Oxford Expands?

Policy Exchange is basically a parody of what a think-thank is supposed to be — the proof of that is its decision to have the laughable Anthony Browne in a senior position for quite a while now — but people say that it’s fairly influential on Conservative party “thinking”, so perhaps we should pay attention. So here’s a link to a page on its new report, which you can download, that recommends that Oxford (current population, c.150,000) should grow by an order of magnitude or so, with a million new homes being built around the city.

Since it’s the Conservatives on the County Council who have been opposing a very modest urban extension of Oxford on land south of Grenoble Road (a mere four thousand houses), a right-wing U-turn of quite staggering proportions may be on the cards. Alternatively, people may decide that it’s best, all things considered, to ignore pretty much everything that Policy Exchange has to say.

Failure Is Not An Option

From tehgraun‘s minute-by-minute Olympics coverage this morning [at 4:32am]:

Jessica in Connecticut provides an insight into superpower manipulations: ”You may not be aware of how the medal count is being tallied over here. Instead of using the official IOC medal table, which places the greatest emphasis on the number of gold medals earned (and thus shows China in the lead), US media outlets are determining standings based on total medals won. No prizes for guessing who’s in the lead when you count it that way.”

Americans, is this true?

Posh Spice, ’48er

Well, not quite.

But Victoria Beckham’s great-great-great-grandfather turns out to be Carl Heinrich Pfaender, an associate of Karl Marx and, like him, an exile in London after participating in the failed revolutions of 1848-9.

In the notes to this article by the aged Engels, Pfaender is described in these terms: “C’était un homme d’une finesse toute particulière, spirituel, ironique, dialectique.”

If you prefer to hear about this kind of thing in German, why not try over here? (“Die Glamourfrau ist eine Schwäbin”, that kind of thing).

[thanks! SF]

Summer Reading

What are you all reading this Summer? Any recommendations?

Having decided I really ought to read a few novels again, I’ve recently bought-but-not-started Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill (which I understand is about cricket) and Isle of Dogs, by Daniel Davies (which I understand is about dogging). I’d also like to start on Patrick Cockburn’s Muqtada al-Sadr and the Fall of Iraq soon, but I suspect non-fiction reading will for the foreseeable future be dominated by new academic titles like Terence Irwin, The Development of Ethics, vol.2, “Suarez to Rousseau” and Frederick Neuhouser, Rousseau’s Theodicy of Self-Love, both of which have just been published, hooray.


For much of the Summer I’ve found Test Match Special pretty hard to listen to; yesterday and today I’ve been hooked. It could just be that the compellingness of TMS directly correlates to the compellingness of the match, and when the cricket’s not that interesting, then all the reasons that make you think, “God, the commentators really annoy me” come to the fore and you switch off the radio. Or it could just be that they haven’t had Geoffrey Boycott on this morning, so it’s a lot less irritating than usual. Does Boycott not work on Saturdays? Or have they realised he’s really annoying and sacked him?

Also – why on earth is the final day of Test cricket this Summer Monday 11 August (assuming the game makes it to the fifth day)? That’s preposterously early. Grr.