Great brain breakthrough

December 16, 2010

In what is being described as "a major research development", our very own Professor of Brain Studies, Professor E.C. Grunwald, has found evidence which "goes some way" to confirming the commonly accepted view that David Willetts, the universities and science minister, benefits from the possession of two brains.

Professor Grunwald explained to our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that his method for testing this alleged "cortical duplication" relied upon "a relatively well-established technique for relating cognitive inputs to distinctive modes of brain activity".

Twelve volunteer one-brain subjects were first asked to study the government's decision to remove the entire undergraduate teaching grant for arts, humanities and social science subjects. They were then presented with David Willetts' statement that this move was "not a judgement on the innate value of one or another subject", and asked to reconcile the two cognitive inputs. Measurements of the ensuing brain activity were made using standard spiral CAT scanning and single photon emission tomography.

Careful analysis of the results showed that an ability to believe both statements at the same time was beyond the mental capacity of all 12 subjects. Professor Grunwald said that this constituted "valuable prima facie evidence" for the view that Mr Willetts enjoyed "unique cortical powers".

'Never heard of them': shock statement

The finding by Will Hutton of The Work Foundation that the pay gap between the highest- and lowest-paid staff in universities is greater than anywhere else in the public sector has been dismissed by our own vice-chancellor as "rabble-rousing".

When pressed by The Poppletonian, he admitted that he was "technically unaware" that his own salary of £242,000 per annum was 19.87 times greater than that enjoyed by those at the bottom of the university scale. However, he defended the difference on the grounds that the "cleaners and porters" who somehow survived on one-twentieth of his own take-home pay were not an "intrinsic part of the university community going forward". He certainly had never spoken to any of them or indeed been aware of their presence on campus during the five years of his prosperous incumbency.

However, in what he described as a "seasonal gesture of goodwill", he had asked his personal assistant Mrs Dilworth (£17,850) to arrange for each porter and cleaner to be sent a modest slice of this year's Higher Management party cake.

No more killing cats

Our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs, Jamie Targett, has given a warm welcome to Sir Mark Walport's suggestion at the recent Higher Education Policy Institute Research Excellence conference that academics should stop using the word "curiosity" to describe the motivation for their research.

Targett said that Sir Mark's reference to "curiosity" as an "indulgent" term for researchers to use very much chimed with his own concern about other indulgent academic terms such as "thought-provoking", "imaginative" and "creative".

Thought for the Week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Here's my ecumenical message for you all. Have a good one, whatever your religious persuasion or lack of it.

"Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles."

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