The text message fairy

American mobile phone plans are a bit weird. For one thing, an individual contract is comparatively expensive, but a two phone contract – one for me and one for Mrs TTE – is  extremely cheap. Continue reading The text message fairy

A plea for an end to this vile injustice

On Saturday night, 24 minutes into the World Cup match against Ghana, Australia’s soccer public was sent into a spiral of confusion, anger, doubt and foul language, with the sending off of marquee player Harry Kewell. Continue reading A plea for an end to this vile injustice

Want to make a fortune? Go back to 1869 and start a scientific journal

Call it Nature

Allow me to enlighten you. This is how Nature and most other academic journals work:

Researchers pay to have their work published in the journal.

The journal asks other eminent academics in the relevant field to review the paper for free.

Universities and other institutions pay for subscriptions to the journal.


I swear, these guys must have baby seal fur-lined swivel chairs, Porsche cars for each day of the week and probably a money pool in their London N1 office. Otherwise, I don’t know how they would pass the time. What do they do!?!

Continue reading Want to make a fortune? Go back to 1869 and start a scientific journal

The end of the age of media*

I’m going to tell a story in three phases.  The phases compress and distort history in order to illuminate vital elements.  In that way the story is like a cut-away model, sacrificing wholeness for insight…

Media and communication are in flux. People are worried. The long journey of human communication – like the travels of a cruise ship – might not culminate in a fearsome drop into nothingness. Instead it may be more like a circumnavigation, where the waters we are entering are not as unfamiliar as they have seemed. Continue reading The end of the age of media*

How should we rank universities?

I live down the road from the University of California (UC) Berkeley campus. UC Berkeley is quite well-known and has a good reputation, including being rated the best public university in the USA. Their website also lists the national ranking of all their ‘graduate’ (PhD) programs (including lots of firsts, seconds and thirds).

But what do these rankings reflect?
Continue reading How should we rank universities?