Globalization

by Henry on January 9, 2019

I’ll be teaching a Ph.D. level class on globalization this semester – the draft syllabus is below. The direct aim of the class is to provide doctoral students in both international relations and comparative politics with an understanding of broad debates about globalization, without duplicating the materials of the (separately taught) class in international political economy. The indirect aim is to get them reading at least some material outside the field of political science (specifically: sociology and financial history – they get plenty of economics elsewhere). Comments and suggestions gratefully received. [click to continue…]

At Bertram’s Hotel

by Henry on January 9, 2019

I really enjoyed this John Lanchester essay on Agatha Christie, which came out a little before Christmas. I thought it was even better after watching John Malkovich play Poirot in the new BBC version of The ABC Murders. The essay explains in advance why the adaptation failed. Poirot is not so much a character as a bundle of mannerisms. To provide him with an interior life, much less a Secret Wound that drives his quest for justice, is to miss the point completely. [click to continue…]

Disentangling?

by Harry on January 9, 2019

When I left home I didn’t have a phone for several years. I don’t mean I didn’t have a cell phone – I mean that nobody could contact me by phone. (This meant that each time I moved I had to find all the phone boxes within reasonable distance – all, because at any given time at least one or two were either not working or being used by someone to make an endless call). I also didn’t have a television most of the time. One year in college I lived in a shared house with a TV, and we did pay for a license, but it was dead cheap because the TV was a small black and white portable. I could listen to music because I had a small radio/cassette player and a few cassettes. (Some bugger walked into our house because a housemate left the door wide open all day and stole the radio/cassette player, along with Randy Newman’s Trouble in Paradise, my passport, and 30 quid’s worth of 5p pieces that I had for the electricity meter in my room but, mystifyingly, didn’t fancy any of my clothes). When I finally got a phone, it was fixed to an address, and I paid the monthly bill until I moved out.

When my daughter left home she took her phone with her, her monthly bill paid by us on the family plan. She could watch television on her computer with our Netflix and Willow TV subscriptions (regrettably she has still never used the latter). She could listen to music with our apple music account, and had access through itunes to whatever music and television shows we have purchased (including many of the Dr Who episodes I missed the first time during the long period of not having a telly). She’s now moved to another country, so she’s off our family phone plan but, conveniently, is on my dad’s instead (and, for complicated reasons she doesn’t cost him anything at the moment). Otherwise, she still has the Netflix, itunes, apple music access (though, as a new secondary school teacher, she works nearly every waking hour, so doesn’t have time to watch much – except the wonderful The Mighty Boosh, to which she has introduced us).

As things stand, her use of our Netflix, apple, and itunes (and Willow TV should she ever come to her senses) costs us nothing: and some of the itunes purchases are hers in the sense in which the cassettes I owned were mine, and, as far as I can tell, not transferable to separate account. I haven’t looked into it, but if she moves back to the US, I imagine it will make more sense financially for her to go back on our family plan and pay her share than to get her own individual plan. And the same for the second child when she leaves. And the third.

At what point do young people get their own Netflix, apple music, itunes accounts and phone plans? Just to be clear, the question isn’t about our subsidizing her: we can stop subsidizing her (well, we have: as you all know, beginning secondary school teachers earn a fortune) but it will still make sense for her to be entangled with us in this way that was unimaginable to me as a young person. And, also to be clear, this isn’t a complaint – I don’t think it’s bad, it just seems like a big change from the past.