Saturday, May 26, 2012

Never Again

Every year I say it to myself - 'never again'. Marking external papers is a challenge to wit, ingenuity and the ability to crawl inside the head of the Chief Examiner - probably not a very wholesome environment if you get off on setting physics questions. In times past, postpersons in Transit vans delivered piles of scripts to the front door. You marked them , filled out large swathes of paper and sent them all back, laden with red ink. Not so nowadays - did I really use that word? How very twentieth century of me. This year, as last, the Internet has caught up with us and we - the physicists and mathematicians at least -  are using an online marking 'tool'. Scripts are scanned then "zoned". RSI notwithstanding, one clicks away and the answers obediently pop up and a single click awards the mark. It's new and feels over-engineered, so it falls over a lot, rather like an overfed woolly mammoth toppling into the undergrowth. When this happens, the last hour's work is flushed away in a welter of random bytes which the system euphemistically describes as 'refreshing data'. There then appears a pleasing cloudiness on the screen and a little rotating bezel, which, well, just carries on rotating until you hurl the machine off the balcony with weeping and gnashing of teeth. In addition, one script in ten is 'seeded'. This means that His Nibs, the Chief, Big Brother to us all has already marked this one and if one's modest efforts are not consonant with his own, the system is supposed to throw up a disapproving little message saying that one has been 'suspended', or confined to Room 101 until the errors are rectified, which so far has not happened. It's all a bit Orwellian - Winston Smith drowned his paltry sorrows with gin which of course is no substitute for the fresh red grapefruit juice which I rather prefer these days. 

Quis custodiet custodies, je me demande...

I think I've worn away enough dental enamel for one night.


  1. Teeth grinding??
    For an additional supply of calcium, one will pair the grapefruit juice with yoghurt
    It reminds me of an ex brother in law of mine, needless to say hypocondriac, who would not drink orange juice after noon because he thought the vitamin C would keep you awake
    To meet the arking deadlineth without damage then, grapefruit juice, yoghurt and a lot of coffee

  2. It gets worse. It seems that the EYEBEEOH has abandoned all pretence their new gizmo works and we're advised to use the old one.
    If it ain't broke...


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