr Hugh Wagner was my tutor in the first or second year (I can't remember now!) and is someone I always thought of as a friend. Dr John Clark was one of those splendid English eccentrics, who taught us fascinating thing about clinical psychology. Arthur Reader was another eccentric, one that introduced me to computers and computing.

An enquiry has found that the cancer death cluster is likely to be coincidence, but still recommends that use in some of the rooms occupied by these men should be minimised. If you're doing psychology at Manchester, don't worry - the department has moved now and is in a completely separate building.