Friday, November 10, 2006

The Increasing Prevalence Of Multiple Diplomatosis

When Wosog and I both went to university (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth) only a small proportion of school pupils were expected to go onto Higher Education (around 10-15 %, I think). Now it seems that the job market of hi tech 21st Century UK plc requires a much higher proportion of the population to have a degree. I believe the current figure is over 40%, but The Powers That Be (in their infinite wisdom) would like it to be nearer 50%. Political correctness discourages the notion that many of today's degrees don't carry quite the same weight as degrees obtained in our day, but I suggest that the content of many of these courses, and the resultant poor job prospects conferred by their degrees leaves a lot to be desired. Meanwhile, the country is crying out for skilled tradesmen who can still, by some miracle, manage to perform some really quite complex tasks without, at present, having to have a degree.

The mindless expansion of Higher Education has created enormous financial difficulties for the universities, producing the ludicrous situation where students are to be asked to pay bigger and bigger fees to gain a degree that is essentially worthless when it comes to finding a job. Students who are being asked to pay these fees are now becoming more demanding. I heard on the radio yesterday that students of history at, I think, Bristol University are protesting about a lack of lecture time! The lecturers are being encouraged to do more research, since that brings money into the university. Meanwhile, the students are being told to do more work on their own, particularly online. Some of them are making the point that they could easily do that off their own bat, without paying hefty fees to the university!

The University of Bums on Seats seems to me to sit perfectly (pardon the pun) with the ethos of modern British Higher Education. It really sounds as if one could progress effortlessly through the courses there and leave brandishing a substantial piece of paper to wave under the nose of a prospective employer. In fact, Wosog awarded herself a PhD in counseling the other night. I have to call her Dr Wosog from now on. Their Fasttrack E-degrees sound like just the ticket for the disgruntled history students of Bristol.

The worrying thing is it could almost be real, or am I just being a bit cynical?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I'm on holiday for the next 4 days (did you know that, Wosog?) so I've got loads of time to blog (you lucky people, you). However, I've had a bad start to the day. I've just discovered that, despite volunteering, I'm not going to be included in the Men of Flickr Calendar this year!

This is a picture of the chosen twelve. Now, I ask you, are any of them as handsome as I am? Personally, I think there is a clearly shown bias against men with bushy eyebrows and mustaches here that is totally unacceptable in our modern world. Anyway, I'll get over it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gnome Alert

As the proud possessor of 3 garden gnomes, and the founder member of the thriving Flickr Group "Home for Gnomes", I was disturbed to read in the Sunday Times today, as well as the USA Today website, of the snatching of almost 80 of the little chaps in France. Apparently they were "freed" by gnome rights activists known as The Front for the Liberation of Garden Gnomes.

These French fanatics, rather like Al Queda, having tentacles spreading throughout the Globe. I am thinking of installing cc tv cameras in our back garden.

I ask you, is nothing sacred these days?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Now That's What I Call Art 2

A Few Paintings We Brought Home 5
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

Further to my previous rant about the deficiencies of modern art, I was fascinated to read yesterday that a 4' by 8' board covered with dripped-on paint by Jackson Pollock, and imaginatively titled No 5, 1948, had sold for a world record $140 million (£73.35 million). It's not the worst piece of modern art I've seen, but I won't be saving up to try and prise it from it's current owner in a few years time.

The article in the Independent newspaper did, however, also inform me that this picture by Van Gogh, that I photographed in the Musee d'Orsay changed hands in 1990 for $82.5 million (£47.1 million). Who knows what it would fetch now? It's interesting to speculate on the monetary value of the total contents of that museum....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.

One of the places we visited in our recent wee trip to Paris was the Hotel des Invalides. This amazing building was constructed by Louis XIV in the 1670s as a residential village for up to 4000 invalides (disabled veterans) who were begging in the streets of Paris. The courtyard is now used for military parades. Behind the four-storey classical facade is the Dome Church (Eglise du Dome). Les Invalides was built between 1677 and 1735: the dome took 27 years to build.

The Eglise du Dome now houses the Tomb of Napoleon. His remains are encased in 5 coffins and a sarcophagus of red porphyry. The church also contains the tomb of Ferdinand Foch (see above), and the rather beautiful tomb of Hubert Lyautey. I had never heard of the latter, but I like his tomb, and I'd quite like mine to be similar (Wosog please note).

My point is this: can you think of a single modern politician, or military leader, in the world today that would be so revered by their public that the latter would support a memorial of this magnitude? I can't. Maybe this is just a cynical age, and we all look too readily for less-than-altruistic motivation behind the actions of our leaders? Maybe it will take a truly global conflict (God forbid) to bring forward men of true stature? I don't know, but I do know for certain that there would be a huge public outcry in the UK if it was proposed that any of our current so-called leaders, or indeed former prime ministers, be immortalised in this way.

Where have all the heroes gone?