Saturday, March 31, 2007

Liverpool 4-1 Arsenal

Thankfully I persuaded my dad to postpone collecting me until 3pm rather than midday, and it was well worth it as Rob and I were able to watch this performance (after a brief mix up about pubs).

After taking an early lead - thanks to some beautiful interplay between Pennant and Arbeloa, then Crouch's telescopic leg stretching in front of Toure - we never looked too troubled. Other than Adebayor (who did hit the post, and force Reina to tip another shot onto the woodwork) Arsenal never offered much attacking-wise, while at the back they were shambolic. The second came from a free-kick where Crouch finally won a decent header (if only he could use his height advantage more often) and then Agger was allowed a free run and header from a corner to make it 3-0.

After a brief period of somewhat sloppy play from us, I was a bit worried that Gallas' goal could prove to be more than mere consolation but start a comeback. Thankfully Crouch completed a classic hat-trick (right, head, left) to make sure of the points. We may be only two ahead of Arsenal, who have a game in hand, but our goal difference is now superior. The only blow was a possible injury risk to Gerrard - substituted quite early. Hopefully he'll be fit for Tuesday, but at least we were able to rest the likes of Riise, Finnan, Kuyt and Bellamy (though with Crouch in this form, I'd give him another chance up front)

Homeward Bound

Right, I'll be off to the pub to watch Liverpool v Arsenal, and then I'll be heading home for a week or so. Depending on how bored I am at home and the reliability of our computer (which I've been warned keeps crashing) I'll probably be online either a lot or not much at all...

Celebrity Lookalikes

Friday, March 30, 2007

Word Cloud

Since this blog's been quite active lately, I thought I'd update my word cloud (last one here) to keep track of content.

Ok, I'm supposed to be packing but procrastinating...

Again, provided by SnapShirts.

Justice etc

So, we're soon to have a Ministry of Justice. I'm trying to decide whether I'd be happier if it was a Ministry for Justice. Anyway, coming soon Minipax, Minitrue, Miniluv, and Miniplenty...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mill Reading

My enthusiasm and productivity on the writing front seems to have run a bit low of late, but I've now finished preparing my Mill reading list for next term. Those with access to Weblearn can see it here.

Further Follow Up

Further now to my original follow up post:

Nick was kind enough to lend me Tom Holland's Persian Fire. It had quite an interesting account of the origin of Athenian democracy (pp.128-41). I still haven't got a clear overall timeline of the period, but it seems democracy evolved before Athen's naval power - which was engineered by Themistocles. Nonetheless, this doesn't invalidate my conjecture. The people were capable to standing up for themselves, and did so to secure the freedoms promised by Cleisthenes. Further, it is clear that aristocrats weren't too keen on naval developments, which seemed to threaten to maintain and even extend the importance of the demos.

I also got hold of Linda Colley's Britons. The reference to Bamford is on p.318, and her reference leads me to Life of a Radical page 19. Again, slightly unfortunately, there's little if any sign of the justification I want - it seems militia lists are justified as a practical record. However, there's no objection that, for example, they don't include women - it seems implicit that men who fight are the relevant voters. Further Colley goes on to cite William Cobbett, who does argue that the labourers of Britain are both responsible for its wealth and defence. It's not clear from what she quotes, but she writes (still p.318) "if all adult men were worthy to fight for Great Britain, then surely they had the right to take part in its politics as well? Cobbett certainly thought so".

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Andorra 0-3 England

Not exactly convincing. Why isn't Gerrard captain? Despite scoring two and making the third for Defoe (who I guess counts as the final assist, after Nugent's tap in), I bet he'll be stuck outside again when Fat Lamps is back...

Oxford College Choice

A friend just asked me for advice for a friend of his on picking Oxford colleges. I thought I'd post my reply (slightly modified) here, since a) it may bring me traffic via Google searches and b) may then help someone (see, Adam Smith may have been right about the benefits of self-interest):

College choice is a tough one. It certainly *does* matter, they're not just halls of residence.

In terms of the Norrington table, the fact that some colleges do consistently well is probably due in part to having good applicants to choose from and in part to better facilities. At the poorer colleges, you may find you get more teaching from graduate students, or even fewer tutorials - not to mention the college library probably won't be as well-stocked and you're unlikely to be able to get as much money off the college.

It's worth considering things like not only the college's overall place but their reputation in the specific subject - e.g. Jesus (my college) seems to have been consistently good at chemistry in the time I've been here - and who the tutors are/what their interests are (though perhaps consider that a top professor won't necessarily spend his/her time teaching the undergrads even in their own college). Since teaching and admissions are mostly college-based, the tutors and their interests can be very important.

And also, don't just think academically. Think about the general atmosphere of the college - Do you want to be surrounded by public school boys? Rowers? Union hacks? (Or are you one of these people?) Would you prefer a larger college or a smaller one (which can be a friendly family or claustrophobic, depending on your attitude)?

In my case, the fact I looked at Jesus first was totally random really. It looked ok though, and crucially offered three years of accommodation. I did compare it to some others - some of which also offered accommodation - but none seemed clearly better, so here I am.

Finance-wise, it's good to consider not only availability of accommodation, but price, recent rent increases, amount of scholarships, any grants (even undergrads in Jesus can get money for books, travel and sport - don't know how it compares to elsewhere), food, etc.

I hope that's some help. At the end of the day though, while it certainly matters (makes a difference), almost everyone ends up happy wherever they end up (even 2nd choice colleges), so if you're unsure it probably isn't worth agonizing over - these are just things to take into account.

(Related link: my advice for getting into Oxbridge, admissions and interviews here)

McCain has his Chips

'Net head Mike D. plays a prank on naughty politican John McCain (via CT).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One Vote Per Issue (Bleg)

I'm trying to describe a possible voting system that gives people one vote per issue, but lets them divide those votes as they wish over a number of different issues. E.g., if we face votes on policies A, B, C, D and E then I get five votes – so if I care very strongly about D, marginally about B and not much about the other three, then I may cast four of my votes for D, one against B and effectively have no vote on A, C or E. This gives some crude measure of intensity – my strength of feeling for D is shown by the fact I am willing to give up my vote on A to have more influence on D.

I've heard people suggest such before, but I'm stuck for a name to call it. Firstly, if anyone reading happens to know of any reference that discusses such, I'd be very grateful - but, more modestly, if anyone already knows this by a certain name, or can suggest a snappy and appropriate one, I'd love to hear from you...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Force of the Majority

Following my earlier post, Robert Poole was kind enough to send me the following reply:

The episode you mention was Samuel Bamford at the Crown & Anchor meeting of 22 Jan 1817. Linda Colley mentions it in Britons, using Bamford's Passages in the Life of a Radical [links]. Cobbett's account is in Cobbett's Weekly Political Pamphlet, 22 Feb. 1817, although looking back at the Register he seems to have been persuaded of the case in general in November 1816.

Time to head to the archives I guess... (His article in Past and Present 192 may also be worth me looking at, if I get time)

Nick was also kind enough to comment, suggesting I could even end up citing Foucault in my thesis!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

England Inquest

I didn't watch today's dire 0-0 draw with Israel, but nonetheless want to add an uninformed opinion...

I thought it was well known that Phil Neville should never play for England again. I'd have played Carra on the right - where he could have offered a bit more going forward - and Barry at left-back. (Or I'd consider calling up Steven Warnock, if we're so short on the left - but some will say that's just Liverpool bias talking).

Obviously the full-backs we had were never going to give us great width going forward, but we should have been able to produce more with the players we did have. I think we're missing Joe Cole or even Scholes for that creativity. While Gerrard and even Lampard are good 'attacking' midfielders, they're goal-scorers not creative.

I'd hope to see Gerrard and Lampard in the middle - probably with Lennon and Downing - against Andorra. We shouldn't need a holding midfielder there.

Sports Day

Today, after the conclusion of the rights conference, I went to meet up with John William and some of his friends for what was billed as a department social - in fact, at least one of the other four wasn't in politics, and the other three were non-theorists I didn't know either.

We played tennis (badly), then touch rugby (also badly - though I did score one try). I know I'll be stiff now...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Claims of Rights

Today I attended a conference-type gathering at the Maison Francaise as part of an inter-disciplinary workshop on re-thinking democracy 1750-1850. It was a rather exploratory look at the way rights language was used - pro- and anti-democracy - in Britain and France during these periods.

Not being a historian, I found some of it not particularly interesting - partly no doubt because the significance of minor details about a period where you don't know the context can easily be missed. Also a few French delegates spoke mainly in French - I was surprised I could still follow the gist of some of it, but in the end decided it wasn't worth the effort of trying to follow.

There were several comments that did interest me though, and it was somewhat frustrating that with people only giving 10 minute talks - often about what they hoped to look at rather than had found - there wasn't always opportunity to follow this up. The most immediately relevant for me, however, was Robert Poole, who was talking about calls for reform in northern England 1816-7. He said some had called for universal manhood suffrage, based on militia lists, rather than restricting the vote to tax-payers.

Just last week, I made the following conjecture in my thesis:

Perhaps one reason for thinking it ‘natural’, or even ‘necessary’, that the majority get their way is to move from the physical force of greater numbers to their moral force. Of course, it is often said to be illegitimate to move simply from an ‘is’ to an ‘ought’[1]; however it is plausible to think that majority rule might have arisen out of peaceful conflict resolution. While Clausewitz famously said “war is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse”[2], the more likely truth is that politics (in the form of civilised debate and voting) is a continuation of war, by other means. Disagreements were resolved by physical conflict long before they were resolved by what we would regard as civilised politics and, although it is somewhat fanciful, it is all too easy to imagine generals of opposing sides were often able to realize who was better placed to win the battle, and where the outcome was predictable in advance it would make sense for the one on the likely losing side to defer without battle – to surrender without bloodshed, rather than fight to defeat or death.

This interpretation was certainly endorsed by Henry Thoreau, who claimed “the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest”[3]. It also explains why the extent of the franchise was often somehow related to military service. This would be why the vote as restricted to men (rather than women), and even sometimes the rich – who could afford their own armour, and hence made better soldiers[4]. The vote was granted, at first, only to those who could contribute to military victory. Even in the modern world, the role of women in aiding the war effort – albeit in the factories, rather than the frontline – was, I think, significant in winning female suffrage. Of course, the relationship would only be contingent – majorities do not always win battles, especially if their opponents are better trained or equipped. More significantly, if majority rule originated on the battlefield – with ‘who has the larger army’ a proxy for ‘who is more likely to win anyway, if it comes to fighting’ – then its normative status is less clear. We do not normally suppose ‘might makes right’, or that the strong should get their way simply because they are stronger, so why should we accept majorities simply for this reason?[5]

The footnotes aren't finished, but I have some cases cited by Aristotle for number four - where those who fought for Athens were granted citizenship, not to mention the widely-held view that democracy owed its development to the need for manpower in the navy compared to states like Sparta that relied on few well-trained and equipped troops (e.g. 300). If I can find references for these demands, then I think that will help back up my case significantly.

[1] Hume
[2] C. von Clausewitz On War VIII vi. Wordworth Classics edition (trans J. J. Graham, revised F. N. Maude) p.357. C.f. I i 24, 26 (Wordsworth pp.22-3)
[3] H. D. Thoreau (1993 [1849]) ‘Civil Disobedience’ in P. Smith (ed.) Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (Dover) p.2.
[4] I have some Greek examples mentioned in Aristotle.
[5] Rawls (1999 [1971]) p.116 “it is to avoid the appeal to force and cunning that the principles of right and justice are accepted. Thus I assume that to each according to his threat advantage is not a conception of justice”. [See Rob's sub-heading]

UPDATE: Follow up to this here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lecture Lists

(Saddo alert) Trinity term lecture lists are available here. (Politics, philosophy)

I already knew the Pol Theory Grad Workshop would be Th. at 5 and the visiting speaker Research Seminar W. at 5. Other highlights include the continuation of G. A. Cohen's 'Aspects of Justice Lectures' (same time and place - T. at 11) and Parfit's 'Climbing the Mountain' seminars (W. 2:15-4, from week 2).

Follow Up: Lunch in Mansfield and Contemporary Egalitarianism

Further to two earlier posts...

Today I had lunch in Mansfield SCR with Joel. It was very impressive - although I always feel slightly awkward eating in such circumstances (I refused after lunch cheese and crackers because it meant reaching across someone and wine too). We didn't really discuss next term's teaching plans, but we did mostly talk about Oxford, academia, teaching and so on more generally, so it was useful in that respect.

While I was in town, I went to the SSL and had a look at the book I'd recently ordered from the stack. The Christiano paper is indeed (a descendant of) the one I've read - I recall the section on Nozick (which is pp.64-70) being quite useful. I only read the introduction, which wasn't quite what I was expecting. I thought it would describe the real cutting edge of a debate I'm a bit behind on. Instead it largely summarized events since 1971 - equality of what, levelling down, etc - but it was a good overview of such. It didn't really summarize the papers in the volume, but it did at least highlight where they enter the debates. Also being in the department allowed me to see Alia, Rob, John William and - entering as I was leaving (7pm) - Kieran, so at least it was a bit more sociable than many days recently.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Post-Doc Opportunities

As I said, I'm aiming to have a reasonably presentable draft of about half my thesis done by the start of next term. The other half should be written over the summer, with Michaelmas devoted to tidying things up and applying for jobs and such, the aim being to submit by around Christmas. Obviously this is all a bit tentative at this stage, and things may change, but while I'm feeling in a 'writing up' mood I've already started giving some thought to what comes next. (Obviously attempting to get a publication or two would help my options, but time is tight).

Current details are for 2007, where the deadlines are now passed, but this is a reminder for next year - when hopefully I'll finish just ahead of these deadlines:

The Leverhume Trust say "[a]pproximately 50 [Early Career] Fellowships to be offered in 2007. Application materials will be available from 2 January 2007"

The British Academy expect "that up to 37 Postdoctoral Fellowships in the humanities and social sciences will be available in this year’s competition. In recent years the strength of competition for the available awards has been intense. The success rate last year was 5.4%, when 593 applications were received and only 32 awards could be made. There is every reason to expect the strength of competition to be as fierce in 2007 as in other recent years." Their application deadline was 28th February. Notes here.

Of course, even if I do finish on time, unless I have more success finding a temporary job for next year I'll probably be sat around unemployed between submission and the following September...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Productive Day

Well, maybe today wasn't actually all that productive, but the key was that I finished several on-going projects, which made me feel a lot better about myself.

First, and probably most important, was a complete re-writing of chapter one of my thesis (8,229 words), which I emailed to my supervisor.

Secondly, I emailed a book note to Political Studies Review, on this. Those with full text access can monitor here, though it probably won't be in print until September (though I should, hopefully, have two in that issue).

Lastly, it was the fourth and final session of the Learning Institute class teaching seminars today. This was really a chance for people to raise questions/issues, and as I was one of only two who'd done so we got to spend a fair amount of time talking around the revision classes I'm giving next term. I don't think it's radically changed my ideas - I'll be basing the class around student essay plans - but it was helpful to bounce ideas around. Also at the end of the class I got talking to Joel - Theology Fellow at Mansfield - who also has to give revision classes next term. We agreed to have lunch on Thursday to exchange ideas.


I volunteered to teach a visiting American undergraduate a course on political theory with special focus on egalitarianism next term. Though it's not my thesis area (which would be ideal, but unlikely) I figure it's something I already know plenty about, having sat through Jerry Cohen's Contemporary Political Philosophy graduate class three times in all now, and so being regularly exposed to Rawls, Dworkin, luck egalitarianism, etc.

I noitce a new collection of essays edited by Nils Holtug and Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen has recently come out - details, including contents, from Amazon or OUP. It looks like I may have to take a look to make sure I'm up-to-date. Hopefully this is the paper Tom Christiano sent me a draft of some time ago finally in print - it's about time, because I've already seen one fellow student give a presentation on it!

UPDATE: What I think (of the introduction) here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Aston Villa 0-0 Liverpool

Since it's the vac and the Sunday game is presumably on Sky I was half-tempted to head to a pub and watch. I'm glad I didn't, it was apparently a boring game of few chances. Too bad we couldn't capitalise on Arsenal slipping up (and yes, I was cheering Everton).

St Patrick's Parties

Well, despite being left home alone, I wasn't go to stay in and do nothing on St Patrick's day. I went to two parties: First my friend Leo invited me to a lawyer friend of his, who lives in the mock Jacobean Belsyre Court on Woodstock and Observatory Rd. It was a place I'd often been past, when I lived in Stevens Close, and they were fantastic flats - especially on the top floor because, although it was dark and windy, we got to go out on the roof and had a fantastic view of the whole of north Oxford. There was a real mix of people very, from very interesting different backgrounds, so I got to talk to a couple of people from publishing and one who works with film-scripts, as well as several students (including Jesus undergrads I'd never met).

I made my excuses soon after 11 because one of my friends from the department - Ian, who'd done the MPhil a year below me - was having what (despite his being Irish) was billed as a belated house-warming over on Osney Island (about the furthest west I've ever been in Oxford, despite being misnamed East Street). I was hoping to see several friends from the department that I haven't seen in a couple of weeks, but by the time I got there things were already surprisingly quite - half a dozen or so people sat around playing cards and drinking games. In the end, it was just me, Ian and Chris - another recent MPhil leaver - staying until around 2:30. What I caught probably wasn't so exciting or varied as Leo's party, but I quite like the low-key format - I'm not big on having to make lots of small talk with people I don't know. While neither were wild excesses of hedonism, both parties were interesting in different ways. And it certainly beats sitting around the flat alone!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Home Alone

While Fiona's still in New Zealand for another three weeks or so, this weekend Ed's gone home for a pre-Easter weekend and Cat's gone on some church camp/cake-eating weekend thing, so I'm home alone in a flat that really does feel rather quiet. Hopefully I won't end up in any Macaulay Culkin-style escapades... In fact, I already have invites to two parties tonight, and might well try to make both: my friend Leo has invited me to come to his friend's St Patrick's Day party in Jericho and someone from the department is having a house-warming over in furthest west Oxford (i.e. past the train station)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Good Times in Academia?

I'm slightly surprised to hear, contrary to what I'm so often told about bureaucracy, RAE targets and under-pay/funding, that these are good days to be going into academia, according to Warwick economist Andrew Oswald in The Independent (and on his website). Too bad my job-hunting has so-far been unsuccessful, but at least if he's right I'm not heading down a dead-end in my current projected career.

For what it's worth, his advice to aspiring academics is: be different (while lottery-voting is hardly paradigm-shifting, it does seem to be somewhat off the beaten track, and strike most people as at least slightly crazy), do teacher training (again, check - I took a Learning Institute course this term), stay away from media until later in your career, and try to get stuff published (running out of time on that one - I need to get the thesis done asap, while still funded).

Biblical Lotteries

I don't think Gataker would approve, but here's an example (in Lego) of lots being drawn for a new Apostle in Acts 1:15. Thanks to Chris.

EoT Dinner: A Bridge Too Far?

Last night was our regular End of Term dinner - the last of the out-going committee.

It was a really nice meal. The French theme wasn't too obtrusive, apart from grace and a few speeches (I think our Francophone VP and President may have conferred on this), though my place was set for 'Benoit'.

(For those on Facebook, some albums can be found here, here and here)

In a radical break from tradition, we went to The Bridge rather than Baby Love afterwards. It was amazingly my first time there, and for most of it I wasn't disappointed by what I'd been 'missing out' on. They were playing something loosely 'urban', r&b and/or hip-hop, and the place was swarming with (Jesus) undergrads. Things improved somewhat when I found the upstairs room - playing a mix of popular rock and dance stuff without too much cheese - but even so, I doubt I'll be returning soon.

The arrival of a new Ministry t-shirt and last week's fun at the Zodiac makes me keen to visit the Cellar or Zodiac again soon though...

Another No Interview

Today I received definite confirmation that I wasn't shortlisted for the LMH post either. Given the letter was sent on the 14th, the original scheduled date for the interviews, I'd already assumed this. This job, being more senior, it wasn't so disappointing, though it would have been nice to get at least an interview (I did for the very similar Lincoln job last summer - though that was specific to my field).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Charles Taylor wins Templeton Prize

News story here. (I've been buying The Independent this week for a free gift offer)

It's not too clear exactly what he did to earn it, but given it's worth almost one thousand times what my college graduate scholarship is worth (970, to be more exact) I guess it was important...

Beautiful Indeed

Tonight is our regular graduate End of Term dinner in college. The theme is 'la belle epoque', so I just looked that up on Wikipedia for inspiration. I was struck to read that:

In the Belle Epoque, France was one of the first countries in the world to let all men have the right to vote, in 1871. In 1905, it granted suffrage to Blacks, Asians, and Jews.

Am I to assume that between 1871 and 1905 the only blacks, Asians and Jews in France were women?

No Draw

I see today the Football League are considering scrapping draws, in favour of extra time and/or penalties. (Comments here and here). No doubt more penalty shoot-outs will result in a lot of people saying games are decided by lottery, even though that's not true (whereas this is).

Personally, I don't want to see draws scrapped. I'm pretty happy as things are, even if you sometimes see one team park the bus and earn a frustrating 0-0 draw. (One might also think it would threaten the pools, but I guess they can work fine simply counting the score at 90 minutes, before ET/penalties).

Still, I'm happy for the League to be considering possibilities. I don't think we should blindly accept the status quo if the game could be improved - thus I'd also whole-heartedly support at least the consideration of video replays. As regards making the game a bit more interesting, at least in extra time, I've long thought it might be a good idea to take the penalties before extra time, but only apply the result if still drawn after it. That would certainly give one team plenty of incentive to attack during the added period...

This update makes clear the plan is simply to have a shootout to determine who gets an extra point. That seems less crazy, and would have the incidental benefit that there would always be three points awarded each game, which may make it slightly easier to predict or compare points totals.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


You may have noticed a lot of posts lately. Yes, it's the Easter vac, and I now have some time on my hands again... However, the main project for the next few weeks is, of course, thesis writing - and I've written about 2,000 words today, radically re-writing chapter one.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Man Utd 4-3 European XI

I wouldn't normally blog about a non-Liverpool post, by my friend Rob came round to watch this special charity match. As usual with testimonial-type events (especially mid-season) the game was played in a relaxed, friendly fashion, which made it unsurprising that the attackers got plenty of time on the ball with barely a challenge. It was also unsurprising that Man Utd took an early lead, given the Europeans hadn't really had any time to gel as a team. The 4-1 half-time scoreline may have been a surprise, given the Europeans should theoretically at least have been able to boast better individuals, but the introduction of Carragher, Gerrard (booed at every touch), Zenden and later Fowler helped turn that around - the Europeans winning the second half to finish 4-3, even after having a decent goal called off-side and being denied a penalty. It was Diouf who got both goals - even taking a penalty ahead of Fowler. Never mind, maybe he'll have to wait until Athens for his send-off...

p.s. Watching with Rob resulted in a lengthy discussion as to whether or not defenders could keep clean sheets. While Rob was happy to credit them with shut outs, he argued that definitionally only agents - be they individual goalkeepers or collective teams - could keep clean sheets. Did anyone else discuss essentially contested concepts during the match? And does anyone else have an opinion on the dispute?

(Part of my case was that some fantasy football-type contests credit defenders for keeping clean sheets, e.g. here and here. Of course, some might refer to something like the team keeping a clean sheet - I concede Rob's usages are correct, the point really was whether mine is also)

BT Robbery

A couple of days ago, I heard British Telecom criticized for charging customers who didn't play by direct debit. Today I'm more distressed to find that one of my favourite electronic artists, Brian Transeau, has been burgled. I have to admit that having received his latest album for Christmas, I still haven't really got into it (partly, I think, because it's entirely instrumental), but having not listened to it that much I'm sure it's just a matter of time...

Unequal Voting

One advantage, as I see it, of lottery-voting is that because it treats each vote equally it can easily accommodate weighted voting: if you want someone to count double, simply give them two chances. For this reason, I'm particularly interested in proposals that might recommend such.

One is Harry Brighouse and Marc Fleurbaey's 'On the Fair Allocation of Power', now available at the revamped Equality Exchange. I first saw this presented at the Nuffield Political Theory Workshop about two years ago, and enjoyed an interesting email exchange with the latter author.

I've just come across another, a David Heyd paper on 'Democratically Elected Aristocracies'. I haven't read it yet, but it seems maybe a similar idea - people being asked to agree on voting weights in the first tier of the process, then votign according to such weights.

Monday, March 12, 2007

e-Democracy in Action

It's good to know the internet can have a positive role to play in modern democracy. Forget about protesting road charging and petition Number 10: a knighthood for Bob Paisley. (See why here).

Sunday, March 11, 2007


After a hectic end to term, I decided to take this weekend off (which was just as well, given Simon's leaving drinks in the KA Friday night then Sam's birthday Saturday).

I did, however, get round to putting my reading lists online, via WebLearn.

Happy Birthday Sam

Last night I went to The Zodiac for the first time in ages. Actually I think it was my first gig since September, if it counts as such, because The Metros played a short set in Transformation, though I wasn't very impressed (my full review). Downstairs in Trashy though was really packed - sweaty and you couldn't move without bumping into people. They played some great tunes (and a few that were perhaps too cheesy) but it was a really fun night. Too bad we left around 2:15, as the crowd petered out (the Jesubites often with the 'long way back to college' excuses)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Jack Straw

I went to see Jack Straw tonight. Chatham House rules prevent me attributing anything said to him, but I didn't think he really said much interesting anyway (his main argument was about how the Commons is more effective now than 50 years ago - he only talked about the recent Lords reforms in questions).

What was more interesting was the fact - despite turning up 10 mins early - we were almost turned away by an over-zealous bouncer, until my friend Maria pointed out there were in fact seats left in the room. Some subsequent arrivals were turned away, on grounds of over-crowding and fire-safety regulations. Of course, when Jack himself turned up with some grey-haired men-in-suits they were allowed in (probably because they were important) - and after that (seemingly, to his credit, at Jack's instigation) other mere students were allowed in...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

GCR Elections

The new GCR Committee were elected tonight - unsurprisingly, everyone beat R.O.N., and Mo beat Melissa in the only contested contest for V-P.

Well done to Rhiannon for listening to me explain about electoral systems in the bar afterwards. For those that missed it, my paper from the Theory of Voting class explains how STV differs from simple plurality election methods.

More Jobs Gone...

It looks like I haven't got an interview for the recent LMH job, given they haven't even bothered to contact me.

More disappointingly, I wasn't shortlisted for St Hilda's either, but at least they were good enough to respond to my request for feedback. It seems they think I lack experience - which is possible, as while I don't know about other applicants I'm behind most of my cohort on teaching. They also said they think I'm too early in the doctorate, which seems odd as I'm planning to finish within a year, and as I said many of my friends already have lectureships, at least one of which is an equivalent stipendiary one...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Liverpool 0-1 Barcelona (agg 2-2)

It's been a long while since I was so happy with a defeat! I actually said to my friend Jonas before the Man Utd match that, if someone had offered me 1-0 defeats in both with the sweetener of no injuries then I'd probably have accepted it (losing to the Mancs hurts, but there’s not much left to fight for in the Premiership whereas this puts us through on away goals).

What does disappoint me is losing consecutive games at Anfield, for the second time this year – when really, we should have been about three-nil up at half-time. Riise alone could easily have had a hat-trick, and Momo Sissoko also hit the crossbar with a great 35-yard first-time shot.

As it was, Gudjohnsen’s goal in 76 minutes made for some nervy moments towards the end – when I was worried the commentator’s curse would doom us, but we held on, with Carragher again magnificent at the back. If Terry’s still out, then JC has to start the up-coming England games.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Liverpool 0-1 Man Utd

Grrr, how cruel, and not for the first time. At least we dominated the game against the champions-elect, which gives me some consolation. Better yet, there's still Tuesday to look forward to, and the chance of revenge in Europe...

Happy Dan?