Author Archives: Stephen

Intelligent life: Isaiah Berlin

Thanks to the paucity of my education and cultural life I have come late to Isaiah Berlin, the noted philosopher and historian of ideas whose thinking provided such a guiding light to the 20th Century. But I’m definitely a fan … Continue reading Continue reading

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Part-time talking

Things have come to a pretty pass when the UK can churn out Prime Ministers more frequently that I post to my blog. It might be taken as a sign of the times if the times weren’t so damned confusing. … Continue reading Continue reading

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Passing the Baton

“The Queen is dead; long live the King!” is such a cliché of stories and films that it was surprising to hear it for real. Not that we did hear it for real. The secrecy surrounding the Queen’s final hours … Continue reading Continue reading

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A Declaration on Bicycle Assessment – the Decision

Reader, I bought a Brompton. After all my research – and a considerable amount of humming and haa-ing – I finally took Henry’s advice and went to my local bike shop to test-ride a couple of different eBike models. The … Continue reading Continue reading

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A Declaration on Bicycle Assessment

You’d think assessing bicycles would be a lot easier than assessing researchers, but I’m not so sure. Though I spend quite a bit of time as chair of the DORA steering committee pondering how best to evaluate research and researchers, … Continue reading Continue reading

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To the sea

With emails running alongside for the first part, barking for attention, we beat a retreat from London. The clamour of work was soon swamped by the heat and light and sights and sounds and smells of Barcelona, and by the … Continue reading Continue reading

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Message for my reader

For the longest time I have been meaning to get back to—ugh!—blogging. Regular readers, should any remain, will see that this is the first post of 2022. I haven’t broken any promises with the hiatus and have no excuses to … Continue reading Continue reading

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Books of the Year

One final look back before I turn to face 2022. Following a practice started last year, I have maintained a thread of tweet-sized reviews of the books that I read in 2021 – all of them. There are only eighteen in … Continue reading Continue reading

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Photographs of 2021

Continuing the theme of gently exercising the writing muscle by composing posts made mostly of pictures, I present here the round-up of what I think are the best photographs that I took in the past year. 2021 has been a … Continue reading Continue reading

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In the garden

What is it about living through a pandemic that has quelled the motivation to write? I suspect is may have something to do with the unstructuring of time, or rather its reduction through confinement to rhythms that bore through repetition. … Continue reading Continue reading

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For my mother

Black masked, weighed down by grey grief, We carried you into the church To be wrung out of our sodden farewells. But you had already gone. It was a slow journey to that sombre altar. In the last years the … Continue reading Continue reading

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A Reckoning with Huxley’s Legacy

Recognition and Redistribution for Imperial College’s Community This is a guest post by my former colleague, Dr Rahma (Red) Elmahdi, in which she lays our her reaction to the Imperial College History Report, and in particular the recommendation to rename the Huxley … Continue reading Continue reading

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The Huxley Question

Writing in The Observer a couple of weeks ago, Kenan Malik cast a sceptical eye over a report published by the history group at Imperial College that had been asked to reflect on “the current understanding and reception of the … Continue reading Continue reading

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To be or not to be exceptional?

I can’t remember how I came across this video from philosopher Alain de Botton, but I feel seen. Like many academics, I guess, I have always prized scholarly achievement. And of course, within our systems of research assessment, we are … Continue reading

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Books of 2020

I made what I think was a smart move at the beginning of 2020. Instead of waiting until the year’s end and then struggling to recall what I thought of the books I had read, I created a Twitter thread of … Continue reading

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