Pop Quiz

You’re holding a set of hearings on Flu Pandemic Preparedness. These hearings are intended to establish what has been done and what needs to be done to react or prevent a pandemic. You have the chance to bring in the leading scholars in medicine, history, public health, and social science. What do you do?

a) give each witness a totally useless two- or three-minute period to speak to the committee,

b) include the author of a recent book that, while not terribly groundbreaking, is popular and “a good read,”

c) fill the panel of experts with the presidents of several pharmaceutical companies to give verbal commercials for their own products, while providing absolutely no useful information or suggestions for pandemic preparedness,*

d) make jokes about how hard it is to contact those experts who have not attended, rather than granting extra time for those who do attend,**

e) spend time informing the audience, who probably already know who everyone is, about the credentials of the panelists, thereby making it abundantly clear that the heads of the pharmaceutical companies don’t have the faintest idea what’s going on,

f) demonstrate once again that the trappings of informed democracy are little more than theater. And not very good theater, at that.

g) All of the above.

Three guesses as to what C-SPAN had on this afternoon. Is there any wonder I want to move to Upper Canada, where I can live in the woods and avoid stupidity in all its shapes and forms?

I think of it as my “personal responsibility” response to health issues. Because, as someone recently told me, the best person to make medical decisions is *obviously* the uniformed consumer of health care.

Or, judging by what I watched today, an uninformed Senate Appropriations Subcommittee.


* I would like to note that those speakers who were trained in some sort of applicable field had interesting things to say, things that TPTB need to hear. They just had to talk fast, because if anyone went over three minutes the Committee members bluntly asked them to wrap it up. Wouldn’t want those vaccine manufacturers to lose any time, after all.

**Dr. Godley got a zinger back in, when she noted that she wouldn’t spend time talking about vaccines, since they shouldn’t be the sole focus of public health preparedness. Take that, Big Pharma. She also noted the better response of Cuba to Hurricane Katrina. Joanne Godley is my new favorite public health official. I hope whoever cut her short chokes on some Senate Bean Soup. Wait, it was Arlen Specter. Nope, still hope he chokes. He asks long-winded questions, too.***

Idiots. Idiots. Idiots.

***Specter doesn’t seem to know the difference between this possible pandemic and a pandemic being inevitable. But it’s okay, because Harkin wants to give out annual flu shots at Walmart. To everyone. And put a regional lab in Alaska, because he isn’t sure how far apart Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are.

At least he seems concerned about the idea of states (including those that just spent all their money paying for hurricane damage) being able to afford pandemic preparedness and not-yet-created vaccine stockpiles.

I can’t decide if this is just a futile exercise or the most terrifying example of the incompetence of government that I’ve witnessed in a very, very long time.

The State of the What?

See, good ol' GWB is going to talk about science and politics. Now I have to watch. And I might even have to leave the sound on.

You'd better believe that I'm using this post from Wonkette as a buffer for my poor, overworked liberal indignation. Otherwise we're going to need a new tv by the end of the night.


A totally content-free post

To express how much I enjoy it when my life as a student and my life as a TV-fangirl intersect. What a great reason to look forward to Valentine's Day. Or, actually, the day before Valentine's Day. Whatever. I've got to go charge my camera battery.


It's not post #300, but I'll get over it.

There are a lot of people (including me) who can describe exactly where they were on September 11, 2001. We track our lives, it seems, by our national tragedies.

On January 28, 1986, I was watching television with my classmates. I was eight, and halfway through my first year at a new school.

More than anything in the world, I wanted to go to space camp, because I hadn’t yet seen Top Gun and decided to be a fighter pilot.

It was Tuesday morning.

And we all sat there together and saw the Challenger launch, and then we saw it explode.

It's a state of war of all against all after all

A messenger, wearing a green T-shirt with an insignia of TS with the "S" twisted around the T runs into the village square, waving a piece of paper. He looks as though he's been running for a while since the soles of his shoes have worn through and his feet are bleeding. He looks around, sees nobody there, pauses for a quick snack and a snog (we are a G-rated blog after all) with a union-affiliated line worker at the biscuits factory that recently opened up in the middle of the village. He then runs across the square to a nearby field.

Messenger: It's been declared! Finally! It's been declared!!!
Random villager rooting about in the field: eh? what?
Messenger: The West has spoken. It's not colonialism! It's not development! It's War
RV: Who's this West you are on about?
M: You know. He was here just the other day. Helped dig the well and all that...
RV: Ohh...riiight! He was a good chap. Rather dim, though: Didn't understand we wanted him to take a picture of the elephant, not shoot it with a rifle. What are we going to do with a dead elephant in the middle of the field?
M: Didn't you hear me? That doesn't matter. It's War now. We've always been at war The West says.
RV: But, I rather liked democracy...d'you know you get to have blue ink on your fingers when you vote? I've always liked blue. I don't think I want to be at war.
M: Well, we are. Just get with the programme.
RV (to other RVs): Help! Help! I'm at War!!!

(With thanks to Thomas Hobbes and George Orwell, unfortunately dead, and MP, some if not all of whom are alive and kicking and with hopes that the later Witty, somewhere out there, would want to comment on the last bit)

(The Messenger's clothing designed by Theory Salon, a newly established boutique which has a good collection of fine clothing and serves critiques on philosophical matters)

God has returned to where he belongs

Link here

E had planned an elaborate 300th post but I've usurped the space. Or, God has. I did warn her though.


The Zizek post, or how to link Zizek with football

Since E is going to participate in a salon later today and will be exchanging intellectually-stimulating conversations with people of distinction (I'm told this is what happens in salons), I am giving this post the superior-sounding name of "meditations on inevitability". I'm sure if absinthe was involved in E's salon, people wouldn't be able to say "meditations on..." after a few sips. But, since it's a TUWSNBN thing, there's no absinthe on the menu (in fact, there's not even a menu). You, dear readers, might take absinthe-drinking and saying "meditatations on..." as a PTSD-encouraged experiment for the future.

In the meantime, E and I managed to tear ourselves away from a potentially-rivetting session of skating on ice and wander off to have a look at Zizek. This was after I'd spent the morning yelling at little people in TV for not being able to score goals and then waiting for the inevitable goal from the other side. Of course, since this is Liverpool we are talking about, that IS what happened: I yelled, the other side scored with less than a few minutes remaining, inevitability struck again. You know when SuperMach mentioned that stuff about Fortune and whonot inevitably coming about to make your life miserable? And, how "us" folk over in Asia supposedly talk about things like Karma? Well, that's being a Liverpool supporter for you. In the more than a decade I've dedicated to the cause (when you think about how many save-the-world type things I could have done in the time I've spent supporting Liverpool, I'm already depressed), inevitability has never given up on the team. Well, except once: May 2005.

What has this got to do with Zizek, you ask? Well, if Liverpool losing to the hated Man Utd lot hadn't pissed me off and made me unfit for proper Uni-type work, I'd not have called E and would probably have ignored Zizek. After all, what's a bearded philosopher when you're trying to write your PhD proposal, right? Actually, it'd probably help to write your proposal if you were a bearded P but since neither E nor I are one of those, it doesn't help us.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, Zizek. To cut what seems like an extremely long story short, we did make it to Zizek but got enthralled by Frames instead. E has said she's going to write about it (and she did spend over an hour writing notes on pieces of paper while I brooded upon being dragged away from watching Zizek before we actually GOT to that part with chest hair) so I won't give away any of the details. Suffice it to say that Zizek was what one would imagine him to be (from the 20 minutes we saw of the film)

We did end up with some important information/questions which I can now share with you in happy anticipation that this will make you go put Zizek on your Netflix list.

1. Zizek keeps his clothes very well organised. But, he keeps them in his kitchen. This leads to the v important question of (which E asked): where does he keep his kitchen gear?

2. Z is well-aware of his status as a celebrity and plays off it. This makes him much more fun on screen than on paper. If only he could find a way to transfer his screen selves onto paper, he'd be a lot more readable.

3. Autograph-hunters are Evil. Love is Evil too. Love is Evil because it has something to do with how the world is like quantum physics. I'll leave it to E who is more of an expert than me (in both love and quantum physics) to explain further, if any of yous are remotely interested.

4. Buenos Aires loves Z. New York loves Z. Z doesn't love Judith Butler. He does like Diet Ice Tea Snapple (I may have gotten the words mixed up in that last bit: Snapple Ice Tea Diet?). Z also loves blue shirts.

That's about as far as it got when we walked out. Both E and I thought watching all of Zizek would not fit in with the Frames motif. It was inevitable that, after discussing Z in this space and elsewhere, we would not watch all of him.

As usual, we are doing this upside down, inside out, back to front. It occurs to me that meditations on inevitability would have been more meditative (almost monk-like, in fact) if E had written on Frames first.

I shall leave yous with a teaser: It was the Tractatus that did it. That's when we got hooked. And to think this is a common endeavour though I am still having trouble imagining part of it as punk.

Still no Zizek post

But you'll get over that, eventually. Just like you did when I never finished telling the story of The Weekend I Met TLG's Girlfriend. And sometime soon, when you least expect it, I'll get around to finishing something I start.*

*pause for laughter*

In the meantime, and in the spirit of expanding your horizons to include Things Which Are Not Good for You But Are Very Amusing (yes, there is a decided overuse of the Emphatic Capital in this post), I direct your attention to popgurls, this month's Site of the Month and an impending addition to our blogroll. Because it contains lines like this one:

My mind? It wanders. And that’s never good.

Yes, I know it isn't a blog. No, I don't care. This is all in the interest of spreading good writing and funny moments to the poor, theory-oppressed masses. Also, since I'm the geeky one around here, I can link to whatever I like.** So there.

I realize that you may be confused by all the exciting content at popgurls. You may also be concerned that I have a latent addiction to boy bands and bad television.*** Don't panic, just take a moment to breathe.

Now, you have three options. You can either begin clicking links willy-nilly, trusting your luck that whatever you get will be worth reading (my preferred method), or systematically read all of the links in order. (If this technique appeals to you, there's really nothing I can say that will help.)

Or, if you're uncomfortable with the freedom and excitement these options provide, you can start with a few of my favorite links:

How to Survive Your Commute

A Quickie with Firefly's Tim Minear
La Femme Nikita: The 'Not Really A Recap'
Camper van Flashback (Don't tell me I'm the only one who sings "Take the Skinheads Bowling" when I'm bored. I won't believe you.)
You Can't Go Home Again

From there, you're on your own.**** Good luck. I'm off to listen to Born on a Pirate Ship and an attempt to figure out why anyone would ever want to have a serious conversation with me. This could take a while.

*There's a story behind this. But I'm tired of it, and have decided to pretend that I am, in fact, quite normal. It's worked so far.

**And yet my geekiness does not extend to the ability to rename our comments link. No, I don't understand it either.

***I do not. Well, maybe the television part is true. But I prefer to think of it as a necessary break from reality.

****I should note that my love of the site does not stem from the fact that I share a first name with one of the contributors. That's just a bonus.

ETA: Almost forgot, there's a new link to the BNLBlog in the sidebar. Tickets to a concert never go amiss when gift-giving holidays come around. I'm looking at you, S. None of that hearts and flowers crap, please.

Also, it occurs to me that you, loyal reader, are not entirely comfortable with the kitschy appeal of N'Sync and celebrity crushes. It's okay, just stick to the topics you'd be safe discussing with your mother. Who probably reads popgurls, anyway.

Bet that's something you didn't want to think about.


Oh, that droll dictionary.com

How do they always know what my issue of the day is going to be?

flippant \FLIP-uhnt\, adjective:
Lacking proper seriousness or respect; showing inappropriate levity; pert.


Random Constitutional LInk


Thought you might like to have something scarier than academic conferences and comps to think about.


I suppose you're waiting for me to post something

Priya's right, I am working on a long post about our weekend trip to the world of art. And I'll get it posted sometime tomorrow, I promise. Right after I get done working, and provided that getting up at 6am to go for a nice long workout with my sadistic PT doesn't kill me first. I'm beginning to think that standing on one foot and throwing a ball should be added to the CIA "don't use these torture tactics unless you really think you need to" list.

Something to think about while you're waiting: what does it mean if schools are suddenly failing boys?

Are they a suspect class? Or do we just add them to the long list of other students who are failed by an education system that centers around performance on standardized tests?

Too bad Christmas is over, part II (but maybe a b'day gift?)

Both E and I have joint, multi-part post(s) on the complete Zizek experience coming up (you didn't think we didn't go, did yous?) but, in the meantime, here's what yous should keep in mind if you're getting me anything for my (upcoming) b'day.

A Kalashnikov (yes, it's a bit expensive but think what those Sierra Leonians could do. Better yet, take up a collection and get me a tank

In case yous didn't follow the link, it's all in a good cause: all this is used to make agricultural implements in Sierra Leone. Or so they say.


Philosophy: The Musical

Here is the long-awaited “Philosophy: The Musical” cast list. Feel free to make suggestions for additions, cast changes, and musical numbers. We already have a catchy little ditty called “If I Were Alex Wendt,” but we’re still looking for an Act II opener, as well as some great one-liners.

We’re also in need of roles for Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller. It isn’t that we ran out of philosophers, it’s just that none of them said “Ben Stiller” to us.

*Aquinas: Cillian Murphy
**Aristotle: Robert Redford
*Augustine: Colin Farrell
Cox: Michael J. Fox
Dewey: David Krumholtz
Foucault: Ben Kingsley
***Gramsci: Joaquin Phoenix
***Habermas: Russell Crowe
Hegel: Christian Bale
Heidegger: Mel Gibson
**Herodotus: Liam Neeson
Hobbes: Viggo Mortensen
Hume: Robbie Coltrane
James: Brendan Fraser
Kant: William Shatner
Kierkegaard: Kenneth Branaugh
Kuhn: Sean Bean
Locke: Bradley Whitford
*Luther: Ralph Fiennes
Machiavelli: Adam Sandler
Marx: Jude Law
Nietzsche: Christopher Walken
**Plato: Jean Claude van Damme
Popper: John Malkovich
***Rorty: Eric Bana
Rousseau: Vincent Cassel
Russell: Anthony Hopkins
**Socrates: Danny Devito
Smith: Ewan MacGregor
*Spinoza: Antonio Banderas
**Thucydides: Ioan Gryffyd
Tocqueville: Clive Owen
Weber: Colin Firth
The Many Alex Wendts: Clint Eastwood, Daniel Radcliffe, Matthew McConaughey, Jackie Chan, Julia Roberts, Rupert Everett, Chris Rock
Young Wittgenstein: Orlando Bloom
Cambridge Wittgenstein: John Cleese
***Zizek: George Clooney (despite his lack of chest hair)

* The Pre-Modern chorus, which pops up sporadically to insert ethics into the discussion without context or cause. And they’re fun at parties.
** You didn’t really expect us to do this without a Greek Chorus, did you?
***Microsoft Word tells me that none of these philosophers exist. Or that I’m spelling their names wrong. Possibly both.


Pigeonholing elephants

Despite the title, this has nothing to do with the either pigeons (though I should mention pigeons have gotten a good show in Hollywood lately: first, there was Valiant, then there was the pigeon-fancying, Hitler-supporting playwright played with wonderful style by Will Ferrell in The Producers) or actual elephants that roam around in the wilds of Asia and Africa (and also get shot and left putrefying) but with a fake elephant and with pigeonholing as an activity.

Anomie went off to Random African Country just before the holidays and I asked her to get me a pendant (you know, an exotic pendant, hopefully made from some random bone) to bolster the economy of said RAC. She actually got me a pendant in the shape of an elephant (and, yes, it is made from some bone-type substance. I'm assuming that since it was bought in a tourist spot closely monitored by the police, it's fair trade bone, if there is such a thing, and not torn off some putrefying elephant). I was extremely happy with it, especially since I do come from the Land of the White Elephant after all (As an exercise, try singing that to tune of the "Land Down Under")

Did I mention the elephant is white? Well, it is: I can't think of anything else more suited to represent me than a white elephant (The Dictionary tells me a White Elephant is someone or something that requires a lot of effort to keep up and gives very little benefits. That could well be me. It is also my PhD-ing experience).

Today, on the train on my way to uni, I got stopped by a stranger (if you need to know details: she was probably in her 50s and carried a bag from a well-known local bookstore) who said she was surprised to see "someone of your background being Republican".

Eh, what?

In my enthusiasm for the white elephant, I'd forgotten that it's also the symbol for them. (I remain confused about the background statement though).

I told yous I was completely suitable to belong to the CIA: I understand Hindi/Urdu (yay for Syriana for pointing that out) and I'm even (un/sub-consciously) dressing the part now. If only the United States government read PTSD.


Zizek at the National Gallery of Art

Well, not in person (though, who knows if he'll show up to surprise the audience) but on film.

As we had discussed this at PTSD earlier, I thought our readers might fancy taking a trip down to the Mall on Sunday to catch the double-header of documentaries on "creative personalities". As a bonus, the filmmakers of both docos and the subject of the first film are going to be present for discussion following the films.

Zizek sighting details:

Where? National Gallery of Art on the Mall
When? Sunday, January 22 at 4:30pm

Oh, I'm not sure who wrote the summaries for the docos but Zizek is apparently a "popular Slovenian academic superstar". Is that a play on the ALW/TR version? Both do have beards and I doubt if the other one had much time for personal grooming either.


No thigh-slapping musical whip crackers after all

A couple of months ago, we here at PTSD reported on the tiff between the organisers of the opening ceremony of the upcoming World Cup (of proper football) in Germany and the Bavarian folk dancers (who thought their 45-second long appearance wouldn't be long enough to showcase their thigh-slapping talents)

Well, imagine our surprise when there was an announcement made yesterday saying that the entire opening ceremony has now been cancelled. So, not only do we not get to see any of the dancers but no whip-crackers and no ceremonial gun firing either.

Why was it cancelled, you ask? Apparently FIFA (the governing body of world football) decided the ceremony would damage the grass of the Olympic stadium in Berlin. I guess those thigh-slappings would have been rather tough on the grass but couldn't FIFA have figured this out months beforehand instead of leaving us with just the football to look forward to?


And then there (nearly) was one

I was bitten by a man on bus today. It's a good thing that I was wearing jeans (you can see the bite marks--the man had strong teeth)

Imagine the headlines if, following my custom of the past two days, I'd been wearing a skirt. I'd have probably died after getting rabies or something equally nasty.

Washington Times: "Foreigner dies on bus after being bitten"

Washington Post: "Tragedy for international student"

Nepali Times: "Local girl bitten by (bloody/crazy/mad) American"

Bangkok Post: "Girl bitten by (bloody/crazy/mad) farang"

The Sun: "Killer Yank bites foreign student"

and so on...

Thankfully, a couple of years of playing rugby in the past (except the co-ed version is called "touch football" since girls can't be tackled by blokes, you know) came into action as I dragged my foot away, pushed aside the man (who was lying on the floor of the bus with his arms around my foot, trying to bite me) and, after performing a jump that just might have beaten the world's long jump record, ended up at the back of the bus. The other passengers yelled at the driver and we ended up at our destination with all our limbs intact. Everybody filed out the back door, leaving the man still on the floor in the front.

I'm sorry to sound very The Sun/Daily Mirror about this but, really, what IS DC coming to? The interesting part (once my legs had stopped acting as though they were made of spaghetti) was that the entire bus was somehow hugely sympathetic towards me and a couple of women patted me on the back as I left. Tocqueville would probably have said something about this.

I'm just saying if the man had been any better at biting, yous would have been left with E. No PhD-ing, no Big Name Meeting, no more Liverpool (though there might be dead Liverpool players where I'd end up at) and no more nationalist sentiments.

Too bad Christmas is over...

Because I'd have totally asked for a Grad School Barbie.

And Grad School Barbie is not alone! Order now and you'll get two of Barbie's great friends! GRADUATE ADVISOR KEN, Barbie's mentor and advisor in her quest for knowledge, higher education and decreased self esteem.

Grad Advisor Ken (tm) comes with a supply of red pens and a permanent frown. Press the button to hear Grad Advisor Ken deliver such wisdom to Barbie as "I need an update on your progress," "I don't think you're ready to defend yet", and "This is no where near ready for publication."

Buy 3 or more dolls, and you can have Barbie's Thesis Committee! (Palm Pilot and tenure sold separately.)

REAL JOB SKIPPER, When Barbie needs to talk, she knows that she can always count on her good friend Real Job Skipper (tm), who got a job after getting her bachelor degree. Press the button to hear Real Job Skipper say, "Sometimes I wish I went for my masters degree" and "Work is so hard! I had to work a half an hour of overtime!" Real Job Skipper's Work Wardrobe and Savings account sold separately.


A wee bit of nationalism

I'm finishing re-reading Samuel Huntington's Who are We? for an article I'm working on and had a rather odd reaction. Before I knew it, I was overcome by a raging torrent of nationalism sweeping over me. Soon after, I was attempting to tear down the American flag waving outside my local library (the nearest American flag that I could find) though my attempts to replace it with my nation's flag was also thwarted by a couple of police officers who reckoned I was trying to fly a pennant and just laughed at my efforts. Despite my repeated attempts to call them fascist pigs of the imperialist world order who wouldn't recognise a unique and unusual flag when it hit them on the nose (though I didn't actually hit them on the nose), they merely told me to go home. Let me tell you this would never happen in my home country. I'd have been arrested and chucked in jail and never heard from again. Americans! No wonder Dr Sam is worried about the core culture being diluted. I guess I don't have to tell you where these police officers were probably from.

Being denied the satisfaction of having my flag proudly fluttering in the breeze outside an institution of learning (the flag is the highest symbol of nationalism, says Dr Sam), I decided to sing my national anthem instead. I did get to the second line before I realised I'd actually forgotten the rest. National anthem-singing is not compulsory even in public schools and I didn't actually go to school in my homeland until the sixth grade. Another childhood deprivation to think on and another reason to shed a tear for that tiny bit of nationalist sentiment I shall never be able to get back now. Oh, Dr Sam, you were so right when you talked of how important it is to have children recognise and believe in the American Creed. Without a Creed of my own, I will probably suffer throughout my life. My life, as a nationalist patriot, will never be complete.

Getting back to the anthem, since sixth grade, I was in a Catholic school so I realised that while I couldn't remember the majority of my anthem, I could recite the Lord's prayer as well as the one we had to say while taking the bus home. This involved praying for the bus's safety. I think this one actually worked though one of our drivers died when I was in 8th grade so I guess the driver was not covered in the prayer policy. The words of the rest of the national anthem however remained sadly elusive. Did it ask citizens to populate the mountains with children or was it with animals? I couldn't quite remember. I also found out that people in the DC suburb where I live have a remarkably high tolerance for a girl standing outside Giant supermarket and singing (and muttering) in a foreign language. People looked at me and walked away.

So, no national anthem either. As I walked away from Giant, I thought about recent mentions of my country in the news and had a moment of (quiet this time since I was now walking towards my apartment and this involves passing numerous other apartments and it was nearly midnight) pride about how we had managed to revive a formerly forgotten and scorned ideology. It's all about how us folks can't keep a good idea down. It's not just Communism and Maoism we have managed to bring back from the brink of disaster (take that, "the former USSR"! here's to you, old man Mao!
East Germany: what were you thinking? That's why you needed Goodbye Lenin, mates!) but also Absolute Monarchy and intense surveillance of citizens. By the way, I have to say this: George, old chap, you were decades off the mark. Really.

As Dr Sam winds down his book with views on how Anglo-Saxon culture is being eroded in America leading to questioning of national identity, I realise my people know who we are: short, mountain climbers; zen buddhists who live in monastries; poverty-stricken villagers who manage to be quaint and cheerful; power-hungry monarchs (well, just one since the others were knocked off); middle-class liberals; a Liverpool-supporting student and even a wide variety of non-human elements. Unlike America, where Dr Sam wilfully ignores the glorious bald eagles (those that remain), the newly-born panda cubs and the native animal and plant populations to concentrate on people , my country knows well who we are. We are inclusive. We do not write people-centred books (I'm not sure we, the country that is, even writes books. But, even if it did, it'd write inclusive books. Rather like the Wiggles in book form). The national airlines even has our beloved Yeti (flying is not one of the Yeti's skills) as its mascot.


preventing nepali coups d'etat

I haven't really diasappeared. Honest, I haven't. In fact, just today I was out and about accomplishing several things:

1. Buying a great deal of yarn that I don't really need, for more than it's worth. Also buying some useful yarn for an afghan. And a really big crochet hook for a shawl that won't end up being nearly as interesting as the original design, because I'm not so good with patterns.

2. Paying $2 for a broken bisque unicorn statue in a charity shop. I don't care what the lady said, I'm pretty sure it won't bring me luck, because it only has half a tail now. It's even too ugly to be tacky. It's quite possibly the most awful thing I've ever bought, and I have purchased some pretty bad stuff over the years.

3. Shopping for tourist books for the Big Name Conference, and a GRE practice book for Serena. And a calendar. And sale books. I did manage to restrain myself from the one called "Make your very own holiday charm photo sticky bracelets." But only just.

4. Roaming around a condemned building, helping S remove shelving units and climbing up on a counter to reach a set of pink fuzzy dice for Serena's dad. It isn't looting if you have permission to be there, right? And it isn't as if anyone else would want an original marketing poster for Gaiman's Coraline, anyway. Or a sticker for the Pi album.

5. Spraining my ankle getting down from the counter. Thought it was maybe just a strain, but the dizziness and swelling, and the loud series of pops I heard as I landed, would suggest otherwise. Guess that meeting I need to schedule with WeberMan's going to be a phone conference.

Either that, or I'll need to go to the doctor, who will say "Your ankle is sprained. Don't walk on it, wrap it up, take medications for the swelling and the pain, use ice and heat for the first twelve hours, keep it elevated, and get yourself some crutches." It seems silly to go in just to be told that I need crutches.

Which I wouldn't use anyway.

[ETA: Yes, I know, it's ice for 15 minutes, then wrapped for ten, repeat for 48 hours until the swelling subsides, then heat on the same schedule as needed. But the doctor from TUWSNBN said otherwise the last time this happened, which is part of the reason that I'm in this situation again. That and the dice.]

6. Ordering Chinese and Greek food for delivery (see #5)

7. Watching rather a lot of NFL Wildcard games. These are much more entertaining when I'm on medication. They keep saying "here we are, on the road to Detroit," which makes me giggle.

8. Figuring out that standing on a sprained ankle isn't such a good idea after all. Even after the Motrin kicks in.

9. Hearing Shannon say "that's my foot you're rubbing" to Chris, as if this were a perfectly ordinary piece of information. Heh. Still funny.

10. Also funnier now? Those Staples commercials with the "Easy" button.

Right, that's probably enough rambling for today. Odds are 1:3 that I'll take this down in the morning, once the entertaining side effects wear off.

Ingredients for a not very terrible saturday

Part II in the takeover of the blog process: blog about me, me, me and my incredibly mundane life. If only I bungee-jumped or tattooed body parts or even fought a killer rabbit. But, I didn't. Wait, let me tell yous what I did (in some detail):

1. Had an excellent breakfast at a pub. Can't get any better than omelettes, meat and coffee in the morning. Also,this pub (newly-opened) was particularly nice since it facilitated watching of football.

2. Watched the FA Cup. This meant two hours of football with Liverpool winning an extremely tense match. Any grey hairs yous may notice on my head can be directly attributed to Liverpool's propensity to almost lose a match, often to opposition which can be characterised as "fairly easy game", and then turn it around. I guess I shouldn't be complaining since, until last year, they wouldn't even have turned it around.

3. Went for a good long walk on the trail.

4. Revised a paper that I'm rather excited about (and which has prevented me doing much work on other stuff). The thing about papers and about having a lamentable memory is that I often forget what I've been working on if I've not done anything on it for a week or so (like now). It was like reading a whole new paper. Unfortunately though, between two weeks ago and now, the quality of the paper seems to have deteriorated. I'm working on fixing it up and having quite a lot of fun in the process. It would be marvellous if the PhD thing would just go away and I could sit around and write papers on different topics instead.

5. Lounged around at home in the evening and watched Brainiac on the Video Game channel (I think? G4TV, it's called and it's a channel in the late 100s if you live in my part of the world).

All right, if blogging about Liverpool, obscure TV shows and pubs doesn't flush E out of her hiding place, I don't know what will.


What would Hobbes say? The January Edition

Since E has disappeared in all her many forms (though I unexpectedly ran into her husband yesterday), I've decided to do a takeover of the blog. Nepali folk are pretty well practiced at that sort of thing but I'll try rein in my Imperial tendencies.

To those readers (one person, probably) that remain, let me assure you that, to the best of my knowledge, E will be back soon.

As the first step in the takeover process, I'm starting a monthly post entitled "What would Hobbes say?". This involves picking a current news story or a question and deciding what Hobbes would say to that, if he could say something and wasn't already dead.

This month, the question comes from the World Question Centre. Their question for 2006 is "What is your dangerous idea?". There's a list of people who have answered this, including Richard Dawkins, Paul Davies, Martin Rees (the President of the Royal Society) and Jared Diamond. The list is skewed towards natural scientists and people who write on the natural sciences, but what these people consider to be a dangerous idea is a good read in itself.

But, I know you're wondering about Hobbes.

In Chapter 13 of the Leviathan, he says:

"Moral philosophy is nothing else but the science of what is good and evil in the conversation and society of mankind. Good and evil are names that signify our appetites and aversions, which in different tempers, customs, and doctrines of men are different."

I take that to mean that Hobbes is saying Good and Evil will differ according to social and historical contexts. Pretty dangerous stuff for Hobbes' time and even for now (try telling people at "security conferences" in Washington that there just might be other ways of studying/dealing with security apart from the military-as-security option).

Next month, a different question for Hobbes, a different answer and a side of Hobbes you've never read before.

On a much better topic for research than the one I currently have

One of the benefits of being a LS flunkie, especially at the start of the semester, is the many free food type occasions one gets to attend. Well, strictly-speaking, as a flunkie, I'm not exactly invited but most of the time people are too polite to actually enquire as to who I am and what I'm doing there. Tonight's dinner featured a menu of salmon-on-sticks (small pink fishy bits on satay sticks), crab cakes, chocolate cake and a group of people inexplicably keen to talk to me.

Maybe it was the level of sound in the room (high) or my accent (often dodgy) but apparently a few of the people I was talking to heard me saying I was conducting research on "Northern Ireland and the pub". Wishful thinking, probably. Also, someone else went there and did that already.


An over the moon start to 2006

It may be useful to keep in mind that the state that I live in, has decreed mooning "while distasteful, is not illegal". Full story here.

I'll go back to posting on more serious matters shortly. But, this story was one I couldn't resist sharing.


No resolutions...

A belated Happy 2006 to all our many readers.

I have heaps of stuff for future posts, mainly on why musicals based on French novels are always fun (everyone, except a couple of wussy lovers, dies, proving that revolution isn't much worth writing or singing about. There's a lot of IR-related lessons right there), why there really isn't much to do over Xmas and New Year's when not at home unless you've got a sibling to torture (and, for once in nearly a decade of living away from home, I did), on the long-lasting effects of 1970s and 1980s bands (I spent New Year's weekend at a concert in Philly with a large number of teenagers, most of whom were wearing t-shirts proclaiming their deep and abiding affection for bands such as the Sex Pistols and the Ramones while also asserting that Punk (or Ska) was dead) and why ice hockey is the best new sport I've discovered in quite a while (yes, yes, very Colonial of me to "discover" something the natives were well aware of for ages but that's how it goes), but for now, a Happy 2006.