Friday, June 24, 2005


Not just an essay crisis

An 'all nighter' maybe...

At least I'm enjoying it now and have got past my perfectionist blockage with writing introductions.

Horrible sinking feeling when I was trapped in the middle of that and realised that I hadn't moved on since 1992. It was just the same then.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Proper essay crisis

Last night to write.

I'd just like to point out that when I said it would be 'interesting' to see how all those ideas turned into an essay... I might use a different word right this second.


Saturday, June 18, 2005


"Oh yes, we met at that party last month..."

Ever had an experience where 30 seconds after a moment has passed you've come up with a withering response to an insult, a devastatingly sexy come-back to a come-on or a fiendishly clever question in a packed meeting room?

Heard one lately to keep in the armoury for next time you're flashed at: " you know that looks exactly like a penis... but smaller". Amused me anyway.

Yesterday at 3.30am, some bloke in a slightly out of the way road nearby, said to M, "Do I know you from somewhere mate?", and as he was saying it, grabbed M by the neck so that the girl he was with could nick his wallet out of his jeans.

First we knew of it, M was hammering on the door, bleeding profusely, with torn trousers and no wallet and keys. After a bit of struggle with the bloke, the girl had beaten him round the head with a bike lock and left him with an ear slashed in two. Pretty gruesome and alarming. Just lucky it wasn't a knife or gun, I guess, though I'm sure it didn't feel that way to M as he sobered up through the entire night of waiting in A&E for tests and plastic surgery.

Doesn't seem to have made M concerned about walking the streets late at night: he's recovered his GSOH remarkably. I've decided on a response to the question (title). Pretty unconvinced that it would have made a difference though.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Tipping point

It's finally reached the point that I wake up in the morning and it doesn't occur to me to go to work in the car (unless rain is hammering on the skylight).

At last.

I did have a very un-mountain-biker thought today though. As my trouser clips slipped off for the 3rd time I thought, "it would be really useful to have a chain guard". Actually, that wasn't the worst of it. I also looked at a skinny road bike wheel with envy for the very first time...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Wolfing it down

I went down to feed the worms this evening, lifted the lid and found that they'd started eating through the piece of damp matting that goes on top of them. They're voracious! Big difference from the last few weeks: they have been sluggish (bad description - my slugs are far from inactive light eaters).

Must eat (in order to peel) more vegetables and remember to give them paper and wool too.

Cat just has pellets and water. Seems strangely wrong that the worms get a more varied diet.


There are various theories about what can make power legitimate. Do you think that one theory is more convincing than the others?

Tonight's task was some orderly, linear and focused thinking about my essay title (above) . Maybe some tables, lists of key points and then a plan.

Three hours later my whole desk is strewn with scribbled mindmaps, dashing arrows, many coloured highlights and underlines so bold they almost go through the paper. Not a neat list in sight.

And it's been glorious. From a neat pros and cons evaluation of various theories I've ended up with litters of ideas that pull together cognitive science, political philosophy, evolutionary biology and management theory. My conclusion, that no one theory is most convincing, but some of the 'big ideas' from each theory are.

From Utilitarian thinking (Hume, Bentham), that morals have simply been constructed by societies to serve various purposes (consciously and unconsciously).

From Marxism, that many people are subject to power that is not acting in their interests so we have to explain their acceptance in terms of why they don't realise that this is the case and/or act against it. (Who decided what morals people developed, whose interests were they in and how did they encourage them to be accepted?)

And this is where I went off on one:

From Cognitive Science, that we have core beliefs or rules that guide our decisions (religious or not) and these can be helpful or unhelpful (you've heard this before!)

From Evolutionary Biology (Richard Dawkins) that these rules are an example of 'memes'. These are things like concepts (freedom, legitimacy), sayings ('hard work pays off'), myths, religious ideas and so on, that mutate and replicate as they spread through populations. Some are successful and spread widely, some are not and die out.

I guess 'contraception must not be used' is a good example. For every two Catholic parents who thought it sprang ten or so more Catholics likely to believe it. For every protestant not thinking it sprang two more protestants without the idea. Simplistic, obviously, but interesting.

But I guess the point is, what have been the ideas about legitimacy in the past and how have they spread? Which have been the successful ideas, which have been the least successful and where does that leave us? Interestingly, where it leaves me is essentially agreeing in equal measures with the Utilitarians and Marx while being more aware of how much I'm driven by my own set of 'memes' to think that Rawls is spot on with much of his thinking about how political societies should behave in order to be accepted as legitimate.

Heck. It'll be interesting turning this into a coherent essay!

I also must say at this point that Wikipedia has changed my life and today I found the best entry I've ever read (on Memes). How on earth did I do my degree without the Internet?

Monday, June 13, 2005


Essay crisis

Not words I've used for some time but I'm creeping towards one. For just the same reasons as 16 years ago... too much diligent reading and preparation, not enough writing; an available all day party at Cowley Road Carnival on prime essay day and some sterling displacement activity this evening.

I'm not even sure why I haven't got started since I'm rather hooked with the whole topic of what makes power legitimate and surprised by it (I never expected to agree with Marx).

It isn't going to stop me heading to bed with a trashy thriller though. I watched Grease about 9 times in the run up to my O levels, read Gone with the Wind before A levels and Lord of the Rings (all three parts) before finals. It's just the latest in a long pattern which has also left me with very tidy desks (if in turmoil, tidy).

Sunday, June 12, 2005


From all angles

1. Paul Proudman
2. J and A
3. Very keen photographer



1. Partying instrument
2. Stay at home instrument
3. Fame

Saturday, June 11, 2005



It's taken time and cringing, but I've finally plucked up the courage to tell people (2) about my blog. I also discovered from Site Meter that someone from the University of Southern California read my blog for 28 minutes. Or accidentally opened it then went for coffee.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Lean on the horn

At dinner with R this evening she told me about a dance group that she goes to. It's unstructured dance that is all about losing yourself in the moment, where anything can happen and can be very emotionally intense. It sounds only a fraction less mortifying than karaoke. But it made me think.

It brought back a moment in a car in a small Norfolk town, and an exuberant friend telling me to lean on the horn: we were driving in convoy from a friend's wedding with the bride and groom ahead, waving, in the back of an open top car. I wouldn't. I couldn't. It might disturb people. It might draw attention to us. That moment is everything I'd most like to lose about myself: unnecessary restraint and self consciousness.

Perhaps I really should go and lose it all in dance! It's a dangerous and exciting thought.

And then... the contradictions. That exhilerating, emotional, wild festival wedding ended with a starlit, naked lounge in a hot tub. So why aren't the easier inhibitions simpler to break through?

Thursday, June 02, 2005


TMI continued

Snot thicker than ever and raging thirst.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Maps of the world

Kids at the moment are wearing lots of these charity bands, like Live Strong and Make Poverty History. I wondered whether they think about the charities or just the fashion.

Z says that I and M (10 and 8) rank them by the 'best' charity. That's a pretty challenging discussion to have at any age! Teen chat sites are also full of hot-headed exchanges about why fake ones are wrong. More layers to the issue.

How could I have underestimated the young like that? Had I forgotten what it was like? I was far more politically active and outspoken then. At 10 I campaigned for Labour in a mock election at school and made 100s of red rosettes from first prizes won by my great uncle's sheep! I'll also never forget how much it stung at 16 when my uncle said that he wouldn't talk to me about about politics until I'd grown up and stopped spouting my Dad's views.

How kids construct their 'map of the world' based on questions like 'why is this charity 'better' than that one', or what 'better' means fascinates me. It's an idea I keep coming across at the moment.

The idea is that we have a whole set of values and beliefs that we may not even be aware of. They shape the way that we understand what happens to us and how we respond to it. Imagine that after a bank robbery in which two people are injured, one person says, "I can't believe it, just my luck, it had to be me that got hurt." Another says, "How lucky was that, I survived, and what a story to tell - wonder how much it's worth!" The only difference is how lucky they believe themselves to be.

This has come up in my politics course: ideologies are sets of beliefs that can be used to motivate people politically. Lakoff uses the idea to suggest that it is the absolute opposition of conservative and liberal core beliefs that makes it difficult for each to understand why the other holds the views they do (e.g. why would neo-cons believe in minimal state interference and yet wish to 'interfere' in the constitution to deny the legitimacy of same-sex marriage?)

And the CBT that I'm having with F is all about these beliefs and the impact that they have on our lives when they are unhelpful.

On the mundane: throat-snot is back, antibiotics being tried and nose more frayed than ever.

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