Laurie Taylor – 22 October 2015

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

October 22, 2015
Jacinto Benavente monument, Buen Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain
Source: Alamy
Distinctive profiles: a scholar and a righteous dude

Let’s talk about me

Our Corporate Director of Human Resources, Louise Bimpson, has strongly backed those delegates at the recent 2:AM Amsterdam altmetrics conference who stressed the importance of academics having one centralised profile on social networks rather than appearing separately on Facebook, Google Scholar and LinkedIn.

She did, however, agree that this would not be a simple goal to achieve as some academics cultivated “somewhat distinctive profiles” on differing sites. She instanced Professor Lapping of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies, who presented himself on Google Scholar as “a senior academic researcher with a profound ongoing theoretical interest in the epistemological and ontological preconditions for the development of an overarching theory of media practice” but also chose to describe himself on the Tinder hook-up site as “an outgoing independent man” who “enjoyed comedy gigs”, ”liked to keep fit and active” and “was equally happy with a night out or curled up on a sofa with a DVD”.

Neither, added Ms Bimpson, was it “all that easy” to reconcile the LinkedIn portrait of Professor Lapping reclining in a book-lined study with the Plenty of Fish selfie showing him sitting astride an elephant and declaring his passion for three-piece Leeds-based indie electronic group alt-J and their SFX remix of hit track Breezeblocks.

Professor Lapping was unavailable for extended comment, but through his secretary Maureen he spoke of his “deep intellectual respect for Ms Bimpson’s initiative”. It was “nothing less than ‘amazeballs’”.

Russian clown Micha Usov performs with ballet costume
Low barre: Einstein en pointe

Singh something simple

“I entirely agree with Dr Singh.”

That was how our Director of Curriculum Development, Janet Fluellen, responded to the declaration by science writer Simon Singh that many of the recent attempts to popularise science through such artistic endeavours as a ballet about relativity and a photographic exhibition of famous mathematicians were wasteful failures.

She told The Poppletonian that she also very much shared Dr Singh’s view that the best science engagement was “largely dirt cheap” and “largely grass-roots”.

These criteria, she believed, had been “fully met” by the recent “Understanding Science Survey” initiated by her own department in which academic staff from non-scientific departments were offered prizes for correctly identifying “dark matter” from the following description: “Invisible to the eye, emits no light whatsoever, but nevertheless presses its dense chunky presence down upon the visible material of the world.”

She described the fact that 82 per cent of the academic respondents identified “university management” as the correct answer as “neither here nor there”.

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

A gremlin seems to have distorted the minutes of last week’s seminar on the best way to deal with “persistently sullen” students. Might I therefore ask you to make the following correction:

In the sentence beginning “Attendees also stressed the efficacy of smiling, good eye contact and positive evaluation of students’ contributions whether they came in the form of questions, comment or insights”, please delete the final phrase, “a sharp belt across the back of the head with the business end of a board duster”.

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