Reporter 420, 11 May 1998


Letters

Straw responds

Jack Straw
Home Secretary

Many thanks for sending me a copy of the Reporter, I was interested to hear what was going on. I have very fond memories of my time at Leeds.

Titanic calculations

Alan Slomson
Director of Undergraduate Studies
School of Mathematics

Dr Rastall's equations, a + b + c = 2227 and 0.62a + 0.41b + 0.25c = 705 represent two planes in three-dimensional space which meet in a line. The co-ordinates of each point on this line give a solution to the two equations. In this sense they have infinitely many solutions.

Now reality breaks in. Since a,b,c represent numbers of people, they must be non-negative integers. Also the information that 62% of first-class passengers survived must be interpreted as meaning that the actual percentage was in the range from 61.5% to 62.5%, and similarly for the other percentages.

These considerations mean that only a finite number of solutions are possible. However there is quite a large number of feasible solutions, over 80,000 by my reckoning. At this point mathematicians have to hand over the problem to historians.

A loan thought

Dr Peter Davies
Department of Psychology

Should any significance be given to the fact that the Pay Advice slips now advertise loans?

If the outcome of wage negotiations was ever to be appropriate, will we see a switch to advertising investment accounts?

To be more realistic, should we be looking forward to an advertisement for a pawnbrokers?

The envelope please

Jane Hunt
School of Geography

Can someone explain the rationale for sending the Reporter to staff in a plain brown envelope, rather than just affixing address labels as used to be the case? The use of an unneccessary envelope is wasteful and expensive. It’s lovely to see paper recycling facilities at last appearing, but waste minimisation is the way forward-looking organisations are going. Of course, there could be a good reason for the envelope – can someone tell me what it is?

The last issue of the Reporter was distributed in envelopes because it contained an insert which would otherwise be likely to fall out. We hope that members of staff will reuse the envelope – Editor

Civil disagreement

D W Webster
Civil Engineering

Not all of us at the School of Civil Engineering are unimpressed with Kennings. Many of us have had excellent service from them. There has been the odd problem but it is only to be expected now and again. I am personally happy to use their service.

Helping hands

Steve Ruddy
Assistant Services Manager

Could I, through your letters page, please pass on my thanks to those unknown members of staff, particularly those from GMAP, who rushed to my assistance when I was assaulted in the purple zone car park on Tuesday 21 April. Although I am feeling battered and bruised, I feel sure that their immediate action saved me from a more serious assault.

Pipes for smokers

B Mumby
Porter

Why not build a pipeline high up in the sky
Going right around the campus maybe fifty metres high
With feeder pipes aplenty reaching back towards the earth
One for each and every smoker to puff for all they’re worth.

A giant stack of bacca fixed somewhere up there too
With a furnace there to light it, that can’t be hard to do.
There’s a bonus in it also that stands out on its own
Down below here on campus would be a smokeless zone.

You realise if you print this ode about a smokeless zone
Non-smokers will be up in arms with nothing left to moan.
I’m sure they’ll think of something this band of chosen few
Can we build another pipeline and send them up there too?

It’s a health issue

Dr D L Cairns
School of Classics

Dr Colin Hendrie’s letter (Reporter 419) exemplifies the specious sophistry which so often bedevils the smoking issue. Consistency does NOT demand that a ban on smoking be accompanied by a ban on alcohol, because the case for a ban on smoking rests on the effects of cigarette smoke on those who would prefer not to smoke. In my six years at this University I have yet to be subjected involuntarily to passive alcohol consumption, and I should be surprised if anyone else has.

I deplore the fact that this sort of spurious objection is allowed to obscure a very serious issue. We in the School of Classics have been engaged in a two-year battle to ensure that a severely asthmatic student is not placed in life-threatening situations in the simple attempt to enjoy the access to the University and its facilities which is the right of all students. Smoking is a serious health and safety, disabilities, and equal opportunities issue whose significance is not exhausted by consideration of the effects of nicotine on those who choose to use it.

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