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The story of “adz”

I am picking up where I left off last week. The word adz(e) was coined long ago and surfaced more than once in Old English texts. It had several local variants, and its gender fluctuated: adesa was masculine, while adese was feminine. Also, eadesa and adusa have come down to us. Apparently, the tool had wide currency.

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How African presidents rig elections to stay in office

There are at least 19 African countries where the heads-of-state have overstayed beyond their term limits via (un)constitutional revisions: Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea (which is trying once more in 2020), Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. […]

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How Title IX changed American ballet

It has been nearly 50 years since Title IX of the Education Amendments was passed in 1972, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex by federally funded entities. Title IX proved critical in opening many fields of endeavor to girls and women and is perhaps most famous for its impact on sports. According to Women’s […]

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How work conditions shape healthcare

A few hours before he died, my patient, a 21-year-old man (a boy, really) who was undergoing treatment for a blood cancer came to my ward from the emergency department where he had presented with fever. His parents came with him. The emergency clinicians had begun the right protocol to address his fever. My duties, […]

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How religion affects global pandemics

People sometimes see religion as an unwelcome infection affecting the secular politics of international relations. Such attitudes easily present themselves in consideration of terrorism and violence. Religion is seen to distort and hamper the healthy peaceful progress of secular politics, operating as an outside pathogen that inflames tensions and challenges already present in global affairs. Religion […]

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Governments should tackle air pollution by banning old cars

Air pollution continues to be a serious problem in many cities around the world in part because of a steady increase in car use. In an effort to contain such a trend and persuade drivers to give up their cars in favor of public transport, authorities increasingly rely on limits to car use. Some places […]

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Why Iran’s dependence on China puts it at risk

The depth of ties between China and Iran was revealed dramatically in late February 2020, when news broke that some of Tehran’s most senior officials had contracted the coronavirus. By early March, one of Iran’s vice presidents, the deputy health minister, and 23 members of parliament were reported ill. A member of the 45-person Expediency […]

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How air pollution may lead to Alzheimer’s disease

Air pollution harms billions of people worldwide. Pollutants are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, and forest fires so they are found everywhere. One of the most dangerous of these, fine particulate matter, is 20 to 30 times smaller than a strand of human hair. Their tiny […]

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Learning microbiology through comics

What do most people know about microbes? We know that they are tiny creatures that can attack us, causing illness, and kill us. Recent outbreaks such as measles and the Wuhan coronavirus are discussed in the media heavily.

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Some of our tools: “awl”

The names of weapons, tools, and all kinds of appurtenances provide a rare insight into the history of civilization. Soldiers and journeymen travel from land to land, and the names of their instruments, whether murderous or peaceful, become so called migratory words (Wanderwörter, as they are called in German: words errant, as it were). I […]

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Transnational labour regulation and international trade: towards a complementary approach

In today’s globalised economy, the free movement of goods, services and capital impels countries to compete for trade and foreign investment by lowering their labour standards. International trade is therefore widely perceived as instigating regulatory competition between countries, or a ‘race to the bottom’. The challenge that international trade poses for countries’ labour standards has been a central concern of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since its establishment.

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100 years of the Nineteenth Amendment and women’s political action

On 28 August 2020 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the day the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. Although the Amendment did not enfranchise all women –African American, Native American, and Latina women would wait decades before they could vote on equal terms– the event is an important milestone in women’s political […]

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Bring—brought—brought

Soon after the previous gleanings (February 26, 2020) were posted, a correspondent asked me to clarify the situation with the “prefix” br- in breath and bring (see the post on breath for January 22, 2020). I mentioned this mysterious prefix in connection with Henry Cecil Wyld, who accepted its existence in bring but doubted its validity in breath. From a historical point of view, we have two different components, even if both go back to Indo-European bhrē-. James A. H. Murray thought that br- in breath is a remnant of the root meaning “burn,” as in breed ~ brood, while br- in bring traces allegedly to the zero grade of the verb bear (zero grade is a term of ablaut; in this case, no vowel stands between b and r in br-; hence, “zero”); so Wyld, though, as we will see, the idea was not his. By contrast, in the full grade, as in bear, from Old Engl.

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How youth could save the Earth

Major global environmental problems threaten us. Recent scientific reports show that we are falling short on tackling climate change or stopping biodiversity loss, meaning that the Earth’s climate is under threat and natural species are undergoing a mass extinction wave. While these global environmental issues persist and become more urgent, policymakers have trouble elaborating and […]

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How dating apps reflect our changing times

As we look forward to explore what’s next in love and sex, it makes sense to examine to the heart. That which lovers have once worn on their sleeve is now being navigated in the palm of our hands. With mobile devices and apps letting us literally explore desires with our fingertips, as social scientists […]

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