Monday, June 26, 2006


Off to the ALSP conference in Dublin for the week, where I'm presenting the first iteration of my latest opus, on Enron and individual responsibility. There'll be some pretty eminent thinkers speaking at the conference. I'm especially looking forward to hearing Philippe Van Parijs speak, and some other stuff in panels on global ethics. And in between sessions I'm working away on yet another draft of a paper on Northern Ireland and trust. A fun week beckons!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wet Chads

Well, there's another way global warming can help the Democrats: this is the difference a twenty foot sea-rise level would make to Florida.

I came across the photo via Mel's post on an interesting piece on global warming in the New York Review of Books. Hansen's article, as Mel points out, is as interesting for who is writing as for what is written.


Yesterday's Guardian had an odd article about a new film documenting suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge. The Bridge was made by tracking pedestrian movements on the Golden Gate for a year and is apparently a thought-provoking piece of work, using the images as a starting-point for an examination of responses and non-responses to the suicides.

The film has also provoked some serious controversy because Eric Steel, the director, lied to the Golden Gate Bridge District about the purpose of his film. He claimed, it seems, that his project was aimed at capturing the "powerful and spectacular interaction between the monument and nature," and only revealed his true purpose shortly before the film came out. Moreover, when he interviewed the families of suicides, he didn't tell them that he had filmed their deaths.

Steel's excuse for this was that he didn't want to encourage people to throw themselves off the bridge. It seems just as likely, though, that he didn't want to be stopped from filming.

Whether his deception was worth it for his film I don't know. These films might help in developing our understanding of the world - I'm certainly open to the possibility. In which case the deception may be justifiable. The problem is that it's very hard to distinguish between a genuine attempt to understand the world and someone's presenting good reasons to elide more purient motives. Their statements might just be parasitic on good reasons, if you see what I mean.

Speaking of which, here's a Bridge District spokesperson, as reported in the Guardian, choosing not just to say that she's pissed off about being lied to and uncomfortable about a potentially grubby project:
if Steel misrepresented himself on his application for a permit, that gave us cause for concern relative to the security of the bridge. He has likely recorded patrol patterns and lighting and intrusion detection elements.
So. It's a national security issue. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Name Game

A friend has emailed me a link to a BBC article on a UCL tool: the Surname Profiler. The clever people at UCL have created maps of GB in 1881 and 1998 based on the frequency of surnames in the census. I'm not sure what its research uses are, but it's great fun. I'm personally beset with the not entirely surprising news that the Kellys were and are concentrated in western Scotland and the area around Liverpool. In more interesting news, there were a few Khans, Mahoods and Mings knocking about in expected and unexpected places in 1888.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


We spent the weekend in Wicklow and mangaged to wake up very early on Sunday to take a stroll down to the harbour. Wonderful.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


There's good coverage of the recent ECJ jurisdiction ruling on Ireland's Sellafield complaint over on the EU Law Blog and on ECJBlog. Interesting stuff.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I suppose I'll be catching some games over the next few weeks, but - indolent bastard that I am - I'm just not sure I'll be able to work up the energy displayed here, here and here.

Courtesy of Crooked Timber.

Brown Substance

Gordon Brown was interviewed by John Humphrys on the Today Programme (realplayer) this morning. He was talking about globalisation but, when quizzed on the challenge posed by David Cameron, entered into the following entertaining exchange (about 9 minutes 30 seconds into the interview):
GB: [The votors] get to make their decision on substance not on style...

JH: ...not on style? Not on style? Because some people say that's how Tony Blair got in!

GB: [Laughs] Not at all! Look, we had an agenda which started with making the Bank of England independent, creating the most stable economy we've seen, investing heavily in our public services, these were the issues ... and reforming our public services ... these were the issues on which we won and continue to win power...
Precisely whose policies were these that won the elections for Labour? Heaven forfend that Brown would take the opportunity to have a dig at Blair!