Archive for May, 2007

Call For Papers!

May 31st, 2007

I don’t often (read: ever) do this at the Virtual Stoa, but it’s for a friend. So read on…


DSW, #98

May 31st, 2007

C. L. R. James, author of The Black Jacobins, Beyond a Boundary and others, born in Trinidad, 4 January 1901; died in London, 31 May 1989.

Cat Stats

May 30th, 2007

By my reckoning Enkidu caught two mice in the first two years of his life, and three mice in the last two weeks. So either he’s getting much, much better at catching mice, or else the mouse population in Jericho has recently gone through the roof. (I wonder which.)

Rather touchingly, he brought in last night’s mouse shortly before midnight, played with the corpse for bit under the table, and then placed it in his food-bowl before starting to devour it.

Wednesday Beaver Blogging

May 30th, 2007

Adam H sends me pictures of his MIT Philosophy Department mug. And it’s a fine mug.



In other mug-related news, our “Tough on Crime” bright green Labour 1997 campaign pledge mug is not long for the world, and now leaks coffee. Symbolically, it is choosing to bow out at the same time as the man who gave those words their immortality.

Dead Socialist Watch, #274

May 27th, 2007

Alexander Carlyle (not to be confused with this one), Christian socialist and Oxford don, he taught politics and economics at University College, and was rector of St Martin and All Saints; author of The Influence of Christianity upon Social and Political Ideas and Wages (both 1912) and The History of Mediaeval Political Theory in the West in six volumes (1903-1936); born Bombay, 24 July 1861; died in Oxford, 27 May 1943.

The Carlyle Lectures in Oxford on the history of political thought are dedicated to his memory. Recent lecturers have been Noel Malcolm (Islam and early modern European political thought, 2001), Blair Worden (literature and political thought in early modern England, 2002), Mark Lilla (modern political theology, 2003), Magnus Ryan (the legal framework of political thought, 1100-1600, 2004), Peter Garnsey (ideas of property, 2005), Colin Kidd (varieties of unionism in Scottish political thought, 2006) and David Runciman (hypocrisy in English political thought from Hobbes to Orwell, 2007. Next up is Annabel Brett, and after that Istvan Hont.

DSW, #96

May 27th, 2007

François-Noel “Gracchus” Babeuf, conspirator for equality, born 1760, guillotined 27 May 1797. His famous defence speech is here.

Now We Are Six

May 27th, 2007

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear Stoa,
Happy birthday to you…

From Today’s OBO

May 26th, 2007

Over here:

30th over: West Indies 115-7 (Bravo 18 Taylor 0) Keith Flett rears his hairy head from the Beard Liberation Front’s overgrown bunker long enough to shout: “HIRSUTE ENGLAND INTIMIDATE WEST INDIANS WITH FIERCE APPEARANCE: The BLFront, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that with a seam and pace attack of Harmison, Plunkett and Sidebottom amongst the most generally hirsute England bowling sides of recent years, it appears that West Indies batsmen are being intimidated to lose their wickets, rather than losing them to good quality bowling. Pioneered in modern times by Australia’s Merv Hughes the intimidation is quite within the rules of cricket and amounts to little more than looking somewhat fierce and as if you and ought to take wickets.”

Splendid Rubbish Nonsense?

May 25th, 2007

I missed last nights Dispatches on the bin wars — the one where they collected some of our rubbish for us in a nice yellow wheelie-bin — so if anyone can fill me in on the state of play here in Oxford, that’d be useful.

In possibly related news, I realised last night that there’s at least one mouse on the loose in our house, and that when Andromache has been parked in front of her food bowl for lengthy periods without eating, this isn’t a protest against the muck we feed her so much as her patient vigil in front of the mouse-hole.

Dead Socialist Watch, #273

May 25th, 2007

Jennie Adamson, Labour politician; a dressmaker and teacher, she joined the Labour Party in 1908, becoming involved in the Black Country strike of 1913. She moved to Belfast in 1915, and then to London in 1923 when her husband, William Adamson, became MP for Cannock Chase. She served in a number of posts — LCC, NEC, etc. — being elected to Parliament in 1938 for Dartford, defeating the Tories on an anti-Munich platform. In the wartime Parliament, she supported a number of feminist initiatives (equal compensation for war injuries,  family allowances to be paid to the mother, etc.), though she insisted that she was not an “extreme feminist”. She was elected for Bexley in 1945, but left Parliament in 1946.  Born at Kilmarnock, 9 May 1882, died in Bromley, 25 May 1962.

Dead Socialist Watch, #272

May 25th, 2007

Sidney Bunting, political activist in South Africa. Having missed out on a fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he had studied classics, Bunting went to South Africa  in 1900 to serve in the war, remaining there afterwards and practicing law. He joined the whites-only South African Labour Party in 1910, and drifted leftwards from 1913, after witnessing brutal state repression of labour disputes. One of the founders of the CPSA in 1921, he pushed to transform a virtually all-white into an overwhelmingly black organisation, though he fell out with the Comintern when it called for an independent black republic outside the British Empire. He kept quiet for a bit, but was expelled from the Party in 1931, when “Buntingism” became a term of opprobrium. Born St Pancras, 29 June 1873, died Johannesburg, 25 May 1936.

The excellent Allison Drew has recently published a book about him.

My Film Career

May 24th, 2007

My goodness. They’ve been talking about me and boxing in last week’s Observer:

The film [Blue Blood] is effortlessly stolen by a cameo appearance from [Chris] Kavanagh’s philosophy tutor. ‘He asked if I could go and watch him get his face smashed in, but it was short notice and I was busy. Usually am,’ says Chris Brooke, who is also the author of the highly recommended blog Virtual Stoa.

‘Everyone who watches the film thinks he’s absolutely hilarious,’ says Kavanagh, ‘and the sort of person you only really find at Oxford. He’s from this incredibly aristocratic family yet is a socialist. He just wanders around being Chris Brooke. He’s a legend.’

And one who has now been immortalised in, of all things, a boxing movie which, thanks to Riley’s direction and the charm and passion of the contestants, is that rarity – a film set among a privileged elite that does not grate but inspires.

I’m glad I’m keeping people entertained.

There’s a fine moment in the film when I say something incomprehensible, and the camera cuts away to a shot of Chris K rolling his eyes. He can’t have been rolling his eyes at that particular comment, as there was only one camera in the room, but it’s nicely done.

[Thanks to dsquared in comments below for the tip-off.]