Open University

by Henry Farrell on August 31, 2006

The New Republic‘s “Open University”: blog is up and running. While I’m not at all a fan of the magazine itself in its Martin Peretz incarnation, this new venture has some very good people blogging for it, as well as others who’ll be quite interesting to watch from a safe distance.



Matt 08.31.06 at 6:54 pm

Did they just steal the name from the real Open University, or do they have some sort of agreement? From their announcement you’d have no idea that there’s this thing in the UK known as the Open University.


david 08.31.06 at 6:55 pm

Wow. Summers, Pinker, Thernstrom, and Wolfe. I know I’m a small person, but I can’t look away from the train wreck.


etat 08.31.06 at 7:16 pm

Indeed, it seems that some upstart opportunists are trading on the good name of a venerated institution. Perhaps with the intent of reflecting in the presumed glory of its namesake.

But the game will be over as soon as people find out whether the New Republic ever bought slippers for its staff:
“By September 1969, The Open University transferred to Milton Keynes with 70 to 80 people. That winter the site turned into a quagmire, with floods from the river and our building activities. One hundred pairs of slippers were bought to save the new carpets.”

Might as well have a look at who’s on staff, and what kind of standing the OU has in academic circles.


astrongmaybe 08.31.06 at 7:22 pm

But will they have late-night TV programmes where shy, bearded men in woolly jumpers explain generalized functionals in Gaussian spaces? Bet they won’t.


Jim Henley 08.31.06 at 7:31 pm

They couldn’t call it Slightly Less Crooked Timber?


will u. 08.31.06 at 8:11 pm

Where is Stuart Hall, I ask?


Backword Dave 08.31.06 at 8:28 pm

Jebus. The fourth post opens “A few years ago, I was involved in some studies that uncovered a funny fact”. Note that ‘uncovered’, I’ll be asking questions later. I looked up the author — he graduated in 1975, and went into Law. Funny how he managed to uncover a phenomenon first researched before he was an undergrad. And it was pretty well known when the first papers were published.

And the thing that can be done is what sensible governments have done for years: run select committees (or whatever they call them) with more or less equal numbers from each side; ditto the Supreme Court/Law Lords etc.


Barry 08.31.06 at 8:28 pm

It’s Peretz’ TNR; nobody comes out with their reputation intact.


Thomas 08.31.06 at 9:05 pm

backward dave, Sunstein’s contribution, such as it was, was to apply the research you are familiar with to a new context. He’s not claiming that he discovered the phenomenom, but that he was part of demonstrating the phenomenom is relevant to understanding judicial decision-making. (Sunstein is, by the way, a rather prominent US legal academic.)

Henry, how old are you to prefer the pre-Peretz New Republic to its current incarnation? It’s been a long 31 years for me.


Henry 08.31.06 at 9:23 pm

Thomas – I’m not quite sure how you came up with that quite peculiar reading of my post (or rather, I should say that I have quite a good idea as to _why_ you came up with so very strained an interpretation). But if we were to pretend for a moment that it was a good faith question, I’d reply that I’m a fan of the literary criticism of Edmund Wilson, and the poetry criticism of Randall Jarrell, both of whom published extensively in an earlier incarnation of the magazine.


koshem 08.31.06 at 10:06 pm

Why are people so eager to mention Peretz as devil incarnate instead of just strongly opposing his views?


anonymous 08.31.06 at 11:12 pm

Henry – when I read your post I had a *very* distinct idea arise that Peretz must have bought The New Republic about a decade or so ago, given the way you phrased it. It was distinct enough that when Thomas noted it had been 31 years, I was surprised and felt stupid for not knowing that. So I wouldn’t call his interpretation “very strained” at all…


anonymous 08.31.06 at 11:43 pm

Henry – when I read your post I had a very distinct idea arise that Peretz must have bought The New Republic about a decade or so ago, given the way you phrased it.

Me too.

Part of the problem, I think, is that the magazine has gotten much worse of late. I think you could date it roughly to the end of the Clinton era, but it’s hard to remember exactly… I cancelled my subscription with the beginning of the “war” “on” “islamo” “fascism.”


dsquared 09.01.06 at 1:44 am

Why are people so eager to mention Peretz as devil incarnate instead of just strongly opposing his views?

Because he runs a shit magazine as well as having repulsive views. In person, people who have actually met him say he’s an asshole too.


Matt 09.01.06 at 1:08 pm

It also seems that you must be a subscriber to post comments. I rather doubt they will have a good comment section (most blogs don’t)and I’m not very optimistic about high-quality blogging from several of these people (I expect ghost-writing from Summers.) But this doesn’t seem a good feature. I’d hoped to ask them if they’d even consulted with the actual Open University about using its name. I give this thing 6 months at most.


Dustin 09.01.06 at 8:14 pm

My, aren’t we the negative ninnies?


nick s 09.01.06 at 8:15 pm

Where is Stuart Hall, I ask?

This appears to be more of an Eddie Waring operation.


JL 09.03.06 at 6:29 am

To be a negative ninny, it’s really a bad idea to roll out a new supergroup blog “unlike any other out there” with posts on why Islamofascism isn’t a very useful word, laments about the end of “Deadwood”, and a mediation of some points of debate between Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong. ‘Cause that’s pretty much like a million other blogs out there.


Chris Williams 09.04.06 at 3:36 pm

I’m one of those cravat-wearing academics* and I did a bit of a double-take when I first encountered this site. The main problem is that TNR’s blog _isn’t very good_. I wonder if our legal department are going to ask them to take it down.

*Don’t worry, gentle reader, it’s only a metaphorical cravat. On appointment we receive a ceremonial cravat with the OU logo on it, but we are sworn never to wear it in public.

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