Sunday, April 03, 2011

Birbalsingh, Willetts, Rolston and Nowak

V busy so no time to blog. Much of this is working with Bob May and other colleagues on revising our PNAS submission in the light of referees comments.

Read Katharine Birbalsingh's wonderful To Miss with Love. She is setting up a Free School and people should pile in with support.

Just started, belatedly, David Willetts' The Pinch which is also fascinating about family structures: how the UK has always had relatively small nuclear families (except for a bit of a splurge in the 19th C). He also makes the point that family breakup directly leads to poverty and inequality (as man with wife and elderly mother go from one household to 3).  He has a delicious turn of phrase, eg:
  • Sometimes we may regret that England does not enjoy the advantages of ... clan-style families, and look back to an earlier age when supposedly we did. The earliest recorded example of this sort of nostalga is a sermon given by Bishop Wulfstan in 1014, in which he expressed regret that vendettas were not what they used to be, as family members just would not join in*.
  • The demographic transition ... can be summarised very simply - first we stop dying like flies, then we stop breeding like rabbits.
  • A welfare system that was originally designed to compensate men for loss of earnings is slowly and messily redesigned to compensate women for the loss of men,

Piano lesson with Kathron Sturrock on the Brahms G Minor Rhapsody. She is amazing and it is such a privilege to learn from her.

Also got Holmes Rolston's new book Three Big Bangs which cites QoT, and looks very interesting. When I will get time to read it...

Martin Nowak is over to promote SuperCooperators - it will be great to catch up and go get the book, it's terrific!

* David quotes Wufstan as "too often a kinsman does not protect a kinsman any more than a stranger" though it can also be translated "Now very often a kinsman does not spare his kinsman any more than the foreigner"  The Old English says "Ne bearh nu foroft gesib gesibban þe ma þe fremdan" and my daughter (not an expert but at least studying that period in History at Cambridge) says "she'd go for protect".

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