On being hated

This has been a rather strange week. Yesterday, one of my colleagues, Colleague X, who shares the office with me and with two others (both of whom are away for the Easter holidays) at UOOD, told me something that I had never had said directly to me before (about time, some of yous might say :-)). He said (and I quote), “you are weird and rude” and went on to add I was “the most offensive person I have ever met”, prefacing this with “I have lived in many places”.

The odd thing (to me) was that my physical reactions (heart pounding, reddening ears and thank goodness I have the sort of complexion where red ears can’t be noticed too much, and a ridiculous desire to leave the room) were not in line with my verbal ones.

I replied, “Oh, and who was the next offensive person you have ever met? Can you name him or her? How am I worse?”

This response did not go down well. I can safely say that things deteriorated from there and ended up in an area where the conversation went along the lines of:

Colleague X: so you think you are “cool” by saying that? (I could see the inverted commas around that statement)

Me: Umm..yes, of course I am cool. It goes without saying that I am cool (people who know me can realise that this is so untrue :-)).

CX: that is why I don’t like to talk to you. You are rude and offensive and don’t take things seriously.

Me: Compared to what? Or whom? Do I not get a say in trying to be less offensive? And did you not already say this before?

CX: Before I met you, I thought Nepalese people were nice. I think you are arrogant and give Nepalese people a bad name.

I actually felt worse. I felt like retorting he wasn’t giving WCountry a good name either and does he think that I exemplify all Nepalese? But, I didn’t say anything like that. Instead, I told him if he felt that way, and since I already had enough people to talk with, he didn’t have to talk to me at all. We could share the office space and work.

The context that led to him saying I was the most offensive person he had ever met was that he was asking about when our other colleagues had left and were returning. I had replied I did not know or care. He then said that he found it astonishing that I did not pay more attention to my “roommates”. I replied that my roommates’ activities did not concern me too much (which they don’t. I assume if they need me to know something, they will tell me. Maybe it is a brain thing…read the brain posts). Then, he said what he said.

The thing about this is not that I was upset. Yes, I was. As a fairly easy-going person, I have never been told that I am hated. Or, even if I have been, I have not been told that I am the MOST offensive person someone had ever met. And, this bloke’s in his 40s so even leaving out his early years, he must have met over 500 people in his time. And, I am the most offensive? The most? And the point that I was being linked to the millions of Nepalis who would never know Colleague X but who would now be represented as “rude and offensive”, through no actions of their own. I was not just an other but had been represented as an other who then represented “Nepalis”.

But, more than that, I was actually rather astonished myself at the seeming disconnect between my physical and verbal reactions. My physical reactions were uncontrollable: I could not stop my heart pounding or my ears (and face) turning red. I did want to leave the room. I felt rather wary of entering it again this morning. But, verbally, I responded in what one may call a frivolous way (which led him to believe that I wasn’t serious about all this). I didn’t call him names. I didn’t attack his “nationality”. I didn’t apologise for not caring about my “roommates”. I used words and now I am writing things down.

In my work, I am working on a topic where hate is used commonly. Discourses seem to reproduce tropes used in earlier conversations; different interpretations of events are used to legitimise current conversations and people often say they hate [insert name of “other side” here]. I have been reading blogs (and comments) on recent events in Northern Ireland written by people from “different sides” in the conflict (see here for one example). The common tropes used in conversations (sinners to refer to Sinn Fein, the Irish state as a sponsor of terrorism, “prods” as bigoted, etc) are repeated. People narrate events differently. As the Delgadoes song says, "Hate is all around".

After being positioned as an object of hatred, I can definitely say it was not pleasant. And, yes, I can understand people who would like to respond back with words (or actions) because I did too. My cue, in that conversation, was probably to have apologised for being frivolous and for offending Colleague X. I didn't take it.

I guess I should just obsessing about this and go and call Colleague X a self-important b-gger who can’t even w-nk properly. If this were Australia (or even Nepal, I guess), I’d give it a try. Who knows what would have happened then (either laughter and beers or violence!)? But, here, I won't. I don't really know what to do next.


Gendered brains

Had a bit of a shock a few days ago when I did the "What gender is your brain?" quiz when trying to procrastinate and yet seem like I was doing useful work. This is what the result was:

Your Brain is 33.33% Female, 66.67% Male

You have a total boy brain
Logical and detailed, you tend to look at the facts
And while your emotions do sway you sometimes...
You never like to get feelings too involved

Does this mean that the type of blokes I attract are likely to be David Beckham types who swank about in a sarong, thread their eyebrows and are willing to admit in public they wear women's knickers? [yes?]

Check out your brain's gender at http://www.blogthings.com/genderbrainquiz/

while I wander off to try find a rugged, bearded, shaggy-haired Viking bloke who has an aversion to depilatory products :-)

[I did this too, on Priya's suggestion. Turns out I am a nice balance between boy and girl brains (something like 47 to 53). While I am cheered by the idea of balance, I'm not so sure that it's what I should be going for here. Also, one of my husband's friends is a rugged, bearded, shaggy-haired American guy, if anyone's interested. E]

Going native (in a good way)

A little more about going native (notice that I feel no need for the quotation marks...that's because I feel not at all self-conscious about my status as a colonial beneficiary)

While I agree with Priya's post about the changes in going native in the last century and a half or so, it may be useful to note that the idea of going native has changed before.

Originally, going native was okay--it demonstrated a common attempt to become part of the colonized country, and was basically ignored. Colonial powers needed men who were willing to live (and probably die) in a foreign place with no real possibility of returning home, and the trade-off was a certain leniency when it came to the boundaries between "us and them." It wasn't until transportation and communications technology improved enough to allow direct control by the colonial core (and regular replacement of colonial officials who were too friendly with the them in question) that going native became anything other than "the way things are."

The clearest example that I can think of is the situation of early members of the Dutch East India Company, who were known to have worn local clothing, married local women, and in some cases converted to Islam with few repurcussions from the company. William Dalrymple wrote a biography a couple of years ago that dealt with one case on the edge of the switch from neutral to derogatory meaning. I can't remember the name of it, but if I find it again I'll post it.

As a caveat--this was a locational phenomenon. The same does not hold true for situations like that of the Christian Kingdoms in Palestine, where there was enough direct contact with Europe to allow for shades of meaning. In those cases, the low opinion held by Europeans of the knights who had gone native created serious friction when it came time to defend the region against new efforts by Muslim kingdoms to reclaim the land, and there wasn't really a time when going native wasn't seen as a problem.

But that leaves me with (at least) two questions. So is this a case of evolving meanings, or is it more of a pendulum swing? And which understanding of the status of going native matters: that of the colonial core, the colonizers, or the natives?


The Return of the Native*

Apparently it is now "cool" to be a "native”, at least among some people here. About 100-150 years ago, "going native" implied that the person visiting the country (well, colonising, most often) had gone and learnt the local language(s), tried to dress in local costume(s) and attempted to live in local conditions, however they may be interpreted. This wasn't usually recommended since it implied that the one who had gone native had become "soft". Natives weren't for hanging out with, they were for ordering around, being critical of and ruling over (if not exterminating). Generally, amused condescension was the response to someone who went native. Now, in the early 21st century, it appears the native has made a comeback. Unlike a couple of centuries ago, it is the outsiders (not colonisers anymore but, most often, immigrants) who are compared to natives.

A sample of sound grabs on what people have said (and what I remember):

· Eminent professor to foreign student: “Well, native Danes happen to do better than children of immigrants in many areas…”
· Eminent professor 2 to student: “it will be difficult for these people [Turkish immigrants, mainly in Copenhagen] to integrate into native Danish society…they will have to deal with it [difficulties in adjusting] or go back.”
· The title of an upcoming talk and related publication: “A dynamic analysis of educational progression: Comparing children of immigrants and native Danes”
· Second generation Dane [born and brought up in Denmark]: “The native Danes look upon us [second generation immigrants] as foreigners. I don't feel Danish at all--I feel foreign.”

So, from being people who were generally seen as lazy, uneducated, uncivilised, backward in colonial (and even postcolonial, in many cases) discourses, natives are now suddenly the ones defining societal standards (against those children of immigrants and foreigners).

* Disclaimer: Before people start sending me emails about generalising on the basis of a few conversations, let me point out that this is my interpretation of how I see things here. It is my "cut" into "reality" in a particular context. It is not a universal statement about Danish people or on their views of “natives” or on “natives” in general. It is a post designed (and hoping for) a reaction from its reader(s?).

The Dinner Post

This is what happens when one is across an ocean when a famous professor visits TUWSNBN and gives a talk on why physics and IR are compatible. And, I have to listen to tosh like why the EU is a normative actor. Or could be. Or should (the people here have difficulties making up their minds). But, there’s always Elizabeth. So, here, in her words (with my Thucydidiean editorial stance applied) is the description of a dinner which followed. The participants were various professors, QuantumGuy and some students:

We talked briefly about Foucault, and the lack of phd community. Also StructureMan, and TUWSNBN institutional politics. This was before dinner. At dinner (which was very good--lasagna, ham, mashed potatoes, etc.) we talked about Ohio, etc. it was more like where are the worst places to live in Ohio. But there was some discussion of OSU environmental research, so I guess that's okay. Also, LOTR and Star Wars were mentioned occasionally, but X put rather vehement cabash on that. Okay, so, QuantumGuy is a nice guy, friendly conversation, etc.

And then Weberman changes the subject.

Asks QuantumGuy to talk about his current project. And all hell breaks loose (in a very polite way, of course). Turns out, QuantumGuy is writing a paper on UFOs. You know, the flying lights that people see and nobody talks about? And he wants to publish said paper in APSR. So I'm thinking no big deal. I mean, yeah, it's UFOs, but according to QuantumGuy the point of the paper is to talk about the inability of governments to do a study on them because, if there are UFOs, then all that Weberian monopoly of force stuff goes out the window. Also, the intellectual elite has done bad science by turning a deliberate refusal to know what UFOs are into the belief that they definitely aren't aliens.

And anyway, who really cares if there are aliens. [but there already are aliens. At least in the literal sense of the term. Foreigners = aliens in the United States. Possibility of paper on the links between discourses used to represent foreigners as aliens and extraterrestrial beings as aliens?: Priya]

Apparently, aliens are also some sort of class issue. Because several people at the table are (despite a fondness for sci-fi) distinctly uncomfortable with the whole project. And they argue about it. A lot. For a long time. Much conversation, which I will not repeat here.

I sit there, bc, again, I don't really see why it's such a big deal. Which is fine, I think. Besides, the entertainment possibilities of a paper about UFOs at the ISA do not escape me [me too. We have to go to that one: Priya].

More discussion of UFOs. And, eventually, religion. At this point I do weigh in, bc there's an assumption made that evangelical christians cannot believe in UFOs bc of the bible. Which is completely wrong, and insulting of pretty much everyone who isn't an agnostic intellectual. And so I said so. Politely, of course.

Anomie also had interesting things to say about why governments don't study UFOs. TheoryGuy mostly said things about how much the government and religion suck. And some stuff about theory. So that takes us up through coffee, and just before QuantumGuy and TheoryGuy decide to go out and get a cigarette. I go too, bc it's warm in the house, and bc, you know, it's QuantumGuy.

[Email ends here. Leaving me in utter impatience and wanting to find out what happened. Had to wait till the next day: Priya] {That was deliberate. E}

Anyway--promised rest of the QuantumGuy experience, and thought I'd give you the treat of waking up to it.

So, part of group (me, TheoryGuy, QuantumGuy) trek outside while conversation continues inside. (WeberMan joins outside group eventually, I suspect to make sure that TheoryGuy and I didn’t kidnap QuantumGuy). I try the unobtrusive bit some more, but am outed when QuantumGuy says, "Elizabeth, I noticed you were very quiet during our discussion of UFOs" or some such comment. Damn. It is hard to be stealthy when you weigh 200# and are wearing a bright red shirt. Now I know the reason for academic dress code.

You know where this is going--yep, straight for class issues. bc my answer had something to do with not being bothered with whole UFO study project, and not thinking that any non-academics would care that much. No, I didn't care. I now have a major theoretical crush on QuantumGuy, and so am less careful of the words that come out of my mouth.

TheoryGuy interjects with some class solidarity (we now have the same background, which is news to me, but whatever, maybe I'm being classist). and I almost manage not to smirk. Almost. I think I did, a little, and it's possible that QuantumGuy caught it. This is not the sort of nuance that can be conveyed via email, so remind me to run through this all again when you get back.

Pretty sure WeberMan joined us soon after this. Some discussion of how much the "right" hates academics and science in general. By the right, pretty sure WeberMan meant "working class" bc he grouped a bunch of stuff together from earlier. let's just say he meant "uneducated" and the kids in my old neighborhood would kick his ass for it. so I objected, bc this is what I do. said that, although I hate to "problematize" (FYI-problematize not a word) the issue, that a lot of hate for science and intellectuals is tied very tightly to jealousy and the desire to have education and be able to use it--minor, but I think important. although thinking about it later, have decided that the desire is not education for self, but children, which is something slightly different.

So, not about IR, but at least not stupid. QuantumGuy did not so much talking here, bc I think he was trying very hard to listen. Or something. More conversation, in which possibility of odd projects in IR was discussed, as well as the career suicide of signing on to UFO idea before gaining tenure (which had already been brought up, but holds a very important place in this particular group).

[I stood under only drip from roof, and ended up having to move. also did strange leveling thing which I didn't realize until later--in boots, I'm possibly a bit taller than WeberMan (or the step was uneven), and was up on step to QuantumGuy and TheoryGuy standing in sidewalk, so actually stepped off stoop and half into flowerbed in order to not be taller than everyone else. wouldn't have noticed later, except I did something similar talking to GenealogySpice earlier bc I am about a head taller than her. Shall have to ponder the possible meanings of this motion.]

Went back in, reconvened, and QuantumGuy apologized for not listening more to our projects--meaning TheoryGuy, Anomie and me. I think I threw in usual off-the-cuff remark about not minding the break. generally used my sarcastic / lighten the mood attitude for whole night, so have now come across as shallow twit. but hey, who cares--never going to finish phd anyway, so have no need of recommendation of QuantumGuy. Then cab came and everybody went home, more or less. [Am still rather confused about what going home, "more or less" meant: Priya] {there was more discussion, and some flailing about on the floor, but I figured you wouldn't be interested after QuantumGuy took off. Also some discussion of the relative anonymity of superhero names. And the now standard discussion of why the phd program sucks. Hence, the evening was over, more or less. E}

Another “cut” of the same dinner:

Anyway, the QuantumGuy dinner went great, as you've probably already heard. He was incredibly nice....and even asked us what we were working on. Well, he was getting ready to leave, so we didn't really have time to talk about it, but still. His UFO paper sounds great, and it's actually not as crazy as we all thought. Makes perfect sense: he seems to be arguing that there are certain taboo subjects, like UFOs, that we hate touching upon, and that there's this weird process of having ignorance pass as knowledge about something. Then he talks about why states refuse to talk about UFOs: challenge to the sovereignty system..etc.

Starting Revolutions

Sometimes I wonder whether it is not time to give up all this academic business and go off to start a revolution (I think The Activist is already planning this). For me, such moments are rare (though I do have plans of becoming a despot on a tropical island someday) but news like this doesn't help:

The Duke of Westminster, reputedly the richest person in the UK, received £448,000 (about US$ 850,000) in European farming subsidies in 2003-4, under the Common Agricultural Policy.


Being right-brained

Also found this discussion on a blogger site (damn you, next blog button!) Does this seem to ring true?

Right Brain Inventory

* Visual, focusing on images, patterns
* Intuitive, led by feelings
* Process ideas simultaneously
* Mind photos used to remember things, writing things down or illustrating them helps me remember
* Make lateral connections from information
* See the whole first, then the details
* Organisation tends to be lacking
* Free association
* Like to know why I'm doing something or why rules exist (reasons)
* No sense of time
* Have trouble spelling and finding words to express myself
* Enjoy touching & feeling actual objects (sensory input)
* Trouble prioritising, so often late, impulsive
* Unlikely to read instructions manual before trying
* Listen to how something is being said
* Talk with my hands
* Likely to think you're naturally creative but need to apply yourself to develop your potential.

It is because of the random nature of my dominant right side, I must make lists and schedules or else I can't seem to complete any tasks.

Left Brain Inventory

* Verbal, focusing on words, symbols, numbers
* Analytical, led by logic
* Process ideas sequentially, step by step
* Words used to remember things, remember names rather than faces
* Make logical deductions from information
* Work up to the whole step by step, focusing on details, information organised
* Highly organised
* Like making lists and planning
* Likely to follow rules without questioning them
* Good at keeping track of time
* Spelling and mathematical formula easily memorised
* Enjoy observing
* Plan ahead
* Likely to read instruction manual before trying
* Listen to what is being said
* Rarely use gestures when talking
* Likely to believe you're not creative, need to be willing to try and take risks to develop your potential

On the importance of PhD community

Two notes about previous posts: first, when we refer to authors we use initials. Yes, it can be annoying. But it’s the way it is. We’re basically too lazy to write out Heidegger or Wittgenstein ten or fifteen times in a row. And even if we did, it would probably be spelled wrong. So I’ll acknowledge the concern, but promptly ignore it.

Second, there have been snide remarks about our devotion to abstract theory (you know who you are). We’re phd students, so some addiction to theory is to be expected. We choose to indulge this in a forum where people have the option to skim, rather than listen to us in person. And we try to throw some gossip and random information in as a balance. We really can’t be expected to do more than that. And now, some more useless crap about being a phd.

There’s been lots of talk around TUWSNBN about the importance of community among PhD students. Specifically, it’s been complaint about the total lack of community, and the resulting dismissal of PhD needs by the administration. This complaint has come in the form of emails, discussions at other events, and (sparsely attended) PhD meetings. Which says something about the type of community that’s even possible, I suspect.

Fair enough. Things are geared towards MA candidates, and there are a lot more of them than there are of us. Even if we count the maximum possible number of current PhD students, we still don’t add up to half the incoming MA class. Also, they pay the university, while we are the equivalent of leeches: sucking funding out of the school until we hop off and go to suck funding from elsewhere (as a funding-sucker myself, I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Just that it leads to a certain reluctance on the part of university officials to throw more money at us). Incoming PhD cohorts aren’t big enough to be counted by the various college-ranking announcements, so we don’t really even contribute that much prestige. So at least some university resistance to a PhD takeover seems inescapable.

But what could a united group of PhDs do to improve our lot in life? Even if administratively we’ll never get all the concessions people have asked for, is there something to be gained from the act of discussing problems and working toward group cohesion? Or are we here (as suggested by various introductory lectures in the first year of the program) to get our degrees and get out as soon as humanly possible?

The first benefit of knowing that we need community (I’ll get to the actual benefits of a so-far-hypothetical community in a moment) is that it spurs action—within a week of the first complaints, we’ve had proposals for book discussions, regular dinner parties, formal meetings, a listserve, writing workshops, and outside events. No, proposals are not the same as activities, but I suspect that at least a few of these ideas will actually succeed in giving the people who care about cohesion a place to start. The second is that it forces people to think about what the point of this whole project is: is it to build scholarly communities and exchange information, or to gain a degree that will let us get jobs as individuals?

Both of these are useful results. I tend to come down on the scholarly community side of the debate, though, so I think that a successful cohort of PhD students has even more benefits. If we could manage to get it together, we could help each other find jobs, understand both the theory and process of earning a PhD, and create a group of graduates who are able to discuss the discipline and the academic life long after graduation. These seem like good things (in the utilitarian sense) to me.


Class and othering, continued

I'm not going to write about this just now, but wanted to pass on a link to War on Error. Not just because it's a great extended discussion of class and moving between classes, but because it fits with the question of othering--how do we know who is one of us, and who isn't? So go read it. And while you're at it, read the rest of her blog as well. It'll be good for you.

Class, part VIII

On being here and there...or on the many ways of saying hello

A couple of weeks ago (it is probably mentioned in the emails we posted) my supervisor here recommended a read of Being and Time. Having heard of Heidegger (henceforth referred to as Mr H) in the past (Georgetown political theory class where Mr H was linked to Aldous Huxley) but never having read his work, I took the opportunity, during this time when the Danes hibernate/migrate/play genteel sports like Badminton (the Uni is closed for a week due to Easter), to try to do so. After attempting to read the first few chapters and finding I was having to make notes about what Mr H was trying to say, I decided on taking a temporary break and waiting until the weather was better (as if somehow that would help me interpret Mr H).

Why was reading Mr H so difficult? After all, I am not entirely unused to books which are better off used as paperweights or weapons (my sisters know of my penchant for murdering cockroaches in our room in Nepal with heavy hardcover editions of Shakespeare and Dickens). Ulysses was part of our high-school curriculum (no, I didn’t much like that either but I never thought it was painful to read. After all, Joyce’s people have a way with words). The thing about Mr H’s book was that it was very deceptive. It was small and in paperback, it looked innocuous. It had no sign of the horrors lurking within—the convoluted language, the difficulty in trying to understand what it was that he was saying, and also, once understood, it was like trying to see how this could work. Call it a remnant of a youth (mis)spent among various “agricultural growth areas” listening to an increasingly worried father wonder how anything could be made to grow among lands often flooded by the nearest big river (There are lots of them in Nepal), but I have been used to the problem-solving type of theory, not the “critical” approach. Did it really make much difference whether Dasein is here or there in time and history? (also, for those interested in connections and namings, there is a Japanese pop group called Dasein. I guess it would matter where THEY were in time. But then time itself acts wonky for Mr H). And, also, really, why do people keep writing things, which for the most part are rather obvious? Of course, there is Dasein, if you mean we see things around us as how it relates to us (and to each other). That is fairly obvious. So then I think there must have been more. But I missed it.

Thinking about that, I remembered what my Polish housemate (and fellow PhD Fellow) had pointed out a few weeks back—that her experience with Americans (two blokes in our Danish language class and another PhD fellow who left soon after) was that they always asked you how you were but never waited for the answer. Don’t they want to know? I thought about it. To me, it was fairly natural that you asked “How are you?” when you met someone and then moved on. Or waited for the stock answer(s) of “fine”, “okay”, “good”. After all, you don’t expect to hear someone’s life history at this time. And, since coming here in February, I have been asking people that question too. The response is usually “ok” but preceded by a brief hesitation. I had never paid attention to the hesitation until my housemate asked me this question.

But why do I ask people how THEY were—How are YOU?. I don’t say, “How’s it going?” (I used to but changed to the earlier version after being in the USA for some time). After all, in Nepali, the greeting (preceded by a gesture made by two hands together—we really don’t go in for touching each other!) is in the form of “how is it/to be” and the “to be” form changes according to whom you are addressing (“Kasto chha” to friends and younger people; “Kasto hunuhunchha” i.e. how to be+is to older people, etc). The pronoun is not necessary, especially as the verb would then change with the pronoun too. The answer, too, is similar. People don’t usually “I/WE are fine” but say “fine to be/is” (“Thik chha”). So each time, the status of being is being reiterated and also related to the things around you. This is similar in Thai with the question (the hand gesture remains the same—no wonder, I find the whole “let’s hug each other” concept in America rather disturbing) being “Sabai di?” (“Life/being well?”) and the answer being “Sabai” (Life/Being) or “Mai Sabai” (Not Life/being). Similarly, in Australian (yes, there is “Australian”, or at least Aussie terms), the question is “How’s it going?” or, among younger people or colleagues and mates, “All right?”. The answer to the latter question is just “right” and mainly “not too bad”. After all, excessive enthusiasm (“she’s a beaut!”) is reserved mostly for sporting occasions not for telling people how life is. In French, “ca va?” doesn’t have the pronoun either. Actually, when I thought about it, neither does Danish. The Danish greeting is apparently “Hvordan går det?” (How goes it?).

During all my recent reading of works on social construction (and even Mr H), I wonder—how can I, even if I think it is “natural” that we have different selves in different occasions and that selves are historically and socially-constituted and contingent, explain this when my world is constructed in such a way that emphasises the primacy of “I”? In my daily greetings, I reiterate this. I make myself exist and I make the other(s) whom I am asking about their being(s) exist. And I repeat this each day. Often several times a day. Elizabeth talks about pink paisley as a gesture of protest. Maybe it is a gesture of othering (btw, Elizabeth, check this out: paisley). By talking about you in my daily greetings, I am also othering. I am not asking how things are (around us, related to us both) but how that self is. If this were a football match, the score would be relationalism (I still have to come up with a good term for this) 0, self/individualism 1 each time.

The point remains that I still have to read Mr H. And, five days of closed shops and windy, cold weather await. So, if yous reading this know of any easy-to-read Mr H sites, pass them on. Maybe with that and with the (much appreciated) help of the Pythons, I can make it through Mr H. Maybe. In the meantime, I am sure there is someone else to other.

The Pink Paisley Post

There must be something in the water. That’s the only way that I can explain it.

What can’t I explain? My sudden attraction to pink paisley. And blue flowers. And several other cute little patterns that 1) make me look like a particularly unfortunate couch, and 2) I wouldn’t have been caught dead in before I moved to DC.

Seriously, had I died and been buried in these patterns, I’d have found out whose fault it was and haunted their ass. Those of you who knew me when know how terrifying that would be, so it wasn’t really much of a possibility. But now, I willingly walk into stores full of otherwise unobjectionable clothing items, and head straight for the girliest, most nauseatingly frilly patterns on the racks. It’s like an addiction; I try to buy black, and end up with purple. Purchase blackouts. Next thing you know, I’ll be walking down 18th with my newest sweater hidden in a brown paper bag.

So what does this have to do with anything?

It turns out, in academia as in other walks of life, there are rules. Lots of them. And yet, nobody gives you a rulebook when you sign up for this gig, so most of the time we (as in, PhD students) wander around trying not to get noticed while we figure out what the hell is going on.

Among those rules seems to be a requirement that, at every conceivable opportunity, an academic is required (okay, not required, but strongly recommended, and we all know what that means) to wear black. Or gray, navy blue, brown, beige—you get the idea. If it would make a good color for the interior of an Oldsmobile, that’s enough to make the cut. And don’t get me wrong, I like some of these options (even if navy blue does make me look like I’ve done hard time). But there’s something about being expected to dress conservatively that just rubs me the wrong way; it doesn’t help that the suits I brought with me from Ohio tended to lean more towards red and turquoise.

And so the pink paisley is a protest, of sorts. A small gesture for the person I used to be, and a statement about the kind of person I refuse to become. While I’m troubled about my methods (why in the world should my clothing be the thing with which I choose to speak?) and targets of protest, for the moment the ability to wear whatever the hell I want is important, and I’m choosing not to look at that too closely.

But I’m still wondering: how important is the uniform (official or not) to my self-image as an academic? Is this some form of discourse that assists with (as Priya would say) the “othering process”? And why, for the love of all that’s holy, can’t I just stick with stripes?

Today’s totally random quote:

“Oh good, they start out with questions I can answer...like `Name:`”


Genealogy of a blog, part eight

So this is it, the last of the intro posts...although we'll probably use the email posting idea again, since that's where the complaints about the phd experience seems to come up the most often.

P: first of all, name of blog: the first name you suggested which is now in the other email since i have decided (unilateral decision on my part) to start a new one. so there. want to blog! invite me!!

then, thanks again for the camera and i will pay you back when i get there. will will will. i will keep an eye (well, both eyes) out for it too.

E: don't worry about it, Patient Husband got a very good deal.

P: can't remember what else was on that email now...hmm. i have something to write about...the trend in denmark where young people seem to have animals around their necks. at first, i saw this young blonde woman with what looked like a ferret around her neck, get on the bus last week. i was rather amused at her having a pet then i realised the animal was DEAD and its glassy eyes, from around the woman's neck, were staring at me and it even had its legs still attached (and dangling on the woman's chest). of course i am all for not wasting any animal that has been needlessly killed (i hope she ate its meat too)

E: probably mink (and I'd say no on the eating--they taste terrible)

P: but it was just rather astonishing. after that, i have come across other (mostly young) people wearing dead animals around their necks. apparently it's a fur stole, whatever that is.

E: yes. often painted on by PETA members and chewed on by pet dogs.

P: can't remember what else was there. oh, thanks, in advance for the northern ireland stuff which i shall plough through when i am back in the US. i think my sister might be coming with me which means both of us will be homeless. a prospect devoutly not to be wished.

E: you can crash with us until you find something. just read an article that housing prices are supposed to be coming down again, so we'll see what happens.

P: yes, you have to tell me what the H2G2 movie is like and i really really hope it will still be on when i get back, somewhere. feel rather annoyed at the danes for having the bad taste to show awful stuff like national treasure and meet the fockers instead of useful stuff like H2G2.

can't think of any academia-related things to write about right now. off to danish class where i shall wow the others (and the teacher) with my lack of danish proficiency.

E: woohoo.

P: so, blog? eh? and love the idea of a comic strip where we discuss "theory" ... how does one put up comics online, eh? i want to find that out but have no time right now...

E: you can post them as pictures.

P: i will write a more coherent email next time, all going well.

P: here i go again...

got a rather strange forwarded message supposedly from IntLaw. i think. not too sure because it was all about him having a blog of international organisations and law.

E: From me--I thought it had the stuff about Shannon Elizabeth's divorce attached.

P: no, there was nothing attached, from what i remember. though i found that funny after i realised what yous were on about! also, IntLaw seemed rather stressed from what i could gather from my rudimentary textual exegesis of his email.

E: didn't do any exegesis, but still thought he sounded stressed. If I hadn't given up scheduling for lent, I'd suggest taking him out for drinks.

P: international orgs and law?? that is prob why. we should post on his blog too

which makes me feel frivolous and useless, esp as i spent the past hour reading all sorts of rubbish unrelated to uni at all. the last article i read was an interview with johnny depp where he said his film company was called infinitum nihil and when people asked him what it meant he could say absolutely nothing. even actors can have (pretentious but...) funny names for their companies, websites, whatever. how about that, eh?

E: so you're saying that we need a funny name for the website? We really need to stick with something...

P: no no no! i like the one you said first. in your original email. let's have that and blog away!

E: okay. now I just have to go back and look it up. Invitation to follow.

P: did some "othering" w/r/t to pubs since some danish people were also with us when my colleagues and I went out on Friday (no idea who they were since they suddenly appeared at our table) and were drinking cider at a pub which had over 50 draught beers. i kept on thinking if this were australia, the cider drinkers would have been laughed at out of the pub.

E: and rightly so. please tell me it was at least hard cider (not that cloudy apple juice stuff served at hayrides).

P: also, most of the people in the other tables were playing backgammon. and, surprisingly, i have seen this often in the pubs in denmark. i don't know if that means they really don't talk much or if the lure of the board games are so strong that they need to play them everywhere. most pubs have board games (usually backgammon) to borrow. weird that.

E: bc board games and alcohol are such a great combination. haven't they ever heard of cards? you're supposed to play poker and drink, not checkers or any similar game involving easy-to-choke-on pieces.

P: going back home now. turns out it snowed fairly heavily last night and there are still flurries. prob the first time i have had a b'day when it snowed. after all, thailand, australia (and even nepal) aren't big on snow in mid march!!
have a fun weekend...and yes, let's blog!!! blogggggg....
am avoiding working on my prospective proposal so i can send it off to WeberMan…

pps: am regretting not bringing my copy of Genealogy… (by Super N) since the german guy here (who is discouraged and depressed with his PhD and wants to take it out on others) thinks the big N was a fascist sympathiser.

E: and how, exactly, does one sympathize with a political ideology that hasn't yet been invented?

P: And I am still working on the F as a structuralist response...btw, WeberMan told me I should read Harre (Rom, whose work I have read) but also said Aronson and Way and I didn't want to expose my ignorance and ask who Way was. Do you know? What is his first name? Help!

E: Probably Eileen Way. Gets lumped together with them a lot.

I'm starting Posner's Overcoming Law--v excited bc he has an introduction in which he spends a great deal of time talking about how pragmatism is not social constructivism, and how it can be justified as legitimate theoretical standpoint. Planning to go in and laugh in WeberMan’s direction. Won’t actually do it, since he’d prob agree, but still.

P: Enjoy the weekend. I am sure it is not snowing and windy there in Washington!

E: It was, in fact, snowing and windy. Made worse by the fact that my parents were in, and we spent the weekend hiking about battlefields in the cold (Gettysburg, Antietam, South Mountain) and getting very lost in Baltimore, where we took many busses and got to see parts of town not recommended for tourists. But it was fun.

P: I miss pub quiz! I have decided we should be pub quiz regulars when I get back, with or without Mara and her mates (oh, she has a job now so is really busy and quite happy. It just makes me feel even more useless!)

E: Job. Ugh. Don't remind me.

P: Have yous (our cohort…well, some of them at least) met up? I heard from Anomie that she thought Hawaii was like Miami (since I have not been to either place, I can't comment on the similarities!)

E: been to Miami, but not Hawaii, so I'm no help. As for getting together, see above re: lenten promise.

P: PPPPS: have you started working on writing a proposal for the dissertation? am i the only person falling further and further behind? hmm. i do want to write a really basic one by the end of this week and can i send it to you and can you tell me if it makes any sense before i send it to WeberMan? i am a bit scared of WeberMan really since he doesn't like my writing.

E: Fine with me. I've started, but still have WHO article of doom hanging over my head, so keep wandering off to clean my room.

Genealogy of a blog, Part the Seventh

P: actually like the blog name. most likely because it is so marvelously meaningless. let's have it. yay. i will try to follow your style of replying...

E: I already told A that we might decide to keep it, so she should be warned. It has nothing to do with anything, but does that really make it meaningless? Can't we assign some meaning to it?

P: Yes, we should. And yes, we should keep it. Two normative statements in one go. That is pretty good for me. Probably a remnant of having to listen to this annoying guy talk about the EU as a normative power

E: eh? EU power is relatively non-normative, I thought. Deliberately non-normative, in fact. Then again, there are lots of normative assumptions about religion, culture, etc.

Wait, did he mean that the EU used normative power to control outside its borders? That's something completely different. That, I could get on board with.

P: and conflate ideas of social construction/social constructivism/ideational stuff all in one go. And he did say EU was a normative power.

E: Nope, stepping back off the bus now.

P: for some reason hotmail refused to let me reply all about the blinking blog. i had comments about the scary ahnuld one though i think the bush one is the scariest by far. not being able to reply to all was probably a sign that my not v exciting comments should not be shared with the masses.

E: but mine should be? that seems wrong, somehow.

P: life is full of wrong things. wrongs add up to become a big big wrong. and then habermas takes over. sorry, it is the first really nice day outside and i can feel frivolity creeping up on me :-)

E: I'm pretty sure people who joke about Habermas get smited (smitten?) by god. Or something.

P: the scary habermasian god who lives on top of the critical theory mountain and parachutes down to emancipate those in need. and maybe smited? i like smited. or even smote.

about blog name, yes, let's ask GSpice. maybe we can have a nameless blog since i realise i want to start it though i have no idea what its name should be. i found the idea of whingeing about repeated (yet similar?) conversations on "our" blog funny esp since, at the time i opened it, i was trying to explain (again) to one of my colleagues here why foucault is NOT a structuralist!! grrr. they kept on going on about how "but in the archaeology of knowledge, he is...." and i kept on wishing the bloody library here had power/knowledge so i could demolish their silly foundations. silly i say. sillly.

E: amazon.com will send you power/knowledge. I would send it, but I'm not sure where my copy went. It's here somewhere, I think. It seems to have disappeared into the structure of my shelving system (yeah, I know, it isn't funny to joke about foucault)

P: it is hilarious to joke about the big F. or the big N. i am reading N and realizing that i like the big N. though he would probably not like himself called the big N.

E: nah, I think he'd be okay with that. He'd probably prefer "super N" but the idea is the same.

P: i like super N. like a new superhero in the comic series i am thinking of writing when my PhD stalls. like now. it is stalling, i think.

E: think of it as a plateau. not a stall, just a brief pause on the climb to academic success. But I still think we should add a comic strip to the blog. just for fun. we could call it "WeberMan and the theoretical wonder bunch"

P: anyway, i can deal without P/K for now since the library here has heaps of books on N Ireland and i feel like i can quote dates and people (well, hopefully by the time i get back) on all this business. but it seems like the whole world and its neighbours have written on NI. Nothing on Nepal though. Not too sure if that is good or bad.

E: good. that means you can write whatever you want, and who's going to disagree with you? Nobody, that's who. But I bet there's some anthropology and development stuff out there on Nepal--I'm pretty sure RandomProf was just back from a project there last fall, so somebody must be writing about it.

P: yeah, there's heaps of development rubbish and also some (a couple of good ones I have found but mostly terrible) anthropological stuff. the anthropological stuff seem to be more along the lines of describing Nepali "tribes" and all that stuff. Not much Geertzian stuff but more invoking ideas of difference (if I may use I and B)

E: I don't know if you're allowed to both reject them on principle and also engage their criticisms when useful. Oh, wait, I'm a pragmatist again. So go ahead, invoke away. But you'd better have a good reason. (I know, it's not theoretical pragmatism, it's popular pragmatism, and I really should be more careful about my assumptions. But tough luck.)

P: got a couple of books out on heidegger...but thought i wouldn't understand him so got books written by other people about H. thought i'd try H later, if i felt like it. have you read H? should we discuss H in our own independent study? or is that too much H?

E: seriously, ever time I think about heidegger all I can hear is that monty python song...so I'm all for discussing him, but don't be surprised if I burst out laughing occasionally.

P: hehe. agreed. i am still on the NI part and haven't actually taken a break to read any theory people yet. Am having heaps of fun trying to learn dates and read up on the Prevention of Terrorism Act and all that. Might borrow your books when I get back to the USA

E: no problem. I think they're in a pile in my dining room. I esp. like the one that's a set of interviews about the experience of the Troubles. Not sure how much they talk about the discourse, but it's interesting stuff.

P: my next project is kierkegaard, mainly because they have a HUGE section on him (prob because he was the only dane they know who became famous)

E: wasn't Bohr Danish? but that's physics, not philosophy.

P: yeah and he was born in copenhagen so they are apparently heaps of sites dedicated to him. though he had to leave during the nazi years. which the danes do their best to forget, it seems. but i suppose that is usual.

E: yeah. Mention Ezra Pound in the US, and see what you get. i swear it took four college poetry classes for someone to even mention St. Elizabeth's.

P: just had my polish colleague yell vehemently at me for saying that Super N was once used by the Nazis.

E: why? is he some sort of revisionist historian? or does he think Super N was a Nazi?

P: also, hans christian andersen is a famous dane. though i never liked his stories much and think that the ugly duckling was rather silly since the UD had to change before the others liked him but the others remained as they were (rather like self/other in inayatullah and blaney but in reverse!)

E: The little matchstick girl made me cry when I read it in the first grade. And the little mermaid dies at the end. I quit reading after that. Children shouldn't be allowed to read that stuff unsupervised.

P: realise i am most likely turning into a fundamentalist...maybe i should start a cult called "defenders of poststructuralist foucault"

E: can you be a fundamentalist about poststructuralism? that seems wrong, somehow. against the spirit of the thing. Like being an empirical postmodernist.

P: hehe. true. but the people here amaze me. actually, i am amazed about the brits and their PhDs since my british colleague here doesn’t seem to get that there can be different types of DA (she calls herself a critical realist and assumes that is separate to DA. But DA is a methodology, i thought while CR is an espistemology/ontology thingy.)

E: sounds right to me. but we've been indoctrinated by the same people, so it could just be a shared fallacy.

P: most likely. i like our indoctrinators though, i've decided. even StructureMan and RegionDude though i can't think of what RegionDude indoctrinated me with. prob dullness.

E: ugh. Anybody but RegionDude. Although I'm much less impatient since he complimented my entrance essay (however misguided).

P: i realise i know not much either but that the University which is not to be Named was actually fairly good in drilling these ideas into my head---notice usage of violent term "drilling".

E: duly noted.

P: and then these people end up getting jobs at the Uni of Wales and all...why not us? us? us? (though i realise that, unlike me, you may have no desire to work at the Uni of Wales...)

E: not so much, no. I'm sure it's a lovely place, but probably not for me.

P: meemememememe. .not too keen on going back to nepal right now since apparently newspapers are now full of what the biggest veggie grown in the district is and reports of what wonderful thing the king/his ministers/his family did.

E: sounds like the local press in my hometown. except there's no king. but there are big vegetables. and council members who do v. important things. Like decide whose vegetable is biggest.

P: and indiscriminate arrests with the latest being an uncle who is head of a (relatively critical) media organisation who was arrested for "being in contact with terrorists" while he was on a trip to India. Love how the Ts keep popping up nowadays everywhere.

E: ouch. Any word on what's going on? Anything we can do?

on a related note, RandomStudent turned in a paper analyzing the role of critical theory in discussions of global religions. Not sure what DialogueMan thought about it--critical theory doesn't come up that often in anthropology. I was just surprised to see someone else use Habermas in a sentence.

P: haha. didn't see RandomStudent as a habermasian. must be all that working for the defender of the Habermasian faith, The Communicator.

E: yeah. yet another case of infectious theory (sort of like chicken pox--you break out in a rash of habermasian spots, spread it to everyone around you, and eventually you're cured.)

P: Euuuh. Hopefully there is innoculation available.

E: I'm sure somebody's working on a vaccine. Probably one of the constructivists.

As a side note, my computer doesn't recognize constructivist as a word. Little red squiggles everywhere. So I guess they must not exist.

P: btw, about william james, i am sure you will find it amusing (but you prob know about it already) that social construction (or constructionism or that stuff we are not calling constructivism) was based on james' works.

E: yep. not that WeberMan would ever admit that (wait, I seem to remember a conversation about this…nope, it’s gone). I'm not sure he's ever forgiven me for refusing to pick one of the epistemologies we covered in class for my final paper that year. Then again, it could be that the paper I turned in was crap. I'm still not convinced that I can't use pragmatism for epist. and system dynamics for methodology. After all, pragmatism argues that people use what works until it doesn't, and my argument is that linear causality doesn't work anymore.

P: yes, sounds like it makes sense to me. i reckon WeberMan would admit that too but he likes his old dead germans. but then we like old dead americans/frenchmen too so we will have to keep that in mind. i am still trying to get through the articles in this journal since too much SC at one time is not recommended.

E: think of how hard it must be to proofread that stuff. maybe they read it backwards, and it says things about satan, like the heavy metal 80s records.

P: which they like in Denmark. I don't think I have ever heard as much AC/DC as since I came here since even shops seem to be playing it. Maybe it is some widespread ideological revolution of some sort, about which i was not informed.

E: That's a little (a lot) scary. The entire Danish populace is a big metalhead convention.

P: have not done any other writing type work though and it is already one month since i was here. grrrrr. feel like a lazy slob (which i am)

E: join the club. although I have a lovely diagram about turkish economic growth as it relates to the money supply and international debt. looks like the opening of a black hole (you know, if we could see them).

P: I have become addicted to the "next blog" button on Blogspot (your fault, really, since I had not seen it until you pointed it out to me). This is an example of a particularly bad one, esp all that rot about freedom


E: yes, the next blog button is evil. not as evil as John Bolton as the US amb. to the UN, but still, definite signs of nastiness in the way it sucks perfectly good chunks of time away from useful projects.

P: shotter and gergen (pioneering sc people) admit that and shotter even has this article on how much james' work has influenced his version of pragmatism (sc, that is). so there. we are somehow doing the same thing :-)

E: or, at least, what you're doing fits fine into what I think we should be doing...and vice versa.

P: indeed. yay. let's blog.

E: I get it. I'll sign up on blogspot, then? I think it has to be set up by one person, and then other people can be invited to join.

P: okay. sounds perfect. let me know if i can sign up or do something productive instead of sitting on my arse and typing...

E: so you know that blogging is pretty much sitting around and typing, right? There's no aerobics involved. (Is there? Did someone forget to tell me that part? I am SO not doing more than sitting and typing. Maybe some research, but nothing involving jogging or jumping jacks.)

P: i found this entire edition of a journal on social construction and what it is and all and am trying to read it, in between wishing i wouldn't spend so much time emailing...though if we had a blog, this would be blogging and thus "work". so let's have one v soon!

E: rationalizing. That's what you're doing. Not that I disagree with that, but still. Always best to make our assumptions clear.

P: that's the weber in you coming out (had vision of small wizened weber jumping out of elizabeth and grinning away).

E: now I'm going to have nightmares. And snicker all through my next meeting with WeberMan (I think his inner weber hides behind the office door)

P:...and yells "boo" at unsuspecting students when they walk in through the door.

E: you're paying for me to clean tea out of my keyboard. just so you know.

P: or at least WeberMan’s version of weber, which i realise after being here is a totally different version of weber to what everybody here seems to have of weber.

E: but we knew that. you met StructureMan’s weber, didn't you?

P: a dour, boring type who droned on about iron cages and rationality and was immersed in structures until the structure grew hard and then his weber was permanently encased (encaged?) within

E: ah, so you have met. nothing like a first impression.

P: so there are many webers but once you can quote weber, you are set. I have realized I can be highly annoying and quote from "'Objectivity' in the ...." and also from "Science as a vocation" and even (thanks to this research I did for StructureMan) from various parts of Economy and Society and that stumps people who want to argue about W since, often, they can't back up their notions of W as a huge structuralist who should be discredited and ignored while I am blithely (and annoyingly) quoting at them.

E: picturing you running blithely through the fields of denmark (does denmark have fields? or fjords? no, wait, that's norway--I read that in H2G2) shouting out weberian wisdom.

P: hehe. we have fjords too. but then i realised that i will prob miss the movie version of H2G2 when it opens. though i read (in those intellectually stimulating web sites i frequent) that it was fairly bad. but then thre's the new star wars...and i will miss its opening too. not too sure if that is a good or a bad thing.

E: I'll let you know how it is. Not the star wars one, since I'm working on only seeing one out of six, but the h2g2 movie, sure. Right now all I've seen is the previews. But they have the geranium, so how bad could it be?

Speaking of assumptions--is it possible that people can use both Foucault and standpoint theory? Seems a little wonky to me, but maybe I've misread standpoint stuff. I wouldn't think they'd allow for the iffyness of Foucault's analysis.

P: yeah...but F is a method (or methodology), i think and he would agree with standpoint analysis since that would be all that rot about looking at the local instead of the global. that is when you can even talk abotu structures since there can be local structures, just not universal, general ones that MAKE you do stuff or have causal powers (bhaskar now falls off the bus and tries to run to catch it but is impeded by many random meaningless words dropping down after him and trips and falls...).

E: poor bhaskar. hope he doesn't get run over by the habermas train.

P: hehe. no sympathy for bhaskar since he writes long-winded rubbish that is difficult to read.

E: Come on, he gets hit by the Habermas train. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Not even Popper. Well, maybe Popper. I'd like to see if the engine bounces off his impenetrable armor of the scientific method.

P: instead, local structures, which arise in the context of social relations, are acceptable (remember Kondo?). at least that is how i read it. then, standpoint theory is also to clarify your assumptions (as you said) since it was because assumptions/contexts were unclarified that the whole bloody Enlightenment project happened.

E: got it. although I take issue with local structures being acceptable (acceptance doesn't figure in--they either are or aren't, without any sort of permission.) must be a better word.

P: allowed? can be described? exist? are constituted locally?

E: Didn't say I knew the right word. Besides, not sure that better or right is legitimate either, being so tied to universal norms. Hey, wait--how about legitimate?

P: just finished revising my awful paper on the boundedness of freedom in hobbes and tocquevile. it sounds like i am writing on some sort of BDSM ritual but that is definitely not the case. though at this rate, i doubt what i was writing on since i have re-written parts of it so many times. thought i'd bung it at WeberMan and let him make of it what he will since i cannot think of anyone else who may have read both books and would like to comment on it and don't feel confident enough to send it off to a journal without getting comments.

E: comments are good. I like comments. I'm sending the WHO mess to HRDiva for comments, which I'm sure will be along the lines of "you can't check discourse against interviews to find out if it's right." Which I know, but nonetheless. Comments are good. They make people feel influential, and therefore kindly disposed to other things that you write. Like dissertations.

P: or they will get pissed off at having to read such rot (mine, that is) and rethink their decision to be chair of PhD thingy. hope not. am sending it off today or tomorrow.

E: nah. he's had fair warning. at least you don't send him powerpoints about raccoons.

P: that sounds like far more fun. off to do some more re-working on the BF paper and then send it off today. have decided will save myself $9 by not going to the pub and will watch football on the 'net. not much fun but neither is spending that much money for ONE bloody pint. ONE. notice bitterness about the expense of alcohol in Danish pubs...

E: Should we be airmailing you guiness? Oh, and you should be looking for the camera soon--I think Patient Husband sent it to your flat, since that's the address I could find last week.

P: about blog...if we want people to look at it and give us comments, then maybe something to do with our PhDs, etc for the name...but what? foucault/james/pragmatism/systems/etc etc.

off to do some work...or at least email The One Who Knows All and ask her what happened with my comp of long ago..

E: How about the name "pragmatic systems of terror discourse?" meaningless, but gets everything in. And the meaninglessness of the title speaks about the subjects of the blog and their inherent subjective realities...

P: yay. let's have this. i like it because it is so meaninglessly marvelous, as i said. maybe we can even add a few more random words...what ARE pragmatic systems anyway? hehe...or pragmatic discourses about systems and terror or discursive pragmatism of terrible (!)/ terrifying systems... but i like yours. let's do that.

E: oh, wait, you weren't talking about the stinky cat's prozac emporium idea, were you. ah well.

P: i like your name. blog blog blog

E: Wait, which name are we talking about again?

yeah, I know, I'm full of crap. But the only one who would call us on it is WeberMan.

P: nah. he will like it since i reckon he does have a sense of humour. or he had better if he is to work with me (us?). i really can't be as intense as TheoryGuy seems to be but then he gets along with GSpice so...though i remember that X1 did not like him (had this discussion with X2 who now calls himself X3 since he has re-discovered his authentic self)

E: um. I've only just started to remember that his name is X2. I wish people would just self-identify and get it over with. None of this fuzzy boundary crap when it comes to what we're supposed to call each other. How are we supposed to build up shared systems of meaning if we don't know who we're talking to?

P: indeed. will lead to a morass (word choice?) of misunderstandings where we all call each other whatever we want. do we WANT to build shared systems of meaning though? or do we just want to impose our meanings on others? i admit to a sneaking fondness for the latter but i will never get to exercise my imposing-ness since i will be describing not prescribing. but i will restrain my neocolonial tendencies.

E: Yeah, no imposing from me either. Although I do admit to a desire to impose my methodological assumptions and techniques on IR as a discipline. But I don't want shared systems of meaning. At least not yet.

P: prob shows i should be applying for asylum in the USA which will fit my neocolonial tendencies...though why i should need asylum is a question yet to be answered...

E: You're more likely to need asylum from the US.

Comps take forever to grade. Especially when ISA is going on. Then again, maybe your graded comp is sitting in your SIS mailbox in a big yellow envelope.

P: no, TOWKIA said they took a month to decide who would read them and so the readers have only had them for a week. typical.

E: I'm sure you did fine. I still have to talk to UberPeace about the IPCR comp.

P: no, i sucked. i tried to follow the party line before i gave in and started babbling about weber, geertz and even wendt in each and every answer. also babbled a lot about epistemology/ontology. not recommended in a CRS comp, i believe.

E: Not so much. Sort of like my declaration that nuclear deterrence is a big waste of time on the IP security question. noble, but possibly misguided under the circumstances.

When we do start the blog, we should post these emails (minus various snarky comments about The University which shall not be Named, profs, etc.) as the genesis of it (an MTV making the video, all about political science theory)

P: esp minus snarky comments about profs, esp since i added new ones about new profs and about students. a "making of the blog..." should be fun.

E: we should still make the snarky comments, though. just not with the names attached. we could create all new names! code names, as it were.

P: ohhhh...am v excited about creating code names idea. esp if based on mutually shared understanding of literature and comics...then we can bring that part of it in :-)

ps: yes, i did think the drinkingaboutlife blog was about drinking...i confess. but then foucault would say this confession itself is within the bounds of discourse so confessing is creating a self that would feel guilty if it (I) did not confess...hmm.

P: do you have any recommendations for any old time ("classic") writers who were amusing? i feel like i need some amusing literature amidst this onslaught of SC and N. Ireland but the library here, as i said, does not have wodehouse. darn them. i thought of kingsley amis but he is hit and miss, from what i remember. they do have a wide range of american literature so maybe something there? any recommendations would be gratefully accepted. i am currently finishing off their only volume of agatha christie poirot novels. not amusing but quite engrossing at times.

E: Let me think about it. You could start with Fitzgerald, and I always liked Flannery O'Connor, but they're both fairly recent. Wilkie Collins wrote terribly victorian murder mysteries...

P: i remember seeing a couple of films based on collins' books. will go in search of them...WeberMan told me about this article on the web recently which portrayed dracula as a revolutionary activist. maybe it was The Activist who wrote it.

E: nah. I'm sure he doesn't read fiction. Rots the activist brain.

P: these emails could be v long if we do this reply thingy...how do you get yours to have nice separations, btw? prob some cool Mac thing :-(

E: nah. I just hit the space bar before and after (so it's space...type...space) I'm trying to see how many colors it turns the text.

P: mine is black. only black. boring black.
i guess i should do some work...onwards to the BF paper. Again. yuck.


Genealogy, part the sixth

P: Hope judging is going well...

btw, have you read Charles Tilly's new work? I am re-writing Hobbes as "REAL-ising Realism" (yes, a bad attempt at a play on words) and using relational realism to do it. Hobbes is a relational realist, I shall claim :-)

E: um, okay. which new tilly do you mean? still having trouble with tilly as a realist of any sort...

P: It would be good if you could read the article over when I am done. If you have time, that is.

E: sure. just working on the system dynamics theory stuff, so it's not like I'm going to figure anything crucial out soon

P: I don't think it will be as exciting as raccoon rabies though. Let's start an article! Let's! Let's!

PS: Did you read the CofI lot's blog? How about a Priya/Elizabeth/anybody who wants to join blog :-)

E: the what? and yeah, I'm all for a blog.

P: this is what happens when you realise that your usual non-uni reading of crappy john grishams and useless mysteries cost $20 each here in denmark and are reduced to re-reading "classics" from the library

E: heavens no, not the classics. read jane eyre. or peter hoeg. grisham's not fun, anyway.

P: my next ventures are either jules verne (haven't checked if they have him in english at the library) or h.g. wells.

E: wodehouse! wodehouse!

P: take care and judge fairly :-) (though what is "fair"?). oh and they don’t have wodehouse in the library here. Sacrilegious, I think.

E: fair is a four letter word in the law.

P: am sure you are doing hideously imp judging stuff while i sit here making grandiose plans for blogging.

E: nope. back in dc, doing same old, same old

P: how about it, eh? www.blogger.com, we choose user names, etc and go on from there. i vote for phd will never end...haaahhhaaa but that might be too long. or deconstructed systemic selves. this proves i have no creative capability so you should come up with a name.

E: ummm...have to think about it.

P: off to irish pub again to spend another huge amount of money to have the priviledge of drinking one beer. grrr. bloody danes and their expensive beer. but i guess that means i can't drink too much. though how much is too much is a question yet to be resolved. along with the many other questions yet to be resolved.

E: have fun. drinking on wed--not sure how much is allowed. suspect that it's less than on, say, a friday. positional drunkeness

P: am reading why quantum physics is relational realism, according to this one physicist. back to it now

E: which physicist? having trouble with quantum physics as relational. and realist, for that matter.

P: don't have any idea on what the man's name was (physicist, that is. he was from some indian uni so prob no one's ever heard of him. yes, that was my imperial tendencies coming out). and i think his argument was that quantum physics means we have to look at the world, in everyday life and language, as being relational.

E: huh. interesting. i really would like to know who / what--just for my own interest

P: Or, he said something like the realist would see a book as having length, height, etc as independent of observation whereas seeing a book as relational (and real) would mean that you can conceive of its real properties as being part of it in relation to something else (ie a book in relation to papers as a paperweight). but he also said that this relational property means it also has the potential for other properties within (hence showing that some two-slit experiment in quantum physics can be possible).

E: umm. so he's saying the light as a wave / light as a particle issue is relational? not sure if he's using relational in the same way as relationalists do.

P: i saved it for further perusal and for potential use in my new (revised) reworking of Hobbes as a relational realist :-)

E: forward! forward!

P: btw, does social construction mean you don't believe in foundations? i wanted to ask WeberMan this but thought i should know it by now. have been reading rom harre's work and he seems to think that social constructionism does not rule out universal aspects of human life or even essential attributes. i thought it did?

E: I think they haven't decided--WeberMan would probably argue that foundations are right out, but others don't go that far. but wait, if there are no foundations, doesn't that make them postmodernists? that can't be right.

P: (unless we are looking at language as being essential but then we can't because witty already said language only had meaning in its use and hence wasn't essential).

E: that would be my reaction: the language, and how it creates reality, is foundational. But you're right, it's a different (more fluid, relational) notion of foundations

P: the more i read, the more confused i become.

E: welcome to my world. stocks, flows, and influences, oh my...

P: off to do more reading of harre...confusion awaits

ps: blog! blog! blog!

E: working on it...we have to think this through, to avoid looking like nitwits with too much free time.

P: c'mon! blogging IS for nitwits with too much time on their hands (ie me) so think we should set up a blog soon-ish though we should be working on other things. but I am not. and that will make me feel like i accomplished something and can also put down my views of the world. which are v imp.

E: um. okay. still needs a cool name

P: thought (and you most likely already know of this but) you would find this useful: Conference Alerts
we should really go to some of them.

E: I'll take a look. Busy worrying about Turkish economic policy (SystemGuru, don't ask), but I should have time this weekend

P: and the article on relational versions of reality w/r/t physics is attached. let me know what you think

E: cool. again, Turkish economy, but as soon as that's caught up...

P: off to look at the sun, which has come out for the first time in nearly two weeks. makes me want to burst out "here comes the sun...toodoodoodoo" but will resist (except on email)

E: I'm sure the danes thank you for restraining yourself.

Hey--found the kind of blog we should write (although not about social networks), Notional Slurry

also, very fond of crooked timber.

Have spent some time looking at blogs, and decided that we can definitely do this. if I think of it as practice (without the research redirection of a chat w/ WeberMan), I can almost justify it as contributing to the phd experience. And that's enough for me. Now, what do we call it and where do we sign up? SystemGuru uses blogspot, which has to be fairly easy to use, bc everybody’s on it. there's also a clearinghouse for phd-related blogs that could be useful in getting additional readers (and comments, thereby building an epistemic community that is entirely virtual--too bad neither of us is working with social network analysis!)

so, next job: interesting blog names

As inspiration, have found this on a pastor's (yep, teacher at a seminary school in IL) blog...

Wittgenstein Blogged
Nietzsche Blogged
Paschal Blogged
I Blog

Or we could just do what this guy does, at Blinkorama

P: yay for epistemic community possibility. am in full favour.
have been wasting time looking at others' blogs...

E: yeah. me too. I think it's some version of procrastination. I'm especially fond of hitting the "next blog" button from blogspot. amazing the random things you can see.

P: Dear Future
i liked the paranoid tendencies of this one. reminded me of me. though i will obviously tone that down in my blog contributions...

E: scary. not for me. I get enough scary without reading about somebody else's paranoia.

P: Dull Name
this just because he seems to have had the same trouble we did with naming it :-)

E: yeah. but his really is dull. ours won't be. so we need a better name. besides, he already took dull.name

P: Drinking about Life
yes, useless but note his march 6 entry on american newsletters about being a new dad

E: tell the truth. you only read this because you thought it was about beer.

P: i was going to try find some more better examples but realise that we have a bloody awful seminar on lifelong learning or some such rot (we are expected to attend all seminars, probably because otherwise there would be a vast empty space around the speaker in most of them) so have to be off...write back with an appropriate (or not) name!

E: have fun with that. I have to clean my carpets, if that makes you feel any better.

Genealogy of a blog, part the fifth

Just put up a draft and then realised you had done the same. Then had to amend the draft to this. Any discontinuities/repeats are part of the genealogy.


you know your emails are starting to sound suspiciously like that of WeberMan!
for a moment i experienced a sense of deja vu (no idea of actual french spelling) and had to check email address to make sure you were you. are you you? is there an essential you-ness? i shall ponder that.


eh? Don't think I'm channelling Weberman--although his sticking of comments in old emails is very handy.

essential me-ness. hm. and the essential me-ness is being corrupted by too much interaction with WeberMan. that sounds plausible.


am disappointed that you are not going to hawaii but you should still take pics of soybean fields.

off to mire myself in self pity. can one mire oneself i wonder. prob not. prob means something else.


don't know--usu. it's like "Priya's mired in self-pity." guess you could do it to yourself.


ps: while you are on the plane to ohio, i am joining the others for a trip to this one lane where they have heaps of restaurants and pubs and where all the partying danes hang out. apparently. at least that is what we were told.


all the partying danes fit in one strip of bars? that's kind of sad


haha. yes, all partying danes fit into one strip. when we asked what people did on weekends here (considering shops are closed at 1pm on saturday and then don't open till 10am on mondays) we were told that they visited other danes and played badminton. and i think the person saying this was perfectly serious. bit worrying, if you ask me.


Maybe it's full contact badminton. Or some code word for a drinking game? otherwise, a very sad state of affairs. I suppose that's why we never hear about the Danish bikini team.


also was told when Britgirl (who is british muslim) asked where the danish muslims hang out that "there are no danish muslims here, only children of immigrants" (apparently though danish turks are the largest immigrant population but they are not danish enough since the essential danishness is obviously not present there)


Otherness in action--Inayatullah would be very excited. Can you be Danish without immigrants to be non-Danish? What does it mean to have "essential danishness?" (Maybe it has something to do with pastry and cream cheese?)


am getting worried about phd stuff esp as i have been here over two weeks and have done nothing.


not true. You've gotten a committee chair, started working on a paper with me (hey, a topic is a start), done some background research, and, umm, started clarifying your methodological and epistemological approaches. see, that's a lot of work for two weeks.


been working on bloody awful hobbes and tocqueville paper but then realised i left tocqueville in DC (well, the book, not the man obviously) so am hampered. at least that's my excuse.


they don't have books in denmark? no wonder they play so much badminton

Priya: Books are bloody expensive. Cost $20 for a small-sized paperback. Blasted Danes.


back to pretending to listen to long presentation on canine distemper virus in seals and polar bears (seriously, it's as dull as it sounds)


eh? seals? bears? canine distemper? thought canine was dogs? i know my dog has to be vaccinated for distemper each year...


yeah, it's dogs. but it can spread to some wildlife. they've just started finding something that looks very much like it in marine mammals (although it's closely related to measles and a couple other diseases, so I'm not sure how certain they are about what it is.)


am writing on plane in order to appear busy (while not doing any actual work). I must recommend the flying out from DCA--v. cool visuals of dc, etc (including my apartment building--which is a bit weird, but still cool). Planning to steal peanuts as I forgot completely to pack anything to give Genius Nephew when I get to Detroit. At five, I'm hoping he won't realize what a crappy gift they are.

Have been thinking about various existential phd issues (yours, mine, and GSpice's, which are posted handily on her blog--we should have a blog for the third year phd's, that way we could eliminate multiple email issues) and have decided to say screw it all and join the french foreign legion. Surely they have a spot open for a lawyer with interpretive methodology leanings and a fear of heights. Or maybe the CIA--they're always looking to hire bright young law students and lawyers for various evil doings...

Not sure if I'm trying to demonstrate that I can ignore very far away closest fields (trapped in seat for 30 minutes out of DC, so no wandering the aisles for me) or that I too can ramble meaninglessly with the best of them...either way, I shall send this off once we touch down, so that at least it can provide you with some Sat. morning entertainment...


hopefully you are among young lawyers wondering why you ever gave up the possibility of a 500$ per hour job for discussing methodological issues but deciding it is for the pleasure of conversation (ha) with “intellectuals” who are still trying to figure out what is going on.


Not wondering so much--the competitors I saw were bad. Very bad. But it was good to see people from school again. We had food at a terrible Indian restaurant (proof that one should always check with someone BEFORE deciding to go for the salad bar), and then made fun of various people I used to go to school with.


did Genius Nephew enjoy peanuts?


no peanuts. just juice, and you had to pay for the snacks--bit of a rip off. So he got to get a pop at the gas station on the way home.


yes, read GSpice’s blog and did think that some of the stuff in there (esp finding oneself after two years of not finding oneself) smacked a bit too much of whatever (can't think of good word) but then i like GSpice so decided to forgive her her flights of fancy.


she's in the midst of writing, and should be forgiven her need to express herself to the outside world. occupational hazard.


also, i thought the whole marriage thing is universal (haha) across cultures since i get a lot more of that among my non-nepali friends/relatives than among nepalis.


yeah. it's pretty much everywhere. followed immediately by the grandkids thing.


not sure if i will ever be able to write anything in her style so am prepared to join you in the french foreign legion. though do we REALLY want to hang out with those french?


I thought the french foreign legion sent people away from france? if not, we'll need an alternate plan. The CIA?


eh? would love to join the CIA but am foreigner so can't.


You could work as an in-country CIA liason...but I think you'd have to do it from Nepal. Which might be okay.


didn't come into uni yesterday since was recovering from having had to pay 8$ for a pint of guinness at the irish place we ended up at on friday night.


Did it come with a tap, or some sort of gift bag at least?


no gift bag but proving that the irish everywhere are good fun, the place was excellent. had live music incl fairytale of new york (spelling?/name? i always found that song funny) and a bunch of expats who were quite willing to come talk with us (unlike snooty danes, who don't).


snootiness must be part of that essential danishness. HRDiva is going to be in Baden next week working on a guantanamo case--danishness reminds me that one of her issues is the Germanness (germanity?) of Turkish immigrants and children of immigrants there.


alcohol is v cheap in the shops here but bloody expensive in the pubs where anything except tuborg routinely costs around $8. weird.


nah. sober people buy alcohol in stores. the drunker you are, the more you're willing to pay.


yes, let's start writing an article together.


ok--but how to start? I can't build a model w/o the discourse data (well, I can, but it won’t be a very good one). We need a place to start researching.


actually like the idea of a 3rd year blog but i think we are somehow at diff stages and people wouldn't bother and it would be us two ranting. not sure if there is a "third year" anymore since we are not in regular contact with each other. not that that is a bad thing, really.


I fail to see why the two of us ranting couldn't be highly entertaining. I could bitch about DC politics, and you could talk about the EU. The entire developed world would be pissed at us.


reckon you should run away to denmark. haven't my stories tempted you? I am trying to see if i am a relational realist (though WeberMan thinks it is incompatible. I am with tilly in hoping it is compatible. this way i can piss off the realists AND the relationists/relationalists--whatever they are called).


I don't get it. How can you be a realist and also use relational methods? (I didn't get it in Tilly either).


also, have decided the book Dracula (and i am emailing this to WeberMan too) was about epidemics but also about one of the first ever terrorists. more on this later too.


Total agreement on the epidemic part--it's something that's surprisingly common in lit crit. I think I have an undergrad paper somewhere on it. Not sure about the terrorist part.


Here's my interpretation of Dracula.

I have decided it is a book about epidemics (vampiricisim (?) is transferred through bites and through blood and spreads rapidly, especially through the medium of the "weak"--women and children)


absolutely. not just infectious disease, but often talked about as STD (morality and disease both)


but also (I reckon) about one of the global discourses of terrorism :-) After all, Dracula spends a lot of time in his castle (before Jonathan gets there for the first time) reading about England and about trains and machines and all that modern stuff. Then, he wants to infiltrate England to destroy it and yet re-create it in his image. Traditional readings seem to look upon this as a modernisation narrative (poor Third-Worlder comes to England to learn from them) but I reckon it is also the other way around--he wants to (and does) spread his (illiberal, vampiric) values in England and learns about it in order to know what the best way of doing this would be.


the threat of the angry third worlder--so now we know what Huntington was reading for research.


Isn't this what the current (US/global) security discourse says about terrorists who may attack America/the West? Also, is the writer, as an Irishman at the turn of the 20th century (I think), showing his sympathy for the Irish cause (I really have nothing to support this view though!)?


not sure--the Irish didn't really think of themselves as 3d world. But there are accounts of Irish republicans "infiltrating" england / english forces. could be interesting to find out.


What do you think? yes, apart from the view that I should really be working on my PhD thesis proposal (on which I have still not done anything) instead of speculating about Dracula.


no, dracula is cool--I'm trying to think of how to work the disease / terrorism angle. maybe a way to use it in the paper?


Genealogy of a blog, part four

And here we go again. By now, you should be able to figure who's who without the full name. And we're announcing a contest: first person to email one of us with the correct name of one of our intrepid band of characters gets to either 1) suggest their own SuperName or 2) author a backstory on that person (real or invented). We reserve the right to refuse to publish things which are unnecessarily mean, badly written, or just not funny. This is, after all, why we have a blog and not a wiki.

Now back to our show...

P: am totally wasting time since liverpool are off having a half time break. and how do you find these things??? wish someone would pay me to travel to a 1000 bars in one year. though i find i am somehow "cool" since this welsh guy (who is also in my danish class) was amazed i had traveled in wales (his un-PC words being "but usually people go to Nepal, why would you go from Nepal to Wales?" ... maybe because nepal is not "exotic" to nepalis?) and wanted to know if i had gone to visit the ONE nepali family that he knows of in his town (Aberysthwyth) and whose daughters went to school with him. I pointed out that Nepal is a fairly big country and I didn't know those Nepalis.

E: I of course was talking about the legitimization of particular cooperations, although cooperation itself is really just a legitimized discourse. Wait, I've confused myself. Basically, when I'm talking about cooperation, I'm talking about the conversation that goes on regarding what actions are possible and which are not (often for "security" reasons). This is why I think we're okay on ontology, but using different methodologies--discourse analysis as opposed to interpretive modeling. We're still talking about how we talk about things (in my case, disease is the thing, although it too is founded in the way we talk about pathology and biology). This is making no sense--but you probably get the idea.

do the welsh visit nepal a lot?

P: perfect. think it makes sense to me but then it is really really late so who knows? yes, i reread it and it does make sense. love that line about conversations--we should put that in. think i pissed off StructureMan since i wrote to him saying i was going to ask WeberMan who i could put in my committee (oh, he wrote back, btw and suggested, among others RandomProf. not too sure if i want RandomProf or vice versa!)

anyway...liv are winning so maybe i should give up and go home. but then i have a superstitious dread of what may happen and i will not be able to check all day tomorrow.

Don’t know about welsh in nepal. never seen any actually but then i don't hang out with tourists :-))

but then this welsh guy has a really annoying upper class v twitty posh english accent. sounds like somebody caricatured (term?) in monty python (he could be a participant in the race of the upper class twits) so i am suspicious about his welsh (essentialist) identity

E: Ah, so he's not from the old farm down home, but only wishes that he was (perhaps like TheoryGuy and his working class roots)

Having no hockey, I am uninterested in the outcomes of sporting events...Europe has hockey, which is entirely unfair.

StructureMan doesn't really want to advise you, does he? I thought he had low opinions of discourse...

remind me to tell you the jus cogens sandwich spread thing when you get back--it just won't translate over email.

P: damn now i am curious about the sandwich spread...will remind you!
liverpool, as usual, are living dangerously. any other team and i could have gone home by now. but not them.

no, StructureMan thinks that discourses just conceal ideology(ies) and discourse analysis is to reveal ideology.

blah, say i.

E: exactly. although at least he doesn't want you to compare the discourse of WHO and TRIPS to the "real" interactions. arrgh.

how late is it there?

P: realised i was about to miss the last bus and ran (first time EVER in my life, probably!)

more later. am having wild (haha), alcohol fueled party at the uni office with the other phds. why don't we do this at The University which shall not be Named?

E: TUWSNBM is methodist campus, TF frowns upon loud drinking and most heathen philosophy.

P: turned out wild party led to a few of the others getting drunk and insulting each other. me, trying to play peacemaker (and failing miserably and then just sitting back and enjoying the fights). amazing what a little alcohol can do to people

E: yep. just keep drunks away from buses is my usual plan of action

P: had an email from WeberMan in which (i think) he nominated himself for my phd committee chair

E: he does that, I guess. beginning to wonder how many committees he wants to be on. but congrats--now we can commiserate about the perils of WeberManian committees. I've started talking to GenealogySpice about it, and I'll pass any useful tidbits along...

P: (and i didn't even have to ask/beg/etc though was ready to) and told me that my review of inayatullah and blaney's book was fairly okay. i think it needed to be seriously edited but i didn't have time.

anyway, am not entirely positive what i wrote back to him since all this was when i was trying to prevent cross-cultural interactions from turning violent (imagine me as a parachuted habermasian among squabbling europeans) so might have not really written what i should. can't check since hotmail doesn't save my sent messages. blast.

will email you the pics from the tip of denmark. was bloody amazing though at times i thought i would never get warm again and I think my snot was freezing! was good to get away from here

ps: i vote we have alcohol fueled party among ourselves while we write OUR paper (c'mon!) and whinge about WeberMan :-)

E: All for alcohol fueled (although I get very little done when drunk) and you know I love to whine...

don't worry about the camera--it really was cheap (as in shipping was about as much). Like I said, definitely pictures for email, not print.

why would StructureMan WANT to be your chair (no offense, but doesn't he think discourse analysis is fairly useless?) I don't remember him saying much about Foucault...

had long chat with SystemGuru about dissertation, etc. He has surprising understanding of WeberMan; I didn't ask him to be on my committee, but did ask if, once I was actually ready to put one together, and knew that I wanted to use system dynamics, he would be willing to sign on. Seemed better to put my current confusion on the table, rather than pretending to have more figured out than I do.

I'm off to copy files so that I don't have to take giant notebook of papers on the plane--bad enough that I have to take 30# System dynamics textbook in order to figure out what the hell RandomStudent is talking about...

P: plane…what plane? be careful on planes...are you off to hawaii then? did i know about this (and forgot?) should be good fun esp as it is hawaii.

E: nope, not Hawaii--going to Ada, Ohio to judge an Intl Law competition (Jessup regionals)

P: i will be freezing in denmark while yous wander around on beaches. take pictures!

yay again for camera. yayayayayay.

E: I will take pictures of very cold soybean fields. hip hip rah

P: as you may note, am bored and have not much to do. hence multiple emails in one day.

think BaldieG is perfect since i can now whinge about him. he really is annoying though -- he just told me to type less loudly (ha!) since he could not concentrate :-)

E: Is there any way you can type louder? Might send him right over the edge.

P: yes, i also heard from X that SystemGuru (notice use of first name--i am getting used to that here as i call the institute director, a guy in his 70s, steffan. of course i can't ever imagine calling the dean "louis" with a straight face) was a nice guy to talk to about south asia.

E: He's just finishing a project on Sri Lanka, but has other stuff--every time I talk to him he gives me something to read (like I need more reading on my to-do list, but still, every little bit helps). Latest is an out-of-print systems book that I cannot find anywhere.

P: but then he is a systems guy and i am not though can't hurt having a chat with the ONLY person doing stuff on south asia (not counting india and pakistan) at uni, i suppose.

E: nope. he's actually very entertaining

P: WeberMan suggested RandomProf (for her irish expertise, apparently) and not RandomProf or StructureMan

btw, (and this is making me feel so good), CofI says they just read stuff by their profs (and a few others like giddens) and i am suddenly considered really good because i know about witty, weber, wendt, etc etc AND i have also heard of giddens, etc. So, now, for the first time ever in my life, i am suddenly more knowledgeable than the others!!! hehehe.this feeling of superiority is rather unexpected.

E: you mean that stuff has actually been useful? whaddaya know. guess I should have read more of it.

P: CofI(she is nice) says that coming here was such a crushing blow to her ego because back home in england she was one of the best students and here there's people who seem to know all these other people she has never heard of. (well, i feel like that too but realise, esp due to WeberMan and StructureMan too, i must admit, we have read a lot of the people all these things talk about)

E: cool. so all I need to do to feel like I'm not at sea is go to England. Wonder if there're any system dynamics people over there?

P: turns out my rambling was long after all. isn't it always? enjoy the weekend and a big hi to Patient Husband!

i think yous should run away and leave work/uni behind and come visit me :-)

E: me too. unfortunately, there's this whole prospectus defense thing hanging over my head