Saturday, September 19, 2020

Applauding one's opponents

 I just read this interview with Andy Robertson on the BBC website, in which he suggests that "Marcus Rashford could be the first Manchester United player to get a standing ovation here [at Anfield]."

No doubt Rashford would be deserving, but he wouldn't be the first. I was immediately reminded of Alan Smith's nasty injury.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Independent SAGE guidance on online university teaching

The Independent Sage committee released guidance for universities [link to press release] today. The full report is here. I've not read it (yet at least), but the 'headlines' include the following recommendation:

"Universities are urged to make online teaching the ‘default option’.... Online classes should be used exclusively for first two weeks of term".

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Unpaid marking

 Controversy has broken out in Australia over piece-rate payment for marking university assignments. It seems that some staff are being encouraged to skim-read essays in order to get through the work required within the allocated budget. The alternative, of course, is working without pay in order to do the job properly.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Pandemic Ethics

Ben Bramble has just released an open-access book on Pandemic Ethics.

I plan to spend a week of my ethics of public policy module on something to do with Covid-19. I don't know whether it will just be about vaccines (either mandatory vaccination and/or rationing) or whether I'll extend it to issues such as facemasks and lockdowns. This may depend on how much time I have to read around the fast-appearing literature. It looks like this would be useful for the reading list in either case.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Offensive speech

It looks like I'm probably not teaching Mill this coming year, which is a shame. This case - in which police required that a banner reading 'white silence is violence' be removed because it was 'offensive' - would be a good one for discussions of free expression.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Desmond Swayne, MP, objecting to face masks

This clip is doing the rounds. In case videos get taken down, it can also be found here and here. It might be useful for teaching in several respects.

Swayne describes mandatory face masks as a 'monstrous imposition' and suggests that the police will be needed to make him wear one. My understanding is that masks will soon be a legal requirement, rather than just a recommendation, so this could qualify as civil disobedience.

In reply, Hancock refers to the need to balance public health against the liberty to go shopping, suggesting that allowing people to shop while wearing masks strikes the right balance. This illustrates the idea that the rights/freedoms we allow may be the subject of some kind of cost-benefit analysis.

He also notes that the law may be enforced not only by the policy, but also by the public. It's not entirely clear whether he means only that most people will probably obey voluntarily or whether he means that public pressure will enforce the obligation on others. The latter, at least, could possibly illustrate Mill's idea that freedom can be limited by social pressure (though Mill thinks this a danger even without the law).

Not bad for 80 seconds...

Monday, June 22, 2020

Five a day? Try one...

Apparently Brits are, on average, eating less vegetables. The news story doesn't (so far as I can see) link to the original source, but it mentions a report from the Food Foundation, so I assume it's this one.

I'm not entirely clear on the details, because sometimes (when talking about guidelines) the report mentions fruit and veg but sometimes it only mentions veg. Someone who doesn't eat much veg could, at least in theory, be eating lots of fruit (though I assume this isn't usually the case).

Nonetheless, there are marked divides between adults and children and between rich and poor, but around 80% of adults eat less than 3-5 portions a day, despite official advice to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day (and some would say double that).