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1. Keys and bolts

I received a question whether I was going to write about the word key in the series on our habitat. I didn't have such an intention, but, since someone is interested in this matter, I’ll gladly change my plans and satisfy the curiosity of our friend.

The post Keys and bolts appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. The IOM’s effort to dislodge chronic fatigue syndrome

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently released their report regarding a new name (i.e., systemic exertion intolerance disease) and case definition for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). In brief, the IOM proposed that at least four symptoms needed to be present to be included in this new case definition [...]

The post The IOM’s effort to dislodge chronic fatigue syndrome appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. What can we learn from the lives of male feminists?

In the span of one week at the beginning of February, two of the largest cultural events in the United States featured prominent messages about ending violence against women. The NFL gave away coveted air-time to run this ad from the NO MORE campaign.

The post What can we learn from the lives of male feminists? appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Are ultra-low interest rates dangerous?

The industrialized world is currently moving through a period of ultra-low interest rates. The main benchmark interest rates of central banks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the euro-zone are all 0.50% or less. The US rate has been near zero since December 2008; the Japanese rate has been at or below 0.50% since 1995. Then there are the central banks that have gone negative: the benchmark rates in Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland are all below zero. Other short-term interest rates are similarly at rock-bottom levels, or below.

The post Are ultra-low interest rates dangerous? appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Abraham Lincoln, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, and the Dred Scott Case

Dred Scott, an African-American slave, appealed to the Supreme Court for his freedom based on having been brought by his owners to live in a free territory. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, writing for the majority, wrote that persons of African descent could not be, nor were ever intended to be, citizens under the US Constitution, and thus the plaintiff Scott was without legal standing to file a suit.

The post Abraham Lincoln, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, and the Dred Scott Case appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. A festival of colorful emotions

It is as if a massive color palette fell on earth from the hand of the Almighty. The whole atmosphere is painted with bright colors—red, pink, yellow, blue, green, and purple. Young and old, men and women—all are soaked in colored water, running around, laughing loudly, shouting, and throwing mud on each other. It is a war where a water gun is your weapon, colored water is your bullet, and colored powder is your smoke screen.

The post A festival of colorful emotions appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Does marijuana produce an amotivational syndrome?

Does marijuana produce an amotivational syndrome? Whether the amotivational syndrome exists or not is still controversial; there are still too few poorly controlled small studies that don't allow a definitive answer. Most people who use marijuana don't develop this syndrome.

The post Does marijuana produce an amotivational syndrome? appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. How do Russians see international law?

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 was a watershed in international relations because with this act, Moscow challenged the post-Cold War international order. Yet what has been fascinating is that over the last years, Russia’s President and Foreign Minister have repeatedly referred to ‘international law’ as one of Russia’s guiding foreign policy principles.

The post How do Russians see international law? appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. How do we protect ourselves from cybercrime?

Modern society requires a reliable and trustworthy Internet infrastructure. To achieve this goal, cybersecurity research has previously drawn from a multitude of disciplines, including engineering, mathematics, and social sciences, as well as the humanities. Cybersecurity is concerned with the study of the protection of information – stored and processed by computer-based systems – that might be vulnerable to unintended exposure and misuse.

The post How do we protect ourselves from cybercrime? appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Let’s finally kick the habit: governance of addictions in Europe

More than a century ago, on 23 January 1912, the first international convention on drug control was signed in The Hague. A century later, despite efforts made at all levels and vast quantities of evidence, our societies still struggle to deal effectively with addictive substances and behaviours. Reaching a global consensus has proved harder than kicking the worst drug-taking habit.

Nonetheless, the meeting of the Global Commission on Drug Policy held on 9 September 2014 in New York might be a turning point.

The post Let’s finally kick the habit: governance of addictions in Europe appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Four questions for Boehner, Bibi, Barack, and Biden

Tomorrow night’s appearance before a joint session of Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu raises four important questions. 1. Should Speaker John Boehner have invited the Israeli Prime Minister to speak without first consulting with President Obama? Answer: No. As a matter of law, the Speaker had the authority to extend this invitation to the Israeli Prime Minister without consulting with the President. As a matter of policy, however, this was a bad practice.

The post Four questions for Boehner, Bibi, Barack, and Biden appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. An A – Z guide to Nicolas Nabokov

Who was Nicolas Nabokov? The Russian-born American composer had a huge impact on music and culture globally, but his name remains relatively unknown. He had friends and acquaintances in a variety of circles, whether his cousin the writer Vladimir, the poet Auden, or the choreographer Balanchine.

The post An A – Z guide to Nicolas Nabokov appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Does philosophy matter?

Philosophers love to complain about bad reasoning. How can those other people commit such silly fallacies? Don’t they see how arbitrary and inconsistent their positions are? Aren’t the counter examples obvious? After complaining, philosophers often turn to humor. Can you believe what they said! Ha, ha, ha. Let’s make fun of those stupid people. I also enjoy complaining and joking, but I worry that this widespread tendency among philosophers puts us out of touch with the rest of society.

The post Does philosophy matter? appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Suffragist Lucy Stone in 10 facts

Lucy Stone, a nineteenth-century abolitionist and suffragist, became by the 1850s one of the most famous women in America. She was a brilliant orator, played a leading role in organizing and participating in national women’s rights conventions, served as president of the American Equal Rights Association [...]

The post Suffragist Lucy Stone in 10 facts appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. The sombre statistics of an entirely preventable disease

Sore throats are an inevitable part of childhood, no matter where in the world one lives. However for those children living in poor, under-resourced and marginalised societies of the world, this could mean a childhood either cut short by crippling heart failure or the need for open-heart surgery.

The post The sombre statistics of an entirely preventable disease appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. Are you as smart as a dolphin? [quiz]

Dolphins are famous not only for their playful personalities, but also their striking level of intelligence. After half a century studying their minds, scientists have learned a lot about how dolphins think, and the nature of their intelligence. You’ve probably heard a lot about dolphins over the years, but how much do you know about the latest scientific research into dolphin cognition? Take the quiz and find out!

The post Are you as smart as a dolphin? [quiz] appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Four remarkable figures in Black History

Given the scope and the length of time I’ve been working on the African American National Biography (over 13 years and counting), selecting just a few biographies that were somehow “representative” of the overall project would have been an impossible task. Instead, working with The Root’s managing editor, Lyne Pitts, I chose four entries that showcased some of the diversity of the collection, but focused on hidden or barely remembered figures in black history.

The post Four remarkable figures in Black History appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Rebel Girl: Lesley Gore’s voice

In 2005, Ms magazine published a conversation between pop singer Lesley Gore and Kathleen Hanna of the bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. Hanna opened with a striking statement: “First time I heard your voice,” she said, “I went and bought everything of yours – trying to imitate you but find my own style.”

The post Rebel Girl: Lesley Gore’s voice appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. Wolf Hall: count up the bodies

Historians should be banned from watching movies or TV set in their area of expertise. We usually bore and irritate friends and family with pedantic interjections about minor factual errors and chronological mix-ups. With Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and the sumptuous BBC series based on them, this pleasure is denied us. The series is as ferociously well researched as it is superbly acted and directed. Cranmer probably didn’t have a beard in 1533, but, honestly, that’s about the best I can do.

The post Wolf Hall: count up the bodies appeared first on OUPblog.

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20. Five Biblical remixes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Civil Rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a theologian and pastor, who used biblical texts and imagery extensively in his speeches and sermons. Here is a selection of five biblical quotations and allusions that you may not have noticed in his work (in chronological order). 1. “And there is still a […]

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21. Clarity about ‘the gay thing’

Sometimes, we say what we don’t really mean. ‘You look really tired’, for example, when we mean to be caring rather than disparaging of appearance. ‘I thought you were older than that!’ when we mean to applaud maturity rather than further disparage appearance. And so it is with the gay thing. The accidental difference between what people are saying or writing, and their intended meaning, is becoming perplexingly polarized.

The post Clarity about ‘the gay thing’ appeared first on OUPblog.

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22. Emily Brontë, narrative, and nature

Catherine’s removal from the plot (other than as a haunting presence in the background, much less potent hereafter than the waif-like child ghost whose wrist Lockwood rubs back and forth across the broken window glass till the blood runs freely (p. 21)) has seemed to some readers to weaken the second half of the novel. One modern critic has suggested, indeed, that the whole of the second-generation narrative was an afterthought.

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23. Creating a constructive cultural narrative for science

The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) is currently running a series of events on Humanities and Science. On 11 February 2015, an Oxford-based panel of three disciplinary experts — Sally Shuttleworth (English Literature), John Christie (History), and Ard Louis (Physics) – shone their critical torchlights on Durham physicist Tom McLeish’s new book Faith and Wisdom in Science as part of their regular ‘Book at Lunchtime’ seminars.

How can we understand the relation between science and narrative? Should we even try to? Where can we find and deploy a constructive cultural narrative for science that might unlock some of the current misrepresentations and political tangles around science and technology in the public forum?

In exploring the intersection of faith and science in our society, positive responses and critical questions at the recent TORCH Faith and Wisdom in Science event turned on the central theme of narrative. Ard Louis referred to the book’s ‘lament’ that science is not a cultural possession in the same way that art or music is, and urged the advantage of telling the messy story of real science practice. John Christie sketched the obscured historical details within the stories of Galileo and Newton, and of the Biblical basis beneath Frances’ Bacon’s vision for modern science, which serve to deconstruct the worn old myths about confrontation of science and religion. Sally Shuttleworth welcomed the telling of the stories of science as questioning and creative, yet suffering the fate of ‘almost always being wrong’.


What resources can Judeo-Christian theology supply in constructing a social narrative for science – one that might describe both what science is for, and how it might be more widely enjoyed? The project we now call ‘science’ is in continuity with older human activities by other names: ‘natural philosophy’ in the early modern period and in ancient times just ‘Wisdom’. The theology of science that emerges is ‘participatory reconciliation’, a hopeful engagement with the world that both lights it up and heals our relationship with it.

But is theology the only way to get there? Are we required to carry the heavy cultural baggage of Christian history of thought and structures? Shuttleworth recalled George Eliot’s misery at the dissection of the miraculous as she translated Strauss’ ‘Life of Jesus’ at the dawn of critical Biblical studies. Yet Eliot is able to conceive of a rich and luminous narrative for science in Middlemarch:

“…the imagination that reveals subtle actions inaccessible by any sort of lens, but tracked in that outer darkness through long pathways of necessary sequence by the inward light which is the last refinement of energy, capable of bathing even the ethereal atoms in its ideally illuminated space.”

Eliot’s sources are T.H. Huxley, J.S. Mill, Auguste Compte, and of course her partner G.H Lewes – by no means a theological group. (Compte had even constructed a secular religion.) Perhaps this is an example of an entirely secular route to science’s story? Yet her insight into science as a special sort of deep ‘seeing’ also emerges from the ancient wisdom of, for example, the Book of Job. In his recent Seeing the World and Knowing God, Oxford theologian Paul Fiddes also calls on the material of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes to challenge the post-modern dissolution of subject and object. Participatory reconciliation emerges for both theologian and scientist motivated to draw on ancient wisdom for modern need. Was Eliot, and will all secular thinkers in the Western tradition be, in some way irrevocably connected to these ancient wellsprings of our thinking?

An aspect of the ‘baggage’ most desirable to drop, according to Shuttleworth, is the notion that scientists are a sort of priesthood. Surely this speaks to the worst suspicions of a mangled modern discourse of authority and power? Louis even suggested that the science/religion debate is really only a proxy for this larger and deeper one. Perhaps the Old Testament first-temple notion of ‘servant priesthood’ is now too overlain with the strata of power-play to serve as a helpful metaphor for how we go about enacting the story of science.

But science needs to rediscover its story, and it is only by acknowledging that its narrative underpinnings must come from the humanities, that it is going to find it.

Headline image credit: Lighting. CC0 via Pixabay.

The post Creating a constructive cultural narrative for science appeared first on OUPblog.

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24. Nineteenth and twentieth century Scottish philosophy

In the history of Britain, eighteenth century Scotland stands out as a period of remarkable intellectual energy and fertility. The Scottish Enlightenment, as it came to be known, is widely regarded as a crowning cultural achievement, with philosophy the jewel in the crown. Adam Smith, David Hume, William Robertson, Thomas Reid and Adam Ferguson are just the best known among an astonishing array of innovative thinkers, whose influence in philosophy, economics, history and sociology can still be found at work in the contemporary academy.

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25. Democracy is about more than a vote: politics and brand management

With a General Election rapidly approaching in the UK, it’s easy to get locked into a set of perennial debates concerning electoral registration, voter turnout and candidate selection. In the contemporary climate these are clearly important issues given the shift to individual voter registration, evidence of high levels of electoral disengagement and the general decline in party memberships (a trend bucked by UKIP, the Greens, and the Scottish National Party in recent months).

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