Assorted Links

  1. Blood Ivory– A story in Spiegel about elephant poaching in central Africa being used to fund violent conflicts in the region.
  2. New Monkey species identified in Democratic Republic of Congo– As the title says, a new species of monkey has been identified in Africa.
  3. Strengthening of the Chinese Navy Sparks Worries in Region and Beyond– An article in Spiegel about the geo-political tensions between China and every other power in the eastern Pacific. China has been making moves around the South China Sea that are directed at islands claimed by one or more other nations, and has recently launched its first air-craft carrier, with plans for more.
  4. India’s Gandhi family: The Rahul Problem-A note in the Economist about Rahul Gandhi, the son of Sonia Gandhi, who was the wife of Rajiv Gandhi, himself the son of Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. Rahul, though, doesn’t not seem to have an interest in politics or have any sort of political identity. The article, which focuses on a recent book about the latest Gandhi discusses some of the roadblocks to his accession to office, as well as some of the reasons that their political party would like to promote him as a reformer, developer, and a fresh face in advance of the next election in 2014.
  5. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?

Assorted Links

  1. On Leaving Academe-An article in the Chronicle by a former professor of computer Science that details the variety of reasons he had for leaving his job at a university, including the devaluation of education, salary, publishing demands, specialization, mass education, etc.
  2. Is there such a thing as a national literature?-Scottish author Irvine Welsh talks about nationalism in an age where nation states as such are declining, with a particular focus on British and Scottish identity.
  3. India, the Olympic Games and “poor sports”-Mary Beard addresses the issue of India and the Olympics, including a number of Indians who are encouraging their compatriots to focus on “poor sports” that can help that country improve its medal haul.
  4. Journalists on the Edge of Truth-An excellent post by David Carr at the New York Times about the perils of journalism in the internet age, with an emphasis on the boundaries between journalism, plagiarism, and outright lies. It does, to an extent, come across as an elder statesman in the field bemoaning the lack of training and credentials of the “kids these days,” but the larger, systemic problems of twitter, blogs, page hits, etc (such that “you are only as visible as your last post”) are spot on. The world moves incredibly quickly, but, at least online, it also is much more highly mutable. For instance, I often go back to edit my writing on my blog when I reread it and there is a missed comma or a misspelled word (or something more egregious). I do this because it legitimately annoys me that I missed it in the first place, but, at the same time, I prefer to keep this more casual, so I tend to do only minimal edits before publishing it. That said, I am not sure I have yet deleted an entire post and usually try to own what I say, which makes this blog a more permanent record (though the options for mutability remain). Likewise, John Scalzi has made it clear that his blog is (more or less) a permanent record, so anyone who wants to comment there needs to be aware that short of violating his comments policy, there can be no take-backs.
  5. A Scholar, An Expert, An Intellectual-An essay by Timothy Burke about Niall Ferguson that discusses the ways in which Ferguson has disappointed the circle of educators and intellectuals by his comments, somewhat even before the comments he made about President Obama. On that particular instance, Burke focuses on the fact that Ferguson displayed a shocking lack of thought and awareness of his own position as an “expert.” Burke claims that “expert” required Ferguson to be able to “guide an audience through what is known and said about as subject with some respect for the totality of that knowing and saying before favoring your own interpretation.” I generally agree, and either Ferguson was negligent in this duty, or he knowingly exploited his position as “expert,” in which case he is more than negligent. Ferguson has been calling the backlash to his Newsweek story a witch-hunt. When it comes to backlash to the article, I cannot agree with him (based on his responses, he does not actually seem interested in a debate or feedback…as someone who writes for a media outlet in today’s society should expect), but with the people calling for his removal from Harvard, I agree. I think he crossed a line somewhere, but the calls stem from backlash over his ideological stance rather than his scholarship (perhaps a letter of censure–at most–is warranted). That said, Ferguson himself ought to think about his message and his position as an educator, scholar, and “public” intellectual and where he ought to go. Simply using a Harvard professorship as a bully-pulpit is inappropriate.
  6. The Myth of Ivy Advantage– an essay on the Inside Higher Ed that rejects the conventional wisdom that people who graduate from Ivy League schools with their doctorates have an overwhelming advantage on the job market. The author does not talk about teaching loads, but instead focuses on what she calls the “scarcity model of academia” wherein candidates from “lesser” universities spend graduate school scraping by and scrambling in a way that keeps them in tune with the “zeitgeist” of the present job market. The argument may be accurate, but it is small consolation.
  7. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?

Assorted Links

  1. Mitt Romney Confirms he would end US wind power subsidies -The idea being that he would “allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits.” Merits like OPEC, smoke, and depleting resources, I guess.
  2. Drone warfare: a new generation of deadly unmanned weapons– A story on the Guardian about some of the new bases and training facilities for the unmanned missile operators. According to the article, the operators do not appreciate being told that they are not courageous for their actions.
  3. Neither the Will nor the Cash: Why India Wins So Few Olympic Medals– A look in the Atlantic about why India wins so few Olympic medals (22 total all time). The most prevalent theory that it is about financial clout, combined with the lack of a safety net for the families and thus no emphasis on relatively frivolous athletics (as differentiated between competitive athletics and personal health). One of the most telling statistics is that between 1928 and 1968, India won all but two of the gold medals in field hockey, the other two going to Pakistan. In 1972, India was third, Pakistan took second, and East Germany won. In 1976 the Olympics switched to the more expensive synthetic turf fields and since, India has won one medal (a gold in 1980). The upper echelons of hockey stadiums in India are also synthetic, but I think that the idea is that many field hockey players grow up playing on grass and are therefore at a competitive disadvantage. The drop-off is a bit too extreme to call it coincidence. I suppose it should also be noted that in 1932 only three teams participated in Olympic hockey.1
  4. Endocannabinoids motivated exercise evolution– A study that was featured on NPR today wherein biologists suggest that the development of the reward receptors in the brain of animals that need sustained aerobic activity are linked to the eventual development of the aerobic capacity. Thus, human beings are hard-wired to be runners on an evolutionary level.
  5. Stunning Restaurant built inside a cave on the Italian coast-A very cool new restaurant that, as the person who linked me this article pointed out, is reminiscent of Tiberius’ villa at Sperlonga.
  6. The Olympics as Reality TV– An article at the New Yorker about the way in which NBC has seized upon reality TV as a model for women’s gymnastics.
  7. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?


1 As a fun fact, the first time field hockey was an Olympic sport, six teams competed–including four from Great Britain, one each for Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales.