Sydney Places I Liked

One more week in Sydney and then I'll return to the Netherlands. It's been three years since I first set foot on Australian soil to start my postdoc at the University of Sydney.  And those were three good years. That was of course because of the great Aussie people, but it also had to do with Sydney's great places. Here are a few that I will definitely miss... First an outer Sydney location. Actually, I love all of them, simply because Sydney is surrounded by beauty. At the East there are of course…Read more …

Weird Science: Spouses & Physical Similarities

Convergence in the physical appearance of spouses by Zajonc, R.B., Adelmann, P.K., Murphy, S.T., & Niedenthal, P.M. (1987)  Full Text Available in Motivation and Emotion This study attempted to determine whether people who live with each other for a long period of time grow physically similar in their facial features. Photographs of couples when they were first married and 25 years later were judged for physical similarity and for the likelihood that they were married. The results showed that there is indeed an increase in apparent similarity after 25 years of cohabitation. Moreover,…Read more …

Another Campus Shooting…

Once again, there has been a shooting at a university campus in the US. On February 14, a gunman killed five students at Northern Illinois University. The killer died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been a graduate student in sociology at the university but was no longer enrolled. Sadly, the Northern Illinois shooting is part of a long list of random or semi-random shootings on university and college campuses: USA / 2008 - February 14: Five people are killed when a man opens fire in a classroom at Northern Illinois University…Read more …

Meanwhile in Czar Putin’s Russia

Meanwhile in Czar Putin's Russia a university was forced to close down. The St. Petersburg European University - a non-governmental institution offering post-graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences - was told to close its doors because of safety concerns. Officially the closure was because of violation of fire protection regulations. But university employees tell that the university has been closed because of political reasons, reports Kommersand, Russia's daily online newspaper. The fire inspection came to the university after deputies of the State Duma, members of United Russia party, and the general…Read more …

Global Classrooms in the Desert

Both the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times bring an article by Tamar Lewin on universities rushing to set up outposts abroad. It presents an illustrative overview of the risks, benefits and the viability of institutional globalisation in higher education. If, after reading the article, you are left with any pressing questions, the NYT gives you the opportunity to pose them dirteclty to Charles E. Thorpe, the dean of Carnegie Mellon in Qatar (ht: globalhighered). To get you started, here are some interesting quotes that provide food for thought: Howard Rollins,…Read more …

Free Press and Democracy

Here's an example of how democracy will not function without free press. In the wake of the upcoming elections, Second Finance Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, explains in the government controlled media why Malaysians should again put their trust in the Barisan Nasional government led by Prime Minister Badawi: "the country’s per capita income had risen by 40% between 2004 and 2007, from RM15,819 (US$4,163) to RM22,345 (US$6,452). The Barisan Nasional Government is confident that we will get the people’s mandate again, based on the improved economic resilience" A good…Read more …

Presidential Hopefuls and Academic Backgrounds

The remaining Republican and Democratic candidates for the 2008 presidential elections in the United States have followed rather different educational careers. While the Republicans have been trained in some 'typical republican' fields, the Democrats spend their formative years in the elitist private liberal art colleges and Ivy League universities. Although John McCain is very likely to become the Republican candidate, there is still a theoretical chance that Mike Huckabee will be elected. It's no surprise that Huckabee, the most conservative of the candidates, graduated from a college with a strong religious affiliation. He…Read more …

Weird Science: Optimal Boarding Methods

The Editorial Board of Beerkens' Blog decided it's time for a new regular item. Under this new item, I'll now and then report on a peculiar, remarkable, eccentric, extraordinary, unconventional, atypical, strange, funny, odd or bizarre study. In other words: a case of Weird Science. Here's the first one. Optimal boarding method for airline passengers by Jason H. Steffen  Full Text Available in Arxiv / Physics & Society [PDF] The problem Several passenger boarding schemes are used by the airline industry in effort to quickly load passengers and their luggage onto the airplane.…Read more …

Intellectual Property Infringement?

Here's a case to watch. The University of Wisconsin in Madison is accusing processor giant Intel of stealing their intellectual property. A lawsuit has been filed by UW's technology transfer office (WARF, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation) in which it charges Intel with infringement of one of its patents. The patented invention improves the efficiency and speed of computer processing and this technology is used by Intel in its Intel Core 2 Duo processor. WARF filed this complaint to ensure that the interests of the UW-Madison and its inventors are protected and that WARF…Read more …

So where the bloody hell are you?

I'm not sure whether this is a bad thing for education or for tourism. The Australian reports that education has replaced tourism as Australia's biggest services export and has become the country's third top export overall, increasing by 21 per cent in 2007 to AUD 12.5 billion. The Australian Bureau of Statistics released figures that show that revenue generated by foreign students in this country overtook tourism and was just behind coal and iron ore. I remember that - when I became interested in international education about eight years ago - Australians used…Read more …

Metaspamming

Like all of you, I get my daily dose of spam. This one sneaked through both of my spam filters, but that was of course because it isn't spam. It fights spam. If you have been a victim of "all sorts of internet crime that arose from South Africa, Ghana and especially Nigeria", just contact these nice Nigerian officials. There's five and a half million dollars waiting for you. Or maybe not? Click the picture and judge for yourself...Read more …

Suharto and a former PM of Australia

A lot has been said about Suharto's legacy in the weeks before and the week after his death. Those who think highly of him point to his economic successes and his achievements in poverty alleviation. His critics of course refer to his human rights record: the killing of more than half a million in the aftermath of the 30 September movement, his invasion of East Timor and the political repression during his 32 year rule. In the reactions to his dead in Australia the second version of Suharto's legacy clearly was the dominant…Read more …