Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Stupidity thy name is Hazel ...

or should that be the other way round?

Actually, I think that it should because it has, after nearly two years without my own transport, come to my attention where my time is going – standing in queues waiting for buses, sitting on buses which go through the most tortuous routes to get to their destinations (because that's where the people live and, therefore, need the buses to go), and walking to places where buses don't go or where it’s quicker to walk.

Why now?

Well, yesterday late afternoon/early evening I went to a European Hustings event at the local Chamber of Commerce. Getting there was easy as I'd already been at a meeting in Milton Keynes just a short train journey from Northampton but home afterwards was, if not quite a nightmare, certainly not a pleasant dream. 2 buses, a 15-minute walk took nearly three hours. Door-to-door by car would have been, at that time of day, about 25 minutes.

And if you can work properly on a bus (not a long-distance coach) then you're a better traveller than I am. Lots of knitting gets done and whilst I can manage essential business reading it’s more likely to be a novel so now I know and must start planning my life yet again.

That said I did have a really good day. Useful meeting at the OU about access to information and the Hustings event turned up a real surprise - the lead candidate for the Green Party recognised me as having had her daughter in my Sunday School class some 20 years ago. I haven’t seen either Sue or Lizzie since then.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Government invites bids for a share of £20 million to fund adult learning

Organisations can bid for a share of £20 million in Government cash from today (13 May) to open up and promote informal learning for adults and young people across the country. In a speech to NIACE’s Annual Policy Conference, Skills Secretary John Denham kicked off the bidding process, publishing a prospectus designed to show how a wide range of groups and partnerships of all sizes can win funding. The deadline for bids is July 12 this year but an “early bird” funding pot of £1 million is available for ideas submitted by June 12.

Comment: Now, you can call me an old cynic if you want to, but when I clicked on the link in the email alert to download this press release, I kept getting ‘Internet Explorer cannot display this page’. A quick Google search using the title of the release only threw up one link – which turned out to be no good. I eventually found a copy of it on E-Gov Monitor. Do you think the government doesn’t actually want anyone to apply for this cash? Dawn

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Ten trivial items of interest

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate
Who Checks the Spell-Checkers? Microsoft Word's dictionary is old and outdated, says Chris Wilson... more

John "Game of Life" Conway: particles have the same kind of free will that people have
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder on 4/17/09
Kevin Kelly linked to a paper "co-authored by mathematician John Conway, inventor of a cellular automata demonstration known as the Game of Life, [who] argues that you can't explain the spin or decay of particles by randomness, nor are they determined, so free will is the only option left."
Some readers may object to our use of the term "free will" to describe the indeterminism of particle responses. Our provocative ascription of free will to elementary particles is deliberate, since our theorem asserts that if experimenters have a certain freedom, then particles have exactly the same kind of freedom. Indeed, it is natural to suppose that this latter freedom is the ultimate explanation of our own. Particles Have Free Will

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate
When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, many Britons thought it was the beginning of the end of their empire. Still, it took a while... more

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 27 March
The experience of beauty ought to tell us we are at home in the world, argues Roger Scruton, that it is a place fit for the lives of beings like us... more

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 21 March
It is easy to forget how close we remain to the prehistoric men and women who first found beauty in the world. Our art instinct is theirs... more

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 2 March
What are the most ancient words still in our vocabulary? Some of the words we use every day derive from a prehistoric tongue we might call "Ice Age"... more

Test Your "Eyeballing" Skills via the How-To Geek by The Geek on 22 January
Have you ever put up a picture and just “eyeballed” it instead of using a level? Chances are you stepped back, and realised it was way off, and then had to fix it. That's the basic idea of this surprisingly fun flash game, which tests your eyeballing skills.

Tips on cannabis being handed out in schools via Telegraph Education on 26 January
Tips on how to best smoke cannabis and the benefits of the drug are being handed out to school children it has emerged.

Security Washout: 9,000 USB Drives Left In Launderettes
With the news stories about loss of crucial information creating headlines every now and then, it comes as a real shocker that as many as 9,000 USB sticks have been found by the dry cleaners during the last year, a recent survey revealed.

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 15 November
Has our political life really changed very much since Shakespeare's day? Maybe it has regressed back towards it, having moved away only for a century or two... more

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Exploring the Limits of Social Cognitive Theory: ...

... Why Negatively Reinforced Behaviors on TV May Be Modeled Anyway

an article by Robin L Nabi and Shannon Clark (Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara) in Journal of Communication Volume 58 Issue 3 (2009)


Despite extensive discussion of the potential for viewers’ learning of risky health behaviours from TV programming, there has been relatively little effort to test behavioural modelling predictions. That is, it is not clear whether televised depictions of negatively reinforced undesirable behaviours (e.g. unsafe sex), in fact, influence the value viewers attach to those behaviors and their future likelihood of performing them, as social cognitive theory (SCT) would predict. Indeed, we argue that social learning is likely minimal in such contexts due to the programming schemas audiences bring to the viewing experience. In Study 1, the contents of serial TV programming schemas are examined. Results suggest that viewers expect main characters to ultimately survive and thrive, despite the adversity they face. In Study 2, competing predictions from SCT and schema theory are tested. College women (N= 400) were exposed to various portrayals of promiscuous sexual behavior (1-night stands) that were edited to display more or less positive or negative outcomes. Results suggested that, consistent with SCT, those with direct experience with the behaviour were not influenced by the portrayals. However, inconsistent with SCT, but consistent with the schema argument, those without direct experience were more likely to expect future participation in the unsafe behaviour, regardless of the valence of the reinforcement depicted. Implications for future research on media, SCT, and risky behaviours are discussed.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Where Have the Investigative Occupations Gone? Perceptions and Misperceptions of Occupations

an article by Adi Amit and Lilach Sagiv (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 17 Number 2 (2009)

How do people perceive occupations? Three empirical studies examined whether occupations are perceived in accordance with Holland's RIASEC model. The studies varied in measures (reported preferences, similarity judgments) and participants (university students, working adults, and university professors). Taken together, the findings indicate that perceptions of occupations partially comply with Holland's model: All four samples perceived the realistic, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional as distinct environments (with the latter two intermixed). Moreover, the order of these environments is congruent with Holland's RIASEC order. The most notable deviation from the RIASEC model was the consistent misperception of the investigative work environment. Participants in all three studies overlooked the commonalities among investigative occupations, instead perceiving these occupations in terms of their content (as expressed by their second or third Holland letter code). Implications for vocational research, career counseling, and selection processes are discussed.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Guilty as charged

Hazel Edmunds accuses herself of not following her own advice and pleads guilty to said charge.

My advice to friends, colleagues, and anyone else who will listen, is to shut domestic, social and family problems firmly outside the door when you go to work. Even if work is the corner of the dining room you still have to go to work in a frame of mind that says “I may not be in an office but I am at work”.

Distractions have included getting a “new to us” dog and helping him settle in, supporting a friend going through a messy divorce, doing complicated things for the craft group at the church youth club plus general domestic issues which seem to have triggered another bout of mild depression (headed into that initially following bypass surgery three years ago).

Anyway, I am determined to get life under control (how many times have you heard me say that?) rather than letting it control me.