Reading cat

Shiny new desk, and reasons to love Google books

I have a new desk! This is very exciting. It has drawers and a bookcase thing, and looks like this, except in the beech finish instead of the oak.

Last week I also acquired a set of six shallow A4 filing drawers, which means there is a slight possibility I now have enough storage in my room to find homes for all the piles of paper that have been sitting around for the last... er... few years... All I have to do now is sort it all out and work out how best to organize it, which shouldn't take more than, ooh, a few millennia at the outside.

I made a start on the sorting and putting away last night. The filing drawer in the desk is going to be the new home of all the photocopied articles and book chapters I have. I found and filed a few dozen of these, but discovered a handful where I foolishly hadn't noted the author or the name of the book. I suspect that a few years ago these would have ended up filed under 'Unknown', but thanks to the Internet, this is no longer the case. I just typed a few key phrases into Google, and voila - Google books presented me with the information I needed. I suspect the rest of the sorting won't be quite so straightforward, alas.
  • Current Mood
    determined determined
Reading cat

Back in Oxford

I'm back in Oxford after about two weeks at home. It was lovely to spend some solid time with my parents and just have a proper break.

My train journey back involved four trains (only three of which I actually travelled on: the fourth was one I was supposed to get but didn't), three of which were delayed, although on one occasion this worked in my favour, as it meant I made a connection I would otherwise have missed. It was the sort of journey that could have been extremely stressful if I'd had an important appointment at a fixed time at the far end, but as it was was simply marginally more hassle (two changes instead of one) and half an hour longer than I was expecting.

I still haven't quite got used to it being 2008. But it's a new year, so I am positively bristling with enthusiastic plans about stuff I want to achieve (there may be a separate post about this) which will probably last, oooh, until the new term's workload really kicks in next week. One of these plans is actually to get round to posting on LJ occasionally, which I seem to be doing all right on so far. :-)

I was talking to darwinian_woman earlier, and we thought it might be a good thing if there were some sort of Oxfordy gathering (the informal variety) at some point in the not too distant future, preferably before people disappear completely under their various piles of work. (Yes, I know there was a New Year party not very long ago, but I wasn't here!) Anybody in Oxford or near enough to get here feeling inclined to be sociable at some point over the next couple of weeks? When/where might be good for people?
  • Current Mood
    cheerful cheerful
Reading cat

Weird things seen in Oxford

I was on Cornmarket Street yesterday afternoon, and noticed a largeish crowd of people obviously watching something. There was music emanating from the centre of the crowd, so I assumed it was some kind of street performer, and attempted to peer in though the outer circle as I was passing. The spectacle captivating these folks turned out to be two people playing chess.

I didn't have time to stop and investigate further, but as chess is not known as a spectator sport in this country, I'm assuming there was more to it than just that. Anyone else see them and/or have any idea what was going on?
Reading cat

(no subject)

This is an ice-breaking the-only-point-of-this-post-is-that-it-is-a-post sort of post.

Regular readers of this journal will know that there... er... hasn't actually been anything to read recently. For just over six months, in fact. I kept meaning to post and never got round to it, and as the gap lengthened I started to feel I needed something more and more significant to break the posting drought with. My birthday would have counted, but I ended up being too disorganized (thanks to thalassius for posting on my behalf about that one).

So rather than waiting indefinitely for something really post-worthy to happen, I decided to write a completely pointless post instead. You never know, the next one might be more interesting.
Reading cat

Typo of joy

(Number two in an occasional series)

You know that annoying box thing that pops up when you sign into MSN until you get round to disabling it, and regales you with news stories and celebrity gossip and stuff? Well, today, I'm using a computer that doesn't have it disabled, and was greeted by this headline:

Blair praises Brown and says time for fresh tea

  • Current Mood
    amused amused
Reading cat

Richard III

For anyone in or within easy reach of Oxford:

I'm on stage this week, in Richard III.

It's at the OFS from tomorrow (Tuesday) until Saturday - performances at 7.30pm, plus a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday. Tickets are £8.50, or £6.50 for concessions.

Further details on our website:

It's a fab play, and we've had some good previews in the student press. So come and see it!

Edited to add: We're currently still in need of Front of House people for some nights. If anyone feels like volunteering - and getting to see the show for free - let me know in a comment or via e-mail.
Reading cat

(no subject)

Those of you with better heads for figures and statistics and suchlike: is the reasoning in this story really as appalling as I think it is?

Apparently 2.8 million children in the UK are living in poverty, compared to the 2.7 million last year. Various politicians and groups have been quick to call this a disgrace, and point out that the government needs to pull its socks up if it's going to meet its pledge to halve child poverty by 2010.

Except... we're not actually talking about poverty here at all. We're talking about relative poverty - defined as 'homes on less than 60% of average income net of housing costs'. Now, I'm sure that many of the people living in relative poverty are actually living in poverty, and this is particularly unfortunate if there are children involved. But insisting on determining who's poor and who's not using a relative scale seems perverse. For all we know, there may well be considerably fewer children living in real poverty (defined in terms of whether there's enough money available to provide food, clothes, housing, a reasonable quantity of entertainment, etc. etc.) than there were last year, and the figures wouldn't show this. If the income of the entire population of the UK doubled overnight, there would still be just as many people 'living in poverty'. It would also be possible to improve the figures by increasing the relative poverty of childless households. Reduce the old age pension, or increase the tax burden on those without kids, et voila! You've reduced child poverty at a stroke, without having to spend any money at all, or having to go to the hassle of actually improving anyone's standard of living!

Surely there's a more sensible way of measuring poverty than this? Or is the government (or whoever comes up with these figures) trying to tell us that the ultimate evil is not so much being poor, as being noticeably less well off than some of the people around you? It doesn't matter if everything in your house is made of solid silver and you have a dozen servants to wait on you hand and foot: if the people up the road have solid gold and two dozen servants, you'll still be miserable...

Of course, this is all obscuring the real scandal that is bound to break very soon - did you know that around half of all schools and hospitals are below average? It's a national disgrace!
  • Current Mood
    annoyed annoyed
Reading cat

Academic blogging

In connection with something I was doing at work yesterday, I started wondering about academic blogging - specifically, the use people make of blogs written by professional academics in their field. It occurred to me that it might be worth asking you lot about this, given that many of you move in academic-y circles, and I know you all have blogs :-)

So, do you read academic blogs? If so, what do you feel you get out of it? If not, why not? Do you have a general impression of how widely academic blogs in your field are followed, and how highly (or otherwise) they are regarded?

All comments gratefully received (even if your reaction is 'There are academic blogs?', I'd be interested to know that). And if anyone felt inclined to point people on their friends-lists in the direction of this post, that would be fab.
Reading cat

(no subject)

Given how much I have to fit in over the next couple of weeks, I think I'm probably going to have to accept that I'm not going to have time to update this every day. :-( But I am going to keep trying.

Slight dilemma today, as only two people voted on the last part, and they went for different options (and in fact managed to cover all three choices between them!). So I'm giving precedence to the vote that arrived first.

Episode 6
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