Category: Academic

El águila y la serpiente

The eagle and the snake are a symbol on Mexico’s flag, whose origins are unclear. They are also the title of a revolutionary novel, written by Martín Luis Guzmán, published in 1928. The Mexican Academy of the Spanish Language asked Susana Quintanilla to compile a critical edition of El áquila y la serpiente. Today, she presented a moving account of the effort involved. During her talk, she showed what looked like a published book, although I couldn’t find evidence of its existence online.  I can only recommend, instead, her article in Letras Libres (in Spanish).

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These are lies, Dicky, not misrepresentations

This is how Dicky Clymo, emeritus professor at Queen Mary University of London, came into my life. First, he taught me about iron pans in peatlands. Second, he taught me that calling someone who is conveying a false statement a liar has implications (difficult to know and/or prove) over a) the person’s knowledge of the truth, and b) the person’s intention to confuse, manipulate or cheat her audience. A polite gentleman, he advised me to use instead the phrase that X manager was misrepresenting Y or Z fact or opinion. (more…)

Are we failing to scientifically educate the next generations?

Merope Tsimilli-Michael, after giving a talk at a conference in honor of George Papageorgiou, where John Allen also participated, asked his opinion on her presentation. In turn, John introduced me to Merope a few months later,  while in Mexico (through Skype). I read with interest what she and Pierre Haldimann had to say.

For more than twenty years we have witnessed worrying changes in science… The first symptom was that a number of publications contained serious flaws… the frequency of low quality publications has steadily increased.

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a comment on university mismanagement

My commentary below was prompted by this letter published earlier today by Liz Morrish in the Times Higher Education. Since yesterday there has been a concerted effort by UCU and the Guardian to expose the crude exploitation of half of the academic staff in Universities in the UK. Adding to the insult, managers ‘disappear’ through restructuring permanent positions. The issue is whether Professors should be fired when they do not produce the outputs requested by their ‘bosses’ (sic). (more…)

Recycling of bad managers is disastrous

I noticed visits to this blog from DailyNous Serious Cuts and Stark Choices at Aberdeen“. I asked whether the former Science & Engineering Vice Principal at Queen Mary, Jeremy Kilburn, was repeating one of his destructive assaults against colleagues? At Queen Mary he convinced academics to strike; an act he repeated at the University of Aberdeen. Unfortunately, according to the BBC, it looks like Kilburn continues to call for academic sackings. I wish he fails and faces instead the sack himself. (more…)

Simon Gaskell quits Queen Mary

Simon Gaskell has announced with an email to all staff his retirement. This is good news for the College, although it will be challenging to find a successor to reverse such decline witnessed in the past few years. Together with the departures of Matthew Evans and Jeremy Kilburn, none of the culprits of the destruction of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences remains in post. As I put it to Gaskell in November 2011:Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 10.48.02 PM

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