Here goes nuthin'

Computer (check)

Number two pencils (check)

Scrap paper (check)

Books closed (check)

Bowl of oatmeal intended for breakfast but accidentally exploded in the microwave (check)

Last minute panicked call to S. because the email says it isn't due until Monday at noon, so I could put the whole thing off until Sunday and spend two more days obsessively rereading everything I've already read (check)

Absolutely useless advice to do what I think is best (check)

Realization that putting it off would only suck all the fun out of tonight's happy hour and weekly television watching (check)

Calculation that if I start at 11am, I'll be finished at 5pm and can head out with a clear conscience to drown my sorrows (check)

Exam downloaded (check)

Right, it's now 10:53, and time to take a look...

Shit. Hey, Priya, you know all those "b" words that you aren't saying? I'm going to need to borrow them. And I should just go ahead and schedule my next attempt at this.


Taking a break

I've been studying all day (since nine a.m., so that's, let's see, 8.5 hours now, with another five or six to go) for the comp from hell, and just glanced up to see the sun streaming though the patio doors and bouncing off the disco ball and those little crystal shiny things in the window. It's pretty spectacular, and probably has looked beautiful for most of the afternoon, but I haven't had time to notice it. Of course, rainbows and sparkly things are mostly wasted on me anyway.

But still, I've been trying to cram the names of theorists into my head while there was something else right in front of me. And I've been doing it for three years now, and before that did the same thing with cases and black letter law, and before that spent four years trying to reconcile medieval literature and military history. I'm beginning to wonder where, in this extended socializing process, we're meant to stop and look around. To sit and reflect on the process, and our discipline, and all the changes that we go through in our indoctrination as academics.

Because, I have to tell you, I could use the break to catch my breath. I'm not even sure right now what I already know, which makes it kind of hard to figure out what I still need to learn. Today it feels like I need to learn everything.

And I'm still not going to pass the damn test. They could probably hand out the answers and tell me to type them in, and I'd still manage to blow it. I could be the last student on earth, and I still wouldn't be able to PASS THIS STUPID EXAM.

I am not used to failing. I don't think I have a talent for it. It's definitely not a habit I want to get into.

Right, break's over. Back to the critical theorists.

Whew. And you thought Priya was the only one who could bring the angst.


Is this policy? Or theory?

I had a chicken sandwich for lunch. Hey, they're right, it IS easier to predict the past!

Antimicrobial Drug Resistance: "Prediction Is Very Difficult, Especially about the Future," P. Courvalin

Public Service Announcement

Twice today I've gotten the same argument: Grad school is for professional socialization. Here (via Crooked Timber) and from a discussion with Weberman this afternoon.

While I'm glad he took the time to talk to me about the comp from hell, it's a little depressing that I still need this stuff explained to me. Okay, a lot depressing. At this point, I'm operating on pure spite and a streak of stubborn a mile wide. The idea that something titled a comprehensive exam turns out to be anything but is frustrating and doesn't bode well for the rest of my academic career.

That I couldn't remember the name of the reader from the last exam doesn't bode well for my ability to pass the next one. My inability to recall names is universal and chronic, so at least I consistently look addled. It isn't as if I have a mental block just for the neorealists. (Yes, Waltz. Even I remember Waltz. But there were others, so he only gets me so far.)

A lot of boding today, and none of it good.

I've pretty much given up studying at this point. The consensus seems to be that I know what I'm talking about (I'm not a part of the consensus, but hey, who am I to argue?) and if I could just figure out the structure and those pesky names and titles, I'd be fine. Whew. And here I thought it was going to be something I've had trouble with.

Instead of cramming for the exam, a method that hasn't done me any good in the previous 23 years of schooling (I figured it out last week. I'm in the 24th grade), I'm reading a funny, funny book about calculus.

For instance:

That square root of 2 is like the Yeti or the Loch Ness monster, the snows of yesteryear, the dusky ghost by the dusty window--it is not there, it cannot be found, it is not part of the furniture of this or any other world....Whatever incommensurable magnitudes might be, they treated such things as if they were really numbers--irrational numbers, the irrational a nice inadvertant touch signifying the madness loitering around the very notion--and learned many tricks by which such numbers might be manipulated. In the twelfth century, for example, Bhaskara demonstrated correctly that [3^1/2 + 12^1/2 = 3*3^1/2], an achievement, I might add, utterly beyond the collective intellectual power, say, of the English department at Duke University. (It is pleasant to imagine members of the department sitting together in a long lecture hall, Marxists to one side, deconstructionists to the other, abusing one another roundly as they grapple with the problem.)
It looks a lot better with the actual square root symbols, and if I could figure out how to code them, I would. But you get the idea. If mathematicians don't always take themselves seriously, why in the world should we?


Filed under TMI

Yeah, I lied about the returning to academic whining. Instead, I found this over at One Bright Star

Things I've done:

[x] I've run away from home.
[x] Listen to political music.
[x] Collect comic books. (They’re graphic novels. There’s a difference.)
[x] I shut others out when I'm sad.

[x] I open up to others easily. (If it isn’t something important.)
[x] Am keeping a secret from the world. (Isn’t everyone?)
[x] Watch the news. (Well, BBC and the Daily Show. But still.)
[x] Own over 5 rap CDs.

[x] I own an I-Pod. (I love the ipod. I’d marry my ipod, but it would upset S.)
[x] Own something from Hot Topic. (I own many things from Hot Topic. It’s my third favorite place to shop.)
[ ] Love Disney movies.
[x] Am a sucker for hair/eyes. (And accents. And black leather pants.)

[x] I don't kill bugs.
[x] Curse regularly. (Loudly, and with great flair, if I do say so myself.)
[ ] Paid for that cell phone ringtone.
[ ] Have "x"s in my screen name.

[ ] I've slipped out a "lol" in a real conversation.
[x] Love Spam. (Well, I do. Even if I’m not sure what it is.)
[x] Bake well. (Latest recipes: Butter Tarts and Chocolate Palmiers)
[x] Have worn pajamas to school.

[x] I own something from Abercrombie. (It’s just a hat.)
[x] Have a job. (Two, actually.)
[ ] Love Martha Stewart.
[x] Am in love with someone. (Who says high school crushes don’t turn out well?)

[ ] I am guilty of tYpInG lIkE tHiS.
[x] Am self-conscious.
[x] Like to laugh. (Doesn’t everyone?)
[ ] I smoke a pack a day.

[ ] I loved Go Ask Alice.
[ ] Have cough drops when I'm not sick.
[ ] Can't swallow pills.
[x] Have many scars. (I have delicate skin. And I’m clumsy. It’s a bad combination.)

[x] I've been out of this country.
[x] Believe in ghosts. (Eh. Sort of. Let’s say I’m agnostic.)
[ ] Can't sleep if there is a spider in the room.
[x] Am really ticklish. (Unfortunately. It’s so embarrassing.)

[ ] I see/have seen a therapist.
[x] Love chocolate.
[x] Bite my nails. (Not nearly as much as I used to. Just occasionally, when I’m too freaked out about something to notice that I’m doing it.)
[x] Am comfortable with being me. (Most of the time.)

[ ] I play computer games/video games when I'm bored.
[x] Have gotten lost in my city. (It’s a requirement. I don’t feel like I’ve really moved in until I’ve been lost a few times.)
[x] Have seen a shooting star.
[x] Have gone out in public in my pajamas. (I once went to a job interview in my pajamas. Still got the job. They were really cute pajamas.)

[x] I have kissed a stranger.
[x] Hugged a stranger.
[x] Been in a fight with the same sex.
[x] Been arrested. (But not charged. I feel the need to make that clear.)

[x] I have laughed and had milk/soda come out of your nose. (Diet Coke. Not pleasant.)
[x] Pushed all the buttons on an elevator.
[x] Made out in an elevator.
[x] Swore at my parents.

[x] I have kicked a guy where it hurts. (He deserved it. He broke my glasses, I kicked him, we both got over it.)
[ ] Been skydiving.
[ ] Been bungee jumping.
[x] Broken a bone. (A couple of toes. Possibly my nose, once. And the neighbor kid’s collarbone, but I’m not sure that counts.)

[x] I have played spin the bottle.
[ ] Gotten stitches.
[ ] Drank a whole gallon of milk in one hour. (No. But I did drink a fifth of Goldschlager in an hour. Once. To win a bet. And a bottle of Jagermeister. That was a bad idea.)
[x] Bitten someone.
[ ] Been to Niagara Falls.
[ ] Been to Japan.

[x] I have ridden in a taxi. (The last time, I took my mom to Baltimore, and then got lost using the bus. We ended up at some hospital, and had to call a cab to get back to the studio we’d been looking for in the first place. In my defense, the reason we were on the bus was that the light rail line was closed and the conductor gave us absolutely crap directions.)
[ ] Shoplifted.
[ ] Been fired.
[x] Had feelings for someone who didn't have them back.

[ ] I have stolen something from my job.
[x] Gone on a blind date. (Hey, it was a free concert ticket. No harm in that.)
[x] Lied to a friend.
[x] Had a crush on a teacher/coach. (One of my history profs in college. I still do, but now it’s an academic crush, because the stuff he writes is fabulous.)

[ ] I have celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
[ ] Been to Europe.
[ ] Slept with a co-worker.
[x] Been married. (Sigh. Guess I’ve missed my chance to sleep with a co-worker. Oh well.)

[ ] I have gotten divorced.
[x] Seen someone dying. (Although I didn’t realize it at the time.)
[x ] Driven over 400 miles in one day. (More times than I can count.)
[x] Been to Canada. (See previous posts on this topic.)

[x] I have been on a plane. (Yep. And yet I still drive to Ohio and back.)
[x] Seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Indeed. Complete with water pistol, toilet paper, newspaper, etc. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, I think.)
[x] Thrown up in a bar. (And ruined a perfectly good pair of shoes.)
[x] Eaten sushi.

[ ] I have been snowboarding. (No thanks. I can fall down without the help of sporting equipment.)
[ ] Been skiing. (See above.)
[x] Been ice skating. (Two words: pond hockey. ‘Nuff said.)
[x] Met someone in person from the internet. (1)His name was Matt. He was a DJ, his hair was growing back in after chemo, he was funny and smart and liked the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Barenaked Ladies and me. But my friends waited for him to show up, followed his car to the restaurant and freaked us both out, so it didn’t go anywhere.

2) Someone who came to meet a friend. We took her for a late-night hike and subjected her to many questions and some mud. She didn’t stick around long after that. But it wouldn’t have worked out anyway—who wears heels to go for a walk?

3) A group of people with a common interest. We went on a cruise and they were all great. One of the best vacations I’ve ever had.)

[ ] I have been to a motocross show. (Nope. But I did go to a tractor pull once.)
[x] Gone/Going to college. (And I liked it so much I’ve never left…)
[x] Done hard drugs. (No, I won’t say which ones. And those of you who already know, keep your mouths shut.)
[x] Taken painkillers.

[x] I have cheated on someone else. (Not recently.)
[x] Was so bored I took this survey. (Also, I’ve got a deadline coming up. So this was inevitable.)
[x] Have a tattoo. (Four. And I’m currently working on the design and trying to find an artist for the next one. I know what it’ll be and where I’ll get it, but I’m still working out the details.)


Drinking Games

The West Wing premieres tonight. Do not expect me to be coherent tomorrow morning, because we are going to try a WW Drinking Game. With Tropico shots, because wine is for lightweights, but Everclear can kill you. Or blind you. Or run your car.

The other drinking games are too complicated. Any game that you can't remember the rules for after two commercial breaks is too much work on a Sunday night.

Our original idea was to drink every time they had a thing, but last time I drank that much I woke up two days later in a different place.

My contributions to this blog are rapidly lowering the level of discourse. If I weren't busy obsessing about television, I'd probably care.

ETA: According to Serena, It is the new Thing. They no longer say "what's next?" they say "what else?" And (some of) the snappy dialogue is back, but the humor and snarking is still MIA.

Also, WTF was up with the J/D scene? Three months I wait, and that's what I get? Bad hair, a Donna who acts like the past year hasn't happened, and a cut away from BW just when it's getting good? Bleh.

Rant over. Back to your regularly scheduled academic whining.

Science Fiction Double Feature

While I'd love to comment on Priya's recent protest attempts, more pressing issues have my attention. Boston.com's Top 50 sci-fi shows, in particular. Or, more accurately, "Top 40 sci-fi shows with 10 other shows thrown in to make sci-fi seem inclusive and cool."

It doesn't take a geek* to figure out some of the major problems with the list, though. I can think of a half-dozen shows that were left out (two of which are GLARINGLY OBVIOUS) and feel justified in taking issue with the inclusion of shows like Xena, MST:3K and Buffy in any real sci-fi list.

Categories are important, even if they are socially constructed. In fact, their constructed nature is one reason they matter. Without classification to help us describe the world, we lose the ability to converse about reality. And sure, sci-fi isn't the most crucial topic in the field of IR, but it is close to the hearts of many. Like public health and security, it has some boundaries.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is outside those boundaries. Stargate SG-1 is not.

This seems fairly self-evident to me, but the editors of the list disagree. I expect that a few readers of this blog will share my disappointment in the resulting list. And since misery loves company, feel free to suggest additions here.

A copy of Neuromancer for the person who can guess the shows that absolutely should have been there but weren't. If you already have Neuromancer (and any real sci-fi geek does), I'll award something else.
*I realize that a conversation I had on the bus last week is in direct opposition to this post. When I said I wasn't a sci-fi geek, I didn't mean I wasn't a sci-fi geek. Just that my geekiness (geekosity? geekhood?) does not reach the levels displayed by some people that we know. At best, my set membership is partial. My decision to ignore Star Wars clearly eliminates me from the "I'm the biggest geek" competition, so it doesn't matter that I know the definition and source of "grok" or that I spent seventh grade memorizing the Riverworld series. Hey, I went to public school. There wasn't a lot else to do.

It's possible that my avoidance of all things George Lucas is a self-protective measure designed to give me plausible deniability.

Via SEB.

Marching (or not) in the Capital of the Free World, Part I

Just to let yous know. I don't spend ALL my weekends, watching footy (Big match mid-week this week and I am too poor to go to two matches in one week). Sometimes, I remember I am a postgrad student and go off to do other stuff. Like study. And, get involved in invertebrate welfare efforts (We have new cuttlefish at place-where-I-wish-I-really-worked-but-don't. They are about an inch long now and need feeding thrice a day so they can grow).

When planning what to do on Saturday, I have to admit it was a difficult choice among marching to bring "our" troops home (E put it succintly when she told me my troops weren't even in Iraq. Hence the parentheses. Also, and this is a topic which led to my having arguments with some of the other TUWSNBN's students in the past week, I am not sure the US should withdraw from Iraq right now, as the organisers of the protest wanted. Hence, should I march if I didn't agree with what I was supposedly marching for? You'll have to wait till Part II of the post to find out. I do still say Elizabeth should have been there so we could have done a joint blog post for once. And, I'd have had pictures to put up with the upcoming post) and watching The Corpse Bride with doing work coming a distant third. Since I had to be at TUWSNBN's for a class at 9am anyway (This is a blatant attempt to get sympathy from my readers, most of whom probably roll into bed at around 9am on Saturdays instead of being at Uni then), I thought I'd go march after that, leave, watch the movie and return for the Operation Ceasefire concerts later. A good plan on paper, right? What could possibly go wrong with such a plan, you ask. Well, wait, come back to this site and read the upcoming post. Right now, let me set the scene with this:

Overheard on the way to Operation Ceasefire

Where?: on TUWSNBN’s bus to the Metro station. I'm sitting on the bus pondering my choices for the day. Opposite me were "The Pirates for Peace" (a group of people dressed as pirates including one boy with a stuffed, cloth parrot on his shoulder. Unfortunately, the parrot refused to stay on his shoulder and kept falling down at odd moments, turning him into "the pirate with parrot in his armpits").

Next to me, was a couple talking to each other.

Girl: You’ve got to read Ann Coulter. You’ll love her. She’s so smart.
Boy: Who is she?
Girl: She’s really smart and biting and funny. She writes about news and people in the news and politics.
Boy: So, she’s in the media?
Girl: No, she hates the media! She calls CNN the Communist News Network and Clinton the aging porn star (laughs). She’s awesome.
Boy: Ok
Girl: And, she’s totally hot too.


Blogging and free speech

Yes, yet another non-topical post. But important, I think:

We the Bloggers...
Blogs have given individuals of any and every background the ability to freely speak their minds and share information with anyone who chooses to read it, at any time they wish to do so. Bloglines was created for people as a window to access this world of dynamic content and a way to participate in its creation. We believe blogs have helped enable an open exchange of information that has never before been possible. As some of you may have heard, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is reviewing its regulations concerning political speech on the Internet, including blog activity. Bloglines is committed to the continuation of open exchanges of information and opinions throughout the blogosphere and the Internet in general. Today, the Committee on House Administration is having a hearing on this issue. In the spirit of these beliefs, I have provided the Committee with the following statement. We encourage you to express your opinion on this matter in any forum you choose.

-Mark Fletcher and the Bloglines team

Statement by Mark Fletcher
Founder, Vice President and General Manager of Bloglines
Regulation of Political Speech on the Internet
Before the
Committee on House Administration
U.S. House of Representatives
September 22, 2005

Chairman Ney and Members of the Committee:
On behalf of Bloglines and our users, I am pleased to provide the following statement concerning regulation of political speech on the Internet. Bloglines, founded in 2003, is a free online service for searching, subscribing, creating and sharing news feeds, blogs and rich web content. The company is a property of Ask Jeeves, Inc., a wholly-owned business of IAC/InterActiveCorp, and is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.
We believe it’s critical for us to speak out on behalf of individual bloggers who, while empowered by the Internet, have a limited capacity to carry messages to Congress. We commend you and the Committee for convening this hearing and focusing needed attention on this issue.
We urge Congress and the FEC to ensure that the Internet, particularly blog activity, remains free from campaign finance regulation. While regulation of campaign financing plays an important role in maintaining public confidence in our political system, we believe the significant public policy interests in encouraging the Internet as a forum for free or low-cost speech and open information exchange should stand paramount.
Linking to campaign websites, quoting from or republishing campaign materials and even providing a link for donations to a candidate, if done without compensation, should not result in a blog being deemed to have made a contribution to a campaign or trigger reporting requirements.
Blogs permit the expression of and access to a diversity of political opinions and other information on a scale never before seen. This speech must remain free and not be discouraged by burdensome regulation. As such, it should be explicit that the activities of bloggers are covered by the press exemption of Sections 100.73 and 100.132.
Should the FEC fail to provide this critical protection to Internet activity, or if courts determine the Commission lacks statutory authority, we urge Congress to promptly move legislation to achieve the goal. Thank you for this opportunity to share our comments on this important issue.
* * *

Even though this isn't quite the same as recent discussions regarding blogging and academic hiring, it's important to push for free speech no matter what the context. The argument that they're making is for the status quo, rather than a looser interpretation of the rules, and it could get lost with all the hurricane and Supreme Court conversations going on.

And in connection to our (supposed) blog theme: It's 4:15, and so far today I've managed to avoid doing anything that might be even remotely considered work. I've filled out paperwork (for the new job, about which I'm very excited and promise to blog on later this weekend), gone to a welcome lunch (free food, and a chance to meet the new PhDs at TUWSNBN), talked about HS theater, football, and when you should have a dissertation topic, and blogged/chatted/checked email. At 4:30 I have a lecture to attend, and then it's off to happy hour and the premiere of Numb3rs. So I've managed to look busy for seven hours, while accomplishing bupkiss.


What do you call a digital plague that isn't a virus?

With thanks to Priya, who keeps us (semi)topical, even when she doesn't bring the angst.

WoW digital plague

A deadly virtual plague has broken out in the online game World of Warcraft.

Although limited to only a few of the game's servers the numbers of characters that have fallen victim is thought to be in the thousands.

Originally it was thought that the deadly digital disease was the result of a programming bug in a location only recently added to the Warcraft game.

However, it now appears that players kicked off the plague and then kept it spreading after the first outbreak.


The spread of the disease could have been limited by the fact that Hakkar is difficult to kill, so some realms may have fallen victim to his parting shot.

In World of Warcraft players can be orcs, humans or other fantastic creatures
The digital disease instantly killed lower level characters and did not take much longer to kill even powerful characters.

Many online discussion sites were buzzing with reports from the disaster zones with some describing seeing "hundreds" of bodies lying in the virtual streets of the online towns and cities.

If nothing else, it should make epidemiology a much more popular topic at LAN parties.

And they call it the gentlemen's game...

Yup. Post on cricket, of all things. Again, one of those things you grow up with if you're a teenager in Asia (again, generalising. But, one can't avoid cricket over there even if one does not care much for it). Sledging, or making comments on your opponent's game to put him off it, is fairly common but only gained notice recently because of the addition of on-field microphones (imagine most of these being broadcast into homes the world over).

With thanks to the Irish for finding this (with explanations within parentheses by me and also clarifications as to who is playing whom). Too bad that some of the good ones have been censored (I'll try to find them and update later)! Found some of them: Scroll down for the update.

1 Rod Marsh (Australian wicketkeeper: this is the guy who sits behind the wicket. The wicket is...ah heck. He's like the catcher in baseball, I think. Though I'm woefully ignorant of baseball positions) & Ian Botham (English fast bowler. This is like the pitcher in baseball. I'm probably going to get stoned by both sides for comparing baseball with cricket):
When Botham took guard in an Ashes match, Marsh welcomed him to the wicket with the immortal words: "So how's your wife & my kids?"

2. Daryll Cullinan (South African batsman. Yes, the batter (is that the correct term? I'm too lazy to google it)) & Shane Warne (Australian slow bowler. Rather chubby. Well known for allegedly having phone sex with English nurses): As Cullinan was on his way to the wicket, Warne told him he had been waiting 2 years for another chance to humiliate him. "Looks like you spent it eating," Cullinan retorted.

4. Robin Smith (South African-turned-English batsman) & Merv Hughes (Aussie fast bowler. Had a luxurious set of moustaches. Looked rather like a pirate): During 1989 Lords Test Hughes said to Smith after he played & missed:"You can't f**king bat". Smith to Hughes after he smacked him to the boundary (one smacks balls to the boundary to make runs quickly. This practice also makes watching cricket slightly more bearable): "Hey Merv, we make a fine pair. I can't f**king bat & you can't f**king bowl."

5. Merv Hughes (see no. 4) & Javed Miandad (Pakistani batsman. Another luxurious set of moustaches there): During 1991 Adelaide Test, Javed called Merv a fat bus conductor. A few balls later Merv dismissed Javed: "Tickets please", Merv called out as he ran past the departing batsman.

8. James Ormond (not sure but since it's the Ashes which are played between England and Australia, I'd say English) had just come out to bat on an Ashes tour and was greeted by Mark Waugh (one of a pair of twins. Australian all-rounder i.e. can bat and bowl i.e can pitch and bat? in Americanese? There were also two other brothers. All played cricket)....... MW : "F*ck me, look who it is. Mate, what are you doing out here, there's no way you're good enough to play for England (ah, here we go. It's not just me who didn't know who he was then)" JO : "Maybe not, but at least I'm the best player in my family"

12. Malcolm Marshall (West Indian fast bowler. One of a quartet. Watching these blokes bowl was like watching art. Or poetry. It was like listening to really good poetry being read by a smoky Welsh voice :-)) was bowling to David Boon (Aussie batsman. Short and stout. Rather like a beer stubbie) who had played and missed a couple of times. Marshall : "Now David, Are you going to get out now or am I going to have to bowl around the wicket and kill you?"

Update: So, here're some of the ones that were censored:

3. Glenn McGrath (Australian fast bowler. Brilliant bowler but also big on sledging. Still playing even though he's in his mid-30s) & Eddo Brandes (Zimbabwean batsman) : After Brandes played & missed at a McGrath delivery, the Aussie bowler politely enquired: "Oi, Brandes, why are you so fat?"
"Cos every time I f**k your wife she gives me a biscuit," Brandes replied.

6. Merv Hughes (see no. 4) & Viv Richards (West Indian batsman. One of the best players of his time): During a test match in the West Indies, Hughes didn't say a word to Viv, but continued to stare at him after deliveries.
Viv: "This is my island, my culture. Don't you be staring at me. In my culture we just bowl." Merv didn't reply, but after he dismissed him he announced to the batsman: "In my culture we just say f**k *ff." (Ahh...Australians)

7. Ricky Ponting (Australian batsman. Notice the proliferation of Aussies on this list? He's also the captain of the team right now) & Shaun Pollock (South African fast bowler. Redhead. I've got a thing for redheads :-)): After going past the outside edge (i.e. just missing the bat and hence missing getting a wicket...yes, explanations about cricket are better done over beer(s)) with a couple of deliveries, Pollock told Ponting: "It's red, round & weighs about 5 ounces." Unfortunately for Pollock, the next ball was hammered out of the ground (another way to make loads of runs quickly. Counts as crossing the boundary).
Ponting to Pollock: "You know what it looks like, now go find it."

8. Okay, if you're offended by the C-word, stop reading. With that warning:
And of course you can't forget Ian Healy's (Australian wicketkeeper of the 1990s) legendary comment which was picked up by the Channel 9 (The channel that shows cricket in Australia and which also broadcasts matches, via Rupert Murdoch's STAR Television, throughout Southeast and South Asia) microphones when Arjuna Ranatunga (Sri Lankan batsman) called for a runner (In cricket, you can call for a runner i.e. call for someone else to "run between the wickets" in your stead. This is usually only allowed if you are injured though it's a priviledge that's often taken. One of the more amusing sights is when the runner is run out. Again, the beer's on me whenever yous want explanations of all this. Though, for my American readers, I'd appreciate a primer on baseball) on a particularly hot night during a one-dayer in Sydney... "You don't get a runner for being an overweight, unfit, fat c**t!!!"

And, finally, to show that they did it better in the old days (This was probably the 1950s or 1960s). And, it's not even to the opposition but these are blokes playing for the same team!

Fred Trueman (English fast bowler) bowling. The batsman edges and the ball goes to first slip (row of one to three or four people who sit next to the wicket and hope to catch the ball and hence get the batsman out), and right between Raman Subba Row's legs (which means he missed the catch and the batsman got to play on). Fred doesn't say a word. At the end of the over, Row ambles past Trueman and apologises sheepishly. "I should've kept my legs together, Fred". "So should your mother" Trueman replied.

(My) Great Transformations

I realised that my last few posts have been a bit short on angst and since that is what I’m supposed to contribute to this space, here I go. Let me start by writing that I am trying to recover from the knowledge that the Bigwigs at my department at TUWSNBN appear not to know me. First, my sister was mistaken for me and then I was asked when I was planning on finishing my classwork. (FYI, my sister is heaps taller and a lot younger; and I finished my classes even before I headed off to OOD). But, it’s my fault: I am not good at networking or making friends and influencing people. This means tomorrow’s lunch with the incoming PhD students should be the first place I go to hang out and make friends and discuss my work, right? Well, it would be if I could form a coherent sentence (well, more than one actually) about what my work is about. I had gotten quite good at it in OOD but the months of coming back here, being homeless, and spending most of the week filling envelops and trying to grasp LS concepts have all led to a few of the little grey cells dying off due to lack of use. I get the feeling that even the alive ones have gone into hibernation and are refusing to wake up. Hence, the lack of clarity about what I do and how I do it and why I’m doing it.

In any case, this semester has been filled with LS work. Reaching the end of my fellowship at TUWSNBN means that one has to join the workforce. Being an “alien” (but not the sort that seem to populate TV shows these days. At least they get good jobs) means I can’t work outside of Uni. This means I am pretty much restricted in my choices (try choosing between working for the library and working for the LS and try making a living off the measly pittance you get for 20 hours of work within Uni). Being at the LS is an interesting experience: most of the time, I am so busy filling envelops (they do require loads of concentration making sure the names and the letters match) and entering data into the Uni data system and answering whether Course X is really needed to graduate that I forget I’m actually a postgraduate student who is supposed to be doing research. I recall the times when I used to get bored with reading Uni stuff and got excited to read other, non uni things. Now, I get excited when I catch a whiff of Super N or even just a token word or phrase about Big F.

I watched Trainspotting again over the weekend. I remember when it first came out (and I thought it was about spotting trains but turned out it wasn’t). It's one of those movies you remember from high school (except people seem to remember different films, depending on their geographical locations. So, let me qualify by saying/writing that "it's one of those films you remember from high school if you went to a state high school in Kathmandu, Nepal and happened to live near the British Council which lent out films at cheaper rates than at local video stores". Or, if you grew up in Southeast Asia/Australia, where the youth seemed to have shared my film viewing habits). Remember when Renton yearns for his drug of choice? I am starting to feel like that about OOD. Yes, I didn’t like it much when I was there (it was cold cold cold and there was no proper English-language bookstore and the cinema was bloody expensive at about 25$ per movie) but at least we discussed our research, we argued about why Foucault should be read in this way rather than that and I learned a lot about semiotics and Gadamer and Kierkegaard which I hadn’t here. In the months there, I used to visit my supervisor weekly, discuss my research or any other topic that came to mind (we once had an hour-long discussion on nationalism and football and how different countries in Europe’s versions of nationalism can be interpreted looking at the behaviour of football fans). And, I miss that. Actually, the Renton analogy is useful here because I really miss that. I crave it.

I also miss the availability of such conversation: I'm not saying that I can't discuss my research at TUWSNBN but, often, I need an appointment, I need to set up a time to see my colleagues, I need to tell them why and when I'm going to be around. It's made formal. And, that makes me nervous. So, I don't bother. And, I'm invisible. Do yous see the problem here? It's not as if the whole department at TUWSNBD is keen on discussing these things, which was the case at OOD uni. Also, being part of a group of PhD fellows who shared the same office meant you (I) had a ready-made audience ready to tell me off for being unclear or to push me into making my points clearer and more easily understood. It also meant I was royally disliked by quite a few people for my methodological stance but yous know all about that. And, looking back, at least it was a reaction. Not like here at TUWSNBN where I'm invisible, it seems.

That is why my second job of TA-ing for StructureMan is what keeps me going right now. I sit in on the class and it’s not even a subject I’m keen on (reminds me too much of who I used to be, I guess, since I did this stuff for a living for a few years) and I love it. Being a TA though creates boundaries between the students and me. I sit at the back of the class, don’t participate in discussions (though I really want to these days. As E would tell yous, this is definitely not like the former me who once remained silent throughout an entire semester of a course of Comparative Politics. In my defence, I'd like to say that I didn't have much to say and there were a few people in the class who said heaps anyway) but get called on to explain things every once in a while. The students congregate on the quad during break and I'm not part of the congregation. Actually, I've noticed that it's the European students who seem keen to discuss things with me while the others give me a wide berth. Is this becuase the Europeans are more used to hanging out with their professors while Americans (well, at least at TUWSNBN) aren't? I don't know. It's just rather strange since I've never been in this weird not a student and not a teacher limbo before.

This week, we discussed Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation and I realised that I actually find much in it that is useful in looking at how the international system is described. I sat there, at the back, out of sight of most of the students and I wanted to start over my PhD. Now. This year. Even though I’m removed from the students in the class and even though I suspect most of them are not too keen on theory, I like the interactions generated as they wrestle with questions of agency and power in Marx, Smith, et al. No one dominates the class, no one gets to sit silently but most students have participated and have had things to say in the three weeks I’ve been there. Each time, I learn a bit more about the readings and gain insights into aspects that I'd not thought about. I know now why professors can go on teaching the same class for years. Because it is not the same class. The name might be the same, the readings might not change but the classes are different. And fun.

I guess I used to wonder if I had a vocation for this thing: I am still not sure I have a vocation for doing my subject (IR) but I do know I have a vocation for teaching. And, for now, I’m (relatively) content with that. It gets me through the days of stuffing envelops and answering yet another query about transcripts. I just wish that I could discuss my research, the people I’m reading for it and the various other projects I’m supposed to be working on with other people and get feedback and critique. At OOD uni, people didn't agree with me but many still listened. I guess I didn't appreciate that as much as I should have. Maybe the PhD lunch tomorrow will be where this starts? Though, I’ll admit from the success (or lack thereof) of the Happy Hour concept that I have my doubts.

Close enough for government work

So is this an argument that I should try for public office, or that I shouldn't? Is there no category for lawyers who practice systems analysis?


Happy Lurker Day!

C'mon, you know you want to comment--thoughts, rants, suggestions, phone numbers for russian language instruction (turns out that latin class from undergrad isn't any more useful at my new job than it was at the last four), notes for the next round of comps--whatever floats your boat.


Yes, I know that I missed TLAPD. In my defense, I did know that it was going on. I was just too busy talking like a pirate to post a blog entry. As penance, I offer this link to a pirate translator for your blog (or any other website in need of) translation. I particularly like the White House Official Site in piratese:

President's Remarks t' the Travel Pool in Louisiana

President Bush on Tuesday said, "The reason I've come with the Mayor and Admiral Allen be because I want the people t' know that thar's progress bein' made in this part o' the world. (AAARRHH!!!) ... (Bloody landlubber!) 'n what ye're beginnin' t' see be a revitalized economy. (Be ye ready to walk the plank?) ... (Sail ho!) Thar's still a lot o' work, but they're makin' progress."

President's Remarks at G'rner's Commission Briefin' in Mississippi

President Bush on Tuesday said, "...I really appreciate all the citizens who have agreed t' take time out o' yer busy schedules t' help plot the strategy for the future. (Man the guns, ye cowardly swabs!) It's really important, it's really important 'n thar's nay doubt in me mind that out o' the rubble 'n out o' those huge heaps o' timber that used t' be homes, a better Mississippi will emerge."

President Ahoys Prime Minister o' Thailand t' the White House

President Bush on Monday said, "... (Arrgh!) I do want t' thank the Prime Minister 'n 'is Majesty for sendin' relief supplies t' our folks that have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. (Aaarrhhh, me parrot!) This good country has just come through a tsunami, 'n they're on their way t' recovery 'n yet they were able t', through their -- because o' their generous hearts, clipper help. (AAARRHH!!!) 'n so thanks very much, 'n please thank 'is Majesty for 'is generous contribution t' the folks down thar."

Is it just me, or does he sound better this way?

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.


Making (insert your own pet project here) History

So, I’m sure yous have all heard of (or, like me, even bought) some of those “Make poverty history” stuff, right? Or, maybe not. In any case, I think the campaign here in the USA is called ONE but is for the same reason: to raise awareness of poverty-related issues and (try to) make poverty history. Leaving aside questions of critical historiography (that’s more Elizabeth’s field) and about when one decides that poverty is history (most likely not in my lifetime and who does the deciding anyway?), one cannot avoid the t-shirts, armbands and other paraphernalia, especially in Europe. They’re sold in Oxfam shops, in stalls on streets, outside football grounds, everywhere. The campaign is supported by politicians, entertainment figures and sportspeople.

Well, I was going through some web sites today when I ran across this (check out the T-shirt section). How to describe it? A good way to jump on the bandwagon? Or a rather crude way of making a political statement that a large proportion of the people would find offensive? After all, unlike making poverty history, which is a goal that not many people would disagree with (though, as I point out, the means and methods are debatable), making “partition” history (note the word “partition”, invoking images of the Cold War and apartheid) is not something that is as generally supported. On the subject of where exactly this campaign stands, I’ll nick a phrase from a rather well-known news corporation: You(s) decide.


Women's Football and modern architecture

I bet you thought I’d forgotten about this…

So we’ve covered the bathmat, the cat, the new car, the weird apartment complex and the pathos of a deformed Krispy Kreme doughnut.

What’s left?

Oh, right. The football game and the new girlfriend. Nothing like leaving the most difficult bit for last.

First things first—downtown Charlotte has possibly the ugliest building that I’ve ever had the misfortune to photograph. It’s pink (Bright pink. Fuchsia, even. No wishy-washy pale cotton candy pink for them. If you’re going to cover a building in pink glass, go all the way and make it a color that makes passersby search for a pencil to poke their own eyes out) and made even more striking by the total lack of skyscrapers within ten blocks of it. Almost as if none of the other buildings want to admit that it exists.

The hideously pink building has a sad, squatty little friend (S.O.?) with the same pink windows right next door. Truly hideous, and this is coming from someone living in DC, where the buildings are required by law to be either monuments or monumentally unattractive.

The local tire store had a “the manager’s out of town” sale. I guess that’s better than a “we’re afraid the pink building is going to deconstruct itself and take us along for the ride” sale.

Other highlights: the dancing magnetic glove and flatulence exhibits at the science museum, the stifling and not-to-be-believed heat, a misquoted F. Scott Fitzgerald line on a plaque outside the downtown library and a disturbing but funny story about my wedding reception.

And we’re pretty sure (based on an oddly typical conversation that would only make sense to people who were there) that the Litigating Geologist writes his name in his underwear. He didn’t say why.

The comments are open for suggestions from the peanut gallery.

Yeah, that’s about it. Or at least the parts I still remember after three weeks.

Da Big Game:

The football stadium was attached to some sort of minimum-security library and vocational school complex. Only one set of stands was open, so the twenty people cheering on the visiting team were forced to take their lives in hand with every touchdown. Ordinarily I’m perfectly willing to get my ass kicked for the sake of team loyalty, but in this case I figured the odds were a little too stacked. Two to one is risky; fifty to one is just stupid.

Besides, the middle-aged woman screaming obscenities and smoking a cigar next to me definitely had a short fuse and a posse. Luckily, she did most of her screaming at the local team. It was a bit like sitting in the owner’s box at a Reds game. Or so I assume; I’m not a baseball fan.

Then again, maybe no one would have noticed us cheering for Toledo, which was introduced as the Toronto Reign. Playing the Charlotte Queens. An NFL fan’s worst nightmare: “And it’s the Queens at the ten yard line. First and eight for the Queens. Touchdown, Queens!” You get the idea.

The Queens, however, were defeated by the Reign. (Please, the puns are not my fault. Don’t flame me. Go bother the league instead.) Defeated by some very high score I can’t remember that can be translated to “Toledo won by a lot.” I have pictures, but I didn’t take a zoom lens and it was an evening game, so they aren’t really very illustrative. Dan has better ones from a different game, so go bug him for copies. The one of the Footballer completely missing the ball is particularly entertaining.

The Footballer may have been called for unnecessary roughness during the NC game. She says she wasn’t, but we didn’t notice anyone else knocking people over at the time. If it were me, I’d put it on my resume.

Finally, TLG’s new girlfriend is clearly more easily affected by pharmaceuticals than I am. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just saying that her resulting happy mood was not entirely my fault.

TBC (eventually. Don’t you just love the way I’m dragging out the whole girlfriend thing? You’d almost think I’d been waiting for this situation in order to comment on TLG’s dating habits.)


The way forward is through...

Prayer. Why didn't we think of this before? Check this out.

Did yous know we had the Presidential Prayer Kids to help us out in times of trouble? Yay for them. Scroll down too to see who this week's "Leaders to pray for" are.

If any of yous has kids, then don't forgot to give them permission for the Virtual Prayer Rally. It's coming up this week.

The words, they don't change much

Switch the people around (well, not the police but the other protagonists) and this may well have been said in the 1960s...or the 1970s...or the 1980s...

From a report on yesterday's rioting in Belfast. Who needs satire, indeed.

Who needs sleep?

Main Entry: in·som·nia
Pronunciation: in-'säm-nE-&
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, from insomnis sleepless, from in- + somnus sleep -- more at SOMNOLENT
: prolonged and usually abnormal inability to obtain adequate sleep
- in·som·ni·ac /-nE-"ak/ adjective or noun


Rankings? what rankings?

Been a while since I discussed my addiction lately so here goes. Yes, it's footy. And, yes, in a way it's related to PhD-ing since Northern Ireland, ranked 116 in the world, beat the much-favoured English team (with David Beckham as captain, for those non-footy followers here) 1-0 yesterday. It was the first time in over 30 years that NI beat England. And, my granddad was a toddler when the same thing last happened at the same place (Belfast, 1927). Fantastic news, by the way, since almost anyone beating England is good news as far as I'm concerned (Yes, I do support Liverpool, who are an English club but that's one of the many oddities that regularly occur in football. Or so I say). The good news about England's defeat was especially nice since NI is a tiny region (I can't call it a country, obviously) with players playing in reserve teams in lower divisions while England's stars cavort around in Premiership teams.

In more NI news, the Maze Prison, the place where Bobby Sands died, where the blanket and dirty protests of the 1970s happened, the Hunger Strikes of the early 1980s occurred, where loads of prisoners were held, some for over a decade, is perhaps about to have a new life: as a football stadium. Or, as a museum. Or as both (try to imagine this). As seems to be usual when deciding what to do about “contentious sites of history”, local and state officials and private investors are still trying to decide whether the Maze should be a stadium or not. If it’s decided that a sports stadium should be made (and that seems to be where the popular vote’s going), would the future Northern Ireland team be able to match the exploits of this one which beat England yesterday? Maybe all the Northern Irish team needs is the Maze-turned-footy-stadium to make such results a regular occurrence.


(PhD is) always on my mind

So, the Maoists in Nepal have declared a ceasefire for three months. What does this mean for my research? Not too sure, really. I guess I can still keep working on why and how certain groups are constituted as the enemy and, especially, as terrorists. After all, Northern Ireland, my other context in my project, has had an official ceasefire for nearly a decade now and the peace process is continuing.

We had an exchange of emails after I found out about the ceasefire in Nepal. It went along these lines:

E: hey, do you know your Maoists have declared a ceasefire?

P: (not sure I own the Ms but will take them for now): i know. they obviously didn't realise that, as terrorists, they are not supposed to do this until someone tells them to or has some sort of peace plan. blast them. hope this does not ruin my bloody phd. hopefully not.

So, yes, there you have it. In true postgrad student fashion, I was not worried about how this news would affect US-Nepal relationships, the role of the state, the people I know, Maoists, or such but how it would affect ME and MY PhD. I reckon that shows a dedication to the (PhD-ing) cause that should be acknowledged and praised even though I've done no work on it lately. Shows I'm thinking about my research, at least.


How about now?

After a natural disaster, how long are people meant to wait before we're allowed to be angry about the responses of:

people who are supposed to be Christians?

the President?

Other Republicans? (skim down to Trent Lott's responses)

Conservative Apologists?

I'm just wondering. I'd like to be able to keep my schedule open.

I can't paint, either

I've been told that networking at parties is an art form. I'd like to mention that I never was any good at art.

(Email exchange after TUWSNBN reception at the Big Professional Conference last night. I'd like to make it clear that Priya talked me into attending, as the required representative of the new I and B. She had the excuse of needing to catch a bus.)

E: hey, you know the only thing more awkward than the TUWSNBN reception? meeting a new prof and then having to ride most of the way home with him on the Metro. I only have about 20 minutes of chatting, and then I start to babble. the trip is 30 minutes, and I'd already been at the reception for 45 minutes.

I can't even spend that much time talking to people I know.


P: nah. i'm sure he was fine. details! details! let me know what went on...who was this prof? at TUWSNBN? new person?

E: yeah, new prof (as in defended his diss last spring) on a contract. he gave me his card (I didn't laugh. well, not much) [E: He seemed nice enough. Have to work on that profs at happy hour idea. Much better way to find out what people are like than standing in a room trying to be both professional and friendly at the same time. There must by people who can manage both, but I'm definitely not one of them.]

P: hehe...card. just the notion of them amuses me now. don't know why. it just does.

E: me too. will now have problems forever, because every time I give someone a business card, I'll snicker.

P: who was at reception: students/profs?

E: both. a few students and a lot of profs. possibly DW, although I wasn't sure and didn't want to try to read his nametag. that would have been too obvious, I think.

P: no idea who DW is. shows why i'll never make an academic.

E: no reason for you to know. I had him as a prof in law school, he wrote recs for me for TUWSNBN. He'd have no reason to be there, so I'm assuming it wasn't him. Even though it really looked like him.

P: any one you tried on your B persona on?

E: not really. it was a small, loud room. I did steal a piece of pineapple from Random Prof’s plate, in an effort to fight the man. But I don't know that he even noticed, which rather defeated the statement.

P: who's the man? makes one wonder if the man does not notice stuff being stuck to him (btw, the bunny thing on sticking things to the man was hilarious), it matters or not?

E: that's what I was wondering. He probably just thinks it was weird. I thought it was funny. But then again, maybe I was just hoping to get thrown out for bad behavior.

Evicted from BPC. what a great blog title.

P: prob means i should brave the basement since it's nearly half past midnight.

just finished watching the ring and ring 2 and am now scared to sleep in the basement (i'm the only person in said basement)

E: that sucks. this is why I don't watch horror films.

P: me neither. but i couldn't avoid these. and brownies and ice cream were included and i'm a sucker for free food.

E: ah. that makes sense, I guess. We've been watching a lot of CNN, and I've been swearing at the tv every time the president appears. we had FNC on for about five minutes, but I threw something at the tv and we had to change the channel.


I'm still not blogging about hurricanes

But after a day of not getting enough writing finished followed by an evening of conference networking, I can't bring myself to put in the effort required to finish the NC post. So here's a long quote from Andrew Sullivan:

THIS SAYS IT ALL: Sometimes an emailer says it better than I ever could. Read this. Read all of it. You know why I endorsed Kerry last time? Not because I liked Kerry or ever dreamed of backing him. I'm not a liberal. I'm not a Bush-hater. I backed the war. Initially, I trusted and supported this president to the hilt at a time of great danger. But I was forced to back Kerry of all people because Bush's gross incompetence at a time of national peril was simply too great a risk to continue. Now we have the proof:

"I've considered myself a socially libertarian, fiscally conservative Republican for a very long time. I got along with the idea that I wasn't going to get a whole lot of help. College wouldn't be free. Job training would cost money and time. And I'm probably a decent example of up-from-not-much.

But after watching what's happening in New Orleans-an American city that I've loved, visited and have always wanted to return to - I can't ever vote for these people again.

Being a Republican means that you expect the government to do just a couple things for you and nothing else. Build a road. Defend us from enemies, foreign and domestic. Stuff that would be a lot less organized if we all had to do it ourselves. Everything else is just gravy.

And as we poured money into Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, I thought, "Right on," because some of that money's bound to fall on my head.

Well, something else would fall on my head first.

I work for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. And that means that if something really catastrophic happens in MY city, and they ask me to stick around, that's the job. We have A and B teams and I'm a disaster recovery specialist on Team A. I've drawn up plans with names like Drawbridge and Smoldering Crater.

Here's what these people would do for me.

They would leave me there to die.

Look at the facts. There's no coordination on the ground right now. The city has no fresh water, no electricity, no services. The floodwater has so much oil and toxins in it that it's flammable.

In psychology they have what is called a fight-or-flight response. When faced with danger, do you subdue it or do you flee? Some of it has to do with risk assessment, but in this case, there is no flight. There is nowhere to run. So flight means die. If my choice was to pull a pistol on a truck driver or Nat, Jarren, Jayson, or any of you dies, that's no choice at all.

I'm not talking about the looters grabbing big-screen televisions and basketball hoops. I'm talking about the ones that are chest-deep in water carrying bottled water and diapers. You can't tell me for three days to be patient, the bus is coming, and they're piling up bodies in the street median.

We have known that this sort of disaster could occur for a century. Hell, the tour bus driver told me about it on the plantation tour. This means that we have been able to envision the stark reality of this occurring for a week-the newspapers all said the storm would hit New Orleans last Thursday.

A week to get buses? A week to get fishing boats? Trucks? This is the United States! I read someone who said, "All the people who weren't bedridden, or had money, or had cars left. The people that are left had none of those things."

There are people tonight who are going to sleep on overpasses for the fourth straight night. There are prisoners who will do the same. There are people dying at a convention center because no one will tell them that no one is coming for them, and the National Guard is protecting the kitchens. There are police officers who are turning in their badges because they've lost everything, have no guidance, and don't want to be shot by a looter.

There are people tonight inside a concrete domed stadium with holes in the roof and no air conditioning who were told the buses are coming today, and they might, or they might not. There is no food. There is no water. There are bodies floating through the neighborhoods.


Some people say that you can't hold the President responsible for this. Oh, yes you can. Because when he looked over at John Ashcroft after the jets hit the towers and said, "I want you to make sure this never happens again," it was not meant to be specific to "no more planes hitting large buildings on the East Coast, right, boss." It was meant that no American should have to run for his life through an American city. While Americans may perish in a senseless, unforeseen disaster, we'd save the ones we could.

And the Cabinet appointees were mushwits and he could barely speak a complete sentence and we're sending people overseas for God knows how long to help people who are indifferent at worst and hostile at best, but they were going to protect us. In 2004, that's all a lot of us needed. Well right now, it's obvious that they can't.

Ask yourself this: What if Al-Qaeda blew up the levees instead of the hurricane? Would the response have been any different?

No. It wouldn't. That city flooded in a day. And if it were Las Vegas, I would have been in some operations center watching people try to decide who gets to starve to death and who gets to get on a bus to Los Angeles or Phoenix. And there would be no certainty that I'd be on that bus in time to protect my wife and kids.

But one thing sure would have been different.

They wouldn't have had a whole week to sort it out and know what's coming. They were supposed to KNOW this already. It will have been FOUR YEARS next weekend since someone probably said, "Hey, what if..."

And for that, the whole stack of them should be fired.

I've had it. I'm done. And if the other bunch of assholes can't figure out that what's important is that babies don't starve to death here (and I'm not talking some metaphorical goo-goo thing with school lunches and welfare, but real, actual starving) and we get people out of harm's way, we'll get rid of them too. And so on.

Because this is about leadership, not about bitching on CNN how no one's in charge, or listening to Peggy Noonan furrow her brow at the Governor's performance, or bragging that we've sent in one National Guardsman for every 200 people, or actually having the audacity to say that "we had no idea the levees would break."

Today, I saw my country favorably compared to Indonesia and Thailand, (always our traditional benchmarks of infrastructural success) while the elderly die of thirst in the street. We sneered at France when this happened during a heat wave.

No more."

Hurricane blogging

No, I haven't changed my mind. But if you insist on reading blog posts about Katrina, go read this. It pretty much covers what I might have said. Without the snarking.

Also, photos.

I am not going to blog about hurricanes

I can't--it goes back to the whole sincere / snarky issue. Let's leave it at that.

Instead, a long-awaited (well, by some) post about NC. And possibly some stuff about business cards. Or not.

So, the lovely state of North Carolina is just past Virginia. Which smelled like mildew. The whole state had a distinct whiff of college bathroom. And it wasn't my car, because neither Maryland nor North Carolina had that impressive "towels left in the hamper too long" fragrance.

I've already mentioned the traffic on the return. Traffic on the way down also sucked--even though the beltway was pretty clear at 1:45 on a Friday afternoon, it was stop and go from there to Spotsylvania. Mostly stop. Very little go. Can anyone explain to me why traffic that was zipping along at 70 mph would need to come to a complete halt at the top of every hill? Because I just don't get it.

In NC, they build highways over lakes. Not around, but over. And these are not small lakes. They're very wide, and the bridges are long. And need some serious repair. Those big cracks in the roadbed? Not a heartening sight.

The sunsets over the lakes are spectacular.

I can't say much about Durham (I think it was Durham. That's the one the baseball movie was about, right?), since it seems to be constructed mainly of traffic cones and detour signs. (Hey, NCDOT? How's about sending some road crews up to work on those bridges? Just a thought.)

The Litigating Geologist (how's that for a nickname?) lives in a place named after Lincoln. I think I'm the only one who finds that really funny. Nobody else mentioned it. Also, he no longer drives the jeep--made it kind of hard to find his place by looking for the car. If I had known I was looking for a silver BMW yuppie car with leather seats and stereo controls on the steering wheel, I'd have gotten there sooner. Of course, I also might have turned around and gone home.

There's no good way to describe the way I feel about the yuppie car. I was on my bestest behavior, so I didn't say much about it at the time. I think I was counting on TLG to be the one person who didn't turn into a typical lawyer after graduation. (Sorry folks, all the rest of you were obviously headed in that direction. Not that the Footballer didn't surprise me.) I just couldn't picture him as a grown-up, I think. Sure, we all wore suits and carried memos around for three years, but he's got a briefcase now. And the aforementioned transportation. I don't really think the pirate shirts balance that out.

Let's face it, he's well on the way to being redneck yuppie lawyer scum. (Dude, I mean that in the nicest possible way. You know how I am.)

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Hell, I'm all for people I know in positions of power and success. But it's a bit much to see the change from the last time we were in the same state. That's all.

Things the same about the place in which TLG lives: giant rock in the living room (it used to be on the coffee table, but it's still hard to miss), the drinking horn (at least, that's waht I remember it as. I could be mistaken), ratty baseball caps (they're up on the wall--and are strangely appropriate), that damn brown couch (will it haunt me the rest of my days? I think it's possible), the blue chair (complete with Kevin marks and duct tape), a solid selection of alcoholic beverages, and a cat with issues.

Named Ed. Ed is a perfectly nice cat, I'm sure, but he's still got some interesting personality quirks. And when you wake up in the middle of the night with a big gray cat sitting on you and staring, it's a bit unnerving.

This is getting a bit long, so I'll close this post (there will be more: I haven't even started talking about the new girlfriend or the football game that was the the original reason for the trip) with these observations: those little bathtub sticky things, the ones that are supposed to keep you from falling down and breaking your neck? They need to be actually stuck down to work. Gas stations in NC have great pens and sunglasses, but don't all sell Cheerwine (this, I believe, is false advertising on the part of TLG. He swore the reason I hadn't heard of Cheerwine was related to my status as a Yankee. In three days, I didn't see the stuff on a single menu, so I maintain my position that the only person who drinks it is him.) The sadness of a stuck Krispy Kreme doughnut is universal. And funny stories aren't quite as funny when you have to stop to explain the characters and events that make them funny in the first place.

Yeah, the DC card swap is getting put off, too.

The weekly update

1. Returned from my long road trip up north, all ready to do work. No work happened so far. None.

2. Planned a campaign to crash BigNameMeeting. Was told BNM has name tag policy and high security. Thought about crashing it anyway. Realised that I, for one, would definitely be found out since the clothes I brought into the City this week are mainly stuff I took to Maine (think the sort of clothes backpackers travel around in: T-shirts and tattered jeans). I hardly think the staff at BNM would not realise the random person with a dodgy-looking name tag, wearing jeans and flip-flops, is perhaps not an academic.

3. Stayed with Anomie and have to say she has a lovely apartment: walking distance to Uni. Perfect. Envied it, especially as am still homeless and am (illegally, perhaps) moving into a flat this weekend without being formally approved to do so by the management. Should I be writing of my lawbreaking ways on the blog? Too late to worry about that, eh?

4. Discussed with Elizabeth about putting up more episodes of the Road to Big Name Meeting in Our Field (I’m sure we have given it a name but I can’t remember what it was). Apparently, discussions about who gets in on the BNMIOF will be going on at BNM this weekend. Chances of E and I going about being the new I and B and publicising our work are currently minimal. For reasons, see no. 2 above.

5. Just got an email from someone I promised a chapter on Homeland Security for. Work done so far: not much. Memory of having to do this: none. Experience in writing for HS: none. Chances this will go down well with my non-HS oriented mates: non existent. Chances this will amuse them: hopefully high. Any help by readers experienced in maritime aspects of HS will be much much appreciated. I will sell you the part of my soul that is not already about to be sold to LS flunkieness in exchange for help.

6. Sister left on Orientation. Unlike “normal” unis where orientation consists of bunch of kids being taken around like sheep to various buildings within the Uni, this one takes the kids camping and hiking and whitewater rafting for 4 days. Despite being from a TWC, we are not used to being in places without running water or showers or even toilet paper. Am waiting to see what the result of this will be. Am also v glad that my uni in small-town Australia did not have any such things (though, since this was Australia, we had a keg party for orientation).

7. Still in search of converter thingy for my computer.

8. I really want to drag this to 10 points but am having a hard time. Oh, yes, I didn’t realise how MP and the Holy Grail would appear to someone who didn’t know what the HG was. Anomie, in the context of our conversations, said that she didn’t know what the HG was until very recently (I thought all Europeans/people of certain religiously-dominated geographic areas would know about this but I was wrong). I am trying to imagine seeing MP and the HG without knowing what the HG was and why it was important to find. Or even seeing it without knowing about the Arthurian stories. Would it still make sense? Btw, for MP fans, try watching Little Britain on the BBC channel. It’s rather funny for a “modern” comedy (I’m of the conclusion that all good comedies were done in the seventies: BlackAdder, MP, Red Dwarf, H2G2)

9. Another new thing this past week: my Mum has discovered the Internet. She writes daily emails now (and this is quite a feat since she has to go to a “computer café” to do so). This means daily reports are necessary or I get emails that go: “Priya, why are you not writing? You should write since you are the eldest”. Now, I didn’t know age and writing emails were supposed to go together (and I’m known as the slacker in my family anyway so what does she expect?).

10. The last thing this week: my first winter here, I bought a 14-day pass on Greyhound and travelled down south: Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and coming back through Nashville (Tennessee), Savannah (Georgia) and Raleigh (North Carolina). Most of the trip itself was pretty tough: buses in the USA are not the way to travel, as my more experienced colleagues (E being one of them) had warned me about. But, it was my first year here and I wanted to see more of the USA.

Of all these places, Louisiana and Texas were the most fun. I spent New Year’s in New Orleans and it was fantastic: a great combination of weird and wonderful with people who were not too friendly (thankfully) and who appreciated the odd and the eccentric. My friend, an Australian paleontologist who had moved to Baton Rouge and become enamoured of voodoo, took me to loads of little shops in New Orleans, most of which seemed to specialise in wacky voodoo charms and books and we toured historical sites during the day and had haunted/voodoo tours and hung about in the many bars during the nights. Great fun.

It is still unbelievable to think the entire place is now under water and heaps of people have had no food or clean water or showers for days. More than enough people have written about all that so there’s no point in my writing more. I do want to say this though: I still have the picture I took of the columns inside the capital building in Baton Rouge which had bullet holes on them from the time when some bloke assassinated the governor. And, the one of the house where Faulkner used to live in in New Orleans. I learnt a lot about US history on that trip. And, about the people. The usual question people asked was (as is common): Where are you from? And, when I answered that I’d come from Washington, they usually looked at me in such a way as to say that “now we can see why you had to take a bus all the way down south here because, you poor girl, you are from Washington”.

Oh, and since my last post was on accents (sort of), I loved the way people down there talked: musical and with a cadence to it. Not like the more clipped speech of the northerners. The people on the street were unfailingly helpful, directing me to the bus stops, putting me in touch with random people who would then drive to various out of the way bus stops to get me and put me up in their places and even show me around. The contrast between the people I met and the reports of rioting and looting going on in the city is high. From up here in Washington, it's difficult to imagine of such a breakdown in social relations. But, it's not just the people who were great when I was there. Even Mike the Tiger at LSU in Baton Rouge, ventured out of his home in order to check out his visitor. I read he’d just had a new home made for him this year. Hope he's still doing well too.

That's it for the week. E is going to blog about exchanging business cards in DC.


I've neve been to Maine

So I can't say much about Priya's recent trip there. Except that I suggested she go out and, um, meet some grad students who "go to school in Boston" and she didn't. I mean, honestly, what am I supposed to do? I get no help at all in trying to set her up with a nice photographer, and now this.

Okay, rant over. You can start paying attention again.

In case it isn't obvious, we're supposed to be networking at the big convention this weekend. The whole I and B thing, you know. But, slackers that we are, that idea has fallen by the wayside.

I think I'm still bitter that I'll be at a conference instead of the big game this November. No, I'm actually pretty sure that I'm bitter. Since it's my own fault for applying in the first place.

Right, so I owe a post about the NC weekend to someone. And I'm going to go work on that. For the record, though, I'm really sorry I drugged your girlfriend. And I've figured out a way to say "nice" without it sounding insincere. Well, not any more insincere than usual, at least.

Also, thanks to Socially (Re)Constructed, I've found another time-wasting blogquiz:

You're Catch-22!

by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you
see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense
of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an
ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You
could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I really ought to write more about this, since Catch-22 was absolutely my favorite book for most of a decade. But first I'd better finish writing about Ed the Wonder Cat and the definition of a redneck yuppie.