Academic Blogging

by Brian on September 14, 2005

I agree entirely with Henry that blogging can be extremely useful for an young academic career, although perhaps not for exactly the same reasons.
[click to continue…]

International banking conspiracies

by Henry on September 14, 2005

There’s been a lot of back-and-forth in Italy recently about the role of the governor of the Bank of Italy in blocking a foreign takeover of a domestic bank, and possibly showing favouritism to one of his mates in the process. This is creating a rift in the main government party, Forza Italia, between those (led by economy minister Domenico Siniscalco) who want to try to force him to resign, and those (including Berlusconi) who are trying to duck the issue. But there’s an accompanying story which, as far as I know, has received zero attention in the American press. A prominent member of Forza Italia has come out with his theory of why foreign bankers want to come to Italy – a conspiracy among the Elders of Zion. According to this “editorial”:http://www.corriere.it/Primo_Piano/Editoriali/2005/09_Settembre/13/quando.shtml (English version “here”:http://www.corriere.it/english/editoriali/Riotta/130905.shtml ) in _Corriere della Sera_, Guido Crosetto, a member of the Italian parliament’s finance committee, has announced that the Italian banking sector is (my translation) “proving tempting to many, above all to the hordes of Jewish and American freemasons who are already at the doors.” When asked to clarify, he “limited himself to pointing out that Merrill Lynch was ‘a particular institution in which the shareholders were specifically Jews.'”

I don’t need to stress how disgusting this is. But it’s also a little strange that it hasn’t been picked up in the US press and blogosphere (the Italian media didn’t do a great job either until the last day or two). There’s a minor cottage industry that tries (sometimes on the basis of quite remarkably dubious evidence) to identify instances of West European anti-Semitism, usually in order to insinuate that it’s the motivation behind European policies on the Middle East. But as a result, it focuses its attentions either on the European left, or on right-wingers (such as the French government) who opposed the Iraq war. The patently anti-Semitic outbursts of a politician in a party that’s one of the Bush administration’s few allies in Western Europe apparently don’t merit the same level of attention, just as Berlusconi’s own comments about “Mussolini’s prison camps”:https://crookedtimber.org/2003/09/11/he-made-the-trains-run-on-time-you-know/ and his notorious cracks about concentration camp kapos were greeted with silence from the right.

Update: translation slightly modified and English version of editorial added thanks to comments.

Blogging and academic jobs

by Henry on September 14, 2005

“Ralph Luker”:http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/15702.html has a round-up post of reactions to the second “Ivan Tribble” “missive”:http://chronicle.com/jobs/2005/09/2005090201c.htm on blogging and academia. This is something that I’ll be speaking to substantively in the near future in a longer piece; for the moment, I just want to observe that blogging has been helpful in a very practical but unexpected way to my academic career. I moved last year from the University of Toronto to George Washington University (I loved Toronto and the university, but had good personal reasons, unconnected to the Department, to move). I know for a fact that my blogging at Crooked Timber played a minor (but real) role in helping me land my current job – one of the people involved in the job search for a new position was a CT reader, clicked through to my homepage, and saw that my research interests seemed a plausible fit with the Department’s needs. I suspect that the blog only played a marginal role in helping bring me to the attention of my current Department, but when you are one of many people applying for a job, every bit of name recognition helps. I can easily imagine how some kinds of blogging wouldn’t be helpful – but the vast majority of academic blogs that I read don’t fit into the rather peculiar stereotype that Tribble seems keen to perpetuate.

Power to the people

by Maria on September 14, 2005

The European Parliament has just launched a fantastic new website that should be a model for any similar organisation. It has a snappy design, great navigability, and the breadth and depth to accommodate casual surfers and political hacks. The news page is particularly inviting and informative, and gives a sense of the sheer range and volume of vital issues going through parliament at any given moment. You can look up MEPs’ motions, resolutions and reports (a feature sorely missing from the old website), and also get a live video stream of the main parliamentary events of the day. There was a roundtable discussion on blogging on Monday that looked interesting – but they don’t seem to be archiving this stuff yet (I’ve emailed a question to the webmaster and will post the response in the comments thread if I get one soon enough.). Oh, and it’s available in 20 languages too.

I hope the EP can keep up the work to sustain this enormous but beautifully user-friendly website. It’s a huge step in keeping the institution closer to the people it serves. Next time you meet someone who says it’s all just too complicated and impossible to follow, give them this url. There are no more excuses for being unengaged.

Update: Oh dear, the English version homepage of the website is unavailable – teething problems, I presume. Deep links still work, so I’ve replaced the two links in this piece to the EP homepage with one to an internal page.