The Royal Society of Chemistry: Raising a question

The RSC publishes a journal and jj-partner uncovered that while they reject only 70% of the papers submitted (standard for chemistry, he says), 50% of the total number of papers are NOT sent  out for peer review.  Further, participating in the  initial culling are people who are pretty far from being peers, as far as he can determine.  E.g., they may not have doctorates in chemistry.  And yet they are supposed to judge on the professional qualities of the papers, including originality,  interest, in addition to qualities of competence.

Is this one of those nice cases where we can be happy that at least leading journals in our field are not that bad, or in fact might some be just that bad?  E.g., are grad students  sometimes sorting through our work?  This is decidedly a worry for feminist philosophers, since one suspects initial culling is often not done with the author’s identity unavailable, and that typically reduces the likelihood of a woman’s paper being accepted.

Tent cities in the USA

This video seems to me problematic for some important reasons, but it  makes the growing problem of homelessness in the US very vivid.

What seems to me most problematic is that it suggests all these people were living from paycheck to paycheck.  While of course, that might be true, it is hardly necessary.  A standard advice  given by financial advisers in the US is that one should have  3-6 months living expenses banked in a way that is quickly accessible.  The prudent people who did this still may have only very short-term protection, we can now see.  And what about their savings?  Yeah, well, it is easy it is to get nearly wiped out right now.  The people we are looking at may have lost over half their savings and are refusing to touch what’s left.

Of course, we don’t know the facts  about these people’s backgrounds and so we don’t know, among other things, how close we are to them.

And we also don’t know how many people are living in these conditions.  It is,  though, frightening and important that their numbers are growing.


Addition:  from the  NY Times, which is my ultimate source for  the video:

The official count of homeless people in Sacramento is 1,226 people, and they are spilling out to the tent city because the housing shelters are full; one of the shelters is turning away more than 200 women and children a day.

Presumably not a new 200 a day, or at least the figures of homelessness do not seem to be growing at 200 a day.  But that’s small comfort.

White House Women’s and Girls’ Council

Today is the day that our fearless leader is set to sign the executive order that will bring into existence the very first White House Women’s and Girls’ Council! What a happy day! Amie Newman has written a nice little post on the matter over at RH Reality Check; click here to check it out.

(Two asides: first, RH Reality Check is really interesting. Do have a look round the blog while you’re at it; and second, be sure to read the comments at the end of Newman’s post, where you’ll learn–I bet you had no idea–about the epidemic of Female Teachers sleeping with underage male students. I’m personally shocked. You learn something new every day.)

Help Save Liverpool Philosophy

UPDATE: Perhaps in response to widespread outcry, the University is now backpedaling. It is undertaking a review, rather than planning a closure. I imagine supportive comments would still be very useful.

Liverpool University has apparently decided to close its philosophy department, due solely to what it considers a poor showing in the latest Research Assessment Exercise, despite the fact that the department is a strong recruiter and a money-maker. Reasons for feminist philosophers to care: We’re philosophers, and we should care when a major university starts talking about shutting down its philosophy department. There’s an unusually high ratio of women: four out of ten full-time staff are women. There’s some important feminist philosophy going on. More generally it’s a department which values and promotes a diversity of approaches, including analytic, continental, Indian and Buddhist, and a department which works hard to widen access with continuing education programs. And, of course these last traits make it harder to do well on the RAE: widening access takes time, and unusual approaches are high risk when it comes to research assessment exercises.

So how can we help? Letters about the value of what Liverpool does and the importance of keeping it open are probably the most useful thing right now. If you have specialised knowledge of the work of any of the staff members and can speak for its high quality that would be great. The staff directory can be found here. Send your letters to Sir Howard Newby at

You may also be interested to know that there’s a Facebook Group devoted to saving the departments targeted for closure.