Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Over on the Philosophy Job Market Blog, PSG seems to delight in mocking the passive voice employed in PFO letters. The most obnoxious offenders are those that go beyond the passive, never even mentioning rejection.

Personally, I prefer to receive any kind of acknowledgement, rather than simply not being told at all (which is common for many jobs). Today I received an unusual letter from Reading:

Dear Mr Saunders.

Thank you for your application for the above post. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances the University will not be taking forward the recruitment of this position.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment caused by this decision.

Well, I suppose as they go this isn't such a bad one - though I do usually like to console myself by thinking that each time someone else gets a job the competition is reduced slightly...

On the Covers

I haven't yet seen it myself, but a friend texted me today to say an excerpt from my Fabre review (with my name on, of course) is quoted on the back cover of the paperback edition of her book (sadly, this isn't something you can see on Amazon, as they only show the hardback). I wonder if this counts as a separate publication?

Monday, February 25, 2008

You Don't Have to be Stupid to Work Here...

A while ago I posted a link to this story, about a worker fired for putting up a Dilbert comic strip comparing his bosses to drunken lemurs. A more recent Dilbert strip has a nice response. (Strips from 20/2-24/2 are relevant, and possibly more to come)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Liverpool 3-2 Middlesbrough

Liverpool seem to have been conceding uncharacteristically many goals of late, with Boro just the latest in a line of sides to score twice at Anfield this year (H&W and Barnsley being others). I think it's definitely true to say that we've missed long-term injury victim Agger but, while Hyypia has won plaudits for the way he's played at 34, even Carragher has come in for criticism from some sections of the fans. Well, today with Carragher suspended and Skrtel - on the road back from injury - only fit enough for the bench, we were forced to partner Hyypia with Arbeloa and it showed when the defence went missing, allowing Tuncay to score an early opener.

Thankfully, if our defence has been more porous than usual, the addition of Torres has given us the kind of attacking threat we haven't had up front since the days of Michael Owen. First he capitalised on a poor backwards header by Arca to slot in an equalizer then, just a minute later, scored a fine second from 25 yards. Another gift, due to confusion between Wheater and Schwarzer, allowed Torres to wrap up his first PL hat-trick (following a league cup one against Reading) and seemingly make the points safe. In fact, some more shaky defending allowed Downing to make the last ten minutes or so potentially nervous, but the sending off of Aliadiere minutes later ensured that even we couldn't throw away our 3-2 lead. Here's hoping we have Agger and Skrtel back as soon as possible though.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Brave New World 2008

I'm aiming to be done by late June, so it's no longer of relevance to me (and I probably wouldn't have gone without funding anyway), but this year's Brave New World is now being advertised on a new blog. I met two of the organizers in Warwick and I'm sure it'll be as good as my previous visit (in 2006).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tutorial Banter

Context: questioning whether Mill's higher/lower pleasure distinction could be reduced to mental/bodily.

Me: Which is better, sex or learning French? I mean, what's the point in learning French?
Student #2: To have sex with French people?

Corrective Justice

Congratulations to my friend Seth, whose paper on Corrective Justice is forthcoming in Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. For those with institutional access via Springerlink: abstract, paper.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Liverpool 2-0 Inter Milan

From the ridiculous to the sublime? It seems hard to predict which Liverpool team is going to show up on any given occasion these days, although it must be said we do seem to turn on the style in the Champions League rather more often than when battling lower division domestic opponents.

The visit of Italian league leaders Inter was always going to be a test, but I was pleased at our dominance. Even for the first 30 minutes, we had the majority of the play, and then the game was totally turned on its head by the sending off of Materazzi, for two bookable offences on Torres. I have to admit, both bookings seemed a little harsh but, on the other hand, he was stupid - both times he seemed to needlessly go for Torres rather than the ball, even when on the first occasion Torres didn't seem to be going anywhere and in the second case there was plenty of cover.

If we're going to go on about the referee's decisions, whether or not the red card was lucky, Vieira was very fortunate not to concede a penalty for handling in the area (after Inter had already survived two ball to hand shouts that could have been given). Obviously 11 v 10 changed the game, with Inter then happy to adopt a 4-4-1 formation and play for a draw. I'm not actually sure this suited us. We've seen before this season how Liverpool still struggle to break down massed lines of defence, so an open game might have been better.

Nonetheless, the numerical advantage allowed us to attack almost all-out, with the full backs providing plenty of width, and stretch the Inter defence. Eventually the ten men succumbed to two late goals - first a deflected effort from Kuyt (about time he got some luck - now two in two, he can't stop scoring) and Gerrard. A 2-0 lead sets us up nicely - I'm not going to count chickens; something similar (like a red card) could go wrong for us, so it's no time to get complacent. Let's not forget that in our only previous meeting Inter over-turned a 3-1 deficit with a 3-0 win in Milan (albeit helped by dodgy officiating). Nonetheless, with Inter needing to score in the San Siro, we should be able to nick an away goal which would leave them needing four. We're definitely in a good position to progress, provided we continue to play like this.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Unconventional Defence

Now this surprised - and in some strange way amused - me. A man accused of killing then having sex with a model claims in his defence that he only had sex with her body after she was dead, (presumably) believing her merely unconscious. Now c'mon, who hasn't been there before...?


It's been a while since I've written a review on UK-Fusion - partly because I've been writing for the Amazon Vine programme (see here) - but at last a new review, of Rivers Cuomo's home demos.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Warwick Conference

Yesterday was the Tenth Warwick Graduate Conference in Political Theory, and the third I've attended (read about last year's here).

I gave my paper on defining the demos, which I gave at the Graduate Political Theory Workshop earlier this term. Maybe we're lucky to have so many fora for discussion and feedback in Oxford, but I'm not sure I really got much useful feedback - the Warwick format was 20 mins presentation and 20 for questions, as opposed to the GPTW's (roughly) 40 and 50. I did, however, get questions from Matthew Clayton and Mark Philp.

I suppose the main reason for conferences isn't paper feedback, which is more likely to come from friends reading your paper, but to meet other people and exchange ideas. With that in mind, the conference was a success. I saw a couple of old friends who I'd met before and met a couple of new faces I hadn't. (Total: three new facebook friends, if that's any measure). In particular, I was happy to find someone else working on democracy, since my old regular co-panellist Dean has gone MIA.

It was also interesting to meet at least four or five people who said they'd read this blog, despite the fact I hadn't met most of them before! To be honest, I've never done much to advertise it, as I write more for me rather than readers - which isn't to say they aren't very welcome. In fact, I'd always been somewhat surprised by reader figures. It seems a lot of people somehow find this IQ test solution, which is certainly my most commented on post. Apparently political theorists are also attracted by the Estlund reading group (on Public Reason) and Fabre review.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Liverpool 1-2 Barnsley (FA Cup)

I wasn't able to follow this game, due to being at a conference in Warwick (which I'll blog about later). Thankfully someone was able to tell me the result before I left - although I did see a number of Liverpool fans in Coventry train station (I resisted asking about the match).

At the time, I hoped we'd played a younger side, giving chances to some of our reserves, but in fact it was more or less a full strength side, barring Reina and Gerrard on the bench, given injuries to Torres and Agger. This makes the result particularly disappointing, but it's undoubtedly true that we dominated the game, only to be frustrated by some inspired goal-keeping.

Oh well. Truth be told, when we won the 2006 FA Cup, I felt we deserved it having knocked out Man Utd and Chelsea to reach the final. This year, we've struggled to get past Luton (reply needed) and Havant and Waterlooville, so I guess it was about time we were knocked out. I only hope we can pick ourselves up in time for Inter Milan...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Shameless Meme-Wagon-Jumping

Via Rob,
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the third* sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.
*Note this originally said fifth. I must've taken three from either the number or line below; but I decided it was easier to change the meme than edit everything else!
(I chose to interpret this as the next three sentences after the third, i.e. sentences 4-6 of the page, but counted the incomplete sentence at the start of the page).

I got "Thus it seems reasonable to say that other things equal one conception of justice is to be preferred to another when it is founded upon markedly simpler general facts, and its choice does not depend upon elaborate calculations in the light of a vast array of theoretically defined possibilities. It is desirable that the grounds for a public conception of justice should be evident to everyone when circumstances permit. This consideration favors, I believe, the two principles of justice over the criterion of utility".

No prizes for anyone guessing where that's from!

As Rob, I can't be bothered tagging people but anyone is welcome to join in.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


What better way to spend Valentines' evening than at the Jurisprudence Discussion Group listening to Bruce Chapman discussing social choice?

Actually, it was a good talk, and then I went to join my friend Kristin for celebratory post-viva drinks. At least the day wasn't as bad as some.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool

Games between these two sides are rarely entertaining for the neutral, but generally very close, and this was no exception. With Stamford Bridge not a happy hunting ground for Liverpool in recent history, I'd have been very happy to take a draw beforehand, but in fact we looked the more likely winners - the nearest Chelsea came to scoring was arguably Riise's header towards his own net, but into the arms of Reina.

It's a shame Torres was injured on international duty for with him we really may have won. Of course, Chelsea were missing players too, notably Terry and Drogba, but we don't have the luxury of spending £15m on replacements. Those we brought in generally acquitted themselves well, however, with Skrtel looking much better than his debut and Kuyt having a decent game on the right of midfield, though without ever looking like a scoring threat (and mis-controlling the one opportunity he did have to get into the box).

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Estlund's Reply

As previously noted, I contributed this week's commentary to Public Reason's Estlund Reading Group. David Estlund has now written a response here.

The Philosophy Job Market

So far I seem to have seen a lot more vacancies in philosophy rather than politics, but maybe their job market is slightly ahead. Leiter has opened up a post to keep track of appointments.

Someone else is also blogging about their experience of the job market. Good to know we're all in much the same boat.

Monday, February 04, 2008

My Contribution to Estlund Reading Group

This week it's been my turn to contribute a summary and critical discussion of the latest chapter from Estlund's book over at Public Reason. My post is here. Some will no doubt be predictable...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland

Worringly before today we hadn't recorded a league win since 26th December, when we squeaked a 2-1 victory over Derby. A home match against Sunderland - who've only picked up two points on the road all season - had to be regarded as a home banker.

Benitez's team selection had some baffled. The sight of Torres and Crouch up front was welcome, and even playing Carra at right back was understandable to give Skrrtel a chance while still having some cover, but even I must admit that deploying Lucas Leiva on the left of midfield - leaving out Kewell, Benayoun and Babel - was somewhat baffling. Perhaps the plan was for him to tuck in and Aurelio to prive the width, bringing us closer to a 3-2-3-2 wingback formation (although with Pennant presumably playing further forward on the right). Whatever, that didn't seem particularly successful and it was no surprise to see Aurelio and Leiva replaced, even if it meant Finnan playing left back (something he has done before).

By all accounts the first half was dire, with few chances, but I have to give Mascherano and our defence some credit for effectively stiffling Sunderland's attack. In the second half, however, we saw a Crouch header, then his knock-on for Torres, illustrate the potential of this partnership. I definitely hope the two get more playing time together, although I was surprised substitute Kuyt wasn't given a chance to break his scoring duck from the 89th minute penalty (that Gerrard instead converted to put a gloss on the scoreline).

To be fair, things might have been closer. At 2-0, Sunderland probably should have had a penalty for a Carragher handball. His tendency to wave his arms around is perhaps his defensive weakpoint - maybe that was part of the reason to play him at right back, after he conceded a penalty the other day! The commentators suggested the let-off from ref Whiley makes up for the dodgy one he awarded Chelsea earlier in the season, but I must say I'd prefer to concede a penalty when 2-0 up to Sunderland rather than 1-0 up to Chelsea.

Anyway, at the end of the day what we needed to do was win, no matter how. While the commentators claimed we were playing poorly, they're normally the first to praise Man Utd, Arsenal or Chelsea for winning while doing so. If we can play poorly and win 3-0, I'll always take that...

Old Boy Racers

Those mobility scooters are seriously dangerous. I think old people these days have no respect.

(Pedantic bit: it doesn't actually say the driver was elderly; I'm assuming it)