Three abridged passages from publications I share with John F. Allen

John Allen is a close scientific collaborator, a monster of knowledge (excuse the literal translation from the Greek τέρας γνώσεως) who has honoured me with his friendship. If ever a colleague is missing, this wasn’t the case in the department I joined in 2007. But then things changed. First, when the best brain in our department was sent to live on benefits, against the signatures of most of his academic colleagues and despite a number of very senior external colleagues stepping in his defense. At the time, John and I published our first joint letter:

Firing excellence. Is this the wrong way forward? Fanis Missirlis and John F. Allen – 30 June 2009 in “Statements concerning the research achievements, qualities and potential of Dr Robin Maytum”.

The decision to dismiss Robin Maytum has been a mistake. In a few words, we will discuss some of the misconceptions that seem to have led to this decision. Embedded in this discussion is our view of the School’s research strategy. The key proposition is that we must foster a friendly and collaborative scientific environment, built on mutual trust. We shall then produce world-class contributions, and attract the best people from all over the world for collaboration. We are in the unique position of having a collegial merge of talented biologists and chemists that encompasses a very broad research scope, working in a beautiful campus in a vibrant city.

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Ideological reflections from Greek politics in the 2014 Elections for the European Parliament

In a post written in the Greek language, I asked readers what they would be voting in the upcoming elections, trying to summarise the 43 choices of parties or coalitions between parties that are participating from my country. Greece is often referred to as the birthplace of democracy and – if the number of parties is any indicator – seems to be in an intense period of soul-searching. No doubt the economic crisis is being reflected here. I pointed out that job insecurity or enhanced mobility (two expressions of a similar process) is now infecting the political world. It is important to note the irony of a workforce being continuously moved around despite – in so many areas of the economy – the jobs it serves remaining still.

With the above as a brief introduction, I present here two tables for a wider audience who may wish to ‘read’ into the Greek participation in the process. The first one – in English – is the summary of my analysis. Therefore there is a subjective component in grouping together the 43 parties into 13 categories that may be more recognisable – based on their ideology, which trascends our culture. I think my message on twitter with the results from local elections shows such categorisation is useful – see

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Ευρωεκλογές 2014 – Ελλάδα – Εσύ τι θα ψηφίσεις;

Μαζί με την οικονομική κρίση και τη χρεοκοπία είδαμε την κινητικότητα να μεταφέρεται από τον ιδιωτικό και στο δημόσιο τομέα. Αναπόφευχτα λοιπόν περνάει τώρα και στο πολιτικό σκηνικό. Όπως στην αληθινή ζωή, κινητικότητα σημαίνει μικρότερη σταθερότητα για όσους κινούνται. Οι εργασίες όμως που καλούνται να φέρουν σε πέρας συχνά παραμένουν.

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the gringo

Coming to Mexico, I am easily identifiable as a griego, which has never been confused – when said – with a gringo. I ask sometimes why do you call the yanquis – mexican spelling for yankees – “gringos”? (As if I knew the origin for this alternative term – I didn’t. I checked today, only to find out that the origin of yanquis is as uncertain as the origin of gringos that prompted this post)

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Gracias & Ευχαριστούμε Alexandra y Despina

‘Ελα μαζί μου, σ’ αγαπώ. Στ’ όμορφο ακρογιάλι καρτερώ φεγγαράκι, ξαστεριά, κύμα και φωτιά. Και μετά: όποιος το πνεύμα του ποθεί να δυναμώσει να βγει απ’ το σέβας κι από την υποταγή. Menudo, amada sensación. Voces de aquellos que han desaparecido para nosotros como los muertos. Ojos de un azul de zafiro. Y ahora, iniciado, en el viaje a Itaca no mires atrás, son solo sombras la luz te está llamando, acuérdate la luz de Itaca.

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A proposition for the status of academic freedom in the UK

The United Kingdom is in violation of the UNESCO recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel as evidenced by the many instances where university managers frame and sack their ideological opponents.

The recommendation can be read here

http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=13144&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

Two recent examples from Universities, Warwick and Kent:

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/warwick-suspends-prominent-critic-of-higher-education-policy/2012013.article

http://www.riveronline.co.uk/content/2014/02/27/prof-kicked-campus

My ignorance on Czechoslovakia

I have five fingers in each hand

and five fingers in my two feet

and I have five Czech friends.

Three are staunch anticommunists,

but two are nuanced in their politics.

These friends held me, gave me,

hosted me, confronted me and taught me,

like no one else ever did.

Two women and three men represent 

the Czech soul and country to me.

And so,

I would like to now befriend a Slovak.