theoretical computer science, economics, and academic life in general. Writing in personal capacity, not representing my employer or other colleagues
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Miscellaneous political stuff
Eminent economist Willem Buiter gives an impassioned rant against Google on his blog. I like Buiter's blog, but I'm still a fan of Google. Concerning the invasion-of-privacy issue, I am still more concerned with the Government's tendancy to invade our privacy -- if you don't like some private company, at least you don't have to use it.
This article is attracting attention on academic blogs; here is a lengthy discussion. My thoughts - it is healthy to get challenges to some of the ingrained assumptions about how academic life ought to be. Most of the proposals are a bit off the wall and lacking in focus, but I think it is well worth questioning the merit of academic tenure in the US. As Craig Venter remarked in his autobiography, really smart people don't need tenure in order to keep them motivated, or to maintain their job security (I am paraphrasing from memory).
From Policy Exchange, the think tank that gave us the notorious Cities Unlimited report (which I discussed earlier), comes this report, on why British universities should not be prevented from having to close down due to bankruptcy. The fundamental error in the report is its failure to recognise that in reality, universities can close down in all but name -- it may well be that there are legal obstacles to making one cease to exist as a legal entity, but for all practical purposes, bankruptcy would be just like for an private company.