Monday, 28 November 2011

Regional labour market: …

higher unemployment rates and increasing disparities in 2010

Issue number 60/2011 via Eurostat Statistics in focus

The latest estimates for 2010 show the continuing impact of the economic crisis in the EU labour market. The employment rate for the 20-64 age group in the EU-27 stood at 68.6 % in 2010, 0.5 percentage points (p.p.) lower than the previous year.

The unemployment rate (15-74 age group) rose by 0.7 p.p., reaching 9.6 %, the highest value in the past decade. This impact is evident in most of the Member States, and is affecting all population groups. However, the scale varies from country to country, and even more from region to region. While almost 70 % of the NUTS 2 regions in the EU-27 recorded higher unemployment rates, 10 % of the regions achieved significant reductions.

As a result of differences in regional performance, cohesion in the labour market continued to deteriorate in 2010.

Full report (PDF 12pp)

For best results print in colour - the maps are really good.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Why are rabbit’s feet considered lucky? via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker on 10/26/11
At Anthropology in PracticeKrystal DCosta looks at the cultural history of the rabbit's foot as a good luck charm, and attempts to figure out why bunny feet ended up being imbued with such significance. After all, owning that foot didn't turn out to be particularly lucky for the rabbit. But then, that may be part of the point.
It’s an interesting article, and D’Costa finds connections to both European hedge-witchery and African-American trickster legends.

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
When Groucho Marx met T.S. Eliot. The antic Jewish wit and the morose anti-Semite shared a friendship and a compulsion: extreme frankness... more

The Scariest Zombies in Nature via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza
From Smithsonian:
Once the fungus invades its victim’s body, it’s already too late. The invader spreads through the host in a matter of days. The victim, unaware of what is happening, becomes driven to climb to a high spot. Just before dying, the infected body – a zombie – grasps a perch as the mature fungal invader erupts from the back of the zombie’s head to rain down spores on unsuspecting victims below, starting the cycle again. This isn't the latest gross-out moment from a George A. Romero horror film; it is part of a very real evolutionary arms race between a parasitic fungus and its victims, ants. More here.

Women by Robert McGinnis via HOW TO BE A RETRONAUT by Chris
Robert McGinnis (born 1926)is known for his illustrations of over 1200 paperback book covers, and over 40 movie posters, including Breakfast at Tiffanys (his first film poster assignment), Barbarella, and several James Bond films.
Thank you to The Painted Anvil

I think this one is my favourite of those included in the post – view them all

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The biologist and the billionaire. What's E.O. Wilson doing on the southern edge of Africa's Great Rift Valley? Stirring up controversy, of course... more

James Gurney paints a mud puddle by Mark Frauenfelder via BoingBoing
One of many reasons I admire artist James Gurney so much: he finds beauty in almost everything.
Yesterday I took my car to the shop because it needed an inspection. The rain was pouring down. There wasn't much space in the waiting room. So I sat under the awning out back between an old rusty engine and a forklift.
While I waited, I sketched the mud puddle beside me. The rain streamed off the corrugated roof and splashed the water, making big bubbles. The puddle was a sea of overlapping ripples.
James Gurney gets his car inspected

Ten Mistresses Who Changed History via 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza
Elizabeth Weingarten in Slate:
Before Monica Lewinsky, Camilla Parker Bowles, or Marilyn Monroe, there was Hagar – the world's first known mistress.
According to the Bible, Hagar was an Egyptian slave sent to the bed of her master, Abraham, by his barren wife, Sarah.
Several millenniums later, the mistress remains a tenuous position, as historian Elizabeth Abbott explores in her new book, Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman, out this week [of 31 August]. Since Hagar's era, however, a handful of women have learned to parlay their scandalous relationships into positions of power – and some have changed history in doing so.
More here.

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
5-by-8-inch cardstock, about to be thrown away: the trade-school report cards of strangers long dead. Paul Lukas delivered a precious few to where they belong... more
Before you click on the “more” I have to warn you – if you have any interest in social history you will a) want to look at and you will find that you’ve lost a lot of time enjoying yourself.

Inside the sea caves of Devil’s Island via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
Last year, when I posted here about the history of the lighthouse at Devil's Island, Wisconsin, several of you noticed the island's extensive network of sea caves, carved into the sandstone cliffs by splashing waves and moving water. This year, when some friends and I went on a little paddle through the caves, I took along a video camera. It doesn’t quite capture the eerie awesomeness of floating into the dark with Lake Superior behind you, but it’s still pretty neat.
Apologies in advance for the occasional sudden jerky movements and possible audible swearing. Devil’s Island is also home to a large population of biting flies and my ankles are, apparently, quite tasty.
Video Link

Bathing suit law, USA 1922
(Click here for full size resolution)
June 30, 1922. Washington policeman Bill Norton measuring the distance between knee and suit at the Tidal Basin bathing beach after Col. Sherrell, Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds, issued an order that suits not be over six inches above the knee.
National Photo Co.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Why your cat's eyes have slit pupils rather than round ones via 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza
Yfke van Bergen in The Times of London:
The trouble is that single-focus lenses such as those in humans suffer from chromatic aberration. This means that different wavelengths of light are focused at different distances from the lens and, as a result, some colours are blurred.
In the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology , the researchers reveal that many animals solve this problem by using multifocal lenses.
More here

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Has Jürgen Habermas – gasp! – found God? The neo-Marxist philosopher who once viewed religion as an alienating reality now credits Christianity with spreading egalitarianism... more

The Psychology Behind Yogurt via Big Think by Big Think Editors
Experiments at University College Cork in Ireland have shed light onto the mind-body connection through yoghurt, specifically the probiotic bacteria it contains. When researchers fed yoghurt to mice and measured their behaviour changes, they found that “when probiotic …
Read More

Alcoholics May Wobble Forever via Big Think by Big Think Editors
Researchers at Neurobehavioral Research Inc., in Honolulu, want to know how long the physical effects of alcoholism last. Scientists recently studied the balance abilities and gaits of diagnosed alcoholics who had been sober for several weeks, those who had been sober …
Read More

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Was he or wasn't he? Neoconservatives wrap themselves in the mantle of Lionel Trilling. But for a thinker of his subtlety, such labels are irrelevant... more

Stowaway mouse grounds Nepal Airlines flight for 11 hours via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin
A Nepal Airlines flight was delayed for nearly 12 hours by a mouse that managed to find its way on-board a Boeing 757 9N-ACB Monday. It was discovered in of a box of drinks at 9:30am local time, and was found dead in a mousetrap a little after 8:30pm.
The plane could not have taken off with a mouse on board as the rodent can cut vital cables. It couldn´t even be poisoned and had to be captured for certain so that it would not die at some vulnerable location in the plane.
Full article here, includes a history of related incidents on other airlines (thanks, Miles O'Brien!)
Photo: “Mouse living in Logan Airport”, contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by Animal Detectors.

The King and I via Prospero
More than 30 years after his death, Elvis Presley has been reduced to the shorthand of iconography. In the September/October issue of Intelligent Life, Ray Connolly remembers meeting the man …

Elvis Presley changed my life. I’m old enough to admit it now. Actually he changed a lot of lives. That’s the point about him, the reason why we hear his name and see his face so often, why his record company still releases two or three albums of his songs every year, why his best work can still be given away with a newspaper looking for a sales boost, and why he is recognised by his first name as easily as anyone in the world. He’s been dead for 34 years, yet everyone knows about Elvis.
Read more

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The fate of "forsooth." Like other abandoned words, it is but an archaic fragment. Its history is distinguished, its future nonexistent... more

PG Wodehouse’s wartime mistakes via Reading Copy Book Blog by Richard Davies
PG Wodehouse was a great comedic writer but he wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. The creator of Jeeves and Wooster was living in France when the Germans invaded at the start of World War II, and was happy to do a little broadcasting for the Nazis. Poor Plum was surprised that he was viewed as a collaborator by many Brits. The Guardian dwells on this rather sad story.
Long live The Empress of Blandings

In the Shadow of Vesuvius (Picture of the Day) via Britannica Blog by Michael Ray

On this day [23 August] in 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius erupted in spectacular and catastrophic fashion. Rising above the Bay of Naples, the volcano had been dormant for hundreds of years prior to the eruption. Ash and debris rained down on Pompeii, burying it to a depth of more than 9 feet. Additional debris fell over the following day, covering the city in a 20-foot-deep layer of pumice and ash that would protect and conceal it for the next 17 centuries. More info and pics at the link above

Friday, 25 November 2011

How new media affords network diversity: …

Direct and mediated access to social capital through participation in local social settings

 an article by Keith N. Hampton and Eun Ja Her (University of Pennsylvania, USA) and Chul-joo Lee (The Ohio State University, USA) published in New Media & Society Volume 13 Number 7 (November 2011)


This study examines how information and communication technologies – mobile phone, social networking websites, blogging, instant messaging, and photo sharing – are related to the diversity of people’s social networks. We find that a limited set of technologies directly afford diversity, but many indirectly contribute to diversity by supporting participation in traditional settings such as neighborhoods, voluntary groups, religious institutions, and public spaces.

Only one internet activity, social networking websites, was related to lower levels of participation in a traditional setting: neighborhoods. However, when direct effects were included, the total influence of social networking services on diversity was positive.

We argue that a focus on affordances of new media for networked individualism fails to recognise the continued importance of place for the organisation of personal networks: networks, that as a result of the persistent and pervasive nature of some new technologies, may be more diverse than at any time in recent history.

From education to the workplace: a global challenge

On 30 June 2011, a seminar on Youth and Employment was hosted by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, and jointly organised by four European agencies: Cedefop, ETF, EU-OSHA and Eurofound.

The agencies highlighted the complementarity of their work by each presenting different aspects and perspectives related to youth employment in Europe and its neighbourhood countries.

Topics included
  • the transition from education to the workplace;
  • guidance for young people at risk;
  • safe and decent jobs for young people;
  • the “NEETs” phenomenon and its economic costs;
  • the active inclusion of disadvantaged young people in employment; and 
  • the global dimension of youth employment.
Full report (PDF 19pp) published 14 November, 2011
Full speakers’ presentations are also available.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

4 in every 10: Disabled children living in poverty

A recent report from the Children’s Society has revealed that 40% of disabled children in the UK live in poverty. Of those, 110,000 are experiencing severe poverty.

The report highlights four key recommendations for addressing poverty in families with disabled children.
  • Child poverty statistics should reflect the additional costs of raising a child with a disability
  • The government needs to ensure all households with disabled children take up their full entitlement to disability benefits
  • The Child Poverty and Social Mobility Commission and the Office for Disability Issues should work together to establish an implementation plan for eradicating poverty among disabled children by 2020
  • The government must not cut rates of support for disabled children under the Universal Credit
Full report (PDF 20pp)

Off the Map? The Geography of NEETs

A report by the Work Foundation and Private Equity (authored by Neil lee and Jonathan Wright) reveals ten blackspots of youth disengagement – cities where between one in five and one in four young people is not in education, employment or training (NEET).

A key finding is that geography matters. Different towns and cities have a varying range of organisational and financial potential to successfully support children and young people to reach their full potential. The report calls on all cities to take urgent action to improve the coordination of services for young people, by ensuring there are clear and viable pathways between school, education and the world of work.

Full report (PDF 18pp)

Out of the box – A life with rubbish information

an article by Roger James (Visiting Professor, University of Southampton) published in Business Information Review Volume 28 Number 3 (September 2011)


Technology has been largely responsible for the revolution in information science and knowledge management over the last decade. The initial implementations, limited by technology, were concerned with content management which extended and reinforced the focus on structured, encoded and abstract material. Recently technology has extended its impact to massive, extensive messaging – or social media. Whilst social media has simply expanded available content, a more profound shift is to the new capability to manage context: recognizing the patterns of activity as a new source of information.

Context management has great potential to address complex, often social, questions providing new insights which we present in a new science of context management. Context management opens up new possibilities in productively using ‘information waste’ – perhaps collected for different purposes or as a by-product of a transactional system – and we predict new companies will emerge from the use of information waste.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

5 Borough Single Point of Access case study

A linked, comprehensive and accessible employment support service across five London Boroughs

5 Borough Single Point of Access project is centred on the need to engage people who traditionally have poor or low levels of engagement with the existing welfare to work or Jobcentre Plus (JCP) support. The programme is delivered in Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, with a special focus on long term workless parents who face multiple barriers to the labour market and who are not readily engaged with existing mainstream welfare to work support.

This case study (PDF 7pp) was published in September 2011 when I failed to notice it. I hope that late is better than never for reading about this innovative approach to long-term unemployment.

Policy and the search for explanations for the gender gap in literacy attainment

an article by Gemma Moss published in Literacy Volume 45 Issue 3 (November 2011)


This paper considers how policy-led processes of education reform have reshaped the space in which to think about gender and literacy, both in England and elsewhere. In many jurisdictions, the discourse on quality in education now focuses almost exclusively on numerical outcomes, whether they derive from the school, and/or at local or national level.

A heightened focus on performance data has brought new attention to the contrasts in the relative patterns of girls’ and boys’ attainment in literacy, whilst also changing expectations about what should be done about them. This paper highlights the politics that ensue as these data enter public discourse using examples of policy texts published in England, Ontario and Wales. It examines how these documents mobilise different explanations for the gender gap in the performance data that are then used to guide future action.

What kinds of explanations for gender differences in literacy attainment have most purchase in different policy contexts?

Which are most useful from a feminist perspective?

These issues are considered in relation to the changing policy context in England, which is rapidly moving from a highly centralised system of directed support for school improvement to much more fragmented provision. This creates new conditions in which to act.

Sentence Comprehension as Mental Simulation:

An Information-Theoretic Perspective

 an article by Stefan L. Frank and Gabriella Vigliocco (University College London) published in Information Volume 2 Issue 4 (2011)


It has been argued that the mental representation resulting from sentence comprehension is not (just) an abstract symbolic structure but a “mental simulation” of the state-of-affairs described by the sentence. We present a particular formalisation of this theory and show how it gives rise to quantifications of the amount of syntactic and semantic information conveyed by each word in a sentence. These information measures predict simulated word-processing times in a dynamic connectionist model of sentence comprehension as mental simulation. A quantitatively similar relation between information content and reading time is known to be present in human reading-time data.

Full text (PDF 24pp) of completely fascinating information for anyone who loves words!

Understanding unemployment flows

an article by Ekkehard Ernst and Uma Rani published in Oxford Review of Economic Policy Volume 27 Issue 2 (Summer 2011)


This article reviews the current state of research on unemployment dynamics in macroeconomic models. In particular, it discusses the increasingly widespread use of the labour-market flow approach as implemented via a search and matching process and presents main policy considerations that arise from this approach related to unemployment benefit systems and employment protection. It reviews the implications of the labour-flow approach for dynamic properties of macroeconomic models and discusses policy implications for macroeconomic and labour-market policies. Finally, it presents new evidence on the effectiveness of policies to influence unemployment in- and outflows.

Full text available for short-term access for $32

Labour Market Report #20 from the TUC

via ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC by Richard Exell

This month’s Labour Market Report looks at the exceptionally grim employment and unemployment figures, all at their worst since 2009: before the end of the recession. There are one million unemployed young people and a quarter of a million who have been unemployed for over a year. The fall in employment would have been even worse if self-employment hadn’t risen by 100,000; employment and self-employment are currently heading in opposite directions, possibly a sign that many unemployed people are trying to escape by setting up their own businesses.
Download the complete report (PDF 2pp)

The composition of the minority population as a threat: …

Can real economic and cultural threats explain xenophobia?

an article by Mikael Hjerm (Umeå University, Sweden) and Kikuko Nagayoshi (Tohoku University, Japan) published in  International Sociology Volume 26 Number 6 (November 2011)


This article sets out to develop a classical theme of empirical research within group threat theory, namely the argument that the size of the minority population threatens the majority population. To be able to clarify the mixed empirical results within this version of group threat theory, the article focuses on the composition of the immigrant population.

The article tests both objective sources of cultural threats (linguistic composition and the Muslim population) and economic threats (the proportion of working-class individuals and the unemployed among the immigrant population).

The study concludes that, first, the composition of the immigrant population is of utter importance for the size argument to be valid for cultural threats (proportion of Muslim population), whereas for economic threats it does not matter. Second, compositional economic threats matter strongly to the group that genuinely competes for scarce resources – the working class is more xenophobic when the immigrant working class is large. Third, the study brings some clarity with regard to the cultural composition of the immigrant population: it is shown that the relationship between Muslims and European majority populations mirrors the relationship between whites and African-Americans in the US.

Achievement for All National Evaluation: Final report

The Achievement for All (AfA) pilot involved ten local authorities (LAs) selected by the Department for Children Families and Schools (now the DfE). Each LA selected schools to participate and in total there were 454 schools.

The main aim of the national evaluation project was to examine the impact of AfA on a variety of outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). It also aimed to find out what processes and practices in schools were most effective in improving these outcomes.

Research design incorporated quantitative and qualitative components. The quantitative component of the evaluation consisted of teacher surveys, parent surveys, attendance and attainment data and school level surveys/data. The qualitative component included interviews with local and regional AfA lead professionals, longitudinal case studies of 20 AfA school, and ad hoc data.

  • Executive Summary
  • Overview of the Achievement for All national evaluation project
  • Professionals, systems and networks supporting AfA schools
  • Setting up AfA in schools: barriers and facilitators
  • Implementation and impact of AfA Strand 1 (assessment, tracking and intervention)
  • Implementation and impact of AfA Strand 2 (structured conversations with parents)
  • Strand 3 Wider Outcomes
  • Case study profiles of schools and pupils
  • Conclusions
  • Appendices
Reference: DFE-RR176
Published: November 2011

Full report – “file is damaged” (PDF ??pp)
Hopefully by the time you read this the file will have been repaired but since the response to the email I sent is quoting 15 days please do not hold your breath.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Impact of the Career Style Interview on Individuals With Career Concerns

an article by Mark C. Rehfuss (Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA), Jennifer Del Corso and Scott Wykes  (Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA, USA) and Kevin Galvin (Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA) published in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 19 Number 4 (November 2011)


A total of 18 participants ranging in age from 20 to 55 were administered the career style interview (CSI) and completed a follow-up interview 2 weeks later. Consensual qualitative research analysis of follow-up interview data indicated that after completing the CSI, participants generally felt helped and also typically experienced awareness, self-confidence, direction, confirmation, and a sense of encouragement related to their career concern. Most participants’ occupational narratives demonstrated a change from pre-CSI to post-CSI, moving toward more specification. Participants primarily recalled role models as the most meaningful aspect of the CSI, and integration of Holland code typology within the CSI produced higher rates of recall than previous studies. This study addresses implications of these findings for theory, practice, and research.

The Jackson Career Explorer in Relation to the Career Directions Inventory

an article by Julie Aitken Schermer (Social Science Centre, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada) and Robyn MacDougall (Research Psychologists Press, London, ON, Canada) published in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 19 Number 4 (November 2011)


The Jackson Career Explorer (JCE) is a short form and continuous version of the Jackson Vocational Interest Survey (JVIS). The 34 scales of the JCE were investigated in relation to the Career Directions Inventory (CDI). Participants (N = 282) aged 14–57 years were volunteers from local high schools and colleges and completed both measures. The reliability values for the JCE scales were moderate to high. In terms of convergent validity, corresponding scales from both measures were found to correlate highly, supporting the use of the JCE and adding information about the CDI.

Hazel’s comment:
JCE appears to be a) fairly new and b) used in the USA and Canada. I think it’s a case of “watch this space”.
CDI has been around for quite a while (20+ years) but again this is used mainly in the USA and Canada.

Against medical advice: the anti-consumption of vaccines

an article by Michael S.W. Lee and Mike Male, (The University of Auckland Business School, Auckland)  published in Journal of Consumer Marketing Volume 28 Issue 7 (2011)


The purpose of this paper is to discuss the main reasons driving the anti-vaccination movement (AVM) and relate similarities and differences of the AVM with the anti-consumption of other products.
The paper conducts thematic analysis of various online sources, including medical journals, blogs, science articles and business/social science databases.
First, the paper outlines the main themes (religion, freedom of choice, risk, and uncertainty) driving the anti-consumption of vaccines. Second, it explains why the AVM is a unique and paradoxical form of anti-consumption. Third, although much anti-consumption behaviour is motivated by the belief that rejecting certain acts of consumption may be beneficial to society, the paper uses the AVM to show that not all anti-consumption behavior has clear-cut benefits for society.
Research limitations/implications
While this is predominately a conceptual paper, a commentary on the AVM has never been attempted by business scholars. This is surprising since business scholars are able to bring a more impartial viewpoint to the debate than both the medical establishment and proponents of natural therapy. As this paper is not associated with medical interests, nor the AVM, the focus is on the welfare of consumers and as such, a more detached perspective may be useful in this controversial area.
Practical implications
Since the AVM debate is filled with much uncertainty, the paper recommends a more balanced/respectful approach by the medical community, pro-vaccinators and the AVM.
Unlike previous work in the area, this research intersects commercial, societal, and medical interests. It also highlights AVM as an interesting case where large groups of people sharing similar anti-consumption behaviours are actually incompatible with one another.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Different yet complementary: …

Two approaches to supporting victims of sexual violence in the UK

 an article by Amanda Robinson and Kirsty Hudson (Cardiff University) published in Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume 11 Number 5 (November 2011)


This article explores the strengths and limitations of two different types of settings that provide specialist support to victims of sexual violence in the UK: Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) and voluntary sector organizations such as Rape Crisis. Qualitative data from six case study sites and quantitative data from 35 sexual violence projects in England and Wales revealed that the type of setting affected the types of referrals received and this, in turn, shaped the services required by victims and thus the nature of the work preformed. Consequently, each type of project had different emphases in their workload with which they were particularly well equipped to handle. Each type also had its own unique challenges; for example, while there were notable benefits from delivering support in partnership models, such as SARCs, their affiliation with statutory partners was perceived by some as a disadvantage, especially for those seeking support in relation to historical sexual abuse. On the other hand, those delivering support in voluntary sector projects had to work harder to establish and maintain relationships with other agencies, but their independence was seen to be greater and this was perceived as a strength for gaining access to victims and maintaining their confidence. Both approaches had notable benefits and, given the diverse array of sexual violence victims in any given area, providing these two different, yet complementary, approaches to supporting them is recommended.

Data Protection Update

by Paul Ticher in Computanews 162 – November 2011

Article covers:
  • Update on security breaches
  • Cookie law
  • Data Processor contracts
  • Payment card security
  • Are your staff third parties?
Access the article here

The assessment of enterprise education in the secondary education sector: …

A new approach?

an article by Matthew C. Draycott, (Glyndwr University, Wrexham), David Rae, (Lincoln Business School, University of Lincoln) and Katie Vause, (Lincoln Castle Academy, Lincoln) published in Education + Training Volume 53 Issue 8/9 (2011)


Although the assessment of enterprise education activities has been widely highlighted as a key area of concern, it continues to be under represented in the literature. Questions remain as to how educators seeking to monitor student progression can capture quality data and measure relevant aspects of development, often leading enterprise education to be monitored rather than assessed. This article seeks to explore the challenges of assessing enterprise education in the secondary education sector. It aims to provide useful insights to help practitioners understand how to evidence the impact of enterprise learning by students.
The paper first presents a critical review of the existing literature with insights from specialist practitioners sourced through an online survey and a seminar. This provides a broad review of the field from a practitioner standpoint focusing on current assessment techniques and standards. Using these data a conceptual pedagogy is proposed for the delivery of enterprise education and a methodology for its assessment, to be developed in future work.
A critical review of the assessment of enterprise education is presented. This exposes challenges of a confused field, with pockets of good practice in schools often not shared or understood out of context. The development of a novel pedagogical model for teaching enterprise education is proposed, linked to a prototype assessment methodology which presents a new approach for enterprise teaching and learning.
Research limitations/implications
The work is limited at this stage since participants in the research were drawn from one geographic area in the East of England, and examples of qualifications reviewed were not exhaustive, but these limitations can be addressed in future research.
Practical implications
The paper provides a conceptual model for structuring enterprise education which may have relevance across the secondary sector and beyond.
The article investigates the problems of assessing enterprise in secondary education, examining what does and does not work, and providing practitioners with useful guidance. In this important topic it is vital that new approaches are developed which can create a broader debate especially at a time of such great change in the educational landscape. This paper provides a platform for further development in the field.

Hysteresis in unemployment

an article by Terry O'Shaughnessy (St Anne’s College, Oxford) published in Oxford Review of Economic Policy Volume 27 Number 2 (Summer 2011)


Unemployment has risen sharply in a number of countries and it appears to be becoming more persistent. The experience of the 1970s and 1980s showed that adverse unemployment shocks could have long-lasting effects with very serious economic and social consequences. A key mechanism producing these adverse consequences was hysteresis1 in unemployment whereby temporary rises in unemployment generated by supply and/or demand shocks had permanent (or, at least, very persistent) effects. Clearly, it is important to understand how hysteresis mechanisms might operate in order to avoid such adverse outcomes. On the other hand, experience during the subsequent two decades showed that, under more favourable macroeconomic conditions, it is possible to observe “good” hysteresis effects. Now is a very appropriate time to re-visit the issue of hysteresis in unemployment in order to avoid the errors of the 1970s and 1980s and, if possible, to get hysteresis effects working in a positive direction.

1Hysteresis is the dependence of a system not just on its current environment but also on its past. (Wikipedia)

Unemployment in the OECD

an article by Bruno Amable (Centre d’Économie de la Sorbonne, Centre pour la Recherche Économique et ses Applications (CEPREMAP) and Institut Universitaire de France (IUF)) and Ken Mayhew (Pembroke College, Oxford and SKOPE) published in Oxford Review of Economic Policy Volume 27 Number 2 (Summer 2011)


This article examines the course of unemployment in OECD countries during the recent recession. The severity of the recession and the strength of macro policy responses varied from country to country. However, even after correcting for these differences, unemployment experiences were various. Unemployment generally rose by less in those countries which had strict employment protection legislation, as it did in those countries with relatively high collective-bargaining coverage. Various forms of work-sharing also helped some countries to dampen the rise in unemployment. So did increasing the generosity of out-of-work benefit arrangements. The latter finding suggests that search theoretic approaches need to be modified. Institutions do matter and not just in the short run. Hysteresis effects could project their influence into the medium term.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

The benefits of early money-laundering via Prospero by M.J.
Renaissance-era Florence is remembered not for its bankers but for its beauty. Yet the city is now hosting a splendid exhibition that reaffirms the important link between the two. High finance not only funded high art, but its money and movement helped to fuel the humanist ideals that inspired the Renaissance. This show, curated by Tim Parks, a British writer based in Italy, and Ludovica Sebregondi, an Italian art historian, considers the influence of 15th-century financiers on Italian art and culture.
“Money and Beauty: Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities” is at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence until January 22nd 2012
In lieu of being able to go to Florence (I wish) I Googled the exhibition title. Most of the upmarket journals have very similar text to that used by The Economist’s Prospero but the pictures are vastly different. 

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Epicureanism is not about heedless hedonism, says Stephen Greenblatt. Rather, it is an antidote to the allure of limitless power... more

A surprising theory about global variations in intelligence via 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza
Christopher Eppig in Scientific American:
A great deal of research has shown that average IQ varies around the world, both across nations and within them. The cause of this variation has been of great interest to scientists for many years. At the heart of this debate is whether these differences are due to genetics, environment or both.
Higher IQ predicts a wide range of important factors, including better grades in school, a higher level of education, better health, better job performance, higher wages, and reduced risk of obesity. So having a better understanding of variations in intelligence might yield a greater understanding of these other issues as well.
More here

.High Heels: Take Two via Britannica Blog by Debra Mancoff and Michal Raz-Russo
Can you walk in high heels? Marilyn Monroe certainly knew how to do it. Think of that scene in Niagara (1953; dir. Henry Hathaway), when as Rose Loomis, the frustrated wife of a jealous man, she strolls away from the camera, her shapely hips swaying side to side.
Or what about Sarah Jessica Parker who, as sprightly single gal Carrie Bradshaw in the HBO series Sex in the City (1998-2004), convinced her women viewers that they too could leap over puddles and trip down the streets of the Upper East Side of Manhattan in towering Manolo Blahniks and sky-high Jimmy Choos?
But the logistics of moving in high heels are far more complicated. Parker is a trained ballerina who got to remove those shoes as soon as the director called cut. And Monroe aided the undulation of her signature walk by wearing a specially altered pair of shoes, with one heel shaved a fraction of an inch lower than the other. Yet, season after season, we look to the runways for new innovations in shoe design that will lift our spirits as well as give us more height.
Read more
Fascinating. How to wear stilettos – and I can still remember how to do it even if the arthritis no longer allows me to! 

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
In the West, graffiti is an empty, often clichéd visual commodity. In the rest of the world, it’s the lingua franca of political revolt...more...more

Edison’s Secret Spirit Experiments via HOW TO BE A RETRONAUT by Chris
See the evidence thanks to Modern Mechanix
I had not thought to see a practical inventor such as Edison playing around with trying to contact the spirits of dead people but …

UK atomic clock is most accurate via BBC News - Technology
Tests show that the UK’s atomic clock at the National Physical Laboratory boasts the highest long-term accuracy in the world.
Read more

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
India's love for correction fluid and carbon paper endures in the computer age. "Bicycles survived cars. Why not typewriters?"... more

The Concentration Camp via Eurozine articles by Richard Overy
The concentration camp is still popularly viewed as a distinctly national-socialist phenomenon. Yet the first camps were established well before the Third Reich, Richard Overy argues, and were widespread geographically.
Read it all

Human disease kills coral via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
In news that would be completely fascinating, were it not so damn depressing: One of the causes behind Caribbean coral die-offs seems to be a bacteria, spread from humans to the coral through sewage. It’s the first time that a human disease has ever been shown to kill an invertebrate.

Friday, 18 November 2011

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Play Addictive Free Downloadable Games At FreeGamePick via MakeUseOf by Ryan Dube
I do not intend to tell you about all the games that Ryan describes and I have not tested any of them. However, MakeUseOf is normally reliable and can be trusted not to take you into “bad” places.
Just watch out for the addiction!
Read it here

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Behold the patchwriter, who recycles, steals, appropriates other people's words to construct something new. Welcome to the age of unoriginal genius... more

More Mystery Paper Art Book Sculptures in Edinburgh via Reading Copy Book Blog by elizabethc
You may remember a few months back that we wrote about the mysterious and beautiful book and paper sculptures that were showing up around Edinburgh, in locations that can be tied back to Ian Rankin's Rebus novels someone has been leaving random acts of paper art.
There are more now.
That was supposed to be a link to the older post but it wasn't so I found some info from The Guardian here. And the older post [from June] is the picture that shows on this one from September!
The teacup is my favourite. A good mystery, beautiful art, and people coming together to support libraries and literacy in a unique and creative way – what could be better?
Correct links maybe?
Be that as it may the best link of all is the one to the Edinburgh City of Literature site which has loads of pictures going back to March this year. They are STUNNING – says me using that overused word yet again.

A Gut Feeling via 3quarksdaily by Meghan Rosen
Thick and thin

Are you in the market for a healthy, stable, long-term relationship? Turns out you may not have to look further than your gut. Or, more specifically, the trillions of microbes that inhabit your gut. Yes, you and a few trillion life-partners are currently involved in a devoted, mutually beneficial relationship that has endured the test of time. Don’t worry though, they’ve already met your mother.
We’re exposed first to our mother's microbial flora during birth; these are the pioneering settlers of our gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. In the following weeks our gut becomes fully colonized with a diverse array of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Although our gut microbes are generally about an order of magnitude smaller in size than human cells, when counted by the trillions, they add up.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Natural selection is hell on dysfunctional traits. So how did humans survive adolescence? New research on the brain offers an adaptive accounting...more

Salvador Dali’s Vogue Covers via HOW TO BE A RETRONAUT by Chris
Reprints of December 1938, April 1944, December 1946 issues together with the special Christmas edition of the French Vogue 1971 which Dali edited and illustrated.
See all four here.

I’m not a great Dali fan but I did enjoy the cover shown above, from 1938.

The long and winding road via Prospero by More Intelligent Life
How hard can it be to buy a car in Sierra Leone? Simon Akam learns a few things about doing business in a poor, war-torn country …
Read all about it

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The morality of refusal. Catch-22’s explosively cynical, disillusioned take on military valor remains relevant. Morris Dickstein explains… more

A “gadget camp” for girls only via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin

[photo courtesy GADgET]
The New York Times profiles GADgET (Girls Adventuring in Design Engineering & Technology), a summer camp workshop for girls held near Chicago that aims to bring more women into manufacturing careers in the United States.
Read the full article here.
Here's an earlier article that appeared at

Should we be Better Prepared for Asteroids? via Big Think by Big Think Editors
NASA has begun locating and tracking smaller asteroids, but there are thousands still at large. If one of these were on course to strike Earth, sky surveys would give us no more than a month of warning. In that case, deflection is probably not an option. Instead, “you …
Read More

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Gloucestershire and Somerset libraries Judicial Review

In future times I will be able to say "I was there"

Not being a stenographer, and having only recently become involved/interested in this case, I found some of the arguments hard to keep up with so what follows is my impression of what happened in the court.What each side said is as near to verbatim as I could get in longhand.

The judgement is that the action taken by both county councils is unlawful on one of the three counts on which the claim was made – that of failing to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The hearing yesterday, 16th November 2011, was to determine what relief was to be awarded (if any since, as the defendants' QC Mr Goudi said in his submission, Judge McKenna could say that no relief was to be awarded). This was following a Judicial Review hearing which took place over three days in the Birmingham High Court in September.

We started with the claimants' QC arguing comprehensively, and at some length with a lot of case references, that restitution of the position before the unlawful library closures occurred with payment of 100% of costs was what was being sought although the Judge might want to look at partial restitution or even partial payment. The system in this country is "winner takes all" and as winners the claimants would want 100% of their costs paid by the defendants.

QC for the defendants (and I know I’m biased here) had only one redeeming feature – he was more clearly spoken than the Judge or the claimants' QC.

The points I noted from his submission:
  • Making a judgement does not necessarily mean getting any remedy – the Lord Justice has discretion.

  • That discretion could be exercised by:

    a) a simple declaration [I wasn’t entirely clear about this but it seems as though Judge McKennan could have administered a legal slap on the wrist and nothing more];

    b) making a quashing order confined only to the particular libraries named in the claim;

    c) making a quashing order regarding static libraries but not involving the mobile library service; or

    d) have regard to the witness statements from the library officers of both counties as to actions such as redundancy and cessation of all temporary staff contract, and disposal of mobile library vehicles.
Helen Mountfield for the claimants then had the opportunity to respond. This was mainly a repetition of her earlier submission that the claimants’ case had been won – the unlawful action should be quashed and 100% of costs should be awarded. She was glad to note that earlier references, which had been verbal, to the hysterical behaviour and exaggerated hyperbole of the claimants had not been repeated in the defendants' submission.

Judge McKennan summed up by repeating a number of points from the defendants' submission [I don’t know about anyone else but this bit felt rather like a cat playing with a mouse] e.g.
  1. The claimants’ success has been limited
  2. It is highly likely that the decisions made will be re-made (possibly, to use Mr Goudi’s words, they will be more draconian).
  3. Subsequent assessments were made with regard to executive decisions, particularly with regard to the use of volunteers.
  4. Restoration of the status quo could be seen as prejudicial to good administration given the financial situation of the local authorities concerned. 
However, [ears prick up, fingers double-crossed etc] said His Lordship:

these matters are significantly outweighed by the ignoring of the Public Sector Equality Duty and is, therefore, in Miss Mountfield’s  persuasive words, bad government.

I award a full quashing order – not to do so would be a dereliction of my duty and give the wrong message to any other local authority minded to make similar decisions.

And 100% costs awarded.

The leader of Gloucestershire County Council said later that the local authority had lost on a “technical point”.

Baloney, and other considerably less polite responses!

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

9 Design Tricks Borrowed From Biology
Hunch links to Wired Science to provide a fascinating insight into biomimetics from kingfishers (surely the most beautiful of birds)
to the blue morpho butterflies which reflect light at multiple angles, leading to the interference patterns we see as iridescence.
Read about all nine

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Alexander the Great: Hero or tyrant? Neither, says Mary Beard. The king of Macedon was merely a “drunken juvenile thug”…more
Detail of the ‘Alexander Mosaic,’ circa 100 BC, recovered from the floor of the ‘House of the Faun’ in Pompeii, showing Alexander the Great (with a Gorgon’s head on his breastplate) charging toward King Darius of Persia in what is thought to be the Battle of Issus, 333 BC
The Psychology of Remembering: A Memory Like a Journal via Big Think by Maria Konnikova
When we remember, what is it that we’re remembering? Do we try to recapture the appearance of a moment, like a photograph or a postcard that shows us a perfect still image of a point in time? Do we try to incorporate motion, a movie reel that we can fast-forward, pause, and rewind at will? Do we …
Read More

LED Nightlight For The Toilet helps during those late trips to the bathroom via The Red Ferret Journal by Scott

I don't think that I have seen a more useful invention than the LED Nightlight For The Toilet. This motion-activated light will turn on when you get near the toilet, and shut off again when you get near the toilet, and shut off again when you leave. This is probably one of the better gizmos I’ve seen, simply because it is a nightmare getting up in the middle of the night only half awake and trying to stumble to the bathroom.
There is also a wonderful little sensor that knows when the seat is up or down. When the seat is down, a green LED will help guide you to the seat, and when the seat is up, a target will appear in red in the toilet.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Struggling through unemployment? Try Taoism. Midlife crisis? Read Nietzsche. Philosophical counselors have the cure for whatever ails you... more

The Sun's Mysterious Chain Reactions via Big Think by Big Think Editors
Thanks to last summer’s unprecedented series of solar explosions, cosmologists have begun to better understand how eruptions in one location of the Sun’s surface can trigger others thousands of kilometres away: The Sun’s magnetic field contains solar explosions like a … Read More

Loggerhead turtles have internal GPS via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

New Scientist has a great set of stories about the extraordinary senses of animals, including the fact that creatures like sea turtles can sense the Earth’s magnetic field and use it for navigation.

mouse utopia via 3quarksdaily by Morgan Meis
Mouse utopia/dystopia, as designed by John B. Calhoun.
All images from 
Animal Populations: Nature’s Checks and Balances, 1983.
How do you design a utopia? In 1972, John B Calhoun detailed the specifications of his Mortality-Inhibiting Environment for Mice: a practical utopia built in the laboratory. Every aspect of Universe 25 – as this particular model was called – was pitched to cater for the well-being of its rodent residents and increase their lifespan.
more from Will Wiles at Cabinet here.

5 Awesome Things about the Universe via Credo Reference Blog by kathleen
As I confirmed last week, I am a complete dork, which means I like totally awesome things. This week I decided to do a little bit of investigation on an area I find incredibly intriguing, but to which have… Read More

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
For the hyperactive, mildly Asperger-y Stanford computer-science crowd, coding is like cocaine. “It’s misery, misery, misery, euphoria” … more

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Informing choice in post-16 education and learning

Report of a study, authored by Kathryn Crowther (York Consulting LLP), commissioned by BIS, to determine the type of information that would most effectively support learners, employers and advice and guidance intermediaries in making choices about post-16 provision. This included all government funded post-16 education and training, but not higher education provision.

Full report (PDF 135pp)
URN: 11/1364 BIS research paper no. 49

Hazel’s comment:
There is information available, lots of information, what most young people lack is the ability to use the information and make judgments which allow for appropriate choices. As for "advice and guidance intermediaries" are there many of these people left nowadays?

Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin September 2011

and no, it’s not the bank – it’s me being shamefully neglectful of my “fetch” list

Summary of Quarterly Bulletin 2011 Q3 (Volume 51 Number 3)

Recent economic and financial developments
Markets and operations (page 184)
This article reviews developments in sterling financial markets, including the Bank’s official operations, between the 2011 Q2 Quarterly Bulletin and 26 August 2011. The article also summarises market intelligence on selected topical issues relating to market functioning.

Research and analysis
Research work published by the Bank is intended to contribute to debate, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bank or of MPC members.
  • The United Kingdom’s quantitative easing policy: design, operation and impact (page 200)
    By Michael Joyce, Matthew Tong and Robert Woods of the Bank’s Macro Financial Analysis Division.
    In response to the intensification of the financial crisis in Autumn 2008, the Bank of England, in common with other central banks, loosened monetary policy using both conventional and unconventional policy measures. In the United Kingdom, the principal element of these unconventional measures was the policy of asset purchases financed by central bank money, so-called quantitative easing (QE). Over the period March 2009 to January 2010, £200 billion of assets were purchased, overwhelmingly made up of government securities, representing around 14% of annual GDP. This article reviews the motivation for these central bank asset purchases and describes how they were implemented. It goes on to review a range of evidence for the impact of the asset purchases made to date, both on financial markets and more widely on the economy. While there is considerable uncertainty about the magnitudes, the evidence suggests that QE asset purchases have had economically significant effects.
  • Bank resolution and safeguarding the creditors left behind (page 213)
    By Geoffrey Davies and Marc Dobler of the Bank’s Special Resolution Unit.
    Not for the first time, the global banking crisis illustrated the vulnerability of banks to a loss of confidence by their depositors, other creditors and counterparties. The experience highlighted the need to have special arrangements for dealing with failing banks — a ‘special resolution regime’ — that provides the authorities with the tools necessary to reduce the systemic risks arising from a bank’s failure while at the same time limiting the taxpayers’ exposure to the costs. The United Kingdom’s own Special Resolution Regime for dealing with failing banks and building societies was born out of the difficulties in dealing with the failure of Northern Rock in the autumn of 2007.
  • Developments in the global securities lending market (page 224)
    By Matthew Dive of the Bank’s Payments and Infrastructure Division, Ronan Hodge and Catrin Jones of the Bank’s Financial Institutions Division and James Purchase of the Bank’s Sterling Markets Division.
    Securities lending plays an important role in supporting financial markets. For example, it can improve market liquidity, potentially reducing the cost of trading and increasing market efficiency. But by increasing the interconnections between institutions it can pose potential risks to financial stability, which are exacerbated by a lack of transparency in the securities lending market. Since the onset of the financial crisis, market participants have attempted to address some of these risks, and fundamental changes to market infrastructure are being discussed, such as the use of central counterparties. New regulations under way to improve the resilience of the financial system may also impact both the risks to financial stability from securities lending and its benefits.
  • Measuring financial sector output and its contribution to UK GDP (page 234)
    By Stephen Burgess of the Bank’s Conjunctural Assessment and Projections Division.
    In the decade before the financial crisis, the UK financial services sector grew more than twice as fast as the UK economy as a whole. But there are many conceptual difficulties associated with measuring output in finance. This article describes the contribution of the financial sector to GDP and assesses the uncertainty around recent estimates. There is some evidence that financial services output grew less quickly over the recent past than the official data suggest, although this probably had only a small impact on the rate of growth of overall GDP.
  • The Money Market Liaison Group Sterling Money Market Survey (page 247)
  • By Ben Westwood of the Bank’s Sterling Markets Division.
    The Bank of England recently initiated a new survey of the sterling money market on behalf of the Money Market Liaison Group. This market — where short-term wholesale borrowing and lending in sterling takes place — plays a central role in the Bank’s pursuit of its monetary and financial stability objectives. Participants include banks, other financial institutions and non-financial companies, who use the market to manage their liquidity, by investing over short periods and raising short-term funding. The survey supplements the Bank’s long-standing gathering of market intelligence and will increase public understanding of the market. Over time, it is expected to help identify emerging structural trends in the market, helping policymakers assess the impact of their actions on the behaviour of market participants. This article introduces and presents the results of the inaugural survey launched in May 2011.
Summaries of Working Papers
  • An estimated DSGE model of energy, costs and inflation in the United Kingdom
  • The impact of permanent energy price shocks on the UK economy
  • Evolving UK and US macroeconomic dynamics through the lens of a model of deterministic structural change
  • Preferred-habitat investors and the US term structure of real rates
Monetary Policy Roundtable (page 258)
On 24 June, the Bank of England and the Centre for Economic Policy Research hosted the sixth Monetary Policy Roundtable. These events are intended to provide a forum for economists to discuss key issues affecting the design and operation of monetary policy in the United Kingdom. As always, participants included a range of economists from private sector financial institutions, academia and public sector bodies. At this sixth Roundtable there were two discussion topics: will the protracted period of above-target inflation lead to further upward pressure on prices?; and how will the contrasting fortunes of the household and corporate sectors play out?


Full document (PDF 98pp)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Role of the educator in social software initiatives in further and higher education: …

A conceptualisation and research agenda

an article by Shailey Minocha (The Open University), Andreas Schroeder (University of Buckingham) and Christoph Schneider (City University of Hong Kong) published in British Journal of Educational Technology Volume 42 Issue 6 (November 2011)


Higher and further education institutions are increasingly using social software tools to support teaching and learning. A growing body of research investigates the diversity of tools and their range of contributions. However, little research has focused on investigating the role of the educator in the context of a social software initiative, even though the educator is critical for the introduction and successful use of social software in a course environment. Hence, we argue that research on social software should place greater emphasis on the educators, as their roles and activities (such as selecting the tools, developing the tasks and facilitating the students’ interactions with these tools) are instrumental in a social software initiative. To address this gap, we have developed a research agenda on the role of the educator in a social software initiative. Drawing on role theory, both as the basis for a systematic conceptualization of the educator role and as a guiding framework, we have developed a series of concrete research questions that address core issues associated with the educator roles in a social software context. We have provided recommendations for further investigations. By developing a research agenda, we hope to stimulate research that creates a better understanding of the educator's situation and develops guidelines to help educators carry out their social software initiatives. Considering the significant role an educator plays in the initiation and conduct of a social software initiative, our research agenda ultimately seeks to contribute to the adoption and efficient use of social software in education.

Gutter to Garden: …

Historical Discourses of Risk in Interventions in Working Class Children’s Street Play

an article by Jane Read (Roehampton University) published in Children & Society Volume 25 Issue 6 (November 2011)


This article investigates interventions in the gutter play of British working class children in the first decade of the 20th century through their re-location within Free Kindergartens. In contemporary literature, the street child was viewed through a binary lens, as both ‘at risk’ and ‘as risk’, reflecting wider societal discourses in a period of rapidly developing social policy. The paper interrogates the motivations of free kindergarten activists from the standpoint of a range of theory and builds on recent papers discussing 21st century urban childhoods. The findings suggest both historical continuities and discontinuities in the theorisation of risk, which have implications for current social policy, urban design and early childhood education. The questions raised include issues of children’s rights, citizenship, inclusion and cultural diversity.

Pluvial (rain-related) flooding in urban areas: the invisible hazard

A study by Donald Houston, Alan Werritty, David Bassett, Alistair Geddes, Andrew Hoolachan and Marion McMillan (University of St Andrews, University of Dundee and JBA Consulting) published by Joseph Rowntree Foundation

What is pluvial flooding and who’s at risk?

This study assesses how many people in urban areas are at risk from “pluvial” flooding – surface water accumulating from the result of intense rainfall. It also explores how socially deprived areas are at slightly higher risk of pluvial flooding.

The report:
  • explores existing knowledge around flooding and how it has moved up the policy agenda in recent years;
  • outlines the risks posed by flooding;
  • examines who are vulnerable, and the proportion of the urban population living in risky areas, such as those at street level or below;
  • shows how national population growth has the potential to put around three times more people at risk from pluvial flooding by 2050 than climate change; and
  • concludes that adaptation responses need to be developed at local levels, and that local authorities have a pivotal role to play in leading on surface water management.
Summary (PDF 4pp) and full report (PDF 96pp)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Earliest Homo Erectus tools found in Kenya: 1.76 million years old via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin
In the NYT, science writer John Noble Wilford reports that scientists have finally pinned a firm date on the earliest evidence of advanced tool-making by Homo erectus, a forerunner of modern humans. The new study dates the axe shown below to 1.76 million years ago.

Image: P. J. Texier/MPK/WTAP

Read more: Earliest Homo Erectus Tools Found in Kenya.

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Terrorist methods are widely available – a manual lists 14 “simple tools” to wage violent jihad. So why are there so few Islamist terrorists?… more

Where Does the Milky Way Get Energy? via Big Think by Big Think Editors
Researchers at Notre Dame think they have found the energy source that keeps our Milky Way Galaxy burning bright, creating one Sun-sized star every year. Without “fast-moving clouds of hydrogen raining down on the galaxy’s disc”, our home in the cosmos would have … Read More

The Origin of the Seventh Cholera Pandemic via Britannica Blog by Kara Rogers
Last week [late August], an international team of scientists reported in the journal Nature that the seventh cholera pandemic, which began in 1961 and continues today, occurred in three major waves, all of which originated in the Bay of Bengal. The intercontinental waves of cholera have overlapped temporarily, and multiple outbreaks have demonstrated evidence of long-range transmission, meaning that a strain was introduced at a location very distant from that of its most recent ancestor. The latter is significant because it suggests that outbreaks in places where cholera has long been absent, such as Haiti, which suffered a large-scale cholera outbreak following the earthquake in 2010, are not uncommon.
Not pretty!

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Self-control is the best predictor of a successful life. To prevent that next lapse of will, take Steven Pinker's advice: Eat chocolate... more

The Grand Frontier of Artificial Intelligence via Big Think by Daniel Honan
In 1950, Alan Turing invented a test [published in 1950 in Mind v59] for determining a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour. At the time, some predicted that so-called “Strong A.I.”, that is, artificial intelligence that matches or exceeds human intelligence, could be achieved in a few decades. Over sixty years later …
Read More

Death by Browser Toolbar Overload [Humorous Image] via the How-To Geek by Asian Angel

How many times have we all seen and had to fix browsers like this?
All of the tool-bars in the world are on this computer… (Larger Version of the Image) [via Reddit]

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Early computer culture was a battle between grey, regimented corporations and psychedelic hippie-nerds. It’s still not clear who won... more

Statistical Numbing. Why Millions Can Die, and We Don’t Care. via Big Think by David Ropeik
Four year-old Khafra was near death three days ago when he was brought to the refugee camp hospital. He was emaciated, his ribs showing through his taut dry skin. He panted for breath. His desperate eyes bulged. His mother Alyan could only sit at his side and watch, helpless, sad ...
Read More

I Think I Can: 1906 via Shorpy Historic Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
"Engine, Mount Washington Railway, White Mountains, New Hampshire."
The little engine that could also serve as a portable pizza oven.
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company.
Note: copying of images from Shorpy is not possible.
View full size and don't forget to read through the comments.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Dr. Watson - Come Here - I Need You via Big Think by Dominic Basulto
The next time you go to the doctor, you may be dealing with a supercomputer rather than a human. Watson, the groundbreaking artificial intelligence machine from IBM that took on chess champions and Jeopardy! contestants alike, is about to get its first real-world application in the healthcare sectorRead More

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Enough with the hagiography. Steve Jobs was a genius of invention, but his were not epoch-making innovations. Instant history has its perils... more

The Social Bonds of Meerkats: Their Problem-Free Philosophy (Picture Essay of the Day) via Britannica Blog by Kara Rogers
While “Hakuna Matata” might sum up life for the meerkat Timon and his warthog friend Pumbaa in Disney’s The Lion King, real meerkats (Suricata suricatta) have a bit more to worry about. Indeed, as one of southern Africa’s smallest mammals, measuring about 11 inches (0.27 meters) in length, with a tail a bit longer than half that, and weighing less than 2.2 pounds (1 kg), meerkats are highly susceptible to attack from ground-dwelling and airborne predators, including jackals and snakes and eagles and hawks.

Credit: © Pyshnyy Maxim Vjacheslavovich/
Scientific and cute in one post!

Gladiator school find near Vienna
The National: Vienna
Archaeologists have claimed to have found and excavated the ruins of a huge amphitheatre used to train gladiators east of Vienna. They said the ruins, located through ground radar measurements, rival the Colosseum and the Ludus Magnus in Rome in their structure. The Ludus Magnus is the largest gladiatorial arena in the Italian capital, while the Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire. The Carnuntum archaeological park said the site would be presented to the media on Monday.
And it duly was here where the report opens with a large image of one gladiator cutting the throat of another! And I'd just finished dinner when I saw it – not good.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Is Gary Taubes a scientific Solzhenitsyn, bravely exposing the nutrition establishment? Or is he peddling his own bunk health advice?... more

Science Question from a Toddler: How ants evolve via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
Consider, if you will, the issue of sex and the single ant. Male ants are born into what is, essentially, a giant sorority house, vastly outnumbered by female workers. But that doesn’t mean male ants are living out some Hugh Hefner harem fantasy. Most of those many, many females in the ant colony are completely uninterested in sex.
Only queen ants breed. During the course of their lives, they will produce all the baby ants born in the colony. In fact, in some (but, contrary to popular belief, not all) species, the drones’ options are narrowed down to exactly one queen – effectively turning that sorority house into a sausage fest. A virgin queen goes on her mating flight, and the drones will get one shot to pass on their genetic material. Afterwards, the males die, and the queen uses their seed to give birth to daughters upon daughters … most of which will be sterile workers.
Read more and be fascinated at how ants seems to defy the process of natural selection.
And do, please, go on down to read the comments about the arguments that took place about why or why not social selection may or may not work (at least I think that's what is being said).

Does Marijuana Impair the Mind? via Big Think by Big Think Editors
The mind altering properties of marijuana are ephemeral and fleeting, according to an authoritative study recently completed at the Australian National University. Over the course of eight years, researchers performed cognitive tests on “total abstainers”, “current …
Read More

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Is experimental philosophy superficial, touchy-feely, faddish nonsense? That’s the rap on Joshua Knobe. He hears it. He just doesn't care…more

Protozoans in Pictures via Britannica Blog by Kara Rogers
What’s a protozoan, you ask? Well, it’s a usually single-celled and microscopic organism that is heterotrophic – in other words, a protozoan is unable to assimilate inorganic materials to produce energy and therefore relies on organic carbon sourced from other organisms.
They're weird. They're also strangely beautiful.
As evidenced by the photographs that you will find here

Magnetism Trick Looks Like Anti-Gravity via the How-To Geek by Jason Fitzpatrick
In this video a neodymium magnet is dropped down a thick-walled copper pipe. The resulting effect is both hypnotic to watch and a demonstration of Lenz’'s Law [Wikipedia] .
Copper Pipe Magnet
You need to read the comments following the short video to understand what’s going on – unless you’re a physics nerd!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Has the Instability of Personal Incomes been Increasing?

an article by Stephen P. Jenkins (London School of Economics) published in National Institute Economic Review Volume 218 Number 1 (October 2011)


This paper examines trends in the instability of personal incomes in Britain in terms of changes in the transitory variance and in volatility, measures that have received much recent attention in research about the USA. It is shown that, although US measures have trended upwards over the past two decades, there is no such trend in Britain between the early-1990s and the mid-2000s. Explanations for these differences are discussed.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Options study for the long-term evaluation of apprenticeships

report of research conducted by Terence Hogarth, Lynn Gambin, Chris Hasluck, Peter Elias and Faye Padfield (Warwick Institute for Employment Research) with Paul Ryan (Kings College, University of Cambridge)

Sponsored by the Skills and Funding Agency

The primary objective of this study is to identify the potential methods for the evaluation of Apprenticeships and assess each one of them on their merits. The study assesses how to track young people and adults into Apprenticeships, through their training (including into any subsequent learning) and then into employment, demonstrating the extent to which their future earnings and employment status are influenced by the experience of their Apprenticeship.

The study looks at how data can be disaggregated by a number of different factors to obtain a greater understanding of how and why Apprenticeships delivered to certain individuals (e.g. of different ages, genders and backgrounds) and in particular circumstances (e.g. at different levels and in different sectors) deliver better outcomes.

A copy of the report (BIS Research Paper No 56 (Ref URN 11/1312)) (PDF 116pp) can be downloaded from here.

The influence of parents, places and poverty on educational attitudes and aspirations

by Keith Kintrea, Ralf St Clair and Muir Houston (University of Glasgow) published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in October 2011

This report aims to better understand the relationship between young people’s aspirations and how they are formed.

There is a high degree of interest among politicians and policy-makers in aspirations, driven by two concerns:

  • raising the education and skills of the UK population, and 
  • tackling social and economic inequality.
High aspirations are often seen as one way to address these concerns, but how aspirations contribute to strong work and educational outcomes is not well understood. Based on longitudinal research in three locations in the UK, the report investigates aspirations and contributes empirical evidence to the debate.

The report:
  • examines the nature of aspirations;
  • explores how parental circumstances and attitudes, school, and opportunity structures come together to shape aspirations in deprived urban areas; and
  • argues that the approach to intervention should be reconsidered.
Hazel’s comment:
I came across this report in a secondary source and thought, “I’m sure I’ve already done this – I read all the jrf blog posts”. But I can’t find it so thought I’d better do it again on the understanding that twice is better than not at all.

Tymoshenko: Wake-up call for the EU

a paper by Mykola Riabchuk published in eurozine articles on 28 October 2011

The EU shouldn’t be surprised by the Tymoshenko verdict: its support of anything nominally reformist has been perceived as acceptance of a range of repressions. Tough measures are now needed if another authoritarian regime is to be prevented from forming on the EU’s eastern border.

Read about the EU failure in Ukraine, which could lead to future problems, here.

Developing an Information Strategy

an article by Terry Hanson (Director of Information Services, University of Brighton)


In the modern university, information management is, or should be, at the heart of both strategic and operational management. So how can we best ensure that information management, broadly defined, will both influence and facilitate institutional strategy?

Full text (HTML)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Improved access to careers advice

from Touchbase e-zine

Unemployed people will be given better access to careers advice, starting with a trial programme that will significantly boost the number of careers advisers providing services through the Next Step service.

The trial, which will take place in 22 Jobcentre Plus locations across England, will also help shape the new National Careers Service, which starts in April 2012.

The programme will give Jobcentre Plus claimants full-time access to careers advice through the Next Step service and provide better, more flexible support to help jobseekers gain the skills they need to find work. Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said: “We want to make sure that we give those looking for work the right skills that mean when we put them in front of an employer, they get the job.”

“Too often in the past jobseekers were sent off to do long courses that taught them skills that local employers didn’t value. That’s all changing - we are getting people ‘job ready’ to take advantage of the opportunities being created across the economy.”
The new support is part of a wider skills support programme for unemployed people that launched in August 2011.

For more information go to Next Step (Directgov website)