Dec 312008
Happy New Year from Sydney, Australia!

Image by Leorex via Flickr

That’s it then… by the time you read this 2008 will be coming to a close. In the wake of the Christmas festivities it’s only natural for us to reflect on the events of the bygone year. The ups and downs, the side-to-sides… the struggles and the joys, the challenges and the achievements… all done and dusted.

For us 2008 has been an interesting and productive year. We got a lot of work done around the house. Stuff we’d been meaning to get around to for years is now finally sorted. It’s an old house, so there will always be more to do, but you get a great feeling of satisfaction from finally accomplishing the niggling little and not-so-little jobs that you keep putting off.

One of those jobs was to finally insulate the attic. We finally got that done last month, and what a difference it’s made. In a house with 10 ft ceilings keeping warm had always been a bit of a challenge… now, with the solid fuel range installed and the attic swathed in insulation it’s veritably toasty… and we’re using less fuel. The question that immediately springs to mind is “why didn’t we do this years ago?”, the answer, of course: time, money, kids….

Somehow despite all the doom and gloom surrounding us I can’t shake the feeling that 2009 will be a very positive year. Folding banks, collapsing economies and a global climate in turmoil notwithstanding, I’m feeling very upbeat about the coming year. Which is unusual from a person who’s response to the “do you see the glass as half full, or half empty?” question is typically “What glass?”.

It’s hard to pinpoint why… but I’m sure 2009 is going to be a really wonderful year. Bizarre, I know, but there you go… you heard it here first!

One of the things I’m sure will endure into the new year… and for many year’s to come, is the tendency to conduct completely useless research that reveals absolutely nothing of any tangible value. Why do we keep pumping money we can ill afford to spend into studies that we really don’t need?

One that came out Christmas week, for example, proclaimed that children born in the summer have poorer literacy skills at primary level than those born in the winter. What a load of old codswallop, and I don’t care what the statistics say. What happened to intelligence, reason and plain old common sense. Who commissions these things in the first place, and why?

“On spelling the summer-born children, irrespective of whether they were the oldest or youngest in the year group, did the worst,” proclaimed one of the report’s authors, a psychologist from Queens University Belfast no less. “There seems to be some biological weakness in children born in the summer months….” Yeah, right!

But it gets worse… these far-fetched findings were published in the illustrious tomes of the British Journal of Educational Psychology. How is anyone supposed to take anything else in the journal seriously when it’s published alongside such meaningless tat?

Some of the other pearls of wisdom to emerge from the hallowed halls of third-level research establishments in 2008 are: students who watch lots of adverts for junk food are more likely to eat unhealthy food and put on weight (University of Alberta); parents who can’t get their children to eat vegetables can disguise them in other food by mushing them up (Penn State University); call centre staff who use your name, even though they don’t know you, are irritating (University of Oxford); the list goes on and on.

All of this research proves only one thing: some of the brightest people on the planet haven’t got an ounce of the common sense most of us were born with. Have a wonderful 2009.

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