All entries for May 2006
May 30, 2006
Reporters from Warwick’s respected student paper _Bora manage to get a rare glimpse of the University’s chief educationalist, Professor VandeLinger, in between two meetings. A unique portrait in the corridors of University Power._
B: Mr. VandeLinger! May we steal a moment of your Precious Time to ask you A Thing Or Two?
VdL: How striking, students! And quite assertive they are too!
B: Mr. VdL, may we be so bold as to ask your opinion on the current payment deadlock between the University’s administration and its lecturers?
VdL: What seems to be the problem?
B: For the past months they have been demanding a payrise of a spectacular 23%. The entire University is discussing the issue and we have all reason to believe that this impasse will cause a whopping 85% of students to consider walking out (according to a poll we took). As a self-respecting paper we furhter do not shun suspecting a conspiracy of outrageous self-enrichment at the top.
VdL [sunk in thought]: I see, that cannot be in our interest. I was not aware of the problem. You see, I was busy trying to set up another campus elsewhere. Yet I don’t see why they shouldn’t have their payrise! I, for example, recently royally topped up my own wage. [jovially:] Yes, let them have it! I like to see everyone happy at this University.
Assistant [with worried look on her face]: But Professor VandeLinger! We really can’t afford such claims! We can barely afford a mere 12.6%! I myself have to take a bus to work nowadays! [etc.]
VdL: It is a shame to see you so unhappy my dear. Do not fear, I will see to an extra 23% for you too.
B: We have evidence from an Anonymous Yet Trustworthy Source that students are at this very moment conspiring to storm this building in order to ensure definite and binding diplomas…
VdL: [growing somewhat impatient]: I don’t know who was supposed to take care of this, I will look into it and give them a good lecture! [suddenly sees the solution!]: But that’s it! This campus I was going to build is not happening anyway! I’ve got some money left! Gentlemen reporters, quote my new policy: “Benefactor VandeLinger Grants 25% Payrise, Students And Lecturers Alike!”
May 26, 2006
Writing about web page http://www.myspace.com/thepanama
Our Big Rock Career is taking a flight. You can now hear some of our tracks on our new myspace-page. On this page you can also find gig dates (some week 10 stuff confirmed, more to follow) and a little bio.
Waiting to hear your reactions!
Writing about web page http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/mhillebrandt/gallery/panama/
Now up on my blog: 10 photos of Panama’s demo recording. Click here to check it out.
More news to follow very soon, including confirmed gig dates.
May 20, 2006
So I’m sitting in Leamington’s library. A nice place near home where you can actually find a place to sit without difficulty on a Saturday afternoon. This way I can get up a bit later and still motivate myself to study a bit without having to waste nearly an hour getting onto campus.
I have finally motivated myself to write a two-hour mock exam. In a somewhat nervous and fidgetty fashion strangely similar to the real thing I have a last look through my notes. I have made an essay outline so clever and dynamic that it can tackle even the most trickily phrased questions on coming Wednesday’s exam. And then, five minutes into my time, a voice over the intercom announces:
(echoy voice) “THE AFRICAN DRUMS PERFORMANCE, PART OF THE CULTURAL WEEKEND, WILL BEGIN IN FIVE MINUTES, DOWNSTAIRS IN THE LIBRARY”
What a peculiar arrangement, djembes in a library. We should try that in the Warwick library sometime.
May 18, 2006
The SOCIAL SCIENCES and POLITICS: A DEBATE – Michael Burawoy & Charles Turner
Professor Michael Burawoy – University of California, Berkeley.
Dr Charles Turner – The University of Warwick.
12th June 2006, 5.00 – 7.00 pm
The University of Warwick
Drinks reception to follow
All welcome, free admission
Should be fun, Turner is a lecturer of mine. Show up in great numbers!
May 16, 2006
Writing about web page http://www.vvd.nl/index.aspx?FilterId=974&ChapterId=1147&ContentId=4977
Here is a headline in the Dutch papers that I would like to pick up and share with Europeans as I believe it has a wider significance for immigration politics.
For as far as I am aware, the Netherlands are about to set yet another immigration harshness precedent: a parliamentarian of foreign background (originally from Somalia) is now to be removed from office and from Dutch soil before August, as she originally lied about her real name in a bid to gain Dutch citizenship.
For the last three years, Ayaan Hirsi Ali had sat in the Second Chamber (equivalent to the British lower house), where she represented the Liberal Party (VVD) and had been continually outspoken against certain strands of Islamic thought which she considered “incompatible with the legal state”.
From the outset, she had made it clear that she had lied about her name when she first came to the Netherlands, for tactical purposes. Only now, when this information somehow reached the wider media (not that it had been kept a secret either), Mrs. Verdonk, Minister of Immigration, had Ms. Hirsi Ali’s record tracked. Within 24 hours, the verdict was unequivocal: she had never legally obtained citizenship. What will be next in this sequence of events that increasingly make me ashamed to have such people at the head of our government? Our reputation of tolerant liberals is steadily declining, all because of a number of arbitrary measures. Look out in next week’s Economist for this story. See also her statement in English.
QUITE A FEW people have been approaching us Clemens-Streetians in front of our house or in the street, asking us for amounts varying between 10 and 50 p. All weekend we were getting more curious… What could this mean? Had the price for crack gone down? Were they really speaking the truth and hence short of 20 pence to get a train to go see their dying grandmother? Are money lenders in the back streets getting more pushy these days? Note that this small-amounts begging had appeared quite suddenly!
Until… one faithful day, I went to the supermarket down the street and there saw a sign advertising “Cans of Carling, 80 Pence”. No longer do I wonder.
May 14, 2006
WATER water water. And nothing but water.
If only an inch of land! An inch of no-matter-what land!
To set one foot on! If only!
We begged the gods for that! All of them!
Water gods, land gods, southern gods, northern gods,
For an inch, a strip, a scrap of any kind of land!
No more than just to support one claw of one foot!
And nothing. Only water. Nothing except water.
Water water water.
If only a speck of land!
There is no salvation.
Aleksander Wat in “Postwar Polish Poetry”, edited by Czeslaw Milosz
May 12, 2006
Every week the days become warmer. The sun allows its rays to make longer hours on earth, filling every corner with radiant light. The tree behind our house has suddenly turned from a meagre stick into a voluptuous extravaganza of juicy, fresh leaves, evidence of a pending summer through the little high window in our living room.
Inside the house it is cool and shimmering. As in a mediterranean house in one of those tranquil countryside towns, our house dwells in a peaceful street, letting the spring in with its bright blue and smooth breeze.
My room is on the backside of the house. Sat behind my laptop, I try to get some words up on the screen. I type, think, drift off. A big fat bee comes zooming in through the open window. It flies its flight of discovery through my room, then dwells a bit, seemingly hesitant whether to leave the building into the wide spring skies, rooftops with orange panes; buzzing between various sorts of wild grasses appearing in unattended backgardens. Gently, I help it to find the way out of the window. I respect bees, they can only sting once in their life – they need to face the consequences of their one great deed. Plus they’ve got nice fur.
Now the streetside of the house is a different story. My housemate finds himself in a constant struggle to fight the flies out of the room. Flies have a nervous, manic nature. Their skin is harder, uglier, more functional. As in compulsion they maintain an imperfect circle around the lamp that hangs in the middle of my housemate’s room. Their paranoid mania prevents them from ever flying anything slower than TGV speed, never flying straight longer than a split second.
They have reason to be stressed out. My housemate jokingly confided me that if my side of the house is the Bee-side, than his must be the A-side. Today, one of his flies found its way to my room. With a newspaper, I pursued it, until, by some strange fortune, I managed to racket it against the window. I fell straight down.
Throwing the fly out (“And don’t you come back!”), I gazed out over the wasteland of back alleys and dirty gardens. Only then I noticed that a building was gone. Just, gone. It must have been levelled to the ground within a day. We now have new neigbours, I guess. I sighed; too much for one day. The only place I wanted to be on now was the seaside.