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Academia

Words Like Weapons

Here’s a nice coincidence. Up at The Weekly Standard Website there is a piece by Frederick and Kimberly Kagan about the strategies being used by Coalition forces in the war against terrorists in Iraq. It’s interesting. Kieran Healy at Crooked Timber sneers—on the reasonable grounds that Frederick Kagan is obviously not a disinterested commentator, and […]

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Philosophers: 2 — Scientists: 0

Last Friday I found myself stuck in a room in a Cambridge college waiting to do a photo job so I took Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations down from a shelf and, as an intellectual dwarf perched on Hindsight the Giant, sneered at it. Certain things he said appear absurd in the light of certain experimental […]

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Lefties Sell Out

Thank you to everyone who spoke at, helped with, and attended the Euston Manifesto Conference yesterday. Every seat was taken and then some. It was a superb meeting with some of the most interesting and thoughtful lectures I’ve heard in years—and that includes the stuff I thought was wrong. One of the best things about […]

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I’m A Grumpy Eustonard

I’ve not mentioned the Euston Manifesto Conference here yet because it’s been another pile of unpaid work for yours truly and I’m buggered if I’m going to add to it by writing lengthy blogposts about it. There’s a week to go before it takes place (on Wednesday 30May07) and most of the tickets have already […]

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The European Confession

During the dying months of my doing bioinformatics for a living, I attended a scientific conference in Scotland. I helped to run a few of the seminars there, but had nothing to do with their planning. At one, I marched to the front during a student’s presentation and told a member of the audience to […]

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Who Moved My Deep Freeze?

Today, via Photo Matt, I discovered a phrase that I wish I had known about years ago: “The adage, “Why should I care what color the bikeshed is?“, means: just because you are capable of building a bikeshed does not mean you should stop others from building one just because you do not like the […]

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Needle

When I used to work for the Medical Research Council, I did my best not to bore people with it on this site. I took up the name “PooterGeek”—ironically, the suggestion of a summer student—so that when people searched for my name on the Web they would find biomedical publications to download rather than movie […]

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Mantel Piece

Hilary Mantel is a novelist. I haven’t read any of her books. I have read her review of magician Derren Brown’s Tricks Of The Mind in yesterday’s Guardian. Near the end of her mostly negative assessment she tries to set up a weak joke: she “hopes” that “no intellectual snobbery” will prevent Richard Dawkins from […]

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Tri-band Mobile

If you are familiar with the official French attitude* to the use of English in academic (and other cultural) settings, the appearance of a state-funded TV station, “France 24”, with an English-language feed might surprise you. It did me when I watched one of their online English-language video ads a few days ago. They also broadcast […]

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A Correction And A Recommendation

Recently Shalom Lappin and I were interviewed by Ha’aretz about the Euston Manifesto. The published article completely confused and misrepresented our views, though I doubt this was out of malice; the reporter hadn’t brought his recorder so he took notes of our conversation in Hebrew and drank beers as he did so. I haven’t mentioned […]

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But Someone’s Got To Do It

I couldn’t be bothered to fisk that nonsense about the “future evolution” of humankind that was all over the media this week, merely dropping it into my “Pseudoscience” and “Tin Foil Hat Wearers” blog categories in passing instead. Luckily we have P Z Myers to do the job properly.

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Proprietary

I’ve met and had a couple of interesting conversations with the Director of the Oxford Internet Institute so I’m sure he’s sharp enough to appreciate the irony of his compiling a list of Internet research centres, along with links to them, and then posting this collection to his blog as a Word document. Perhaps the […]

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Yes, It’s Bloody Safe

It’s the sound of ball bearings grinding against fragments of broken glass on a wet pavement. It’s being wired straight into my jaw in full-frequency Dolby surround. Yes it hurts, but if I didn’t have a face full of lidocaine I’d be squealing like a pig in a combine harvester. There’s a man with his […]

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Indispensable

Wikipedia will eventually triumph over all other existing encyclopedias. Does any edition of Britannica or Encarta have a “List of films ordered by the use of the word ‘fuck’“? Yesterday’s featured article was about philosopher and socialist Hilary Putnam, who is the Putnam in the “Quine-Putnam indispensability thesis” and definitely my kind of thinker. (By […]

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Boll et al.

While I’m on the subject of academics writing rot and being called on it, I discovered this weekend that Uwe Boll, widely criticized as one of the worst directors of all time, has a doctorate in literature. An IMDb contributor reviews a work from his oeuvre, the videogame-“inspired” Alone In The Dark, like this: “[T]he […]

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The Satisfying Sound Of Leather Hitting Trouser

As you’d expect from an embittered wannabe academic like me, I enjoy immensely reading reviews in which genuine scholars demolish the latest fashionable nonsense published by trend-chasing academic presses. Here Ben Goldacre casually and rightly puts the boot into an absurd attack on evidence-based medicine—it’s “fascist” apparently. Here Shalom Lappin does a grand and rigorous […]

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Turning World

I’m smart enough to appreciate just how much smarter than me my friends are. As I always say, talent recognizes genius. Talent should also recognize its own limits. I’ve reached that stage in my life when I’ve had to accept that I won’t be able to do the things I dreamt of doing when I […]

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Spooky Selection

When I wrote my latest post this morning, I truly had no idea that later on Norm’s “Writer’s Choice” today would be by Jeffrey Wainwright. Since it is, you should go over to Norm’s place and have a read.

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Blonde Biology Babe

So obvious I didn’t think of her, though she probably refuses to self-identify as blonde: Hot Wheels Helena! Babes Of Biology No. 3: Miss July[click to enlarge] Helena has a PhD in biotechnology and her interests include killer bugs and driving quickly but very, very safely. If she wins Miss Biology 2007 she’d like to travel around the World as an […]

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Babes Of Biology: No. 2

Having read an article I wrote reviewing bioinformatics courses in the UK, and despite my honest warnings, Wei applied to be a student on one I once taught on. Because the admissions office at [insert name of educational institution easily obtained by googling] failed to process her paperwork properly she had to make do with […]

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PRESS RELEASE: Paris Hilton Appointed New Vice-Chancellor Of Cambridge University

12:00 NOON, 20 JUNE 2006, CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND The University of Cambridge (est. 1209) is proud to announce news that will bring together the previously too-distant worlds of celebrity and academia in dynamic and ground breaking ways: from Michaelmas term 2006, Paris Whitney Hilton, hotel heiress and celebutante, will be our new Vice-Chancellor. “The crowning of […]

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Geek Aesthetics

“Hot Wheels” Helena acquired her nickname because, despite being an Advanced Driver who can cadence-brake, control-gear, and turn into skids with the best of them, she used to get about in an ancient Mini Metro Rover 100—and get me about in it when she was my Genome Campus car-sharing partner. She’s ruined the (weak) joke now by […]

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Informational Post

In the past few days, for some strange reason, people who have never met me before have been accusing me of being a middle-aged, white, public-schoolboy, “hebe” second-rate academic. Honky Cohensell relaxes at the Groucho Club unaware that the “real” holocaust is about to wipe the smile off his face. “Second-rate academic”? I dream of […]

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Flayme Werre!

One of my toff friends lectures history. She’s been looking for good blogs in her subject area lately and “Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog” is her favourite so far. I can see why. It’s clever and it’s funny. (And even funnier now she has explained some of the jokes to me.) As I am in […]

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Oi, Chris Brooke, No!

Chris, you’re a bright bloke, well-read, great company and all that, but this is plain daft. The Silly Bunt’s article was a steaming pile of cack and responding to her adolescent nonsense about “the Enlightenment” (and her many justified critics in blogland) by wibbling on about “Paolo Mattia Doria’s contemporary five-fold distinction” is a bit […]

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