Posts by 81stcolumn

  • Speaker: Inequality: Too big to ignore,

    I quite literally came away none the wiser to what the guy was on about at all, however entertaining he was as a lecturer. He clearly knew his Camus and Sartre, but I didn’t really come away knowing what advice he’d be giving anyone about anything, when it came to conducting a business.

    I think I may know who that is.... in his defense he's a nice guy.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Public Address Word of the…,

    Probably a little obscure but.....

    OIA

    Chop chop

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Market failure in the research world, in reply to Some Stats,

    The article seems to conflate the basic value and function of what is described as "Green" and "Gold" access (quite patronisingly too).

    I place high value on repositories as a means of preserving and distributing work, but they are not, and transparently do not serve the same function as Journals.

    My point stands that once you move outside Medicine and Natural Sciences things are a good deal more difficult for a variety of reasons.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Market failure in the research world,

    Some thoughts in no particular order.
    i) The cost of open publishing is high in my field where there is pretty much no research money it is prohibitive. In fairness to my boss choosing between open journals and extending an RA contract for a month is a bit of a no brainer.

    ii) I don’t think it’s just me who has published in open journals and then been spammed forever?

    iii) Another problem is that mainstream journals are properly indexed and open journals less so in my area. Working for a dean who would rather chop his/her hand off than sign off on conference travel means pretty much all the postgraduates in our team came from within and those from overseas through citations. My point in a roundabout way is that mainstream and postgraduate recruitment is connected to big journals too.

    iv) I think it somewhat ironic that governments will negotiate an agreement like the TPPA and enable organisations like this but would not dream of signing a treaty that could change this overnight.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West,

    "And there goes my rates bill up 10%."

    Being in a "skyrocket" suburb I hope mine doesn't increase by more. Over the years we have been punished for being next to a "good school" zone.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Cilla!,

    For some of us it may still be too soon, at the mere mention of Cilla my only thought is "lorra lorra foon". Which is a shame because damn she could sing. Give it another twenty years or so....

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Terror panics and the war imperative,

    A problem which is not helped at all by various Western discourses* that actually limit the scope of the Saudi government, which may be imperilled when seen to be giving in to Infidels. Indeed the current witch hunting does seem to look like that similarly political vehicle of Catholicism The Inquisition.

    Which took place in the 12 and 13th centuries

    Apologies I was a bit lazy in making my point. It always amuses me that Saudi Arabia is referred to as an absolute monarchy as this would imply relatively simple rules of succession and authority. In reality the king has to propose a successor and can only pass laws/decrees* with the approval of the Ulema under the terms of the agreement between Saud and al-Wahhab. Ulema are Islamic scholars, who run the judiciary and advise the king. The most influential group amongst the Ulema are the Al ash-Sheikh family, descendants of al-Wahhab. Hence the king is surrounded and to some extent contained in his authority by Wahhabi scholars. A critical point of local control and influence is the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. When I lived in Saudi these were known to me as Mattawa - the religious police. Though they report directly to the King they are by nature an extension of clerical authority. In the past we all knew not to upset the Mattawa, but were not deeply fearful of them. As pointed out, their activities of late have taken a sinister turn for the worse. It was this that drew a comparison with the Inquisition and invited my own speculation that this change is politically driven and not necessarily with the complete blessing of the King or the Consultative Assembly * *. It may be pushing the point a little to suggest that this alarming regression is a reflection of the dissonant politics of the country and the region as a whole.

    Witch-hunts and snatching apostates however limited in numbers isn’t in keeping with the country I left behind and really very unpleasant. The old agenda was “reform in our own time”; this sadly seems to have gone. I make this point in the knowledge that the nation state that describes itself as Saudi Arabia is only 82 years old. Like much of the Middle East a coherent national identity still comes second to an array of regional and tribal interests. By way of contrast, it took America more than 50 years to grant female suffrage and another 40 or so years to grant universal suffrage. My point being that the world expects a great deal of a new nation in terms of modernisation, democracy and rights.

    And John Key is looking forward to going to Saudi Arabia next year to negotiate a free trade agreement.

    I mean, can we get even a little condemnation up in here?

    I have no problem at all with western democracies being very critical of their own duplicity. Indeed I wish it would happen more often. After all when you see two kids scuffling in the yard do you throw them each a knife? Because it is worth remembering that USA, Russia, Britain and France have happily armed just about everyone in the region at different times; making substantial profits from a regional arms race that is proving to have dire consequences.

    I also sometimes wonder what difference it would make if the world just consumed less oil………



    *As noted in the programme Sharia is a living interpretation of “gods will”. The important implication here is that there is no common law, no constitution or bill of rights. Basic human rights are determined through clerical interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah. In the absence of case law, courts can be very political and somewhat arbitrary in judgement. This is problematic, but then again so is the 2nd Amendment of the US constitution.

    ** The consultative assembly is a 150 person council made up largely of overseas educated technocrats 30 of whom are women.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Terror panics and the war imperative,

    I thought he could have been a lot less equivocal about the vile punishments employed in Saudi Arabia

    In fairness you didn't give him a lot of space to work with. The elements preceding the discussion afford an unkind line of equivalence to be drawn between the activities of ISIS (IS) and Saudi via sharia law. As Toi points out the issues around this are somewhat complex. Sharia is a scholarly device for interpretation of in Islamic terms "gods will". The problem here is not the device but the context of interpretation. Saudi Arabian governance is dominated by Wahhabism. You can’t really discuss Sharia in Saudi without examining the historical and contemporary relationship between the family of ibn Saud and Wahhabi. This in the simplest of terms plays out like the relationship between Catholicism and European Monarchy with one key weakness, that there is no divine right to rule under Islam. In terms of social and intellectual authority this limits the power of any leader in Saudi to modernise. A problem which is not helped at all by various Western discourses* that actually limit the scope of the Saudi government, which may be imperilled when seen to be giving in to Infidels. Indeed the current witch hunting does seem to look like that similarly political vehicle of Catholicism The Inquisition. I am quite sure that many Wahhabi scholars would much prefer a pure theocracy rather than one which reflects a 250 year old legacy deal with a strong and somewhat fortunate tribal leader. Wahhabism does in fairness provide a more logical link between what goes on in Saudi and ISIS but I think it is reasonable to say that similarities end there.

    For the sake of balance it is worth noting the scope of the struggle within Saudi Arabia through some often overlooked facts on the ground. Take a look at the relationship between KAUST and Saudi Aramco. For as much as they may be described as “window dressing” they are real, very un-Wahhabi and rarely ever discussed in any media analysis of Sharia or Saudi politics.

    While I would prefer not to be seen as an apologist for beheadings, I do despair at the one dimensional analysis of affairs in Saudi Arabia. This at times seems driven by self-serving caricatures and historically wilful ignorance. I am deeply sceptical of “springs” and “shoots of democracy” that too often have tragic consequences. They appear to me at least to have deeply sinister overtones when set against the broader context of politics and economics in the broader Middle East.

    <disclaimer> I was born in the Middle East and did some significant growing up in the region. It has been some time since I left the region and my interests/opinions are personal rather than academic.

    *I would seek to include another so called “theocratic democracy” in that discourse which is very much part of the problem but I won’t go on about that at risk of a Middle East Godwin.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Time to Vote,

    Gotta say I love voting in NZ me and the wee man went together and then I went for a run in the sun. What a chilled out day after the past few weeks. Perhaps now I'll get some work done......

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Why we thought what we thought,

    The inference in Cameron Slater's email that blogger and lawyer Cathy Odgers had any influence over that column is risible.

    So it is reasonable to infer that Fran and Cathy Odgers were in communication?

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 732 posts Report Reply

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