March 8th, 2006
|02:38 am - Sad times and Sunday Times|
Tuesday was an unhappy anniversary. It was a bad day that saw me at times mopey and at other times punchy; just the right mood to decimate my Friends list. "Never apologise, never explain" seems like a good policy; after all, I may well add you back somewhere down the line. If you care sufficiently, you can always ask. Anyone replying to this post with "Thanks for not cutting me!" is tempting fate.
Probably a good mood to talk politics, then. The proposals are out for the points-based migration scheme setting out to manage the flow of migrants to the UK. This includes a direct replacement for the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. The new points scheme, for "Tier 1" (highly skilled) migrants is a lot simpler than the old one, though sadly rather less flexible. See the top of the page numbered 23 in this document for the details. It's impossible to qualify without at least a Bachelor's degree and very heavily weighted towards under-28s. To take two examples, under the current proposed versions of the points scheme, anyone with a PhD aged under 28 needs to show only a relatively modest level of income to qualify, but anyone aged 32+ and just a Bachelor's needs to be making mucho dinero in order to qualify. I quite like "Anyone under 28 with a PhD and a graduate-level job" as a rule of thumb - it's difficult, but clearly possible and easy to understand.
Paragraph 78 of the report is very interesting. It says that "our analysis of the existing Highly Skilled Migrant Programme indicates that this is the most effective predictor of success in the UK labour market." Obviously it's hard to argue against what they have found works, but it does rub in how far from meritocratic the relationship between skills required and pay in the job market is. Tough luck for geologists, anthropologists, astronomers, archaeologists, librarians and many other academics who all study hard for many years in careers that pay poorly. However, it's likely the same careers will pay just as poorly in the UK, so unfortunately it seems to me to clearly be the utilitarian approach to take.
I do like The Sunday Times, as much as I may not agree with its bias, and this Sunday's issue had a whole crop of thought-provoking articles. As ever, they may not be available for viewing outside the UK, particularly more than a week after the publication of the newspaper.
Not sure if this story has made it to the likes of the Leaky yet, but there's a proposal to rename Scotland's airports after prominent figures in the style of New York JFK, Liverpool John Lennon and so forth. One far-left Scottish MP suggests renaming Edinburgh's airport after one J. K. Rowling. One hopes they are not waiting for her to receive the Lennon treatment before doing so.
Plans are afoot to replace Britain's trains with higher-tech models, though as a passenger (rather than an engineering geek, giving all respect to said 'spotters) I'm more interested in developments in the carriages and their contents than the trains themselves. Very interesting to see mention of potential double-decker trains, which sound like an excellent idea to me; they seem to work well enough where I've tried them in Boston and Belgium. I thought we built our bridges and tunnels with roofs that were too low; the perils of being the first mover, of course.
Incidentally, weren't we meant to have heard a ruling from the Office of Rail Regulation on GNER vs. Grand Central Railways? GNER want to run extra trains between Leeds and London; Grand Central want to start new services between Sunderland and London and between Bradford and London. I'm neutral on this. While the Sunderland-London service goes much closer to this neck of the woods, I like what I've seen of GCR's proposals and I like the principle of "open access railways" with many small operators running niche services, I suspect GNER's proposals are likely to provide a better return for the chancellor and a better East Coast Main Line service at large. It's a tricky one.
The education section is particularly good. I enjoyed this section about Labour's proposals. I'm not confident that they'll work and I doubt anyone except real education experts are ever able to tell in advance whether things are likely to work or not (and it's not as if the experts agree). I'm really glad that Labour are prepared to try so hard, though, and that it's possible, just possible, that they might be onto something really big and really good which will pay dividends decades or generations down the line. We live in hope! There's also this alternative education manifesto, apparently based on Edina's line from Absolutely Fabulous, "I don't want more choice, I want better things!". Seldom a truer
word sentence spoken in jest; there's classy comedy for you.
Lastly, new proposals to treat families with systematic problems of anti-social behaviour. In short, they will send in a social worker more or less full-time to show people how to behave themselves. It's about as illiberal as you can get without sending them to jail, arguably more illiberal still, but if the Dundee pilot shows that it works well then, hey, perhaps it's the only thing that might work in a few cases. Compare it to the "professional good influence" mooted in point 6a of this reaeaeaeally old post of mine I don't know whether it'll work or not, but it sounds to me like it's really worth a try.
Sending you *hugs* on this sad anniversary date.
The proposal to treat families with antisocial tendencies is somewhat similar to what we probation officers due here with certain clients. Some offenders receive daily monitoring, and of course tons of classes such as parenting, budgeting, substance abuse, etc.
That's interesting, thanks. The questions it immediately poses include:
1) How well does it work?
2) Based on the experiences of wherever else it has been tried in the world, how well is it likely to work in the UK? (Whether the UK will actually be able to put established best practice into practice or not is another question, even if there is such a thing as established best practice...)
>Incidentally, weren't we meant to have heard a ruling from the
>Office of Rail Regulation on GNER vs. Grand Central Railways?
In that Andrew Gillian documentary the other night, it said that he had a partial victory and that GNER and Railtrack were forced to make room for some of his planned services.
Be good to have a catch-up sometime.
I'd seen that; I was hoping for the results of the Monday hearing to which the article refers. Still nothing, but the ORR suggest we may hear more in "the middle of the month".
Back on the day shift tomorrow, but I'd be available to talk, and keen to do so, from Tuesday on.
You were in my thoughts a lot today.
I'm a bit squiffy right now, having just returned from a heavy night of drinking. One of my dearest friends is American and works at UCL, having gained her PhD (in one of the subjects you named - Anthropology) last year. She is now 31 and has applied for a post-grad fellowship. There is only a 7% chance she will get it, and if she doesn't there is almost no chance she can stay in the UK after June :(
I was very surprised to hear about the purported high salaries that senior university lecturers get, quoted in the context of the AUT strike. I thought academia was meant to be extremely (and shamefully) badly paid; perhaps the bad pay is just at the relatively accessible levels?
Someone was explaining to me yesterday that the reason that very few of our English department are members of the AUT/ went on strike on Tuesday is that although their pay in the department is poor, they all get paid very well from journalism/book deals, and thus couldn't care less about their academic salaries.
My friend in the anthropology department who is a lecturer and a year tutor is very poorly paid - she said that until you have a significant publication history in the right journals etc. you will not even be considered for better paid jobs. Indeed, the job she is doing this year is being changed slightly (and the salary is going up substantially) yet she wasn't even shortlisted for the new position because she hasn't done a post-doc. Hence her application for the fellowship.
Such anniversaries are always tough.
Sadly I'm so out of the loop on current affairs, I don't feel like I can comment on any of the other stuff.
All best wishes to you and your dad today. (Which is, now, yesterday where you are. But you get the idea.)
|Date:||March 8th, 2006 04:21 am (UTC)|| |
From a food point of view, I'm inclined to think that the new schools would be better than what we have at the moment. I was massively overweight all through school and I feel like I'm only really learning about nutrition and managing to get a bit healthier now.
School meals were as bad as anything else I was eating; most of the schools I went to only served junk food. During the year I went to private school and they tried to make me lose weight, they just made me eat a lot less rather than replacing everything with healthier food, even going so far as not letting me have more than one piece of fruit or serving of vegetables per meal, and I spent a year miserably hungry because I was literally starving rather than losing weight healthily. It put me off of dieting for years.
Children need to be taught about proper nutrition, but parents and schools generally don't seem to know about it either. I think it's fantastic if the government's stepping in to remedy the problem, because if the population as a whole don't eat properly, it's going to be setting a lot of people up for nasty health problems.
On a more general note, I think most households now need to have both parents working to be able to financially support a family, so it makes sense to have schools that children attend for as long as or longer than office hours.
History will judge Jamie Oliver very kindly, I suspect.
I do have some faith in government's ability to sort out problems, even if not necessarily very quickly. This is not even particularly partisan.
I think most households now need to have both parents working to be able to financially support a family
True, but many would argue this is very sad in terms of children's development. Perhaps in a generation we will accept a reduction in standards of living in return for better child-rearing.
|Date:||March 9th, 2006 04:19 am (UTC)|| |
I suspect history will judge him kindly, yes. I'm amazed that nobody else pointed out the obvious before, though!
I think it's pretty ridiculous that you do need to have both parents working. Surely with the level of technology we have, people should be able to work shorter hours? It seems as though we're heading towards a work ethic like that of the Japanese. I think, personally, whether I had children or not I'd prefer to work as little as possible to be financially secure and make do.
It is a sad day. I'm not good on comments about this. I hope you have found a small part of peace with your loss and that you and your father are doing well. Happier times are ahead.
On the migration: What do you need if you just want to come there and retire? Not to work. Just to get away from Bushland...? By the points scale, I have 80 pts....do you need something like a work visa to migrate or are the points the only thing they consider? I know we have a great many British 'snow birds' that come to Central Florida for the winter and then go home during the hurricane season. :) Maybe I can get away with that...at least. :-)
In what respect is the Sunday Times biased? You might wanna read some papers here for true bias. :)
Might be a good thing to update British rail. I hope the updated equipment stays on the track.
From memory, I think the current scheme is that you need to be able to bring £750,000 with you in order to be considered "independently wealthy" and retire in the UK, no questions asked. Presumably this scheme will be folded into the new Tier 1 arrangements at some point, but I would imagine it would be unlikely to change much.
If you have 80 points, then you're in like Flynn! The whole work visa thing is for those poor schmucks who have to apply through Tier 2.
Damn, Chris, I can't believe it's been a year. *hugs*
Re. the replacement for the HSMP, I haven't read the details yet (the link's not working for me) but it makes me sad. We were well-suited for it and it was a nice security blanket for us. :)) "Oh, *insert state here* has gone batshit insane now? Oh, well, you're at 230923 points, 'sok." I'll try to look at it all sometime soon to reclaim those shreds of hope.
I'm pretty sure you would still be OK, based on what you've said in the past. I do note that there's no proposal for spousal bonus points in the new scheme, for what it's worth; while it was possible to game the system by abusing this, I'm sure there is overriding good logic behind the existence of such spousal bonuses.
|Date:||March 8th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)|| |
It's high-time that Britain do something about their diesels, especially for passenger travel (I cringe at the memory of those unfiltered Virgin Trains diesels rushing past all those breathing lungs, station after station). It's remarkable how Britain never took up the electrification phase...and I'd wager that would remain a great solution, better even, than a cleaner-fuel or -motor train engine.
The only justification I could find for diesel is for the climb up and over those Scottish mountains, but if the Swiss can manage with electricity, and much worse weights of snowfall, surely the UK can manage too...
Double-decker cars...also long overdue! I agree with you that they're great where I've ridden them as well (Switzerland, Holland; even Sydney's underground-system is double-decked). Even the rather slow commuter rail here in the San Francisco Bay Area is double-decked, built in Japan...slightly cramped by long-legged Western-standards, but actually quite nice and comfortable.
Immigration is, of course, an artifact of the nation state; if the latter concept were to disappear, then the former would cease to be a problem in any meaningful sense of the world. Quite honestly, I think there's more chance of spotting pigs on the approach to Riydah airport.
Double-deck carriages would need to ride very low above the tracks, and I dread to think how little headroom they would have - the existing Pendolini are quite claustrophobia-inducing. As for GCR's scheme, do keep an eye on uk.railway. Oops.
The physical is transient; the impression is permanent. You're a chap to be proud of.