All entries by this author

Basketball Rules OK

Jan 22nd, 2003 2:57 pm | By

A few days ago I took issue with a column John Sutherland wrote in the Guardian about the wonderful benefits of US university athletic programmes. Here is a delightful little story about some of the drawbacks of the US approach. College basketball fans harass and make death threats against an English teacher who has the unmitigated temerity to criticise a coach. Clearly, the basketball coach is important and the pesky teacher is just a thing that causes trouble. Could such an attitude possibly be harmful to actual, you know, education?… Read the rest



Good Idea? Or Idiotic? *

Jan 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

At least the teacher is ‘bothered’ that the lyrics refer to women as bitches and hoes. ‘It’s dehumanising,’ he shrewdly notices.… Read the rest



Classical Economics and the Other Kind *

Jan 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

Who defines ‘rational’ and ‘works’ and ‘sorts out’, anyway?… Read the rest



Anti-intellectual? Us? *

Jan 22nd, 2003 | Filed by

University is about getting a job that pays a lot and about football. Isn’t it?… Read the rest



Burglar University

Jan 21st, 2003 5:58 pm | By

Sorry, but I do think this is pretty funny. It’s the bit about cognitive skills classes.

The cognitive courses all prisoners have to attend – usually Enhanced Thinking Skills – were deemed effective when they first started, but recent studies have shown that prisoners can emerge from these even more likely to reoffend than they were without them…Or it could be that they imbibe the skills without accepting the moral message, so they just come out with an enhanced ability to think crimes through and avoid mistakes like leaving their dog at the scene of the crime or ordering a pizza with a thieved credit card (both real occasions of burglar ineptitude in the past fortnight; the beauty of

Read the rest


A Global Perspective *

Jan 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Depletion of fish stocks not a problem, fisheries scientist says, if future generations like plankton stew.… Read the rest



Not All Destruction is Human-Made *

Jan 21st, 2003 | Filed by

Fire storm near Canberra destroys observatory and all its equipment.… Read the rest



Love That Derrida

Jan 20th, 2003 10:51 pm | By

I sort of hate to agree with The National Review about anything, but then it’s not my fault: if the left will insist on being so silly all the time, they have only themselves to blame. Anyway this is a very funny piece about Jacques Derrida and his inexplicable hold over the minds of far too many literary critics and other “theorists”.

Indeed, the critical point to be borne in mind with regards to Derrida…is that he is not now, nor has he ever been, a philosopher in any recognizable sense of the word, nor even a trafficker in significant ideas; he is rather a intellectual con artist, a polysyllabic grifter who has duped roughly half the humanities professors in

Read the rest


Moon Landing Skeptics *

Jan 20th, 2003 | Filed by

You know how the gummint is, they cover up alien landings in Roswell, so why not fake landings on the moon?… Read the rest



All Over the Map *

Jan 19th, 2003 | Filed by

The Observer gets the views of thoughtful people on war with Iraq. Responses are not predictable.… Read the rest



Not Really Such a Brilliant Idea

Jan 18th, 2003 9:43 pm | By

This is a very peculiar comment in the Guardian. John Sutherland recommends that Blair and Labour imitate the American way of getting more racial minorities into higher education: via athletics. Why? He never really says. He does say he thinks it’s a good idea and that it’s been a great success in the States, but he doesn’t say why he thinks it’s a good idea, or in what sense it’s been a success. He does say that the athletics programmes created open doors through which not only black athletes, but also non-athletic blacks, could enter, but then he fails to explain what he means. He says the figures speak for themselves, but they don’t, at least not clearly enough … Read the rest



Not a Philosopher but a Con Artist *

Jan 18th, 2003 | Filed by

A rude look at Derrida and the worshipful movie about him.… Read the rest



New Admission Criteria *

Jan 18th, 2003 | Filed by

One side sees disadvantage and discrimination, the other sees a need to take more variables into account.… Read the rest



How Does He Know? *

Jan 17th, 2003 | Filed by

‘But if you begin to think about it you can start to feel like the ashamed schoolchild who has just been caught drawing smutty pictures.’… Read the rest



Eat the Dog *

Jan 17th, 2003 | Filed by

Very witty quiz on ethics in the Guardian.… Read the rest



Rashomon at the White House

Jan 16th, 2003 5:21 pm | By

We all know history is written by the victors. It’s also worth remembering that it’s written by a lot of other unreliable witnesses besides. By participants, loyalists, traitors, friends, enemies, people with various kinds of axe to grind, people who were paying only selective attention (and who ever pays anything else?). Which is not to say that it’s all a fairy tale, that no history is more accurate than any other so there’s no need to be careful with the evidence or the conclusions we draw from it. It’s only to point out how tricky it all is. This story in the Guardian is a good example. Tony Blair and the people around him are quite sure they have influenced … Read the rest



Positive Discrimination *

Jan 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Not quotas but targets; European human rights laws; poverty and privilege. Difficult questions without clear answers.… Read the rest



Confusion for Future Historians *

Jan 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Powell thinks it’s Powell who tames the President, Blair thinks it’s Blair. So history is written.… Read the rest



Yes But How Does it Work? *

Jan 16th, 2003 | Filed by

Even evidence is not enough, in the absence of a theory, Michael Shermer explains.… Read the rest



When is a degree not a degree? *

Jan 15th, 2003 | Filed by

Are some university degrees more equal than others?… Read the rest