All entries for December 2006

December 31, 2006

PhDs & Pensions

I was reading through Government pensions regs today and stumbled across something. It turns out that in order to quality for full state Pension you need to be paying NI contributions for 44 years. If you expect to retire at the normal age of 65, then you need to be paying contributions from the the age of 21. This is quite worrying, since if you are even doing a Masters within the normal time frame you are effectively ruled out of a full state pension.

If you are doing a PhD you are probably going to be 4 years down, and if your PhD roles over to year number 4 (which I believe happens for the majority of PhD students) you will be missing nearly 10% of the required time.

The minimum basic pension is £20.51/week and the full basic pension is £82.05/week, with the requirements of 11 and 44 years respectively. If we assume that its a linear scale between minimum and maximum state pensions, then it works out to £1.86/week lost for every year down on the full pension, or £9.32/week for the hypothetical PhD student.

The current life expectancy within the UK is 78.54 years, and rising rapidly. Lets say this hypothetical average PhD student lives until they are 85, to account for the rise in life expectancy before our generation dies, that means that the total cost is £9692.8. Admittedly this ignores the time value of money, but I the figures already have several assumptions in them, before I begin to predict average Interest rates for the next 60+ years.

As far as I can tell from the pamphlet I read, the government makes allowances for people caring for relatives, if they are job seekers or if they are on long term disability allowance, but not for people trying to advance our level of Scientific understanding! I can also see why the government wouldn’t give you a full pension if you haven’t worked to your complete potential. The real contradiction here is that I have a government funded research grant! The state’s position is that they think thats its worth paying someone to do the work – but refuse that person pension contributions.


December 25, 2006

School Comedy

Congratulations go out to the BBC website for taking a normally serious column and comedifying it (is that a word? Not even the dictionary knows). Here’s an overlong teaser that doubles up as a link:

If we go any further down that road there is a danger that government will impose targets for improving the sexual attainment of head teachers, bringing demands for a whole new category of school performance tables. Perish the thought.


Merry Festivus

Well its that time of year again, and its worth putting up some alternative christmas links, for example this gem: http://fuckchristmas.org/ its unfortunately about a year out of date, but combined with John Stewart this was one of the more amusing critiques of Fox’s attempts last year to claim that Christianity was under attack. Frankly I think one of the more convincing argument for using the phrase happy holidays is the potential to annoy Fox News Anchors.

Its also worth remembering that there are many holidays at this time of year, most notably Festivus . Another interesting read is the about.com entry on pagan roots of modern festivals .


December 13, 2006

Not a kangaroo Court

I accidentally stumbled across Executive Order of the President 13224 today. An interesting find. It essentially bans people from interaction with a list of organisations and ensures that bad things happen to you if you do help out with these organisations. It offers no evidence against any of the organisations, and don’t specify what crimes have been committed by the organisations.

Some of these are obviously worth of inclusion, the list begins with Al-Qaeda. Some of the other organisations don’t appear to have had any serious offences proved against them in a court of law and are in fact charitable in nature. There being a difference between a claim being satisfied within a court of law and someone pointing a finger and screaming terrorist at the top of their voice.

Worst of all some of the organisations seem to have a large number of people in Guantanamo, not because they have committed a crime, but in relation to this claim that the organisation should be banned. Aside from the fact that I don’t believe that someone can be proved to be a terrorist by applying the law of transitivity to known terrorist entities, its even worse to be applying it to organisations on a list where some charities are simply being convicted in something with less respect for law and order than a kangaroo court.


December 12, 2006

Several Small Things

So someone has done a survey and concluded that the average vocabulary of Teenagers is less than people 10 years older than them. Aside from not knowing at all what sampling methods, etc. were used it brings up the question – how much is this influenced by people parodying the excuse for comedy that is Little Britain?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6173441.stm

The Warwick Boar website has now not been updated in 9 months, which is somewhat impressive.

This was brought to you in association with the letter T


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