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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

What Norway might tell us about Venezuela’s economic crisis

It is common to blame Venezuela’s current crisis on the price of oil. Despite sitting atop the world’s largest proven oil reserves, the Venezuelan economy is in a shambles and the country is gripped by chaos. When the price of oil fell precipitously in 2014, so too did Venezuela’s access to foreign exchange. Without this money, Venezuela has been unable to buoy the country’s national oil company and the social programs and food subsidies that support the sitting government.

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That someone else: finding a new oral history ancestor

Dan Kerr acknowledges in his article, “Allan Nevins Is Not My Grandfather,” that most historians of oral history tend to dismiss the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) as a mere “prehistory” of the field, because the vast majority of FWP interviews were recorded with pen and paper rather than with machine.

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Understanding the origin of the wind from black holes

Contrary to common belief, black holes don’t swallow everything that comes nearby. In fact, they expel a good part of the gas of the centre of galaxies. This happens when a wind of ionized gas is formed in the vicinity of the black hole. In the case of supermassive black holes that occur at the centre of many galaxies, they produce a wind that can interact with the galaxy itself shaping its evolution through time.

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Journal of Social History cover

Curing (silent) movies of deafness?

Conventional wisdom holds that many of the favorite silent movie actors who failed to survive the transition to sound films—or talkies—in the late-1920s/early-1930s were done in by voices in some way unsuited to the new medium. Talkies are thought to have ruined the career of John Gilbert, for instance, because his “squeaky” voice did not match his on-screen persona as a leading male sex symbol. Audiences reportedly laughed the first time they heard Gilbert’s voice on screen.

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Children, obesity, and the future

Recent research reflects some of this range of aetiological factors that influence childhood obesity. Global perspectives from countries of study including Brazil, Australia, England, South Africa, China, and a review of the international literature cover topics frequently reported by the media, like the food environment, unhealthy food advertising policy, weight management interventions, and associations with gender and sleep.

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The challenge of Twitter in medical research

One advantage to the clinician of the technological revolution is the rapid access to medical information. Every morning I spend ten minutes over coffee looking through the latest Twitter feeds from the major medical journals, to skim through what research might be emerging in fields other than my own niche (I still enjoy reading the paper editions of journals to cover my specialist area).

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English: The Journal of the English Association cover

Ivanka Trump’s sleeves (too long; didn’t read)

Like our students, we scholars don’t always finish our reading – but unlike our students, we are professionally cultivated in the crucial tasks of deciding what to read and how to read it. We might better equip our students if we openly discussed TL;DR instead, thereby acknowledging not only the great unread but the existence of a wide variety of reading modes, always working in concert with our cherished close reading.

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Oral history and the importance of sharing at Pride in Washington D.C.

Back in March we heard from our friends at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) at the University of Florida, who had traveled to the Women’s March on Washington as part of an experiential learning project. Building on the work they did at the Women’s March, they returned to Washington, D.C. in June to document the city’s Pride Weekend, including the Equality March for Unity and Pride, the QT Night of Healing and Resistance, and more.

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Does “buying local” help communities or conflict with basic economics?

As summer approaches, picturesque roadside stands, farmer’s markets, and fields growing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) dot the horizon from the Golden Gate to the Garden State. Consumers go to their local Farmer’s Market to keep spending local and to hopefully create jobs in the community. They “buy local” to reduce environmental impacts. Some believe interacting with neighbors builds trust within the community.

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BioScience cover

Society is ready for a new kind of science—is academia?

In her 1998 essay in Science, Jane Lubchenco called for a “Social Contract for Science,” one that would acknowledge the scale of environmental problems and have “scientists devote their energies and talents to the most pressing problems of the day.” We were entering a new millennium, and Lubchenco was worried that the scientific enterprise was unprepared to address challenges related to climate change, pollution, health, and technology.

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International Affairs

As IS territorial dominance diminishes, what challenges lie ahead for Iraq’s Kurds?

On the ninth of June, Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi Prime Minister, arrived in Mosul to congratulate the armed forces for the liberation of the city. Mosul had been conquered by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014 and served as its Iraqi capital. This significant victory is not yet the end of ISIS in Iraq, however, both in Iraq and in Syria its territorial dominance has strongly diminished—by about 60 % since January 2015.

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Obscene intentions and corrupting effects

The Picture of Dorian Gray frequently ridicules the idea that fiction may have corrupting effects. But Wilde’s criticisms of the logic of obscenity law went beyond these statements about the sterility of the work of art.

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Does pregnancy affect how food tastes?

Thus, we set out to review the existing studies of human pregnancy and taste to catalog the trends occurring across pregnancy, to see how we may leverage what we are beginning to understand about taste modulation from human and non-human research. This may help to generate hypotheses for future investigations to ultimately question the long held assumption that these changes in taste are solely driven by hormone fluctuations.

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Radio telescopes to detect gravitational waves

Sensationally detected for the first time by the LIGO instrument in 2015, gravitational waves are ripples in space-time – the continuum of the universe – that propagate outward from astrophysical systems. The question is: can we find more of these gravitational waves and do it regularly? Some years ago we have devised a method of finding far more of them, and from weaker sources, than is possible with present techniques with the help of radio telescopes and natural astrophysical masers.

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The human microbiome and endangered bacteria

Each and every part of us harbours its own microbial ecosystem. This ecosystem carries some 100 billion cells, known as the microbiota. They started inhabiting our bodies 200,000 years ago, and since then we have evolved side by side to configure a balanced system in which microbes can survive in perfect harmony, provided no perturbations occur.

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Hearing to heal

At the 2014 OHA Annual Meeting, the African American Oral History Program at Story For All received the prestigious Vox Populi Award, one of the highest honors in the oral history world.

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