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Tiger Woods?

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  1. Advert on the Oxford railway station ticket gates this morning...forget the wording but to paraphrase "Cash is on the way out; Maestro is the new cash". It really bugged me. Anyhow, anecdotally, it appears people are reverting to cash to pay for transactions.
  2. There really is no escape is there. Then again, you can always not put the cash in the bank and not pay tax on it either...(not a recommendation nor an admission)
  3. You aren't costing them money - they charge the vendor much more to be paid by credit card than by debit card.
  4. You should look carefully at your contract with the bank. I think it was Citibank in the US that has restrictions on their accounts so that it could take months to transfer $100,000 out of the account. It was referenced on this forum last year sometime.
  5. The 48 hour demand sounds like they aren't certain of their position and are trying pressure tactics. I'd speak to a solicitor. There is certainly a moral argument that you should pay the agency some part of their fee, but we aren't talking about ethics here. This is purely a legal question. I can see how you feel the agency didn't sell the property, but they did introduce the buyer to you.
  6. If anyone buys that they are mad...completely stark raving bonkers.
  7. I don't think events will move fast enough for the 2nd quarter, but by the end of the 3rd quarter is very, very believable, and I will be stunned if he is still in power by 2009. We have a bull trap arising in the markets at present. I suspect it will go pop before the end of Autumn at the latest, and then the knives will be out for Gordy.
  8. Adding to this, no matter how much you want a home (or car) you MUST go into negotiations being prepared to walk away. If you don't the other side has won and you will pay over the odds. It can be hard, but you just have to stay detached. There will always be another "perfect house".
  9. I'm not against it in principle. I am however, against it in practice, especially for something as nebulous as teaching. One ends up wasting more resources than one frees up. Managerialism hit the university I did my UG degree at whilst I was there. Over a period of about 5 years the maths department lost a third of its teaching staff and these were replaced by administrators at a time of increasing student numbers. The teaching loads increased commensurably, so even the best teachers ended up doing a worse job. One of the best west coast universities in the US (it was either Caltech or Stanford...I forget which now) did a survey of their students 10 years after graduation and asked which of their teachers had most contributed to their future career success. Of the ten most often named teachers, something like 7 or so had been disciplined for being poor teachers etc. and a large proportion of them hadn't been given tenure because of concerns about their teaching and were now at other institution. (This is only a qualitative summary of an article I read in the THES quite a few years ago now, so take the actual figures with a grain of salt. Will see if I can find a reference on the web when I get a chance.) In my own experience, the professor of pure mathematics at my UG institution resigned the year after he taught me when his first year undergraduates presented a petition to the university administrators that they didn't think he should be teaching the Kurzweil integral to first year students. He resigned and retired with the statement "He could no longer work as a lecturer in an institution where an internationally respected mathematician with 30 years teaching experience is told how to teach by his 18 year old students." He was, in my opinion, the man who taught me how to be a good mathematician. The fellow who replaced him teaching the first year course was a "good" teacher...who could not communicate the essence of how to do mathematics, but produced very nice handouts... In the end, I'm of the opinion that the best way is to let people get on with their job. There will always be bad teachers and there will always be good teachers, but you will get better outcomes for the same expenditure if you have more teachers and fewer bean counters. My guess that this managerialism philosophy is also not helping the health service either. Metrics and targets always lower standards and performance, except in the most trivial and uniform production lines. As an example, I can think of a major telecoms company I worked for in the late 1990s which, after introducing computerised metrics etc, saw the productivity of their workforce fall by a factor of 50%. They intriduced this system after seeing how well it had worked for the AA (2 priorities of jobs - high and low), but it was an abject failure when applied to the complexities of telcom engineering. The metrics led to some of the craziest behaviour...engineers being sent to jobs that they had neither the skills nor tools to deal with because their unit was ahead on the "could complete the job metric" but behind on the "arrived within 4 hours metric" for the month. Moreover, putting aside all the inefficiencies of the system, the resources required to manage the system far out weighed any potential profits that could be obtained by reducing the travel time of the engineers. (I know this, as I was employed to develop parts of the system and know what all the figures were.) It was an absolute disaster, but hailed as a great success to the market and shareholders. Now, measuring the effectiveness of engineering works by a series of easily quantifiable metrics is much simpler than measuring the effectiveness of a teacher by such metrics.
  10. This is the real point. When I finished my Ph.D. in 1997, salaries seemed reasonable relative to the cost of providing a roof over my and my future family's heads. Many career paths seemed reasonable, so I continued my path as an academic. By 2000 I could see that this was no longer tenable. Now, almost no salary seems reasonable. I look at job adverts and discount anything less than 50k. Reality check - 50k is a HUGE amount of money an enormous amount of money...literally beyond my wildest dreams in 1997. The only reason it seems inadequate now is the cost of family housing. Yet, even in this part of the country, 50k is still an uncommonly high amount to be paid. What a change in only 5-10 years.
  11. Problem is, how do you measure performance? Metrics always seem to skew behaviour from what is intended. Just an excuse for more bureaucracy. Treat people like professionals and generally they will behave like one. There will always be a few shirkers...but better than than having an infinite number of bee-watcher-watcher-watchers for every bee doing something productive (Dr. Seuss reference from "You don't know how lucky you are"...he clearly understood the way modern management philosophy was heading I am sure...)
  12. Numeracy is also a big issue. The number of university science students I have taught who do not have the most basic skills of algebraic manipulation is shocking...and this is at Oxbridge. And if you think that is scary, you should see the admission test papers for maths and physics. Large numbers of applicants without the most basic of skills. If this is the level of ability of those predicted to get 3 As at A-Level, one fears to imagine what the level is of those who get 2 Es and end up on a physics course.
  13. Yes. I have a friend who had her wrist broken by a pupil. The school would not help bring charges against the student. At the same time as she was off work, 2 other teachers at the same school were also on sick leave to to injuries inflicted upon them by students. Now, just imagine what would have happened if one of the teachers had defended themselves? The PC rubbish has gone too far. Children, like all other young mammals, learn very quickly how far they can go and then push the limits. They know their "rights" and they aren't afraid to use them. Boundaries have to be set, and there have to be reasonable sanctions to enforce those boundaries. Corporal punishment was one of them in the past. If you want to take physical sanction away, then you have to replace it with something equally effective. How the heck is excluding a student from school (when that can get past the board of governors) who doesn't want to be there in the first place going to help discipline? You can't even hold kids back for detention (in some schools at least) these days. Whilst there were many case of corporal punishment being taken too far (heard some absolute horror stories from some people I know who went to Christian Brothers schools in Australia), at the schools I went to, it existed but was hardly used...it wasn't so much the pain, but the humiliation of being punished that kept people in line. Humans are social animals and, provided they aren't abused, experiences of humiliation, social disapproval and so forth are a natural part of shaping our social sense, just as much as praise and social acceptance. Unfortunately, the modern world only seems to see the carrot as being valid for shaping character...and I think this is just plain wrong. Try raising a kitten with only praise, and you won't have any furniture left in the house by he time they are a cat. A good friend of mine is living with an internationally influential child psychologist who has raised her children by her PC philosophy. They are the most ill-mannered sociopathic narcissists I have ever met. Given the difficulties of keeping discipline in some classes these days, it is no wonder education is failing so many.
  14. What is not seen in the figures is that the good teachers in the state sector often end up leaving for private sector teaching jobs or to more lucrative private sector jobs that aren't directly related to teaching. When I was a child, teaching was a respected profession and teachers earned reasonable wages. The long term health of a knowledge economy needs a continual supply of well educated citizens, yet at the same time the term "knowledge economy" has been bandied about, the standards of education in this country have been plummeting (not a teacher quality issue...from what I have seen it is a management, philosophical issue.) My experience is at the tertiary level, but during admissions I also got to see the standard of incoming secondary students. As an example, one year I had to teach a student who received one of the top 3 honours degrees in biological sciences at Oxford University how to add fractions! I have dozens of similar personal anecdotes. The amount of time for personal attention to university students has been dropping significantly in the past 20 years. Making teaching an unattractive job is the last thing the UK needs. I do not begrudge anyone a final salary pension..especially when they are not necessarily paid well for what they do during their working life...the pension is part of the compensation package. What one should be angry about is Brown's raid on pension fund dividends and that companies were allowed pension holidays in the 90s. This destroyed the final salary schemes.
  15. Yes, since things have begun to crash I have shut up. (But I still get a warm inner glow inside each time I walk past an empty EA.) Which reminds me, I saw a desperate article posted in an EAs window; just caught the headline...apparently the number of "invisible rentals" is increasing fast...I presume this is hinting that it is a good time to get into BTL. Will have to stop and read it on the way home today...I tend to avoid stopping outside EAs at the moment as they often rush out and try to talk to you.
  16. I think the point is that it is hard to believe that 1 in 10 or 1 in 12 people of working age in this country are incapacitated. Are that many people really that sick? This is not to say that there aren't many many people who are unable to work because of illness etc. Hell is other people... This is certainly very true. A friend of mine - 25 and more or less healthy, but is currently off work and cannot go back until he sees a specialist. Waiting time for initial appointment on the NHS 5 and a half months. He is sitting at home being completely unproductive and crawling up the wall. What a complete and utter waste of a human resource. Which is probably why there are 2.7 million people on incap benefits...now after leaving these people to rot and not retrain, not support industry in their local areas them etc., they want to test them to see if they really are incapacitated. Bah! I don't begrudge these people getting incap benefits as they were incapacitated by the government. Yep. This goes for all government benefits. Always mean tested and the frugal and sensible who save are punished, whilst the wasters, spendthrifts, and property gamblers get the goodies. This is the sort of thing that makes me begrudge every penny I pay in tax. Recent governments seems to be encouraging people NOT to behave in what i would call a sensible manner. One great big moral hazard.
  17. My experience has been that a doctorate has gotten me a better sort of job - not always more money, but a little more freedom to implement things as I see fit. UG degrees have been seriously devalued, and masters degrees are heading that way too. Stick it out. If you are on 28k whilst doing it, all the better.
  18. 280k does seem excessive for the house in question. (140 seems excessive for the house in question, but then I'm living in lala land apparently.)
  19. I have a friend who runs a hedge fund. When his Russian wife left him after a couple of years of sponging off him (no kids of their own, but he did pay a sizeable ransom to get her kid from a former partner back from the Russian mob) and took with her quite a few million, his very German mother said to him: now divide the divorce settlement by the number of nights and think what you could have gotten for that. With women like that in his life, no wonder he is screwed up and losing his hair. :-)
  20. This pay is certainly better than what it was only a few years ago, apparently rising 12.6% in the past 2 years alone, and in a more reasonable housing market, would certainly be more than adequate for a good life. However, (and I'm not saying I approve of the screwy job market) someone suitable for the post-doc position (for example) would be able to command much, much more in the private sector. Of course, being able to work on something that one is interested in is worth a lot. Interesting article in the THES which does suggest that pay levels have risen significantly: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/stor...torycode=401025 However, it should be noted that it is not comparing like with like when it compares the average solicitor to the average lecturer - as the lecturers have gone through a more significant filtering process - compare the number of Ph.D.s to the number of lectureships and the people who drop out after a post-doc or two who don't have skills obviously transferable into the job market. Bringing the matter back to housing, the cost of housing in some university towns is beyond a joke (I'm thinking Oxford, Cambridge, London, Edinburgh etc. as prime examples.) 6 years ago friends bought a 2 up 2 down inside the Oxford ring road for £240k (on the dodgy side of town)!!! It smelt of cat wee and you could pick the mortar out of the brickwork with your fingers. They could only afford it as one of them was a London lawyer and with help from parents. In this case the lawyer stopped work to have children and they had to live and pay a mortgage on a post-doc salary. Given the size of their mortgage, that must have been tough. Anyhow, from the context of 2004 when I finally threw in the towel, it was high house prices and what were then ridiculously low wages that drove me from my chosen field, which is a pity as I enjoyed it and was rather good at it. Given the conditions at the time, there was no way I would have been able to support a family and live in the South East, on the salaries that were then on offer. It may be that in the relatively near future, anyone with a secure tenured position, and reasonable wage, will be in a better position to purchase than someone like me whose job security is dependent upon a healthy economy. But in 2004 it was not the case, and it didn't appear as if it was going to get any better soon.
  21. My experience was (and this is only a few years old) that new lecturers in 2001 were starting on less than 20k (19.5k plus London weighting if applicable.) These were not 22-25 year olds in their first job, but people in their late 20s early 30s with a lot of experience. Moreover, some people were not getting tenure track positions until well into their 30s, often with a number of years with no work. And these were very good people (I have in mind someone who is a fellow at Oxford who didn't get his first tenure track position until his late 30s and had over 5 years of unemployment between obtaining his Ph.D. and getting his job.) I can think of another case not so long ago, where a friend was offered a permanent lectureship in Reading, but could not afford to take the job at the salary offered because of the cost of housing. My last pay check as a post doctoral researcher at absolute top end of the scale was 26k per annum. Junior Research Fellows in Oxford in 2002 were looking at a salary of less than 14k per annum (plus 1.5k housing allowance!). These were often people in their late 20s, early 30s. Try being 32 and living in Oxford in 2002 on that sort of money...you certainly won't be saving much for a deposit as I know all too well...I didn't even have central heating or double glazing in my college accommodation, nor an indoor bath or lavatory (they were in an open stairwell) or cooking facilities. You end up starting a long way behind your peers who left university at 20/21 to enter the work force. Most of the people I know who continued as lecturers had wealthy parents, a partner who was a doctor or lawyer, or who didn't mind living in a hovel. Salaries may have changed in the past few years - I haven't kept up. However, even if once one has achieved the grade of reader and pay is good you also have to take into consideration the working hours and the fact that you give up most of your 20s and often some of your 30s on pay that is absolutely egregious considering the level of education and market value of the person. Moreover, at least until the recent madness, it was very difficult to get a mortgage because you could not prove you would have a job in 4/5 years time (as if anyone could!) as all post doc jobs are on 1, 2 or 3 year contracts. How can you retain good lecturers in, say computer science, where one case I know of the person was offered a salary of a little over 20k by the university, but was being paid over 120k for contract work? Did a bit of a search on the web and found the following: Salaries for higher education (HE) lecturers range from £25,000 - £42,000 (salary data collected July 07). At senior/reader level, salaries range from £35,000 to £48,000 (salary data collected July 07). The top end of these pay scales I believe include London weighting. (edited for salary data)
  22. If you are an academic, you aren't on good money. Having a good doctorate has helped me with employment. I've worked for small companies, generally in the role of consultant/software developer/problem solver I'm a software developer by education, though have a broad scientific and economic educational background at "good" institutions). I earn 3x what I was paid as an academic, plus equity. I work half as much. Not the sort of jobs you see advertised, but things I have fallen into. I have been lucky. Had banking contacts wanting to employ me, but shied away from it for obvious reasons. Should have gone into it in 1997...might be retired by now :-) Apart from banking, not sure what someone without a professional qualification (doctor/lawyer/dentist etc.) can do to make a decent living as an employee. My guess is that you have to start your own business to make real money. If my current company folds, I'll probably move back home and work on a business idea I have had for some time. I doubt I will work for someone else again after my current job if I can help it. I feel sorry for my ex-colleagues who had less easily transferable academic backgrounds. I do know of some Oxbridge doctorates who have retrained as plumbers and in one case a truck driver. I'm told they are happier than when they were working in a lab... I've also made a fair amount of money trading the current economic mess over the past year - started in earnest last March when Bear Stearns first hit the news - that to me was the flag that indicated it was all about to kick off in a big way. You mentioned Australia (I'm Australian) - it is no land of milk and honey at present. Inflation of basics has been horrendous there. A few years ago, I would visit Australia and be astounded at how cheap everything was compared to the UK. That is no longer the case and sometimes it is more expensive, especially relative to wages. Certainly, relative to wages, Australian house price madness has outstripped the UK...but at least there is lots of sunshine and it is warm most of the year.
  23. S/he probably did. I've never seen the advantage to anyone of a society where both males and females have to work full time - a waste of 2 lives instead of 1. What proportion of men and women do you know who really enjoy their job? I for one would rather be at home, cooking, cleaning and taking care of kids. Much more fulfilling than pointless toil such as pushing electrons around a computer chip, which so many of us do these days. Of course, because 2 salary families is the norm and banks now take 2 salaries into consideration for mortgages, we live in a society where it is almost impossible to survive on one wage. All we have done is push up asset prices...transferring wealth to the landed and older generations who inherited or bought their property on one salary.
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