Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Longest Birthday?

I'm 27 today and it seems that I get an extra second to celebrate thanks to the addition of a leap second to the end of the year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Newcastle 1-5 Liverpool

It's not often that a goalkeeper can concede five goals and still be man of the match, but Shay Given really did deserve all the plaudits here as he spared his side (greater) embarrassment. Within the first half hour alone he seemed to pull off four or five great/world class saves to keep the scores level, before Gerrard finally breached the defence. Five minutes later and Hyypia's header made it look like a question simply of how many.

Some lax marking from a corner ourselves allowed Newcastle to pull one back on the stroke of half-time and go in just 2-1 up (it could have been 5-1 then). It didn't take long for Babel to restore our cushion - given two chances to poke home, despite there being four or five men on the line.

Gerrard scored another after a great through ball from Lucas (many called this his best game in a red shirt, though it may have helped that Newcastle had no midfield). Sadly, he was taken off for a rest before Ngog won a penalty, so it was left to Alonso to convert when Stevie could've had a hat trick. Oh well, I don't think anyone from the Liverpool camp will be complaining after a win like today, even if it could have been double figures... I think Newcastle need to pull out all the stops to keep Given.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back in Oxford

Today's journey was relatively uneventful. I knew that engineering works meant I'd be getting a coach from Ingatestone to London - there was some confusion when I was told differently at Colchester station, but that's how it worked out. I left Colchester at 1500 and didn't get into London until almost 1700, because of traffic on the M25 - but from there it was fairly straightforward.

Whereas last week I walked from Paddington to Liverpool St, this time I didn't have 6 hours to kill so got the bus part of the way (to Piccadilly), then stopped to look (very quickly) at the sales before walking the last bit to Paddington - 1950 train got me home by 2100. Didn't see much in the sales - I was hoping Zavvi would be having a real big clearout, but not yet at least... (Nor did I see any of this in Colchester's Woolworths).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Liverpool 3-0 Bolton

Last time we were top of the league so late into the season, our manager ended up in hospital with a major heart scare and our form fell away. This time, we were deprived of Rafa Benitez by kidney stones, which proved more troublesome than expected but he was back in the director's box today.

I'm not sure who I'd rather miss, him or some of our star players, but it's worth noting there was still no return for Torres (as some had predicted) and we're obviously very short of full-backs: with Arbeloa, Aurelio, Degen and Dossena all out, Carragher and Insua filled in (personally, I agree maybe two inexperienced full-backs would've been too risky, but I'm disappointed that Darby didn't get to at least make a substitute appearance on the right).

In any case, the game proved to be a fairly routine three points once Riera turned our dominance into a first goal (scoring from what was, I think, our eighth corner in the first half). Then Keane followed his goal against Arsenal with another brace - taking him to five now in the Premier League. We'd perhaps hoped for more, but it's worth remembering I think Crouch was still to score for us at this point in his debut season: at least Keane now seems to have found some form, which is making the return of Torres less urgent.

With the score at 3-0, both managers seemed content to settle for what they had - Megson's substitutions looked more like resting players for the next fixture than a serious attempt to get back into the game, while unsurprisingly Gerrard and Kuyt were withdrawn for a bit of a rest (though, as I say, I'm disappointed Darby didn't get a run out - we'll probably need him if Arbeloa's injury is serious: maybe against Preston though).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Reply from Gowder

A while ago I was the respondent to a podcast on Public Reason, as I advertised here. Paul's post also led to another response from Andrew Sabl. Paul has now posted his replies to both of us.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

HT 09 Lecture Lists

Are available here.

May I draw your attention to (Philosophy, p.3):
Issues in Democratic Theory Dr B. Saunders M. 11 – 1 TBC (Corpus Christi College)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool

Another draw, although this one's not so disappointing - Arsenal have already beaten Manchester United and Chelsea don't forget, even if they have slipped up against 'lesser' opponents. What's more, the draw keeps us eight points ahead of them, even if it does hand Chelsea another opportunity to snatch top spot from us (when they play Everton tomorrow).

It was pleasing to see Keane score a good goal - latching onto Agger's long-ball on the half-volley to equalize van Persie's earlier strike. What was disappointing was that, even after Arsenal lost Fabregas (to injury) and Adebayor (to two yellow cards) we couldn't capitalise with a winner. Then again, we were missing a few players ourselves - Keane filling in for Torres, Lucas for Mascherano and Insua for Aurelio/Dossena.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

30 Songs: First Lines

If all goes well, I should be on a train to London when this post appears. Since blogging may be a bit sparse while I'm home, I thought I'd leave a little something to amuse you - I saw this meme on Facebook and thought I'd share:

Step 1: Put your music player on shuffle.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 30 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing.
Step 3: Strike through the songs when someone guesses both artist and track correctly.
Step 4: For those who are guessing -- looking the lyrics up on a search engine is CHEATING!
Step 5: If you like the game post your own

1 Crucified millions go to mass every day

2 Weighing on your mind, like a ball and chain

[One skipped because it had no lyrics: Spahn Ranch ‘Commitation’]

3 I warned you, you didn’t believe me

4 You got your tongue pierced once

*5 [Song title] Sooner than much later, we’ll be there

6 Gonna let the lightning / Tuck me into my bed

7 Sister step love I torn equal Filter and refine my black holes

?8 So in love she says

*9 You need coolin’, baby, I’m not foolin’

10 Came in from a rainy Thursday on the avenue

11 One million light years from home

*12 Melinda was mine

13 We are here to make a choice between the quick and the dead

14 [Song title] Just a little more peace

15 Welcome to the edge of the world

16 Well you may think that this is it

17 I know that I want you

?18 Menage a trois

19 Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol

[Another without lyrics: Fluke ‘Amp’]

20 [Song title] you’re here again

21 You thrust the knife into my side with words you say you realize

22 Our domain, this kingdom come

[Instrumental: LCD Soundsystem ‘Yeah (Pretentious Version)’]

?23 A million beaches all laid out

*24 [Song title] You talk about things that nobody cares

25 She said words don’t matter

26 Don’t believe in anything

27 [Song title] Baby is this love for real?

28 Let's see a mortal type

?29 They found your body by a lake

30 The winds of fortune don't blow the same

* = cover

? = to be honest, I’m guessing somewhat at these

A few I had to guess at as I couldn't find the lyrics online. Also I've removed the song title from some that I think would be a giveaway.

Only two artists feature twice and I was somewhat surprised/disappointed that a number of my favourites are missing - though, at least, I don't think there was anything too embarrassing...

Homeward Bound

I'm heading home for Christmas this afternoon - my train's not leaving until 14:01, because that way I could get a ticket from Oxford to London for just £4! Having had some ticket trouble last time I used the trains (going to Manchester in September), I recommend the trainline.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Putting Your Foot In It

A surgeon in America, removing a tumour from a young infant's brain, found it contained the foot of what could have become his twin - sounds like one of those Greek myths with gods giving birth from their heads...

RAE Analysis

Results here.

Leiter thread - lots of comments. And his comments on law.

Thom Brooks on politics and philosophy.

John Gardner on law.

Brian Weatherson on ranking philosophy.

Christmas Dinners

I had my first two Christmas dinners in college back in 8th week (for the students' benefit). Last night was actually my fourth - a six-course, black-tie affair in college with copious amounts of wine.

The night before those of us from 10 Merton Street had a works outing to Loch Fyne - with slightly less wine but in between pints before and after.

I think I need to make new year's resolutions to eat and drink less and exercise more...

Then again, at least nothing like this happened - closest I came was a peck on the cheek after walking a colleague home!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The THE analysis of the RAE is due out tomorrow.

Whatever replaces it will apparently be based on 'impact factor', i.e. citations. Sadly, Piled Higher & Deeper have already rumbled that, pointing us to one's real impact factor.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Voting Controversy

I won't pretend to understand the scoring system, but it seems that a number of people who voted by telephone in the recent Strictly Come Dancing contest were rather disgruntled to find that their votes were meaningless because the judges' votes had already settled the outcome.

I'm not really clear on how this happened. If the judges' votes had been revealed, then one could say it's at least partly the fault of the people concerned (though the BBC probably should've pointed out that there was no point voting). If the judges votes weren't revealed, then one could simply say people took that risk, knowing that their vote may prove meaningless, and it is no more reasonable to complain about the fact that their vote was meaningless because of the judges' votes than to complain that their vote was meaningless because most of the public disagreed with them...

In any case, it's good to see that people feel strongly about making their voices heard - if only they felt so strongly about electoral rules that effectively exclude most from a say in matters of government...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Liverpool 2-2 Hull

Another frustrating draw at home - and a run of supposedly easy games is only yielding one-third of the points that many predicted. I suppose I should be grateful for what we got; Hull took a shock lead against the run of play with their first attack and then a Carragher own goal left us 2-0 down.

Since we've already come back from such deficits a few times - such as against Man City and Wigan - I hadn't given up hope, and when Gerrard quickly pulled one back I still hoped that we could get at least a draw. As it was, he struck another to bring us level before half-time but that, perhaps surprisingly, was it - a game that looked as if it could have finished 4-3 ended up at 2-all.

I must say, I found it strange that Benitez didn't introduce Keane or even Ngog. Still, if there's any consolation (aside from briefly extending our lead over Chelsea, who play tomorrow) it's that we did play quite well and create plenty of chances, unlike in the frustrating draws against Stoke, Fulham and West Ham. Nor should it be forgotten that Hull have beaten Arsenal and only lost 4-3 at Old Trafford...

UPDATE: Steven Gerrard was voted Liverpool's man of the match by fans on the official website, receiving 80% of the vote.

Taking Up Smoking

It seems the PJMB is no more; they're now to be found at a new site: The Philosophy Smoker.

Now, what was it being said about smoking on the market?

UPDATE: Job-seekers may find some of this advice useful.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Arsenal fans on TMS

This, from the BBC's cricket commentary, almost made me laugh out loud:

1029 - WICKET! Tendulkar c & b Flintoff 37, India 102-5

Wicket falls
Erm, what the ballyhoo is going on? A loosener from Flintoff, presumably brought back to trouble Yuvraj, and Sachin Tendulkar spoons the simplest of return catches at him. The M.A.Chidambaram Stadium is quieter than the Emirates Stadium on a Champions League night all of a sudden.

"Just so you know, it's customary to enjoy poetry in motion in an awe inspired silence. Hence why Ashburton Grove can prove quiet when The Arsenal are playing."
Adam C via the TMS inbox

"As an Indian and Arsenal fan - you really know how to hit a man when he's down!!!"
Sonny Nanua via the TMS inbox

"As an Arsenal fan I resent your accusation that the Emirates Stadium is quiet. We're usually very vocally and aggressively barracking our own players these days."
Harry H, London via the TMS inbox

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Warwick Graduate Conference

Having attended the last three political theory graduate conferences in Warwick, I'd have to say it's a worthwhile day out and recommend it to any graduate students out there (advert here). Sadly, I won't be attending myself this year - not because it falls on Valentine's Day (which is, I guess, unfortunate), but because I'm no longer a graduate student...

Office Space

I just spent probably the best part of 30 minutes looking for something (mostly by shuffling around, rather than filing, lecture notes). Predictably I only found what I had been looking for when I started to look for something else instead - and I gave up on the something else, hoping that it's in my office.

Anyway, my room is tidy compared to these pictures. Predictably, some of them are academics. (These pictures follow this rather pointless column).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It's rather a long time since I sat my 11+ exam, but the BBC give you the chance to try a 10-minute version here. I only got 14/15, but I gave up and guessed the last with over 2.5 minutes left on the clock...


We're now done with this year's round of PPE admissions interviews (I saw 21 candidates on Monday, attended a meeting that went on for almost 2.5 hours yesterday, then saw another couple of candidates today). I know who has a place and who doesn't, though the candidates themselves will have to wait a while to find out (all are notified at the same time).

I was pleased to see there was some role for lotteries, albeit only in selecting between colleges competing to offer second interviews to marginal candidates.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

PSV 1-3 Liverpool

PSV may not be the team they were back in 2005, but they're no minnows (like Cluj or Aaborg) and it's still pleasing to be able to rotate the side and win away. There was a slight scare when PSV went ahead, but Babel equalized on the stroke of half-time and then a rocket from Riera and nice finish by young Ngog wrapped up the points.

I'd still say Babel was somewhat frustrating - it's nice to see him take on defenders but too often he loses the ball and failed to pass to a better placed Keane. On the other hand, it was a good performance from Keane - not so much in terms of threatening himself, but it was a great pass from inside his own half to set Ngog clear (one of the assists of the season, perhaps) - and minutes later he set up Leiva, only to see the Brazilian fluff his chance.

New Books

Keeping an eye on developments in my field, there are two new books that I ought to get hold of (which I post here mainly as a reminder to myself):

Nancy Rosenblum's On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship (this should be interesting; party faction has traditionally been attacked from Rousseau and Burke to the present day, though Goodin has a chapter in his latest book defending parties)

The other is a forthcoming release from Fabienne Peter, though details are sketchy: it has a different title here and here. It looks like it's coming out next week though, and that it will be prohibitively expensive (£70+).

The obvious solution would be to review them, particularly the latter, for a journal - and I'm open to offers/suggestions - but having written a couple of such reviews recently this warning (about being quoted out of context) is particularly apt...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Poor Brains

Tomorrow I'll be sitting through 21 PPE interviews - playing a role in deciding who gets admitted to Oxford and who doesn't. It's a tough process, but one that I think is far better than making the decisions based only on paper applications or by lottery from all applicants (though I think there may be a marginal role for lotteries).

One thing you can be almost certain of is intense media scrutiny. Just as, every year, record A-level results are greeted with accusations of dumbing down, so it seems that whatever happens Oxford (and Cambridge) will be accused of not letting in enough state school applicants.

In fact, I've long held the view that the problem lies earlier in the admissions process - with many state schools obviously failing gifted pupils (either in not allowing them to achieve their academic potential at the school or not encouraging aspirational university applications). Now research from the US suggests that there's a difference in brain activity between children from rich and poor backgrounds as young as age nine. Obviously, damage happens long before these children reach the stage of applying for university, and social imbalance in Oxbridge may be no more than a symptom of a broken system...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Blackburn 1-3 Liverpool

For a long time we struggled to break down Blackburn's defence, and I feared that this could become another frustrating 0-0 draw (but then, Man Utd needed an injury time strike to breach the Sunderland rearguard).

I think that recent stalemates against Fulham and West Ham may have affected our confidence because, still without Torres, we looked short of ideas in the final third - despite the introduction of Babel and Benayoun. Once the goal did come - Alonso slotting in from the edge of the area after a Kuyt knock-down - we looked to have more confidence and began to play better. Benayoun's individual effort looked to make things safe, although Santa Cruz's consolation ensured that the last 5 minutes would be nervy. I was worried when I heard there'd been another goal on Final Score, afraid that we'd thrown two points away, but it turned out Gerrard was able to put a gloss on the scoreline as Rovers pushed for an equalizer.

Overall, it was far from a fluent performance, but another three points (keeping us top of the table) and an end to our scoring duck. Insua got a full 90 minutes, and looks like he can challenge Dossena for the left-back slot, while El Zhar provided another lively cameo (indeed, he played a role in the third: forcing Robinson to slide out of his area but only to clear as far as Riera). Also, despite Torres' absence, we were able to 'rest' £20m worth of striker in Robbie Keane...

Friday, December 05, 2008


Thanks to Rob for pointing me to PhiLOLsophers - in particular, this one suggests I may have made the wrong career choice in choosing moral/political philosophy...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Liverpool 0-0 West Ham

Another frustrating failure to break down the other team's proverbial parked bus but, as much as the BBC called it an unconvincing performance, they also admitted that we controlled the game - with Green not only having to pull off several impressive saves, but also twice being saved by off the line clearances (though I only saw the second half). Ok, it's disappointing but I never would have expected Liverpool moving to the top of the table in December to be greeted with a chorus of boos in Anfield...

Oh, two others point of note: I didn't think much of Keane's response to being substituted. Yes, he's been taken off a lot - only playing three full games apparently - but at least he's starting and until he starts justifying that summer price tag he can't have much complaint. On the other hand, Dossena apparently had his best game since arriving.