I'm especially learning that this site really is a big amorphous blob, and while there are "hub" pages ( Juggling, Mathematics, etc. ) there is no real structure.
But that's OK. I like it.
See also Random Quotations and Science Based Quotations, links I put here to connect them to the rest of the site.
The problem was, I couldn't remember how to do it ...
It was just so annoying. I folded a couple of modules and spent ages and ages trying to work out how to put them together. I couldn't. Then on the way back to the station that I realised I was missing the central fold. Damn.
Anyway, the question is, how can we keep our knowledge fresh? We can't review everything every day, but how can we keep our knowledge available and at our fingertips?
The internet is a fantastic resource. Search engines are just as fantastic, and maybe that's the future. But surely we should keep our own facilities sharp.
My friend was tucking into a large bowl of muesli (as a vegan he tends to eat very large meals, and then still graze in between) when one of the other chaps came down and started looking for something. Neil asked what he was looking for, and the chap replied "Where did you find the milk?" Neil said, "I didn't - I used fruit juice."
The chap was aghast, absolutely horrified. Finally he exclaimed in utter disbelief, "You put fruit juice in your coffee!!!"
No, Neil had put fruit juice on his muesli. As always, he'd had his coffee black. However, the miscommunication shows that there are times when context is important. Sometimes it's critical.
The Germans are often criticised for being overly concerned with the planning and detail of an endeavour. Communications seem to be excessive, redundant, repetitive, and generally painful. They seem almost to be patronising in their repetition of well-known and previously agreed facts.
The French, by contrast, are often thought (especially by the Germans!) to be slapdash, brief to the point of being rude and dismissive. They often take for granted that you already know what they are referring to, and will understand their points from the merest hint.
These are sweeping generalisation, of course, and like all generalisations are prone to be false in any given case. But the general idea is sound. Some people assume less context, and their communications are heavy, staid, overly complex, and dull. Others assume less context, and are efficient, but run the risk of being completely mis-understood.
As can so often be the case, there is no right answer to this - it's a question of balance. Good balance requires good feedback.
Communication should be two-way.
That's why good writing is so hard.
Moved to Worse Off Despite Leading.
Who are these strange people?
The Red Priest pages on this site have now been reorganised a little. We now have the previous review on a separate page, with the Red Priest page itself reserved for more generic information. We've also added a Red Priest Concert Schedule page, so we can see where the concerts are in case there's a chance we can get to another one.
We certainly want to ...
Let's look at some of the figures quoted.
In 2006 it was, for the first time, possible to get a breakdown of teacher recruitment by subject.
Tony Blair has urged young people to become scientists. He said Britain must encourage young people who want to "change the world" to become scientists, and stressed the
Despite this, during Mr Blair's time in power the numbers of young people studying physics and chemistry have dwindled by a fifth. And now a quarter of schools have no qualified physics teachers. This is a deficiency he acknowledges, but says he's trying to put it right.
Perhaps he believes that. Perhaps he's saying it because he thinks there are votes in it. Perhaps he's been told it's important. Who knows! Who knows what politicians really believe.
The government has many initiatives that are claimed to be targetted at improving science education, but until the students themselves see the subjects as important, interesting and exciting, nothing will happen.
Without interesting, exciting and able teachers, how can that happen?
Maths and physics can be among the most exciting subjects in the world. How can we get that message across? OK, so students find science and maths hard, but why do they think they're boring?
Dont Blame The Students. They need to see that science and maths are worth the effort.
I was astounded and appalled at the treatment this got. The entire issue was treated as a joke, and fun made of the person who won the prize. The slant was "You must be a genius", and the underlying attitude was clearly scornful, wrapped up with a good dollop of sarcasm.
At a time when the BBC themselves are reporting that standards in mathematics are dropping, that students are abandoning mathematics for easier subjects, and that science in general is in decline in the UK, how can they then produce and air a report in which the entire question of ability in maths is subjected to ridicule?
Perhaps the BBC doesn't think it actually has much influence. Perhaps it thinks that the images it portrays are largely irrelevant. Perhaps it thinks that ridiculing ability in maths won't affect the way people see the subject.
Or then again, perhaps it's full of media types who themselves can't do maths, and therefore have to poke fun at anyone who can. No wonder students are opting for easier subjects, when their attitudes are shaped by such heavily anti-science biased media.
I really had thought better of the BBC.
It seems that their Chief executive, Richard Pike, has written a paper entitled "Why League Tables Have to Go" in which he says:
The Government counters, saying that the numbers of pupils studying science, maths and further maths was increasing.
So why are universities having to run remedial maths courses?
As I said earlier, Dont Blame The Students.
The one that prompted this little musing was this:
So why does McDonalds call itself a restaurant?
In the Regency period (1811-1820), probably much before, and certainly through the Edwardian period (1901-1910) it was, amongst the better circle, simply "not done" to speak to someone without first having been introduced. The rules were really quite rigid, with some leeway, and approaching someone without an introduction was a severe breach of the social norms.
In these "enlightened" times we rather look down on the rigid formality of the Regency, Victorian and Edwardian periods, but consider this. Many people are now implementing a similarly severe system for their email. More and more when I email someone, even someone of long-standing acquaintance but whom I've never emailed, I'm getting back an automated
"Who are you, and why should I listen to you?"
Of course in this case it's usually just enough to prove that I'm a person and not a robot, but it could be more severe, and it could be that we're turning full circle. Perhaps we should fall back to trusting only those who are personally recommended to us. Perhaps we should rely on "Friend of a Friend" networks, to ensure that we reclaim the usefulness of email.
Why not instigate a plugin protocol that lets us pass around email addresses with "certificates" saying who has recommended them. We can then implement a "trust" metric on that, so only trusted emails are let through to the inner sanctum. Other "throw-away" email addresses can be used for casual acquaintances, that may subsequently be "upgraded" to a more trusted status.
This relates, of course, to my thoughts on Learning Languages.
You can see the graphs of spam volumes on Spam Table and Spam Graphs. The problem is largely of my own making, of course. I need people to be able to contact me in order to invite me to speak for them, so I need to advertise me contact details. Those are then harvested by spammers, and there we have thousands of unwanted emails every day.
I've put some filters in place, and currently only about 1% of spams get to my inbox. But how do I know if any legitimate emails have been filtered out? The nagging doubts remain.
Still, with the current growth of spam shown by the graphs, someone, somewhere will have to do something soon. In the meantime I'll tune my filters to get rid of the worst, and be ruthless with the rest. So if you send me email and I don't reply, maybe it didn't get through. Try again with a longer, more specific message.
But not having enough time is partly because I feel that I need to write important things, and I don't have the time to craft it.
So instead I'm going to write what I think about things that people might find interesting, and not worry so much about it being important or momentous.
Let's see what that does ...
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