No posts here lately, I’ve been rather busy. A lot of time has gone into planning my combined work trip/hiking holiday to Iceland, which finally begins in two days. You can expect a report on that when I return, hopefully with lots of nice pictures if the weather holds.
So what have I been up to? I had a nice Saturday about a month ago when I went for an extracurricular maths day at Birkbeck. Specifically it was a day meeting on the history of formal logic, focusing mainly on 19th century developments. There I learned some interesting stuff about the mathematical work of Lewis Carroll, who somehow managed to be a progressive and a reactionary at the same time, mathematically at least (see also: Augustin-Louis Cauchy). And in general it was just a nice day wandering around Bloomsbury. I really like Birkbeck actually, an institution I’d barely heard of before. All of its lectures are in the evening, in order to make higher education available to those who may not be able to quit full-time work in order to study, which is a fine socialist ideal. It also has the best free conference biscuits I’ve sampled thus far.
The weekend after that I went to a stag party in Edinburgh for my friend Dan Lagadu. Sweaty nightclubs, hungover highland games, Wetherspoons, and so on. All good fun, and just the right amount of lads lads lads without tipping over into dickishness, or so I hope. On the train there and back I read Grayson Perry’s short book on masculinity The Descent of Man. It says, in a simple manner, a lot of things that seem pretty obvious to me these days but I probably would have rejected a couple of years ago. Perry is so eminently reasonable that I’d hope this book might be a good intro to thinking about gender for a lot of men, if only they could be persuaded to read it. It’s taken a bit of stick in the reviews for being mainly opinion, and lacking any deep analysis, but I think that’s kind of the point. It seemed to me that the chatty style is a deliberate ploy to win over readers in a way that hard analysis can’t. Worth a read I think, and if you hate it, it’s short at least. I did amuse myself quite a bit with the irony of reading about toxic masculinity while on my way to drink loads and loads of beer and enact my own watered-down version of it.
Last weekend was this year’s iteration of Endure 24, a 24 hour relay race that I’ve entered for the last couple of years as part of a team. I ran 5 laps of the quite hilly 7.8km course, and the team as a whole did 35 laps, 5 laps better than last year. I didn’t run any further than last year, but I did it quite a bit faster (3h04m total running time, compared to about 3h18m last year). Good enough to be pleased with myself and sit in my tent taking selfies while the winner of the men’s solo race clocked up 195km anyway.
What else? Oh yeah, Corbs was the absolute boy and won us the election. Well, not actually, but it certainly feels like it. And there’s nothing more satisfying so far than listening to centrist commentators complain again and again that he didn’t actually win, while we’re here making requisitioning uninhabited property to house the homeless acceptable to the mainstream. There’s a lot of work to do for sure, but I don’t feel utterly hopeless about progressivism in this country any more, which I couldn’t say a month ago. Last Wednesday I went to watch Grace Petrie play a victory gig in Cambridge and it was lovely to be surrounded by people who all agreed with me and all had something to be happy about for once. Exciting times.