Laurie Taylor – 10 March 2016

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

March 10, 2016
'Police, do not cross' crime scene tape
‘One of those things?’

Poppleton don slain

We regret to report that one of our leading academics was found stabbed to death round the back of Willetts College late last night. Dr J. B. Wilcox, or “Brad” as he was known to his adoring students, had only recently received three student-based awards for excellent teaching, awards that described his second-year geology lectures on the movement of tectonic plates as “laugh-a-minute sessions” and spoke in glowing terms of his “deep sonorous voice”, “fashion-savvy clothes” and “rugged demeanour”.

Although the police continue to search for the motive behind this savage slaying, Louise Bimpson, the Corporate Director of our ever-expanding HR department, has rushed to dispel the rumour that Dr Wilcox’s murder may be related to the findings from a new Sheffield Hallam University survey of 329 lecturers that concluded that teaching awards made by students “do more to sow divisions between academics than they do to drive up academic standards”. They left unnominated academics “feeling demoralised”.

Ms Bimpson said that she preferred to regard the brutal assassination as “one of those things that can happen in the best organised university going forward”. Neither did she attach any special significance to the further news that Dr Wilcox’s severed head had been mounted in a prominent position above the main entrance to the new Jo Johnson Learning and Teaching Centre.

Related news: Should guns be allowed in the lecture room? See page 97.

Worksite hard hat lying on bed

To be continued

“Will she, won’t she?”

That is the question currently on the lips of all those who follow the weekly scientific blog posted by Dr Mike Goshworthy of our Department of Social Psychology. And that’s a lot of people. In just three months, Mike has seen the readership of his science blog leap from a mere half-dozen uninterested colleagues to its present enthralled audience of several thousand.

Dr Goshworthy told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that he attributed this “gratifying news” to the influence of science writer Ben Lillie who, in a contribution to a recent collection called Science Blogging: The Essential Guide, had recommended that scientific bloggers should beware of defaulting to the detached, analytic style appropriate to journal articles. They should instead seek to engage readers through “personal storytelling” and a readiness to describe how they are “feeling”.

To this end, Dr Goshworthy had recently digressed from a lengthy discussion of the use of analysis of variance in the statistical determination of inter-group conformity in order to tell his readers that he was feeling “distinctly downhearted” because of concerns he had about some possible dalliance between his wife and the builder he had employed to remedy a plaster defect in his bedroom ceiling.

Readers were then treated to some further detailed discussion about the possibility of supplementing analysis of variance with Hotelling’s T test before Dr Goshworthy returned to personal storytelling. “Guess what I found when I returned home last night?” he wrote in the final sentence of yesterday’s blog: “My wife was sitting at the piano playing a polonaise and there were the remains of a savoury sausage in the fridge.”

Are Dr Goshworthy’s suspicions well founded and is he right to use Hotelling’s T test to supplement his analysis of variance? (To be continued.)

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