Thank you Dame Marina Warner for sharing the lesson

I recommend, if you haven’t done so already, to read Marina’s new article in the London Review of Books – Learning My Lesson (also available as a podcast if you prefer). To someone injured from the rough discovery that Queen Mary was successfully turned from a community of scholars advancing knowledge into a money-making enterprise (its Principal stating in a letter to all staff a few days ago “Given this context, it is encouraging to report that our audited accounts for the last Financial Year (2013/14) show an operating surplus (after removing one-off items) of just under £14.9 million…”) finding out that there are like-minded individuals who expose the crude barbarism of the sector’s appalling clique of bankers (as in most principals, vice-principals and their private aids) sounds like Orphic music, like reaching the peak of the Alps and gazing down the view, an eagle flying beneath reflecting the sun. I write to express a silent feeling of gratitude to you Marina.

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Αλέξης Τσίπρας: τα σύμβολα, οι ελπίδες, η πολιτική, η αριστερά

Σύμβολα
Ο νέος πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας
την πρώτη μέρα άφησε ένα λουλούδι
στο σκοπευτήριο της Καισαριανής
τιμή στους εκτελεσμένους Κομμουνιστές.
Ο ραδιοφωνικός σταθμός το Κόκκινο
παίζει κάθε μέρα σιγανοσφύριγμα
τη μελωδία της τρίτης διεθνούς.
“Στο nein των Γερμανών
πρέπει ένα όχι των Ελλήνων.” (more…)

A visit to the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Last week I visited colleagues that continue to work at my former department. I and others had our affiliations severed following the restructuring of SBCS in 2012. My trip coincided with the publication of the names of individuals (and their contributed papers) representing SBCS in a major UK government evaluation, known as the REF. It is therefore unsurprising that conversations centred, amongst other things, to an evaluation of the REF outcomes for the department and the effects the restructuring had on its performance. Some of the comments I heard are difficult to transmit without placing valued colleagues or myself at risk of further reprisals. In this category I place important matters such as the wellbeing (health) of friends who have been put under “performance management” or subjective views on the dramatic shift in what is being valued and rewarded within the restructured department.

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πολιτικοποιημένη μυγοσκοτώστρα

Είναι σωστό και λογικό
μερικά δικά μου προβλήματα
αδιάφορη να σε αφήνουν.

Κι ούτε σε ποίμα σύνηθες είναι να γράφονται
τέτοιου είδους σκέψεις
που εδώ ακολουθούν.

Μα, ελπίζω το γνωρίζεις ήδη,
στους συνηθισμένους δε συγκαταλέχθηκα ποτέ.

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New facet of scientific illiteracy

In Mexico, bean-counting is also referred to as puntitis (Jorge Quevedo) or cuentachilismo (Marcelino Cereijido). My local colleague and celebrated author has created with his student Claudia Edwards a three-paragraph gem on the stupidity of bureaucratic managerialism in science. You can read it in Spanish here. The text is so good that I have translated the 5 concrete examples of “modern” stupidity below. The international reader will instantly see that the crisis Pirincho (as Marcelino is also known to his friends) describes is by no means a “third world” problem.

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