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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780190263553 - Atlas of the World 22nd edition (22e)

Place of the Year 2015 nominee spotlight: Greece

Earlier in the year, Greece faced some unsettling economic troubles. The country voted on a referendum that would decide whether they would pull their membership from the European Union (and thus, the union’s currency and economic system). It’s a wonder to think that this country, less than a decade ago, was among one of the richer nations.

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Orchestrating the Nation Blog

Policing concert hall patriotism: consequences

If American orchestras want to be more patriotic, they should program more music by American composers. In context, however, the sentiment is deeply ironic. American composers are absent from today’s concert programs precisely because anti-nationalists consistently shackled them.

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We must try harder to stop the drug cheats

Reports of a Russian state doping programme are jarring reminders of times when victorious athletes were offered as evidence for the superiority of political ideologies. The allegations have certainly complicated aspirations to keep drugs out of the Olympics. If your state colludes in your doping then you have only to arrange to be clean around the dates of competition.

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Etymology gleanings for November 2015

It is true that the etymology of homo confirms the biblical story of the creation of man, but I am not aware of any other word for “man” that is akin to the word for “earth.” Latin mas (long vowel, genitive maris; masculinus ends in two suffixes), whose traces we have in Engl. masculine and marital and whose reflex, via French, is Engl. male, referred to “male,” not to “man.”

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An African tree produces white flowers: The disappearance of the black population in Argentina 110 years later

The 2014 Men’s World Cup finals pitted Germany against Argentina. Bets were made and various observations were cited about the teams. Who had the better defense? Would Germany and Argentina’s star players step up to meet the challenge? And, surprisingly, why did Argentina lack black players? Across the globe blogs and articles found it ironic that Germany fielded a more diverse team while Argentina with a history of slavery did not have a solitary black player.

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Academic knowledge and economic growth

Policies aimed at fostering economic growth through public expenditure in tertiary education should be better aware of the different contribution of each specific academic discipline. Rather than introducing measures affecting the allocation of resources in the broad spectrum of academic knowledge, policies might instead introduce ad-hoc measures to foster specific disciplines, for example through differentiated enrollment fees for students.

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The “Greater West” and sympathetic suffering

At its root, Islam is as much a Western religion as are Judaism and Christianity, having emerged from the same geographic and cultural milieu as its predecessors. For centuries we lived at a more or less comfortable distance from one another. Post-colonialism and economic globalization, and the strategic concerns that attended them, have drawn us into an ever-tighter web of inter-relations.

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Where did all the antihadrons go?

Describing the very ‘beginning’ of the Universe is a bit of a problem. Quite simply, none of our scientific theories are up to the task. We attempt to understand the evolution of space and time and all the mass and energy within it by applying Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. This theory works extraordinarily well. But when we’re dealing with objects that start to approach the infinitesimally small – elementary particles such as quarks and electrons – we need to reach for a completely different structure, called quantum theory.

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Holy horsecrap, Batman! The equine BS vocabulary

When horses were a common means of transportation, horseshit was as common as potholes are today. While actual horse feces is rare nowadays, horseshit is as common as ever in our vocabulary.The list of synonyms and euphemisms—such as horsefeathers, horse hockey, horse hooey, horse pucky, and horse apples—is huge, taking up many pages in the Dictionary of American Regional English, Green’s Dictionary of Slang, and the Historical Dictionary of American Slang.

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Orchestrating the Nation Blog

Policing concert hall patriotism: causes

Policing patriotism at the concert hall is a time-honored tradition. One of the latest targets is the Fort Worth Symphony, which has endured public criticism for performing The Star-Spangled Banner regularly before its concerts. One fed-up critic, Scott Cantrell, recently urged all American orchestras to abandon the practice because a concert should “transport” listeners to “another world” away from “narrow nationalism.”

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Should intellectual property be abolished?

The Economist has recently popularised the notion that patents are bad for innovation. Is this right? In my view, this assessment results from too high an expectation of what should be achieved by patents or other intellectual property. Critics of intellectual property rights seem to think that they should be tested by whether they actually increase creativity.

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Max Planck and Albert Einstein

There was much more to Max Planck than his work and research as an influential physicist. For example, Planck was an avid musician, and endured many personal hardships under the Nazi regime in his home country of Germany.

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Social Work

The hijab can be a feminist act

Feminism and Islam are rarely considered to be complimentary to each other or even capable of coexisting. A mere cursory glance of any major media outlet and one can find endless articles, newscasts, and videos of radical Islam waging war against the West and systematically oppressing women. The image of the veiled Muslim woman has become emblematic of the patriarchal control Islam seems to yield unrelentingly over female followers of the faith.

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How fair are criticisms of the ICC?

It has become topical to say that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is in crisis. For some, the ICC has stepped from crisis to crisis. Even before its existence, the Court has been for criticized for its selectivity, statutory limitations, and potential overreach. The ICC faces serious challenges in relation to credibility, legitimacy and expectations. I would like revisit some of these critiques. Looking back at the past decade, it seems that both the work of the ICC, and some of its criticisms, deserve further scrutiny.

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