Monday, November 28, 2011

More people die in Hospital at weekends

Here is a case for evidence based everything. Evidence based reporting (unless you write for the DailyMash) and an evidence based response from the NHS.

The BBC article suggests that hospitals are not staffed properly at weekends, particularly with senior doctors. I have no doubt this is true, but does it tell the whole story ?

For those of us who have taken a 2 year old to A & E on the Saturday night of a rugby international, there is an alternative possibility prompted by observing the wave of the self mutilated who spill in through the door after about 9pm. Drink, drugs, sporting injuries, DIY injuries and racing dads car lead to a different profile of injury.  Are they more likely to pop their clogs than tuesday night admissions ? This is where some numbers would help on the profile of the incoming workload.

Do more old people die in hospital at weekends because someone came to visit them, found them in a state, shipped them off to hospital where they pass on ? During the week no one would have visited them, so they would have passed on at home.  Its possible, do the numbers back this up?

The BBC article is quite balanced, needs to take a few small steps more. It would be good to see the histogram at the end split out between A& E and non A & E and by age group.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I think .....

This type of comment annoys me

Environment Minister John Griffiths said: "We've got three organisations all doing an important job but I think if we could pool them together we would have greater integration, greater efficiency, and greater effectiveness," he said

Just because a minister or civil servant "thinks" something might be a good idea should not be sufficient. To me this demonstrates a lack of commitment and understanding of the importance of evidence based policy or even using the consensus of experts. John Griffiths was a solicitor before becoming an AM in 1999, so would have little current experience of the world of forestry I suspect.

No doubt John Griffith is the bastion of the evidence policy in the Welsh Assembly and gives appropriate consideration to all available evidence before drawing a conclusion, but he does not show it in the example above which is worrying.

Has you heard of the Co-operative party before, me neither Seems John Griffiths is a member. Maybe it is a good thing as it adds an other layer of confusion for voters.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Forthright feedback wearing a child's rainbow festival hat

For the 13th year out of the 15 that the Computer Science Department at Aberystwyth has run the Interview Skills weekend I wondered up to Gregynog to put the 2nd years students through their paces. Hopefully they found it useful. This year, both in terms of C.V. quality and coming across in interview, were the best for 4 or 5 years.

The top 5 issues with the C.V.'s and the interviews this year were

  • Self-starter (vomit), passionate and team worker to be removed. Tell us what you have done, give us facts about what you have done inside and outside computing,  not your opinions about yourself. Let us form the opinion of what type of person you are based on the contents of the C.V. and how you conduct yourself in interview.
  • Put it in the C.V. We had a few students who needed a good slap for not mentioning distinctive and relevant technologies which they had non-trivial experience of and could talk about in some depth. They just happened to let it slip while talking about something far less impressive.
  • Lack of stuff. Doing a Computer Science Degree, but many had no outside computing related projects or hacking around to talk about. 
  • Every student on every computing degree course in the UK and beyond does a group project. If the group project is the best example of your team working abilities, think again.
  • Look at me when you are talking to me !
All this said, it was the best year for at least the last 3 or 4. Had some good sparing sessions with a couple of students, a discussion about debugging device drivers, an explanation of quantum mechanics (lost me quite near the start, but it sounded plausible) and a range of other stuff, so quite fun.

As industrialists, we do understand that having "Ron and Ron" questioning the purpose of your existence can be a bit of a trail for some undergraduates who maybe have never been interviewed in this type of setting before. We do aim to put them under some stress and make them work a bit, but also to give honest constructive  (and we hope useful) feedback. If something was wrong, we need to be quite forthright about it. Hence I borrowed my daughters festival hat [she looks much better in it than I do, even though she has grown somewhat since the picture was taken] and put it on when delivering blunt feedback. I have no idea if this helped reduce the tension or they just thought I was crackers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

twitterjoketrial in Westminister Skeptics

My 2nd visit to the old Monk exchange near Victoria for one of these meetings. When in London anyway .....

The twitter joke trail is well known among the more hardened UK internet users and I won't discuss the detail here, interesting as the discussion were about what happened and when, is. The big take away's for me were

  • The CPS and legal system feel at liberty  ignore experts (such as the interviewing office or security coordinator at Nottingham airport) when it suits them and can use the word "terrorism" as an excuse to suspend common sense.
  • A judge can weigh their own opinion over expert evidence, even in areas they have little knowledge.
  • The CPS can go searching a large body of unrelated law if the whim takes them and will find something to prosecute almost any action.
  • Being a knowledgeable user of the internet makes the accused more guilty because they know about the medium. If a 1st time internet twitter user had written what Paul wrote, the judge implied they would not be guilty
  • Skeptic groups do make a difference to policy
  • It is highly amusing to watch that various people in this area play the room, find out who is who and who they need to build relationships with. One gentleman introduced himself to me, found out I lived in Aberystwyth, am not active in this area and lacking in connections and walked off to  find someone else better connected, very funny indeed.
  • 20 years ago there was no twitter, boys said the same things to their girlfriends either on the phone, in letter to email which could not be searched by off duty airport security offices. We have all said similar things, just not where others can search for it. 
So in summary, the police and airport did not care, it was just process. The CPS went muck raking through out of date and inappropriate law till they found something. The judge did not take expert opinion into account during in the appeal.

I found out that Aberystwyth Skeptics exists seems to have past me by is probably shameful on my part for expecting one not to exist so I did not look, but also suggests they have not been well promoted.

I also bumped into Alec Muffet and Tom Crick which meant 2 extra pints, but was good to catch up.

I do hope Dave Allen Green had the mother of all hangovers, he looked like he should by the end of the night.