2,910 comments posted · 242 followers · following 5

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Laura Blumenthal: The ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I used to oversee admissions to Engineering at UCL until I retired in 2015, and over the previous ten-fifteen years there had been many departments closing or merging. In London now, as far as I know, only Imperial and UCL offer the full range of Engineering degrees.

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Who's in charge of the... · 0 replies · +1 points

And "exponentially" when the growth is anything but.

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Robert Goodwill: Minis... · 0 replies · +1 points

Provided the retirees can get rid of the company if they wish, I see no downsides either: that's the key point, that they should collectively be in charge, as we are here.

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Robert Goodwill: Minis... · 2 replies · +1 points

Good points. Where I live ground rents (under a different name) are commonplace, not just in retirement housing developments but in all developments with communal areas - swimming pools, gates, and so on. In such cases homowners are by law members of an association with legal standing and the authority to charge for the cost of communal areas, and for other things like additional street cleaning, lighting and such like - all of which must be approved in a meeting called with a frequency and criteria for validity enshrined in law.

The area where I live consists of around a hundred detached homes (I can't remember the exact number), with responsibility for street repairs, repairs to public lighting, and the upkeep of five entrance gates, two of which are for cars and lorries. We employ a street cleaner / handyman and an administrator, both part-time. We pay just under 200 Euros per year.

The difference with the situation in the UK is that we can hire (and fire) as we as an association see fit, and are not tied to a specific developer or management company. Homeowners are entirely in charge, within the limits of the law.

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - John Bald: Teachers mu... · 1 reply · +1 points

Good points, well made. My native language is Italian, but the grammar is not very different from that of English; the main difference is than nouns are gendered, as in Spanish and, somewhat differently, in German. I can't remember how grammar was taught - my earliest memories are of what our teachers called "analisi logica" - syntax. That came in middle school, in parallel with the teaching of Latin, which at the time was compulsory throughout the school system. Latin is a rather different beast from Italian because nouns have cases, which allows changes in world order. Learning the structure of the two languages in parallel was useful later, when we studied modern languages.

About Linguistics - I have just finished reading Don't Believe a Wrd, by David Shariatmadari, a lingust who does a good job of making his discipline intelligible to non specialist. From what I have read it is not a discipline I would be interested in.

My interest in languages was triggered by the first chapter in a book by the German phiologist Bruno Snell. The book's title was Greek Cukture and the Origins of European Thought, and the first chapter was about Homer. It struck me how the very specific verbs used in the Iliad for basic functions such as to see, had been replaced by more abstract verbs already in the Odyssey. t was fascinating to see this abstraction process in action, so to speak. Linguistic is too theoretical to dealwith this kind of thing.

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Lockdown is popular, a... · 0 replies · +1 points

Rather cold here too (for Seville), I think it is the same cold wave that you've been having. The garden is fine: my roses and jasmines are in full flower, which means that I'll again prune too late. I didn't manage to defeat blackspot last year so I am trying again with a different fungicide, but I am not very optimistic.

M&M hate the cold but are otherwise fine.

After the "hard" lockdown which ended in mid May, we have been relatively free to go around, bar a few weeks in November when we had to stay within the limits of our municipality. We can meet people (at most six of us at the same table), preferably outdoors, so our social life hasn't stopped.

I have been using Zoom for our book club, but with little success - people have preferred to wait until we could meet again face to face. It is a good way to keep in touch with people who are far away.

So far, so good. We are well - and from what you say you are well too. Good! I am happy to hear that :-)

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Lockdown is popular, a... · 0 replies · +1 points

Very good post - I agree entirely. Well said, as usual.

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Lockdown is popular, a... · 2 replies · +1 points

I agree entirely. Mistakes have been made but lessons are being learned - after all, this was an entirely new situation and other governments have made mistakes too. I am not a fan of Boris but I think that, given the advice he was given (some of it, with the benefit of hindsight, possibly wrong) and with the constraints due to the structure and working practices in the NHS and in PHE, the Gvernment could have done much worse. He should have probably talked a bit less and acted a bit faster, but the direcion of movement has been broadly right.

How are things in your neck of the wood? Here we have been lucky (so far - fingers crossed), thanks toour climate and to the ingrained preference for outdoor socialising.

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Lockdown is popular, a... · 0 replies · +1 points

Good, balanced comment. I think that those who compare the death toll of Covid-19 with that of flu,or of car accidents, overlook a key difference: that the Covid-19 virus is more infectious than flu and that the number of hospitalisations increases very fast unless measures to stifle transmission are taken - which is what the Government has been doing. As far as car accidents are concerned, the comparison is simply wrong - accidents happen all the time and are at random, no contagon involved.

The Government and the scientists who advise it have made mistakes, but on the whole, they have moved in the right direction; and other governments in the West have not done much better.

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Toby Young: O'Brien is... · 0 replies · +1 points

I agree that views one doesn't agree with should be dealt with by providing countervailing evidence, rather than censorship. However, the effectiveness of conversation based on evidence should not be overstated. Take Covid-19: if someone states that the virus does not exist and it is a hoax, the provision of evidence to the contrary - laboratory-based evidence, for instance - may well be met by a statement that the labs providing tests are in cahoots with big pharma. Asking for evidence of that may get answered by saying that the evidence is being suppressed - which gets us into conspiracy theory domain. BUT in the past evidence about the damage of smoking tobacco was being suppressed, and there were scientists willing to endorse the proposition that smoking did no damage. So things are not that simple. Invoking scientific consensus behind the evidence fr the existencs of cornavirus is fine - but in the past scientific consensus has proved erroneous, time and time again.

By this I mean that this kind of discussion is complicated, because outside the real of pure logic using evidence is not trivial, and most people look for and find evidence that supprts their previously held opinions. Censorship is bad, but open discussion based on evidence is not easy. And scientists are also human beings and prone to biases, less than most people but not bias-free.

To me, it is also a matter of respectin gthe people who come forward with evidence. A record of having changed one's opinon in the face of contrary evidence is a big plus. I wish I could name a politician who has done that - recognising having been wrong whan their opponents were right.