A few weeks ago I posted ‘Sua estupidez’, sung by Gal Costa but composed by Roberto Carlos and Erasmo Carlos. Roberto Carlos is known in Brazil as ‘The King’, that is the king of folk music, and is immensely popular especially among the less economically favored segments of the population. He is known in particular for his ultra-romantic, ultra-mellow songs – yes, ‘tacky’ would be an appropriate description for lots of it…
But the duo Roberto/Erasmo Carlos has also produced some real gems, such as ‘Sua estupidez’ of a few weeks ago, ‘Debaixo dos caracóis dos seus cabelos’, ‘Fera ferida’, and ‘Cachaça mecânica’, which I am posting below: the first two sung by Caetano Veloso, and the third by Erasmo Carlos. (It turns out that Roberto Carlos’ versions themselves are usually not that good, not because he is not a good singer, but because of tacky arrangements…) The first two are real classics known by everyone; the third one is much less known, but possibly the best among the three: a wonderful, sad samba. So start with the third!
( From the graphic novel Logicomix, taken from this blog post by Richard Zach.)
“He doesn’t want to prove this or that, but to find out how things really are.” This is how Russell describes Wittgenstein in a letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell (as reported in M. Potter’s wonderful book Wittgenstein's Notes on Logic, p. 50 – see my critical note on the book). This may well be the most accurate characterization of Wittgenstein’s approach to philosophy in general, in fact a fitting description of the different phases Wittgenstein went through. Indeed, if there is a common denominator to the first, second, intermediate etc. Wittgensteins, it is the fundamental nature of the questions he asked: different answers, but similar questions throughout. So instead of proving ‘this or that’, for example, he asks what a proof is in the first place.
This week’s post is again not entirely Brazilian, technically speaking: today we have Cape Verdian young singer Mayra Andrade, who some of my friends have been raving about for a while (Jeroen and Rafa, that's you!). What justifies her inclusion among the BMoF guests is not only the fact that most of her songs are sung in Cape Verdean Crioulo, a variation of Portuguese; Mayra herself claims to have been highly influenced by Brazilian music. In fact, the first song she recalls singing as a child is the beautiful lullaby ‘Leaozinho’ by Caetano Veloso (equally popular among Brazilian children at large). Mayra often collaborates with Brazilian musicians and records Brazilian songs, and while not yet very widely known in Brazil, she is definitely a rising star worldwide. Her newly released album Lovely Difficult moves away from world music and towards something that can be described as ‘universal pop’, including songs in English (such as the single ‘We used to call it love’), while retaining the freshness and innovation she is known for.
I’m posting here some of Mayra’s versions of Brazilian songs, but music lovers should really also check her ‘non-Brazilian’ music, including her interpretation of Cape Verdean mornas but also her more recent work. So here is her version of 'Berimbau' (classic by Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes) with Trio Mocotó, featured in the Red, Hot + Rio 2 album, and a live version of ‘O que será’ (classic by Chico Buarque), a duet with French singer Benjamin Biolay. And I couldn’t resist posting a duet with the marvelous Cesária Évora, ‘Petit Pays’ – Cape Verde, that is (such a beautiful line: ‘Petit pays, je t’aime beaucoup…’) (See here for more of her songs, and a short interview with Mayra (in Portuguese).)
Yet another interesting piece in the Guardian on academia: Nobel-prize winner (in medicine) Randy Schekman declares he will no longer submit papers to ‘luxury’ journals such as Nature, Science and Cell. His main argument:
These journals aggressively curate their brands, in ways more conducive to selling subscriptions than to stimulating the most important research. Like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags or suits, they know scarcity stokes demand, so they artificially restrict the number of papers they accept. The exclusive brands are then marketed with a gimmick called "impact factor" – a score for each journal, measuring the number of times its papers are cited by subsequent research. Better papers, the theory goes, are cited more often, so better journals boast higher scores. Yet it is a deeply flawed measure, pursuing which has become an end in itself – and is as damaging to science as the bonus culture is to banking.
Last week the Guardian had an interesting piece on academic blogging. The authors, academic bloggers themselves, conducted a small-scale study with 100 academic blogs as their sample set, in order to identify the main trends in what academic bloggers really write about. It is often said that blogging is an outreach/impact tool for academics, to reach out for the educated public at large, but this is not what came out of this study. The results were interesting: 41% of the posts were on what the authors call ‘academic cultural critique’, i.e. “comments and reflections on funding, higher education policy, office politics and academic life.” A similar number (40%) were dedicated to communication and commentary about research. The remainder 20% focused on other aspects of academic practice, such as teaching and career advice.
Now, clearly the wide majority of these posts were not written for ‘the public at large’ as their target audience. While some of the research communication (40%) could well be geared towards non-specialists, the authors of the piece seem to suggest that most of them were of a ‘researcher-to-researcher’ kind of communication. Is this worrisome? Does this mean that academic blogging is failing to deliver?
There is a serious gender problem in philosophy in the Netherlands. In the 11 departments of philosophy the numbers of permanent staff members are roughly the following: assistant professors: 110, of which 25 are women; associate professors: 45, of which 5 are women; full professors: 65, of which 7 are women (I have not included part-time professors; this data is based on the websites of the departments). You may think that this just indicates that women have to work harder to get advanced positions at Dutch universities (i.e. that the problem is only theirs). But there is sufficient evidence now that a gender bias is built into the system. This implies that men are part of the problem and that they will have to take their responsibility. The solution is not easy though. It requires a package of measures. What can we do?
It is always good to raise awareness, but what really helps is to move beyond awareness-raising with a few very simple institutional measures that can be implemented right away. Why not make it a rule that 30% of all invited speakers at conferences are women, or that 30% of the papers in special issues are by female philosophers? The Board of the Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) will discuss such measures for activities organized by the OZSW later this year. There may of course be exceptions to this rule, but these exceptions need to be justified. Similarly, we should stick to the rule, formally adopted by many universities, that selection committees should include at least two women.
It's very ugly (via many of my Twitter contacts). Go check the whole story, but here's the beginning:
Lots of researchers post PDFs of their own papers on their own web-sites. It’s always been so, because even though technically it’s in breach of the copyright transfer agreements that we blithely sign, everyone knows it’s right and proper. Preventing people from making their own work available would be insane, and the publisher that did it would be committing a PR gaffe of huge proportions.
Enter Elsevier, stage left. Bioinformatician Guy Leonard is just one of several people to have mentioned on Twitter this morning that Academia.edu took down their papers in response to a notice from Elsevier.
BMoF today could not but honor Nelson Mandela, without a doubt one of the greatest humans in the 20th century and possibly of all times. There is probably no better way to honor him than with music – a man who once said “it is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world and at peace with myself”. There is much in common between the place that music occupies in people’s lives in South Africa and in Brazil, and this statement by Mandela encapsulates how many Brazilians feel about life, music and dancing (that's certainly the case for this particular Brazilian…).
I found this 1990 video of the pop band Paralamas do Sucesso performing ‘Free Nelson Mandela’, where they reveal their roots as a ska/reggae band. They appeared in the 1980s, and provided much of the soundtrack for my childhood and early teens. They continue to play and record to this day, despite some set-backs (in particular the ultra-light accident of the band leader Herbert Vianna in the early 2000s, which killed his wife and left him paraplegic).
So let’s all get up and sing for (and with) Mandela, and thank him for all he’s done to make this world a better place. (The music itself starts at 1.10.)
This week, we’ve had a new round of discussions on the ‘combative’ nature of philosophy as currently practiced and its implications, prompted by a remark in a column by Jonathan Wolff on the scarcity of women in the profession. (Recall the last wave of such discussions, then prompted by Rebecca Kukla’s 3AM interview.) Brian Leiter retorted that there’s nothing wrong with combativeness in philosophy (“Insofar as truth is at stake, combat seems the right posture!”). Chris Bertram in turn remarked that this is the case only if “there’s some good reason to believe that combat leads to truth more reliably than some alternative, more co-operative approach”, which he (apparently) does not think there is. Our own John Protevi pointed out the possible effects of individualized grading for the establishment of a competitive culture.
As I argued in a previous post on the topic some months ago, I am of the opinion that adversariality can have a productive, positive effect for philosophical inquiry, but not just any adversariality/combativeness. (In that post, I placed the discussion against the background of gender considerations; I will not do so here, even though there are obvious gender-related implications to be explored.) In fact, what I defend is a form of adversariality which combines adversariality/opposition with a form of cooperation.
This week I had to deal with a fair amount of emotional stupidity from people who are very dear to me. So I was inevitably reminded of this song, ‘Sua estupidez’, composed by Roberto Carlos and Erasmo Carlos but at its best in this Gal Costa version (1969), which I listened to a lot around the time that my father died, in 1998 (he was also an example of emotional stupidity of this kind). The key part of the lyrics: “Your stupidity does not let you see that I love you”. Enough said.
UPDATE: This post seems to have gotten some people worried, apologies for that. It's nothing serious, just an argument with someone I'm very close to.
Here is one more for the ‘new sounds’ category (we’ve been surprisingly modern as of lately here at BMoF). Anelis Assumpção is a young singer who mashes Brazilian and Jamaican rhythms (dub, reggae etc.) in her music. She also happens to be the daughter of Itamar Assumpção, one of the main exponents of the alternative music scene of São Paulo in the 1980s and 1990s, known as Vanguarda Paulista (he died prematurely 10 years ago). But Anelis is her own woman, and has been making some great music for some years already.
I discovered her music through a school friend I reconnected with thanks to almighty Facebook, Giba Nascimento. Giba is himself a musician, and composed and recorded the reggae ‘Not falling’ with Anelis -- he’s the guy on the bike in the brand-new (and pretty awesome!) video-clip below. (It’s not so surprising that so many of my friends from school ended up becoming musicians/artists, as until the age of 14, I went to a typical artsy/lefty school.) I’m also posting ‘Sonhando’ (a collaboration with another young singer, Karina Buhr), from her 2011 album Sou suspeita estou sujeita nao sou santa. Both great tracks but very different from each other, which reveals Anelis’ versatility. Good stuff!
Last year I had twoposts up where I compared genital cutting in males and females, and claimed that ultimately there aren’t any real, substantive differences between the two cases. The posts provoked heated reactions, as could have been expected on the basis of the reactions that anti-circumcision advocates usually receive.
Well, today I came across an article by Rebecca Steinfeld over at The Conversation that says everything I would like to say on the topic, but much more eloquently: 'Like FGM, cut foreskins should be a feminist issue'. In particular, she discusses why our perception of genital cutting of boys is so different from our perception of the same practice with girls. I copy some passages below, but everyone should really read the whole thing! (And yes, I’m ready for more heated discussion in comments. But let me just be clear that my issue is with the genital cutting of non-consenting children; what consenting adults do with their genitalia is none of my business.)
But this isn’t a harm competition. It’s about how FGC [female genital cutting], often referred to as female genital mutilation because it’s widely seen as a violation of women’s rights and a form of oppression and sexual control, is easily accepted when that girl is a boy.
On the topic of useful teaching material available online (following up on Roberta's post on material for logic courses), I recently came across the series ‘60-Second Adventures in Thought’ produced by the Open University. These are short (60 seconds!) animated videos explaining some of the most intriguing philosophical puzzles:
Here is a brand new band, which my kool friends in Sao Paulo are all raving about, but which is still little known outside these circles: 5 a Seco. (They are so new that they don't even have a wikipedia page!). I'm still getting to know them, so I can't tell you much more than this, but when they become the new hot thing in Brazilian music worldwide, you can say that you heard about them first here at BMoF. So here is 'Feliz pra cachorro'.
Two weeks ago, I wrote a post proposing a dialogical perspective on structural rules. In fact, at that point I offered an analysis of only one structural rule, namely left-weakening, and promised that I would come back for more. In this post, I will discuss contraction and exchange (for both, I again restrict myself to the left cases). (I will assume that readers are familiar with the basic principles of my dialogical approach to deductive proofs, as recapped in my previous post on structural rules.)
Contraction, in particular, is very significant, given the recent popularity of restriction on contraction as a way to block the derivation of paradoxes such as the Liar and Curry. What does contraction mean, generally speaking? Contraction is the rule according to which two or more copies of a given formula in a sequent can be collapsed into each other (contracted); in other words, the idea is that the number of copies should not matter for the derivation of the conclusion:
If Elisabeth Lloyd’s take on the female orgasm is
correct—i.e. if it is homologous to the male orgasm—then FEMALE ORGASMis not a proper evolutionary category. Homology is sameness. Hence, male and female orgasms belong to the same category. The orgasm is an adaptation, whether male or female (and
Lloyd should agree). It is not a spandrel or by-product.
I’ll get back to this in a moment, but first some background. There are five NewAPPSers who have a particular interest in the
philosophy of biology. Roberta Millstein, Helen De Cruz, Catarina Dutilh Novaes, John Protevi, and myself. Aside from Roberta, each of us comes at it from a related area in which biological insight is
important. For me, that area is perception. I have written quite a bit about
biology, but my mind has always been at least half on the eye (and the ear, and
the nose, and the tongue, . . .).
There is a divide among us with respect to a leading controversy
in the field. Catarina is strongly anti-adaptationist and I am strongly
adaptationist (perhaps because of my motivating interest in perception, which is exquistely adaptive). Roberta, Helen, and John are somewhere in between, but likely closer to Catarina than to me. You can gauge where I stand when I tell you that in my view, Gould and Lewontin’s 1979
anti-adaptationist manifesto, “The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian
Paradigm” is one of the worst, and certainly one of the most mendacious, papers I have
ever read in any field. Among the five of us, I am sure I am alone in this.
Given all of this, my take on adaptationism with regard to the orgasm may get a
hotly negative response from my co-bloggers. Nevertheless, I’ll get on with it.
My friend Fabio Goes posted a very nice link over at FB earlier this week: 10 fairly established artists/musicians (including Goes himself) were asked to talk about the newcomers in the musical scene they are particularly fond of. The result is a priceless collection of the very latest good music being made in Brazil. To give you a taste of it, I’m posting a song by newcomer Rodrigo Campos sung by rap star Criolo, and a duet of Goes himself with his ‘nominee’, Jennifer Souza. But in truth, the whole selection is very much worth listening to.
Evolutionary accounts of deductive reasoning have been
enjoying a fair amount of popularity in the last decades. Some of those who
have defended views of this kind are Cooper, Maddy, and more recently Joshua
Schechter. The basic idea is that an explanation for why we have developed
the ability to reason deductively (if indeed we have developed this ability!)
is that it conferred a survival advantage to those individuals who possessed it among our ancestors, who in
turn were reproductively more successful than those individuals in the
ancestral population who did not possess this ability. In other words,
deductive reasoning would have arisen as an adaptation
in humans (and possibly in non-human animals too, but I will leave this question
aside). Attractive though it may seem at first sight (and I confess having had
a fair amount of sympathy for it for a while), this approach faces a number of
difficulties, and in my opinion is ultimately untenable. (Some readers will not
be surprised to hear this, if they recall a previous post where I argue that
deductive reasoning is best seen as a cultural product, not as a biological,
genetically encoded endowment in humans.)
In this post, I will spell out what I take to be the main
flaw of such accounts, namely the fact that they seem incompatible with the
empirical evidence on deductive reasoning in human reasoners as produced by
experimental psychology. In this sense, these accounts fall prey to the same
mistake that plagues many evolutionary accounts of female orgasm, in particular
those according to which female orgasm has arisen as an adaptation in the human
species. To draw the parallel between the case for deductive reasoning and the
case for the female orgasm, I will rely on Elisabeth Lloyd’s fantastic book The Case of the Female Orgasm (which, as
it so happens, I had the pleasure of re-reading during my vacation last
I haven't posted anything by Jorge Ben(jor) for a while, so here is the easy-going, mellow samba 'Ive Brussel', from his 1979 album Salve Simpatia. It is a duo with Caetano Veloso, which makes it even more enjoyable. So let the weekend come!
As some of you may have seen, we will be hosting the workshop ‘Proof theory and philosophy’ in Groningen at the beginning of December. The idea is to focus on the philosophical significance and import of proof theory, rather than exclusively on technical aspects. An impressive team of philosophically inclined proof theorists will be joining us, so it promises to be a very exciting event (titles of talks will be made available shortly).
For my own talk, I’m planning to discuss the main structural rules as defined in sequent calculus – weakening, contraction, exchange, cut – from the point of view of the dialogical conception of deduction that I’ve been developing, inspired in particular (but not exclusively) by Aristotle’s logical texts. In this post, I'll do a bit of preparatory brainstorming, and I look forward to any comments readers may have!
The debate around the Black Pete tradition in the
Netherlands rages on: while many outspoken voices have presented different
arguments on why the tradition should be at the very least severely modified (I
recommend in particular the pieces by Asha ten Broeke), a very large portion of
the population has expressed its support and fondness for the tradition as is,
in particular by ‘liking’ a Facebook page, a ‘Pete-tion’, defending the
continuation of the tradition. As of now, more than 2 million Facebook users
have ‘liked’ this page, and last Saturday supporters gathered for a rally in
Interestingly, in its most recent update, the Pete-tion FB
page (Pietitie, in Dutch) proudly announces that it is ‘against racism, let us
be clear on that’. Now, what they mean by ‘racism’ here must surely be
different from what Black Pete critics mean when they describe the tradition as
racist. More generally, and as often the case, it seems that those involved in
the debate may at least to some extent be talking past each other because
different meanings of ‘racism’ are floating around. (To be clear, I do not
think this is a merely verbal dispute; there does seem to be a core of true
disagreement.) Well, one of the skills we philosophers pride ourselves on is the skill of language precisification and conceptual analysis. So in what
follows I’ll attempt to distinguish some of the different meanings of racism
underpinning the debate, in the hope that such a clarification may somehow
contribute to its advancement. (Full disclosure: what I really want to accomplish is to
convince my many intelligent, well-meaning friends who do not see the racist
component of the tradition that it is there,
and that it is problematic.)
Short BMoF today, but with a real gem, and
again (after the Venezuelan Los Amigos last week) something coming from one of
our dear neighbors. ‘Volver a los diecisiete’ is one of the classics composed
by the Chilean iconic singer Violeta Parra, and here it is sung by a stellar
group of people: the great Argentinian singer Mercedes Sosa, Chico Buarque,
Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento and Gal Costa. (This extraordinary confluence took place at a music TV show that Caetano and Chico used to host back
in the 1980s – those were the days…) It's a South-American classic, which I listened to countless times in my childhood (it was especially popular among academic lefties like my parents), and which remains timelessly beautiful.
It’s been a while since I last posted
something that is 'technically speaking' not Brazilian (in the past, I posted on
Cuban piano player Roberto Fonseca, Cape-Verdean diva Cesária Évora and
Argentinian hero Spinetta), so today I’ll be posting a couple of songs by the
awesome Venezuelan band Los Amigos Invisibles. I first got to know their
music back in 1999, when I stayed at an apartment full of Venezuelans for a
week in Florence (long story…). All they played, day and night, was Los Amigos’
second album The New Sound of the
Venezuelan Gozadera (1998), and I immediately fell in love with the music:
it’s disco, Latin, fun, groovy, funky, all in one! What more can you ask for?
Since then, I continued to follow their
career, and in 2006 attended one of their concerts at the SoB venue in NYC (Los
Amigos relocated to NYC after the success of their 2003 album, The Venezuelan Zinga Son). They keep
producing great music; their latest album was released earlier this year, and
coming to think of it, why don’t they come play here in the Netherlands?
I’m posting here my favorite song from The New Sound…, ‘Ponerte en cuatro’
(yep…), my favorite song from the album following it (Arepa 3000), ‘La vecina’, and to justify their appearance here at BMoF, one
of their songs with Brazilian undertones, ‘Es la verdad’, from their 2009 album
Commercial. So now you really have no
excuse not to get up and dance: it’s Friday, and you've just discovered one of the
most danceable bands of all times.
Last week I had a post up on metaphorical
language in cognitive science, which generated a very interesting discussion in
comments. I don’t think I’ve sufficiently made the case for the ‘too much’
claim, and the post was mostly intended to raise the question and foster some
debate. (It succeeded in that respect!)
There is one aspect of it though, which I
would like to follow up on. One commenter (Yan) pointed out that it’s not so
surprising that digital computers ‘think’ like us, given that they are based on
a conception of computation – the Turing machine – which was originally
proposed as a formal explanans for some cognitive activities that humans in
fact perform: calculations/computations. It is important to keep in mind that
before Turing, Post, Church and others working on the concept of computability
in the 1930, computation/effective calculation was an informal concept, with no precise mathematical definition
(something that has been noted by e.g. Wilfried Sieg in his ‘Gödel on
computability’.). To provide a mathematically precise account of this concept,
which in turn corresponds to cognitive tasks that humans do engage in, was
precisely the goal of these pioneers. So from this point of view, to say that
digital computers are (a bit) like human minds gets the order of things right; but
to say that human minds are like digital computers goes the wrong way round.
Earlier this week I had a post on the 'sting' that was the topic of an article published in Science, purporting to show that many (most?) pay-to-publish open-access journals are not sufficiently selective on what they publish because they have an obvious motivation to accept as many papers for publication as they can. The presupposition seemed to be that this is not the case of subscription-only journals, which have good reasons to be selective, and thus presumably to publish higher quality articles.
Well, today I came across a blog post contesting exactly this presupposition. It's a great post, which you should read in its entirety, but the main point is that the key desideratum for subcription-only journals is to publish 'sexy' research, of the kind that generates a lot of citations, so as to increase the impact factor of the journal (and thus to increase subscription revenue). The author of the post, Michael Eisen (a biologist at Berkeley) even offers the example of a ludicrous paper published in -- yes, you guessed it right -- Science, which should have never passed any decent quality control process.
Below the fold you can read extracts from the post, which describes subscription publishers as "seasoned grifters playing a long con", among other spot-on observations. The general conclusion is again that peer-review is a flawed system, and even if for the moment there doesn't seem to be any real alternative to it, it is important to keep in mind that it is a deeply problematic system. (The author is refering in particular to his field of research, but as I've argued before, there are reasons to think that the problem is equally acute for philosophy.)
we do not understand the brain very well we are constantly tempted to use the
latest technology as a model for trying to understand it. In my childhood we
were always assured that the brain was a telephone switchboard. (‘What else
could it be?’) I was amused to see that Sherrington, the great British
neuroscientist, thought that the brain worked like a telegraph system. Freud
often compared the brain to hydraulic and electro-magnetic systems. Leibniz
compared it to a mill, and I am told some of the ancient Greeks thought the
brain functions like a catapult. At present, obviously, the metaphor is the
digital computer. (John Searle, Minds,
Brains and Science, 44)
As I am now preparing my philosophy of
cognitive science course, which I will start teaching in November for the first
time, one of the inevitable topics on my mind is the idea of the mind (or the
brain) as a computer. I am a relatively newcomer to the field of philosophy of
cogsci, which in a sense means that I approach it with a certain naiveté and
absence of, shall we say, prior indoctrination. At the same time, I am now also
reading Louise Barrett’s wonderful book Beyond
the Brain, whose chapter 7 is called ‘Metaphorical mind fields’. It begins
with the famous quote by Searle above, and goes on to argue that the ‘mind as a
computer’ conception is a metaphor; what is more, the tendency we have to
forget that it is a metaphor does much damage to a proper understanding of what
a human brain/mind is and does (problematizing the brain=mind equation is the
general topic of the whole book).
… our use of the computer metaphor is so
familiar and comfortable that we sometimes forget that we are dealing only with
a metaphor, and that there may be other, equally interesting (and perhaps more
appropriate) ways to think about brains and nervous systems and what they do.
After all, given that our metaphors for the brain and mind have changed
considerably over time, there’s no reason to expect that, somehow, we’ve
finally hit on the correct one, as opposed to the one that just reflects
something about the times in which we live. (Barrett 2011, 114/115)
I’ve mentioned a fewtimes that Djavan was
for years my very favorite singer, and I’m still a huge fan of much of his
oeuvre (but admittedly not very familiar with the more recent stuff). In this
context, I was very happy to hear about an album that came out earlier this year: Samba Dobrado, where singer Rosa Passos
sings nothing but Djavan songs (some of the classics as well as lesser known
gems). Rosa Passos has a limpid, precise singing style, which reminds me of the
great João Gilberto (she openly acknowledges him as one of her greatest
influences). She has built a solid career over the last decades, but is not
very well known among the ‘masses’, so to speak. Her Djavan album, however, has
attracted a considerable amount of attention, so it looks like she is finally
getting the recognition she deserves.
I haven’t been able to listen to the whole
album yet, and only found two of the songs on youtube (there are quite a few live videos, but with poor sound quality): ‘Linha do equador’ (here
in the original Djavan version of 1992) and ‘Samba dobrado’, which lends the
name to the album (here in the original Djavan version of 1978). But if all
goes well I should receive my copy of the CD at the end of this month, when a
dear friend who is in Brazil now returns to the Netherlands. Can’t wait!
And in the meantime, I treat BMoF readers to some beautiful music.
Earlier this week, Science published a much-discussed article entitled ‘Who’s afraid
of peer review?’ The article, however, focuses specifically on peer-review in open-access journals that charge
publication fees, as it reports on a little ‘experiment’ conducted by the
author of the article: submitting multiple versions of the same spoof paper to
a wide range of these open-access journals to see what would happen (sort of a
Sokal hoax but then multiplied by 300). The hypothesis was that, given the
multiplication of open-access journals following the ‘pay-to-publish’
model, the tendency is for the 'predatory journals' among those to accept pretty much
anything that comes their way, and then charge authors exorbitant amounts of
money as publication fees. And indeed, “by the time Science went to press, 157 of the journals had
accepted the paper and 98 had rejected it.”
The article sparked a cascade of negative
reactions, in particular by proponents of the open-access model who saw it as a
vicious attack on the model by one of the flagship subscription journals (see here). Some
have pointed out that, if the ‘study’ intended to be methodologically sound, it
should have sent an equal number of spoof submissions to non-open-access
journals in order to ascertain whether there really is a significant difference
between the two models when it comes to letting bad papers go through the
sieve of peer-reviewing. Ultimately, what the experiment seems to indicate is
above all a failure of the peer-review model, not of the open-access model. As
well put by Curt Rice (who often has incisive analyses of the politics of
higher education, e.g. on gender issues):
(Short BMoF ahead.) I’m a reasonably big
fan of the guitar-voice duo Tuck and Patti, but to my knowledge there is only
one Brazilian song recorded by them: ‘O Cantador’ by Dori Caymmi (son of the great Dorival Caymmi). The song has been covered by a number of
other people, including Ella Fitzgerald and Sergio Mendes (but then again,
which song has he not covered?), and in English it is referred to as ‘Like a
lover’. So here is the original version with Dori Caymmi, from his 1972 album,
and then the Tuck and Patti version, from their 1989 album Love Warriors. (The video is really weird though, it looks like some
creepy tribute to Michael Jackson, but it’s the only one with the Tuck and
Patti version that I could find on youtube.)