Praesidium

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

West Ham 1-2 Liverpool

Again playing three strikers worked quite well. I'm not sure it's a settled system, or would work against other big teams, but nice to know we're willing to attack when we go up against struggling teams, even away from home. As it was, 2-1 doesn't look too comfortable, but from the moment Kuyt opened the scoring ten seconds after half-time this one looked fairly safe.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

American English

The review of Cecile Fabre's Whose Body is it Anyway? is a step nearer print - today I received corrected proofs. There were rather a lot of corrections, some of which were standard (one split infinitive), others Americanisms (do they really say 'florishing'?) and others I consider somewhat fussy. Nonetheless, some were rather more frustrating:

A sentence along the lines 'we accept a transfer from a dead person's estate to the needy, so we need some reason to deny them rights to the dead person's organs' was changed to 'we accept a transfer from a dead person's estate to needy people, so we need some reason to deny the needy rights to the dead person's organs'. Maybe my knowledge of English grammar is deficient - like many native speakers, it's more something I 'picked up' than was taught formally - but I fail to see why I couldn't say 'the needy' in the former case and yet the construction was inserted in the latter.

Moreover, even if it isn't ultra-correct standard English, talk of 'the talented', 'the needy', etc is common in the discourse. Several corrections seem to stem from unawareness of such: for instance, Rawls' now standard term 'conceptions of the good' was changed to 'conceptions of goodness'.

Even worse, however, were a few examples where I think philosophical points were missed or twisted:

An extensively re-worked sentence about the threshold of distributive justice had an insertion that stated - needlessly and incorrectly - threshold of well being, though Fabre - like many others - is a resourcist.

Secondly, the phrase 'body-rich' got changed to'people who have an excess [of organs]' - but I don't think it's claimed anyone has excess kidneys, only that those with more than needed (i.e. two) might donate them to those with none.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bargain Books

Blackwells has a pretty good sale on at the moment. I just bought five or six books, most of which were reduced to £2-3. The pick, however, was £5 for Duncan Black's Theory of Committees and Elections (Amazon), which had been reduced from a massive £119 (compred to Amazon's £104). Too bad it wasn't this newer edition, but still a bargain. Altogether I spent £21 on books originally priced around £150 - which I consider a pretty good day's work...

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Interesting Scientific Research

Two stories in the BBC health section caught my eye:

Couples feel each other's pain - This sounds very much like Hume's account of sympathy to me. Further, although the study was based on couples, I see no evidence the findings are necessarily confined to such - it could be, from what's reported, a natural reaction to witnessing any other suffering.

Pain from a woman hurts less - This backs up the claim made by Wayne Sumner (citing some psychological evidence) that pleasure and pain consists of a sensation and an affective element - how much we care. He argues pleasure and pain themselves are not always good or bad - we may shun the former or welcome the latter, in certain contexts. Rather what matters to the quality of someone's life is enjoyment or suffering.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea

Finally league victory over Mourinho's men. Granted we may be considered lucky that, for various reasons, they had lost Makalale, Terry and Carvalho, but for a team with such resources - and who felt they could dispense with Huth and Gallas in the summer - I find it hard to feel much sympathy. Let it not be forgotten we were missing Kewell, Garcia and Sissoko, among others.

Kuyt took early advantage of Chelsea's defensive frailty, and Pennant followed it up with a superb strike from distance - what a way to break his duck. Too bad we couldn't add to it - Riise was close, and I think Crouch may have had a penalty claim when going to the rebound after Riise had hit the bar. Still, 2-0 was a satisfactory lead, and one that didn't look in much danger of being dented.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Watford 0-3 Liverpool

With Watford bottom of the Premiership, this should have been an easy game, but after the two Cup defeats I was worried it could prove a potential banana skin if the Hornets were to score first. Thankfully we made fairly easy work of a 3-0 win.

Interestingly, Benitez not only reverted to wingbacks, which I always say works well, but for the first time deployed three strikers to good effect, with Bellamy and Crouch involved in all three goals. I can't wait to see the team he picks to face Chelsea (who, from the sound of it, could have Cech back, but probably not Terry, if reports are to be beleived).

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Careers Day

Today I attended a careers event called Future Focus for final year DPhil students. I'm not sure how helpful it was, to be honest. At the time, I thought it was telling me useful things about job applications, though in hingsight I'm not sure what I'd do differently. The practice interviews we had with each other were all very well, but answering pre-prepared questions asked by another student is no where near as daunting as proper interviews even I've had, much less ones in front of a full panel and even real students... Nonetheless, it was quite an enjoyable day in a way. I got to meet several other students from other subjects, which put us all in the spirit of net-working.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Domus Dinner

Last night we had one of our graduate and supervisor dinners in college. As ever, it was a very nice occasion, with wine flowing. Since my old friend Nick - who I hadn't seen since June - was finally back in town after a term in the States, it was good to see him, in the Lamb & Flag and KA. After that, I went on to the Philosophy (post-BPhil) party in Holywell Manor. I still haven't seen how that place merits its party reputation, though the fact the bar was shut by the time I got there (and only re-opened once...) may have lowered my opinion.

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School League

New school league tables are out, and if you scroll to the bottom of this BBC story (or look at the table) you'll find my old school Colchester Royal Grammar was top for A levels.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Liverpool 3-6 Arsenal (Carling)

Ouch! Well, I don't think I've ever seen us concede 6 goals before. Somehow, it all seemed to go to pieces at the end of the first half. At 1-1 we were in the game and then they suddenly score three goals - from, I'd like to point out, a dodgy free kick, a handball and an offside. If you look at it that way, and remember Hyypia had a goal (rightly) disallowed to offside, it could have been 4-3 to us if all those decisions had gone our way. Obviously, I wouldn't expect them all to go our way, but the fact is they did all go Arsenal's (at least one rightly, but probably two wrongly)

More concerning than this result - where both teams were largely reserves anyway - is the loss of two further players, Gonzalez and Garcia, to long term injury. Aside from the fact that with Kewell and Zenden also long term injuries this leaves our left side very short, Garcia is spectacularly important for us, especially in Europe, and now misses the chance to face his former club (Barca).

The Carling Cup has not been kind to us this year, also dealing Sissoko a long term injury, in light of which I can not only approve of Benitez's resting most of his key players but also be glad we're out. A likely final run of Spurs and Chelsea, even if we had got past Arsenal, meant we weren't so close to silverware anyway. Instead, we can now concentrate on league form (if Arsenal are so much better than us, as some have suggested after these two results, how come we're above them in the Premiership?)

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Quote Me on That

As usual, the BBC list their favourite amusing sports quotes of the week - mostly football and cricket. What's unusual is I have a contribution (i.e. something a sportsperson said I found and submitted, not me being quoted). Currently it's at the bottom of the list.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Universum Survey

I just completed a survey on students' career choices and expectations. In return, I got these results for Oxford.

It amazes me that 32% of Oxford graduates expect their first job to pay upwards of £40,000 per year - indeed for 5% over £60k (page 9). At those wages, the real world doesn't look so scary. And (according to page 7) 14% expect to be working 60 hours+ a week, so they probably deserve it.

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Obituary

Magnus Magnusson, former author, journalist, host of Mastermind and Jesus College alumnus, died on Sunday evening. (BBC news, obituary)

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Liverpool 1-3 Arsenal (FA Cup)

Last season, all bar one of our FA Cup games were on the BBC as we went on a great run past Luton, Portsmouth, Man Utd, Birmingham, Chelsea and West Ham to win the cup in the infamous Gerrard Final. This season, all our games were on the BBC as we're out at the first hurdle!

The line up was pretty much our strongest. No surprise to see Agger replace Hyypia at the back, or Crouch preferred given Bellamy's hamstring trouble. Perhaps one unexpected mvoe was recalling Dudek in goal - but Arsenal also rotated there (UPDATE: As did Man Utd, and if it hadn't been for their injury crisis in goal I suspect Chelsea may have done so too)

I can't say I was too disappointed with the performance. We bossed most of the first half hour, only for Rosicky to score a very good goal against the run of play. Chasing the game made it harder, particularly when our defence conceded two quite sloppy goals. Some fans have blamed Dudek but I wouldn't - Reina might have saved them, but so might Dudek, I don't think we lost out there.

It was disappointing mainly because we'd dominated most of the match, albeit without creating many clear chances. Things may have been different had Alonso been given a penalty - granted he was waiting for the challenge, but that's using intelligence to try to win one, not falling over for no reason. Maybe it wasn't a penalty, on grounds he didn't have control of the ball, but given that Gilberto missed the ball by a mile and did catch Alonso's trailing leg I don't see how he could be booked.

After Kuyt's second half goal, at 2-1, we had Arsenal on the rack for the best part of 20 minutes and it really looked like if there was another goal it was to be us (not that either manager wanted a replay). Unfortunately all that changed with Henry's break away, wrapping up the victory. In cup matches, you have to press forward when you're losing, and to go out 3-1 rather than 2-1 makes no difference so that wasn't too upsetting.

What I did find strange was the fact we didn't make any attacking substitutions. Bellamy spent most of the second half warming up, but I can only conclude he wasn't fit if he wasn't used - which leaves me asking why Fowler wasn't available. And when we needed a bit of pace to stretch Arsenal, if it couldn't come from Bellamy then I'd at least have given Gonzalez a try.

Still, if we're going to go out it might as well be a) early on and b) against a big team. Anything else just adds to fixture congestion and/or embarrassment. At least we have chance for revenge on Tuesday.

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Bikes

After some drama on the way to the conference yesterday, when my front wheel seemed flat and I needed to go through three pumps* to fix it, today I decided since it was the front I'd fix it myself.

*(it transpired my pump valve had a leak, so attaching it to a soft tyre merely deflated it - then I tried the mini folding pump device my mum had once bought me, but was only able to take it apart and still couldn't find how it was supposed to attach to the tyre or work, so in the end I had to borrow a pump from Pavel)

Frustratingly, after some effort to remove the wheel (the bolts were pretty much rusted on), I've been unable to find any leak in the tyre. I did, however, get round to fixing my spare punctured tube, which I can keep as a replacement should I need one. I've now got to go and put the wheel back...

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Conference

The Political Thought Conference, held in St Catz, is a somewhat strange affair. It isn't widely advertised, and seems to run on similar secretive semi-formal lines to David's Nuffield seminar. Despite having an AGM, there's no organisation as far as I'm aware, simply the group of people who have no structure or organisation beyond this conference.

The papers I've seen have mostly been pretty good, and the conference also gives plenty of chance to meet people. Since there are few graduates, we've mostly been banded together, so as not to distract more important people from meeting other more important people. Nonetheless, I have had chance to speak to several people I knew, extract some useful leads from Alan Hamlin and Adrian Blau, and be part of a lengthy chat around Quentin Skinner in the bar last night.

Top lines of the conference (that I recall):

"I will not explain what I mean by 'explain'" - Alan Hamlin

"This is a controversial claim, so all I will say in support of it is that it is true" - Quentin Skinner

"Maybe the [bar] prices will be lowered for the conference" - Sarah

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ashes and Death

I've been staying up rather too late to follow England's Ashes fortunes the last few nights. For a while, I was briefly hopeful we could avoid a whitewash - 234-4 or something didn't seem that bad. Then the traditional collapse and Aussie innings...

Anyway, I don't know whether it was just masochism that made me follow CT's link and read the BBC over-by-over account to find out what had happened after I did finally go to bed, but if you go to 1350 there's the following comment sent in:

From Sam Jones in Reading, TMS inbox: "At my college we had lecturer called Mr De'Ath. Being slightly grown-up we didn't find this terribly amusing, until we discovered that he was actually a "Dr" De'Ath, and had dropped the "Dr" in a futile attempt to stop avoid people taking the mickey."

I don't know for sure, but I believe he could be referring to the Home Bursar before last of Jesus College. (He is listed under Emeritus Fellows here. He doesn't have his own Wikipedia entry, but amazingly his recently retired successor does. Our new Home Bursar is on FaceBook...)

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January Sales

Well, since I didn't receive a single birthday present, I thought I'd go and spend some of the money I did get. The sales in Virgin and HMV didn't look too inspiring, but Borders did throw up the following treats: Best of the Beta Band £3.99, Louis XIV £3.99 and Modular Presents: Leave Them All Behind (a 2CD compilation) for £4.99.

I also bought several books from Blackwells, taking advantage of both their sale and a college prize.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Compulsory Voting Again

This has turned into something of an on-going debate on the IPPR's proposals on compulsory voting (see my previous post here). Here are the results of my latest research:

This IPPR Statement claims compulsory voting is the only solution to low turnout.

The Fabian Society have a lengthy discussion on compulsory voting in the UK (PDF format). It's probably a bit out-dated now, looking like it draws from 2001, but it shows how long-running the issue has been that they published a tract by William Robson entitled Compulsory Voting: What it is and How it works in 1924! Their article also includes a number of reader comments, but sadly the references don't seem to be online.

The Australian Electoral Commission give arguments for and against, in quick bullet point form. Their longer information (PDF) makes it clear that it is compulsory to cast a ballot, not merely attend the polling place. Page 6 of this document gives a useful list of countries that practice compulsory voting, divided by whether or not they actually enforce it. This brief factsheet from the ACT Electoral Commission doesn't add much more.

The International IDEA site again gives arguments for/against, and a list of countries sorted by level of enforcement with sanctions and year of introduction.

The Guardian (back in 2005) gives a list of practicing countries, but only gives further information on a few.

Good old Wikipedia gives the basics, but is rather under-referenced for my liking.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Liverpool 3-0 Bolton

A physical game against Bolton is never particularly welcome, even less so at the end of such a packed festive schedule. Thankfully, though, Benitez' rotation policy meant our players were probably fitter, while their 3-2 win over Portsmouth may have taken more out of Bolton, who were unusually tame.

While we struggled to create many chances in the first half, two quick goals from Crouchinho and Gerrard looked to have settled the match just after the hour - and it would've been even clearer had Faye not been fortunate to escape a second yellow for dissent soon after. After that, I was hoping Kuyt at least would be rested, but instead Benitez chose to replace Gonzalez with Garcia (I'd have at least taken the opportunity to give Aurelio some match time). In the end, Kuyt's continued running was richly rewarded with a deserved goal, but I'm not sure the few minutes rest for him and Gerrard will make them that much fitter for our two up-coming games with Arsenal.

Still, the pleasing thing is a convincing win over a close rival (who didn't even muster a shot on target, according the the BBC) that moves us into third.

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Another New Year...

Well, last night I wondered down Cowley Rd with Daan and Becky. We stopped off in a nice little Jamaican place where the barmaid recommended us less mainstream drinks (so I had to order a round of 'a pint of the thing better than Strongbow and a thing that's better than Bailey's'). There also had some pretty good music - covers of well known songs like Paul Simon in a Jamaican reggae style - but it was pretty loud and got crowded, so we moved on after a couple of drinks.

As we wondered further towards town, we almost went in the ex-It's A Scream place on Magdalen roundabout, but didn't mainly at my insistence - partly because it didn't used to have a good reputation, looked crowded and I wanted to be more central in case my friends Maria and Oli got in touch later. Therefore we wondered down the High Street - suddenly in quite heavy rain - before ending up in Chequers. Disappointingly, despite being served what must have been just after 11, it turned out they closed at 11:40. (Even more annoying, I had a text from Maria to say she was in the pub on the corner of Iffley Rd!)

Since we were fairly close to college, the three of us just went back to the GCR to spend midnight together, before coming home. (At least it allowed me to check my post, including a belated Xmas card from Mike and a bottle of wine from Krister and Anandi for help in interviews)

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