Some notes on our move to Britain

David Steinsaltz

Oxford street scene

Our move to Kingston, Ontario didn't work out as we had hoped. The limestone of Queen's University proved infertile ground for growing a research program in statistics, and Kingston got to feeling too small and too remote (not to mention too corrupt) for our taste. With some exertion over a period of several months, we found what look to be much more promising jobs, in the UK. Perhaps this is our second way station on the way back to Europe: We started out in Berlin, then moved together to the far end of the US, to California. Canada was a small step back toward Europe: it has socialized medicine and gun control, like Western Europe; Canada is more socially egalitarian than the US, and less theocratic; it is generally reticent to bomb the less fortunate of the world; Canada has a multiparty democracy; and Canadians -- even anglophones -- are at least bilingual enough to understand that English is just one of many languages in the world, unlike the Americans who I have heard (on several occasions) joking that "when they go home at the end of the day and unwind, they secretly speak English". 

On the other hand, in most every sense of everyday life, Canada is indistinguishable from the US. Consumption follows US patterns, for all that the Canadians like to chatter about their commitment to environmental protection, and public transportation is abysmal, outside of a few major cities. Geographically one hardly has the sense of being separated from the US: From our rear window we can see New York. For all that Canadian politicians occasionally like to poke the US in the eye, one is always sensible of the fact that Canada exists only by sufferance of its powerful southern neighbour.

Britain is a good deal closer to Europe -- so close, that some would even call it a part of Europe. It shares with the US both a language and a commitment to monolingualism, not to mention an abiding faith that the first step toward making the world new is blowing up the old. On the other hand, for all its grumbling, the UK has accepted the compromises and the benefits of limiting its sovereignty by binding itself to the European Union. It has a National Health System (highly regarded for the equity of care it provides, though not quite at the top in international comparisons for the overall level of care provided, particularly as regards intensive technological care), committed to equality of access above all, a complete ban on handguns (and low violent crime rates, despite the moral panic that settles on the country every time two people are killed in the same city in the same year, provoking the tabloids to invent a nickname for the city involving some variant of gun or shoot), and public transportation that actually functions, albeit only in good weather and at a price that can seem shocking.

So, we're off to Oxford, home of the oldest university in the English-speaking world. I will be a University Lecturer in the Department of Statistics and tutorial fellow in Worcester College. Julia will be Lecturer in statistics at the University of Warwick. Chaya will be in Year 1 at St. Barnabas School. We'll see how it goes.

 Worcester College

Canada: The End
Next: Arriving in Oxford
October 22, 2007: Transportation

December 4, 2007: Data Security and Politics
December 10, 2007: Oxford admissions

April 4, 2008: The Established Church
April 22, 2008: House prices

May 9, 2008: National identity theft

June 12, 2008: Missing Canada

August 25, 2008: The National Health Scapegoat

January, 2009: An Omnibus Named Perdition

February 17, 2009: Where the money is... (reflections on financial mathematics and fraud)

August 19, 2009: Drinking in the park (reflections on a visit to Berkeley)

May 1, 2010: Xenophobia: An international perspective

June 20, 2010: Will small hospitals kill you? (reflections on statistics in The Guardian)

August, 2010: God save the queen, Solving the obesity epidemic

December, 2010: New Year Austerity

April, 2011: Genetics and the royal wedding

June, 2011: Credit and credibility: Some thoughts on debt

July, 2011: Euro Survivor

August 2011: Rioting in London, Dachs/Dax: The metaphors of markets, Downgrades and folk probability, Rights of rioters

October 2011: Speed limits and looters

November 2011: Default contagion, Generational warfare

March 2012: Utility bills redux

April 2012: Universities as Charity cases

May 2012: Boosting High Finance, Pirates

July 2012: Tax evasion and avoidance, Romney-Obama-Brecht

August 2012: Aristotle-Aeschylus-Bob-the-Builder

October 2012: Political Math Anxiety

November 2012: Politics and Science in the US, Statistics and election predictions, Are you Demographic?,

                                        Screens or weights

January 2013: Fascism in America

February 2013: Daniel Kahneman, Social Psychology, and Finance

March 2013: Onward, Comrade Statisticians, Anniversary of the Iraq War

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