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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Spain 40 years after General Franco

Forty years ago today (20 November), General Franco, the chief protagonist of nearly half a century of Spanish history, died. ‘Caudillo by the grace of God’, as his coins proclaimed after he won the 1936-39 Civil War, Generalissimo of the armed forces, and head of state and head of government (the latter until 1973), Franco was buried at the colossal mausoleum partly built by political prisoners at the Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) in the Guadarrama mountains near Madrid.

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Einstein’s mysterious genius

Albert Einstein’s greatest achievement, the general theory of relativity, was announced by him exactly a century ago, in a series of four papers read to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin in November 1915, during the turmoil of the First World War. For many years, hardly any physicist—let alone any other type of scientist—could understand it.

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You’ll be a man, my son. Part 2

This is the continuation of the story about the origin of the Germanic word for man. Last week I left off after expressing great doubts about the protoform that connected man and guma and tried to defend the Indo-European girl from an unpronounceable name. As could be expected, in their attempts to discover the origin of man etymologists cast a wide net for words containing m and n.

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OWC Reading Group

‘I get more of a kick out of your bad temper than your good looks': Martial’s guide to getting boys

Martial adores sexy boys. He craves their kisses, all the more so if they play hard to get, “… buffed amber, a fire yellow-green with Eastern incense… That, Diadumenus, is how your kisses smell, you cruel boy. What if you gave me all of them, without holding back?” (3.65) and “I only want struggling kisses – kisses I’ve seized; I get more of a kick out of your bad temper than your good looks…” (5.46).

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OAPEN-UK: 5 things we learnt about open access monographs

In September 2010, the OAPEN-UK research study set out to investigate the potential of open access monograph publishing in the humanities and social sciences disciplines, which was, at the time, a relatively unknown concept. The collaborative study aimed to contribute to the evidence base and understanding of open publication models, in order to inform the direction taken by the scholarly community.

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Getting to the core of StoryCorps, and other audio puns

In two weeks, as students across the United States are enjoying their Thanksgiving break, StoryCorps wants to give us all a bit of homework. Calling it the Great Thanksgiving Listen, they are asking high school students to use their mobile app (available in iTunes or Google Play) to “preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans over a single holiday weekend.”

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The case for chemistry

What is all around us, terrifies a lot of people, but adds enormously to the quality of life? Answer: chemistry. Almost everything that happens in the world, in transport, throughout agriculture and industry, to the flexing of a muscle and the framing of a thought involves chemical reactions in which one substance changes into another.

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You’ll be a man, my son. Part 1

The title will probably be recognized at once: it is part of the last line of Kipling’s poem “If.” Unfortunately, Kipling’s only son John never became a man; he was killed in 1918 at the age of eighteen, a casualty of his father’s overblown patriotism. Our chances to reach consensus on the origin of the word man are not particularly high either.

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‘Tomorrow I’ll start living': Martial on priorities

‘Dear Martial’ – what a strange coincidence that Martial’s soul-mate, who leads the life he himself dreams of living, is called ‘Julius Martial’. In our selection we meet him first at 1.107, playfully teasing the poet that he ought to write “something big; you’re such a slacker”; at the start of book 3, JMa’s is ‘a name that’s constantly on my lips’ (3.5), and the welcome at his lovely suburban villa on the Janiculan Hill 4.64 is so warm, ‘you will think the place is yours’.

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The impact of On the Origin of Species

Charles Darwin was widely known as a travel writer and natural historian in the twenty years before On the Origin of Species appeared in 1859. The Voyage of the Beagle was a great popular success in the 1830s. But the radical theories developed in the Origin had been developed more or less in secret during those intervening twenty years.

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The future of scholarly publishing

In thinking about the future of scholarly publishing – a topic almost as much discussed as the perennially popular ‘death of the academic monograph’ – I found a number of themes jostling for attention, some new, some all-too familiar. What are the challenges and implications of open access?

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How to solve an anagram

Many word games—Scrabble, Words with Friends, Scribbage, Quiddler and more, involve anagrams, or unscrambling letters to make a word. This month, we take a look at how to do that unscrambling, so here is an anagram for you to solve: naitp.

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Preparing for AMS Louisville

We’re getting ready for the annual American Musicological Society Conference, beginning 11 November 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. From panels to performances, there’s a lot to look forward to. We asked our past and present attendees to tell us what make AMS and Louisville such exciting places to be this month.

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Cook_Yablo Paradox

Paradox and self-evident sentences

According to philosophical lore many sentences are self-evident. A self-evident sentence wears its semantic status on its sleeve: a self-evident truth is a true sentence whose truth strikes us immediately, without the need for any argument or evidence, once we understand what the sentence means.

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Debunking ADHD myths: an author Q&A

Psychologist Stephen P. Hinshaw, along with Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author Katherine Ellison, authors of ADHD: What Everyone Needs to Know, answered a few questions for us in hopes of decluttering some information about ADHD.

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