Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

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.
Tags: history of science, interview memes, life: autobiography, writer: lois mcmaster bujold
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