Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-12-18 - 8:23 a.m.

Watching the Pretenders live in LA in 2003 on DVD. Last night we watched Stoned – a bleak piece dramatising real life events which are have said to have influenced the film Performance – retired rock star and increasingly confused and irritated cockney, Ms Pallenberg in and around, the Godard vid of Sympathy for the Devil somewhere in the background . Were there any writs flying round Stoned, I wonder, there must have been sensitivities? I caught the last 20 minutes of The Long Good Friday, on Friday - more top class cockney thuggery from days gone by.

The Space Centre on Thursday was – spacey – what else would it be? Echoes of Red Dwarf. At the dinner which ended the event we had The Stig from Top Gear on our table – the first Stig not the current one. He’s from Essex – quite near where Mike lives – and does it very well. Prior to that, Francis, Phil and I eventually got our act together for the end of the conference. A lot of people were asking – what comes next? I looked at the just published capability review for DTI – the question of what next more generally seems to be crying out for an answer across the whole range of the department’s activities.

James came back from Chiswick just before lunch. He explained that in the summer he had done a bit of work for Carne Ross’s new think tank – I was really impressed. We went off to Heysham for xmas lunch with my sister – she has been burgled recently, probably by addicts looking for things which are very easy to sell – easier even than credit cards.

When I was out shopping on Saturday I picked up a book by Steve Fuller (an American sociologist who has taken up residence at Warwick) on the Kuhn-Popper debate – an episode that took place in London in the 60s and seems to have set the intellectual tone for decades afterwards. I bought the first paperback edition of Kuhn’s famous book in my year out. Fuller sets his discussion in a very broad context and manages to bring in Lukacs, Heidi and Adorno. It seems that Lakatos who had set up the debate had been the assistant to Lukacs in Budapest - maybe he even met the librettist of Bluebeard's Castle?

Fuller has a nice line in reversal and makes a good case that Popper has been misunderstood and was really much more progressive than he has been made out to be, while Kuhn who has been seen as the progressive, was actually the agent of a platonic conspiracy at Harvard to enable physicists to carry on doing what they felt like immune from public criticism.

Anyway, reading further, it seems that Fuller is a fan of the programme for the wider education of scientists that I was involved in at Edinburgh before I became a civil servant and so I took the unusual step of writing to him to pitch a research programme we are interested in – also to do with young people and careers in science and technology.

Earlier in the day I had written to another sociology prof on the same subject – one at Cardiff. So far I have written in broadly the same terms to four academics, two of whom are at Cardiff, one at Oxford. Who knows if any of this will fructify? Its not long until the closing date and to make the most of the opportunity quite a lot of thought is required. Reading one of Phil Brown’s books, I came across a Russian theorist called Vygotsky 1896-34 who James hadn’t heard off and so I ordered one of his works on Amazon.

This sociological pitch is just one of several that I have on the go. Another runs under a European scheme called Leonardo. There is just a chance that I can use Vygotsky to dignify this application – also a field that Fuller has helped define called social epistemology. Dusan in Slovenia has registered an interest in this Leonardo project but I need two other countries to join in. I wonder whether I can coax Ireland? I asked Dusan whether I might be suitable for a conference he is helping . I don’t really fancy running one of these projects but if I have to then Leonardo is probably the best.

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