Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Confessions of a Christmas present lover

It's the time of the year when we talk about how horrible the practice of expensive Christmas presents is, wail about the consumer society, and criticize the material pleasure of receiving a gift.  I can't agree less. I love getting and giving presents, and the fact that some of my family have explicitly said they don't want presents makes me sad, over and over again, through the year.

First, I love giving gifts. When I am traveling or just walking around in stores, I often see something, remember a conversation with a person I love, and get it for them. They are close to my mind and heart, and if I see something I think will make them happy, I really want to contribute to that. This is of course limited by my wallet. I don't have unlimited funds, and I don't want to give gifts that make me angry or disappointed after giving them away and getting nothing in return. It has to be a gift I can easily give. Sometimes I knit, sometimes I buy, sometimes I go through my own stuff and hand on something I know will do better service with the other person. That's the way one of my fancier winter coats just left me - I used it very rarely, the person who got it was both delighted and in need of something warm and nice. When somebody doesn't want my gift, it feels like a rejection, one I am reminded of every time I see something I know they would love. I pick up a pin, a cap, a bottle of something nice, and I know the person I would get that for just doesn't want this, and I put it back.

Second, I love getting gifts. To that end I am pretty good at making my wishes clear to the ones I expect gifts from. But it doesn't matter if I wanted it or not. My mother would reliably give me cotton panties of the most sensible type imaginable, knitted socks, or occasionally a wool undershirt. When she was too sick to do her own shopping, she'd send me out with shopping lists of socks and shirts and mittens, and I'd pack up the many different objects for her to label, so I wouldn't know what was for me. In my whole life my parents gave me two special presents, the kind that made me feel like I had received something expensive and incredible. The first was a pair of red skis, when I was perhaps 6 or 7. No pair of skis since have been that nice. The second was a washing machine, just before my first child was born. We were extremely broke students washing everything at a fairly remote laundromat. My father would have none of that, so a washing machine I got. I really needed that thing, and it survived three moves. (It was however at the end replaced by the only machine to get her own name: "Bella", spoken with reverence through the 15 years she just kept doing what had to be done.) But I am quite aware that presents like those come only a few times in a lifetime. For the rest of the time it's all about thinking of each other. And if that thought happened to come in September, while there was a sale on sensible cotton underwear, so be it.

With our kids, we got into the habit of giving them items for their hobbies, sport and school for Christmas. That's when they got the special things that supported their activities. And then there were the books and games. Having a stack of books to read through Christmas has always been the very best gift of all. We all read fast, a lot and over a wide range of topics. When we're done with our own stack, it's time to raid that of the others...

Now that we all pretty much have our own incomes, what we give each other when we want to be really fancy are experiences. One year the grown up children gave us a dinner at a very special restaurant. That was a fantastic gift; a precious memory and a wonderful experience. We exchange tickets for shows, or pay each others' fees for streaming services. But we know that every present has been picked based on what we know of each other, and what we think about at a given moment. Even when we just give them money to shop for and the promise to go with them, or look after their children while they shop, it's a gift of consideration.

This is, of course, not a magical extravaganza of gifts, where we drown in the surplus. The only ones experiencing that are the grandchildren. But it's an exchange of tokens proving we have been thinking about each other. And the occasional stack of warm socks.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

New Year's resolution 2017

The last few years I have been blogging less and less. One of the reasons is Facebook. Where this used to be the main outlet for sharing small and big things that happened in my more or less academic life, Facebook entered and changed the game. Another is time. I hardly have time to write articles and I write a lot more applications. This means that I am not writing stuff I feel I can freely share.

Next year is my sabbatical though. From February until December I will be traveling, writing and reading. While friends and family live in my apartment in Copenhagen, I will be in different places around the planet, visiting different universities, writing in new libraries, speaking to different peers. I will be writing half of a book, editing half of a special issue of a journal, and working on several old articles that have been begging to be written over the last few years. And while I do that, I will also be working on my popular academic reporting skills, which is where this blog comes in.

2017 will be the renewal year of this blog, I think. It will be about academic travels, about different cultures and structures, about being a visiting scholar, living with new languages, exploring foreign spaces. And at the end, I hope to have found or defined anew my own voice.

And yes, I am writing it here, because it is public - even if only I will ever notice that I wrote it here. It's a resolution for 2017, and I hope to be able to keep it.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Mannegruppa Ottar - a man's group for real jokes

A lot of the links in this post are in Norwegian. I am still writing in English because this event is so similar to other, international events.

The digital space is a weird place, and when it starts to become a place for identity politics, it gets weirder. In Norway a group of men who just wanted a safe space for their stupid jokes and occasionally annoying sense of humour crossed the line. Their safe space was invaded by people who thought that this was a group for aggression against women, immigrants and children, and acted on that. One of the things they did was to attack a Norwegian blogger, known as Sophie Elise. She is a fashion blogger who has spent quite a lot on her looks, she likes make-up, she poses in bathing suits and shows off her tattoos.

For some reason, some of the members of "Mannegruppa Ottar" decided that writing harassing and hateful comments about her, including threats, belonged in a "closed" group of more than 30 000 random Norwegian men. (Mannegruppa Ottar means "Men's group Ottar" and refers to an infamous radical feminist group, which I assume represents their idea of the arch enemy.) But if we go with the "boys will be boys" school of thought, responding to them to tell them to stop being so mean ought to have been fairly unproblematic. It wasn't real, you know, just joking...

One of Sophie Elise's followers, a 13 year old girl, wrote what she felt about their harassment of one of her favourite bloggers. That was not acceptable, thought the group members. The minority that felt it was OK to be mean about women in this company immediately had a new target, and started describing what they wanted to do to a 13 year old girl - and it was NOT offering her a soda and some ice cream. The language was deliberately aggressive and upsetting, like the jokes about how to kill and rape babies, also a fun topic in this group.

As this became known the other members in the group that never did any of this, and who tried to speak up against it, wanted to do something about their image. Being a member of the group had turned them into outcasts, people were unfriending them, and they expressed distress about the posts and about how other viewed them. In order to try to fix their image they did as so many big businesses have done: they wanted to give money to charity, in this case to a group working to fight children's cancer. This was, to the sorrow of some of the men who had children with cancer, rejected. This is pretty much the same as happened to GG when they tried to buy forgiveness for their sins by donating to Ablegamers. Both the benefiting organizations are worthy causes - both refused because they didn't want to be used as pawns in an ongoing conflict.

Some, however, said "good riddance, now I know who hates freedom of speech." Well, no, not really. The activities they wanted to be allowed to keep on with included harassing women into silence, and with the help of the Norwegian police, they got one of their goals, as Sophie Elise removed the blogpost where she called them out. Using the well-known tactic of making threats until women are silenced isn't really free speech. It's a criminal offense. Because by Norwegian law, social media are not private communication if you have a certain number of followers - the limit is around 50. So a closed group of more than 30 000 people is clearly public, searchable mass-communication online.

I have to admit I am not fan of the more extreme fashion bloggers, but it's their choice how much they expose of their bodies, with or without silicone and photoshop. Also, I understand that men want to be allowed their space for bad jokes. I am a member of groups that post academic memes and groups with uplifting quotes to deal with chronic illness - I am not going to judge anybody for tasteless humour. But these are not jokes. What they are being criticized for goes beyond that. And it isn't like it is hard to understand these distinctions. It's not a matter of trying to decode subtle clues for political correctness, and finally finding a place where they don't have to guess what they did wrong now. This isn't making jokes about never being able to understand what your wife means when she says "fine".

The people I really don't understand are not the few who felt that it was fun to use this opportunity to be as offensive as possible. I have seen their language, their "humour" and their online nests. What I don't understand is how the ones who were offended, who tried to speak up against the worst offenses, could just keep being members. Is it so hard to find female-free jokes online that they have to suffer through a Facebook feed full of harassment, rape-threats, racism and homophobia to get to them? And how can they consider themselves victims? At this point, if they leave the group, people will forget about the membership in a couple of days, and they can leave the stigma of somebody unfriending them behind easily. The threats against Sophie Elise and the 13 year old girl may keep popping up in their feeds forever. In other cases we have seen that speaking out against harassment just makes it worse. And the more than 30 000 non-harassers of the group are hurt because they might be mistaken for somebody else, and unfriended?

If you happen to feel offended by such stigma, think really hard the next time you laugh at a joke about women, immigrants or homosexuals, and remember what it feels like to be included in a group others criticize, attack and make snap judgements about without checking if you are really one of those. Because not every woman who wears make-up is a fuckdoll, not every gay man is constantly cruising for anal sex, just like not every member of Mannegruppa Ottar agreed on the harassment and threats. If you want the respect to go both ways... then it has to go both ways.

PS: I have no idea if I know any members of this group, and I do not plan to find out. It's their business. But I monitor my comment field like always.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Nuance, culture, society and Facebook

September 9th 2016 the Aftenposten editor Espen Egil Hansen published a video addressing Mark Zuckerberg. In this video he explained why you can't treat all images the same. The picture he was talking about is the famous picture that quite possibly turned the flow of the coverage of the Vietnam war, the famous picture of a nine-year old girl running naked down a road, flanked by armed soldiers and with her back burned in a napalm attack. Author Tom Egeland had been publishing this image in connection to discussions on strong and shocking press photography. Facebook deleted his posts. Others posted it. It got deleted. Egeland posted it over and over again, and got denied from Facebook. A Norwegian expert on freedom of speech, Anine Kierulf, made a long post with several different nude images, some from art, some from pictures, and asked Facebook what was acceptable. The whole thing got deleted. The editor of Nettavisen, an online newspaper, wrote about the case on Facebook, and got denied. Why? It's a nude picture of a child, and as we know, Facebook really has problems with nudity. Ask any woman who has posted a picture of her own breasts, whether it is with a slightly erotic overtone, or if it is while breastfeeding or to discuss scars after breast surgery. Even the chest area of women with no breasts, where both have been removed in surgery, is too daring for Facebook.

Hansen's rant against Facebook caught the attention of several large newspapers. The Guardian wrote about it, Time Magazine wrote a piece and made a video about it, The Washington Post let us all know Facebook had changed their mind. It didn't hurt the cause that Facebook also deleted the post of Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg when she posted the picture.

This case is very interesting from several different angles. Questions kept popping up in my Facebook feed (very meta that). Is Facebook just a platform, or also a news provider, and as such, what kind of editorial responsibility does it have? At what point does a private platform turn into a public platform? Is Facebook now so big that Governments should look into how it practices freedom of speech, and should it be subject to the same kind of scrutiny and discussions about censorship and freedom of speech that nation states and national media are subject to? This example is a very good starting point for these discussions, and they will be revisited in media research for years to come.

Today's take on it from my side is however concerned with the importance of education: Cultural, historical, social. So far we have no algorithm that can recognize the kind of nuance needed to distinguish the picture of a woman bravely sharing her post-op scars from pornographic titillation. To a human being with the least sensitivity to images, context, stance and position, the difference will be very, very clear. And unless we accept that there is a difference, and this difference is important, we will never be able to develop better tools, nor to educate the humans who sit in key positions to do that kind of evaluations. The technology will keep being stupid, and our application of it will be even more so, to the point of being dangerously oppressive. Because oppression is what we get in a society that refuses to acknowledge nuance, context and shifting circumstances.

In short: this is why we need humanists and social scientists in tech-related work places, schools, education and research. Somebody needs to understand the difference between a revolutionary war photo and kiddie porn. It is, clearly, much harder than we thought.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Transmedial Storytelling at ITU 2016

Transmedial storytelling is the art of telling stories across multiple platforms. Henry Jenkins underlines how in order for this to be transmedial and not just a matter of remediation of a story, different parts of the story needs to be told in different media. This makes transmedial storytelling a kind of serial storytelling, but over several different platforms or modalities: print, film, games, voice, photo, painting, etc.

But transmedial storytelling is unlike serial storytelling in that it is not produced in a linear fashion. This means that we are not looking at a series where we see the story develop over time or with a simple causality. Transmediality often means that stories are linked into unity through perception rather than reseption. This means that logic and structure depends on the perceptions of the user/reader/viewer/ or what we prefer to call the people who enjoy making sense of often disjointed storylines. This links transmedial storytelling to non-linear or hypertextual storytelling. In the Wired article I linked to there, the author claims that hypertext fiction never took off. When we look at transmedial storytelling, we will see that this is spectacularly and increasingly wrong. The difference is that what we see today is not something as simple as a collection of links in a digital "choose your own adventure" book, but grand, complex and intricate stories developed over time and through the effort of a large amount of people.

In the course at ITU, we will look at how the computer offers us affordances that allows for a transmedial storytelling where we can all be part, in the role of our choice. We can be consumers and creators, critics, fans and helpers. We can play a vital role or create a derivative universe: but we can always choose how we want to be involved.

The main genre where we find transmedial storytelling actively used today is in Fantasy and Science Fiction. There may be many reasons for this, but I tend towards looking at the readers of these genres. They are often enthusiastic about technology, they are ready to be very engaged in the fictional worlds they follow, they form strong, tight fan networks, and they follow the fictional worlds they enjoy in any medium possible. And if they can't find anything new to feed their enthusiasm and interest, they create their own, through role-play, fan writing and other fan-based activities. This means that students of this topic at ITU may have to familiarise themselves with this genre. While it would be helpful to read some Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings or watch Star Wars, googling the different universes we will be talking about goes a long way. We will be looking at the Marvel Universe, at Game of Thrones, World of Warcraft and Lego, to mention some that will come up. If you want to understand, reading comics and watching animated series is great. However, you can easily follow this course without a deep understanding of this culture, as the Internet is a fantastic source of knowledge about both the formal productions and the fan practice in the many different cases that will be used.

But why do we spend so much time on these universes? Are they important? What is important in this case is the structure, the techniques and the forms, not necessarily the content. We see that journalists are increasingly under demand to produce transmedially, and there is no real model in place to help journalists remain critical and structured when print media fail. And while we may be nostalgic about print media, this situation will not be magically reversed. Instead we need to understand how the emerging structures of storytelling are built and maintained, what they do and how we can analyse and criticize them. The same goes for advertising that becomes integrated in the lives of the audience, using the audience to contruct their own parts of the advertising, such as with Intel and Toshiba's "The Beauty Inside" advertising (That blog has several other examples and interesting resources).

We want to be able to recognize and understand these structures, appreciate the labour put into their construction, and question constructively and critically the choices made by creators and participants. That is what the fall term will be about, and why we will be creating our own transmedial stories.

Link to 2015 course description.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Media-ludic approaches: Critical reflections on games and research practice

Emma Witkowski at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and I will be editors of an upcoming special issue on "Media-ludic approaches: Critical reflections on games and research practice."

The deadline is September 1st 2017, the journal is the Danish mixed-language (English, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) journal MedieKultur, with Kjetil Sandvik as main editor and Claus Toft-Nielsen as issue editor, and I can't wait to start the labour of love it will be to edit these articles. (and I wrote that with a straight face. I am discovering that I like editing.)

MedieKultur is open access, which in these times of insane pay-walls and publishing fees means you don't pay to publish and you don't pay to read! Media, Culture and Communication studies are also very strong and well developed in Denmark, which means that the articles will find a good audience and be treated by solid editors (beyond me and Emma). So since you are now almost convinced, here are the submission guidelines for authors.

From the CFP (Do go read the whole thing, it's not all that long and there's useful information):
The goals of this volume are in part to:
  • Explore questions on games and media studies methods, collaborations and productions, and to ignite critical considerations of existing and imaginable alternative instruments of study.
  • Examine the gaps and precarious methods in games research methods, for example covert ethnographic research, big data, socio-phenomenographical research, approaches to mixed methods (qualitative-quantitative) research, and small or single case studies.
  • Question how research concepts from the study of games have travelled and how they are exportable to media and communications and other game/play fields.
  • Expand on how the study of games raises new practical and ethical questions of established user/audience methods and theories.

By focusing on the question of methods in games research and media studies, this edition of MedieKultur presents a collection of innovative research perspectives, which can reach beyond the growing field of game studies and engage with interrelated subject areas such as audience studies, media sport studies, digital broadcasting, political economy, and leisure cultures research.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Life in Copenhagen: The great outdoors!

When I moved here I can from perhaps one of the most beautiful places imaginable. Walking among the fjords and mountains on the west coast of Norway, there is always something breathtaking to look at. The landscape challenges you physically by making every road a climb or descent, and emotionally by the endless shocks of breathtaking natural splendour. Even in the middle of the city, nature forces itself on you.
Ålesund: photo from Sunnmørsposten

Moving to Copenhagen, I expected to spend a lot more time inside. Museums, galleries, plays, movies, libraries, cafés, restaurants - I expected to never see sunlight again. That was until I discovered how easy it is to be outside when the nature isn't constantly forcing itself on you. Rather than slogging through sleet, slipping on ice or trotting through rain up steep hills and then going "screw this, let's just all leave at the same time and grab the car", I now roll easily along every morning and afternoon on my bike. When I go shopping I get on the bike or just walk along well kept sidewalks and past beautiful parks and buildings. In the summer half of the year I go for longer rides, taking the 45 minutes to visit friends outside the city center or to reach a nice beach or a larger park. The bike or my feet is how I get around when I am not getting on a plane. Even then I walk to the metro rather than call a cab, because the metro is just so much quicker to the airport.

Random balcony, random cat.

And then there's the aspect of doing things outside that I'd otherwise do inside. In Volda I had a large garden and terrace and a fantastic view. However, I also had a very short summer season with lots of rain and low temperatures, heavy winds even on really warm and sunny days (particularly then, due to the temperature differences land/sea causing strong winds), making it a rare occasion when I could sit outside. Here, once the temperature moves above 15 degrees, I can wrap up and move outside. The balcony offers a new room for entertainment and relaxation, but also for work. I invite friends for drinks and tapas, I spend the evenings wrapped in a blanket watching movies or series or just playing games, and have working days at home when I grade papers and write articles among the herbs and flowers on the balcony. All in all, through a year, I am pretty certain I spend a lot more time outside here than I did living in all of that spectacular nature. This is a cultivated landscape, designed for humans to move around in, to use fully.

But then I go back north, and I wonder...
Hjørundfjorden: Photo from Vikabladet

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


We imagine the edges of civilization as incredibly uncivilized, as if there is a core somewhere, far from the heart of civilized society, and then we work inwards towards some heart where we are all incredibly polite and mannered. And before I went on my quick visit to Svalbard, most of my ideas about life there came from what brief research I had done in the 80ies, while reading up on the King's Bay Affair while studying public administration. So, I imaged guys on Svalbard would all look like this:
This is Arne Kristoffersen, owner of one of the hostels in Longyear, working in the mine in the -80ies.

I also expected to be taken on a boat ride by these guys:
If they ever invite you to go, just say no. Instead, you can watch the movie from 1985, where the picture comes from: Orion's Belt. Or you can book one of the much more boring, but considerably safer, trips by boat to Bahrensburg.

You can see glaciers and seals, and feel the boat break the ice (literally), but without the added adventure of scamming tourists out of their guns or discovering illegal radio installations. The Russians sell vodka rather than try kill you for discovering their secrets. Definitely an improvement.

I also did not see any polar bears, for which I am both sad and grateful. While I was there a Finnish group of tourists shot and killed a bear they claimed had been acting threatening. With more tourists there, all wanting to see a bear and take home a photo, this is increasingly likely to happen.

All in all, what I found, was a place of intense beauty, a landscape as cold and unfriendly as you can imagine, but with a thriving, active community of people that wanted to cooperate and care for each other. As clearly a tourist, I was just another person to deal with quickly. But together with my son, who studies there this term, I got to see how the locals changed the moment they met somebody who cared enough to come and stay for more than a brief sight-seeing. And then I was included, and they would start telling me their stories. In the few days I was there I got countless stories about the love of Svalbard. They came spilling out randomly - the waitress filling in for a friend, the driver there to see what the winter was like - but all of them were in love with the place. Not everybody, of course. One woman I talked to very ready to go home. "It's like you never get down from the mountains", she said, and talked about her garden in the south of Norway. There are no lush gardens on Svalbard.

Longyearbyen has all you'd expect of a city, though. Shops - they giggle when they point out the "shopping centre" - preschools, schools, a hospital, a culture house, pubs and a high-end gourmet restaurant. Unlike in most cities most of the traffic is on scooters. Like in most places, the youth growing up there want the freedom of transportation, which means they are riding scooters rather indiscriminately from a young age. But most of all it has people who care about people. The museum dedicated to the history of Svalbard is also a history of people helping or failing to help, falling prey to this fierce nature in the attempt. As one of them put it: you need to be prepared to look out for and care about the others here, or it will be unbearable.

To me, the best of being human is exactly this: to stand together to make life better for all. And of course there are the stories of individuals who would rather sleep in a tiny shack in the mountains for the entire winter than actually relating to human beings, but mostly it is about communal effort and immense work by human hands. It is about creating a tiny little island of an environment where humans can live, against the vast nature outside. Yes, I did fall a little bit in love with it in this short visit, even if it's no longer the miners' town it still was in the eighties.

It's still one of the outer edges of our civilization, and if you want to learn about being human in the face of ruthless nature, you may just consider a winter in Longyear.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Reading one book on international women's day?

My suggestion for the day is Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. The two books tell the story of a young woman growing up in Teheran during the Islamic revolution, and her development into a young woman. It is as funny, painful and embarrassing as all stories of teen-age girls, but it is also a powerful reminder of where the events so extremely relevant to the current discussions start, and how important it is to be concerned about how a nation treats its women.

Bonus: Lovely drawings and an introduction to a part of history most don't discuss when talking about Iran of today.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Life in Copenhagen: Stress resilience

How do I deal with stress? Stress has suddenly come into focus in Academia, and the media write about it and its ugly relatives; mental health problems and alcohol abuse.

Today we were sent off to a mandatory stress resilience workshop here at ITU, and while I can say a lot about that, I am going to keep it for the evaluation form. It did however make me think about what I do about stress. Before that, a big disclaimer: Stress in Academia in Denmark is mainly caused by systematic imbalances which the management needs to address. All I can do, with no particular position or responsibility, is to deal with it personally and socially. I am not going to claim that I know the beginning and the end of it, but I do try to handle stress for myself and for the sake of my colleagues. Here are the strategies I have found to work:
  • I try not to let my temper get away with me. This is a big one. While a lifetime of repressing immediate responses makes me appear quiet, that is surface only. My anger and frustration is an orca just below the surface, ready to explode in the face of some innocent victim. But that would be horribly unfair, and would just make things worse for us all. My killer whale of a temper is my problem, not that of everybody around me. I suspect it occasionally breaches the surface though. Sorry about that.
  • I practice ways of letting go. For me, that means gaming. When I play a game, I engage fully in solving a problem for fun, whether it’s how to crush candy or how to kill a boss.
  • I practice ways of thinking things through constructively. This is not meditating on something. I avoid meditating. Meditation makes me angry (see the above killer whale). I need to be distracted enough to not focus too hard on the the situation at hand, but relaxed enough that I can actually think about it. I do that by doing chores, drawing or knitting. If it’s really hard, I sit down and write, long-hand. Preferably as beautifully as possible, to keep my mind just to the side of the problem. It’s like those images where you have to focus elsewhere in order to see what is going on.
  • For my colleagues I try to make sure we occasionally do something fun. The last couple of terms, I have been too tired to take responsibility for parties and common activities, but I do try to engage and participate, and in that process be both goofy and welcoming. This isn’t because I think I can cure stress by throwing a party, but I do believe that by making people meet informally, I can help them meet others who might be able to say something interesting, important or useful. This, by the way, is one of ITU's great strengths. The parties are wonderful.
  • For my colleagues I also try to listen and participate, even if I feel like I am dragging myself there by the neck. It’s not their fault that I have too few hours in the day. That is the system we are all trapped within.
Because stress is rarely an individual problem. It’s a problem that comes from the system within which we work. No degree of mindful thinking or playful engagement will change a system where employees feel unappreciated or where we are not given the chance to work at the things we excel at. Being held back and under-appreciated in a thousand micro-encounters is what will make most of us collapse. The problem is the systematic neglect of the variety and individuality of the staff, the different skills, expertizes and abilities in a very highly trained and specialised group of strong individuals. Treating any group of humans as if they are a uniform mass of somewhat specialised robots will break us all.

I deal with that through analysis. Through knowledge. By worrying and picking at it, and occasionally that just makes it worse. If I have no agency, worrying leaves a wound. Understanding without power is perhaps the most painful problem if being in Academia. We know very well what we can’t deal with, and we may even know how to change it, but the majority have absolutely no influence. This is when I find a friend and spend a drunken evening wining and whining. Which, quite likely, may explain some of the alcohol abuse statistics. One more thing I try to do? Stay out of those statistics.

Bonus article: New Public Management and stress in Academia.