Faith Schools in the UK

by Harry on June 1, 2004

Americans are often shocked when they learn that not only does ‘public school’ mean ‘private school’ in the UK, but also in the UK the state not only funds, but collaborates with religious organisations in running, religious schools. I used to be strongly opposed to this practice, at least in principle, though I have also long thought that Muslim schools should be candidates for funding given that RC and C.of E. schools were funded. I’m still unenthusiastic about the situation, but also have a suspicion that the practice is part of the reason that religion, though powefully present in the public culture, is a less rich source of social division than it is in the US. Alan Carling has very nicely posted my idiosyncratic take on this subject on his website. The piece is written really for a UK audience, but its nice and short, and comments somewhat on the US situation. Although it is scheduled for publication as is I’m very curious about reactions to it and, as usual, take my own tentative views to be evolving objects of critique rather than anything set in stone.

Envelopes and limits

by Daniel on June 1, 2004

And further into the envelope madness …

Although I started out on the side of John and Bill Carone in believing that there was something funny about the two-envelope problem, I’ve always been suspicious of claims that the class of inifinty paradoxes (even Zeno’s Paradox) can really be tamed by asserting that they disappear if you know how to take limits properly. With that in mind, I mercilessly torture some of Greg Chaitin‘s work to create a version of the two-envelope paradox in which I don’t think there are any limit arguments to make use of. Once more into Socratic dialogue ….

[click to continue…]

Bad education

by Chris Bertram on June 1, 2004

Apart from going to the Rivals, the bank holiday weekend was something of an Almodovar fest for me. I watched “All About My Mother”: on Friday and “Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown”: on Sunday, capping it all with a visit to “Bad Education”: at the cinema last night. “Bad Education”: really is a terrific film, and the main device of a film-within-a-film (and a script-within-a-script) works well. I won’t post any spoilers, but I will say that it contains one great cinematic moment and that Hollywood would deal with the sexual abuse of boys by priests rather differently. Highly recommended.

Australia and Abu Ghraib

by Kieran Healy on June 1, 2004

John Howard’s government “gets sucked further in”: to the Iraqi torture scandal. The Defence Department is found to have been aware of the Red Cross’s documenting of torture “much earlier”: than previously believed. “Howard insists”:,4057,9714293%255E28102,00.html that he only learned about the abuses in April and claims to have been “misinformed by the defence department”: Senior civil servants at the Defence department seems to be taking the flak. “Tim Dunlop”: has more.

So does Howard bear any responsibility or is it just that no-one tells him anything? Though they wouldn’t like to admit it, in many respects Australians have a self-image very similar to that of Americans — they take the same pride in being down-to-earth, straight-talking types. It’s the legacy of a frontier country. A No-BS image is prone to its own distinctive kind of bullshit, but Australian politics does have more of a social-democratic conscience than America and less religiously-inspired self-righteousness. So we’ll see whether they put up with this.

Sociology of Culture

by Kieran Healy on June 1, 2004

“Draft Syllabus”: for Soc 508, a graduate seminar/survey course in the Sociology of Culture. Coming this Fall[1] to a University of Arizona near you. Comments welcome.

fn1. If August 24th can count as the Fall. The University of Arizona thinks it can.