Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Terrorist Attacks on Oxford

I remember, shortly after 9/11, receiving an email from our accommodation officer warning us to be on the look out for suspicious activity, packages, etc. I always thought it unlikely that we were next in line for Al-Qaeda attacks, but Oxford has more recently been targetted by animal rights activists. Most, in fairness, simply settle for making noise, but as this report reveals those that go further can indeed be considered terrorists.

I hope the 'War on Terror' (is that still going?) doesn't lead to Oxford being flooded with American troops - that would be even worse than the protestors...

Rise in Philosophy Applications

I don't know about Oxford, but the BBC reports record applications to Cambridge this year, with Philosophy one of the biggest growers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Liverpool 1-0 Portsmouth

Beating Chelsea put us top of the table but, unfortunately, Harry Redknapp's switch from Pompey to Spurs means that our next two opponents were unknown quantities with new managers. Perhaps unsurprisingly Tony Adams opted for a defensive formation with the intention of holding out for a point. It's an approach that we consistently struggled to deal with last season, and again against Stoke this season.

Although we thankfully managed to keep Crouch quiet, it looked like we'd be frustrated by another Anfield old boy at the other end - David James pulling off several good saves, notably tipping a Kuyt effort onto the post, and not showing any of the rashness that made him a liability for us and England. Thankfully, the moment of madness was to come from someone else: Hyypia escaped his marker from a corner and, in a moment of panic, Papa Dioup punched the ball away from the Finn's head. It was as clear a penalty as you will ever see, and Gerrard duly did the honours.

Three points today, but we need to be more clinical if we're to keep winning. Torres' return to fitness can't come soon enough...

Credit Crunch Inflation

Despite continued gloomy news stories, no one in my household is feeling much effects from the credit crunch. In fact, I'm due to receive my first salary cheque this week and we're all keen for house prices to fall. Nonetheless, I have noticed some knock-on effects. Last week, I bought some Sainsbury's Basics curry sauce and this week I find that the price has doubled. It may only be from 4p to 8p, but it's a 100% increase - almost like living in Zimbabwe...

UPDATE (06/11/08): It now seems to have reached 23p. While I was somewhat worried as to how they could possibly produce it and sell it for four pence, this is almost a 500% price increase it about a month...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool

The last time we won at Stamford Bridge it was thanks to a goal from Bruno Cheyrou (about all he contributed in his time here). Since then, the only side to take 3 points back from the Bridge have been Arsenal, back in February 2004. Chelsea's unbeaten league record ran for 86 games, over four years.

A lot of people had been saying, in the build-up to the game, that we could do it. I wouldn't have disputed for a minute that we could, but I wasn't expecting us to actually do so: I'd gladly have settled for a point before the game. Even though it must be pointed out that Chelsea were missing Drogba, Essien, Joe Cole and Ballack, we were without Skrtel and Torres ourselves, while several others had been rated doubtful (I think it was known in advance that Keane wouldn't play for more than an hour or so).

We had a bit of luck scoring first, when Alonso's shot took a deflection, and I was worried that we wouldn't be able to hang on - but with a lead to protect we defended like lions (or something more renowned for defensive abilities: maybe like a team of Jamie Carraghers?). In fact, I felt sorry for Agger being the only one of our back five not to make Garth Crooks' team of the week on the BBC website. So good was our defence that Reina hardly had a save to make - though he did claim a few crosses.

Chelsea will no doubt point to their loss of attacking options, but they were reduced to pumping hopeful long balls into the box - in a way that might have proved more effective had Drogba, rather than Anelka, been leading the line. Later on, John Terry started to venture forward, but was effectively neutralized by the introduction of Hyypia.

In fact, it was Liverpool that looked more like scoring another. Substitute Babel redeemed himself for some indifferent performances with a lively half-hour (including a near miss), while Alonso struck the post from a free kick.

Nothing's won in October, but hopefully this hugely satisfying performance and result will give us confidence for the coming months. I don't want to get carried away though - I remember being top of the table in November 2002 only for it all to fall apart. We need to consolidate this result by beating Portsmouth and Spurs - which will be all the more difficult following their recent changes in management.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Liverpool

In a reversal of recent trends, Liverpool dominated the first half, scored first, and then conceded late. I guess I can't complain - particularly since, if anything, we had the better of some questionable off-side decisions (Benayoun's strike was ruled out, but so was Maniche's). It was good to see Keane net another goal, and a score draw away to our main group rivals has to be regarded as satisfactory. More worrying is fitness doubts over Keane, Gerrard and Alonso ahead of another table-topping clash back home...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Veale and Urmson

I didn't know until I actually turned up to dinner, but tonight's dinner in college was a special meal by bequest of composer Douglas Veale and philosopher Jim Urmson - a fellow of the college for 40 years. The main attraction was the choice of lobster or oysters for starter but, since I had soup, it made little difference to me. It did mean a total attendance of over 20, compared to last week's meagre six.

It's actually been quite a run of dinners for me, as on Saturday my housemates and I had a special dinner to which we each contributed a course and then on Sunday my former housemate and his girlfriend invited me for a Greek-themed 'Symposium'.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Liverpool 3-2 Wigan

Stop me if this is getting repetitive... Liverpool fall behind (twice this time), only for their opponents to have a man sent off for fouling Alonso (again!) and then the reds to snatch victory - with Riera scoring another equalizer and then Kuyt scoring his second of the match.

Certainly Kuyt scoring in the Premiership isn't something we've seen too much of. Last season he scored only three: two penalties against Everton and a rebound off his knee against Newcastle). Having only just scored his first league goal in 11 months, he's already equalled that tally for this season.

Moreover, it's nice to see Benitez is willing to take risks to win games - sacrificing both fullbacks in favour of El Zhar and Benayoun - meaning we were playing with four wingers towards the end. It'd be nice, of course, if we had a striker of Crouch's quality to bring on in these situations, but there's no point throwing on strikers without any service and, as it turned out, the wingers did the business: El Zhar creating space for Riera and then Pennant crossing for Kuyt's winner.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Censoring Music

Plato on purifying musical modes:

Ban lamentations and music fit for drinking parties. "[L]eave me, then, these two modes [Dorian and Phrygian], which will best imitate the violent or voluntary tones of voice of those who are moderate and courageous, whether in good fortune or in bad... [W]e won't need the craftsmen who make triangular lutes, harps, and all other such multistrigned and polyharmonic instruments" (Rep 399a-d)

'Ultra-Orthodox' Rabbi Luft:

Rabbi Luft has drawn up a black-list of musicians and bands - music that he says that is not kosher and cannot be played at ultra-orthodox weddings or public events because of its decadent nature... "The main part of the music should be the melody. Percussion should be secondary. They should not bend notes electronically and should not use instruments like electric guitars, bass guitars or saxophones in Jewish music," he says... [T]he "purpose of modern music - its influences - is to distract young people and change good characters into bad"... such music, even Jewish rock music, "where the dangerous beat plays more of a part than the melody, has no place in a society where people are trying to keep their moral standards high.

Is Plato "really totally in another league as far as insanely illiberal policy preferences go"? If he is, it certainly isn't a league of his own...

Japanese Banks

I was just sent this and thought it was mildly amusing. Really I'm just filling a post as I've been too busy with freshers' week to write anything proper:

Following the problems in the sub-prime lending market in America and the run on HBOS in the UK uncertainty has now hit Japan:

In the last 7 days Origami Bank has folded, Sumo Bank has gone belly up and Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches.

Yesterday, it was announced that Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, while today shares in Kamikaze Bank were suspended after they nose-dived.

While Samurai Bank is soldiering on following sharp cutbacks, Ninja Bank is reported to have taken a hit, but they remain in the black.

Furthermore, 500 staff at Karate Bank got the chop and analysts report that there is something fishy going on at Sushi Bank where it is feared that staff may get a raw deal.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Man City 2-3 Liverpool

What a game. Rafa Benitez has instilled Liverpool with a certain 'bouncebackability', which has actually seen them win every game this season in which their opponents scored first - but that must rank as one of the greatest comebacks.

Liverpool apparently dominated the early exchanges, only to fall apart and concede a couple of goals - leaving them trailing 2-0 at half-time. Coming back from two down was a tall order, especially against a team like City, but the trick is to score the next - which Torres did, to put us back in the game.

This gave me hope but then Zabaleta decided to follow Cahill's example - earning a straight red for a sliding tackle on Alonso. (It was worse than Cahill's - I haven't heard any neutral argue with the sending off). I worried that, reduced to ten men, City would close ranks and defend for a 2-1 win but, soon after, Torres scored another - all five of his goals this season have come away from home; if only he could score at Anfield!

As is often the case, momentum was in our favour, but it looked like we might have to settle for a draw that we'd have gladly taken at half-time. As it was, after Torres had missed a glorious chance for his hat-trick, Kuyt was able to stick away his deflected shot for a winner late into injury time. Unfortunately, we only had the extra 6-7 minutes due to a serious injury to Skrtel: I'd have preferred to have taken the draw, or even defeat. Still, at least it gives Daniel Agger his chance to re-establish himself...

Stats fans: Kuyt's goal was his first in the league for almost a year. Torres' first was Liverpool's 1000th in the Premier League and his brace takes him ahead of Patrik Berger as Liverpool's highest scoring foreigner (which I take to mean non-Brit).

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Liverpool 3-1 PSV

PSV look like being the whipping boys of the group and this was a fairly comfortable win - with an early goal from European goal machine Kuyt (if only he could do it in the Premier League...), the 100th club goal from Steven Gerrard and the first from Robbie Keane. Job done, thank you very much...


I was at part of the Introduction to Academic Practice for new staff yesterday. Can't really say I learned much, but I suppose it was good to show my face for at least some of it.

One thing I disagree with though is the glossary of Oxford terms given out in the info pack, which says the week before 0th (nought-th) is -1th (minus one-th week). I think I might have heard that term but, in my experience, -1st (minus first) is more common as well as more natural.

Certainly -1st is what you currently see displayed on the DPIR website, although that shouldn't be taken as definitive since their IT bods either a) can't make the calendar update on Sunday or b) think the week starts on Monday.