Thursday, June 29, 2006

Brave New World Report

So, Brave New World. In many senses, it was – the first time I’d been to a conference without a plethora of Oxford colleagues to accompany me.

I went up to Manchester a day early, on the Tuesday, to allow for the journey. As such, I had to go out for a meal on my own – and in the end walked back up the curry mile to Tesco (about 20 mins), unaware there was another branch just 5 mins away to the south.

I stocked up on some bread, crisps and bananas to last me through the two days, but after eating my pasta and salad I met Ryan – an American student from Leuven – and then his colleague Sylvie. We were going to find a pub that served food and showed football. It turned out Glass (nearby, to the south) were only doing the latter, but we had a couple of rounds as we watched France beat Spain. Then we got Domino’s on the way home and shared it in our kitchen.

The conference wasn’t due to start until noon on the Wednesday, so having missed a breakfast we hadn’t been told about Ryan and I went to the local Tesco for some food, and entertained ourselves by reading over our papers until lunchtime. It was there we first started meeting the main batch of people – including Dean (who I knew from Nuffield seminars, and Warwick) and Kerstin (who I knew from the PSA conference). It was only advertised as a ‘light lunch’, i.e. sandwiches, but I could have had much more given the amount left.

Henry Shue kicked off proceedings with a paper on terrorism, taking an even more anti- line than his 1978 P&PA article. Then I was up, with Dean and one other student, in the first graduate panel. Thankfully it went quite well (I think), and I was particularly grateful to Tom (from UCL), as well as James, Kerstin and Alan Hamlin for questions.

The conference dinner was at a nearby Greek restaurant (Kosmos) that night. Having got there early, I ended up sat next to Kimberley, which was of course a pleasant evening – though I feel perhaps I should have done more to socialise with people I didn’t already know.

The chance came, of course, with Glass (again) afterwards, and then – via a dodgy off-licence (serving at 11:30) we went back to some kind of common room, where we stayed drinking and chatting – largely me, Dean and Ryan trying to convince Kerstin of the beauty of football – until 2am.

The next morning, I somehow managed to rise at 7:30, and therefore in time for breakfast, and make it to Kerstin’s talk at 9:30. I think she was worse for wear too, but managed to hide it well. Unfortunately Tom, who I’d wanted to see in the next session, had had to withdraw. Hopefully he’ll send me his paper. The final session looked less promising, but turned up perhaps my favourite paper of the conference, on animal rights.

Finally, Susna Mendus closed the formal event with a paper on Machiavelli, value pluralism and terrorism. Discussion moved on to a nearby pub, but Kimberley and I had to catch a train back to Oxford. My suitcase was by now even heavier than when I went, so it was some effort to lug it back to the station (from the bus stop), and we were both quite tired after everything, but we made the 19:24. The three hour train journey passed much more pleasantly with the addition of company – Kimberley was even able to point out the house she and Christophe had just bought in Banbury.

When I got back, I dragged my case back to college, mainly because I needed to print off an article (which turned out not to be online). Thankfully I found a shopping trolley abandoned outside college, so was able to use that to wheel my case to the bus stop, and then back home.

Maybe not a particularly productive conference, since I’d been in a three person panel I only got three questions on my 20 minute paper, but an enjoyable one that involved a nice blend of meeting new people and getting better acquainted with some I’d met before. I definitely hope to go back next year.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Brave New World

I'm away until Thursday night at the Brave New World conference. See the schedule here (I'm in the first panel).

Monday, June 26, 2006

Personality Test 2

One of the things I talked to Fiona Beer about over dinner the other day was this personality test. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember the details too well, but she studies psychology so was able to explain a lot more about the tests and personality types.

I've found a much simpler one that still seems to give pretty accurate results, however:

Your Personality Is
Rational (NT)

You are both logical and creative. You are full of ideas.You are so rational that you analyze everything. This drives people a little crazy!
Intelligence is important to you. You always like to be around smart people.In fact, you're often a little short with people who don't impress you mentally.
You seem distant to some - but it's usually because you're deep in thought.Those who understand you best are fellow Rationals.
In love, you tend to approach things with logic. You seek a compatible mate - who is also very intelligent.
At work, you tend to gravitate toward idea building careers - like programming, medicine, or academia.
With others, you are very honest and direct. People often can't take your criticism well.
As far as your looks go, you're coasting on what you were born with. You think fashion is silly.
On weekends, you spend most of your time thinking, experimenting with new ideas, or learning new things.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

England 1-0 Ecuador

Although I intended to spend most of Sunday working, we warmed up for the game by playing a bit of 2 on 2 football ourselves. Somehow David B and I took a 4-0 lead, only to lose 9-4 against Ed and Dom.

The England match itself never looked to be such an exciting affair - it always seemed one goal might nick it, and so it was. Amazingly Beckham seems to think that one free kick in 4 years has justified his place.

Personally I'd be happy to see Lennon replace him on the right, and Carrick or Hargreaves to drop Frank 'shots but doesn't score' Lampard out since he's clearly misfiring and hindering Gerrard's game. Still, it's probably too late for such tinkering, so I guess we have to stick with the experienced players we have.

On the bright side, both Carrick and Hargreaves have done well when called into the holding midfield role. The two Coles and Gerrard are the only others who've really impressed me, though Terry does seem to be improving (he's never produced his club form at international level, imho)

I don't think Rooney up-front alone was particularly successful though. While he did adapt to the system somewhat, he prefers to drop off another striker, and playing him with his back to goal seems to neutralise a lot of his threat. Crouch is the obvious answer - if it were up to me, at the expense of Lampard. Though with Walcott still untried, that wouldn't leave many attacking options on the bench.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dad & Joe

My dad and uncle Jo came to visit today. Since Joe's a bit old and arthritic, we couldn't do much in the way of a normal walking tour, so instead we went punting - I did most of the work, my dad had a go but kept yelling at me to steer with the paddle!

We had a pub lunch, look round college and went and bought a suit (conference next week, then interviews...) Hope it was a good choice, from Next Clearance.

End of Year

After our GCR party Thursday night, I didn't really want another heavy night; but the department's post-exam graduate party soon turned into a session in Far From the Madding Crowd with Maria and Oli (and some of their friends), where I stayed for the rest of the night - and a quick nightcap in Maria's flat. It was good to see them both again, it's been too long.

There weren't many theorists at the party, but I did chat to my supervisor and Milan. Plus one of the things I learned was my friend Julia has a lectureship at Univ next year. Hope I can get one of the ones I'm applying for too...

Friday, June 23, 2006


Peter Crouch states the obvious:

[P]eople will try and compare me to Michael [Owen] but I am a different type of player.

EoT TT06

Last night was our End of Term dinner, with a Midsummer Night's Dream theme. Although I wasn't particularly keen on the main course (mushroom) it was a good dinner, and a very fun night.

As a member of the committee, I was sat on high table between Peter Beer and his wife Fiona, who both provided very good conversation. Hopefully high table dinners will be something I get more practice of next year.

After the bar, we went to Baby Love. Emily had blagged us free entry but scandalously after playing us half the Basement Jaxx singles collection, they played a 2 Many DJs mix CD twice. Perhaps we should go back to hiring DJs...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tea Lottery

I don't know how I got this email, but I was just invited to sign up to something called Tea O'Clock. They say:

At a time set by you, Tea O'clock will find out who in your office fancies a cuppa, compile your team's order and decide whose turn it is to make the drinks. It's fun, it's free and above all, it's fair!

The website makes clear:

we’ll send out an email to a randomly selected person telling them it’s their turn to make the drinks... It's like a national hot drink lottery where everyone's a winner.

See also their FAQs here.

It's a bit useless to me directly, since I neither work in an office nor drink tea; but I'm always interested to see examples that demonstrate people regard lotteries/random selection as fair means of allocation, even if this example seems confuse randomness with taking turns, which is plainly a different allocative rule.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Insurance: Who Pays?

When Djibril Cisse broke his leg, playing for France just before the World Cup, Rafa Benitez suggested Liverpool should be compensated by the national association or FIFA.

My immediate reaction was it'd be nice, but I wasn't sure I was convinced that someone else should pick up the bill. One might well say it should be up to the clubs to insure their own players for injuries in internationals. I was tempted then to go on a long rant about Dworkin, insurance markets, etc but haven't had time to get into it.

I still haven't got round to it, but I'm even more tempted to after hearing that Newcastle will be compensated, by the FA, for Owen's injury. I could, of course, add some complaint about how like cases aren't currently treated alike, and leaving these matters to each individual association is to result in what Dworkin calls 'patchwork principles'.

If I get time this summer, I'd really like to have a thorough go through his quasi-Luck Egalitarian arguments about equality.

Football & Music

Want to know what music the BBC use for their football coverage? Handy little page here answers your questions.

Want to suggest a track for a montage? Do it here.

Colchester Heading Down?

After doing so well to win promotion to the Championship last season, Colchester United have now lost one of their star performers Neil Danns to Birmingham. Along with uncertainty over manager Phil Parkinson, who was strongly linked with Hull and tendered his resignation, things aren't looking too rosy at the Us. Already looking like it will be straight back down then...

UPDATE: And now their first match sees a reunion with Danns, as the Us travel to St andrews.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


First Grandstand, now Top Of The Pops.

To be honest, in the few recent times I've seen it the best acts have often been those dug out from the archives (Gary Numan, Soft Cell, etc). Given the '80s were supposedly a bad decade for music, it's surprising so little in the current chart can match those.

Maybe they should just bring back TOTP 2?

Monday, June 19, 2006


I hope we haven't seen the end of Didi Hamann in a red shirt, but in case we have this is a fitting tribute.

I'm Liberal

Found a site with loads of these distracting tests...

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 20% Conservative, 80% Liberal
Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Google Idol

In support of Milan's brother...


It is really good though. Both these finalists show you can do a lot better than many so-called professional videos on a low budget.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sports Day

I was sorry I was unable to accept Omar's invitation to a house party in London today, although I'm sure it would have been fun, and I felt some duty to go (reciprocating for the fact he always visits Oxford), I also felt not just that I wanted to go but should go to the GCR sports day - both as a committee member and because I've been nagging our Soc Sec Emily to organise something down Barts all term.

It turns out only three people from college made it all the way down Cowley Road (the rest of you: you're all lame) but with a reasonable Barts contingent plus a few undergrads and visitors we had plenty of people. I played some volleyball, then won my first ever game of croquet (me and Ed vs Rosemary and Emily), before rounding the day off with some tennis and Pimms.

LMH job

I've now officially been called for interview at Lincoln. I'm not being too hopeful, because not only do they want 3 x 10,000 word pieces of work (which I can barely cobble together), but I also know at least one of the other applicants already has a PhD.

On the plus side, my supervisor pointed me toward another job at LMH. This is less hours, and correspondingly less pay, but focuses only on political theory (a mixed blessing - more my area, but less diversity on my CV) and crucially wouldn't require me to suspend my student/AHRC status.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday of 8th

The end of term no longer means too much, beyond my last tutorial (teaching). I celebrated, however, by having dinner with my future flatmates - Ed, Fiona and Cat - in our future flat. I hope we have many fun times ahead.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

England 2-0 Trinidad and Tobago

After missing half the game against Paraguay (due to my friends' visit), I was determined to see England v T&T. All the more so since Dan sensibly re-scheduled our graduate workshop to the University Club so we could all watch it - me, him, Julia, Sarah, Kieran and Christian & Miriam.

It wasn't a particularly entertaining game, and exciting only because of the nail-biting-inducing worry whether England would manage to score. It was obvious than Sven shared the anxiety, introducing Rooney with over half an hour to go, and even changing formation at the same time (as Lennon replaced Carragher).

Thankfully goals were duly scored by the Liverpool lads, Crouch and Gerrard. The former looks like England's best (fully fit) striker right now, while after Lampard's many misses in the match the latter really needs to be given licence to push forward.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Congratulations to my friend Karl for having his DPhil passed - without corrections - by Jerry Cohen and Mike Otsuka.

In between joining him twice in the KA, I also had dinner with Hillel Steiner - another of the professors I hope to (re)meet at Brave New World.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I remember way back in my first term in Oxford (MT 2000) it only took me until my second philosophy tute to be so lost by Moore's naturalistic fallacy that I resorted to looking online - now seemingly the first resort of most undergraduates - and came across an online essay bank. I didn't copy anything, but I did read one essay and include it on my bibliography - the same as any other article I might have read - and my tutor picked up on it.

Today, for the first time, I had clear signs that one of my students may have resorted to plagiarism. He sent in his essay, yet when I printed it I found it had someone else's name and the date (10/10/05) on the top. He'd obviously missed this header, as it was only visible in print layout!

Of course, this doesn't mean he necessarily was plagiarising - his claim was that he'd used the other guy's essay as a 'template' but written "most of it" himself. Nonetheless I have reported the matter to his tutor and senior tutor. I'll leave it to them to investigate and take action, since it's not really my job. (It being only a tutorial essay, rather than assessed work, the matter is less serious. Though for his sake I'm glad he isn't at St Anne's, having heard some horrifying stories about one of their tutors, who takes academic integrity very seriously).

The issue of plagiarism is obviously one that interests academics; I was reminded of this old post on CT.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Having renewed last year's acquaintance with Prof Dan Robinson by attending his lectures on the Philosophy of Law this year - a topic that actually arose out of one of my comments last year - I was lucky enough to be treated by him to lunch in Quod today.

I have to say, it's not the kind of place I'd normally go. A light lunch for the two of us - roasted vegetables and fruit salad for me, an omlette and two coffees for him, and a bottle of water - came to just over £30 plus tip. It was nice, but the portions were small, and either I'm not well qualified to judge (highly possible) or it wasn't really that special. I probably could have found alternative venues where I'd feel I'd eaten as well for about a fiver.

Still, it was enjoyable to be taken somewhere so up-market, and of course the conversation was what made the occasion. Anyone who's been to Dan's lectures will know he's full of engaging anecdotes (we had one this morning about a topless French lady when he was a beachguard - usually they're more philosophical!) He grilled me a bit about my thesis, insisting I need to show what's wrong with majorities, but we also talked about how un-Kantian Rawls is as regards desert, and his plans to lecture on Kant's First Critique here next Hilary. I look forward to it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Visits (Flat 4 Reunion)

My old flatmate Adam was back in England for a couple of weeks, and in Oxford for the day. A few other old faces showed up too, including Mike our other flatmate, also back in the country though for most of the summer now.

We started off with lunch in hall (like old times), then watched the first half of England v Paraguay in the GCR Bunker, before going punting, having a quick drink in the Goose and back to Barts for Karen and Steve's b'day picnic and a spot of basketball.

All in all, and very enjoyable day and always nice to see some old faces. Adam's account is on his LiveJournal, here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

CT Links

A couple more interesting posts from Crooked Timber.

First, one on Cephalus and Book I of Plato's Republic, with some quite informative comments. I don't know Cephalus' lineage too well, but aside from what he says, I was aware Lysias was his son and that he was a shield (not arms) manufacturer. I'm not fully sure about the significance of such, but while vaguely on topic Myles Burnyeat's lectures on Republic I this term are highly recommended.

Second, one on the meaning of social justice (or, at least, this was the predominant theme of comments - the piece itself was largely about education). Personally I always understood social justice to mean primarily justice within a society, as opposed to global justice. Consequently I'm inclined to deny that social justice is really justice (as a prima facie duty isn't really a duty).

Monday, June 05, 2006


Today I gave my first paper to the Nuffield seminar. My paper was a quite technical one, including an evaluation of Arrow's conditions - posted here, here and here.

I'd already had apologies from David, and a few other people, so in fact there weren't too many there. I don't think it's personal though - I remember attendance dropping off like this last year, what with MPhil exams and nice weather amongst other factors (the moral philosophy seminar later this afternoon was also somewhat sparser than usual).

Thanks to those who did attend - I got some very useful and constructive comments, which will keep me busy for a while (though I already have several plans for the summer, including the Brave New World paper as soon as term ends). Particular thanks to Clare Chambers, and Keith Dowding who gave me a couple of his own papers to look at.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Owing to the unseasonably nice weather, a group of us (me, Karl, Ayelet, Steve and Rob) went for a drink in the Turf this afternoon. After dinner we also went on my first punting trip of the year - indeed, in about two years I believe. We took one of the Jesus punts from Magdalen Bridge down past the boathouses. Punting is one of life's pleasures I must resolve to enjoy more of this year: particularly since the GCR has a punt hired for the whole summer.

Academic Pay

Interesting discussion over on Crooked Timber. My contribution:

As a current doctoral student, probably planning on academia, I have plenty of selfish reasons for backing the strike. Basically, I’d like to free ride on the actions of current lecturers, in the hope of enjoying a slightly more reasonable salary when I finish.
Thankfully I have had funding for my graduate studies, but I still owe about £13,000 and rising to the Student Loans Company for my first degree. Plus the graduate funding has only been £8k x 2 years plus £12k x 2 years, which is probably a year short of what I need to finish, so will leave me further in debt.
I don’t see how this is supposed to be such a grave harm to existing students. It’s hardly comparable to, say, a fireman’s strike – which is one of the measures that’s seen their pay rise faster than academics.
I do see the points made about not needing an across the board rise though. I think it’s junior academics struggling to get on the housing ladder and pay off their debts that need the money most. Top professors will of course attract some of the money they deserve, but I don’t think anyone needs to be paid that much to do the job…

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Personality Quiz

I just did an online Myers Briggs personality test. I don't know if it's publicly accessible - requires log-in I think - but if anyone's interested, it's here. I wouldn't place too much store by internet psychology tests anyway.

My results suggest I'm Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking and Perceiving, though only the first of those seems a strong trend. This is, apparently, the classic portrait of a thinker:

They are the "absent-minded professors", who highly value intelligence and the ability to apply logic to theories to find solutions. They typically are so strongly driven to turn problems into logical explanations, that they live much of their lives within their own heads, and may not place as much importance or value on the external world... They may seem "dreamy" and distant to others, because they spend a lot of time inside their minds musing over theories... The INTP has no understanding or value for decisions made on the basis of personal subjectivity or feelings. They strive constantly to achieve logical conclusions to problems, and don't understand the importance or relevance of applying subjective emotional considerations to decisions. For this reason, INTPs are usually not in-tune with how people are feeling, and are not naturally well-equiped to meet the emotional needs of others... Since their Feeling side is their least developed trait, the INTP may have difficulty giving the warmth and support that is sometimes necessary in intimate relationships... If the INTP has not developed their Sensing side sufficiently, they may become unaware of their environment, and exhibit weakness in performing maintenance-type tasks, such as bill-paying and dressing appropriately.

Apparently suitable jobs include:

Scientists - especially Physics, Chemistry
Strategic Planners
University Professors
Computer Programmers, Systems Analysts, Computer Animation and Computer Specialists
Technical Writers
Lawyers / Attorneys
Forensic Research
Forestry and Park Rangers

So some hope there then...

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I've spent most of today grappling with paperwork - and I don't even mean filing away the piles of lecture/reading notes lying around my room.

Firstly, I had to register for the Brave New World conference. An application for college research grant followed. (Still have to go through my receipts to do a book grant form before the end of term too)

Then it was on to writing reports on the students I've been teaching this term, and forms in order to claim payment. It appears, just to add to the bureaucracy, that I'm now considered self-employed. So that's another form I have to complete and get to the IRS soon...

On the plus side, I did submit my application for the Lincoln job yesterday: though if I get that there'll be plenty more to do with student status and the AHRC to come.

So much for a paperless society...

Blogger Meet

Last night's meeting wasn't as well attended as the previous one, but in addition to Rob I finally met Milan - as genuinely nice in person as he comes across online - and Antonia. We should do it again, probably some time in August if people are around...