Archive for February, 2009

DSW, #75

February 28th, 2009

Olof Palme, Swedish social democrat and prime minister; born in Stockholm, 30 January 1927, shot dead, also in Stockholm, 28 February 1986.

DSW, #74

February 28th, 2009

Friedrich Ebert, German social democrat and first President of the Weimar Republic. Born in Heidelberg, 4 February 1871, died in Berlin, 28 February 1925.

DSW, #143

February 27th, 2009

Paul Sweezy, Marxist economist, born 10 April 1910, died 27 February 2004.

Attention: All Users of the Chris Lightfoot Memorial Naziometer

February 26th, 2009

The Chris Lightfoot Memorial Naziometer recently flickered back into life, recording “one” fairly recently, and this evening moving up to “four”. I don’t read Melanie Phillips’ blog on a regular basis these days, but I headed over just now to see what was going on. And I learned something interesting, which is that the CLMN may be undercounting Melanie P’s uses of the word ‘Nazi’ (and similar).

The Naziometer only counts mentions of the Nazis on the front page of her blog – but now that she’s blogging at the Spectator site, not all of her longer posts appear on that front page; you get the first paragraph, and have to ‘click to continue’ to read the rest on a separate page. So, in her most recent post alone, “Liberal Fascism“, the word Nazi (or similar) appears twelve times, but only four of these have been picked up by the Naziometer. So we shall need to be careful in future when interpreting the invaluable data generated by the CLMN.

Blue Blood: Screening & Symposium

February 26th, 2009

From the Ruskin School website:

The film director Stevan Riley will be coming to Oxford at 4.30pm on Friday 27 February to screen his brilliant documentary Blue Blood in the auditorium at Magdalen College.

Blue Blood follows a group of Oxford students in the run-up to the Varsity boxing match and stars ex-Ruskin School undergraduate Charles Ogilvie.

Stevan will introduce the film and he, Charlie and others will contribute to a round-table discussion immediately afterwards.

Variety described it as one of the better sports movies in recent memory, but Blue Blood is also a wonderful story about obsession and the search for personal identity.

Admission free.

Bonnie Honig on Slumdog Millionaire

February 25th, 2009

It turns out that Slumdog Millionaire is a much more interesting film than I took it to be. Faced with cardboard-cutout characters and an implausible plot, I rather switched off and stopped enjoying myself. My former-teacher-and-current-colleague Bonnie Honig, on the other hand, started thinking instead about what it all had to say about democratic theory — and her splendid essay on Slumdog has just been published on the website of the Indian Express newspaper (albeit under a not-entirely-ideal title). So go over there and read it.


February 25th, 2009

I posted this seven years ago, when Jennifer Jane Brown died at birth. Here it is again, this time for David and Samantha Cameron, and in memory of Ivan, poor chap.

Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgehn,
Als sei kein Unglück die Nacht geschehn!
Das Unglück geschah nur mir allein!
Die Sonne, sie scheinet allgemein!

Du mußt nicht die Nacht in dir verschränken,
Mußt sie ins ew’ge Licht versenken!
Ein Lämplein verlosch in meinem Zelt!
Heil sei dem Freudenlicht der Welt!

Now the sun will as brightly shine
As if the night had brought no misfortune.
The misfortune fell alone on me;
The sun shines on everybody.

You must not clasp the night within you,
It must sink away into everlasting light.
A little lamp has gone out in my house!
Hail to the joyful light of the world!

The poem is by Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866); it is also the text of the first song in the Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the death of children) song cycle by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), composed in the early years of the last century.

Research Assistance

February 25th, 2009

If you know anything about theology, behavioral economics, development sociology or political economy, have a bit of spare time in March, access to a decent library, and want to help my friend Raj write his new book, then he’s looking for some research assistants over here.

Was Today British Values Day?

February 24th, 2009

Regular Stoa readers will remember that in the unspeakable Liam Byrne’s comic pamphlet A More United Kingdom, someone made the rather good suggestion that we might introduce the much-anticipated British Values Day “by making more of an existing day e.g. Pancake Day”. Well, today (Tuesday) was Pancake day, and therefore potentially also British Values Day.

Among other things, today I ate some Stilton cheese (and a pancake!), and watched parts of a football match on telly (though I suppose I should keep quiet about the fact that I wanted the notionally British team to lose).

Britons! What did you do today (or, depending on when you read this, yesterday) that was distinctively British?

DSW, #312

February 22nd, 2009

Elizabeth Wright Macauley, actress, feminist and Owenite socialist. After twenty years as an actress, going “from one low-paid and badly reviewed theatrical production to another” [ODNB], she joined the Owenite co-operative socialists, their emphasis on gender equality being “well suited to Macauley’s insubordinate temperament” [ditto]. “Women have too long been considered as playthings, or as slaves”, she said in 1832, “but I hope the time is at hand, when we shall hold a more honourable rank in the scale of creation”. The ODNB also reports the useful information that she gave acting lessons to a group of French Saint-Simonians visiting London in the early 1830s, which sound fun. Born in York around 1785, she died, also in York, 22 February 1837.

DSW, #263

February 22nd, 2009

Annie Barnes, née Cappuccio, socialist and suffragist. Involved in suffragette activities in East London from 1912 (on one occasion scattering leaflets from the Monument in London), she joined the Labour Party in 1919 and served on Stepney Council 1934-7 and 1941-9.  Born c.1887, probably in Stepney, died in East Ham, 22 February 1982.

DSW, #262

February 20th, 2009

Jennie Baines, suffragette. Growing up in the Salvation Army, she found her way into temperance and then into suffragist activism. She joined the WSPU in 1905, and became a paid organiser in 1908. Briefly imprisoned in 1908, she attempted to burn down the Theatre Royal in Dublin in 1912 ahead of a speech by Asquith, and was sentenced to seven months hard labour (but went on hunger strike and was released after five days). Back in prison the following year after allegedly attempting to bomb train carriages in a railway siding, she was eventually acquitted, and emigrated in Australia, where she carried on with her militancy, campaigning against conscription and flying the (banned) red flag — being jailed again on both occasions. She helped to found the Victorian branch of the Community Party in 1920, was expelled in 1925, and rejoined in ALP. Born in Birmingham, 30 November 1866, she died in Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 20 February 1951.