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That Interview Meme Again

Yes, the interview meme is going round again. I owe a few of you questions from about a year ago; I've completely forgotten who you are.

The rules this time around are:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I respond by asking you five questions so I can get to know you better.
3. You will either update your LJ with the answers to the questions or post them here.
4. If you repost you will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post; if you answer here, then any of my friends (or me) can do a set of follow up questions, but you get to ask them stuff too.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you can ask them five questions.
6. Or you can just ask me five question in comments here if you prefer.

First up, saved and renumbered from treize64 a couple of months ago:

1) What was your major in college?

Astrophysics. Well, in the Cambridge system, it was the Natural Sciences Tripos, with a Part II in Physics and Astrophysics. I then did an M Phil in the History and Philosophy of Science, culminating in research on an obscure medieval astrologer, and a Ph D in a more modern topic in the same field.

2) And how early on did you know you wanted to work in the international arena?

I think it was always a fantasy of mine; but at the same time I never felt sufficiently loyal to either the British or Irish states that I could bear to subject myself to working for their diplomatic services. (I did actually apply for both: blew the second exam for the Brits, and the interview stage for the Irish. Probably a good thing in both cases.) I have been very lucky in that I was able to find other ways of operating.

3) Also, how the hell do you read so quickly?

Speed-reading is one of the most professionally useful skills you can acquire. Seriously. Go and do a course in it.

Also the fact that I am now commuting to work by train helps.

4) Your opinions on election monitoring.

I'm in favour. This will come as no surprise. I think we have to remember that there are two very different aspects to election monitoring: 1) the flying in of international observers to provide some external seal of credibility (or the reverse) and 2) the boosting of domestic non-partisan monitoring of the electoral process. The first approach is the short-term headline news (especially if it breaks down); the second vital for building institutional capacity for the long term. Both are very important.

5) 2nd favorite TV show (If my assumptions are in the right, then Doctor Who safely occupies the throne of 1st place.)

Oh yes, you're right about the first place. And although I enjoy the BBC quiz shows Mastermind and University Challenge, I think Buffy comes second for now.

Also matgb has asked me the following:

1) You've run for office in the past, can you see yourself holding elected positions in the future?

I'd love to, but it depends a bit on a) seeking nomination, b) getting nominated and c) getting elected. At present, with our family circumstances, the first of these is the really big hurdle. Some day things may be different.

2) Ignoring nationality language and religion, if you could pick the current consitution/system of government of any existing country today to live in, which would you choose and why?

I'm actually not fussy; more or less any liberal democracy will do. We benefit massively from the health system here in Belgium, but the downside is that politics is not only parochial and clientelistic, but also desperately uninteresting; yet, having grown up where I did, I can survive without having a particularly interesting political system.

"Liberal democracy" excludes countries where the current head of state came to power by a judicial coup and where dozens of members of the lower house of parliament get in without having to face an contest due to comfortably gerrymandered electoral districts.

3) I know from previous links that you read some webcomics; which are your favourites?

Actually I read very few. I have my daily Doonesbury and Dilbert feeds; the only web-specific comic I read is Questionable Content / questionablerss. I used to read Queen of Wands; but it ended, and when the sequel, Punch 'n' Pie, started, I tried it but didn't really get into it in the same way. I am open for other recommendations.

4) Autism is obviously something that affects your life in a number of ways; do you think the growing awareness of more minor conditions is a good thing, or do you worry it may be a "geek fashion" thing that diminishes the impact of more serious problems?

To be honest I am using up so much mental energy coping with how it affects my own life that I do not have time to worry about those wider issues.

5) If you had to recommend the books of any one currently writing SF author over all others, who?

Hah, you have made my trawl my own LibraryThing catalogue, to see whose books published in the last couple of years I have given five stars out of five.

I'm jolly impressed with Zoran Živković, Lois McMaster Bujold, and (when they are on form) Terry Pratchett and George R.R. Martin. I guess Bujold is currently out in front, partly because her latest book arrived today and we have had merry discussions ("we" being me, my wife and my mother-in-law) about who gets to read it first.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 9th, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC)
Which college were you at?
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC)
Jul. 9th, 2007 10:50 pm (UTC)
Interview me!
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC)
Who are you?
Jul. 9th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
See, this is why I asked that last question, I've not heard of Zoran Živković, and while I was already aware of Lois McMaster Bujold I've not read any; the covers seem to put me off, which I know is daft but still.

Really have to get around to updating Library Thing again, haven't touched it since I moved up here.

Re comics, I got into Q-C through Something Positive, which while not as good as it was, is still amongst the best I think. I only read it because a very subtle homage/crossover was done that got picked up in websnark while I was reading that regularly. The main character from SomPos was out walking with a female friend and was pictured in the queue at the coffee shop in QC, so SomPos responed in the next strip by showing them sat drinking Cofeee o Doom takeout in the park.

No specific mention, just very nicely done. also? Aeire from Queen of Wands is now a character in SomPos, not major but there fairly regularly.

Can't think of which country you might be referring to in 2). Oh, wait, apparently it's not a "democracy", it's a Republic, which is defined in such a way as to include most EU monarchies as well...
Jul. 10th, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
Oooh. Interview me. I rather like this meme.
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
1) Where are you from? Your real name sounds rather Japanese to my uninformed ear, but I get the impression that your roots are Nigerian.

2) How did you become interested in the Balkans?

3) What is your favourite place, of places you have been to?

4) Where would you most like to go, of places in the wqorld that you have not been to?

5) Which five fictional characters would you most like to shag?
Jul. 10th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
Interview me, please.
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
1) Do you still like living in Cambridge? Can you imagine living anywhere else? (Two questions in one, I know, but it is the same concept.)

2) I confess that the only fiction of yours that I have read is "Torch Song" in the Glorifying Terrorism collection. What else should I read?

3) What was the best book you read last year?

4) What do you get out of bookblogging?

5) Which five fictional characters would you most like to shag?
Jul. 12th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
1. Do you still like living in Cambridge? Can you imagine living anywhere else?

If you’d asked me this at the start of the year, I would have given you a resounding ‘no’. I was heartily fed up of the place, mostly down to work stresses, the irritations of a ramshackle house, prolonged absence of my other half, and a general sense of being in a rut. I’m definitely enjoying this time away in the USA, which has been a good and necessary rest, although part of that is knowing that I’m going to appreciate once again living in a small city with plenty of facilities without needing a car in order to get around.

I’ve never lost the pleasure I get from walking down King’s Parade, and I appreciate the ready availability of many and cheap books. I’ll be coming home at my favourite time of year, September, the quiet time between tourists departing and students arriving. I love the fenland sky very much, it moves and inspires me. I’d happily live closer to that sky.

Where else? I can imagine myself living in lots of places, usually while I’m visiting them, but indolence will stop me doing anything about it.

>b>2. What else of yours should I read?</b>

My personal favourites are my Tolkien fanfic vignettes, of which there are starting to be an alarming number. Most of them are about Faramir, so here he is in combination with various others: Flame of the West, The King is Dead, The King’s Shilling, and The Fire Sermon. My best Tolkien story is about all the Stewards of Gondor: A Kind of Valediction.

You might enjoy my two Bujold fanfics: Venture Capital involves Laisa and Mark, and is set after A Civil Campaign. Beatitudes is set after The Curse of Chalion.

My better Blake’s 7 stories concern Anna Grant: Run, Anna, Run and Lady Lazarus.

And there’s always Hollow Men, if you know Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and don’t mind shelling out a fiver!

3. What was the best book you read last year?

I couldn’t choose between these three. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson; an elderly minister tells the story of his life to the young son whom he will not live to see grow up. An exquisitely beautiful, meditative book.

Spartacus by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Not the book of the film, but an earlier one, from the 1930s. I think what stood out for me was its examination of the effects of trauma: what kind of people that makes, and kind of what society those people make in turn.

The Lantern-Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff. The lamps go out over Roman Britain. All about being able to live and love after the world has ended.

4. What do you get out of bookblogging?

A vague sense of guilt, chiefly, at how out of date it usually is. I set it up mainly to keep a rough track of what I’d been reading, which at least meant I was able to answer your last question! But also I set it up to encourage me to write something, anything, at a time when my confidence in my non-fiction writing had sunk to a low ebb. So I guess it’s pretty much doing what I wanted it to do.

5. Which 5 fictional characters would you most like to shag?

When I realized I’d got to three and they were all from Bujold, I decided to try for a full house.

Ivan Vorpatril: He’d know how to give a girl a good time.
Gregor Vorbarra: Sophistication and intensity. Slow burn.
Cazaril: Emotional, but/and with humour and self-deprecation.
Miles Vorkosigan: Those girlfriends? He must be doing something right.
Dono Vorrutyer: See Ivan Vorpatril.

May I interview you in return?
Jul. 15th, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC)
Please do!
Aug. 8th, 2007 12:59 pm (UTC)
Sorry it took a while... I seem to have sneaked in multiple questions for a couple of these.

1. We share a great admiration for Bujold. Which other female authors do you admire?

2. You started out as a scientist and became a historian. How did your scientific training inform your historical imagination? How did your historical training influence your understanding of science?

3. What poetry do you like?

4. From my uninformed position, the future of Northern Ireland looks brighter than it has throughout my lifetime. Do you agree? To what do you attribute the successes so far?

5. Which five fictional characters would you most like to shag?
Jul. 10th, 2007 08:55 am (UTC)
Can I have a go?
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)
Re: interview
1) How are you feeling? (ie, best wishes from me and Anne for a full and swift recovery)

2) How did you and ianmcdonald get together?

3) What musical instruments do you play? (And how well?)

4) Does living in Holywood drive you mad?

5) Which five fictional characters would you most like to shag?
Jul. 12th, 2007 11:34 am (UTC)
Re: interview
1. Very tired today as I did a lot of running around yesterday. Our cats had to be taken to my mother's house as the twelfth is in Holywood this year and more specifically due to walk past our house at any moment. George would have been beside himself. But I am recovering very well!!! People sent me a lot of good will!!!!

2. In 1998 ianmcdonald did a course in comedy improvisation at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. At the end of it some students set up their own group called "The Usual Suspects" which I subsequently joined and the rest as they say is history!!!!

3. I play a couple of different instruments. One is the viola da gamba (or bass viol) which is like a cello only it has six strings and frets. If I told you I was working on one of the Bach cello suites that would give you a false impression of my standard but that is where I will be aiming once I am able to get back into playing. Last public performance was playing Christmas carols. Prior to that it was original music written for a dance/circus performance of "Chagall's Wedding". I also have a tenor viol which I can use if I ever play in a viol consort or renaissance/baroque consort. I think it is fair to say that I am the best viol player in holywood largely because there arent any others!!!!!

I play the recorder - descant (ie what everyone learnt in school!) treble (solo instrument) piccolino and tenor. I play baroque solo sonatas mainly. I think it was grade 7 standard at school

piano - not very well but I enjoy it especially when visiting my mother. Also got to play the first ever piano made in Ireland (late 1780s) in Glenarm. that was good.

French horn - played at school up to grade six standard.

4. See above question 1!!! In general I like holywood. From our house you can see Redburn country park and (with some effort) Belfast lough which I believe is a great asset. I love walking round Redburn. I like the fact that Holywood still has its own identity and is only a few miles from Belfast. I also like the pubs and restaurants particularly Ned's (or The Maypole - the pub with two names. Any bar which bounces Paul Rankin out for using a mobile gets my vote.

There are certain things that drive me mad ----- HOLYWOOD DRIVERS!!!!! hate to say it but especially the BLONDE WOMEN DRIVING FOUR BY FOURS!!!!! they have to be seen to be believed.

5. I would really have to think about that one............!!!!!!!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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