Even when pretending to be wealthy, even when wealth comes by chance, a person is significantly more likely to behave selfishly.
Tips on keeping writing among competing happenings (via Qld Writers Centre).
We live in a highly time-regulated culture, where we jam our body’s natural cycles into rigid schedules that often don’t accommodate our health, wellbeing and cultural needs. Here’s a nice article from The New Yorker about the ills of the snooze button and some of the side-effects of our unnatural sleep-wake patterns.
Whereas most employment (please correct me if I’m wrong in assuming this) continues as long as you’re doing what’s required of you to a reasonable standard, scientific research requires employees to constantly prove they’re worth re-employing. This worth is measured in quantifiable outputs such as number of publications (and their journals’ impact factors) and research funding won each year. This is the “publish or perish” system. But surely as scientists, we should be questioning and testing whether or not this is a good system. Does it produce better quality research? Does it lead to more discoveries? Can it facilitate work that takes decades to complete and whose worth to society may only become apparent many years later, if at all? How does basic research – the quest for understanding – fit into this paradigm where even government funding stipulates that the research must produce outcomes with commercial potential?
Here is an excellent article from The Guardian, with 2013 Nobel Laureate, Peter Higgs, addressing the problem with our obsessively measuring outputs in an inherently uncertain field of endeavour.
(On the other hand, I would be perfectly happy to see politicians held to a similarly rigorous scrutiny of their track record, come election time. That’s something for a scientist to dream of…)
Also from The Guardian, another N0bel Laureate explains why his lab will no longer submit to top-tier scientific journals, and how the “high-impact bonus” is not encouraging the best scientific practice.
I would be interested to find any analyses of how the current system of funding and employment is working, and what the alternatives might be. Please leave comments if you have any leads for me to follow up.
“An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport.”
This is a beautiful and inspiring talk by a mayor who showed the leadership, vision and guts to do what was right in the face of opposition, and has been vindicated through tangible improvements in quality of life. Watch and learn, Cities of Suburban Sprawl!
I also just found out here that John Stansfield is also Advocacy and Campaigns Director for Oxfam New Zealand, directing Oxfam’s GROW campaign. Good stuff!
You can also find more hilarious and marvellously practical goodness from him in these videos:
Our copy-cat no-dig gardens are coming along nicely. Thanks JS!