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FJM
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Seen this a few years ago, but didn't get what Portillo wanted to achieve in this film. How's this a topic that needs to be investigated by a British politician? But hey, at least he gets to debate your Lieblingsfeind Rob Blecker. So what's your take on the whole thing?
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2011 on The Nitrogen Method at German Joys
@15m: Of course, serious German academics (and yes, these people do exist) can easily distinguish the careerists from real doctoral candidates, i.e. those young people (not 40-year-old politicians) who actually intend to work in academia after completing their degree. But I think Andrew is right in saying that this is not enough. On the contrary, this is exactly what’s so depressing about the current situation. There simply shouldn’t be any career doctorates at all, full stop. Professionals in fields outside academia who really want to enhance their career chances can do an MBA or something of this sort. Plus, why do professors accept “external candidates” in the first place if they know that those usually produce nothing but rubbish? No, this system evidently needs an overhaul. @Andrew: However, and to be fair, I think Germany was in category three, not two, even before the plagiarism scandal broke. If it had been in category two, Guttenberg would still be in office because, per definitionem, nobody would have cared. The cases of Guttenberg, Koch-Mehrin etc. demonstrate that people do care and that cheating has consequences, but that the folks in charge – even high-ranking professors and deans – are utterly deluded about the cause of the problem. They simply don’t want to acknowledge that it was a flawed system of recruiting and evaluating doctoral candidates that led to the disaster, not individual wrongdoing. I watched the Koch-Mehrin case particularly closely because, after all, it happened at my university, and I was baffled by the reactions of K-M’s supervisor (now an emeritus) and the current dean, who told the press (“Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung”, 18 June 2011) that A) plagiarism-detection software was not yet around in 2000 when K-M’s thesis was handed in (which is wrong) B) it shouldn’t be used anyway as there should be a state of trust between supervisor and candidate (why then, not between professors and candidates in written exams? Maybe candidates should be allowed to sit exams in their living rooms if only they promise not to look up the answers) Summa summarum: I think Germany is in category three, but contrary to your hopes it won’t move anywhere near category four in our lifetime if German professors continue to be so naïve.
Although Prof. Gumbrecht makes a few very good points, he is utterly out of touch with German reality in at least one respect: contrary to what he claims, there are now TONS of debating clubs all across Germany, a notable one being this one.
Toggle Commented Nov 5, 2010 on Gumbrecht Dissects Deutschland at German Joys
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Mar 15, 2010
In Germany, there is a consensus that capital punishment is wrong (perhaps not among the general population, but among the elites who run the country; as for the average folks, I recently spotted a bumper sticker that read “Stoppt Tierversuche – nehmt Kinderschänder”). The standard arguments apply: inhumane, atavistic, doesn't allow for correction of judicial errors etc. I personally subscribe to that view, so do most German journalists as members of said elite, so do most lawmakers, and so does a certain professor of Anglo-American law at the University of Düsseldorf (according to numerous blog posts he has written on precisely this issue). Andrew, if you want German journalists to accommodate for the feelings of surviving relatives, you need to explain to them WHY they should do so. Yes, that may sound retarded to you, but that’s how this society works. We love our consensuses. And it won’t be easy to convince a German journalist to show ANY respect towards a proponent of the death penalty. In fact, it may be easier to convince the Mullahs of Iran to legalise gay marriage. So why don’t you explain to us consensus-ridden Europeans why you, as an American opponent of capital punishment, believe that its advocates should be given a voice? Why do you personally think that there should be more crying moms in German broadsheets? [Btw, I also don’t think it is condescension that drives the German mainstream media to ignore the victims’ viewpoint. Rather, it is the widely accepted commandment “Thou shallst not breach the consensus by giving its opponents a PLATFORM”. And the “don’t provide a platform” argument applies to all issues ruled by the consensus, from capital punishment to whether Lothar Matthäus should be given a job in the Bundesliga (the consensus says no).]
My first association was Jeanne d'Arc, although admittedly her story differs slightly from the one reported here (rather than saving anyone from the stake, she ends up there herself). But yes, the heroine soldier is a common motif in many mythologies. To what extent it is anthropological would be interesting to find out.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2009 on Transcultural Tapestries at supply and command