Realist-constructivism? and modernist poetry

More on the (enlightening? frustrating? confusing? entertaining? disconcerting? your choice) Realist-Constructivist Conference (Workshop) tomorrow, since it isn't over yet. I will note that the first thing that was decided was that everyone disagreed on what that term means, and the second was that we (possibly) need a new term. Naming things doesn't seem to be a strength of this particular ism. Also, we should all be using an "ism"atic lens. Think on that, and I'll get back to you with the rest later.

So, today's poetry selection is (I think) closely linked to this new discussion. Although it also could say things about the previous methodology debates.

Robert Frost (1920)

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.



Smorgasbord of Methodology

In the interests of working smarter, not harder, I've decided to greatly limit my posting on the Great Methodology Battles of 2000-200?. Instead, I offer a buffet (or smorgasbord, if you prefer) of accounts taken from emails. Although there was also some IM venting involved, I don't have permission to post that part--and everyone knows I always ask permission first. Well, almost always. Don't know about the Great Methodology Battles? Then you haven't been paying attention.

First the short versions:

1) Results in brief:

Next year, there will be reforms to the quant course which will make it a course that includes epistemology and covers large-n and small-n methodologies. The epistemology course will become a combination of epistemology and qualitative methodologies, taught by Weberman.

Any other discussion of changes to the required core of PhD courses will be discussed further next year.

We cannot institute a team-taught course because 1) The dept does not have the faculty to do this right now, 2) the administrative requirements for such a course are unknown, and 3) such a course would under-represent the mainstream quantitative methods of IR and Poli Sci.

I will leave any editorial comments to the group.

2) Waiting for the email:

P: since bbc has boring elections coverage today, am listening to your fave radio channel and am blaming you for moments of humming and yells (apparently) which are punctuating my "work" today and are startling my two colleagues.

good luck with the committee!

ps: didn't know the Police sung songs in French...always knew I found Sting a pretentious prat

E: the proposals went from two to four in the last ten minutes. I think. this does not bode well.

P: also v concerned about the whole doubling of methodology proposals issue...it must be past noon there so hopefully done by now?

E: just finished (well, at 12:30). final result was a two course series (quant and qual) with epistemology, methodology, and some methods mixed together, but not team taught. will leave you to draw your own conclusions about the reasoning behind unanimous consent for this new idea.

[E: Adding a conclusion here for anyone who wasn’t part of the original, ongoing conversation. How is it possible that a professor is available to teach this new quant course in a satisfactory manner, but that same professor is unable to team teach the same class as part of a year-long course? Is the charisma of the other professor in question so great that he cannot be in the same room without drawing all available students into his evil web? Does this magnetism pass through walls and disrupt nearby classes, or is it only effective on students within the sound of his voice? How does he manage to stroll the campus every day without tripping over the students who throw themselves at his feet? How does anyone ever graduate without falling under his spell and becoming an evil qual-meth themselves?

And if the team-teaching thing is so troubling, why would anyone want to give this guy the last word? Shouldn’t they stick his class somewhere in the middle, and hope the attraction wears off before it’s time to start picking committees and writing prospecti?

We should do a survey and find the answer to these questions using advanced statistical analysis. You know, quant. Real social science. The kind that will get us jobs.]

all other questions tabled for further discussion next year

GS: that doesn't sound too horrible but then again we'll hear more details from you i'm sure.

on the team teaching: i think some folks might be totally paranoid about the prospect of a coup.

And the long one:

E: Will talk to S about party and check the schedule. You're welcome at the workshop if you want to go--they're talking about realism and constructivism as competing / complementary / related epistemologies.

just out of curiosity, do faculty disputes at other universities turn into name calling and barely veiled attacks against students as proxies for unpopular faculty? Or is it just TUWSNBN?

HRD: Come after workshop - this party will go late. Call me on cell phone if problem.

academia is hell, didn't you know that? (though not law school academia, where everyone is secure and well paid).

E: I'm sensing sarcasm. After today's (ahem) polite discussion, I may stay later at the workshop to see some real debate.

HRD: Was in [small town against which awful places to live are measured] last week to give talks - students as usual completely unable to organize way out of paper bag.

E: You have to give them clear bags so that they can see the way out. Paper is much too complicated. Did the talks go well, though?

HRD: Seminar somehow not quite my thing. Was invited to Foreign Policy discussion group today for journalists - including people like [edited to remove names of people you should know, if you don’t] - very enlightening. Met a guy from Midwest U who works on disease/science and international affairs - have his name somewhere (starts with K). The subject of discussion was George Kennan and Greek civil war. Felt like being back at school - lots of readings.

E: Sounds like fun--would definitely like to know who guy from MU was, if you can remember. Disease and IR folks are pretty rare, so I may be able to figure it out on my own.

Had a brief moment of panic today when someone in committee meeting from hell said that advanced methodology is currently required. V. relieved to find out that legal research and writing is considered advanced, and therefore it's okay that I've drifted around looking for methods for three years and audited the one I plan to use.

Hate committee meetings. Shall tell you all about the potential perils of being a popular professor on the tenure track when I see you next. As Priya would say, "bloody profs, bloody school, bloody discipline can all go and stuff themselves."

I greatly regretted that RandomProf's policy of throwing things when people make stupid comments is not a general policy. Would have liked a bushel of those little foam balls that ILSA hands out at Jessup and some time for target practice. A (mostly accurate) sampling: "There is a mainstream, and it should be stressed that other critical methods are supplemental to it" *thunk* "I think we all agree that quantitative methods take more time to master" *thunk* "We should have balance: this plan (two statistics courses, one qualitative methods overview, a later epistemology course, and no other exposure to quant) does just that." *thunk* "Everyone understands that reform is needed. But we should be careful not to rely too much on particular faculty members" (this from the same person who, last time we met, asked the faculty member in question to put together a proposal IN OPPOSITION TO HIS OWN PROPOSAL so that we could consider other options.) *thunkity thunk thunk thunk*

Considered throwing pens, but realized that would make it impossible to write this crap down for later discussion and blogging. Instead tried to look pleasant while gritting teeth and trying not to snicker at patently ridiculous statements like "We've gone too far from the mainstream, and are teaching our students to be antipositivists." Hello? I'm IN THE ROOM, and I'm using system dynamics. I am a definition of positivist. And I STILL THINK THIS IS A STUPID STATEMENT.

[E: At least, I am in the definition that was assumed by the issuer of the above statement, which is not necessarily the most accurate use of the term. I think that hypothesis testing is a fairly good idea, and that there is a there, there. I think physics has got the right idea. But I haven’t a clue what an anti-positivist is. Is this like antimatter? When you put a positivist and an anti-positivist in the same committee meeting, do they explode, causing the end of the known universe? Should NASA be warned that we’re breeding anti-positivists right here in TUWSNBN? Does anyone have the phone number for NASA? You know, just in case.]

Resolved never to allow students to like my classes too much, or encourage them to pursue interesting research or projects. This will prevent both the antagonism of colleagues and the possibility that I will get any more gifts from students, which I then have to return with regrets bc (legitimately) this is not allowed. [E: I had no idea until this happened that students gave gifts. I’ve never given a professor a gift. Wait, I have. But not until long after I finished the class. And it was completely unrelated. I know I’ve never given anything to a TA, except grief. And the flu, once, but that wasn’t my fault because I was contagious but didn’t feel sick. Damn viruses.]

Also, friendly students are less likely to come to my office hours with [problems] which I then have to take to various people in order to figure out what my response should
have been. [E: Of course, had these sorts of situations been discussed at any point in my academic career, I could have skipped this step. But I’m not bitter. Not me.]

It would have been easier to stay a lawyer, I think. At least I knew those rules. There is very little transparency in academia. And even less logic.

I apologize for every time I sat in your office and 1) complained about [law school], 2) asked advice about interactions with said university, 3) relayed stories about fellow classmates, and 4) whined in general about how hard it was to be a student. I had no idea. But thanks for listening anyway.

HRD: hah - now you get it! It's like when your kid has a kid. Now you know. It was worse when students came to complain about faculty [problems].

Some more of that good old fashioned literature

These actually aren't my favorite lines in Gawain and the Greene Knight. But he's right, they are fabulous to read out loud. This poem (and there's a good facing-page translation available now) is what landed me in a series of medieval lit classes--and I have the giant green cardboard horse and ax to prove it. They're around here somewhere. I think. Actually, I think it was a halberd. Yup, definitely a halberd--funny looking ax with a point on the top and a little hook at the back.

And, to keep the Monty Python references coming, keep in mind that knight is, in fact, pronounced "kuhnikt" in the poem. It'll come in handy when you go read the whole thing, just to find out how it ends. (What? You should. It's great, there's a beheading and an enchanted belt, a party and a deep dark forest, and betrayal, and honesty, and seduction, and another attempt at beheading, and all kinds of fun. It's like D&D without the pesky dice. Plus Gawain was the medieval equivalent of the strong, silent type. Except for that whole murder rap. I still think he was framed.)

How can you not fall in love with a poem that begins:

SIÞEN þe sege and þe assaut watz sesed at Troye,
Þe bor3 brittened and brent to bronde3 and askez,
Þe tulk þat þe trammes of tresoun þer wro3t
Watz tried for his tricherie, þe trewest on erþe:
Hit watz Ennias þe athel, and his highe kynde,
Þat siþen depreced prouinces, and patrounes bicome
Welne3e of al þe wele in þe west iles.
Fro riche Romulus to Rome ricchis hym swyþe,
With gret bobbaunce þat bur3e he biges vpon fyrst,
And neuenes hit his aune nome, as hit now hat;
Tirius to Tuskan and teldes bigynnes,
Langaberde in Lumbardie lyftes vp homes,
And fer ouer þe French flod Felix Brutus
On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he settez
wyth wynne,
Where werre and wrake and wonder
Bi syþez hatz wont þerinne,
And oft boþe blysse and blunder
Ful skete hatz skyfted synne.

And that's just the preview. Off to read some more (and I promise the lowdown on the methodology question, plus some more poetry, later. But not right now. Gotta go hang with Gawaine.)

The Half-Time Report

I realised that I had just passed the half-way stage of my time at OOD. In about two months, I will be back in DC, penniless and jobless…did I write penniless? Assuming all goes well, that is.

In Nepali terms, counting towards the endpoint would probably lead to some (not v nice) mishap occurring in the near future and hence the half-time report being end-of-time report. Morbid thoughts aside (though it is a particularly morbid thoughts type of weather outside with blustery winds and grey skies), I reckoned I should write some of the unexpected things about OOD so far:

The homesickness. Not since I left home at 18 have I been this homesick. I just MISS home. I miss my Mum and her food and shopping tips :-), I miss my Dad and his long walks which he usually managed to go off on without letting anyone else know in case they wanted to go with him, I miss Peru who is not really a country but a sister and is not even in Peru but in New Zealand (and has been for the past four years and I haven’t seen her in all that time) and the little one (who, being the tallest, is not really little either). I miss the dog, even his habit of killing huge rats and presenting it to me as though he had done something really really brilliant. I miss my Granddad and his continuous interest in the news. I miss my Grandma and her habit of never listening to any of us. I just miss home. And, I don’t know why. It’s not the longest I have been away (I was there last summer), it’s not like it is very exciting (usually, I just stay inside the house and do nothing much and there is no Internet) and when I am there, I just want to get back to Uni. I think the pace of life at OOD and the people (willing to help out if asked but fairly quiet and not interested in starting conversations otherwise) remind me of Nepal.

It may be odd to say that since OOD is in one of the richest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita and Nepal is one of the poorest. But, the people and their attitudes and the general willingness to help out just remind me of home. Besides, here they fertilise their flowers and plants with cow dung. How can that not remind me of home? The food here is fairly boring. As is ours. And, there is dog shit on nearly all the pavements. During winter and the snow, it was all covered. Now, you can see them—big, small, curled up, all shapes and sizes. Also, blokes seem to pee just about anywhere. The other day, I was looking out the window of my flat in the early morning and man stopped below and what I thought was him watering the plants (it was a cold, foggy day) turned out to be him watering the plants but not in the usual way (water, hose, you know). And, I watched the whole process amazed by what I thought was Danish efficiency in watering plants even on such a shite day. Only later, did I realise what was going on.

Another unexpected and wonderful thing is the encouragement, at OOD Uni, that PhD students should just teach and study. And do their research. And faculty are willing to help out, point students in the directions of conferences and meetings in their field and just create linkages among their and other students. After TUWSNBN, this is refreshing (though I am not implying all professors of TUWSNBN are not interested in students doing research). And much appreciated.

The best part of OOD I reckon though is the sea. Even in winter ,with lovely grey-coloured waves, the sea is just fantastic. Until coming to OOD, I had never seen the sea in true winter with ice-covered stones and long stretches of sands where the water has frozen into icy particles. Beaches in Thailand and Australia never get this cold. If given a choice, I would just live by the sea (and go on the dole while I write my PhD :-))

Another thing I really miss is not having books to read or films to watch. I used to watch a film a week. Bad films, good ones, Hollywood blockbusters, obscure indie flicks, anything. I have seen one since coming here (Robots). It is not like I don’t want to see films but that the choice is very limited with National Treasure and Hide and Seek being among some recent offers. And, no H2G2. I am depending on Elizabeth to provide me with details of it. Also, no cheap books. The library at Uni of OOD is great but does not have the sort of books I like to read in between obsessing about papers and research—you know, the rubbish books. Often mysteries, in my case. Sometimes British “imperial” books (Conrad, Orwell, Kipling, etc) and old favourites like James Herriot, Gerald Durrell and P.G. Wodehouse for those times when I want absurdity in my life. None of that is available. So, I miss the libraries of America. One of the best things about that country, actually. Free, huge, marvellously well-stocked libraries. Did I say free?

Another unexpected thing is that it is really expensive to go out in OOD. A pint of beer costs around US$ 9. A good reason to stay home and do some much-needed reading for that PhD proposal I am supposed to be writing…

I just realised it is Friday and I should probably run for the bus now instead of sitting indoors writing up the half-time report of my stay here. Before I go, just a quick addition to Elizabeth’s earlier (pre-poetry) post about blogthings. Apparently, if zombies attacked, I would be a survivor (Brilliant, eh? I always knew being forced to play cricket when young would come in handy at some time in life) but then my “signature weapon” is a halberd (and I had to look up what that was). Not sure how that works out.


A little history with your culture

And now for something completely different...

Geoffrey Chaucer (A truly accessible medieval poet)

I think that Chaucer understood the predicament of graduate school pretty well for a guy who kicked the bucket 600 years ago.

Complaint to His Purse

To you, my purs, and to noon other wight,
Complaine I, for ye be my lady dere.
I am so sory, now that ye be light,
For certes, but if ye make me hevy cheere,
Me were as lief be laid upon my beere;
For which unto youre mercy thus I crye:
Beeth hevy again, or elles moot I die.

Now voucheth sauf this day er it be night
That I of you the blisful soun may heere,
Or see youre colour, lik the sonne bright,
That of yelownesse hadde nevere peere.
Ye be my life, ye be myn hertes steere,
Queene of confort and of good compaignye:
Beeth hevy again, or elles moot I die.

Ye purs, that been to me my lives light
And saviour, as in this world down here,
Out of this tonne helpe me thurgh your might,
Sith that ye wol nat be my tresorere;
For I am shave as neigh as any frere.
But yit I praye unto youre curteisye:
Be hevy again, or elles moot I die.


Deconstructing obstructions

Am chatting with Elizabeth on MSN and she found this. Am also procrastinating while listening to Liverpool's match. So, I get to put it up.

What actually goes on at academic meetings

Go here

If this is the sort of thing that goes on everywhere, then it's a wonder things ever get done.

More poetry--like it or not

Now that blogger has decided to cooperate, here's some more culture. Don't worry, it's good for you. Trust me on this one.

Today's poet: Margaret Atwood


My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
how to make spells.

I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.

A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.

I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.

Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.

A word after a word
after a word is power.

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.

This is a metaphor.

How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.


Finally getting around to NPM

I would just like to thank the code at blogger for taking my last post and sending it off into the black hole that is the internet. Perhaps there is a planet of lost posts somewhere near the place where lost pens go? Is there a market for secondhand blog entries?

Have no fear, though--my post was conveniently backed up as a text file (take that, blogger!)

The stars have aligned and I find myself finished with classes, without a job, and in the middle of "turn off your tv week" all at the same time. In the ten minutes it took me to go from "Great! I finally have time to get some work done on my proposal" to "I'm so bored, what am I going to do now?" I also realized that it's still National Poetry Month. Isn't that convenient?

And so, in addition to our regular diet of snarkiness and whining, I propose to add a bit of culture. The first installment? Poems that I wrote about as an undergraduate, but still like to read for fun. It's a short list. And I'm leaving out the lit crit, for which you should thank me. You can, of course, crit to your little heart's content in the comments, or chime in with suggestions for additional poems. Hey, we're a mixed media kind of place. And as soon as I figure out Flickr, we'll be adding the visual arts to our (short) list of talents.

First up: e.e. cummings (1958)

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea


Double damn!

Last one, I swear to god. It's turn off your tv week, and I'm taking that to mean blogthings as well. Maybe I'll try getting some work done. Or not.

I would like to note that they spelled convincing wrong, and that I've already tried four out of the seven jobs they suggest.

If someone wants to pay me to be a translator, politician, or journalist, I'm happy to give those a go as well.

Also, I'm pretty sure the Elizabethans didn't have karaoke, so I'm not quite sure what Will's doing there. Being anachronistic, that's for sure.

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?


Damn you, blogquiz!

I have so many better things to do--and yet...

You Are a Snarky Blogger!

You've got a razor sharp wit that bloggers are secretly scared of.
And that's why they read your posts as often as they can!

What kind of blogger are you?

Not sure about the razor sharp wit and avid readers. But I have always wanted to be called snarky.

Also, I'm 73% Leo, a Type A personality, and a bleeding heart liberal. My personality disorder is manic depressive. Anyone surprised? I didn't think so.

Back to grading papers (speaking of being snarky...)


The Killer Rabbit

With all these discussions of methodology going on in TUWSNBN and me having to sit through an entire day of “methods (methodology) reflection seminar”, I have been speculating about some guidelines one can follow.

For instance, if, while out searching for the Holy Grail, you are warned of a manic rabbit in a cave nearby, your options are:

· Option 1: Leg it immediately in the opposite direction (or, in IR terms, go publish your works in Alternatives or journals with names so obscure no one in the field would have heard of them)
· Career prediction: Rabbit is likely to bite off arms, chew them up and spit them out. (or, you will most likely have no career in the vicinity of the rabbit)

· Option 2: Attempt to point out the bloodthirsty nature of the rabbit. Or, taunt it. This could lead to different scenarios:

· Scenario 1: Rabbit will not acknowledge its bloodthirsty nature but is willing to listen to you (Or, your methodology, though seemingly daft, is a methodology and, as such, should be heard)
· Career prediction: possibility of creating knowledge out of differing positions. Dialogic interaction possible. Perhaps. Depending on the rabbit (and you)

· Scenario 2: Bloodthirsty? What is that? (methodology? Positionings? Bah. Rabbit is unconcerned about what you are talking about)
· Career prediction: Applied work is what matters. Development, conflict resolution would be suitable fields to play about in.

· Scenario 3: Rabbit will admit this is how things are and always have been and always will be and you'd better become bloodthirsty too to be able to get on (Convert! Convert! Convert!)
· Career prediction: give in and publish in statistically oriented journals. Start talking about statistical inferences and hypothesis testing.

· Scenario 4: After much discussion, you realise you are bloodthirsty too. You are just not acknowledging it. The whole world is bloodthirsty (universalism rules)
· Career prediction: either you work with this assumption and yet do your own thing (difficult since rabbit is about to repress/convert other people during future interactions) or go to Option 3

· Option 3: You kill the rabbit and become it. This is when the Holy Hand Grenade comes in. Career prediction: you take over the cave and prevent others from passing by. Or, in other words, you create the new mainstream and take over IR (for people keen on asking me/telling me I have a political project with my research, this is it)

How (not) to build a conference panel

Apparently the usual difficulties of putting together a panel for an upcoming conference are exacerbated by 1) distance, 2) lack of caffeine, and 3) our usual inability to cope with a problem for any more than 30 seconds at a time. At least this time we both showed up for the IM meeting.

Again, minimal editing (spelling, so that we don't look too stupid, but not capitalization or other grammar errors. We've also taken out double postings caused by the caffeine thing.) This is a long one--but I couldn't figure out where the breaks would be to make it a series. So get over it.

9:29:02 P: oh there you are!
i just sent an email
9:29:25 E: am I late? I thought we said 9:30?
9:29:56 P: i think so! no, i wasn’t sure what time either since it is a holiday today. and i just got here so thought you might have been on and left
st bede's day
whoever he/she was
9:30:20 E: nah--I'm running late bc it's pouring rain
9:30:36 P: oh no! cold and windy here
am beginning to doubt whether they have summer
9:31:12 E: it's probably about three weeks in July
9:31:37 P: prob. when i leave. people have started walking around in t-shirts in THIS weather and i can't see how they survive
anyway...how was weber's b'day?
9:34:50 E: good--there was chocolate cake, and Weberman gave a lecture on the fractal stuff (abbott and his IR divisions). I thought it was fun, but not sure who else did.
9:35:06 P: ah...were there heaps of people?
i have decided that i think i know the first years after reading the CofI blog...but GSpice said they were all "save the world" types
9:36:11 E: not really—five guys. and me.
they are all save the world types--i think X may be the only exception
9:36:50 P: the nz-er or the dane?
i am just asking all these questions because am miffed i missed weber's b-day
9:37:29 E: nz
if it helps, i didn't have any cake
too much sugar
but i heard it was good
9:38:19 P: ah...
blast. cake.
9:38:45 E: chocolate-raspberry cake, no less
Priya closed the conversation window. (9:39:27)
Priya disconnected (9:39:27)
Priya connected (9:39:46)
9:39:47 E: well okay then.
9:40:08 P: blah
9:40:16 P: msn kicked me out
9:40:22 E: not very nice of them
9:40:30 P: and i had finished writing this long sentence about trying to search for listservs
9:40:33 P: but typical
damn msn
listservs on students in security, etc for the conference panel
9:41:03 E: true. i sent you an email from the h2g2 site--it gives out new names.
9:41:07 P: and the name of it
have been reading reviews since i will not get to watch the film
9:42:31 E: that sucks. It opens next weekend; I was planning to go opening night, but now not sure--have Weberman’s gtown thing, an azalea party, and the dinner all that weekend
9:42:35 P: am trying to search for listservs but without success
9:43:15 E: how about this title: Terror and Typhoid: Security and Disease in the International Sphere
9:43:18 P: azalea party?
I like sphere
9:43:40 E: friend of HRDiva has about 50 azalea bushes, and is having a party to look at them
i thought it had a nice ring
9:43:57 P: oh...where?
that sounds like fun
9:44:01 E: kensington
9:44:04 P: yes, sphere
9:44:08 E: do we need a verb in the title?
9:44:12 P: where is that? sounds v posh and london
don't think so
9:44:33 E: it’s up by our house--one of the little towns that turned into a neighborhood
9:44:46 P: oh i see...sound v posh
and Weberman is having another dinner?
9:45:02 E: probably named after the one in england
yeah--he's really gung ho on this whole community thing
we're going to talk about the fractal stuff
9:45:21 P: ah...i reckon that is good
9:45:26 E: spose so.
9:45:32 P: oh i see...even better
i can see two phd-ers turning up for the monday thing
but maybe they will surprise us all
9:45:58 E: not sure how he got away with the sis fractal talk yesterday, but word's going to get around
9:46:03 P: are you and him doing that fractilisation paper?
ohhhh...it was about dept fractalisation?
9:46:22 E: sort of. he can't publish it before getting tenure, so there's no real hurry. not sure what’s up with it.
9:46:26 P: i thought it was theoretical
were any faculty there?
9:46:44 E: both. theory, and then some application to the department. basically, why we’re so weird
no faculty.
not sure they were invited
9:47:08 P: oh i see.
9:47:16 P: because last year, there were a few from what i recall
9:47:28 E: there were. not this year.
i think it was strategic
good news: SystemsGuru is going to back the methodology proposal
9:48:06 P: what? oh goody
senior prof with respect going to back it can only be good right?
9:48:25 E: should be able to do it now, i think
9:48:34 P: but if dean, RegionGuy and many others are in favour, how can FP resist?
9:48:36 E: she’s going to be pissed
9:48:42 P: seems rather weird to me
9:48:49 E: she will. but she'll probably lose
9:49:00 P: but does she really not understand that there ARE other methodologies about?
or just not care
9:49:17 E: she knows they're out there. but she thinks they're wrong
9:49:24 P: she always scared me. i never understood why X liked her so much
9:49:29 E: beats me
9:49:32 P: i mean, Weberman scares me too but not in a scary way
9:49:42 E: exactly
9:49:45 P: ah...NI and DB in action :D
blasted book
pops up everywhere
9:49:59 E: we were just talking about NI
9:50:07 P: who we?
what is he up to?
9:50:12 E: and how he and Weberman can disagree bc they agree on a lot
it was part of the fractal thing
9:50:34 P: ah i see
yes, that makes sense
9:50:55 E: so we need an abstract for the panel--any thoughts? i'm stuck
9:50:59 P: or even if disagree, then at least try understand the other person's position instead of trying to turn them into yours
9:51:09 E: something like that.
9:51:39 P: not yet. i was trying to see what people were about before even thinking of an abstract
9:51:44 E: I still have some reservations about the whole fractals in social life deal, but looking forward to talking about them w/ Weberman and others
9:51:58 P: prob start off with something boring and general ...
who else at party?
9:52:04 E: we still need a couple of sentences to send out, though
9:52:10 P: true
9:52:39 E: not sure yet. The usual suspects probably
it's still a week away, so no one's committing yet
9:52:55 P: boring and general...the impacts of security on disease and vice versa have continued ...
oh i see... was rather disturbed by blog pic of danish
in some exotically-named boat in egypt
9:53:30 E: yeah. you can pretty much assume that's who I mean
9:53:36 E: the kiwi one
9:53:57 E: asked if i wanted to go out with group for a drink last night, but had stupid DialogueMan class
9:54:07 P: and have decided textual analysis of CofI blog is fun since can predict who wrote what now
9:54:16 E: was looking forward to discussion with phds.
9:54:22 P: oh..nice. yes, that one is easy to talk to (not that i know the danish one)
9:54:32 E: should do discourse analysis of cofi
we could write a paper on it
9:54:52 P: been having lots of discussions with PhDs here who all assume, as i said, i am loony
hehe...we could
and piss off an entire cohort at the same time
9:55:19 E: sounds like fun to me
9:55:33 P: phds here do not set out their methodological orientations
9:55:40 E: do they have them?
9:55:49 P: of course, they all do
9:55:57 P: but just assume there is no need to talk about that
9:56:04 E: vey odd
9:56:04 P: since it is "irrelevant"
had a professor yesterday, at a seminar, say "big words like ontology and epistemology are useless"
9:56:40 E: GSpice and i have decided that Weberman’s phd “followers” have a common obsession with methodology and doing very careful work
9:56:46 P: got your email just now about hitchhiker name
9:56:56 E: also, big useless words
9:57:08 P: yes. but even StructureMan would agree (he might not want to set his out but he'd agree)
9:57:14 E: so we're all sort of anal retentive in our own special ways
9:57:18 P: blast. i cant do it
9:57:25 E: why?
9:57:26 P: indeed
it needs flash and i can't download that in my uni computer
9:57:48 E: that sucks.
9:57:51 P: ah well...just like the movie, i am not fated to know my hitchhiker name
9:58:01 P: indeed
9:58:05 E: I found an internet radio station that's playing entire depeche mode albums
9:58:05 P: damn danes
9:58:15 E: good day for me.
i'll go type your name in, and see what you get.
9:58:30 P: fantastic
just had an email from my dad who saw a bootlegged copy of H2G2 and is highly unimpressed
P: but then he has the old tv series (and radio tapes) so i think he is not keen on new versions
9:59:16 E: IX Belcerebon
P: i almost sound like the new pope
9:59:40 E: he wouldn't be big on it, I guess
9:59:42 P: almost
9:59:46 E: maybe you are the new pope
10:00:00 P: maybe...
10:00:07 E: am in love with dayglo radio
10:00:08 P: v worrying thought that
that rhymes
i am writing a new post for the blog but it is boringly academic
and some random person emailed me to say that i had used "going troppo" in a "wrong way"
which was hilarious though i deleted it
10:01:11 E: there's a right and a wrong way?
10:01:22 P: who knows...obviously not a fan of witty
or reader of witty
10:01:30 E: clearly
10:01:45 P: btw, getting back to the panel
think up a first line
for abstract
10:02:01 E: weird--i took an editing test (trying to find a job) and one of the problems was a paragraph on language games
10:02:37 P: oh i see...and?
10:02:40 E: how's this: Are security and disease related issues? Should they be? What links them, and what does that mean for the study of international relations? We are seeking papers on either the places where disease and terror are brought together, or analyses of the way that the discussion of the two comes together in the discipline.
10:02:52 E: just thought it was odd that witty is suddenly everywhere
argh. said nice things about radio, and now it's quit in the middle of a-ha
never mind, it's back
10:03:57 P: a-ha?
don't have radio at home here but have good old bbc when at uni
and all danish bus drivers listen to cheesy 80s songs which i barely remember
10:04:35 E: this is online--you know, 80s group that sings take on me
10:04:40 P: today was tina turner/rod stewart day
10:04:45 E: this is totally cheesy 80s
10:04:51 P: ah..they are danes, i think?
10:04:55 E: but not ina turner or rod stweart
10:05:06 E: misspelled all of that
10:05:10 P: big hair day, i think
10:05:14 E: ugh
prefer depeche mode. music of my childhood
10:05:34 P: btw, your abstract is great. feel like total slacker (which i am) for not doing any work
thailand was big on bad 80s music
10:05:57 E: not so hard. now we need to send it out
the whole country?
10:06:16 P: hehe...no, bangkok shopping malls
and since we didn't have air conditioning in the flat we lived, we lived a lot in shopping malls
though did little shopping
10:06:54 E: makes sense to me
10:07:30 P: just copied and pasted the thingy on to word
10:07:52 E: okay.
10:08:13 P: i added a how question (though that is implied in your version)
...what links them? how are they linked and ...
since my bloody CRS comp distinction between what-why questions and how-possible questions were misunderstood by one of the graders
10:09:05 E: okay.
10:09:15 P: and do we have to say IR discipline?
since it says the discipline
but i guess any disciplines
any discipline
10:09:46 E: beats me
am sending you word document for changes and editing.
10:10:28 P: blast. i just saved mine
comes together in international relations
that way we avoid disciplines altogether
10:11:00 E: sorry. already sent it
10:11:07 P: and fits with your sphere notion
ok..got it
ok. discipline because you say ir earlier. blast. i should really drink more coffee
10:13:12 E: okay. can't argue with that
beginning to wonder where the people I'm supposed to meet with are at
10:13:33 P: indeed. i also added the date of the conference so people can know if they can make it or not
10:13:40 E: good idea
10:14:03 P: blast
the date i have is for last year
Weberman should really update this blasted web site
is your meeting at uni? are you at uni?
10:14:43 E: huh. are you looking on the official site?
yeah. in the library
10:15:02 P: yes
the details are for last year
as is the call for papers
10:15:29 E: so maybe the deadline is wrong
10:15:50 P: ah. but i thought Weberman said that...
it had better not be wrong
am now at web site
RandomProf is the chair, it says
should i email and ask him?
10:17:07 E: I already did.
10:17:16 P: oh ok
wow...this is fun. like i think and work gets done
and i don’t need to do anything
bludging at its best
i am trying to find info on the linked page
10:18:02 E: okay. website is confusing--it also has two others as presidents
10:18:30 P: where? oh for 2003 and for 2204 i think
2004 i mean
10:18:46 E: one of them is going to live a very long time
10:19:15 P: [official conference announcement]
did he just email you ?
that was a nepali thing
(just ignore me)
10:20:14 E: um. okay.
10:20:22 P: but i think the conference is november
10:20:37 E: okay. we'll go with that until I hear from Weberman
10:20:54 P: but still no deadline for panel submission
10:21:20 E: do you want to do the grad student workshop?
and I'm sure he knows deadline
10:21:35 P: no, i don't think so.
10:21:40 E: he's got nov listed as conference date
10:21:45 P: am too worried about having my stuff out in public
10:21:47 E: so your stuff must be right
10:21:56 P: that just sounded weird
10:22:00 E: ok. i thought it might be fun
10:22:03 P: oh ok.
i guess it could be
are you applying for it?
10:22:58 E: don't know. Would have to find out if they're doing anything like my work
10:23:02 P: i might but i need a lot more talking with Weberman in person before i try go do this thing in public
or with others
10:23:11 E: makes sense
10:23:14 P: i thought the RandomProf bloke was
no more info at all
10:23:46 E: not so sure now. plus, SystemsGuru likes someone else, who I'm pretty sure someone said was a bad idea. so now what do I do?
10:24:07 P: ohhh..blast. why could he be a bad idea?
and also keep in mind that both Weberman and SystemGuru to different extents don't really share your methodological orientations? perhaps.
no idea who he is so can't make any useful comments
is he into policy stuff? (though i think i am into policy stuff now since i spent the past two days finding holes in shotter's work)
btw, the PSA people have a lovely web site
about PSA NE
deadline for them in may 27
what happened?
10:28:12 E: sorry--got distracted. BH is guy who has done systems, but described as, if I remember right, an asshole that he likes me too much to inflict me with. But maybe that was someone else? I didn’t have my notecards.
10:28:20 P: since you abandoned me, i am busy looking at BH
and learning about international futures modelling
ah. he looks bearded and imposing
10:28:58 E: right. but can't remember for sure if he's who someone doesn't like
10:29:00 P: depends on how much of an authoritarian figure he is, i suppose
10:29:04 E: argh.
have two committee members for less than a week, and already they disagree
10:29:37 P: well, i have one and i am not doing any work for him yet
so you are one up right there
am doing some weird simulation thing...this is v distracting!
10:30:27 E: on the BH site?
10:30:41 P: no, on one that links off his
some sort of uni of hawaii thingy
10:31:12 E: okay.
10:31:26 P: is this parsons the same guy we know (of)?
10:31:44 E: um. don't know. is it talcott?
10:32:07 P: hmm..okay enough of that for me (was getting into being north korea and trying to save a nuclear bomb devastated USA....)
yes, in CofI
10:32:28 E: would assume so, then
10:32:40 P: back to panel stuff...the APSA NE said may deadline, as i said
10:32:40 E: is it complaining about bad translation?
good. extra time
10:33:08 P: yes, i think so
but the abstract's there and i will put this in for now
10:33:31 E: okay.
10:34:22 P: and will look for listservs...
when is your meeting?
10:34:31 E: right now
10:34:44 P: (btw, is it true that protestants don't have saints?)
10:34:49 E: do you know anything about economic reform in turkey?
10:34:55 P: oh. sorry. should let you do work
10:34:57 E: we are all saints
10:35:00 P: no
10:35:04 E: it's complicated
10:35:08 P: ah...i see
10:35:17 E: we also have saints, but not as many as catholics
10:35:54 P: i think it is rather nice that they still give holidays for saints days
none of that in the USA, eh?
10:36:10 E: st. bede did what?
10:36:27 P: must have prayed a lot...it is apparently prayer day
10:38:17 E: aha--he's the medieval historian
10:38:39 P: maybe it is not st bede after all
yes..that is what i found out...but does not make sense to give a holiday for someone whose "bones were destroyed in the reformation"
oh shrine was destroyed...not bones
should really do some work!
so we sorted out panel stuff
i wish i knew more about processes and relations to have arguments with people about why i am not doing critical discourse analysis
10:40:07 E: but says his memorial day is may 25
10:40:13 P: and could point out books on relational discourse analysis (which they say does not exist)
calendar must have made up holiday
or something...maybe old viking bloke also called bede
10:41:23 E: possibly. will think about relational/process stuff. am sure we read something that would help
10:41:26 P: no, that is may 7 apparently. big bededay
well, i have my usual suspects (and new heroes) of jutta weldes, etc etc. and, foucault, of course but he is apparently structuralist
and some books that Weberman mentioned (RW, MS, IN) but these are more applied and i think they want to hear about "how to do this relational stuff"
10:42:45 E: stupid danes
10:42:48 P: and have a totally different view of DA
as leading to discovery of ideologies and structures
no, but i got all these books on discourse analysis from the library (after all, i guess i have to DO stuff sometime) and none of them mention relations
more about linguistic analysis and all sorts of conversation analysis and blah blah blah
so then i get the "but it is your subjective opinion" objection
anyway, enough of that too...no one else bothers to think about all that, it seems and they still get jobs
10:45:52 E: but it's a good question to answer. must go talk about turkish economy now--will get back to you on DA stuff. also, Weberman says we're right on the dates.
10:46:22 P: ok..good
i will look for some listservs and try to send the abstract through and let you know
get back to me on DA stuff, please!
10:46:54 E: off to talk about turkey...we should arrange another chat
10:47:11 P: ok..am here till thursday next week
then off to try get ticket changed.
10:47:28 E: maybe wednesday?
10:47:46 P: good. have BIG match for liverpool on so will be here til late late late
though am convinced liv will lose
think of DA stuff...
10:48:16 E: okay.
10:48:19 E: gotta go.
10:48:30 P: wed when?
10:48:55 E: 10:00 dc time?
10:48:55 P: will be online from around whenever i get into uni then
oh ok
great. go talk turkey
12:02:42 E: i give up. CANNOT seem to get my brain to work today
should wander off to find lunch
12:03:19 P: blast. was just writing email to you!
12:03:23 E: but would feel guilty about abandoning rest of group
12:03:26 P: proposing our new roles
12:03:33 E: don't quit on my account
12:03:33 P: no wait and talk (about) turkey
12:03:48 E: sick to death of turkey and its damn inflation
12:04:06 P: just sent it
been avoiding reading awful stuff for StructureMan
12:05:20 E: trade you.
12:05:50 P: nah. you read some of that
btw, what was the rabbit called in monty python...? did it have a name? you can just edit that
12:06:17 E: tim
why do i know that?
12:06:25 P: thanks
i have the singing heidegger as my desktop now
because you know all
tim is the guy with arthur...don’t think rabbit has name after all
ah well
12:07:44 E: hmm. you're right. hang on
rabbit has no name. but is "the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on'
also, has a viscous streak a mile wide
12:10:35 P: i liked viscous
okay..off to post unfinished post which needs polishing since is dragging analogy out for too too long
12:11:34 E: okay. done pretending to care about turkey, and going to find lunch.
12:11:58 P: good luck. am getting hungry too but will put this up before going
since my thing is in danish...i can’t read if you are there or not...but am off home now
please edit the blog thingy
12:53:24 E: okay. it says "not here, or not admitting it"
have a good weekend
12:53:49 P: oh i see
mine says something in danish
will have to try write paper
1:57:56 E: Thought you were going home
1:58:13 P: yes, well, my sister came online
to tell me off all these things she wants to do before starting uni
i just feel old and tired now
1:58:37 E: okay. she'll get over it.
1:58:39 P: will send you abstract ...
1:58:58 E: so do i--just found out that i don't need to do my last final, so that's it, I'm officially done with classes
bit of a letdown, really
1:59:19 P: oh i see
but a good one
go enjoy friday!
is husband working (as usual?) ? i guess
silly question really since the US does not have holiday for general prayer day
1:59:54 E: yeah. i still have papers to grade--just no more classes
so not really a student anymore
2:00:15 P: yay
i have finished being one for ages and ages
nothing changes
you become lazier
write nothing
2:00:41 E: cause that's what i need--less incentive to work
you're not really cheering me up here
2:01:26 P: nah. it is how it is :)
sending email now
2:02:29 E: okay. have to look at blog too-trying to avoid working on papers
2:02:31 P: if we had a couple more people, we could send to conference too
i have to write a paper and give it to these people before heading to copenhagen on thursday
2:02:59 E: but we don't yet--we also need a chair.
2:03:18 P: yes, discussant?
[discussion of travel agency from hell, which is giving priya the runaround on changing her ticket back to the states]
2:04:42 E: dayglo is now playing smiths songs. i love friday.
2:04:54 P: just wish it was not when i have to present a bloody paper
2:04:57 E: if it makes you feel better to think that
2:05:00 P: yay...i like your radio
2:05:14 E: you're online--you should pull it up
2:05:37 P: good point. am JUST (really) about to leave though since it is past 8pm and am hungry
2:05:44 P: though is still sunny outside
2:05:46 E: good idea.
2:05:56 P: is it called dayglo radio?
2:05:57 E: sun? must be nice. still rainy and crap here
2:06:01 P: (for next time)
2:06:02 E: yeah.
2:06:16 P: sun v weak ...and wind v v v high
2:06:20 E: don't have the website, but can't be hard to find. cool 80s stuff
out of san diego
2:06:48 P: on my NI-ish note, i shall go and commune with the breezes and go write a paen (spelling?) to the moon
while listening to exotic and incomprehensible musical instrument
2:07:21 E: ohkay. you should go shave your head, too. i'll go make sure that DB isn't a creep.
2:07:27 P: which i shall then learn to play and talk about in next discussion
2:07:45 E: sounds like you've done your research.
as NI, you get to take a sabbatical to sit around and read for a year.
2:08:12 P: am ordering my nepali songs CD right now
ah..is that not what i am doing here...in a smaller capacity than the great NI of course
2:08:29 E: alternative forms of speech for the other?
2:08:33 P: :)
yes...other knows his own words and yet learns the dominant's too
the other is good at multitasking
2:09:04 E: lucky other
2:09:12 P: yeah.
okay enough!
2:09:24 E: go home.
2:09:31 P: i will
gone now.
maybe we should blog parts of this as a genealogy of panel building..so we avoid writing a post
had not thought about that
good weekend
2:10:08 E: maybe. have just discovered that DB is also a racecar driver
well, the name is the same
2:10:36 P: wowwwww!!! you get the cool (sexy?) racecar driver and i get bald arty farty bloke?
story of my life
2:10:46 E: but the right one teaches a class on work, wealth, and well-being
2:10:58 P: well-being?
you can teach classes for that?
we are so doing the wrong things
2:11:18 E: guess so. I'm switching majors
2:11:29 P: to well-being?
2:11:36 E: why not?
2:11:41 P: off to contemplate what that might mean
it's a tautology
2:11:51 E: ugh. it's actually an economics class
2:11:54 P: (term?)
oh...hahhaaha. well being
2:12:20 E: also some stuff on money making people happy.
2:12:49 P: well, that is true enough
gone now...815pm
2:13:00 E: doesn't seem to fit with the book, though
just walk away.
you can do it.
2:13:18 P: can't ... too tempting to sit here
2:13:20 E: i won't say anything too interesting
2:13:28 P: all right. i will be around on wednesday, all going well
2:13:33 E: will put it in an email instead
2:13:44 P: maybe someone will really really want to be on our panel
2:13:51 E: that would be cool
2:13:52 P: can't think of any TUWSNBN person who might be
2:14:04 E: me neither. also, two dept grads probably enough
2:14:05 P: maybe you can publicise it at the gtown thing
they are foreign policy wonks and have a hospital
that is security and health, right?
2:14:31 E: will do. panels have to have three or four presenters, so we only really need one more
they have a security ma
2:14:45 P: ok..perfect.
2:14:52 E: seriously, go home.
2:14:55 P: publicise there. Weberman’s friend is a nice bloke anyway
if he is the same one i am thinking of
ahh...ok. ok
2:15:06 E: WeberBud? think he can be a prick
but i could be wrong
2:15:14 P: bus won't get here til 830 anyway
P: ahh...have never talked to him
P: conclusion based on...?
2:15:37 E: he's like Weberman, only not as funny
very opinionated and talks over people. i hate that.
2:15:56 P: was he at QG dinner
ahhh...but that is what i thought about Weberman
2:16:07 E: Weberman has a chili pepper from ratemyprofs. somebody thinks he's hot. Is that funny, or creepy?
2:16:14 P: when he was at the StructureMan lunch. All about contexts. I am considered highly annoying and "American" here (shocking)
okay now i am waiting for bus
so officially am gone
2:16:39 E: WeberBud was at dinner. hence my opinion. but not enough info to say for sure. Maybe he was just excited about UFOs. That’s probably it.
and yet you remain
2:17:07 P: ah. i see. he was at the other dinner too but came too late to have opinions
yes, bus not for another 13 mins
will leave in five
and wait in cold bus stop for a while
2:17:33 E: will withhold judgment on WeberBud until i have more data points
sounds like fun
2:17:42 P: ok..hopefully at this gig
but publicise our thing he will
2:17:52 E: am still trying to see reason for Weberman being hot
2:17:52 P: if he was a foot taller and had muscles...nah not even then :-)
2:18:32 E: exactly. i don't get it.
it's like four people who gave him this rating
hadn't ever thought about it. now I'm going to have to.
2:18:46 P: maybe he put that up himself?
2:18:49 E: not just one person.
2:18:59 P: ahhhhh
even weirder
2:19:29 E: right. the standard must be skewed
2:19:39 P: all right...rushing off now..
2:19:44 E: picturing undergrads sighing over discussions of weber.
fluttering eyelashes
sending little notes over IM
lining up to run the slide show
2:19:53 P: highly amused at someone finding Weberman fanciable
2:20:04 E: go home. i'll save this and we can post it
2:20:22 P: gone. i think. enjoy weekend
off to write about security imaginary.
2:20:38 E: GO HOME!
2:20:42 P: since have decided that will be my paper topic
bus not yet here
but goneeeeeee!


Relativism is everywhere

Yes, as my fellow blogger Elizabeth said, putting up news stories from other places is not a subsitute for actual blogging...but this was just amusing. Note the connections between the new Pope, the leader of the UK opposition and Plato.

Go here

Personally speaking, I like the ending


IM blog (hear me roar...)

The usual emails just weren't that funny these past couple of weeks. But here's some IM conversation from earlier today that should fit right in. Again, unedited with the exception of changes to protect the kneecaps of bystanders.

Non-blogging guy: OMG OMG OMG OMG
I was going to tell you guys this over the phone, because it's just not easy to express via IM
you here?
I'll just wander off, stunned.
you guys have to call me when you get a chance
E: sorry--was on the phone. [E: more talk about the methodology issue. This is how the week has gone so far.] you can call the cell if you want. are you home?
hang in, I'll call.
on. i meant on.
[insert phone conversation not appropriate for posting. Let’s just say that someone we know did something interesting, even given our high standards for unique behavior. And I've now pissed off everyone who has an office on this floor by shouting "WTF!" in a surprisingly loud voice. At least, I was surprised. And judging by the slammed doors, so were other people. Any other time, it would be funny. Maybe it still is.]
NBG: I'm just stunned
E: stunned can't be the right word. what comes after stunned? dumsquizzled?
NBG: dumbfounded?
E: I may have just made that up. But it works.
NBG: awestruck?
E: bumfuzzled?
NBG: nice one
E: yep. and I'm pretty sure it's an actual word
NBG: I'm so bumfuzzled, I need cake
E: We have cake. but it's at home, and I'm not. story of my life.
do you know how to spell assimilation?
NBG: what kind of question is that?
E: a perfectly good one. I'm trying to write a blog post, and it's important that I spell it right.
NBG: that is correct
E: okay. thanks.
NBG: here's a cool thing... if you open a text edit document and type it in, it has auto spellcheck. as does IM [E: spellcheck says that spellcheck isn’t a word.]
E: yeah, but I like to do things different.
*again, there's no smiley for smirking*
[E: various smiley faces, including a raspberry, an angel, and a squinty face of some sort. not sure what that was]
E: that's not quite what I was going for. definitely not the angel. my computer would explode
NBG: what language do they speak there?
E: Idahoan? if a potato falls in the woods, and no one hears it, does it still taste good with ketchup? [E: for the record, I don't eat ketchup. or catsup. whatever, it's gross. But what else can one eat with a potato? And now I've overanalyzed an already iffy joke right into the ground.]
NBG: absolutely!
E: but it might be covered in dirt. or cotton candy
NBG: hell, throw 'er in the deep fryer and you'll never know the difference
E: so deep frying gets rid of problems? can I deep fry the committee from hell? maybe not the whole thing--just the parts i don't like.
deep fried prof...mmm
NBG: mmmm
E: they'd probably taste like chicken
NBG: deep fried chicken. toss some cheese sticks in with them and all will be well
E: well done, at least
NBG: better yet, add some funnel cake
E: cheese on a stick
NBG: corndogs
E: they'd be methodology dogs
NBG: ew
E: I can hear you shaking your head from here
NBG: oy
E: I'm thinking that this whole conversation (with select bits from the phone) would make an excellent blog post. but not sure.
NBG: oh, I don't know. things on the internet have a strange way of finding themselves on the computers of people you don't intend. or desire
E: true. maybe leaving out the [edited] bit. I don't care if the prof who needs deep frying knows about it; she suspects something similar anyway, and she thinks I have no opinions which are not assigned to me by WeberMan anyway, so she'd blame him. and he'd think it was funny.
NBG: hahahaha [E: not sure if that was maniacal laughter, but if I had to guess I’d say it was]

New definitions for old things

So, I was IMing with GSpice, and we realized that what TUWSNBN really needs is an alternate catalog: something that describes things the way they really are. After the past week of committee infighting and crazy events (did you know that people actually run off to join the circus? I had no idea.) I know I could use a laugh. Plus, I should be grading papers, so I'm eager to do something (anything) else.

Some initial suggestions:

Quantitative Analysis: how to get SPSS to say what you want to hear

IR Theory: a bunch of dead white guys that we all think we agree with and force students to read because that's the way it's always been

PhD Student: underpaid substitute target for getting back at the people you really hate for no evident reason beyond the fact that they disagree with you about something; clearly without thought processes or opinions of their own but instead controlled remotely by influential or subversive faculty members

and from GSpice:

Academia: a way to save the world using data sets

As you may have guessed (and, if you've talked to me in the last week, you've heard directly), there's a little (okay, a lot of) bitterness going around right now in certain circles; I'm waiting to blog about the current example of university bass-ackwardness until the chips hit the table next week. Stay tuned to find out if the champions of methodological pluralism defeat the evil army of statistical assimilation.

Until then, feel free to add your own definitions in the comments: if we like them, they'll be made into a post. Or not. I make no promises.


Judicial Filibusters

I know that links to another blog don't really replace posting, but the rude pundit has expressed this so much better than I could. Honestly, whether or not a judicial nomination believes in God is not the point--the filibuster is a tool that protects us (somewhat) from the sort of unqualified judges who could be installed for life based on a particular administration's political agenda. And that goes for any administration, not just the current one.

The advice and consent provision is there for a reason--and streamlining the process isn't going to get us better judges, or keep the courts moving faster. So what exactly would it do to the system, beyond expanding executive power?

*Fair warning: we tone down the language and offensive remarks here (I'm serious! We really do!) but the rude pundit, not so much. So don't come crying to me if your innocent young mind is corrupted.*


Going Troppo

A term used in everyday talk in Northern Australia to describe potential feelings of aggression among people during the long, extremely hot and humid summers (usually November to March). Used also among seasonal mango pickers who work long hours in the heat and often have their skins peeling due to heat and mango sap. That’s where I picked it up during my time as a mango-picker (probably the longest summer on record in Australia. Really)

For now, a term that perfectly captures what I have been feeling for the past week: had two tests in the Danish language class last week (proficiency still v low but mainly because most Danes just speak English to me when I pathetically attempt to talk in Danish), an abstract for a paper due on Friday (turned out to be awful but I sent it off anyway), a presentation on methodology at Uni of OOD yesterday (where I confused everyone including myself by discussing my ontology and epistemology instead of discussing the "entire project"), the final test for the Danish class tomorrow (and I am still trying to sort out their sentence structures), tax return due on Friday (last minute as usual and I never get anything back) and generally foul weather at OOD (windy and cold).

I can feel the buildup coming on and will most likely be going troppo by the weekend. I told one of the professors yesterday that he was talking “complete rubbish” and that he didn't know what he was talking about so the signs are there already.

Am not sure what the Danes will think of it. I have yet to see an upset Dane (image of an upside down Dane that came to your head does not count)


The Unitarian Jihad

Another tea-spitting moment...


Superhero Pope

Somebody stole our idea. Now we'll never get hired by Marvel.

Superpope Comic

With thanks to Marshall (who really ought to have better things to do!)

Don’t mention the war (but which war? And not to whom?)

The latest news in my part of the world (where there is no South Park to discuss but a new Dr Who series is on TV) is that the annual commemoration for World War Two was on 9 April. Since OOD does not have many social events to boast of, this was a big thing here and there were events (the usual speeches, lighting candles, etc) planned throughout the city. So, lunchtime conversations have been about WWII. These lunchtime conversations are one of the fun aspects of being at OOD uni. After being here for a week, I found out that, unlike in the happy anonymity of TUWSNBN, PhD students and faculty are expected to have lunch together, all sitting at a long table with benches on either side (this involves my having to strategically position myself at one end of the table to be able to make a quick exit and also to be able to exercise my left-handedness without encroaching on my neighbour's space). These conversations have been wonderful since they allow students and faculty to talk to each other in an informal setting (though we mostly whinge about the weather). Last week, most conversations were about two things: the Pope (see Elizabeth's earlier post) and about the WWII commemorations. People talked about the commemorations and related activities but the subject quickly changed to something else when the German staff and students arrived. For some reason, there is a large German contingent. So, the topic often changed suddenly. Yet, when the one Japanese student was among us, talk about WWII went on.

At first, I didn't even notice. But, today, it happened for the third time--one moment we were discussing where most of the German bunkers in Denmark were. A few students had mentioned we saw some on our trip to the northern part of OOD. Personally, I had expected my first-ever German bunkers, to look a bit more posh (I don't know why but I'd assumed that there would be proper rooms, at least) but these were made of dull grey stone and with limited space inside (also, no loos that I could see). Imagine a fairly small square area with really tiny rooms, situated on the cold and windy coastline of Northern Denmark and with holes, not big enough to put your head through, as windows. The youth of Denmark had exercised their creative abilities to express their unstoppable passions and decorated the walls of these bunkers with colourful graffiti, mostly about undying love (Why is graffiti usually in English?). Also, following common worldwide tradition presumably, the sand-covered floors of the bunkers were littered with used ciggie packs and empty beer bottles, showing people have an enviable ability to get pissed anywhere, even in abandoned bunkers. Anyway, as I said, one moment we were discussing the role of these bunkers during WWII, the next moment we were discussing the weather (very cold but getting warmer soon) as one of the (German) professors came to sit with us.

Early on, at an earlier conversation about the commemoration, I was asked if we were taught about WWII at school (apparently, in some parts of Asia--it was not mentioned where--it is not) and I said we were. But, during subsequent talks, it occurred to me that we may well be talking about different wars. When in high school and at Uni, we read about World War II in Europe but that was just part of it. For me, the war was in Singapore, in New Guinea, in Australia and all over South-east Asia. We visited Kanchanaburi, the site for the Bridge over the River Kwai where hundreds of thousands of people died when trying to make the Burma-Thailand railway as the Japanese pushed north. The war was in northern Australia, where the grandparents of many students I went to Uni with could remember the days when Darwin was attacked. Yes, there was a war in Europe but it affected Australia (and the rest of Asia, presumably) mainly as far as it took "their" people away to fight somewhere else while their "homelands" were attacked. We read diaries by politicians and prisoners-of-war in Asia about how they saw the events of the time. WWII also changed alliances, as countries moved from relying on Britain to being more independent (or depending on America, an ongoing tendency ever since).

Here, the story of the war was different. Denmark surrendered fairly early (having a tiny army, there was not much they could do), the Germans established their bases (doing their best to choose the most inhospitable parts of the country to do so) and things went on. The monarchy was allowed to continue (the Germans probably rightly thinking that a few royals were not going to disturb their activities), many people escaped (mostly to Sweden, including physicist Niels Bohr who went to Sweden and then England and America) and Denmark was finally liberated on 5 May, 1945 (though the yearly commemoration is on the day the Germans arrived). From this standpoint, the war in the Pacific is distant (as the European war was for me when learning about it). But, it is rather discombobulating to find that events I had thought of as being constitutive of the way "my" part of the world came into being were not part of the discussions here. Here, WWII is mainly used to describe activities in Europe (and, therefore, the sensitivity to German viewpoints but not to Japanese?). Maybe because it was the last big war for this part of the world that the interest (and ongoing commemorations) was high and discussions remain ongoing. One of the OOD Uni students told me that there is usually talk about WWII during this time of year but did not mention if the exclusion of the German contingent from the discussions was also a yearly event.

Corridor Conversations

As I was walking into my office at OOD Uni this morning:

RandomStudent: Hello, I haven’t seen you around before
(P: Department is fairly small. Everyone is quite recognisable)
P: I haven’t been here long. I am only here for the semester.
RS: Oh, where are you from?
P: Nepal
RS (after a pause): You don’t sound Nepalese
P: ---
RS: Mt Everest, right?
P: Yes (in what way? Did she imply that I was Mt E? was asking if I lived there?. I wasn’t sure but a positive answer seemed fairly harmless)
RS: So, do you know when it was there?
P: (I wondered if this was a rhetorical question)…umm..always? (or maybe she wanted to know about the shift and collisions of tectonic plates which led to the Himalayas being formed? Was she a geologist? Or perhaps she wanted to hear other narratives of how the mountains came into being. I tried to think)
RS: No, when was it discovered…d’you know?
P: Well, I am not sure (I forbore to point out it would be fairly difficult to miss a rather large mountain which looms over its surroundings. And, there’s an entire mountain chain of which Mt E is a part. And people live on its lower slopes. So, I presume they knew it was there)
RS: You don’t know? But, it is your history.
P: Sorry, I hadn't really thought about it (No, I doubt if people wake up in the mornings and wonder about when some random person (well, Mr Everest, I presume) came up and named something that was pretty much always there. I am sure if the mountain disappeared, it would be noticeable but, usually, people don’t tend to start their days by acknowledging “Oh, good. Mt Everest is still there. I can get on with my day now”. I am not implying it is not noticeable from Kathmandu, for it is. But that it would be more noticeable if it weren’t there)
RS: Oh.
P: See you.

I’ve been spending the morning trying to find out more about this (yes, yes, it is work. It’s called discovering one’s ethnic/national roots). In case yous are wondering, Mr E didn’t even name the mountain but some other bloke did, in Mr E’s honour. Not too sure what Mr E thought about this (and he was SIR George E, not a mere Mr). Also, before being surveyed (ah, modern technology), it was apparently called Peak XV by the very imaginative survey people. Nepalis call it Sagarmatha (“head of the sky”) and Tibetans Chomolongma (“mother of the Universe”): So, the Universe is local (yet managed to get Elizabeth yesterday. Networks in action? :-)) or is it just Nepali/Tibetan imperial tendencies in operation?


Genealogy of a dinner

Yes, we're still parsing it out. Takes time to grok stuff like this. Bear with us, as we bring you another genealogy (this time on pre-dinner jitters).

E: Am wondering if it would be worth skipping SystemGuru’s class next week to have dinner at Weberman’s with QuantumGuy?

P: yes yes yes. wow. that would be fantastic. am envious :-)
ask him all sorts of questions about his book...
and WeberMan’s wife is a great cook (as well as being a lovely person, of course)

E: I guess it's worth it. Although I'm a little terrified that I'll make an ass of myself. Plus, I'm not sure that I remember how to get to WeberMan’s house.

P: be warned that a comfy looking cushion on the floor in the living room of WeberMan's house is for the dog (which didn't appear when i was there)

did i tell you i sat on the dog's bed when i was there thinking it was a sitting thing for people? WeberMan warned me off it (after i had already sat there...it was rather comfy)
you really can't beat that.
about getting there, i reckon RandomProf would give you a lift. that is how i got there.
also, keep in mind that the gossip shared should be spread :-)
i find it rather amusing that i got to go to the ex-wife's and you got the big man...

E: I find it rather scary. I'm going to have to go back and read QG before Wed. It doesn't seem fair that I should have to do research for a dinner party.

Also, Anomie now going to the dinner. So there will be at least one person there who knows what a dope I am at university functions.

P: i don't really think you need to read QG. from my past experience, they will discuss other people, other people's works and whinge about other people and you will learn heaps of gossip :-)

it is sunny outside today but the temp remains below zero. am unamused at the weather. waited eagerly for the mail but no sign of package so far :-(
off to read other messages...

more on the previous dinner: i also had my first ever pumpkin pie (didn't like it much esp as Nepali/Thai people are used to seeing pumpkins as veggies not desserts) but couldn't operate the container for whipped cream and had to be tutored on it (loudly) by TheoryGuy.

E: I do know how to operate a whipped cream can, but it is now spring and there won't be any pumpkin pie.

P: yes, true. and you most likely have more mechanical skills than i do. i didn't even know whipped cream came out of an aerosol can.

E: Still fairly nervous about whole dinner thing, bc my personality doesn't seem to have any Raginesque subtleties--it's either on (loud, opinionated, and generally rude) or off (quiet, dull, and rather mousy). I blame this on a lack of role models. Fat women on tv are either loud and obnoxious or the quiet best friend of the main character; fat women in my family are universally loud and overbearing, except for my mom, who is quiet. Apparently there is no in-between who act like normal human beings.

P: oh please. you are not even fat. and that is such a stereotype. talking about stereotypes, had a long email from my fellow phd fellow and flatmate who is now in poland saying that fawlty towers was on tv on friday and she watched the german episode and found it hilarious. though it was in polish. am rather disturbed by idea of polish-speaking basil fawlty who makes polish students in german institutes (her phd is at some german institute funded by germans) laugh.

E: Also, my talent for gossip runs to the illegal and / or foul-mouthed, neither of which are appropriate at this sort of thing. So I shall end up sitting in a corner (prob in aforementioned dog bed) and then going home. My comfort level at prof-student mixers is about nil, since I really haven't been to any. The ones in law school were generally keggers (except for the one that LJ and I hosted, which is nearly legendary bc I ended up loudly telling off a professor for hitting on a student. It's a little hazy, but I think I threatened to take him out back and beat some sense into him. There was clapping, and he must not remember it either bc he hasn’t mentioned it since.)

P: here. everyone seems to get tipsy and insult each other.

E: So, to recap:

1) I don't know what to say at such gatherings, and so shall remain v quiet.
2) I will prob get lost and end up being late
3) I will, undoubtedly, spill something colorful on my shirt (or worse, someone else's shirt)
4) Unless they have alcohol, in which case I will end up loudly insulting someone important and THEN spill something.

P: nah.
1) can't. somebody will say something to piss you off. so there.
2) get a lift with RandomProf. that way the pressure of starting conversation falls off you when you enter the house (always a fraught moment when one realises that really having conversation while taking shoes off is rather difficult)
3) wear a dark shirt
4) there really isn't anyone imp. except the great and newsworthy QG. Who will be mellow and chilled after his intellectually stimulating discussion with TUWSNBM students beforehand.

btw, the QuantumGuy issue is irrelevant since he will either love to hear himself talk (and will do so) or get corralled (term?) by WeberMan and his mates. heard from my substitute that the ST talk went well on Friday and was full of "intense discussion". Hope StructureGuy is pleased. He has told me to review a couple of books for him and the first one is intensely annoying. the author is annoying, the writing is annoying, the thesis is annoying. oh, what is the frito book you are talking about? have you mentioned it before (in full) and i forgot about it. quite likely since i think my night on the cold stairs killed most of my "little grey cells" as Hercule Poirot repeatedly calls them (why grey?)

am expecting all the (gory and non gory) details of the QG visit. wonder if, in future, it will be like "kantian"

E: noted. still slightly panicked, but going to throw caution to the winds. Thinking now that I shd pick up a plant or something as a hostess gift--is this something they do?

P: this is just a quick message to remind you that you should tell me all what happens in the QG talk. am still highly disappointed that you didn't manage to set up a web cam and have QG participate in an online chat. should have though of those of your colleagues who are stranded in the scandinavian outback and had pity!

E: If a webcast is possible, don't you think WeberMan would have already arranged one?

(Post-Dinner Email) Have decided that good conversation is like crack, and emails can be very good conversation. TF must curb my addiction to emails. will probably not be successful, but may get a blog entry out of it.

So this is why I'm now in love with QuantumGuy’s theory (or at least his ontology / epistemology):

the idea that quantum unpredictability can be the foundation for discussions of consciousness is inherently attractive to me; it seems to be able to deal with the mind / body question of positivism (talked about by QG) without throwing the possibility of truth out the window (ie postmodernism). Also, I like the acknowledgment that pragmatism, as an epistemology, is the source of some of the problems that social constructivisms have with the positivists. Wave functions allow for the possibility of knowing and not knowing that I like about system dynamics; also they allow for talking about complex systems and the influence of chaos theory on the theories of social science.

Plus, physics is just fun, and QG had no problem answering questions with, "I don't know, I'll have to think about that." Hooray!

On a related (okay, tangential, but hey, what’s the point of genealogy if you only talk about the final understanding of things?) note:
am reading blog which I am now ABSOLUTELY SURE is WeberMan’s in small doses, as he also gives me a headache in writing; plus, our blog is terribly pedestrian and whiny in comparison. wondering if I will ever be on enough of an even keel to have an actual conversation with him (or anyone else, for that matter). magic eight ball says no. So shall continue to stock up on Tylenol and muddle my way through life.

much more comfortable with X’s connected blog about being in-between, as this is a place that is more familiar to me. Shall write a post about being in-between, but shall call it by the pretentious name of liminality.


Due left of the mainstream

I know, this whole topic is getting old, but what a great quote:

But for the record, the lefty-professors-brainwashing-students meme is really fucking dumb. Hell, we can't even brainwash 'em into doing the reading.

Is the universe out to get me?

I'm taking a poll. I think it is, others disagree and suggest that I'm taking myself too seriously. I would like to note that I am part of the universe, and so any of the following which could be described as my own fault is also, on some level, part of the conspiracy. So here's the day so far.

1. I overslept. Not just a little, but by like three hours. Right through the alarm, even though I know it went off because
2. When I finally woke up, I was forced to listen to the beegees "staying alive" until I managed to find my glasses, the alarm, and the tiny button that makes it stop.
3. I needed that three hours to finish a paper which I had already spent most of a day on so that I can get a decent grade in my epidemiology class. No paper, no grade. So there's that gone, since
4. My computer ate my influenza presentation (also due this morning). Not the whole thing, just the time consuming illustrations.
5. When I finished the presentation (again) and sent it off, I got an email from the prof asking me to bring my laptop because the video I had to find twice wasn't working on the university pc. No big deal, except
6. I planned to use my laptop to show my notes for the actual, you know, talking part of the presentation, and
7. My printer crapped out halfway through page 13 (leaving me with partial pages 13-20, and nothing other than that in hard copy)
8. Despite a creative use of four letter words, I was unable to gently coax the printer into giving me at least the notes (since the pages already printed were conveniently without about half of them due to my inability to format text.)
9. Fighting with the printer meant I would miss my train, losing the time I need to review said notes in order to use them without the printouts / laptop.
10. Running to the car led me to trip and perform a rather spectacular face plant in the parking lot, breaking my heel off in the process. At least they weren't a favorite pair.
11. Forcing me to go back into the house in search of flipflops and bandaids
12. and to get blood on my shirt, which then needed changed so that no one thinks I'm an axe murderer without a decent watch.
13. Traffic in dc sucks (this isn't between the universe and me, it just generally sucks. So it takes 35 minutes to go the five miles between my house and the campus parking lot)
14. Where there is, of course, nowhere to park. Again, not the universe. I think. Just the way things are.
15. And the parking pay thingy (when I finally find a spot) will not take my credit card because it is broken. (The parking thingy, not my card. It works fine. Just ask my bank.)
16. And give me approximately fourteen dollars in dimes (not useful quarters, mind you, but dimes) as change.
17. The elevator, thank god, is working.
18. When I get to the presentation (very late, embarrassingly late) I no longer need my computer, because the prof has kindly brought his laptop. I didn't know this, since he sent me an email at 12:30 and I was already in the car, but still. He tried.
19. The presentation, which is something I was looking forward to because it's about a topic that I really, really like talking about, is a disaster because I'm stressed and working with an undergraduate who is nice, but not so good at presentations. No, to be honest, she's fine. It's my part of the presentation that sucked. She was just trying to help me out.
20. The video (for which I needed the laptop in the first place) doesn't work on the prof's laptop without considerable additional swearing.
21. In the interest of saving time, I have left out the latest influenza research which says that yes, influenza occasionally causes vomiting. This is, of course, the one question that is asked.
22. That and some stuff about chickens, which do not travel in herds (seriously, don't ask, they just don't. But ducks do. Go figure.)
23. I've also just realized that all day I've been walking around with a stain on my shirt. Why didn't someone tell me this? i hope it's because no one notices, and not because I've been walking around looking like death warmed over all day.
24. And none of this is an excuse, bc I was just bitching yesterday about undergrads with stupid excuses for not getting stuff done.

It's been downhill from there. I need a nap.

[ETA: 25. *sound of weird Samba ring that we use on our cell phone because I secretly wish I could be Josh Lyman*

E: What? Make it quick, I'm in the Metro and this is roaming.
PH: Um, do you know where the car is?
*rumble, rumble, rumble...snick*
E: Son of a...

That's right, loyal reader. It just cost me an hour and $1.35 (plus roaming) to realize that I'm on the train on the way home and the car is sitting in the campus parking lot.]

Favourite Books

While yous are waiting for the next post, take a look at this--the favourite books of footballers (well, in the Premiership). Maybe we should have our own list too?

See list here

And, for those who don't know me, my team's Liverpool. Who says the Gods don't have a sense of (for?) the absurd, eh?


The Academic Dinner Post

Elizabeth and I were discussing an upcoming dinner at the house of one of the professors at TUWSNBN. Here are some highlights from our conversation:

1. Do not sit on the most comfy mat on the floor. It is likely to be the dog’s bed.
If you have already sat on the dog’s bed and are now being warned off it, pretend that was your intention all along and move to the nearest chair. Make sure it does not belong to any animals first. Once can be passed off as an error. Twice really shows lack of social awareness of your surroundings.

2. If you do not remember to get to the place, ask for a lift. That way, you are saved from arriving by yourself and already have someone else to start a conversation when you arrive. You also have someone else to blame if you get there late. And, really, if you are arriving with other people, it is too late to back out at the last moment.

3. It is not fair if you have to do research for a dinner party. So, don’t. Change the subject quickly, as often as possible. Or hope famous-person-invited talks about UFOs. Everyone has something to say about UFOs.

4. If person hosting dinner says not to bring anything, then don’t. But then if everybody else has brought stuff, then say you will get something later on in the week. At OOD, though, bring something. Then, thank the person the next day (after offering profuse thanks after the dinner itself). A lot of gratitude goes around the place here.

5. Other people are pretty much unwelcome at academic dinners. Unless you are in Australia, where academic dinners usually occur in the form of barbeques. In which case, everyone and everything including the kitchen sink can be brought along. But, alcohol is usually preferred (and plenty of it).

6. Only eat foods that have a low mess factor. Things with sauce or complicated instructions can only lead to tears. The abovementioned barbeques are again an exception--everyone is messy at a barbeque, and it is enough to have brought some of those little wipes that you get from seafood restaurants to pass around. These will instantly make you the most popular person there.

7. Sitting quietly will keep you out of trouble. Sitting quietly while everyone else is protesting the study of UFOs will only get you noticed and lead to stuttering when you're later called out on it. Find the happy medium, and then stay there as long as possible.

8. You WILL say something stupid. Best to get it out of the way early, and move on. If you're in Australia (or law school) everyone will be too drunk by the end of the party to remember it anyway.

9. Do not, under any circumstances, threaten to take a member of the academic community out behind the woodshed for a thrashing. It doesn't matter what they did, or how much everyone has had to drink. This is a bad idea. Actually following through on the threat is worse, but not by much. It doesn't really matter if there's actually a woodshed or not.

10. No matter how great a discussion is (or, on the other extreme, how bad the event was) you cannot run off to be a research assistant somewhere else. Keep this in mind, and try not to do anything that would make you need to find it out firsthand.

That should about cover it.


The Pope is Undead

We've pretty much resigned ourselves to hell, so this is going up even if it offends people. Because it's funny, and also, we're probably going to hell for several other reasons, so at this point being good people is purely of academic interest.

E: So until we hear differently, the paradox of Schrodinger’s cat says that the pope is both alive and dead. This would have to have serious religious issues, right?

M: so if he is both alive and dead wouldn’t that make him undead? so is he a holy undead, a mostly undead, partially undead, or just taking the year dead for tax reasons?

and at the risk of adding another couple millennia to my stay in purgatory, does it count that they reported him dead but on the somethingth day he arose but it was through the assistance of a feeding tube?

D: I KNEW someone would say that.

M: yes it was cliché and such a cheap shot so as not to deserve points but it had to be said.

D: I'm so disappointed though. I really expected something more creative like: I hear Jesse Jackson AND Al Sharpton are jetting to Italy in the event anyone gives a shit what they think.

E: not undead, just dead. and alive. physics humor is lost on you two.

what about Falwell? he'll feel so left out.

M: what do you mean physics humor is lost?

as i remember about the cat, it involved a box with a cat that was partially there and partially not there. sort of like many of our political leaders’ brains.

so dead not dead would be like a spiritual there not there.

and since the spirit is by many considered the soul. and the undead are considered to be souls trapped between life and death by some cultures they are thus souls that are there not there.

aka he is undead.

but it would be cooler if he was a vampire then he could get his own comic book.

E: the cat was not half dead, it was both dead and not dead. half a cat isn't funny. half a pope isn't funny. that's just sick.

a vampire pope? M, you are so going to hell. again. (how many commandments does that leave us?)

B: if you paint the popemobile black, and the pope dies inside, is he really dead?

D: The flies say yes and according to the Mythbusters you'll never get the smell out either.

P: somehow i think physics humour would not be appreciated in my little part of the world...but i sniggered.

reckon one could make up a good comic series out of this. is there one on popes? "the SUPER-POPES...clarifying confusions by creating chaos"