Forward Planning

I honestly thought I was going to a job interview on Monday - all the job advert text and timetable arranging phonecalls suggested it was. But no, I was signing up to an agency.

An agency with very swish offices, immensely expensive computers,
and staff dressed in suits so sharp they could cut carborundum. But still, most likely, a complete waste of time.

According to one employment search engine last week, there around 1500 advertised vacancies in Portsmouth. Bear in mind that about 85% of vacancies never get advertised. So how many of these 1500 were not being advertised through an agency?


That's "Nine". For a population of 190,000, in forty square kilometres.

Still, I did get to take some computerised tests, so I now know that I'm officially 46% proficient at bookkeeping. Not great, but consider that I have exactly zero training in bookkeeping, and the average score after a year of training is 55%.

Which is possibly a bit worrying if you employ an accountant.

I turned up for my interview at the daycare centre for disabled adults, to find my interviewer in another part of the country and no record of my appointment. Somehow it wasn't entirely unexpected - I've been in there a few times and it's always chaotic.

One of the residents gave me a gift. A painfully shy man tentatively held out a piece of paper with some scribbled drawings to me. He couldn't make eye contact, but we exchanged names, and after some hesitation he managed to shake hands. But it was too much - blushing and smiling, he scuttled away.

It was an oddly touching little moment.

A sociological study has found that, although 54% of (American) scientists are atheists, compared with 14% in the general population, the chief determining factor in whether a scientist lacks religion is not that their scientific knowledge contradicts their religious faith. It's whether they were raised in a religious home.

To me, this is rather unsurprising. In my experience people tend to question their religion not when they think about science, but when they think about their religion.

You can learn all about the science related to photosynthesis, nuclear fusion or digestion in whales, and easily attribute all the wonders and complexity to a designer god, without (much) impeding your ability to research, reason and experiment.

It's only when you start to ask yourself about biblical contradictions, theological vagueness and the bloodstained history of your own church that you realise how unsupportable your religious beliefs are.

It's not necessary to be a good scientist in any field to have thought deeply about your own nonscientific beliefs.

The corollary of the study is that being raised a believer reduces the probability of becoming interested in science. Perhaps because having an infallible source of answers reduces the impulse to find them the hard way.

I'm planning to spend four days in London at the annual Marxism conference. Two hundred meetings, lots of debate, and the chance to meet people who only think I'm a little bit mad.

That and paying GBP2.50 on a lousy pasta salad twice a day. The only cheap thing in London is smog.

I always try to travel light, but what that means to me may not be what it means to you. Here's Kapitano's inventory of essentials for a long weekend away:

Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Anti-persperant - in the absence of showers, it'll hopefully do for a few days. Toothpaste replaces the tube of extra strong mints. There should be soap in the toilets there.

Aspirin - if I don't get a headache, there's always someone who will.

MP3 player, Headphones, batteries - 3GB of company, solitude, lullabies and something to do when my brain's exhausted.

Coat - doubling as pillow or cover for sleeping on the floor. Sleeping bags are good, but I don't want to carry one around.

Charged phone - aka "lifeline for emergencies".

Pair of socks, teeshirt, jeans - essentially, one change of clothes. Underwear? Haven't bothered with it for twenty years. I'm told this makes me uncomfortable (not that I've noticed), unhygienic (why?) and a bit of a slut (yeah, well...anyway).

Wallet - of course.

Notebook, pens - last year I took a minidisc recorder to review interesting meetings later. I've still got a dozen recordings and haven't heard any of them yet.

That's my version of light travel. Last year I lodged with some female comrades - tough, dedicated feminists who take no nonsense from any man. They were kind enough to explain to me the precise purpose of each type of make-up in their travelbags - foundation, eyeliner, eyelasher, bronzer, blusher etc. Their basic essentials.

1 comment:

  1. «I've still got a dozen recordings and haven't heard any of them yet.»

    Exactly! The easier things get the less we tend to use them... So odd! I wish I could understand it...

    Another great post! I had some laughs, and I bet you had some while you were writing...
    Wish you the best for the Marxism conference! Enlighten me later, please, okay?