In one (y)ear and out the other

Happy New Year!

And just to let you know: I shall refrain from posting an end of year round-up.

I will however, make some predictions for this time next year – in case I am doing a round-up post then.

–  We will all be a year older (On the other hand, considering the alternatives….)

–  I will still feel knackered

–  Mrs Dr Aust will still feel three times as knackered (or more)

–  The kids will still be engaged in their ongoing competition for attention / psychological guerilla war / life-or-death struggle for access to their mothers’ lap

–  Junior Aust will have lost interest in Harry Potter and will instead be telling me the plot of some other complicated book.

–  The house will still be a tip.

–  UK Universities willl still be under financial pressure

–  The NHS will still be the subject of endless daft reforms.

–  I will still be pondering whether it is time to jack in blogging.

–  Mrs Dr Aust will still be mystified as to why I bother blogging at all.

–  The Homeopaths will still be talking utter transcendental raving nonsense.

[a classic recent example is here, which I think should really have the same title as the present post, given the author’s utter imperviousness to reason and reality]

–  So will the rest of the Alternative Medicine Fraternity (be talking nonsense, that is).

–  They will still have the enthusiastic support of Prince Charles, and of various medical grandees who suffer from “knight starvation”, or who crave HRH’s patronage

–  They will still get lots of laughably credulous media coverage, especially in the People’s Medical Journal

Now, I would usually add to this list

“-  I will still be pondering my next series of lectures”

But given what is happening in the Universities, and what is likely to happen this coming year, I’m not at all so sure about that as I would have been even a year ago. One of my best friends and scientific colleagues, who does his own experiments and busily cranks out three papers a year, is taking voluntary early retirement next year.

He is 59.

Several other scientists I know in their mid to late 50s at other Universities have also bailed out. Most of them still had active research programmes and laboratories. One, I hear, has taken a part-time job as a lab technician. Another is teaching physiology in a medical school in Trinidad. Another is writing a book about fishing and working as a fishing guide.

Where that leaves those of us still aboard the Titanic, I mean “in the Universities”, is anyone’s guess.

I guess we will see.

Anyway, in the meantime, and ignoring the dark clouds on the horizon, I thought I should follow the always-excellent Dr Grumble and declare:

“The same procedure as EVERY year!”

Und ein fröhliches neues Jahr!


18 Responses to “In one (y)ear and out the other”

  1. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    Happy New Year! :)
    I am eating now like the Wolf (pies, chickens, salads, beer, apples, cakes, potatoes…) ;) And I have eaten so much that now I want to sing like he:

  2. Cybertiger Says:

    “Und ein fröhliches neues Jahr!”

    Oh no, not another (y)ear full of Herr u Frau Drippy Draust bollocks!

  3. Dr Zorro Says:

    “the house will still be a tip”

    Oh thank god it’s not just mine then.

  4. draust Says:

    Happy New Year All

    @Svetlana – thanks for the cartoon. BTW, a regular part of the Christmas soundtrack when my brother and I were children was (an English-narrated version of) this piece of music, which I’m sure you will recognise.

    @ShabbyTabby – I was rather hoping you had departed this blog for good, given how boring you prefess to find it. There’s still time, of course.

    @Dr Z – I was always an untidy hoarder, though Mrs Dr A is a far more disciplined tidier and chucker-outer. However, since the kids arrived it has descended into total chaos.

  5. Maxine Says:

    I hope Junior A does not move from Harry Potter to Dan Brown…..or vampires (hard to avoid them in the “teen” fiction section of bookshops, sadly). Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time? (Mark Haddon)

    Happy new year to you.
    best wishes

  6. draust Says:

    Thanks, Maxine. Happy New Year to you and your lot too.

    Junior A is actually quite young still for Harry Potter (six and a half), so I am hoping she will be able to re-read them for a good few years to come. She still likes the Famous Five at present, and I have just been reading her The Horse and His Boy, easily my favourite of CS Lewis’ Narnia books.

    One of the things I have found interesting watching my brother’s kids is the sheer speed with which their enthusiasms for particular book series come and go. Thus Junior A has inherited her oldest cousin’s Harry Potter collection, which they had long since tired of. And Junior A’s middle cousin had a year of so of enthusiasm for the Twilight franchise but now looks mildly embarrassed if you mention it.

    PS There will definitely be no Dan Brown allowed in the house. We do have some standards…!

  7. Dr Zorro Says:

    Try Catherine Fisher, a far better children’s writer than Rowling, and books that any adult can enjoy too.

  8. Sceric Says:

    Happy new Year to you and your bunch, too…

    our’s is currently still fixed on Bob the Builder books that I have to read to him and some English animal songs (like lion hunt..or in your case it should be rather a different kitty or something from the Jungle Book)..

    hey, Dan Brown books are very good as door stoppers in summertime…


  9. Nash Says:

    This might cheer you up

  10. draust Says:

    @Dr Z: Thanks for the suggestion – haven’t come across Catherine Fisher. Actually someone just unloaded a big box of fantasy fiction stuff on us, but Fisher doesn’t feature there, a bit surprising as most of it was stuff directed at the 11-15 or possibly “young adult” niche (came to us from a family whose kids are mostly grown up).

    The best find in the box so far is the Cornelia Funke Inkheart trilogy, but those are a bit old for Junior Aust. Similarly, I have so far put her off trying Phililp Pullman’s wonderful Northern Lights series. Anyway, I shall keep an eye peeled for Catherine Fisher in the Oxfam and Help the Aged shops where we get most of our books.

    @Sceric: Bob is a favourite here too. Junior A feels she has grown out of Bob, but our two and a half yr old is a big fan, so the DVDs are still getting plenty of use. The Disney Jungle Book remains one of the things they will both watch, along with Wallace & Gromit, Sean the Sheep (which works equally well in English or German versions in the German version too), and the Augsburger Puppenkiste

    @Nash: Yes, I’d seen that somewhere. I was actually rather surprised to see Shabby reappear, as he’d been blessedly absent for an extended period.

  11. Cybertiger Says:


    “I was actually rather surprised to see Shabby reappear, as he’d been blessedly absent for an extended period.”

    Actually, I’ve been holidaying in Vietnam. You could have found me at the Hotel Majestic in Saigon or the Intercontinental in Hanoi … if you’d bothered to look.

    Dontcha jus love the smell of napalm in the morning?!

    As it happens, Dreary Draust’s blog appeared nowhere on the list of attractions while I was away. But I did learn a lot more about the side effects of Agent Orange.

  12. draust Says:

    I thought for a minute you meant you’d been a guest at the Hanoi Hilton, Shabby.

    The thing I always remember about the US defoliation programme in Vietnam was the slogan about:

    “Only we can prevent forests”

    which I first came across in Michael Herr’s book Dispatches. I always understood the major cause of the teratogenic side effects to be dioxins (cf the Seveso Disaster), which were a contaminant/byproduct of the Agent Orange herbicides.

  13. Bobber1 Says:

    Dr Aust,

    Our ‘R’ day is the 10th of Jan – 10% across all departments, despite STILL not knowing the implications of the cut in HEFC T-budget yet (which may well not affect us very much at all). Happy New Year and all that………

  14. Nash Says:

    So Shabby has been on the Gary Glitter Trail

  15. draust Says:

    Sorry to hear that, Bobber1.

    The management here at Gloomingham say they are waiting for the implications to become clearer before they decide anything – but the voluntary severance scheme was already “live” from the middle of last year, then enhanced slightly in the Summer, and later extended until next month.
    Generally we tend to the view that it will come down to whether natural wastage, voluntary redundancies, and other planned savings meet whatever savings target is “set” retrospectively. Beyond that… hmmm.

    One thing we have heard via the grapevine is that the heads of our faculty academic groupings in research and in teaching are adamant that administrative staff (whose nos have grown noticeably in the last five yrs, as they have elsewhere, see this post) should be targetted first in any further redundancy/savings campaign. But there is always a tendency to make academics the primary target, since:

    (i) there are lots of us;

    (ii) we are the University’s most expensive employees, both as a group and individually;

    (iii) the managerial view tends, I think, to be that “If one whatsit-ologist goes we have lots of others that can do the same stuff” – especially WRT teaching.

  16. Bobber1 Says:

    If only the same reasoned arguments were being made at our place, Dr A – our non-academic staff has ballooned to such an extent that there are now enough administrators for each academic to have 2.5 secretaries. Of course, all these staff aren’t all office staff, more facilities etc., but even so they are not income-generating (they don’t teach, don’t do research, don’t provide clinical services but DO spend a hell of a lot of money).

    Voluntary severance scheme lasted a few months and finished late last year. Virtually all academics who applied were granted it, only 1/3 of non-academics were ‘released’.


  17. draust Says:

    “the [non-academic staff] are not income-generating (they don’t teach, don’t do research, don’t provide clinical services but DO spend a hell of a lot of money).”

    No doubt, though, they all have elaborate and specific job titles. After all, if we lose the Central Virology Services Facility External User Contracts Sales Manager, we’d only have to recruit another one… otherwise we wouldn’t have anyone to manage the vitally important task of selling of the services of our central virology services facility to external users….

    …etc etc.

    In contrast, as I already said, academics are viewed as interchangeable.

    I fancy you can see some of this same problem replicated in the NHS with frontline posts (nurses, doctors – note the simple job titles) and administrative functionaries with elaborate titles like “Deputy Director for Patient Experience Feedback”. My friends tell me that the only way the NHS can manage to cut admin is to undertake some kind of massive reorganisation….

    …which usually leads to more admin. Or so I’m told.

  18. Bobber1 Says:

    So R day arrived – I got put in a group of 5 of which 1 will go. Great times.

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