Academic Hiccough


in Daily updates, Music, Oxford

Oxford in the afternoon

Today’s supervision really didn’t feel as though it went well. While some of the discussion had the kind of energy that has been characteristic, there was also a lot of vague sparring and misunderstanding. I don’t know exactly why this was the case, but I suspect my essay was of lower quality than normal. That’s partly because the question was so large and, when I picked and chose elements to address, I didn’t really explain why adequately. As such, it was open to all sorts of attack. I will do better next time. Next time, I really should make an effort to have someone else at least glance over my paper, before I produce the final version. Thoughts that never get interrogated risk being really flabby the first time someone does; if that happens in supervision, it reflects really badly.

Despite sleeping quite a lot in the past few days, I remain frequently and thoroughly tired. I don’t really have an explanation for it, but it’s very bad for overall productivity. It may well have something to do with my continued failure to establish anything like the five-track ideal life: one in which you always have five different things happening at once, in different areas. When that’s happening, it’s hard for everything to go wrong at once. It is also hard to get caught up in general listlessness. The ginseng that Jonathan suggested I try does not seem to be helping.

At Robert Wood’s suggestion, I am going to read Daniel L Nielson and Michael J Tierney, Delegation to International Organizations: Agency Theory and World Bank Environmental Reform, International Organization 57 (Spring 2003): 241-276. Hopefully, it will be useful for helping me to answer, in 2000 words, the question of the take-home assignment:

Is the principal-agent framework useful for understanding international institutions? Using the example of a specific institution [Ed: The Inuit Circumpolar Conference] outline the strengths and weaknesses of this approach to studying international institutions.

It’s not the easiest case study to deal with, but I chose it before I knew what the question would be. The principals are presumably the 150,000 or so Inuit people in Canada, the United States, Greenland, and Russia. As for how power is delegated to agents, I don’t know all that much. A group that represents so few people doesn’t generally have an extensive literature around it, and certainly not one that is accessible from so far away. Basically, I am going to talk about it as a stakeholder group that shows how organizations aside from states – and not even composed of states – can play a role in global environmental policy negotiations. There are all manner of conclusions that can be drawn from the Stockholm episode.

  • I was listening to Elliot Smith’s album Figure 8 today. Some of it is very good, but it suffers from being too similar to the stuff that isn’t overly good. It all blends together on the basis of the very similar nature of most of their songs, not unlike The Smiths.
  • Apparently, they just found a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. The first such find since 1922. It will be nice to have one more properly excavated: presumably with artifacts to remain in Egypt. (Source: BBC)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

B February 10, 2006 at 7:31 pm

More lyrics:

“You only get one life to learn
There’s only so many brain cells that you can burn
And life can take a turn and take away that you’ve earned
And leave you yearning for more, so much more
Life is gonna leave you yearning for more, more, more
Your stomach’s gonna be churning
Wanting more, you’re wanting, wanting some more.”

tristan Laing February 11, 2006 at 3:12 pm

Your photo reminds me of how you like 28mm.

Milan February 11, 2006 at 3:18 pm


I like the look. Also, it seems to be easier to Photoshop dust splotches out of.

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