Wednesday, May 25, 2011

History of Science in Cambridge: (video tours)

Simon Schaffer (Wikipedia)

George Steiner: a video interview with Alan Macfarlane

I first read (parts of) George Steiner's (born April 23, 1929, Wikipedia) After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation (1975, Wikipedia) in 1980. (I probably first heard of him a few years earlier.)

Finally, thirty one years later (in 2011), I got to see him in this excellent two-hour interview (below), conducted on July 16, 2007 by the renowned Cambridge social anthropologist Alan Macfarlane ((born 20 December 1941, Wikipedia).

Alan Macfarlane has a wondeful video library, a treasure trove, that is well worth exporing (Youtube and here).


(from Wikipedia)

Francis George Steiner, FBA (born April 23, 1929), is an influential European-born American literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, translator, and educator. He has written extensively about the relationship between language, literature and society, and the impact of the Holocaust. Some consider him both a polyglot and a polymath; he is sometimes said to have redefined the role of the critic.

Among his admirers, Steiner is ranked "among the great minds in today's literary world."  English novelist A. S. Byatt described him as a "late, late, late Renaissance man ... a European metaphysician with an instinct for the driving ideas of our time."   Harriet Harvey-Wood, a former literature director of the British Council, saw him as a "magnificent lecturer – prophetic and doom-laden [who would] turn up with half a page of scribbled notes, and never refer to them."

Steiner was Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Geneva (1974–1994), Professor of Comparative Literature and Fellow at the University of Oxford (1994–1995) and Professor of Poetry at Harvard University (2001–2002).

He lives in Cambridge, England, where he has been Extraordinary Fellow at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge since 1969.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May morning in Oxford (Video)

May Morning is an annual event in Oxford, England, on May Day (1 May). It starts early at 6am with the Magdalen College Choir singing a hymn, the Hymnus Eucharisticus, from the top of Magdalen Tower, a tradition of over 500 years. Large crowds normally gather under the tower along the High Street and on Magdalen Bridge. This is then followed by general revelry and festivities including Morris dancing, impromptu music, etc., for a couple of hours. There is a party atmosphere, despite the early hour. In fact, there are normally all-night balls the night before, so some people (especially students) are in formal attire (e.g., black tie/white tie or ball gown).    (source: Wikipedia)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Prophecy of rapture ruptured

File:Judgment Bus New Orleans 2011.jpg (source)

A banner warns of the Rapture on a street in Manila, the Philippines
                        Fear and trembling in Manila(source)

California-based Christian broadcaster Harold Camping (Wikipedia) maintained with unshakable faith that the Bible prophesied 6 pm, May 21, 2011 to be the local time of Rapture, accompanied by tremendous earthquake, everywhere on Earth (here).

It is now past 6 pm, May 21, 2011, in a region stretching from Bangkok, through Singapore, Tokyo, Perth, Sydney, to Auckland. Of course, there has been no Rapture.

People in sophisticated California, and elsewhere in America, in 2011 can be just as foolish as the Millerites in 1843-1844 were.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Britain's top 300 intellectuals

The Observer,

[background (source):
I (John Naughton) tried a different tack by analysing the lists of contributors to serious English-language print or online publications (including the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, major broadsheet newspapers, some widely read blogs and other sources), looking for British thinkers. I then added to these the names of British intellectuals drawn from earlier surveys by Prospect and Posner. The result was a list of just over 300 people (grouped by their primary profession) whose ideas are deemed worthy of public attention by the gatekeepers of the publications I surveyed. ]

John Naughton's suggested list of public figures leading our cultural discourse, broken down by profession.

[My remark. There are exactly 300 names in the list. Not being a UK resident, I have not encountered most of the journalists/editors and critics listed. As a gauge of the state of my knowledge, I am acquainted with 98 names out of the 300.]


Gillian Beer
John Carey
Stefan Collini
Terry Eagleton
Lawrence Freedman
Caroline Humphrey
Hermione Lee
John Mullan
John Sutherland
Michael Wood


Tariq Ali
George Monbiot


Martin Amis
Julian Barnes
Brigid Brophy
AS Byatt
John Cornwell
Margaret Drabble
Elaine Feinstein
Sean French
Nicci Gerrard
Germaine Greer
Jeremy Harding
Alan Hollinghurst
Richard Holmes
Michael Holroyd
Martin Jacques
AL Kennedy
Hari Kunzru
Hanif Kureishi
John Lanchester
Charlie Leadbeater
Doris Lessing
Anatol Lieven
Penelope Lively
David Lodge
Hilary Mantel
Ian McEwan
Blake Morrison
Nicholas Mosley
VS Naipaul
Tom Nairn
Andrew O'Hagan
Tim Parks
Philip Pullman
Jonathan Raban
Matt Ridley
Salman Rushdie
Malise Ruthven
Ziauddin Sardar
Will Self
Nicholas Shakespeare
Lionel Shriver
Gitta Sereny
Simon Singh
Zadie Smith
Francis Spufford
Raymond Tallis
Paul Theroux
Colm Toibin
Claire Tomalin
Jenny Uglow
Marina Warner
Fay Weldon
AN Wilson
Jeanette Winterson


Mary Beard
Helen King


Rosemary Ashton
Melissa Bennett
John Berger
Michael Billington
Rachel Bowlby
Marilyn Butler
Anne Carson
Susannah Clapp
Patricia Craig
Valentine Cunningham
Gillian Darley
Rosemary Dinnage
Jenny Diski
Geoff Dyer
William Feaver
Philip French
Kitty Hauser
Clive James
Waldemar Januszczak
Charles Jencks
Gabriel Josipovici
Martin Kemp
Declan Kiberd
Anthony Lane
Mark Lawson
Alison Light
Colin MacCabe
Robert Macfarlane
Karl Miller
Christopher Ricks
Frances Spalding
George Steiner
James Wood


Ha-Joon Chang
Diane Coyle
Partha Dasgupta
Howard Davies
Noreena Hertz
John Kay
Mervyn King
Richard Layard
Amartya Sen
Robert Skidelsky


Perry Anderson
Anthony Beevor
Maxine Berg
Miranda Carter
David Cannadine
Peter Clarke
Linda Colley
Martin Daunton
Ruth Dudley-Edwards
Eamon Duffy
Richard J Evans
Niall Ferguson
Orlando Figes
Sheila Fitzpatrick
Roy Foster
Antonia Fraser
Timothy Garton Ash
Martin Gilbert
Peter Hennessy
Rosemary Hill
Boyd Hilton
Eric Hobsbawm
Tristram Hunt
Lisa Jardine
John Keegan
Noel Malcolm
Neil McKendrick
Ross McKibbin
Margaret MacMillan
Noel Malcolm
Keith Middlemas
Richard Overy
David Reynolds
Simon Schama
Brendan Simms
Quentin Skinner
Gavin Stamp
David Starkey
Jonathan Steinberg
Norman Stone
Charles Townshend
Theodore Zeldin


Bryan Appleyard
Neal Ascherson
Jackie Ashley
Christopher Booker
Melvyn Bragg
Victoria Brittain
Samuel Brittan
Madeleine Bunting
Ian Buruma
Christopher Caldwell
Beatrix Campbell
Alexander Cockburn
Matthew D'Ancona
Matthew Engel
Daniel Finkelstein
Robert Fisk
Jonathan Freedland
John Gapper
Misha Glenny
Ben Goldacre
Robert Harris
Max Hastings
Simon Heffer
Zoe Heller
Isabel Hilton
Christopher Hitchens
Peter Hitchens
Will Hutton
Marina Hyde
Ian Jack
Simon Jenkins
Liz Jobey
Paul Johnson
Anatole Kaletsky
Martin Kettle
John Lloyd
Bronwen Maddox
Andrew Marr
Paul Mason
Seamus Milne
Charles Moore
Suzanne Moore
Caroline Moorehead
Ferdinand Mount
Fintan O'Toole
Robert Peston
Melanie Phillips
Gideon Rachman
Andrew Rawnsley
Mary Riddell
Peter Riddell
Alan Rusbridger
Karl Sabbagh
Robert Shrimsley
Andrew Sullivan
Gillian Tett
Polly Toynbee
Geoffrey Wheatcroft
Mary-Kay Wilmers
Martin Wolf
Francis Wyndham


Clive Anderson
Conor Gearty
Anthony Julius
Helena Kennedy
Michael Mansfield
David Pannick
Gareth Peirce
Philippe Sands
Clive Stafford Smith


David Elstein


Neil MacGregor


Brian Eno
Peter Maxwell Davies


Anthony Appiah
Julian Baggini
Simon Blackburn
Alain de Botton
AC Grayling
Mary Midgley
Onora O'Neill
Derek Parfit
Roger Scruton
Richard Sennett
Mary Warnock


Alan Bennett
Howard Brenton
Michael Frayn
Bonnie Greer
David Hare
Tom Stoppard

POETS (12)

Kevin Crossley-Holland
Carol Ann Duffy
James Fenton
Seamus Heaney
Christopher Logue
Michael Longley
Andrew Motion
Paul Muldoon
Tom Paulin
Craig Raine
Denise Riley
Derek Walcott


Anthony Adonis
Robert Cooper
Geoff Mulgan
Adair Turner


Phillip Blond
John Dunn
John Gray


Vernon Bogdanor
Mary Kaldor
Derek Marquand
David Runciman


Stuart Hall
Julia Neuberger


Tessa Blackstone
Gordon Brown
Frank Field
Michael Gove
Rory Stewart
Shirley Williams
David Willetts


Susie Orbach
Adam Phillips


Jonathan Sacks
Rowan Williams


Colin Blakemore
Brian Cox
Richard Dawkins
Marcus du Sautoy
Susan Greenfield
Stephen Hawking
James Lovelock
Paul Nurse
Hugh Pennington
Roger Penrose
Steven Rose
Robert Winston


Anthony Giddens
Paul Gilroy
Julian Le Grand
Julian Thompson


Richard Eyre
Nicholas Hytner
Jonathan Miller
Katie Mitchell