recent highlights / on the dark ages

Or, Big Hairy Post No. 1.

Apocalypse Now. Shock and Horror. Barbarians at the Gates of Dawn of the Dead. Fear and Loathing in Academia, Education, and Intelligent Life in General (not that I am for a minute suggesting that these are synonymous, or that there’s anything other than some intersections going on here). Grotty politics. The archimimocratic revolution may be nigh, but it’s not yet quite here, alas and alack and alarum.

Anyway: So: Bad news first.

Old news… or recent history. Only time will tell.

Tired platitudes aside, herewith (the first of) The Promised Post(s): links from saved emails, bookmarks, and other virtual clippings. Lovingly grown over the summer months and now gathered for a bountiful harvest festival. Happy post-Lughnasadh and pre-Samhain.

On the closure of modern languages departments in UK universities + decline at the school level: covered in all the British newspapers, indeed most coverage there’s been in ages: early summer 2010. A quick Google search will bring ’em all up…

Much discussion over on the IoL Transnet: three comments:

1. If a subject is perceived as ‘hard’, or heaven forbid ‘boring’, it’s better to get rid of it.

2. Looks as if we’ll all be able to continue working as long as we like to supplement our pensions!

3. I must say that, when I read the article, I wasn’t sure whether to be depressed by the decline in educational standards or relieved at the lack of future competition. On [x]’s point, the peerless Dr Ben Goldacre makes a similar point in relation to science education in his book “Bad Science”.

(and comments on mistakes made in the original article re. German grammar…)

(re. Swansea: I’ll keep trying to track down the priceless Official Reply–replete with mistakes–that’s been circulating in the online community. Had a copy c/o email, have mislaid. It was a priceless gem of corporate illiteracy and stupidity. A great loss.)

MAA and the Tempe of Doom, AZ:

Universities are in crisis. And literacy. And the humanities. Oooh yes, and those poor old human beings who constitute “faculty”. Publication & productivity crises. The future of tenure. Adding insult to injury, all this run by muppets:

And a couple (more) scandals in the academic and otherwise-brain-working worlds:

Oh lordy: look at what’s posted first and foremost as the most important news to report on RESEARCH:

More muppetry (with apologies to the actual Muppets™ whom I love dearly):

ACLU Banned Books 2010 probably coming up soon, around the end of September/beginning of October; for previous incarnations, see here.

Some more fun reading:

On the other hand… Ade Edmondson on Later with Jools Holland, “Anarchy in the UK”

  • This is what happens when an institution is so incompetent that their idea of closing an email account = removing your control over it. So: messages still following the forwarding rules I set up, to an external account; but because the password no longer exists to the institutional account, no-one can access it–me or the IT folks. Also, their original formatting sucked. It’s the jolly hockey-sticks business-pep-talk cr*p that just makes me (a) barf, (b) thank my lucky stars I subscribe to the Dilbert email feed, so I can always keep that on hand till I’m through with this sort of thing (heaven knows why I still read them–not even a sucker for punishment, this is more akin to self-flagellation), to us as a soothing virtual antacid.

Dear Colleague

Trinity received some great news today when the much-awaited result of our research submission to the Government’s Programme of Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), Cycle 5, was announced by the Taoiseach and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. I am delighted to report that Trinit has done exceedingly well in association with its many partners, securing c.81m euro in total funding for three flagship projects. The projects to receive funding are the Biomedical Sciences Institute on Pearse Street, the TCD/UCD Innovation Academy, and 10 Graduate Programmes, including one in the Digital Arts and Humanities.

The projects are all collaborative across institutions in the state, Northern Ireland and across many parts of the world. Many represent growing collaboration with industry and all are of fundamental importance to the future design and sustainability of the country. The strongest collaboration is with UCD under the Innovation Alliance and our submissions were jointly coordinated.

Here are the successful projects proposed by Trinity:

. The TCD-UCD Innovation Academy

. Digital Arts and Humanities Structured PhD Programme

. Dublin Graduate Physics Programme

. Economics and Political Science

. Electricity Research Centre: Grid Integration of Renewables, Distributed Generation and Flexible Demand

. Earth Systems Institute Structured PhD- Earth and Natural Sciences

. Graduate Programme in Chemistry – the Science underpinning Nanotechnology, Energy Conversion and Storage & Chemical Biology

. Graduate Research Education Programme in Engineering

. Innovation Policy Simulation for the Smart Economy

. Molecular Medicine Ireland Clinical & Translational Research Scholars Programme

. Molecular and Cellular mechanisms underlying inflammatory processes (formerly known as Graduate Programme in Molecular and Cell Biology of Human Health)

. Nanomechanical Approaches and Functional Materials for Regenerative Medicine

. PhD Programme in Simulation Science

. Trinity Biomedical Sciences Development

. Telecommunications Graduate Initiative

. Irish Transgenic Network

. National Audio Visual Repository.

I very much appreciate that all staff are working under difficult circumstances with the current economic challenges. I hope that today’s PRTLI announcement will lift everyone’s spirit as the result is a tribute to the quality of staff and students at Trinity. Congratulations to everyone and particularly to those who put so much effort into preparing the submission. We now have an opportunity to deliver on many of the promises that we made on many fronts. It is a very positive end to the academic year and helps counteract the growing unease that many of us have been feeling regarding the state’s commitment to research in tough times.

Dr ________,


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