To the USA, perhaps… But mostly neither here nor there…

  • There’s an interesting flare-up occurring over Moammar Gaddafi’s son Saif’s Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, involving respected political theorists David Held and Benjamin Barber, among others. (See Eric Schliesser for more.) The issues it raises are as old as the oldest profession: universities’ acceptance of money from dubious sources and whether it’s possible for that money not to have “strings attached,” the role of advisers and examiners in checking out every potential instance of plagiarism, the glamor of well-dressed and politically well-placed youth (why wouldn’t you want to teach Gaddafi’s son if he seems smart and interested in what you have to say?), etc. I once taught a niece of Robert Mugabe’s; nothing interesting to report about it, though — she didn’t talk much, and seemed to do her own work.
  • PJ Harvey has released the best album I’ve heard in a long time. Unlike the direct, blood-on-the-tracks, take-no-prisoners brand of edgy rock she’s best known for, Let England Shake comes swaddled in fur, silk, wool, war, sadness, and layers of English history. But the songwriting, if less direct, is as good as anything she’s done. It bears repeated listening. (I’ve linked to eMusic there because despite its selling out to corporate giants over the last two years, it still remains a good deal compared to iTunes and Amazon, and if you join it based on this recommendation, feel free to include me in the deal so I can get some freebies in the transaction.)
  • Visual studies guru Nick Mirzoeff has started a wonderful blog called For the Right to Look. See his posts on visuality and the revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere here and here.
  • And, finally, a hat tip to Tim Morton for sharing (while blogging from an ecocriticism conference at Rutgers) the following video of an underwater cabinet meeting by the government of the Maldives. Amazing. Somehow I missed that when it happened in September. (Three & fifty cheers to 350.org.)

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