Friday, 26 February 2016

Some stuff to read....on peer review, marketing, witches, school dinners, parks, Africa and Uber

My choice for World Book Day

Worth it just for the title alone - an interesting and depressing read about peer review and the fixing of academe:

In the case of Lord Voldemort, the trick is to unleash so many fallacies, misrepresentations of evidence, and other misleading or erroneous statements — at such a pace, and with such little regard for the norms of careful scholarship and/or charitable academic discourse — that your opponents, who do, perhaps, feel bound by such norms, and who have better things to do with their time than to write rebuttals to each of your papers, face a dilemma. Either they can ignore you, or they can put their own research priorities on hold to try to combat the worst of your offenses.

Marketing as engineering - pretty interesting even though I don't really get the argument. Certainly makes you think (apologies for the presentation behind that link - ad agencies, pah!)

So how do we re-engineer corporations so they are able to thrive? I think we need engineering thinking. Engineering is defined as ‘the creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes’. It has been applied in many different areas leading to different types of engineering - civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical... I think we have a new one to add to the list and that’s digital engineering.

Do you believe in witches - how it has to be someone's fault...

Meanwhile, the sciences of human behavior have not been so successful. True, many scholars now understand that social phenomena such as prices are, in Adam Ferguson’s words, “the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.” But many ordinary humans still think that prices (and immigration, and drug use, and practically all other social phenomena) arise directly from the actions of capitalists or legislators, and thus that the ill will or goodwill of such people shapes the world directly.

How Jamie Oliver made school dinners worse:

Today, I watch my students play with tiny bowls of sugar-free jelly and fruit salad. I’m all in favour of five a day but those who deem banana and pear to be an enjoyable dessert for a 10-year-old need their head examined.

A traveller's case for Uber:

These scams all have to do with one of three things: the choice of the route, the setting of the fare, and the exchange of money. When I use Uber, all three of these issues are solved, utterly. Firstly, Uber’s satnav/GPS system tells the driver what route to take, and I as a passenger am shown the route on a map. If the driver diverts too far from that route without a good reason, I make a simple complaint, my money is refunded to me, the driver suffers reputational damage, and he does not get paid. The fare is decided by a third party (whose terms and conditions the driver has agreed to) and quoted to me in advance, either as a flat amount or a fare per mile. The “meter” is controlled by that third party, and cannot be rigged. And I pay the money to a third party, and the money is essentially held in escrow until I have completed my journey and have said I am happy with it. The driver knows he gets paid if he does his job properly, and I know that there will be no attempt to scam me over money. Because I know he is not going to scam me and he knows I am not going to scam him (and anyway, because there is recourse if one of us does) there is no reason for us to not trust one another, and we are therefore invariably polite and friendly to each other. Which makes my day nicer, and very likely his also.

All a bit boilerplate and local government speak but still any creative thinking about parks is welcome:

Accurate financial data and park user insights, working with partners who bring new skills, resources and ideas, and providing space to quickly test ideas are all necessary to find out what mix of management practices and revenue opportunities are best able to sustain their park.

There's much that's not right about Singapore but no-one can deny its success.

The year of independence was 1965. It was the ninth day of August. In a national broadcast, a tearful Lee announced the separation between Malaysia and Singapore: “The whole of my adult life… I have believed in Malaysia, in merger and the unity of these two characters, you know, it’s a people connected by geography, economics and ties of kinship.”

Want a reason to leave the EU? Forget migration - focus on the damage it does to Africa:

There are at least three ways in which EU policies affect Africa’s ability to address its agricultural and food challenges: tariff escalation; technological innovation and food export preferences.

African leaders would like to escape the colonial trap of being viewed simply as raw material exporters. But their efforts to add value to the materials continue to be frustrated by existing EU policies.



asquith said...

My brother lives in Singapore, I've been there twice. Fact is, Lee Kuan Yew's book "From Third World To First" is a bit biased but you need to know what people like that think, given that they pretty much are Singapore.

You can't help noticing how well they've handled ethnic and sectarian tension compared to other countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. You won't see them (unlike the M'sian government!) blaming "Zionists" for all their woes, they get off their arses and get a job done and they've made the desert bloom.

I see no reason, in all honesty, to disbelieve that the PAP are popular. The opposition have their rights, but really maybe they haven't got that much support.

You want to get yourself down fto a good old-line hawker centre like Bukit Timah food court, or any of the nature reserves. It's a bit different in Malayais, though I prefer the Singaporean way of doing things.

It's al a bit difficult because I think it might be a bit of a racist society and as a white man I might get an easier time of things than a Malay, but the Malays and all ethnic groups have got a life beyond the wildewt dreams of anyone in one of the neighbouring countriews.

I hope this maKES sense, I've had a few jars butb it's all true about Singapore, a wonderful place for anyone to go. Bukit Batok nature reserve is to die for.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, thought-provoking and diverse selection of weekend reading! Although I did have to give up on the Ogilvy & Mather item (text over a spider's web of lines). They need a new web designer.