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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: Queen guitarist to complete doctorate

Brian May is completing his doctorate in astrophysics, more than 30 years after he abandoned his studies to form the rock group Queen.

The 60-year-old guitarist and songwriter said he plans to submit his thesis, “Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud,” to supervisors at Imperial College London within the next two weeks.


May told the British Broadcasting Corp. that he had always wanted to complete his degree.

“It was unfinished business,” he said. “I didn’t want an honorary Ph.D. I wanted the real thing that I worked for.”

Good for him.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

For those who followed this story, this was expected (via the Rocky Mountain News: CU regents fire Ward Churchill

The first, very long chapter of the Ward Churchill saga ended this afternoon as just about everybody — including Churchill — had predicted: He was fired from his job as ethnic studies professor at the University of Colorado.

The next chapter is set to begin Wednesday, when the controversial academic and his civil rights attorney, David Lane, sue the university in Denver District Court.

Churchill warned that his dismissal is the beginning of a wider attack on scholars with unpopular political views.

“If you think I’m the endgame, you’re wrong,” Churchill told supporters. “This is the kickoff.”

He raised his fist and smiled defiantly when the school’s board of regents voted 8-1 in public, following three hours of private discussions, to fire him.

The Churchill story started as a public controversy over an essay about 9/11, but his firing is over the gravest of academic offenses:

He was accused of plagiarism, inventing historical incidents and ghostwriting essays which he then cited in his footnotes in support of his own views.

To me, systematic fabrication and plagiarism is the unforgivable sin in academia, and CU did the right thing in firing him. This Chronicle piece discusses some of the findings. One of the odder examples of fabrication is here (although that one isn’t academic, per se, but is telling).

Now, I will point out to those who weren’t reading PoliBlog at the time, I defended Churchill’s right to proffer his theories in print (probably my most comprehensive post on that topic is here). I never thought his 9/11 essay was something for which he deserved firing or any other kind of punishment.

I also noted that Churchill was under qualified for the position for which CU hired him in the first place, and therefore the University bears some responsibility for the problems that Churchill caused (see here and here).

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Thursday, July 12, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

…realizing that you already did the time consuming analysis that you thought was going to take up the rest of the day (and perhaps the next).

(And yes, that sounds all cryptic. The bottom line is I dedicating the summer to finishing my book on Colombia—and to date progress has been good).

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Monday, July 9, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

So reports Daniel W. Drezner (on the adultery part) and Professor Chaos (in regards to the cars).

In regards to the differences between real professors and their fictional counterparts, we have the money quote from Mrs. Drezner:

“The reason professors sleep with their students in fiction is because any realistic portrayal of your jobs would bore readers out of their skulls within ten minutes.”


(And Dan’s daily schedule sounds familiar, although I call foul on the notion that he only surfs news sites from 9:10 to 9:30).

h/t to James Joyner for the Drezner post.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Indeed: click.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I am in the DC Metro this afternoon (Pentagon City Station) and what do I see?

I guess that there is no escape.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Man, you don’t visit Munger’s blog for a few days and everything changes. I am still a bit woozy from the initial visit.

At least I am listed as amongst The Cheeisest!

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Sunday, May 27, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I have been contacted by a researcher at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville concerning a project aimed at understanding the usage of blogs by blog readers, especially in regards to information on the Iraq war. They would very much appreciate it if you would take the following survey.


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Monday, May 14, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I am grading a research paper and I notice a reference to the “Busch administration” (and no, the paper isn’t about running breweries).

Filed under: US Politics, Academia | Comments Off |
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Iran admits detaining US academic

Iran’s foreign ministry has confirmed that the government has detained a leading Iranian-American academic.


Ms [Haleh] Esfandiari, one of Washington’s best known Iran experts, was visiting Tehran to see her 93-year-old mother.


In December, as she was on her way to the airport to return to the US, Ms Esfandiari’s taxi was stopped by three men who stole her belongings, including her Iranian and US passports.

When she went to replace her passport, she was sent to the intelligence ministry, where she was repeatedly questioned about her work as the director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington.

Last week, after being prevented from leaving the country for more than four months, she was taken to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran by three masked men armed with knives, the Woodrow Wilson Centre said.

Iran’s Kayhan newspaper has accused Ms Esfandiari of spying for the US and Israel and of trying to incite a democratic revolution in the country.


Other Iranian-Americans have also been banned from leaving the country recently, including journalist Parnaz Azima, who works for the U.S.-funded Radio Farda.

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared in March on Iran’s resort island of Kish.

Apparently the Iranians are willing to detain anyone whom they believe to be potentially linked to US-driven attempts at promoting democratic revolt in Iran. As such, it is clearly dangerous for any American of Iranian descent with any kind of connection to the US government, however tangential, to travel to Iran.

It also shows a paranoid regime taking steps to create what it thinks is security for itself but abusing people it sees as threats. This is a behavior that is easy to recoil at when done by Iran, but it bears noting that the US government has been willing to hold persons it feels are threats as well. For example, Jose Padilla was held in prison for over three years without charges because he was considered a threat to the US by members of the administration. He remains in jail now awaiting trial.

I do not wish to draw exact parallels in these cases, but it is impossible for me to look at a case like Esfandiari’s and not think of Padilla or the overall cavalier way that the Bush administration has addressed the issue of detainees in general.

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