Election news: gay marriage

The Canadian Conservative Party leader, Stephen Harper, announced today that, if elected, he would support the reinstatement of the ‘traditional’ definition of marriage: barring the kind of same sex marriages that have now happened more than 3000 times in Canada. It seems to me that this kind of a campaign strategy demonstrates how irrelevant the Conservatives are – hung up on yesterday’s issues when everyone else has realized that the question is pretty simple and not something to get up in arms about. One thing about the Martin government that I did admire was his willingness to recognize that the gay marriage issue is a simple one of equality and Charter rights. As such, it really shouldn’t be subject to such low politicking. Moreover, to repeal it now would probably require the use of the notwithstanding clause: an extreme response to a non-existent problem.

As much as I would like to see the emergence of a viable alternative party of government, someone to challenge the effective Liberal monopoly at the federal level, the kind of callous, opportunistic policies that tend to come out of right wing parties should rightly be opposed by Canadian voters.

I often feel anxious about how much of this blog is just crude description of what I have been up to in a particular day. I can justify it partly because there are people who read the blog to get a sense of what life in Oxford is generally like. I imagine them as versions of myself, about a year ago, trying to decide where to go to school.There are also those, like my parents, who read it to know what I am individually up to. Still, I think it’s a higher calibre of writing that discusses issues or produces cunning or beautiful descriptions. Revealing much that is mundane is relatively safe, and you needn’t worry who reads it, but it is ultimately neither skilful nor satisfying. While revealing things too passionately felt is foolhardy in such a public context, not to do so is stifling.

The events of November 29th, backwards

Take Back the Night March

I am going to write this backwards, since memory peels back in layers and I am too tired to straighten it.

Just now, I left the King’s Arms: where I spoke with Claire about the future of humanity, the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, and the brilliance of our fellow M.Phils. Earlier, I was in The Turf, discussing much the same matter. Quite a broad cross-section of those in the program were present, which was an enjoyable surprise. I particularly enjoyed meeting Andy’s roommate, who studied at UBC.

Before heading to The Turf, I was at a production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, put on at the Old Fire Station, on George Street. As I remarked to the young man taking notes for student radio beside me: it was like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, except ten times as loud. I enjoyed it quite a bit, as my first piece of theatre since arriving in Oxford this September. I also enjoyed the Old Fire Hall as a venue, complete with curious icy lounges for intermission. I am glad Claire encouraged me to attend.

Claire and I wandered to the play from Wadham, where we stopped to drop off my notes and pick up my gloves. Tonight was quite bitterly cold, you see. Before that, we were at the Christmas Party of the Department of Politics and International Relations, where I got potato chips for dinner and free wine. I spoke very briefly with one of our core seminar directors, as well as with many IR M.Phils and those in related disciplines

Before that, I was at the final quantitative methods lecture given by James Tilley: despised in some quarters and embraced in others. During the break between the two hours, I spoke with a young woman from Green College sitting in the row behind me. While I don’t know who she is and will never see her again, I did see her during the small feminist march that Claire and I passed between the DPIR party and the play. That march is pictured above.

Before the statistics lecture, we had our core seminar. Today’s discussion struck me as particularly good, and I felt as though I participated usefully in it. The first three-quarters were about levels of analysis for interpreting the emergence of the cold war. The last bit was about hegemonic stability theory.

First thing in the morning, I went for a walk and a coffee with Bilyana. While I fear that I may have spoken too much about cryptographic and authentication systems, it went well regardless. I hope that I shall see her again soon – before everyone disperses for the break.

Tomorrow morning, many of us are meeting to make an attempt at this week’s STATA assignment: the penultimate assignment of the much and rightly derided quantitative methods course. As such, I should consign myself to sleep. My best wishes to all who read this. Bonsoir.

PS. For £1250 and the advancement of medical science, one member of the M.Phil in IR was intentionally infected with malaria today.

Milan: now 10110, binary-wise

Cornmarket Street

Happy Birthday Vivian Chan

Birthday happenings

Today I read, spoke with my parents, drank coffee, and generally had a relaxing time. Particular since I haven’t spoken with them in a while, speaking with my parents was pleasant. Likewise, to receive a birthday email from my brother Mica. My mother and father spent the past three days in San Diego for some kind of Miller Thomson partners’ conference. I was glad to hear that they enjoyed themselves. It seems that the lot of them are now planning to go to North Carolina to visit my aunt, uncle, grandmother, and cousins there. I wish them the best for their journey.

This morning, I also opened an elegant card from Sarah Johnston, as well as some gift certificates for Blackwell’s. I used them towards my excellent map, which is still inspiring fantasies of all manner of exotic journeys.

Over the course of the day, I finished some more of An Instance of the Fingerpost and should note that it is an extremely grim book. I’ve always had a particular anxiousness about all things medical – those ominous reminders of the ephemeral quality of life. It is therefore particularly troubling for me to read of hangings and dreadfully ineffective medical practices. I used to have anxiety attacks just walking into hospitals, so visceral the reminder of mortality could be. It reminds me of one of the most haunting passages from one of my favourite plays:

Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one. A moment. In childhood. When it first occurred to you that you don’t go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one’s memory. And yet, I can’t remember it. What does one make of that? We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the words for it, out we come with the knowledge that for all the compasses in the world, there’s only one direction, and time its only measure. 

Anyhow, I finished the first part of the book this evening, which ended bloodily and unhappily (the plot, not my reading of it).

Margaret stopped by this afternoon and very kindly gave me two bowls, a plate, spoons, and a mug. I am now enormously better equipped to eat off dishes not temporarily borrowed from the MCR. She also gave me an artful and odd looking book: Taschen’s 1000 Extra/Ordinary Objects. The collection was even in a box wrapped in pages from The Economist. Many thanks.

In the evening, I went for a walk with a very ebullient Emily. We had hot chocolate, which was nice, and it snowed for a while, which was very welcome. If we are to be subjected to cold, it’s nice to be given the beauty and novelty of a bit of snow as well. This is only the second time ever when I have seen it snow on my birthday. Emily’s enthusiasm is always appreciated and contrasts with the grizzled, embittered image of graduate students I have developed as a kind of semi-believed caricature.

Canadian electoral politics:

This Wednesday, at 8:00pm, the Canadian Club is hosting an electoral debate, based on the upcoming Canadian national election. It is taking place in the Margaret Thatcher Centre of Sumerville College. I recommend following it up with drinks in the Ho Chi Minh Quad at Wadham, if only for the sake of balance. With a Canadian confidence vote, which the government will likely fail, looking imminent, it looks like we have an election ahead of us. It will lead to me lamenting the fact that there isn’t a credible opposition in Canada. Can anyone really imagine the Tories or the NDP forming a government? I think the defection of someone like Ujjal Dosanjh from the provincial NDP to the federal Liberals says a lot about which parties have the people and organization it takes to govern.

Initially, I had hoped that the Martin minority government with the NDP would be one that advanced progressive policies. As it happens, it seems to have been mired in this corruption scandal, coupled with weak leadership and a lack of vision. The revitalization of Canada’s role in the world that we were hoping for from Martin really doesn’t seem to have happened. That said, I will almost certainly vote for the Liberal candidate in North Vancouver Capilano, since the possibility that the Tories will retake the seat is not outlandish.

  • For that retro charm, Bytonic Software has released a version of Quake II, ported into Java. It works fine in OS X. And here I thought Java was buggy and slow; the photo upload applet on Facebook certainly is.
  • Apparently, the statistics instructors are trying to foist an additional assignment upon us, in contravention of the notes of guidance. Seeing as to how they haven’t made any substantial changes on the basis of our criticisms, despite their early apparent willingness to do so, I think we should hold them to the letter of the original notes: “Five/six short assignments done throughout Michaelmas Term, to be assessed during the term.” (Emphasis in the original.) Given that they are making us write the test, despite how shoddy the teaching has been, I don’t think we should put up with them further expanding the course work: none of which really increases our ability to use quantitative methods in international relations, due to the failings described at length here previously. Other, competing programs at different schools should be making hay from how lacking the quantitative portion of the Oxford M.Phil is.
  • Another BBC article on human rights in the age of the ‘war on terror.’ Specifically, on CIA secret prisons.
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Room better decorated: festooned with possibilities

Lovely map, exciting world

After the undergraduate IR lecture this morning, I took the plunge and used most of the book credits that Alex and Sarah gave me to buy an enormous map of the world. You can’t really tell from the photo, but it’s a very fine laminated map, with metal strips along the top and bottom to keep it in shape. While the college will fine you one pound for each piece of blu-tac you use to affix something to a precious wall, they will happily provide you with a hammer and nails with which to do so. For an international relations student, it seems an entirely advisable thing to have done.

The map now hangs on my wall as a reminder of all the places where I need to travel. Sipping coffee from Sulawesi and looking it over, I have been imagining all manner of possible future expeditions. During the next month, I will see Tallinn and Helsinki. Next year, I would dearly like to arrange my thesis so it requires a trip to Brazil. Given that it’s a particular area of interest for Dr. Hurrell, a developing country, and subject to a great many environmental considerations, that may well be possible. The plan for after the M.Phil is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with friends. After that, Australia, New Zealand, all of Asia, and most of Africa will remain. Then, there are the really exotic possibilities: lemurs in Madagascar, the more remote islands of Indonesia, the far north – complete with the Aurora, and Tierra del Fuego: practically touching Antarctica. I am glad that I’m only 22.

Another excellent thing about the map is that it gives me a better sense of where my increasingly far-flung friends are now located: Astrid in Ecuador, Neal and Marc in Beijing, Adam and Nick in India, Gabe in Finland, Tristan and Viktoria P in Toronto, Sarah in London (just down the road), Kate in Victoria, and everyone back in Vancouver. I miss you all and I hope our paths will cross soon, whether in Oxford or elsewhere.

Twenty-two orbits completed as of midnight, what now?

Bench in Trinity College

Do you know the feeling when a day just feels out of step? It’s a general sensation of hunger, tiredness, or illness that never becomes acute enough to justify a direct response, but which just makes for a graying of your overall experience. Part of it can definitely be chalked up to my strange inability to sleep last night. Spending nights alternating between tossing in the dark and trying to read something soporific is reminiscent of years ago. It shows, I suppose, that we can regress as well as progress.

I spent the morning and the afternoon trying to move forward on some of the hegemonic stability theory reading for the core seminar. I spent a few hours doing the ‘read and wander,’ where you shift venues every chapter or so. Later, I spent about an hour talking with Bilyana. It was both pleasant and a reminder of a number of things that I am doing wrong here. My overall strategy of maintaining distance between myself and college life – which I often find threatening – is a rather crude one. It could benefit from some fine tuning. As for the hegemonic stability stuff, I will entomb myself in the SSL tomorrow to work on it, except when I take a stab at the STATA assignment with Claire.

Later this evening, I spent a few hours reading An Instance of the Fingerpost. The language, setting, and protagonist all remind me of the work of Oscar Wilde, such as I was reading in Vancouver earlier in the year. I remember sitting in the Delaney’s in English Bay, reading The Canterville Ghost and waiting for Meghan. Perhaps it is the descriptions of scientific experimentation that most evoke the parallel between the two. I remember walking with her afterwards, and then looking out across an unusually wavy False Creek at Vanier Park and the Maritime Museum. Anyhow, along with speaking with Bilyana, reading Pears’ book did much to lift the last part of today from the doldrums it was languishing in earlier.

One piece of good news from Africa came in today. In proper Kerrie style, she has exploded back onto the internet, posting a whole collection of entries written in Ghana. As my closest rival last year for most compulsive blogger, I am happy to have a new infusion of information from her.

On Thursday, it seems that I will be meeting a group of Canadians to take the bus to London for the reception for graduate students at the Canadian High Commission. If I remember correctly, Emily will be coming as well. It will be wonderful to get beyond the boundaries of Oxford, even if only for an evening. This week, I must also remember to get my booster immunization for mumps.

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A good day, and a really excellent evening

Candle warmth on a dark and stormy night

This morning, I was delighted to receive two envelopes that, while lacking a return address, bore the familiar handwriting of Sarah Johnston. As each is marked ‘for your birthday,’ I’ve placed them carefully aside until Monday. Many thanks to her for remembering. Indeed, these last few days have been a wonderful reminder that there are people out there who care about me; I appreciate it a great deal.

I had quite an excellent time this evening and tonight. Emily, Claire, Nora, Alex, and Margaret all came for dinner at the Moonlight Tandoori Restaurant. Unfortunately, something went wrong with the reservation and they could not give us a table. Luckily, the Kasmir Halal restaurant next door proved available and quite good. I haven’t eaten so much since I arrived in Oxford. I had a tasty bowl of Dall Soup – to combat the cold – followed by papadums, vegetable vindaloo, and garlic naan. The vegetable vindaloo was the hottest curry I have ever been served without specifically requesting that the curry be made hotter. It was wonderful. Also good was the chance to introduce Nora to the delights of Indian food: of which she had not previously partaken.

Along with dinner, we shared two bottles of wine that Margaret kindly picked up at Tesco’s. Perhaps the best thing about the night was conversing with friends from disparate parts of Oxford, and appreciating the fact that they enjoy conversing with one another. One of the things I always enjoyed most about throwing the occasional big party with lots of food and friends from all over was giving them the chance to meet one another. When living in a strange place, it is incredibly empowering to feel like part of a community; tonight, I definitely did.

After dinner, Emily and Alex had to scamper off to do work. Shortly after, Margaret left with a similar determination. Claire, Nora, and I, however, discovered a Jamaican bar on the west side of Cowley Road, no more than a block or two north of the restaurant. Before that, we tried going to the Wychwood Brewery, but it was unpleasantly loud and there was nowhere to sit. By contrast, the Jamaican bar offered plenty of places to sit, nice bass-heavy reggae music, and an enjoyable ambiance. We were also introduced to an excellent cocktail. Called a ‘dark and stormy,’ it consists of Appleton Special Jamaican Rum (dark) and Old Jamaican Ginger Beer. Served in a half pint glass, with ice, it tastes like a more interesting, more Caribbean gin and tonic. It met with universal approval.

Very kindly, Nora furnished me with a travel guide book on Tallinn: A Hedonist’s Guide to Tallinn and the Iain Pears novel An Instance of the Fingerpost as birthday gifts. I look forward very much to reading both during the next while, and making use of the first, during the break. Very generously, Nora, Claire, and Margaret also paid for my excellent birthday dinner. Alex gave me a very kind card, and voucher for the purchase of additional reading material. Emily also gave me a card, but I am fairly certain she means for me to open it on my birthday proper. My profound appreciation goes out to everyone who showed up. You really didn’t need to get me anything, but I am exceedingly pleased that you did. One day, I shall mix up a pitcher of dark and stormy and share it with you all – especially those who didn’t get the chance to try it tonight.

Oxford Blog Listing

[Update 17 May 2006] This listing is no longer being updated, as a blog entry. The latest version will be available at this location, from now on.

I thought I should create a centralized listing of Oxford blogs, as a means of keeping track of the community. Blogs that don’t include enough information to categorize, based on a cursory examination, have been filed under ‘other.’ Blogs are added in the order I discover them. These have all been located through Technorati (a blog search engine) or through links on other Oxford blogs. Blogs that haven’t been updated in months will not be added.

People who I’ve met:

  1. Pandora’s Blog
    Run by Kate, who I met at the Oxford Bloggers’ Gathering on October 29, 2005.
  2. Storyteller’s World
    Run by Tony, who I met at the bloggers’ gathering.
  3. Jo’s Journal
    One of the political bloggers I met at the gathering.
  4. Antonia’s Blog
    The other political blogger, a self-described Labour party activist.
  5. in vino veritas
    Run by Lee Jones, who is in the second year of the International Relations M.Phil.
  6. Mike’s Little Red Page
    A socialistic blog, run by Mike.
  7. Consider Phlebas
    Run by Robert Jubb, who I met at the second Oxford bloggers’ gathering on February 21st, 2006.


  1. but she’s a girl…
    Blog of a cool female photography and Mac geek, living in Oxford.
  2. Head in the Clouds
    Run by one of the Wadham College porters.
  3. Feroce
    A blog about books.
  4. Chocolate and Zucchini
    A blog about cooking with very nice pictures.
  5. OxBlog
    The off-the-cuff political commentary of David Adesnik, a 2000 Rhodes Scholar and graduate student in international relations at Oxford currently residing in Washington DC and Patrick Belton, a graduate student in international relations at Oxford.
  6. Cycle & Run in the Sahara Desert for Charity
    Run by Nicolas Bertrand, the title basically says it all.


  1. Beer, Bikes, Books, and Good Eats
    Blog run by Ruth Anne and Jake. Ruth Anne is a Rhodes Scholar, presently at Merton College.
  2. Falling Into Grace
    Blog run by Rachel, student at Christ Church.
  3. In Other News
    Blog run by Adam.
  4. KRS Adventures
    Blog run by Kristen Rosina.
  5. The Virtual Stoa
    Blog run by Chris Brooke, a politics tutor at Magdalen College.
  6. Praesidium
    Blog run by Ben Saunders.
  7. The Virgin Student
    The title basically says it all.
  8. EternalBlog
    Blog run by Seth Wilson, student at Trinity College.
  9. Sha Crawford’s blog
    Blog run by Sha Crawford.
  10. Militant Moderate
    A political blog run by Ken Owen and Richard Huzzy.
  11. Richard Huzzey
    An eponymous blog.
  12. The Carp’s Blog
    Run by Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo, a blog devoted to Canadian federal politics.


  1. Outside the Ivory Tower
    Blog of a former Oxford student, now living in Vancouver.
  2. Shaikley in the OX
    A blog run by Ali.

Oh, and there’s always my blog: a sibilant intake of breath.

If you want your blog added to the list, just leave a comment. Likewise, if you want the description amended.

Last updated: 22 February 2006

On accommodation

A new project for the inter-term break has arisen: finding somewhere to live for next year. I was surprised to learn from Bilyana and Nora the other day that living in Merrifield actually costs more than living in college. Wadham College is right in the middle of Oxford, near shops and academic buildings. There is also food available here, though admittedly of very low quality. Merrifield, by contrast, is about a mile from central Oxford and not particularly close to any services or faculty buildings. That it should cost more boggles the mind and reinforces how normal economic incentives just don’t seem to operate within Oxford University. As an international student, living in college during breaks but taking no college meals, the cost of living in college works out to £1194.88 in battels a term, £3584.64 per academic year. That does not include college fees, which you need to pay regardless of where you live. I don’t know exactly what Merrifield costs, since it doesn’t seem to be on the website or in the Wadham Handbook, but I am assured that it is slightly more.

The ideal solution would be to rent a house somewhere with some other IR people. We could put up huge maps and leave copies of Millenium and The Journal of the American Political Science Association sitting around. We could establish a shared high-speed wireless network, complete with a VPN channel to the DPIR terminal and file servers: providing access to electronic journals for the sane and to STATA for the mad. Copies of useful tomes, a few belonging to each of us, would be available for reference. We could edit papers and agonize about theses together, in a kind of intellectual Valhalla. Also very appealing is the prospect of having kitchen facilities of the sort that would encourage me to start trying out Sarah’s recipes.

In terms of location, it would be best to be either fairly close to the Manor Road building, and therefore the Social Sciences Library and most of our lectures, or near somewhere interesting, with plenty of services. There is a colony of Wadhamites living near Cowley Road that have opted for the latter solution. I am told they are happy with it, though it would entail a good twenty minute walk to Manor Road, or the acquisition and use of a bicycle.

In any case, these questions should be contemplated and solutions fleshed out between the end of Michaelmas (3 December) and the beginning to Hilary (15 January).

Another supervision: I may be able to handle this grad student stuff

Computers in the social sciences library

Leaving my supervision with Dr. Hurrell today, I felt quite happy with how it went. He had good things to say about the paper and we had a good conversation about several aspects of it, as well as how it relates to contemporary China. We also worked out what I should do over the inter-term break: namely, edit the fish paper for resubmission to a different journal, as well as some background reading for the theory course. I was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t assign me a paper to write, but that may well change before the term actually ends.

I am quite pleased with how working with Dr. Hurrell is going; all this, however, is just a prelude to what will happen once the original research portion of the program begins. I was wrong earlier when I assumed that the two ‘optional papers’ are actually research papers. Here, ‘papers’ just means courses, and these are more or less along the lines of our core seminar this year. As described in the Notes of Guidance, there are quite a number of possibilities. The ones that seem most interesting to me, in decreasing order, are:

  1. The Function of Law in the International Community
  2. International Normative Theory
  3. The International Relations of the Developing World
  4. Strategic Studies

That said, I will need to see the syllabus for each, and get a sense of who is teaching it, before I decide. The courses won’t take place until next year, anyhow. It makes sense to choose topics that will ultimately contribute to my thesis: another thing I should have decided on the overall structure of and question for by the end of this academic year. Comments about what I’ve written so far about it would be very welcome.

Later tonight, I am meant to meet Margaret to watch Spirited Away, but I’ve not spoken with her since I saw her in Manor Road by chance about six hours ago.

PS. Wychwood Hobgoblin is a very fine ale indeed. My thanks to Tony for introducing us.

A day of intellectual engagement

Yet another Oxford sunset, sorry.

Happy Birthday Nick Sayeg

The most surprising thing about my three pound Tesco brand radio alarm clock is that came set to use one of the BBC talk channels as the wake-up noise. I’ve never changed it, and it has been influencing those precious dreams you get in snippets, punctuated by the smashing of the ‘snooze’ button. It is an odd thing indeed to be cajoled out of bed by the sounds of men with British accents discussing recent novels, developments in physics, or U.K. politics. I’ve never been someone who listens to the radio, except as a means of being jolted out of repose. It is too random, too filled with commercials, and too attention intensive in the wrong ways. It’s not something I can ever really enjoy, though it frequently annoys me.

Today’s ‘Advanced Study of IR’ lecture was delivered by Gavin Williams about the politics of development or, as he called it, the politics of most of the world. I particularly appreciated some of the methodological questions that were raised and then discussed among those present. Regrettably, only four of the twenty-eight members of the IR M.Phil were in attendance. After the lecture, I spoke with Dr. Williams for about forty minutes. We talked about British and Canadian politics, the tendency of sub-state political regions with newly-discovered oil reserves to contemplate succession, and the reasons for which institutions persist in making and perpetuating bad policies.

Aside: Thesis considerations 

This evening was also the first chance in quite a while when I got to talk about my intended thesis topic . Dr. Williams’ enthusiasm has reaffirmed my hope that it will be a useful project, though I need to decide upon a way to pare it down to an M.Phil thesis sized question. The general project is to examine institutional and legal mechanisms for dealing with the advancement of environmental science. Environmental science involves quite a bit of uncertainly. By definition, complex dynamic systems (like ecosystems and the climatic system) are hard to understand. What we need are policies that are based on the best knowledge we have, aware of the extent to which those conclusions might be incorrect, and able to respond to new developments. Basically, the people doing the science and the people making the policy need to talk to one another, understand what is being said, and care about it.

The basic point is that there are separate intellectual communities: scientists, lawyers, policy makers, etc, who don’t manage to communicate effectively about environmental issues in many cases. That, or they fail to produce outcomes that make long-term environmental sense. Members of all these groups can also be co-opted by those who profit from the status quo. We need to consider interests and incentives, as well as modes of communicating and types of interpersonal connection. It’s not just who reads what journal, goes to which conference, or understands which piece of jargon; it’s who pays for the research, who pays attention to the policies, and who stands to lose or gain from all of this.

The question has many faces. You can look at the professional discourse of the different groups and try to understand where they understand one another, where they do not, and why. You can concentrate on the incentives presented to each group, particularly in terms to how they relate to one another. Are policy-makers rewarded for basing their strategies on sound science? Are rewards long-term or short-term? Perhaps the best way to tackle many of these issues would be to choose a case study. An obvious choice is climate change, due to the lack of scientific certainty and the level of political involvement, but I shy away from it. It’s too big, too politically charged, and it involves uncertainties that are too great. It’s not that climate change isn’t happening or that people aren’t causing it. What we don’t know is what the consequences of climate change they will be, who will bear the costs, and whether the cost of dealing with climate change exceeds the cost of stopping it. I don’t think we have the science to answer these questions right now, though it would definitely be good to have an effective and relatively de-politicized channel for turning increased certainty into more refined policy once we do.

I called Meghan briefly tonight, to say thank you for the Klein Bottle. Apparently, her graduation was yesterday and she gave the student address. I hope her family and friends were there to see it, and that enjoyment was had all around. My felicitations to Meghan Lynn Mathieson, B.A. Hons. (UBC). Best wishes in future endeavours.

Later, Nora prepared an excellent veggie casserole for Bilyana, Bryn, Kelly and me. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all and, furthermore, it was good to spend some time talking with other Wadham students. I’ve barely seen Bilyana since first week. As a mathematician, she was also particularly qualified to appreciate the Klein Bottle, which I felt near-obligated to show her.

Tomorrow evening, I have supervision with Dr. Hurrell: discussing the paper on the Chinese Civil War. Afterwards, I am supposed to watch Spirited Away with Margaret. For those who haven’t seen it, I thoroughly recommend it. It’s my favourite Studio Ghibli film: notably for creative combination and reinterpretation of elements of several different strains of folklore. Also, the artwork is quite stunning. Studio Ghibli also made Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Castle in the Sky. The studio is headed by the extremely talented Hayao Miyazaki, and I recommend their work without exception.

  • Lauren sent me some Nina Simone songs, and I like them a lot. Especially good is the song “Feeling Good.”
  • Here’s another Oxford blog, with a unique premise.
  • I now have 24 hour access to the Manor Road Building and the Department of Politics and International Relations. Don’t you envy the fact that I could be in there, drinking in the greenish light and pouring over readings or stats assignments every Saturday night, all night long?
  • Penn Jillette on athiesm. From Jessica.
  • The L.A. Times has a distressing article about the treatment of pre-war intelligence. (Via BoingBoing)
  • I am quite curious about what has happened to Kerrie Thornhill. I knew she was going to Ghana, but not exactly when. Unusually, all five or so of her blogs are silent. If anyone knows what’s up, I’d appreciate being filled in.
  • Today’s big environmental politics story