Big Kit Vote Trap

August 18, 2009

Just in case you felt bored, here’s another consulation.

(I spotted this while catching up on Paul Crowther’s amazing comprehensive STFC Funding Crisis website. How does he keep it up ? Should we officially declare him a National Treasure ?)

Anyhoo. This one is about the RCUK Large Facilities Roadmap. On the list of “emerging facilities” i.e. “things we might give money to” are four astro things – Cherenkov Telescope Array, Einstein (3G grav waves), ELT, and SKA. Get your vote in. I see that ELT got a pretty good economic impact plug. Is this a good sign ?

However, as John Peacock reminded us recently, it ain’t clear that taking money from the LFCF is a good thing. These capital investments are a loan from the Treasury, which have to be paid back. Allocations to research councils include ear-marked amounts which allow them to pay their current debts back to Treasury spread over some years.  Err… I hear you say … so why give them this money at all, if it just whistles past invisibly ? Why, so Government can boast of what a fantastic large allocation they have been given ! It took us quite some time before we realised how crap STFC’s real allocation was. Well, when I say “we”, I expect Keef and Richard understood this all the time but were too embarassed to explain it.

John’s conclusion was that this is dodgy money and we should steer clear. I’m not sure thats right. Surely now we have learned about this trick we can watch the pea under the cup next time ?

Sex Lives of Famous Astronomers

August 18, 2009

Ha. That got your attention.

Well, my last post, a profound analysis of the links between Linux and anarcho-syndicalist communes, got the lowest readership for weeks. Right. Now I ‘ve got you, I need to explain my firm views on certain procedural subtleties in last year’s Research Assessment Exercise. It seems … where are you going ? Sit down. As I was saying, procedural subtleties. My analysis shows beyond any doubt, with only a slight adjustment of the prior, that the connection between … what are you doing now ? What do you mean, was that the door ?  Look, at least I don’t give you long essays about my cat’s diseases and how impressed I was when I met the Welsh President at Gary Linneker’s latest opera. Just show some patience. According to information on the DBIS website, you can see that … hang on whats that smell ? I think my dinner is burning.