Tuesday, February 28, 2006

St David's Day (dinner and hustings)

St David's Day is actually tomorrow, but because it's also Ash Wednesday the college's evensong and dinner was actually tonight. As usual, it was a particularly impressive formal hall - with four courses, and the choir singing grace in Welsh - to celebrate the occasion.

There were plenty of graduates there, as we'd booked our last GCR meeting of term to coincide with the event. Sadly I got there a bit late, having been to see Ronald Dworkin in the Law Faculty, so wasn't able to sit with many other people - it was just me and my guest Veronika, but a pleasant enough evening in her company (and relative privacy) It meant we didn't get any wine to accompany the meal, but that was just as well.

After the meal, our meeting consisted only of new committee hustings - I'm standing (unopposed) for secretary - and the out-going committee giving end of year speeches. Sara's Lord of the Rings-style one and Nick's Marlon Brando impression ("a lot of us have come to see the GCR as a family") were the best.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Maths Test

You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Math?

From Crooked Timber.

Liverpool 1-0 Man City

It’s now five successive matches that have finished 1-0 (Wigan, Arsenal, Man Utd, Benfica and Man City). I’d like more goals, but at least Liverpool have been on the winning side of four of those. For now, it’s enough to ‘win ugly’ – with the hope that we will do better next season (with a new winger or two and striker).

The biggest worry from the match was the head injury to Alonso – the second successive game we’ve lost a midfielder to a first-half head injury, of course – and the knock Gerrard took later on from Dunne. I’m surprised we didn’t substitute the latter in favour of Cisse.

Rafa has recently criticised the Frenchman, understandably given his performances, but his pace seemed ideal to exploit the gaps left once City were down to ten men and chasing the game. He’d certainly have been more of a threat than Morientes – whose build-up play is acceptable, but who just doesn’t seem to have any goal threat any more. He even left a free kick rolled into his path this afternoon – and was about to walk off the field when Crouch was substituted.

For now, not a great display, but we were good value for our win, so I’ll settle for that. Hopefully Gerrard and Alonso will be fit for next week’s match against Charlton, or we’ll need to seriously re-organise a midfield already missing Sissoko and Zenden.


I saw Thomas Pogge give a talk on testing medical drugs on the global poor on Thursday (in the Politics Department), and give an Amnesty Lecture on Friday on the ‘War on Terror’. Last night I went to see him for the third time in three days, addressing the Balliol undergraduate PPE Society on Rawls’ two (domestic and international) theories of justice.

I had planned to go to the ‘Bollywood’ themed party in the GCR afterwards, but after talking 8-10 Pogge came back to Holywell Manor MCR with a bunch of us and we sat discussing global justice and charity until about half midnight.

The main topics were:
1) Toby’s proposal to give all his income over £8,000 (net, inflation adjusted) to charity.
2) The fact that Bill Gates – though he does a lot of good, in virtue of his large absolute contribution – isn’t particularly praiseworthy for denoting all over $2 billion to charity. (Note it’s a separate question whether he should in fact be praised – answer probably yes)
3) The suggestion that if we had a culture of announcing charitable contributions publicly (rather than keeping them private), while it might mean some giving was less virtuous, it would probably be better in terms of how much was given.
4) Pogge’s tax avoidance plan – which basically involved buying risky shares, and giving those that rise sharply to Oxfam (legally avoiding capital gains tax)

By the time I got back to college (12:45am) I was just able to see the last people leaving the party. Perhaps I didn’t miss much! Sitting around in an MCR discussing weighty moral/political matters with a leading professor is surely something that should be part of the Oxford graduate experience.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Tonight was the first of two GCR waltzing lessons, in preparation for the End of Term dinner (16th March). I had a few similar classes in Sixth Form actually, but tonight only confirmed that – like anyone else who can’t dance – I should’ve become a DJ!

Actually, the general level of co-ordination amongst our GCR doesn’t seem that high, so about eight couples trying to waltz in the confines of our bunker was bound to lead to a fair few collisions (and me ending up on a chair once or twice…)

There’s only one more lesson – Hopefully that’ll produce some kind of improvement… Mind you, I’ll blame it on having a partner a foot shorter than me. It makes it a lot harder to step around each other when your steps are so different!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

GCR Elections

Tonight a new GCR President was elected, 19-12 (running against an option to Re-Open Nominations). In hindsight, maybe it would've been better if RON won.

I'm planning on standing for a committe post, to be elected next week.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Blogger Meet (after the event)

Unfortunately I just missed Milan. I'll have to introduce myself to the person I think might be Milan next time I see him in the department I guess... I did get to meet Andy, Seth and Mike* though (as well as Rob, who of course I already knew). All seemed nice people, perhaps I'll end up getting more ensnared in this Oxford blogging community... (Though unfortunately I'll probably miss the up-coming exchange dinner with Trinity College due to both legs being on a Thursday)

*I'm assuming I got the blogs right, after consultation here.

Benfica 1-0 Liverpool

I missed most of this match, between our GCR’s presidential hustings (update: for result of the election, see here) and the blogger meet. As it is, I can’t offer too much commentary on how we played, but I am disappointed by the result. From what I hear, we deserved at least a draw (probably only a draw, but not defeat). In Europe, 0-0 away from home is a poor result – to lose even worse.

Mind you, my biggest concern is for Sissoko. Granted I’ve been critical at times of his distribution and timing of tackles, but he game to us young and raw and looks full of potential. He put in awesome performances against Arsenal and Man Utd, that really could see him live up to the ‘new Vieira’ tag. Hopefully reports that his career could be over – after a kick in the eye from Beto – will prove unfounded. Nonetheless it looks pretty certain he’s out for the rest of the season, and his vision will be somewhat compromised permanently from what I understand. (see here, here and here).

Monday, February 20, 2006

Blogger Meet (Final Reminder)

Tomorrow in the Turf. See here.

I won't be able to make it until 9:30-10 because of our GCR president hustings/meeting. I hope people will be easy to recognise. I don't want to go wondering around the Turf asking every table if they're a group of bloggers...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Good Effort

Well done to Colchester, for a valiant effort against Chelsea - though they lost 3-1, they lead for a while (9 minutes) and Chelsea were forced to bring on Lampard, Cole and Crespo.

In fairness to Colchester, I guess they're not used to playing on such an awful pitch!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Liverpool 1-0 Man Utd (FA Cup)

Revenge (for this) is sweet.

It was nice that Liverpool’s third consecutive FA Cup game was on the BBC. Anyone would think half their pundits were ex-Reds or something…

While not as one-sided as the Arsenal match, Liverpool were pretty dominant, and even if they didn’t carve out many clear chances – due no doubt to the presence of Sissoko and Hamann in midfield for the injured Alonso – they bossed the midfield. It’s safe to say that Liverpool with Man Utd’s strike force or Man Utd with Liverpool’s midfield would be an awesome prospect. As it is, the Manc midfield is a shambles without Keane or Scholes.

It was particularly sweet that Crouch scored the winner, both because he needed the goal, and because of all the constant jibes. If it wasn’t for Van der Sar we might have had one or two more too, and Giggs’ lunge on Kewell probably should’ve been a penalty as well – not that I’ve had much faith in us converting them lately.

The real talking point was, of course, a horrific ankle/leg break suffered by Alan Smith as he charged down Riise’s shot in the dying minutes. It was one of those where his leg just snapped without any contact from anyone else – not unlike Cisse last year – and from the sound of it he’s out at least a year, compounding Utd’s midfield problems. I wouldn’t wish an injury like that on anyone (even Neville), and I hope he makes a complete recovery.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Akrasia and Pubs

Yesterday wasn't a good day. The death of my mobile phone (/alarm clock) led to me over-sleeping - or rather, waking ridiculously early as normal but not thinking of actually getting up due to lack of alarm - and missing a 9am lecture. Plus only 2 weeks after last having it mended, my bike got another puncture, which didn't help...

It was good news for my friend Nick, however, who was confirmed twice - in the sense of confirming his status as DPhil candidate in history and accepting the offer of a law conversion and job. Congratulations again (soon to be) Dr Nick!

I was planning to meet him down Cowley to celebrate with some other friends, but got detained somewhat in the Kings Arms after our Student Research Workshop - with the usual suspects plus Chris Brooke. Knowing I had to walk home, I intended to leave around 8:30. Note 'intended'...

Thankfully I didn't end up staying until midnight, as in 1st week. Unfortunately an inability to tear myself away from one pub (even to ultimately end up in another) seems to be a problem. I did pass up drinks, insisting I was moving on, but it was empty.

Me: I need to go soon.
Sarah: You always say that.
Me: Well, I will go soon...

It's like Aristotle's description of the akratic (weak-willed) man as someone who "has it [knowledge of what he should do] in such a way that having it is not knowing it, but only saying it in the way someone who is drunk recites verses of Empedocles" (NE Book 7)

Still, I did eventually get back to meet Nick and James in The Marsh Harrier, for a pint and packet of crisps dinner. Hopefully my bike will still be on Cowley Road when I return to take it to Beeline later today...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Rights to Treatment

I haven't really followed the case of Ms Rogers in enough detail, but it seems a recent ruling has denied her the right to an expensive drug treatment for breast cancer on the NHS. (See here).

As I understand it, she claimed her 'right to life' was being violated. I'm somewhat sceptical of human rights, and the over inflation of any rights beyond fairly minimal levels. Nonetheless, I'll put this aside as best as I can. However, it seems to me either:

1) We all have rights to extensive medical treatment. In this case Ms Rogers does indeed have the right to the drug BUT it clashes with the rights of many other people who could be treated with the money. Therefore she has a right, but it's insufficient to determine that she should actually get the drug.


2) A right is something stronger, so a right to X entails that one should be provided with X. But in this case the task for Ms Rogers is to demonstrate she does indeed have a right to this drug - and I don't find it particularly convincing to suppose she has a right to such expensive treatment at loss to many others.

Anyway, the judge declared it was not his position to say whether it would be better or not to provide the treatment - his role is simply to observe that the law is not arbitrary or irrational, and therefore does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

In passing, he likened regional autonomy to a 'postcode lottery'. Such criticisms are often made, and I think I'll have to address them at another point, since they give lotteries a bad name. The 'postcode lottery' isn't a lottery (unless postcodes were to be re-assigned to everyone randomly) - it doesn't give people equal chances, it merely discriminates on the basis of an arbitrary feature. One could therefore liken the 'postcode lottery' not to a fair lottery (e.g. the military draft), but rather to racism...

Brit Awards

I was seriously distressed to find James Blunt is now considered 'best British male solo artist' and Kaiser Chiefs are our best rock act (ok, they have some catchy singles, but they're hardly that rock) News here.

If I could be bothered, I'd write my own list, but that would require some thought. More thought than the actual judges put in anyway. All the winners were obvious choices, and might as well have been based on commercial sales.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Free Speech and Bigotry

I am largely in sympathy with Ronald Dworkin’s views on free speech, bigotry and democracy (Guardian 14/02/06, p.32). The headline summary seems misleading though – free speech does have limits, e.g. libel or not shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre being prominent examples, but Dworkin’s point was that accommodation of different cultures is not one of them.

In a society where people wish to be free to express their own opinions, they must tolerate a like liberty for others. A diversity of viewpoints almost necessitates that some people will be offended by the alleged truths and values others express, but this is a result of ineliminable cultural pluralism.

Dworkin is right, there is no ‘right not to be insulted or offended’, for people can seemingly be offended by anything. Indeed, in the present society Muslims are likely to be offended by anyone who suggests the Koran is not the word of the one true god, while followers of other religions are equally as likely to be offended by the suggestion that it is. If we were never to risk offending anyone, then we wouldn’t be able to say anything.

A tolerant society must accept expression of opinions it finds offensive – even for example racist ones. Once it does so, they can be exposed and defeated in reasonable public discourse. If those holding such views do not feel that their opinions have been heard, then they are all the more likely to resort to extremism and violence.

Smoking Ban

We may have to wait over a year, but it looks like we'll finally be able to visit pubs without our clothes stinking of smoke - not to mention risk of lung cancer - thanks to a vote for a total ban. See BBC news.

Read my views on smoking in pubs here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Liverpool 1-0 Arsenal

The advantage of being single is being able to watch football in the pub on Valentines. We got great seats, and it was a great game – well, maybe only a good one for the neutral, but Liverpool were totally dominant.

Unfortunately wayward finishing from Morientes, combined with Lehmann’s good saves from Kewell, Fowler and Senderos(!), kept the score down. Indeed, when Gerrard’s penalty was saved, I thought it might not be our night. Gerrard and Cisse seem to trade penalty duties, with both having missed quite a few. I really thought it might’ve been a good chance for Robbie, even though he hasn’t scored for us yet. I’d like to see him taking the next one.

Anyway, Arsenal were anonymous. Veit asked where Pires was – I said ‘I think he’s on the bench’ while Tom thought he was injured. It says a lot that he was only shortly after subbed off. We hadn’t seen him influence the game at all!

The same couldn’t be said, however, for Garcia – who I’ve often thought of as our answer to Pires. Only on the pitch for a few minutes, he latched on as Lehmann was only able to parry Hamann’s shot, and put the ball in the net for a deserved late winner. While his inconsistency may be frustrating, he certainly knows where the goal is – he has a knack both of running into dangerous positions and scoring important goals. It’s good to have him back from injury, with our strikers generally mis-firing.

It’s a shame we weren’t able to produce a more convincing scoreline. On shots, we must’ve won about 20-2, even if many of ours were admittedly off-target. Arsenal, conversely, offered so little in attack that The Times even mis-identified our goalie as Carson rather than Dudek (penultimate paragraph).

Games are coming thick and fast now, but let’s hope we can take this form and some better finishing into the Man Utd and Benfica matches.

If Music be the Food of Love...

I read the other day something about how music can trigger the same reactions in your brain as love. Probably much like how chocolate makes you feel good I guess. Maybe it explains why I don’t have a girlfriend and I listen to a lot of music…

Anyway, having been bored to tears by adverts for ‘Greatest Lovesongs Ever’ and so forth on TV lately (one including Take That’s ‘Back For Good’ – surely a song for an ex rather than current beau?) I thought I’d compile my own list:

‘Nice’ love songs
Apoptygma Berzerk – Love Never Dies (part 1)
Fleetwood Mac – You Make Loving Fun
Foo Fighters – Everlong
Nirvana – About A Girl
The Cure – Friday I’m In Love
Metallica – Nothing Else Matters
Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love

Not so nice (e.g. unrequited) ones
Nine Inch Nails – Perfect Drug (and so many others…)
Sunlounger – Dirty Hands, Dirty Face
Weezer – Pink Triangle
The Cure – Love Song
Bauhaus – The Passion Of Lovers
Head Automatica - Please Please Please

Some of those may be open to interpretation, but, well ‘meh’ to anyone who disagrees.

I’ll be taking advantage of my single status to watch Liverpool vs Arsenal in the pub tonight, but if I weren’t no doubt I’d be playing some of these.

Monday, February 13, 2006

How to Disagree

Thanks to Jerry Cohen for this.

Imagine a range of positions on some single dimension (e.g. left-right) issue, which we can number from 1 to 20. This is the usual pattern of disagreements:

X says: 13 is/represents the truth.
Y says: 15? You’re crazy. More like 7.
X says: You’ve mischaracterised my view as 17. It’s really 12. As for your view the truth is 5, that’s ridiculous…

Try it in long-running journal debates, e.g. the one between Jerry and Ronald Dworkin on expensive tastes. I think it’s amazingly accurate.

RIP Peter Strawson

Peter Strawson died today. Obituaries in the usual major papers...

I don't think I've ever seen him, or know much of his work; but his son Galen interviewed me for admission to Jesus.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Wigan 0-1 Liverpool

I didn't see this game, since I was away in Warwick, and couldn't be bothered to stay up until the end of Match of the Day for a 1-0 win over Wigan, but it's good to see us pull out three points again after a troublesome one point from four games. Maybe it helped that Wigan didn't have any strikers, but we've had our problems there too - Pongolle remains our only striker to have scored this year.

Hopefully Gerrard (who played) and Crouch (who didn't) will be fit for Arsenal on Tuesday. That tie, followed by Man Utd in the FA Cup and Benfica in the CL, will go a long way to shaping the success of our season.

Some other results of note were Middlesbrough's shock 3-0 win over Chelsea (whose next game is vs Colchester United...), and Arsenal's late draw with Bolton - in which I saw Lehmann push a Bolton player over but not (like Reina) get punished at all...


Today I'm attending the Eighth Annual Graduate Conference in Political Theory at the University of Warwick (which is, confusingly, in Coventry). Looks a pretty good programme, with plenty of Oxford people - including me giving my first paper outside Oxford.

Friday, February 10, 2006

You Spin Me Round

I went to see Alaistair Campbell give a talk tonight. Sadly, Chatham House rules apply, so I can't go into details - though actually apparently all that's prohibited is me attributing anything to him by name - so if someone in Oxford recently heard anything from a 'source close to government' here's a clue...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Julia

Happy birthday Julia, the scary mid-20s...

Going to the Gardener's Arms later to celebrate with people from the department, Nuffield and other random places to celebrate (but will be suitable restrained since I'm teaching tomorrow)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Charlton 2-0 Liverpool

Another disappointing defeat, and worryingly Liverpool have only taken one point from their last four games. Defeats to Man Utd and Chelsea hurt, but are understandable, to Charlton is more painful... Unfortunately we've lost form at the worst time. Even when we were drawing games at the start of the season, and about 12th in the table, I was feeling more optimistic than now.

Even neutral reports suggest the game turned on the controversial penalty decision that gave Charlton the lead against the run of play. I think this is one of our problems. Our strikers simply aren't putting away goals. Consequently as long as we don't concede, we capable of standing firm for at least a draw, and often nicking a win. If we go behind, however, we struggle. We don't have enough firepower to get back into the match, and if forced to chase it, tend to expose ourselves at the back, thus conceding more.

I can only hope Robbie's soon back to fitness and goal-scoring form.

Reading Group (HT 06 wk4)

For this week's reading group we decided to meet at the Angel & Greyhound (on St Clements, close to Magdalen roundabout) at the usual time of 8:30 Wednesday.

The chosen reading was Barbara Fried's 'Left Libertarianism: A Review Essay' Philosophy & Public Affairs 32:1 (2004) pp.66-91, the reply in P&PA 33:2 (2005) pp.201-15 and her rejoinder to that pp.216-22 of the same volume.

Memorable quotes:

OK: We're getting into utilitarianism for lions.

KO: Stop throwing long words at me.
SW: I'm just making up words now.

KW: It's not to do with Nozick, it's about a hypothetical.

SW: I treat my [one year old] daughter as an object.

KW: Not everything that doesn't exist is weird.

KW: Death is bad, it just isn't painful.

OK: I think it's worth... Well, not worth, but interesting to distinguish...

KO: I think there's been a massive increase in pedantic comments.
Me: We're philosophers!

OK/KW/KO: Every week we end up discussing pro tanto reasons.

KO: I didn't mean to get into paedophilia.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Women's Ambition

I'm wary of stepping too far into feminist territory here, especially after last week's post, but here's something that perhaps goes some way to vindicating what I claimed there: that women would be better served by society valuing 'women's [i.e. domestic] work' rather than by giving them equal opportunity to compete for traditionally male jobs.

Anyway, what first caught my attention was seeing this book: It Takes a Candidate : Why Women Don't Run for Office. I haven't read it, so I don't yet know the answer. I'd predict a mixture of reasons, from family responsibility and socialisation to a distaste for the world of politics and all the butt-kissing it seems to take to get ahead in any career (academia included).

Now, I suppose the question is whether women's choices should be respected, or whether this is a 'contented slave' kind of case - one in which through adaptive preferences they're happy with what they've got, even though they shouldn't be, and where Rousseau's paradoxical comment 'forced to be free' makes some sense (though perhaps it'd still be better expressed 'forced to do something more worthwhile', without misdescribing perfectionism as freedom, but let's not get into that now...)

The other thing I saw, just now in fact, actually comes from the press release to Pink's new single 'Stupid Girls', and it's quite worrying:

In a recent survey published by The Sunday Times, girls aged between 15 and 19 were asked which careers they wished to pursue. 63% said glamour modelling and
25% lap dancing in comparison to 4% saying lawyer and 3% doctor – a shocking upshot of the superficial cult status of today’s airhead celebrity.
I haven't seen this survey, perhaps I should look it up, but it suggests one big reason why women are still under-represented it top professions - and also explains the glut of useless celebrity/'reality' crap on our TVs.

Admittedly, I'd be surprised if a lot of boys didn't want to be footballers or rock stars or something, but at least they do something with their lives. I assume a lot of girls would rather just be rich and idle, like Paris Hilton or Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. The traditional expectation to be the breadwinner generally forces boys to give up unrealistic pipedreams and either get a decent education or start a career early (or perhaps turn to crime, etc). I'm going to be controversial here, but perhaps too many girls are still in a 19th century mindset in which they simply concentrate on some form of self-improvement (e.g. education) and other passtimes, while waiting for a man who can keep them in a life of luxury they've somehow come to expect from too much escapist TV...

Obviously that's a simple stereotype, but the original point is maybe the reason there aren't many women in so called 'top' positions in society is that they don't want to be there. The question we should be asking is whether that's a problem or not.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Philosopher's Humour (HT06 pt 1)

Time for an over-due return of those little snippets that make seminars worthwhile. Here’s today’s (as ever, just the gists).

Ethics 06/02/06

GAC: No I’m talking about real dogs. A real dog wouldn’t say its meal is tasty, because real dogs can’t say anything.

Presenter: Another Dr Cohen...
GAC: I'm not actually a doctor
Presenter: Well, you're obviously very distinguished nonetheless, so we won't hold that against you.

Nuffield Political Theory Seminar 06/02/06

[Discussing whether having a right you can’t exercise can make you better off]
DM: I hereby grant you the right to float in the air unsupported
AW: Were you denying me the right before?

[On proposals concerning legitimate group ownership of land]
AP: That’s wouldn’t work for Jerusalem
RS: Nothing would work for Jerusalem

Moral Philosophy Seminar 06/02/06

[Introducing his paper on Bernard Williams]
JS: Although I will disagree with most of what he [Williams] says I’m sure I’m probably wrong…

SuperBowl XL

That doesn’t mean eXtra Large, but 40. I’m not exactly an American football fan. I watched about half the Superbowl two years ago in college, and this time again a big bunch of us decided to pile round a friend’s for beer, Doritos, pretzels and watching big American guys beat the crap out of each other.

The atmosphere was greatly improved by some inspired music thanks to Nick's i-Pod, including Led Zep's 'Immigrant Song' and Chumbawumba's 'Tubthumping'. Extra comedy value for playing the wrong AC/DC song too... On which, Ed's comment "Not having cheerleaders is sexist. What are the women supposed to do?" is also worthy of mention. (We had our own Pittsburgh cheerleaders in Lisa and Sanne, however)

Most of us only declared allegiances a day or two before the match, so weren’t too bothered. I was for the Seattle Seahawks, who lost. Unfortunately pretty much all the dodgy refereeing decisions went against them – as revealed here. I can’t be bothered to go through them all, but Seattle had a touchdown denied, and Pittsburgh were then given a debateable one – so what could’ve been 10-0 was actually 3-7.

I have to say, I seemed to have a pretty good grasp of what was going on by the end of the game. I was even able to have a conversation about it later with an American. Wish I hadn’t stayed up until 3am for the result though…

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool

Well, another big Liverpool vs Chelsea game and another defeat. In fact, it seems we lose all the domestic matches, even if we can hold them in European competition – don’t know why that is.

What was most annoying was the general manner of defeat. We seem to have run out of steam a bit, and it’s not surprising how tired many players look given the long season we’ve already had (with pre-season CL qualifiers and a trip to Japan) – unfortunately it’s come at the crunch time of the season, with important matches against our main league rivals, Man Utd in the FA Cup and Benfica in the CL all coming up.

In fact, their opening goal came against the run of play. Unfortunately once we were behind, our heads went down. Maybe it’s the tiredness, but we gave up too early, rather than continuing to the 92nd minute… After that, neither our defence nor attack looked good.

The main talking point is probably Reina’s red card, for a moment of madness towards the end, which certainly didn’t help our cause. Haven’t seen the incident, so I can’t really comment in detail – Reina shouldn’t have been raising his hand, but by all accounts Robben went down like a sack of bricks.

UPDATE: I suspect whoever wrote this on the Liverpool website:

Former Liverpool captain Jamie Redknapp has condoned the 'play-acting' actions of Arjen Robben and sympathised with Pepe Reina over his controversial sending off at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Doesn't know their 'condoned' from their 'condemned'.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


It seems everyone wants to add their two pence worth to the furore over these offensive cartoons (for example, here and here). I haven't got much to add to these eminently sensible comments.

Free speech means the newspapers can say what they like. It may be wrong to say something offensive, but it's still your right. Some people I saw interviewed on the news suggested free speech must always be within seemingly quite narrow limits of not offending people. Since some people will be offended by almost anything - and you can't please all the people all the time (to adapt a phrase) - this seems to me like saying 'you have complete freedom of movement, provided you don't leave your house'. The importance of free speech means we must be free to offend people who don't share our views (although appealing to something like the doctrine of double effect, I'd say offence should be a tolerable side-effect but not the intention).

Of course, anyone offended has the right to express this - that's their freedom of speech - and they can condemn or even boycott the newspapers in question (as many Liverpool fans still boycott The Sun, for example). Needless to say, burning embassies does not fall within the scope of reasonable protest.

(For an example of relatively benign - if in my opinion slightly prudish - newspaper cartoon editing/censorship, see here)

UPDATE: Further thoughts from Index on Censorship, here and here.

Blogger Meet Update

February 21st (Tuesday of 6th week). 8pm. Turf. (See here)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Women Have It All

After spending most of tonight glued to Channel 4 - largely from inertia, though new comedy The IT Crowd was a big improvement on Celebrity Big Brother (which I refused to watch) - I felt moved to comment on Amanda Platell's slot on female emancipation:

30 Minutes Political commentator Amanda Platell suggests feminism has offered today's women an unrealistic dream of independence and career success, threatening their chance for real happiness with a husband and children. She considers the impact second-wave feminists had on society in the 1960s and 1970s, and reflects on the personal choices she herself made.

(From Guardian TV guide)

The general line was that feminists have shot themselves in the foot, by demanding the right to work modern women now have to combine this with raising families, and get the bad of both worlds - and that, in effect, may would've been happier in a simpler age as home-makers.

In fact, I'm sympathetic to such general arguments, believing that women would've done better to promote the valuation of the domestic sphere, rather than abandoning it for a right to work. After all, what's so great about being a wage slave? Different but equal - with rights for either sex to take on the non-traditional opposite gender role - is, I think, probably the way to go here.

The programme, however, was full of far too much over-simplification and proceeded to state a succession of banal truths in a one-sided fashion. For example 'women now want families and work, but feel they can't have it all'. True, but men can't have it all either. Sure a stay at home wife allows you to combine a career with having children, but not spending quality time with them. Similarly, the observation that women - caught by this schizophrenia - no longer know what will make them happy. But do we know what makes anyone happy? No. The problems raised - superficially - in the programme aren't those of women, they're problems of everyone (men and women) in modern society.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Liverpool 1-1 Birmingham

I was rather disappointed to get home and find this result. I'd been in the pub - where the Arsenal match was being shown - but after seeing Alonso's name flash up late on, I hoped he'd put the game safe. As it happened, when I got home I discovered he'd conceded a late own goal. Particularly frustrating to draw at home to a team like Birmingham, especially after they played an hour with ten men... On the positive side, Birmingham are a bit of a bogey team for us. Last season they beat us twice, this season two draws marks a significant improvement - and with Man Utd, Arsenal and Spurs all losing (and Chelsea also only drawing) it's a point gained on our main rivals, even if three would've been better. Too bad Robbie's overhead kick was ruled off-side, as it would have been a great comeback goal.