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The ask me meme, answered

geekette8 asks two questions:

1. What is your degree(s?) in?

My first degree was a B.A. in Natural Sciences from Clare College, Cambridge (graduated in 1989).
I got an M. Phil. in History and Philosophy of Science, also at Clare College, Cambridge (in 1991).
Like you (I suspect) I have the joke Cambridge M.A. (which I guess I got about 1992).
And my doctorate, also in History and Philosophy of Science, was eventually obtained from the Queen's University of Belfast (in 1997).

2. What is your connection with Northern Ireland such that you ended up standing as a candidate there?

Well, I was actually born there! And lived there most of my life until I went to Cambridge in 1986; and then after I left Cambridge in 1991, went back to Belfast until I moved to Bosnia at the start of 1997. I joined the Alliance Party as a teenager, rejoined in the 1990s and ended up as the Party Organiser / Director of Elections for three years. That also included being a candidate in North Belfast in 1996.

cygny asks: I suppose you moved to Belgium for career opportunities. Have you ever regretted that decision?

Belgium was very much a positive choice. I read What Color Is Your Parachute? and decided I wanted a job working on the implications of EU enlargement for the Balkans; and found someone in Belgium prepared to pay me for doing just that. There have been several occasions when I've been very glad that my career worked out the way it did. On the positive side, the services provided by the state for our children are just fantastic, and would hardly be matched elsewhere. On the other side, I look at the challenges and frustrations of either electoral politics or academe (which were the two other tracks I was considering) and am glad to have ended up elsewhere. Let's face it, living pretty much anywhere in the developed world is probably the best living conditions anyone has ever had in the history of the human race. For my career interests and my family's needs, Belgium has some good extras.

minny asks: If you could be head of any country (ie the one with all the power), which country would you rule?

That's a tricky one. Actually my fantasy involves being able to sit by the beach and read science fiction books, rather than have absolute power. So I guess somewhere English-speaking with decent bookshops and good weather which would more or less run itself without bothering me. Perhaps Australia or New Zealand.

bohemiancoast asks: You are one of the two most effective super-connectors amongst my friends. The other is Jon Singer. Do you two know each other? I know other super-connectors, but not as well. Was this a deliberate choice? A natural tendency? Is it something you work on actively or just the way you are? Do you use tools to help you network? Discuss. 

Re jonsinger: I don't know him at all, though I see we have 24 mutual lj friends and 21 mutual facebook friends (including your good self in both groups). So I can't speak to his techniques.

Deliberate choice or natural tendency: Well, sometimes the one reinforces the other, doesn't it? Do you choose to eat chocolate, or just happen to like it? I have always felt that "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" was good advice, and so have invested my social capital in a diverse portfolio.

Yes, I do work on it actively. I have a contacts file of about 3,500 people, which I periodically - ie weekly - check against Facebook and LinkedIn to see if any new people have joined. And of course I am adding to that all the time through business meetings and fannish contacts.

alexmc asks: So do you believe the people you represent are "right" or is it more like a legal advocate: everyone deserves representation?

The latter in principle, though both in reality. Everyone has the right to be heard; we do assess whether or not our clients can pass an ethical test, and have turned people down for that and other reasons. (The other likely reason being that there is not much we can do for them as our services are rather specialised.)

kelvix, thanks for your question; I look forward to answering it in person some day.

Others, feel free to ask.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
geekette8
Jun. 6th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, I also have the pseudo-MA. Given the dates of your time at Clare, you might also know my cousin (Andrew Smith, Maths and Russian) who was there too? I can't remember exactly when he graduated but I think it was 1988 or 1989.

He got married in Clare chapel in 1990, and that wedding what made me want to apply to Clare. (I did Computer Science there from 1992-1995, and got married in the chapel in 1997).

Whereabouts in Belfast did you grow up? Jif's parents started off in Newtownabbey, moved to Bangor when Jif was small, then moved back to Newtownabbey when he was 16 or so.


nickbarnes
Jun. 6th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
Andrew graduated in 1990.
nickbarnes
Jun. 6th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
(I think: year after us).
nwhyte
Jun. 7th, 2009 09:37 am (UTC)
If memory serves me right, Andrew got married the day he graduated; which was indeed in 1990. I certainly knew him, though not especially well. (I think he and Helen then moved into nickbarnes' house briefly.)

We too married in Clare Chapel! In October 1993.

I grew up in South Belfast - Finaghy to be exact - though the family home is farther south in Loughbrickland near Banbridge. We did live on the fringes of Newtownabbey for the last year before we moved to Bosnia, and my 93-year-old great aunt still lives in Bangor!
geekette8
Jun. 8th, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC)
Gosh, would they really let you get married on graduation day? I'd be surprised, the college is already pretty overrun then without adding a wedding to it. I actually thought it was the year after he graduated that he got married, but it was definitely 1990 as I was in the middle of my GCSEs, so it probably was the same year he graduated.

I got engaged on the day I graduated :-)

My FIL grew up in Finaghy! Jif wonders whether you might know St Marys On The Hill (Catholic Church in Carnmoney) which is where we were at my BIL's wedding the other weekend.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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