Monthly Archives: April 2014

Seeds of discord in Ukraine

When I arrived in Odessa in the spring of 2011 to do research on trade between Russia and the West in the 19th century, I imagined the relatively idyllic picture painted by financial observers of that period. When our plane landed, I discovered that my spoken Russian was not good enough to bargain with the […] … learn more→

Record use of antidepressants just papers over the cracks of modern life

Our use of anti-depressants continues to rise. Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre revealed that in just three years – between 2010 and 2013 – prescribing in England rose by 25% and culminated in a record high of 53m prescriptions. To put this into perspective, there are only 52.6m people in England. […] … learn more→

Five everyday myths that make it hard to understand pain

Surprisingly for such a universal experience, pain is profoundly misrepresented by common myths about what it is and what it means. These are rooted in dualistic models: the body as a simple machine and the mind, distinct, receiving input from and sending orders to the machine. But pain emerges from recursive interaction of the brain […] … learn more→

The new ‘austerity imperative’ for Universities

Coming soon: The next outrage in your university health-care plan. And it’s all part of “business as usual.” Here at Pennsylvania State University, the new bad news is steep hikes in health-coverage rates for graduate students, combined with cuts in benefits. The real “usual” is saving money at the expense of those who can least […] … learn more→

Iraq needs academics to rebuild reputation of its university sector

As Iraqis prepare to go to the polls to vote in parliamentary elections ten years on from the invasion, the country is a lifetime away from where things used to be. Iraq’s education system, once one of the best in the Middle East with a series of flourishing universities in the 1960s and 1970s, has […] … learn more→

Education as entitlement, Part 2

Last time around I mentioned riots at an institution that had the “audacity” to not consider undocumented immigrants as in state students, charging them the tuition that out-of-state students would need to pay. These undocumenteds want to get rid of the administrator that’s trying to put some common sense into the system. This is to […] … learn more→

Three solutions to rising College costs that the far right finds attractive

Writing for, Christina Crouch has surveyed in some detail “Three Radical Plans” for reducing college costs []. The first two of these “three radical plans” have been addressed previously in posts to this blog: the “pay it forward” plan that originated in Oregon, that has been adopted or adapted in some form in 15 […] … learn more→

Getting started with WordPress: Where to start from and most common pitfalls

We are living in the era of informational noise simply because everyone is trying to make their own contribution and share, with people around, things they find interesting. This is the reason why most important events get lost in hundreds of reposts and twisted facts. Unfortunately this is not the point of this article, but […] … learn more→

Only the 1% can afford to teach in Higher Education, part 2

Last time I discussed a serious change in higher education: the replacement of the faculty by part-time, minimally paid, no benefit “adjuncts”. Such adjuncts now teach the majority of classes in our colleges and universities, and represent a serious savings, costing only 25% (often, much less) of having full time faculty teach the course. For […] … learn more→

Yo Hablo HTML

We are nearly five months into Britain’s “Year of Code,” an effort to promote computer-coding skills among Britons young and old. The British media’s coverage spiked in February, when the campaign’s director admitted she couldn’t code a computer to save her life, but has ebbed since. Still, I’ve been taking advantage of some of the […] … learn more→