As hordes of fans and admirers have implored me to post, I shall shrug off this virus and the associated headache and point to some things that caught my eye in the press over the last few days .
David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck College, has written about the cuts in Higher Education funding.
A few weeks ago, with no warning, the Government announced its intention to axe the funding for people wanting to take a second degree at the same level in a different subject.
It is an effectively argued piece, although I am concerned that the Government's line about this being about second degrees is so slavishly parroted. This is a big concern for Birkbeck admittedly, however, for us at Hull, the real concern lies with our short course programme and the knock on effects of the proposal. Taking away funding for a minority of our students will drastically affect the viability of courses for the majority. Many people will lose their first taste of higher education, including those in the Government's priority groups, a fact which they are studiously ignoring. It is a mad proposal but no one seems prepared to budge.
Next, Hugo Chavez shows signs of losing the plot, or rather having found one. He has announced that Simon Bolivar did not die of TB, but was murdered. This latest conspiracy theory has all the usual features - an alleged 200 year cover up and a lack of any evidence other than an imputed motive. Oh dear.
Continuing in historical vein, Saturday's Guardian had a big feature on John Stuart Mill. Written by Richard Reeves, it is a puff for his forthcoming biography. It is unfair to judge a book by such an article, but his unabashed liberalism gives it the air of a hagiography. I was certainly struck by some odd judgements, most notably this one:
True liberals are unqualified supporters of capitalism - so long as we can all be capitalists.
It seems to me that he is not describing liberal capitalism at all, but Individualist Anarchism, an anti-capitalist creed that asserted that the full value of labour could only accrue to the labourer through direct ownership and extensive property rights. Mill's defence of liberty is important, though it should not be discussed uncritically. Norm sums up the significance of Mill's classic essay On Liberty concisely:
... the arguments for freedom of thought, and on individuality, are inspiring; and the attempt to delineate the proper sphere and limits of individual liberty, though not without its problems, remains a basic starting point for seriously thinking about the issue.
As always, it is best to read the original.
Finally, a piece from the Salford Advertiser. Swinton Rugby League Club have made an important new signing.
The Lions began pre-season training on Monday and they have appointed Doctor Mike Tyldesley as their new associate director after he bought ‘a number of shares in the club’.
He is a lifelong Lions supporter and a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. His role at the club will focus on community development.
Good luck Mike.