NUS 34th, NTU 174th in Times university rankings

The National University of Singapore is 34th and Nanyang Technological University 174th in the 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings powered by Thomson Reuters, released today.

American universities swept the board. Here’s the list of the world’s top 100 universities.

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Martin Amis on life and Kingsley Amis

Martin_amis_2010
Martin Amis (left) describes seeing his father, Kingsley Amis (below), in a dream in his autobiography, Experience. Published in 2000, five years after his father's death, it's one of the most intimate accounts of a father-and-son relationship that I have ever read.

He writes:

Why should I tell the story of my life?

I do it because my father is dead now, and I always knew I would have to commemorate him. He was a writer, and I am a writer; it feels like a duty to describe our case — a literary curiosity which is also just another instance of a father and a son.

Kingsley_amis_2010 He writes about his father explaining the mysteries of sex to him and his elder brother, Philip, when they were schoolboys and the conversations they had when he had grown up.

His father pops up even when he is writing about other things. He recalls the articles he published in the New Statesman following the death of the critic FR Leavis and calling them a "symposium". A symposium originally meant a drinking party, he says and adds: 

And that is what Kingsley liked, above all things. Well, he probably liked adultery even better, in his manly noon, but the symposium was a far more durable and unambivalent pleasure — a love whose month was forever May.

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Shakespeare’s bawdy

William Shakespeare was baptized on this day in 1564 and what a life he led before he died at the age of 52 on April 23, 1616. He explored love and sex in his plays with a detailed vividness that leaves Masters and Johnson looking pretty skimpy, writes Simon Callow in the Guardian.

The Elizabethans were as prurient as the stereotypical Victorians were prudish. They loved bawdy and double entendre — and Shakespeare had to entertain his audience.

Sexual desire is rampant in the opening lines of A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Theseus tells Hippolyta he is impatient about having to wait four more days for their wedding. She says the days will pass quickly. Look at the imagery they use.

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Immigration: Britain, Singapore, America

Immigrant-weary Singaporeans have nothing on Messrs Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, as their first election debate showed. They all want to curb immigration.

Brown wants no unskilled workers from outside the European Union, Cameron wants caps on immigration to bring numbers down to "tens of thousands" from "hundreds of thousands", Clegg wants immigrants to be sent only to those areas where they are needed. He called for regional work permits which will allow immigrants to work only in a certain part of the country. (See the second video towards the end of this post.)

It was considerably duller than the American presidential debates. Here's prize-winning Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts' irreverent take on it. But it's worth viewing because it shows where the leaders stand.

Watch Cameron in the ninth minute. He talks about meeting a 40-year-old black man in Plymouth who said he had served in the Royal Navy for 30 years. That means he joined the navy when he was 10 years old!

Immigration is the biggest election issue after the economy, reports Reuters. It adds:

According to a London School of Economics (LSE) pre-election report, 10.2 per cent of Britain's population is foreign-born (based on OECD 2007 figures).

Contrast that with Singapore, where foreigners make up nearly a third of the population.

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Foreign-born in Singapore, London and New York

Singapore-population

Singapore is sometimes compared with London and New York. But does it have as many foreigners?

Channel NewsAsia reports: Singapore's population currently stands at nearly five million, including one million foreigners.

So foreigners make up 20 per cent of the population, going by that report.

That's less than the foreign-born population in London and New York.

Here are the figures from the Mayor of London's report on Londoners by country of birth.

Annual Population Survey estimate for Greater London in 2006

All residents:  7,352,000

UK-born: 5,031,000

Born outside UK: 2,320,000.

So 31.5 per cent of the Greater London population in 2006 was foreign-born.

According to Wikipedia, New York is the most populous city in the United States, with an estimated 2008 population of 8,363,710 — of whom 36.7 per cent are foreign-born and another 3.9 per cent born in Puerto Rico.

It's true Singapore's foreign-born population is much more than 20 per cent if you include the permanent residents and first-generation Singaporeans.

Singapore has more than half a million permanent residents.

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