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INKYTEXT 180



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 ISSUE No 180               ESTABLISHED 1993          SUNDAY 10 NOVEMBER 1996

 LANCASTER - LONDON - PARIS - VIENNA - NEW YORK - TORONTO - MELBOURNE - TOKYO 
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                  "REAL PIONEER OF ELECTRONIC JOURNALISM" (SCAN)
             
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         Please address all correspondence to InkyText@lancaster.ac.uk
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                                      AGENDA

 1. More Moralizing Editorial Reminiscences (best skipped)
 2. News: Lots of human interest
 3. Small Ads: House for sale
 4. Readers' Letters: Loads of 'em, always the best bit.

 1. MORE MORALIZING EDITORIAL REMINISCENCES
 ------------------------------------------

 Bohemian bachelorhood has magic potential: time can be stopped, and
one can slip through black holes into other worlds. Or rather it allows
such illusions to be entertained. Attaining parenthood, acquiring
political responsibility or running a university entails abandoning
them. A pity really, but pretty vital if bills and wages are to be paid
and earned. If only all administrators realised it.

 Over a quarter of a century ago I spent a damp but happy week in
Antwerp, visiting the Rubens Huis, the sculpture park and the municipal
gallery, seeing Losey's newly released film The Go-Between, eating
mussels and chips in the Rote Kappelle, and walking the banks of the
Scheldt (en francais = l'Escaut). Amongst other things.

 Also discovered that the locals would pretend you didn't exist if you
spoke to them in French, but would answer charmingly if addressed in
English. And realised this was yet another place with a city-centre zoo
next to the station. Must make a list sometime.

 The trip to Antwerp had been a spur of the moment decision taken on
the metro somewhere between St Michel and Reaumur-Sebastopol. I was
reluctantly leaving Paris in August to travel back to Britain and en
route from the Cite Universitaire to the Gare du Nord. Didn't have a
return ticket since I'd had a lift there.

 Buying a ticket to Antwerp was strangely thrilling, an extraordinarily
liberating experience. It meant that for a period no one would know
where one was. Paris would assume you could be found in Britain,
Britain knew you were in Paris. Ultimate return was undecided.

 The problems only arise when someone who knows you weren't in Britain
meets someone who has discovered you were not still in Paris either.
This can be embarrassing. Especially if you are present when the facts
are uncovered.

 So it is when corporations try to separate internal and external news.
It cannot be done. Hubris is doggedly tailed by Nemesis. 'Twas ever
thus and ain't likely to change. As we keep discovering.

 2. NEWS
 -------

 THE FUNERAL OF MRS MEG POTTS will take place in Caton Parish Church,
Brookhouse, at 2.00 p.m. on Tuesday 12 November. No flowers please, but
donations to the British Heart Foundation would be appreciated. Friends
and colleagues are invited to The Nook after the service.

 CONGRATULATIONS TO LOU ARMOUR (Sociology), Assistant Dean of Furness,
on being awarded his Ph.D. The thesis, on the sociology of colour, has
nothing whatsoever to do with race, and is in fact concerned with Red
and Yellow and Green and Blue, though it seems to omit any reference to
Julie Andrews. Those of us who can't even imagine what the sociology of
colour might be are urged to read it. Scott Lash claimed that of over
30 PhD theses he had read it was the best.

 THE VICE-CHANCELLOR will bravely address a general meeting of students
on Monday 11 November, in the Great Hall, at 1.00. He is not expected
to do another version of his famous OHP slide show, since students are
less likely to be diverted by explanations of how we got here, being
more concerned with 'why'. And how we are going to get out of it, other
than at their expense. Local Trotskyites are rumoured to be turning out
for the event. 

 KAREN VALLEY (Ed Res) is out of hospital and back home again. She is 
looking forward to weeks of swimming, weights, etc. to build herself up
to full fitness. Visitors are welcome but please phone first to make
sure she's not at the gym.

 THE HEAD OF SECURITY points out that, contrary to what was stated in
the last Inkyflash, there were in fact a large number of incoming calls
connected by the switchboard between 8.00 and 10.00 last Thursday.
Unfortunately of course there were also many others that could not be
connected.
 
 One problem is simply that we don't have sufficient lines to accept
the volume of incoming calls during such peak periods. Another is the
increase in calls generated by graduates who rent their own phones.

 Although there are sometimes one telephonist and one security officer
working the switchboard during these hours, there is often only the
security officer. At times some 300 calls per hour are put through,
which must come close to causing Repetitive Strain Injury. 

 This leaves little time to do more than say 'University of Lancaster'
and connect, or look up the extension number if the caller doesn't know
it. Particular problems arose on Thursday when some callers (press and
other) were seeking information and anxious to engage at least the
telephonist in conversation.
 
 THE SIGHT OF PROFESSOR SOUTAR IN A SUIT is an inspiring but unwonted
spectacle. When it coincides with a glimpse of Professor Hanham's
parked car it suggests that a meeting of CRILL (Commitee for the Review
of Institutional Lessons to be Learned) may have taken place on Friday
afternoon and may have taken testimony from a key witness. [Memo to
potential paranoids: this is how Intelligence works, by collating
disparate sources of information, spotting links, and directing them to
a particular purpose. More brainwork than leg-work, and absolutely no
leaks or moles needed.]

 RETIREMENT OF PAULINE HILL (Catering Accounts Manager) retires on
December 6 after serving 27 years hard labour in the same office. Even
life sentences are rarely that long. Donations to Pat Brown (Catering
Offices above Barclays Bank where there is a card to be signed).

 3. SMALL ADS
 ------------

 *DELETED*

 6. READERS' LETTERS
 -------------------

 I did enjoy your surgical fable (Inkytext 179 Part I), which made its
point rather well. We must hope that the hero does not proceed to
amputate himself in the bath, for the resulting haemorrhage would
undoubtedly prove fatal. But I presume that was what you had in mind.
--------------------

 How did you feel about Scan's claim that you seem 'to have become a
bit of an old softy of late', and are 'even reported to be briefed 
regularly by the University Secretary...'?

 [NOTE: Much more importantly, how did Secretary feel about the claims
that he has editorial control over this journal? Astonished, certainly,
flattered, perhaps, and prolly appalled at what the VC might imagine.
Anyone who believes that sort of thing clearly has a big career writing
for SCAN ahead of them. (Ed.)] 
-----------------------

 As the sword of Damocles descends over departments such as philosophy,
it stimulates talk about such cuts being in contradiction with the very
idea of a university. 

 Of course, as historians know well, there are no essential ideas which
shape human institutions, but it might be worth recalling what was the
original, etymological and medieval idea of a university. A
_universitas_ did not teach everything: indeed it taught a lot of
philosophy. (Those were the days!) 

 The _universitas_ was the corporation of _all_ of its fellows, who met
in Senate-like bodies to decide the future of their fellowship.
Although in this regard, regrettably, history is not repeating itself
(when does it?), I think it is a more useful and empowering version of
the 'very idea' of a university, which we must continuously recreate.

 Steve Pumfrey.
-------------------- 

 First, I thought your proposals for action were *most* sensible - just
the sort of thing one hoped was happening (but knew, in reality, that
it wasn't!).

 Secondly, your note about stasis is very sensible and I absolutely
agree with it. However, it looked a bit as though you were disagreeing
with what the writer suggested - but perhaps you weren't?

 If our difficulties are be blown open in the national and financial
press (as seems likely) we ought surely, in an election year, to be
trying to get some advantage from it. But are we? It needs careful
footwork... but by whom?
-------------------

 Would have though Lehrer's 'Masochism Tango' most appropriate for the
merry  dance we are all being led at the moment!
---------------------

 My hopefulness at seeing your headline An Alternative Strategy was, I
regret to say, followed by disappointment on reading the text. True, as
ever, your approach is constructive, although its expression is barbed.
However, your proposal seems to boil down to fudging the financial
figures (no harm intrinsically in that) in order to buy more time, in
the hope that necessary changes will be somehow accepted without
conflict. 

 What support is there for such hope? On the other hand, there is
certainly plentiful likelihood of conflict over the restructuring
proposals. The lack of support for them, e.g. at the VC's non-lunch,
should not mislead anyone -- obviously, it is hard for anyone to
express support for proposals which colleagues feel as a personal
threat. But now we have some proposals on the table, it really is time
for critics to come up with alternatives which would produce 
equivalent savings, or make more sense. 

 We have been through an exhaustive process of Academic Reviews over
the past three years, and it must be assumed that these provide the
basis for any sensible restructuring. We can only regret that those
reports were not acted upon with more urgency earlier, and that it has
taken the bank's ultimatum to make us face up to some difficult
questions. The most difficult of all however is how we can conduct as
constructive and lively debate of this rather important set of
decisions as we do about more light-hearted matters.

 Sol Picciotto

 [NOTE: I see you belong to the Romantic Utopian school. You are quite
wrong. It is the VCSAG proposals that are based on 'hope' - the hope
that they can be implemented without strikes, occupations, national
boycotts and a fatal slump in admissions. My proposals are based on the
certainty that damaging recruitment is fatal. They are underpinned by
further argument that would be wasted here, and some of which you would
find distasteful since it affects your department. 

 They are not remotely based on any unquantified assumptions or
'fudging'. It is the VCSAG framework that displays some of those
qualities. My suggestions have the singular merit of being workable,
politically easier and ultimately producing more substantial returns.
Nor are the two entirely incompatible of course. (Ed.)]
----------------------------------

 Forgive me if attention has been drawn to this already--I am a
relative newcomer to this Vale of Tears--but should we read the
University's Latin motto, 'Patet omnibus veritas' ('The truth is clear
to all') as a searing irony or a laughable truism? Stamped on every
chair in the Great Hall, it presses (guiltily for some?) into the back
of all present at Congregation--yet thereby (poetic justice!) becomes
occluded from the sight of those for whom it might act as a beacon....
----------------------

 I was startled to read the Deputy VC's comments in the most recent
Traceytext:

 'that no newspaper or radio account of our recovery plan should be
perceived as bearing the University's imprimatur. We cannot influence
the gloss put on the facts; we can only make sure that the facts are
accurate.'

 I shouldn't have thought anyone can ensure at all that the 'facts' the
news media chooses to print are accurate. Do we now have the additional
delusion that we control the press?
--------------------------

 Wouldn't letting the bars stay open until 11pm generate some much 
needed extra dosh? Or am I missing something? In my experience, when
the bars shut, everyone cracks open the tinnies from Spar, with the
University not seeing a penny of the profit.
---------------------------

 A friend sent me this recently and it seems to tally with the rather
ignorant approach of the 'powers that be', to the perceived
contribution made, in teaching and research, by several of our
humanities departments. It also continues in a similar vein to your
more gruesome characterisation of 'necessary' cuts in Inkytext 179. 

 "Efficiency in Art"
     
 The president of a large managed health care facility (= hospital
trust) also served on the board of his community's symphony orchestra.
Finding that he could not go to one of the concerts, he gave his
tickets to the company's director of health care cost containment. The
next morning, he asked the director how he enjoyed the performance.
Instead of the usual polite remarks, the director handed him a memo
which read as follows: 

 The undersigned submits the following comments and recommendations 
relative to the performance of Schubert's "Unfinished symphony" by 
this city's symphony orchestra as observed under actual working 
conditions:

 A. The attendance of the conductor is unnecessary for public 
performances. The orchestra has obviously practiced and has the prior 
authorization from the conductor to play the symphony at a 
predetermined level of quality. Considerable money could be saved 
merely by having the conductor critique the orchestra's performance 
during a retrospective peer review meeting.

 B. For considerable periods, the four oboe players had nothing to do. 
Their numbers should be reduced, and their work spread over the whole 
orchestra, thus eliminating peaks and valleys of activity.

 C. All 12 violins were playing identical notes with identical 
motions. This is unnecessary duplication: the staff of this section
should be cut drastically with consequent savings. If a large volume of
sound is required, this could be obtained through electronic
amplification, which has reached very high levels of reproductive
quality.

 D. Much effort was expended playing 16th notes or semi-quavers. This 
seems an excessive refinement, as most of the listeners are unable to 
distinguish such rapid playing. It is recommended that all notes be 
rounded up to the nearest eighth. If this is done, it would also be
possible to use trainees and lower grade musicians with no loss of 
quality.

 E. No useful purpose would appear to be served by repeating with 
horns the same passage that has already been handled by the strings. 
If all such redundant passages were eliminated, as determined by the 
utilization review committee, the concert would have been reduced from 
two hours to about 20 minutes, resulting in substantial savings in 
salaries and overhead.

 In fact, if Schubert had addressed these concerns on a cost 
containment basis, he probably would have been able to finish this 
symphony!
----------------------------

 May I congratulate you on your 'Immodest Proposal' - it really is
'nice' as certain of my tutors might say..

 Nick Bardsley.
-----------------------------------

 I liked very much your allegory, but... haven't you left us in a bit
of a bad condition for the week-end? Maybe your female readership will
not be so upset by it as chaps like me....
----------------------

 The new computers in A32 Faraday are excellent, except for the loud
noise emitted since the sound cards are operational. This  ruins A32's
suitability as an academic lab. It is hard to imagine anyone
concentrating above the loud background noise.

 Despite wearing ear plugs, I can hear barking noises from one computer
on the other side of the room, some sixties tune from another, and the
occasional short scene from Star Trek! It is almost as if I am not
wearing ear plugs! I hear little if any background noise when wearing
ear plugs in the other labs.

 There is a clear need for users, especially those doing academic work,
to have the right to ask noise-emitters either to wear earphones, to
reduce the volume to a point where it is no longer disruptive, or to
cease creating the noise all-together. 

 Rules are urgently needed and must be enforced. Otherwise the money
invested in A32 to create a first-class lab for academic use will
prove to have been wasted...

 Jeff Waters.
---------------------

 Yes, 'SWOOSH' is a neat term, generally assumed in the US to have
originated as a description of the renowned Nike logo...

 ...perhaps the Uni should approach Nike and do a deal to promote their
footwear to the student body. Should be worth a few million in
sponsorship fees? Come to think of it, there must be other possible
sponsorships available to ease the financial status. How about the
Microsoft Tower?

 James Vallee
 Stamford, CT
-------------------------

 I see that a number of Tory backbenchers wish school teachers to dress
more smartly. Perhaps you could launch a competition that invites
readers to suggest the most appropriate uniform to be worn by staff of
this university?
--------------------------

 "VC, Audit, Sec, Gen Ed : no saving possible. Increase of 20 percent
after removal of public arts subsidy, MCL, Students Union, due to
higher costs of legal and consultancy fees, costs of legal compliance
functions."

 I can't be the only person who greeted this with shrieks of disbelief.
Can it be true that 'removing' the concerts, gallery, theatre (one, two
or all three?) - all those years of building up audiences all over the
region, all that hard work to place Lancaster University as a centre
for the highest quality arts provision - all that will go into
CONSULTANCY and LEGAL fees?  

 I am sure that MCL (who they?) and the Students Union are equally
shocked. Tell me there has been typographical error - tell me there's
been some mistake - please, please tell me that someone else out there
thinks this is breathtakingly outrageous? 
 
 Stella Birchall   
 Music

 [NOTE: No mistake, alas, but I think you may have misunderstood what
was meant by 'removal' of MCL (Marketing and Commercial Liaison), SU
etc. They are merely being 'removed' to another budget heading. It is
the VC, Audit and University Secretary's residual budget that is still
growing. (Ed.)]
----------------------------------

 Just a quick note to ask if you could include me on the mailing list 
for INKYTEXT.  
     
 My wife (Sarah Rogers nee Hughes) and I met at Lancaster University 
(final year June 1994), and she has recently joined INKYTEXT. Rather 
than her continually bashing her local laser printer so that I can 
read it, I would like to join to e-version.
     
 I currently work with the Union Bank of  Switzerland in London as an
equity market analyst specializing in  European electricity companies.
     
 Chris Rogers (BSc Econ & Operational Research 1991-94)
-----------------------------

 Today maintenance men removed the firebells from the biology field
station leaving only a low volume warning tone, inaudible in most of
the building. We were reassured that the security office would however
be alerted in the case of a fire. The reason for the removal the men
provided was that the bells were needed in the residences which were
first priority!

 Perhaps the fact that there has been no fire drill at the field
station for about 5 years implies that they are no longer needed!

 I understood that the austerity measures currently in force allowed
spending on essential safety items? or is safety now running second to
financial expediency?

 [NOTE: I mentioned this to the Safety Officer and understand that the
field station fire alarm has now been reinstated. (Ed.)]
----------------------

 Is there no legal means to prevent the super salaried Administration
from doing endless damage to the University ?

 They appeared to have put the speculating (and misleading**) sabotage
on the World Wide Web to drive students away and legitimise the
destructive policies against mathematical and grammatical subjects.
Nothing seems to have improved much since all the squandering on
parties and white elephant concrete!
---------------------------

 Can anyone out there give me (and the relatively few others who are
leaving at the end of December) a really sound and convincing reason
why we should pay for 1 year's (i.e. 3 terms') parking, i.e. 39.00 when
we are only staying for 1 term? When I asked Security whether I could
have a roundel for 1 term only I was told "Oh no we can't do that".
Surely it would be easy to organise - just put the finishing date on by
hand, get the person concerned to put it on etc. etc. Personally I live
about 20 miles away from the Uni. and not on a bus route! No I am not
going to give my name.
--------------------

 Even in these anxious times, one should not lose track of things of
timeless importance. I passed my copy of "The Hanham years: part II" to
a certain distinguished retired member of the University
administration. His remarks were appreciative, but he asked me to
forward the following comment on one detail:

 In some parts of the United Kingdom, e.g. Glasgow, the glottal stop is
a feature of local speech. In other parts, for example East of the City
of London, the initial `h' of a word is dropped. In other parts again,
such as Lancaster as InkyText shews, a medial `h' may be inserted in a
word such as ``vice-cancellarial". It is interesting to note that such
an insertion can be accompanied by a reversive vowel-mutation so that a
pre-liquid `a' becomes `o', thus creating the sadly hybrid
"vice-chancellorial".
 (Reference: Fowler, H.W. and F.G., *The King's English*, 3rd ed., p.402).

 [NOTE: The etymologically exact 'vice-cancellarial' was indeed a form
encouraged by the former Deputy Academic registrar, and one I used in
the jejune days of youth. It can be found extensively in the defunct
periodical 'Lancaster Comment' (1974-84). My feeling is that such
punctilious Latinity might now seem pedantic or pretentious to most of
our readers. Not too sure how pertinent your correspondent's attempt at
historical phonology is either. The form used is surely just a popular
attributive naively derived from the substantive by analogy with, e.g.,
'presidential'. No phonetics needed. (Ed.)]
------------------------

 Some may indeed refer to certain departments as 'Winners' in the VCSAG
proposals.... but look at their graduate unemployment figures!
--------------------------------
 
 Hope you and your journal are well. I'm logged in from a cybercafe in
Kingston upon Thames, where I will be living from this weekend.
(Kingston, not the cybercafe, that is). I hear things have gone yet
more Bartlett-shaped. Oh dear. Love to all that know me. I've gone
respectable and now work in market research, editing reports.

 God, this connection is slow.

 Louis Barfe. 
 213, Barnett Wood Lane, Ashtead, Surrey. KT21 2DF Telephone: (01372) 273144

 PS Pass on my regards and respect to John Allen, whose wit and ales are
sorely missed in the South. 
---------------------------

 I'm sure you already have it set up in Inkytext, ready to run; but
aren't the "new" proposals for decentralizing college management,
particularly of residences, based on the same claims (of efficiency and
cost savings) used to centralise things a few years ago? And does this
imply: a) that that was a bloody stupid idea in the first place and/or
b) that it was so incompetently handled that it wasted money instead of
saving it?
-------------------------------

 I've now left the staff ranks and become a student here - fortunately
not in a threatened department (though not sure how reassuring that
is). In the process I got married and changed my name and thus have a
new mail account. I'm really missing Inkytext so please send me copies.

 Tracy Weaver
---------------------------

 The question is 'how do you do that?' - the Inkyflash preceded the
news update by about 9 minutes according to my mailbox.

 [NOTE: the next trick is harder. (Ed.)]
-------------------------

 Not sure if you mentioned it, but we had a memo from Richard Davies to
all SECAMS staff saying that it would be recommended 'to VCSAG that
SECAMS and Psychology come together in a new faculty'.

 What will the new name be? Secamps, Psecams (with a silent P as in
swimming pool)?
-------------------------

 Greetings from Christine Pye and Michael Pye who are in Japan at the
moment. Please add Kyoto to the list of places where Inkytext is read.
Clark Chilson is here too with his Japanese wife Yumi. Seasonal foods
are persimmons, gingko nuts (cook along with the rice and some
mushrooms), and crab (being hauled out of the Japan Sea in their
thousands).
------------------

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