Short and sweet, not unlike myself (well, I’m always on the small side but some would say that sweetness isn’t necessarily my middle name). This blog is currently on a bit of a hiatus – well, it’s summertime and academics spend most of their days lounging by the pools they’ve bought with their vastly inflated salaries, don’t they? Erm, sorry – wrong! That possibly happens in some kind of utopian parallel universe. In the real world, most academics have been writing, thinking and doing mountains of admin to prepare for the return of students for the new academic year.
I, on the other hand, have foregone academic life to concentrate on the blog-tastic world of Veggie Runners, a site full of mind-blowing vegetarian recipes, running tips and chatter about what we get up to with our trainers on (we being my daughter, Bibi, and me). If you like cooking, running or even just eating, come and pay us a visit.
Normal service will be resumed on this blog as soon as I have something to rant about.
Image source unknown*
Last week I was chatting to my lovely friend, Victoria – online, because that’s how we all chat these days, isn’t it? We were on Twitter, in fact, and she posted this photo of a big stack of books on media and culture, groaning that she had to read and make sense of them all by 5pm that day. I summarized the content for her in a tweet: ‘we used to think internet powerful resource for democratization of knowledge. now know it’s for pics of cute cats.’ So we had a bit of a giggle over the ether then she said ‘if I could do my thesis in a series of tweets I’d be in heaven!’ We laughed some more (we’re easily amused) and then I started thinking well, why not? Continue reading
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is thrilled to be working with the British government. Photograph: Luca Bruno/AP via The Guardian
The British government has introduced a new initiative to make publicly-funded academic research papers freely available. I’m no fan of this government so refuse to give them credit for this. Instead, I’ll point out that the inequities of academic publishing have long been of concern to those in the business (sic - academia is a business these days). In the UK, over 11000 academics have signed a petition protesting against one of the largest publishers, Elsevier.
It’s great that the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, is going to be involved too. He at least understands the internet and I’m sure he’ll be very useful, as long as he doesn’t just let everyone make everything up.*
Currently, publishing in academic journals works as follows. You – brainy you, with your many qualifications – spend a lot of time conducting research. Generally, you then present that research at conferences, share and discuss it with colleagues, refine, adapt, modify and slave over it until you’re finally satisfied with it. You then send your article to a journal. Continue reading
I learned a lot in my two months in Argentina, not least something I thought I understood almost 20 years ago. As we discovered on our road trip to the north west, there’s much more to the place than the downtown swank and hipster hangouts of Buenos Aires. It’s all very, very different once you’re out of sight of the city’s sky scrapers. Continue reading
Man, this is one painted city! There’s graffiti and street art everywhere. If it stands still, it gets painted. Me, I keep on moving, just in case I end up daubed too.
Not being expert in these matters, I’ve been researching the difference between graffiti and street art. There’s a general consensus that both are ephemeral artistic expressions that re-appropriate public space in ways that alter our experience of the urban environment. So far, so academic. What emerges in analyses is that the methods and media used differ significantly. Or, to distill the arguments further, graffiti comes waaaaaay below street art in the pecking order. All the articles I read say, more or less, ‘Don’t get me wrong, I love graffiti but…’ Continue reading
I don’t know if it’s the light, the atmosphere or the fact that my bag is big enough to chuck my camera in every day. Whatever it is, I’ve been possessed by the spirit of Eve Arnold since I arrived in Buenos Aires (or perhaps a photographer less, well, good than she was).
My photography has always been of the snap-happy variety. If I see stuff I like the look of, I click. I don’t have a flashy camera and Photoshop is like alien technology to me; I’m unbelievably old skool. I might as well be using a box brownie or a pin hole camera for all the artful technique I have.
But I do love taking photos and, in an effort to improve both my Spanish and the technical aspects of my snapping, I decided to do as many fun photographic things as I can while I’m here. I also committed to posting a daily photo on Twitter and Pinterest, which certainly focuses the mind on such matters. Continue reading
As most readers will know, I have a PhD in International Relations. This is otherwise known as an Advanced Qualification in High Level Fence Sitting. I hardly ever talk politics with my friends; having spent many years researching political (mal)practice, I know only the following. On the continuum from Pol Pot to Nelson Mandela, most governments occupy the icky, sticky, messy bit in the middle. Even the good ones (and there are good ones – sometimes) are mendacious, though the majority of them believe (and/or kid themselves) that they’re acting in the best interests of their citizens. Why waste valuable socializing time talking about these people?
Now I’m in Buenos Aires in the run up to the thirtieth anniversary of, depending who you’re talking to, La Guerra de Las Malvinas or The Falklands War. Several people have asked me how it’s all playing out here. Time to hop off the fence, then… Continue reading