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Because of serial spam attacks which the Blogger platform seems unable to deal with (yes - people warned me about Blogger), I have moved the...

Monday, 30 September 2013

Combating the News Black-Out

Amidst tales of censorship - and certainly the complete absence of the story from certain news outlets - here is a very good account of the march against Tory cuts that attracted 50,000 people (2 arrests) in Manchester yesterday.  Several times as many present than attended the Conservative Party congress but evidently not a news story for the BBC.  The Orange World news page that opens on my mobile had no mention of it at all. Compare with the coverage of the latest vicious, populist attack on the disabled and unemployed.  This is all deeply depressing, but not as depressing that the Labour Party itself made no official mention or statement of support for the march.

See also this: http://newsthump.com/2013/09/30/no-one-should-get-something-for-nothing-claims-man-who-got-everything-for-nothing/

Update
A letter from Andy Burnham to Lord Patten about the BBC lack of coverage: http://labourlist.org/2013/09/burnham-writes-to-bbc-over-lack-of-coverage-for-nhs-march-and-rally/ 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Archaeorant

While I haven't got anything interesting or intelligent to say, might I recommend this very interesting piece to you, which makes a number of points very well.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Three-Line Biography

Some of you may remember this, the short version of The Manifesto.  Well, I got the proofs of this yesterday.  Now I have to come up with a three-line biography.  Tricky.  How about this:
Professor Grumpy teaches at the University of Poppleton.  
Professor Grumpy is bored of medieval history.  
Professor Grumpy hates everyone.
Do you think that would do?


Monday, 23 September 2013

League Tables Explained

The Times University league table (or maybe the Sunday Times, I don't know) has apparently emerged.  So here is a complete and accurate guide to how these things are established.  Step 8 is exactly right (unless you are in Oxbridge in which case you simply check that it was indeed your turn this year to be number 1).

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Radio Silence: An Apology

Dear Reader/s.  Sorry for the absence of anything much of intellectual substance for a while.  Truth to tell, I have about half a dozen unfinished blog-posts but haven't been able to get the time to round them off.  Or find the energy.  A bit of general malaise about the state of politics (only one thing more depressing than this government and that is the gutless uselessness of the Labour Party combined with the tired old clichés of the Old Left).  Also a bit of malaise about history.  OK - you all know my malaise with the politics of British academic history, but this goes deeper.  It's been a while since I read any history that really made me sit up and think.  I posted a link a couple of months back, to a perfectly decent account of perfectly decent sessions at a Leeds IMC, in which I said they made me wonder why I did what I did.  I said this because I couldn't see the big questions in any of them.  I still can't - or why any of this matters.  The whole discipline seems to me to be sleep-walking.  It knows that we cannot write Rankean history, 'wie es eigentlich gewesen', but I maintain that that knowledge makes absolutely no difference to the way in which it is written or assessed - which still seems to me to be on the basis of a best-fit to an impossible ideal (i.e. accurate redescription of the past).  We have no measuring tool to allow us to judge the closeness or otherwise of that fit, or to evaluate the different explanations given for the past, other than non-contradiction of data.  Thus it would seem that all that the so-called linguistic turn has done for us (other than yielding a series of intellectually piss-poor attempts to proclaim a sort of historical nihilism) is to shift the emphasis from an obsession with being right to an obsession with not being wrong.  This seems like poor progress to me.  The challenge lies in drawing the meaning out the act of doing history.  But that's for another time.  Anyway, for now, suffice it to say that I have a couple of conferences on the horizon, so I will post the texts of my contributions to those when they're done.  Bear with me.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The state of HE: commentary from both sides of the pond

First of all, from one of my favourite bloggers, read THIS.  This is especially for all of you (us) who work in UK HE and think your institution and its management is/are spectacularly shit and miss/es the whole point of academia/education on a daily basis, mostly since (by the very fact of their having opted to go down the administrative career route) those management types have tacitly admitted that they have nothing intellectually creative left in their heads (if indeed there ever was anything there).  Well, to all of you/us, read that piece and see if you or anyone you know can top it for sheer, well ... read it and see.  I dare you.  It will put things in some perspective.

I am sort of hoping it is some kind of clever prank on Voley's part - to invent and post this tale of woe and sit back and watch how people accept it as true, as all too believable, pitching in with comments such as those above - to show the state to which we have been reduced.  How UK HE has become some kind of massive David Lodge theme park, except that at least David Lodge was funny ... before someone at the dept of Business, Innovation and Skills mistook Nice Work or one of the other campus novels for a radical  neo-liberal Higher Education policy manifesto.

Sadly I think it is simple reportage.  Unless I have wandered into the Vole's cunning trap.

Then, from the other side of the Pond, I was watching (as is my sad wont) CSI Miami (aka the World's Worst Cop Show).  Tonight's episode featured the murder of a cultural anthropology professor (Horatio: He's taken a permanent sabbatical. *puts on sunglasses* Yeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhh!!! *run opening credits*).  At one point he is interviewing one of the deceased's students - the murdered prof turning out to have been a bit of sadist, who wanted to teach his students that pain and violence were essential to civilisation. Or something.  [You can fill in your own digression on pop culture's depictions of the university.]  The student says he may have been a sadist but his research papers were brilliant.
Horatio: "Ned, don't you think that a human being should have greater value than a research paper?"

Well.  There, sadly, is a question we can all ask our superiors on a regular basis.  Cutting right to the heart of the problem, Horatio.  Right to the very heart.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

And in irony news ...


In Russia today an LGBT activist was set upon by a gang of militant Jean-Paul Gaultier impersonators...

Move along there.  Nothing in any way gay to see here.