Tis the season to….fail, fail, fail….

Ah, the last exam script is marked, cross marked and logged…..panic over….until resits


I’ve had the pleasure of setting a new record for number of fails for a module. The previous holder was….me, in January.


All I ask for is a bit of discussion. Is that so hard? Instead, I get describe, describe, describe, and regularly about something unrelated to the question.


I’ve been meaning to write a post about how to get a first class mark on an undergraduate psychology degree exam….


Bank “holidays”

Much to my surprise, I learned last week that Scottish universities now claim the Whit weekend as a bank holiday.


This is certainly a first.


The only reason I even vaguely know of this holiday is from people south of the border that I know. Traditionally, as far as I’m aware, Scotland doesn’t have Whit Monday as a bank holiday.


However, my US calender states it is a UK holiday, so obviously I’ve never been included in the memo.


But, it is exam marking season! I don’t normally take bank holidays, but this one particularly irks me. I HAVE to work it, as I have scripts to mark, but the Uni takes this day automatically from my vacation time. That really annoys me! Whose bright idea was that anyway? The VC? And do we seriously need two holiday – enforced holiday – days in May?


I’ve been told…”marking can wait till Tuesday”….from the same person who will bitch at me if I’m late in returning marks.


While it is nice to take the odd day off, I’d rather have control of those days, rather than being told which days they are. Who exactly do these enforced holiday days benefit? Wouldn’t we all rather have them freed up to use as we want?

Do you want your dream house now?

Bank of England are getting in on the act in peddling the myth that there is a housing shortage in the UK. Government have been saying this too. However, it doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it doesn’t make it true.

There is no shortage.

There are around 55 million people needing housing, and there are 66 million rooms available in the UK.

The problem is that they are not in the “right areas”, although this isn’t strictly true either.

The “housing shortage” is largely a London issue, but even here, there are enough rooms to house everyone. They just aren’t in the right areas.

The problem is much more specific than a shortage, or even not being in the right areas.

We have an entire new generation of middle class 20-somethings who have grown up middle class. Mummy and daddy have provided everything to the highest quality. Four bedroom detached house with garden and double garage, two BMWs in the drive, nice area, shops nearby. Basically, an ideal childhood.

What the kids don’t see though is that their parents worked their assess of to get it. Twenty somethings think that they can move seemlessly from this middle class lifestyle to their own without putting in the work. They’ve grown up thinking they are a prince or princess, use to the lifestyle, and they want it too. NOW.

Unfortunately, in the real world, you start at the bottom. Well, most of us do. It’s a shitty one bedroom flat that’s rented, as the starter home. And then you work up. But the new adult generation want the white picket fence now.

So, there are a lack of dream houses that are affordable.

Whether it is a housing shortage or a more specific lack of dream houses, it is a problem of societies making. If it is the former, it is more easily solved: build more houses. But if it is the latter, that is some tricky shit to fix. It suggests that the work ethos isn’t being drummed into our kids; that you have to work hard, save hard, and then you might get what you want. But you can’t have it now. You’ll have to wait (and who is able to do this most basic of thing now a days?).

BBC’s childish “independence” debate

I had the great misfortune at 5.55am this morning catching the closing minutes of a programme on BBC News 24 on Scottish Independence. Two MPs taking part in a “game show” with some allegedly funny Scottish “comedian”. While the MPs deliver their spiel the “comedian” is distracted by floating Tunnock’s tea cakes and Irn Bru.


I mean, seriously! WTF!


Probably the most important debate that Scots should be having, and the presenter is distracted by stereotypically Scottish snacks?


What I learned was that the independence question is, apparently, slightly more interesting than a can of Irn Bru.


Of course, the real test would have been an independence discussion vs a deep fried Mars Bar.


I think I know which one would have won….

Why are there no records of foetal alcohol syndrome before the 1800s?

As you know, I am a bit of a fan of history. But something has been bugging me for quite some time. Linking in with the recommendation in modern times to pregnant women that they don’t drink during pregnancy, why are there no records of foetal alcohol syndrome before the 1800s?


Until recently, water was contaminated, so people drank wine and ale instead, including pregnant women. And they probably consumed quite a bit of it every day. So, why are there no records of FAS before the 1800s? Where there FAS kids but they were never recorded? Where they quietly gotten rid of?


Could the use of alcohol partly explain the high rates of miscarriage, still birth and early infant death?


A conundrum, indeed…

Assisted suicide is a personal decision that we should be free to openly discuss

It’s not often I say this, but way to go Richard and Judy!


Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan have said in an interview that they would help each other in assisted suicide should one of them because ill with no chance of recovery. The Care not Killing group are now gunning after them.

CNK have said:

“These headline-grabbing comments go against the advice of organisations like the World Health Organisation which says that discussions about suicide and assisted suicide need to be handled very carefully to prevent taking your own life or helping someone to die appear normal.

“Before making similar comments I hope that Richard and Judy might investigate more thoroughly the amazing quality of palliative care we have in this country and visit one or more of the UK’s outstanding hospices. How we maintain both with an ageing population and in times of austerity is what we desperately need to discuss.”

This is an exceptionally naive and personally intrusive thing to say. Should it not be up to every individual and their family to make such a deeply personal decision? CNK are inferring that ending your life when you are suffering is a morally wrong action and that it is incomprehensible given the apparently wonderful palliative care services available.

I don’t think anyone not directly involved in such a deeply personal matter should be making moral judgements, and the second assumption is just laughable. I very much doubt how wonderful palliative care is comes into the decision making when deciding whether you’ve had enough. Those who choose not to hang on to the bitter end should not be made out to be morally deviant. And CNK shouldn’t make out that such a decision to end your life under such circumstances is unusual. Likewise, those who want to extend their life for as long as possible should be allowed to do so and services should be made available to allow them to do so.

By criminalising assisted suicide and making out that it is morally wrong encourages people who are ill but currently functional to commit suicide earlier while they are still able to go through with the act themselves, to do so secretly and not with the support or through discussion with family.

We need to bring this discussion out into the open. We shouldn’t be making decisions about other people’s lives based on our own personal or moral opinion. We need to accept that what works for one person doesn’t work for another. That way, people who are seriously ill won’t feel backed into a corner into acting one way or the other. They need freedom to make an informed decision. Otherwise, we make a perfectly reasonable question taboo.

Oh, the horror….

I stare in abject horror.

A light comes on over my head.

And then goes out.

What is the one thing that junior lecturers all have in common with one another?

No, this is not another one of those posts about how hard done by academics are.


The one thing that I would take a stab at them having in common is….a dirty fridge. The departmental fridge probably sees a cleaning cloth more often than mine, and that really is saying something.

Who actually has time to clean it? So what if there is  milk splashes all over it, and cloves of garlic circa 2005?

Choice: mark assignments vs clean fridge?

Write grant proposal vs clean fridge?

Write paper vs clean fridge?

Answer the 56 emails in your inbox vs clean fridge?

Guess which one always loses?


I suspect that the only thing that would win in such a competition would be remarking assignment from whiney student who thinks they are being undermarked….Dear student, Please fuck off, I have a fridge to clean…


So beware if I ever offer you a cup of tea…..alas, the tea stained coffee mug is another story…