One Hundred Things Norman Geras and I Corresponded About Over the Last Decade

Country music (including but not limited to Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Allison Krauss, and its relationship to suicide) — Marxism — The war in Iraq — The case the British government made for the war in Iraq — Media coverage of the war in Iraq — Differences between British and American media coverage of the war in Iraq — Dead socialists (including the question of whether or not Paul Sweezy was in fact dead: he wasn’t when we began corresponding on the question, but later he was) — Favourite novels — University admissions — Boycotts of Israelis — Blog technology issues — The paradox of democracy — Paul “The Thinker” Richards — Defamation law — French headscarves laws — International rugby partisanship — New Zealand and whether it is a dull country — Amnesty International — Italian anti-war demonstrations — Christopher Hitchens — The precise distance from Boulder, CO to Birmingham, AL — My Normblog Profile — The number of Red Sox supporters who have Normblog profiles — Where the Wild Things Are — Bob Dylan — Favourite films — A Mighty Wind — Nashville — Joan Baez — George W. Bush — The Hutton Inquiry — Lucio Colletti — Why the film Life is Beautiful is so terrible — The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — Mobile telephones — Cricket — The various ways in which my students used to pronounce the name “Geras” — Rock stars — Exam marking — Arnold Lobel and his Mouse Tales — The Butler report — The Campo de’ Fiori in Rome — Shakespeare plays — Obnoxious right-wing writers (including Mark Steyn and Andrew Bolt) — American airport security checks — Terrorist threats — Socialist Register — The 2004 US Presidential election — Baseball — Visiting Oxford — Thomas Hobbes — Roman libraries — Classical composers (especially Schubert) — Jokes about rational choice theorists — The Tour de France — Etienne Balibar — Favourite actors — The excellence of kittens (and, more generally, cats) — American street names — Wendy Cope — Footnotes in Capital — Umpiring — Passport applications — Margaret Thatcher’s resignation — Margaret Thatcher’s poetry —  Jews for Justice for Palestinians — Chavez and anti-Semitism — Academic plagiarism — David Aaronovitch as marathon runner — x-RCP front organisations — Robert Wokler — Academic jobs — Musicals — Australia — The rubbish-collection regime in Oxford — Tony Judt — Whether or not the Euston Manifesto was part of a “common, hysterical defense of the Anglo-Dutch financial system, and their permanent right to loot the economies of the world” — American practices of memorialization on campus — Flooding in Oxford — The Beatles — Jerry Cohen’s valedictory lecture — The New Left Review — Loyalty oaths — A Dance to the Music of Time — Merton College, Oxford — Visiting Manchester — Critical opinions about America — Puzzles involving marbles — Traffic robots — The Beach Boys — Tony Blair’s relationship with God — Bernard-Henri Levy looking funny in photographs — Authorisations to use military force — John Stuart Mill on international intervention — The Eurovision Song Contest  — Adam Smith — Nick Cohen’s views about torture — Alfred Hitchcock films — The thorny question of whether seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was on drugs — The problems of travelling between Oxford and Cambridge.

Biggest regret? In July 2004, Norm wrote, “Might you have an interest in watching a Test or some part of one with me?”, and I never took him up on the suggestion.

His final words of the correspondence, from the start of this month: “My own care from the NHS has been exemplary.”


We have a TV at home, which isn’t switched on very often. I watch the Tour de France in July on Eurosport, Doctor Who in the late Spring on BBC1, football matches when there’s a World Cup or European Championship on, the Eurovision Song Contest each year in May, the Six Nations and other rugby internationals, a general election every four years or so, and I used to watch Test Match cricket until that disappeared off to Sky Sports, which we don’t get. And that’s about it. Now I read that the BBC on Saturday put on a surprising number of programmes that I do want to watch, and as a result is apologising to the viewing public at large. Bah!

(As it happens I wasn’t at home to watch, anyway, and missed most of it, except for the second half of Ireland v Scotland in a pub in St Andrews.)

P.S. Oh, and I watched the finals of both Strictly Come Dancing and the X-Factor just before Christmas. So that’s a little bit more TV to add to the annual viewing cycle.


tehgraun has a big pic of Jonny Wilkinson on its front page (webpage, haven’t seen the paper version) with the headline “The man with the golden boot”. Were we watching different semi-finals? His kicking wasn’t actually that good last night; and while the drop-goal he landed at the end wasn’t bad at all, (i) it wasn’t a match-winning kick of the kind to get properly excited about, and (ii) the kind of possession England had at the time meant that he was pretty much assured of a regulation drop-goal opportunity some time around that point in the match.

Pretty scrappy game, I thought, especially after it settled down after a very high-tempo opening fifteen minutes or so. I’m not sure that England deserved to win it, but I know that France didn’t, and I’m sorry we didn’t really see Michalak get to do anything special.

Bloody Hell

Scotland: (10) 17
Tries: Dewey, Paterson
Cons: Paterson 2
Pens: Paterson

Italy: (24) 37
Tries: Bergamasco, Scanavacca, Robertson, Troncon
Cons: Scanavacca 4
Pens: Scanavacca 3

Over here. And I foolishly decided to stay in the library, thinking that this would be the least interesting match of the afternoon. Good for the Italians.


While queuing in Glutton’s to buy beer and pasta at half-time during the Wales-Italy game (and the first Italian try was over the dead ball line), I heard the radio say that Milosevic was the first head of state to be tried for crimes against humanity. At first I thought that wasn’t true, as Admiral Dönitz was tried at Nuremburg, but I see that Wikipedia says specifically that he was put on trial for war crimes and not for crimes against humanity, so perhaps the BBC claim is right.

Even more trivia: are the people in Viking helmets at Lansdowne Road supporters of the Scottish or the Irish? I’d guess they were Scots, but it’s not obvious. At least, not to me. And a prediction: I think the Irish are going to win this one.

The Wheels Come Off

New Zealand 39 – 35 Great Britain. Great Britain and the United States were the two unbeaten teams in the competition going into the semi-finals — where both lost, the British going down to New Zealand and the Americans losing to the Canadians 24-20.

The medal matches take place later today: GB vs US for the bronze, followed by NZ vs Canada to decide the gold medal. Possibly on TV this evening. I’m not really sure.