31 December 2009

Happy New Year

The video is for Dr Aust who will understand its relevance. The rest of you will probably be baffled.

We may have the same procedure next year.


The Girl said...

Such a wonderful tradition! I love that movie. :)

Sam said...

First time for me ... and I loved it Dr G :-)

Happy New Year

Dr Aust said...

Thanks, Dr G. Or rather, Vielen Dank.

There is also a colour version with the explanatory intro auf Deutsch here (pt 1) and here.

Ein fröhliches neues Jahr!

...though I fear that for the NHS and the Univs it may not be all that desperately fröhlich.

Svetlana Pertsovich said...

Great!!! :) 10 minutes of uninterrupted laughter :D
I love the original version - black-white. It is more dynamical ;)

Dr Grumble said...

I think the universities are going to be in particularly bad trouble, Dr Aust. At least the public has an affection for the NHS and is concerned for their own health. But who really cares about the universities?

The thing that grieves me most is how universities seem to have deteriorated into contract research organisations. There is more to a university than just churning out customer-focussed research. Managers like these lean organisations that are just focussed on what they are paid to do and it is difficult to demonstrate the downside of this approach.

There are parallels in the NHS. Private providers have come to me asking what we get paid for providing certain services. When I say nothing they are gobsmacked. I fear that one day we will not do anything we are not paid for. There are parallels in the university. There was a time when I was employed by the medical school and was able to conduct research entirely unfunded by outside bodies. Needless to say that research was blue sky and directed at basic mechanisms in an area which does not readily attract funding. But research of that type is often as fruitful as research that funding bodies see as important and if you have an idea it is more likely to lead to something than if you contrive something just to attract funds.

Dr Aust said...

Part of the problem is that the institutions which previously did "lean education" for vocational pathways are now all called "Universities" - even if they really aren't. If they were still called "Polytechnics" we might be in a better set-up nationally. See a Nature editor commenting here.

Meanwhile, it is abundantly clear (at least to me) that there is not going to enough research money around for every lecturer in a "research-intensive" Univ to have a grant. The Univs will probably want to ease these grantless people out, but they do a vast chunk of the teaching. The research-grant-rich, meanwhile, feel they shouldn't have to teach too much as they have grants. The Univ bosses have no idea how to get this to work except to kick everyone to do more work for the same (or diminishing) reward.

I have been "tweeting" about this on Twitter, and there is also some discussion (though probably a bit boring for non-academics) on a blog here.

It seems evident to me that what is needed in science and medicine is a level of "baseline" funding to all research-active academics, so that all would do some research, but NOT all would need large external grant funding. But in the dog-eat-dog set-up now prevailing this is essentially unthinkable - the grant chase, despite the incredible amount of time and effort it wastes, is seen as a "Market Solution" for delivering "The Best". And we all know Market Solutions are sacrosanct.

Dr Grumble said...

Of course you are right Dr Aust but these are not views that are going to be listened to in the current political and financial climate.

The Grumble medical school has shed a lot of staff recently. They picked off the teachers and anybody who was seen as not earning their keep in bringing in grants. Money is all they look at which I am sure many would say is as it should be but you and I know there is more to it than that.

There are times when I think I don't understand the world we live in. It seems OK to encourage people to gamble either in the markets or even (if TB had had his way) in casinos. Useless enterprises like bottling water and shipping it around the globe are allowed to flourish despite an apparent wish to reduced our carbon footprint. Alcohol is running out of control with binge drinking becoming the norm while government advisers who point out that many banned drugs are less harmful are villified. The world we live in looks very mad at times. Sometimes I think that the main media are part of the madness and that we bloggers are the only sane ones.

Or are we 2 SDs from the mean?

Dr Aust said...

I think we're definitely 2 SDs from the mean, Dr G. Or possibly 3.

Via a discussion thread at the Times Higher Ed on the parlous prospects for Universities in 2010, I came across this interesting article about the triumph of "management and audit culture". It is about Universities, but much of what it says applies equally (or more) to the NHS.

Eileen said...

Hooray!!! Someone else in GB knows about the wonderful Freddie Frinton and Dinner for One. I first saw it on New Year's Eve 1982 shortly after my younger daughter was born by C-section. Ow, ow, ow! 27 years later I still watch it and laugh just as much. The Germans have redone versions in ordinary German and a range of local dialects. There is a version in colour created by modern technology (Freddie died just weeks before he could record a colour version). But only the original is right.
Should there be a movement to get it onto British TV? Happy New Year (if a bit late).

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