Off you go, read teh funny

More screencap reviewing from alanna. Including all new, Sarah Jane Smith, fabulousness!

Hiding in plain sight

As I'm sure you all do, when not being able to sleep the one time in weeks that you decide to go to sleep before midnight, I am reading (skimming would be the appropriate word, perhaps) this year's Country Reports on Terrorism issued yearly by the United States State Department.

So far, I've reached Chapter 3 on "Terrorist Save Havens". According to this, "The Celebes Sea" (I did my Undergraduate thesis on the development of piracy in this region--yes, even then, I couldn't find "serious" subjects to work on) is apparently one of those safe havens. I'm not quite sure how that works--do the terrorists float about in sturdy boats, hoping to land on a populated land mass and commit their nefarious deeds? Or do they have underwater cities in which they live in? Facetiousness aside, I'm not sure you can have a Sea as a safe haven. Wouldn't it be very simple to detect terrorists crossing water even if it's not easy to find them on solid ground?

The chapter (I have yet to read the rest of the Report) also has some great lines on the Internet. Apparently,

"Like many others, terrorists view the Internet as the most powerful and inexpensive form of communication yet developed."

How is it that we have such a great understanding of these terrorists' viewpoints on the Internet? Notice how it doesn't say "Most terrorists" but simply "terrorists". Sloppy writing, indeed.

More follows: "The Internet also has empowered the enemy with the ability to produce and sustain its own public media outlets and to present its own distorted view of the world to further its agenda. Terrorists are placing encrypted messages in electronic files to hide photos, maps, and messages on innocent third-party websites*, chat rooms, and bulletin boards."

Oh, that poor Internet. If only it could defend itself. Maybe we can help it out, eh? But, wait, isn't this pretty much what we are doing too? Now, I'm even more confused.

Off to read some more of this stuff. If only my academic readings were half as entertaining...

* Let me assure you, dear readers, that E and I police PTSD with an eagle eye to ensure nothing of such nature could ever make its way here.

ETA at 3am: If the Report is not holding your attention, do as I did and wander over to Cosmic Variance, where they are discussing a clip of Ali G interviewing Noam Chomsky. Funny, yes, but not as much as Borat's singing performance or Ali G at a anti-abortion rally in Washington (both videos are recommended in the comments to their post)

3:30am: E, I wouldn't mind something like this (but with RFD, of course) as a present. Just a hint. In case you are wondering what you could get me if/when I defend. Or, even for my next birthday. Or Xmas. Or anything, really. Please?


Bring on the Dictionary

Following E's comments about dictionaries in her last post, let me tell yous that two words I have a difficult time distinguishing between, in English, are "legitimation" and "legitimisation".*

Since I plan to use either/both fairly often on Thursday, I would like to figure out where and how I may use them. Personally, I use "legitimisation" when talking of "strategies of legitimisation" and how legitimisation is faciliated. However, I have noticed other folks use "legitimation" (including SuperF, I think) but that sounds a bit odd to me. Is this one of those (interminable) American versus the rest of the world (or, "my" world) things or are the two actually incommensurable? (E, remember our "commentating" and "commenting" issues for our Wisconsin paper?)

Yes, I know. I should be worrying about bigger things than how to use a word. But, sometimes, it's good to get caught up in details.

* Others include "Salon" and "Saloon". This is made worse because, in Nepal (and mostly in Thailand too), signs, in English, for posh spas and hair "salons" have "saloon" written on them. Also, in everyday conversations, a visit to a (usually posh) hairdresser/spa person is considered as visiting a "saloon". I leave the image of middle-aged women hanging about in saloons getting their hair/faces done for your entertainment (I rather like the idea of being able to knock back a few beers and play poker while getting my face peeled). Regular, non-spa-like places are just called "hair cutters" and not saloons. This is another of those slightly weird conceptualisations one retains even after years of being told the "correct meaning" of words. No matter what I do, I can't erase memories of Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name striding into the nearest "saloon" and asking for "a bit of a beard trim and some sunscreen and moisturiser for the road, please."

More wisdom from dictionary.com

microcosm: a smaller, representative system having analogies to a larger system.
I do love the things that bloglines drops into my browser on a regular basis. I'm thinking of making "What does dictionary.com say today?" a feature around here. It'd be easier than thinking up topics on my own, wouldn't it?

Today's examples of microcosms and PTSD:

1. Our recent discussions of Doctor Who, which center on the question of how you can use a television narrative to talk about the world, including our (okay, Priya's) efforts to put together a panel discussing Doctor Who and political science.

This is with the exception of my fanboi BBC post, which is just a bit of snarking at the need for a 15 person production team to accomplish what a bored teenager can do using her home computer.

2. My (yet-to-be-really-started) dissertation project, which is, at heart, an attempt to model the world using no more factors than absolutely necessary. A bit of the world, anyway. It's all about scalability, which may or may not be an actual word. And may not be spelled correctly.

3. The perils of the graduate school process, when lined up against academia as a whole.

4. Our particular fannishness here at PTSD, which reflects several larger fandoms and a rather frightening number of people. This is particularly true of several of my West Wing rants. And the whole debate about whose Doctor is cooler / hotter / more true to the original vision of the show.

5. The devolution of this blog from something remotely highbrow into a collection of rants and squeeing, with only occasional respites of poetry, theory, and general commentary. I'll leave open with which larger system this shares characteristics.

More evidence that the BBC

Is just a Doctor Who fanboi in disguise. They posted a fanvid on the 2005 website. Let's not kid ourselves that this is something else--the song is Run, by Snow Patrol, and it's totally a fanvid. I'm surprised they didn't just pull it off livejournal and slap Simon Pegg's narration over the intro.

First, watch the video. Then, read the lyrics for the song:

I'll sing it one last time for you
Then we really have to go
You've been the only thing that's right
In all I've done

And I can barely look at you
But every single time I do
I know we'll make it anywhere
Away from here

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

Louder louder
And we'll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can't raise your voice to say

To think I might not see those eyes
Makes it so hard not to cry
And as we say our long goodbye
I nearly do

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

Louder louder
And we'll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can't raise your voice to say

Slower slower
We don't have time for that
All I want is to find an easier way
To get out of our little heads

Have heart my dear
We're bound to be afraid
Even if it's just for a few days
Making up for all this mess

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

Textbook fanvid. The sort of fanvid that people watch to find out how to make a fanvid--other than the bit of sloppy editing at the beginning.

So the progression is: BBC makes program, fans make videos about the program, BBC takes fan idea and makes a video for their own program. This is going to cause all kinds of copyright issues, isn't it? And to be honest, I've seen better tributes to Christopher Eccleston.

Mind you, that didn't stop me from buying the album.


Law and Order = Reapers

Those stupid shows are eating all of television, from the inside out. I don't care *what* episode it is, Law and Order: SVU does not belong on SciFi. Neither does American Psycho. Because the SciFi network is supposed to show scifi. Not crime drama. Not ever crime drama. And especially not crappy crime drama that's entirely plot driven and far too overplayed as it is. So much so that it can easily be compared to giant screeching critters that eat Great Britain's favorite unnamed Time Lord.

And if they don't want us making that connection, they've got no business showing the commercials during Doctor Who.* Honestly, make it that obvious and I can't help myself. You're lucky I can't work photoshop, or else I'd have posted a picture of that loud guy's head on a winged creature.

*And while I'm on the subject of commercials--the middle of the big heartwarming Doctor and Rose scene? *Not* the right time to cut to a commercial break. That's just wrong. Even if it was for Heineken. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong.

And I had no idea how irritating the extra edits would be. Like those little bits of peppermint that get stuck in your teeth, except without the endearing part. [ETA: This makes more sense with the rest of the paragraph, which was about how this episode wasn't edited for time and it makes a difference, and some stuff about later in the US season. Not sure where it went, and don't feel like rewriting it.]

And now for something completely different...

I offer you a bit of angst (If E writes her BED suffering from PTSD post, this will fit right in):

For those of you who don't know me in RL, this upcoming week is one of those "Weeks that may change lives"-type of week. Okay, I'm exaggerating but it is a fairly important week. After nearly four years (including the months spent away from TUWSNBN) of dedicated learning and figuring out what I want to do my research on, I'll be defending my proposal. As I sit here in TUWSNBN's office wondering whether to spend more time brushing up on my (easily-forgotten so probably not worth trying) knowledge of "classical social theorists", panicking about the (many) "people I have not read but really should have" or just go home and contemplate my navel, let me share with you some of the reactions I have received about this upcoming event.

Since the announcement went out to the TUWSNBN's departmental community, I have been getting two (rather different) reactions:

1. The folks who have told me not to be pessimistic about my prospects. I find this rather amusing since (forgive me for essentialising national traits* but) it seems very American to me to be emphasising success or even "not considering failure as an option". The tall poppy, instead of being cut down, gets rewarded. I was in a conversation a few days ago in which the participants were trying to figure out ways of getting it across to people that a lack of enthusiasm for discussing outcomes does not necessarily imply a lack of commitment towards ensuring said outcome is favourable.

Unfortunately, I don't feel comfortable talking about this process or even what I feel like. Ideally, I would have preferred most people not to have known I am defending this week (I think writing on PTSD is okay since most TUWSNBN folks don't actually read PTSD). Doing things quietly and stealthily is my usual course in life. After all, that attitude has gotten me here so why change it?

I think I should write that not being keen visualising success or talking about the constant possibility of things not going according to plan does not mean that I am waiting for failure. Okay, I am contemplating failure but only as one of many possible outcomes. If the possibility of failure did not exist, then I see no point in actually doing work, trying to write a coherent presentation, making sure I think about some of the main issues that may arise. On the whole, that is why I am fond of WWHS. Hobbes' state of nature (and the possibility of being in such a state) is ever present, as far as I am concerned. It's all around. It's always there. Yes, I am spending most of the rest of the days before I have to defend trying to figure out issues that may arise but, ultimately, I don't know what will happen at that time. For me, that's actually rather entertaining. Like at the recent BNC, I might forget how to say a particular word in the language I am speaking in (I could think of how to say it in about five other languages but not in English--I had definitely not planned for it to happen but it did). All I can hope for is that I learn something out of the procedure.

2. There're also folks who have emailed me to ask about the "risks" of researching in Nepal and those who have congratulated me on "being able to drink and call it research" in Northern Ireland. These two aspects of what it means to do research in my two contexts are also quite amusing--Nepal seems to be seen as a fairly violent and not-very-safe place to be while Northern Ireland is seen as a fun, drinking (and thus social) environment. I think this fits in with my research question since, a few years ago, these particular representations about Northern Ireland/Nepal would probably have been switched around. I like it when research/everyday life intertwine.

That's about all the angst I can muster up right now. In the days ahead, when yous are not being bombarded with RFD-related comments (especially with the new episode with various important members coming up tomorrow), you will get to hear more of how this dissertating process is going and what happens.

* I'm well aware that how one is perceived depends on the social context. I think one of my OOD-related posts mentioned how, in the context of a small University in Northern Denmark, I was often described as "American", meaning I was fairly loud, critical of people's positionings during our weekly seminars and willing to point out people were wrong in their readings of SuperF. For those at TUWSNBN who know me, the representation of me as American will probably come as a huge source of amusement considering I hardly say anything when at academic gatherings here.

Oh, those crazy Whovians!

Seriously, Whovians? This is really what they call themselves? I find that disturbing on so many levels. On the other hand, this made me laugh for a very long time. And created a strange desire to visit a Scottish comic book shop, although that could just be a reaction to being stuck in my apartment for days.

Yes, my ability to surf the internet should be taken as evidence that I am well enough to go do something useful. If I owe you something non-fannish, expect to see it sometime today.


Those who can't recap, link

Seriously, we're crap about recapping around here. It's possibly our last grasp at some sort of academic blog integrity. But it's okay, because you, our Loyal Reader, can wander off to alanna's fantastic (yes, I said fantastic) and snarky screencap recap of the new Doctor Who episodes. They won't really tell you what happens, but they will make you want to call that second cousin in Chelsea and get a copy of the episode.


A bit like being in the TARDIS

That's what it feels like, really. To explicate, I spent about a week last year applying for a Workshop thingy on how to teach the subject I am researching on. I was in the Outback of Denmark (known as OOD to loyal readers) at that time and I had loads of time to spend working on the application (I was being paid to study after all--a life that I didn't appreciate as much as I should have). I ended up getting rejected.

This year, I came across the advert again and completed the application in less time than I normally spend watching a football match. To my utter incredulity, I just received a letter saying I was accepted. I have until Friday to let them know. I'm accepting since it's all paid for and, as a totally skint postgraduate student, I can't afford to scoff at free board and lodgings for ten days. Of course, there's the actual workshop too but that should be fun (or, at least amusing to PTSD readers).

This just goes to show why I have a tough time believing people who talk about "hard work" and "plans for the future" working out. Yes, those things are important but, in the end, it's also a lot to do with whoknowswhat. I put in a lot of work last year and not so much this year and look which one worked out. It's all rather mystifying (and quite annoying as well).

So, there yous go--brace yourselves for Workshop blogging this Summer!

The closest we ever get to talking about DC

We might as well be living in Peoria, for all the time we spend talking about DC around here. Maybe it's a case of not seeing what's right under our noses, or maybe we just get tired of the whole business card and political outrage life, but for a while now, the only DC-related posting I've been doing has been to comment on episodes of the West Wing.

And who am I to break with tradition?

I've got a separate post on television and depictions of trauma in the works, so I'm going to skip my comments on how good Bradley Whitford is at portraying a guy who is walking a thin edge between dedication and mania. As well as any comparisons to the way Christopher Eccleston walks the same line. But have no fear, that discussion is on the way soon. Probably after I regain the ability to stand up without feeling like the room is spinning, and around the same time I manage to get caught up on several things that I've promised to write for people who, you know, actually pay me.

But who needs coherence to talk about television? Not me.

This week's episode was, as I sort of predicted last week, better than the last. I'm glad BW is already signed to Sorkin's next project, as I'd hate to have to go watch Billy Madison again just to get a fix. He, along with the rest of the cast, is so good at conveying emotion that it's a crime to show Law and Order on the same network.

Or ER, which is generally cringe-worthy, and even more so when there are events like helicopter and plane crashes. I've lived in Chicago, and I'm sorry, I just don't understand the need to blow stuff up to make it seem edgy and dangerous.

What really annoys me, though, is that all of the West Wing actors--who are giving stellar performances, episode after episode--were capable of so much more than the scripts they've been given in the past few seasons. That the reason the show has been cancelled, and the reason the ratings are so low, is that the writing was generally crap and the producers (I'm looking at you, John Wells) didn't know what to do with the show. When there was a good script, or great direction, it was the exception rather than the rule, and only served to make the rest of the episodes look worse in comparison.

Why did they wait until now to step it up again? Can someone explain this to me?

DW and god(s)

Although I strongly object to Priya's characterization of Tennant as the Rather Fanciable Doctor, I have to admit that it's a bit shorter than my alternative, which would be "The New Doctor Who Wouldn't Really Be Able to Fill Out Eccleston's Jacket." That said, we're working on some actual posts about DW and other things that are important. But since I'm sick (probably a result of too little sleep, cold and wet walking last weekend, and prolonged exposure to the Genius Nephew's "germs of first grade greatest hits collection"), and Priya's working, you get a chat transcript in the meantime. Have no fear, it's very short.

Elizabeth: I wish you'd never mentioned this [Doctor Who and God]--now I'm sitting here thinking of all the god references in the new shows. There's the bit with the daleks at the end of last season, too--with the concept of blasphemy, etc.

Whoops, forgot one god reference--the monks are chanting "lupus deus
est" (deum? whatever, it means god)

Priya: Wolf is god or wolf god is?? (Yes, dodgy French--btw, i could read bits of Agamben in French over the weekend--feel rather proud of myself though a bit worried that i would be reading Agamben when, really, i should be refreshing my Tilly and SuperF :-))

Off to really obsess some more.

Elizabeth: Latin--the wolf is god, written as wolf-god-is.

Priya: Wait-- I should have said I could read some French guy's rants on Agamben

Even weirder...

Also, there's all that stuff in the Xmas invasion in which Rose goes on an on about not having anyone to "save us" and Harriet Jones' Xmas speech in which she calls upon the Doctor to "help up. please help us" (and the later speech trying to wrest control away?)

This could go on forever. Bugger.

Some time later (it seems like going on forever)...

Priya: I am right now finding heaps of references just in the RFD series...So maybe a couple of references to last season or else the blog post will be a novel(I was thinking Boom Town but the Daleks are a good one--especially now that Whatshisname as God there and the RFD as one now...)

Elizabeth: oh, but Boom Town is good, too--all that stuff about the Doctor being a bad god, because you'd never get a day off.

Priya: Off to obsess some more when REALLY I should be reading KKV (recommended for defence) or figuring out agent-structure.

Elizabeth: Yech. Not KKV.

Sums up both our feelings pretty well, that statement.

A brief survey of celebrations on 25 April, 2006

In Nepal, the King's backed down and is (allegedly) allowing Parliament to reconvene, the new Hungarian Prime Minister does a Hugh Grant (Via Crooked Timber) and it's ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand.

Did I mention that Australian History (and Australian politics) were required classes for my undergrad? Unlike Nepal, which has stories about its soldiers winning heaps of battles (though never for Nepal, as Nepal was always neutral), the Australian versions were mostly about (bravely) charging at some sure-to-be lost target and (heroically) dying in large numbers.

Maybe unsurprisingly though, stories about the type of soldiers these were -- the Gurkhas and the ANZAC soldiers as brave and outside of "regular" authority, willing to fight for countries other than their own for issues which usually did not affect them directly but were important for Humankind --are rather similar as is the creation of national identities (and myths) revolving around their exploits. Shades of the Doctor in PTSD's earlier post?


What Would Hobbes Say? The April Edition

Yes, I'm well aware that WWHS has been rather irregular lately. Even though I don't have a non-academic life (unlike E, who does have one), it's quite difficult to get things done. Things should be better after May when footy season ends (though, of course, there's Germany 2006 to look forward to this year)

So, what would Hobbes say about...

Doctor Who and the Leviathan (or, should that be Doctor Who as the Leviathan?) *

Well, readers of Hobbes know that he wrote the Leviathan to convince the British that it was a rather good idea to have a non-monarchical society after all. To do so, he needed to provide legitimacy to his Man (yes, it was a Man—I have seen the first edition of the Leviathan and its cover has a rather scary bloke with a moustache. Unless the women of those times were differently constructed, the Leviathan is definitely a Man) and he did this by making it the representative of the people.

So, who is the Leviathan? The Leviathan is an artificial Person. Artificial because he doesn't actually exist apart from those who he represents:

"A PERSON is he whose words or actions are considered, either as his own, or as representing the words or actions of another man, or of any other thing to whom they are attributed, whether truly or by fiction." (Leviathan, Chapter XVI)

Sound familiar? Well, consider the New New Doctor (henceforth to be called the Rather fanciable doctor, or RFD for short) in the Christmas Invasion

He is still confused about “what sort of a man I am” but, when a Villain tells him that he (RFD) is “this world's champion,” his reply is “I don't know who I am but you've just about summed me up.”

Even when RFD is not sure who he is (he's just regenerated after all—and doesn't have those ears anymore. It'd have been nice if RFD'd been ginger though—various PTSD fantasies involving red-headed blokes would have been fulfilled in one fell swoop), he knows that the Doctor represents the people of Earth. He defends them. He safeguards them from alien threats. When in times of trouble, the Doctor comes to help us out (no, it's not Mother Mary. Hobbes would agree with that part too—read his views on the Catholic church at the end of the Leviathan)

The thing is though, for Hobbes, the Leviathan is authored by the people so his actions are those of the people themselves (after they exchange their covenants with each other and then with the L).

“Of persons artificial, some have their words and actions owned by those whom they represent. And then the person is the actor, and he that owneth his words and actions is the author, in which case the actor acteth by authority.” (Leviathan, Chapter XVI)

This whole "exchange covenants" stuff is missing from the Doctor but it's pretty clear he considers himself the saviour of the (Earth) people. He fights for them. He tells (other) aliens that "Earth is defended" (XMas invasion again)

In the 3 episodes of the New New Doctor that I (through my supplier) have watched so far, RFD is called upon for help and then those who call him for help turn on him (Harriet Jones calling RFD "another alien threat"; Queen Victoria banishing the Doctor and Rose from "my Empire"). Hobbes, with his view of the State of Nature as a place of constant war and death, would be a good resource for the Doctor to bring up the next time this happens, as a warning to those who don't appreciate his work.

I could go on and on but will leave it at this for now. I've also got a post lined up on God and/in the Doctor (which this was supposed to be but it ran away from me when I started writing it. I hope that Doctor-as-Leviathan will link up the Doctor/God one)

* For purposes of keeping this post within a manageable (and readable in one go) length, "Doctor Who" shall refer mainly to the 3 episodes of the New New Doctor (RFD), with some references to the New Doctor (Big-eared Doctor or BED. Wait, that sounds rather odd. I'll leave it to E to suggest a name for the Ninth Doctor). Otherwise, this shall turn into a series of posts which will probably never be finished (based on the side conversations E and I have been having--maybe we should post those too?)


tv-turnoff week

Next week, we're all supposed to turn off the television and go do something else. I'm all for that, except that I've got a copy of Tooth and Claw just sitting here waiting for me to watch it, and today I have to get the house cleaned and the laundry done. Maybe it doesn't count as tv if I watch it on my computer? Or if I go to the park and watch it?

Clearly these people don't watch tv the same way that I do.
Turning off the television gives us a chance to think, read, create, and do. To connect with our families and engage in our communities. To turn off TV and turn on life.


PTSD does not in any way seek to oppress the rights of its readers to choose not to have a Happy Earth Day. You may prefer an unhappy Earth Day, or even an "Angrily Kicking Cute Little Puppies" Earth Day. We do not wish to perpetuate the emotional hegemony of happiness over other valid emotions.*

* You may also, of course, choose to celebrate Unhappy Universe Day. Or Unhappy Particularism Day. Please don't feel constrained by Priya's earlier choice of phrases. Its possible that she's in need of a Doctor Who fix, and therefore not completely in possession of her usual inclusive attitude.


Happy Earth Day*, I suppose

Yes, it's Earth Day today. So, enjoy it.

I, apparently, am a blight upon the face of this Earth. A quiz over at Earth Day Network tells me that my "Total Ecological Footprint" is 13 (apparently 24 is the average for Americans so I'm doing quite well there).

It also adds (in capital letters),


A problem with that statement is that it doesn't tell me when we'd need those extra planets.

If you ask me, environmentalists have a bad rep in this country. I was part of a conversation yesterday in which another student expressed their concern for being known as a "tree-hugging hippie" if they ended up studying about the environment. Most folks I know back home (both in Nepal and Thailand) are pragmatic about their use of "the environment". Trees are to be cut so one can have wood for fire, soil is to be tilled so plants can be grown and animals are to be eaten since they taste good (though, Nepal doesn't allow eating of cows. Buffaloes, on the other hand, can be slaughtered and quite frequently are). I guess if you've grown up being told that it's either one (environment) or the other (economics/business), or if big firms are involved, then the issue is different. But, why should it be a question of environment/firms? Can't (shouldn't) you have both?

I would say I'm an environmentalist--after all, I have a degree (rather unused) in Environmental politics, my Masters thesis was on conflict-management in community-based forestry programmes (yes, I like hyphens) and I spent nearly two years of my life writing and working on issues of "agroindustrial development". I don't hug trees though and don't think much about the spiritual growth potential of environmentalism/meditation (I've been reading flyers for the Summer classes at TUWSNBN and I didn't make that one up, I swear). I find the position of being an environmentalist who doesn't hug trees, support PETA and thinks big businesses can be useful is similar to that of a security studies scholar who researches foreign policy as identity and looks at discourses--useful in pointing out cracks in the "mainstream" way of looking at things and answering questions that the mainstream often doesn't ask or cannot answer.

* PTSD realises that only having an “Earth” day violates various universal guidelines about considering all planets to be our potential friends but, as Earth is the foremost of all planets and pretty much the only one we, as a species, seem to be interested in celebrating, it’s Happy Earth Day to you all.

PTSD also does not condone the value-judgement behind using “Earth” as the only planet worth having a “Happy” day for. Instead, PTSD would like to recommend having a Happy Universe day. Or, even allowing each planet to have its own Happy Day. A Happy Earth day seems rather isolationist, to us. It’s not like Earth has much to celebrate.

Watching football on the computer

For the half of PTSD that's still in DC, it's a perfect day for sitting in a pub, having a huge brekkie and watching football, especially when it's the FA Cup semi-final of Chelsea vs Liverpool. God's not on my side today but I'm still hoping for a win.

I am, however, not at said pub enjoying the event but am reduced to reading the text updates on my computer. Why, yous ask? Well, because I walked the 3 miles to TUWSNBN, in pouring rain, to sit in the office so I could ring my parents. I hope they appreciate this sacrifice.

ETA: We won! I am actually hugely surprised since I did not expect that at all, especially as God wasn't around to lend a hand (foot?).


I can telecommute, right?

So I'm sitting in Bryant Park, next to the library, using the lovely free wifi that somebody has so politely provided. It's spring, the birds are singing, the trees are leafing, the Genius Nephew is on the carousel, and I'm wondering if I can just live here instead of DC.

Can I? Please? Just for a bit? I'm no trouble at all, honestly. I just want to live somewhere that isn't crowded and hot and loud and...no, wait, that won't work. Let's just say it's fun to play tourist somewhere that I am, actually, visiting.

Did I mention the bookstores? There are bookstores. Lots of them. And we even did the traditional "stand in line, visit the Statue of Liberty, take photos of the contagious disease hospital, get a sunburn" stuff.

Tomorrow we're going to Coney Island and the Subway Museum. It's better than the train museum in Pennsylvania that was on the schedule, I guess.*

Less fun: I honestly forgot that the Cortlandt subway stop is no longer a viable option for Manhattan. I can't think of a word to describe how I felt when I realized why the train wasn't going to stop.

*Not so much the Coney Island in the rain. The transit museum was cool, as such things go (and the list of similar museums to which I can compare it is far too long), and we spent the rest of the day walking around Brooklyn. And eating in diners. And paying NINE DOLLARS to cross a bridge. As my sister said, for that much money, we'd better get to drive across something the size of Pennsylvania.


Beware of (carpet) burns

While other Nepali folks are either staying indoors and wondering if they can ever leave their residences (The 18-hour curfew's been extended by another four hours) or walking about enjoying social interactions with police and Army, it appears that I, too, have to be wary of injuries.

A report from Wales (where PTSD's newly favourite show starring the Doctor is filmed) says:

"One in six armchair football fans were found to have hurt themselves while indulging on over-exuberant celebrations in their own living rooms.

The supporters sustained their injuries cheering goals scored by their team, incurring ailments like carpet burns from knee dives, concussion from banging heads with a fellow fan and bruised knees from hitting the coffee table mid-jump."

Scroll down to the last page of the article for some good examples of what happens when football players (not us spectators) indulge in excessive celebrations.


Lots of Prison Notebooks are being written right now

Okay, this is all getting a bit ridiculous.

18-hour curfews? The last time I talked to Mum, she wasn't too keen on having Dad about the house for 12 hours and now it's 18 hours?

Oh, and the price of everything's gone up since the protests started two weeks ago. There's (apparently) no fresh veggies, salt, sugar or oil for cooking and even onions now cost $1 per kilogram, compared to 20 cents usually. Considering the daily wages of many folks are about $2/day, that's a bit much.

People (including an uncle) jailed, protests banned and "shoot to kill" orders in case curfew is violated. Exciting times, indeed.

Things to do in DC

As I may have mentioned, my sister and the Genius Nephew are visiting this week. This is good for my ability to do touristy things in DC (and NYC later this week) but not so good for the progress of my research. Still, off we go to find some attraction that we've somehow missed. We tried one of those Top Ten books, but we'd been to nine of the ten. And the tenth is closed today.

This may turn out to be a shopping day. I've been meaning to go to Sephora, anyway. And isn't it the right time of year to gaze longingly at the displays at Kate Spade?

Because what I need is more useless crap cluttering up the apartment, like the huge coffee table that the GN just bashed his head on. Good thing we put plastic on the edges, since he's already wearing my last giant band-aid on his leg.

It's a hattrick!

So, it's an Irish bloke, wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a Thai beer (Beer Chang, or "Elephant beer"-- does it say something about me that I recognised the beer symbol?) donating blood to help Nepali protesters.

Via the BBC (what else?)

Almost as good as "It's Queen Victoria, werewolves and Kung Fu monks"


The country quiz

64 choices (or so they say) and I end up with this:

You're Madagascar!

Lots of people don't really know anything about you, making you
buried treasure of the rarest kind.  You love nature, and could get lost in it whenever possible.  You're remote and exotic, and the few people who know you value whatever they share with you a great deal.  For some reason, you really like the word "lemur".

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

All those damn peeps, and nobody ate any of them

That's right, I'm still the owner of four boxes of marshmallow peeps. Everyone looked at them, there was some discussion of them (which makes twice in one week that I've been involved in a conversation about explosions and microwave ovens) but nobody ate them.

You'd think somebody would have figured out that they were only still in the packages because they go stale 1.6 seconds after you open the plastic wrap.

I can't be bothered to create a narrative arc out of this stuff, so you're getting a list. Again. As usual.

1. Right, so, about that pie. It was only a little pink. Barely even pink at all, I say. Certainly not so pink as to be a "color not found in nature." And besides, it was meant to be pink. Totally intentional, that color. What color do people expect a jello pie to be, anyway?

2. I forget, until we have a big dinner like we did yesterday, how much I miss family gatherings back home. Mind you, I generally hate them while I'm actually there, and I can almost never figure out what possessed me to show up for family reunions. But holidays don't seem terribly festive if there aren't ten conversations going on, and kids running around underfoot and refusing to eat anything but dessert. Plus, it's an excuse to make all kinds of food that isn't at all healthy.

3. That said, I prefer parties out here to family holidays--there's all the entertainment value of people swinging a pillowcase full of wet spinach, with none of the questions about 1) our lack of children; 2) my decision to live anywhere but my hometown; 3) "those damned liberals"; or 4) why I don't just go out and get a real job, and quit messing around with all that school. Plus, I'm pretty sure no one in my family has ever asked me to describe the merits of the new Doctor Who over the old one. Or told a joke about orcs.

4. When we have a dinner, we only have to invite the people we like. As a result, everybody seems to get along well, and there's no need to smile and be friendly when I'd much rather hide in the basement sneaking shots out of my grandfather's whiskey selection. And there's absolutely no guilt in breaking out LOTR Risk in the middle of it.

5. No, I don't think I drink too much. But I grew up in a very quiet town, and I'm easily bored. So all of my funny stories, and most of my sad ones, involve copious amounts of alcohol. It happens. And in my defense, that bottle of Everclear was just sitting in the closet, gathering dust. *Somebody* had to take a shot of it. I was just being a good hostess.

This morning, the call for a night of drunken strategy games still seemed like an excellent plan. Maybe I should start organizing something when my sister and the Genius Nephew leave next week.

6. For some reason, I thought I was strange in checking out people's bookcases when I visit them. Turns out, not so much. Nobody can resist a full bookshelf.

I'm a little worried about how anyone knew which books were mine and which weren't; sure, the IR theory books are presumptively mine, but I'm surprised some of the others were so obvious. Okay, my use of the verb "grok" may be a bit of a giveaway.

7. I'm also worried that people couldn't tell. I don't really want all the vampire stories and horror novels chalked up to my purchasing habits. Or even some of the more annoying sci-fi stuff. I mean, give me *some* credit when it comes to fiction--I don't just read everything that comes my way.

8. Strike that. I do read everything. But that doesn't mean I always like it. And when I say read, I generally mean, "skim the first chapter and then quit for a while." Unless it's something that really catches my attention. Those books can be identified by the way the covers fall off when you open them. Or by the packaging tape on the bindings. Or by the fact that I read them when I was in grade school, but the replacement copies have shiny new covers.

Then again, that last bit isn't something you can tell by looking at them. Maybe this needs to be a separate post. All about our home library, and how it got to be that way. I'll get right on that, as soon as I finish plugging stuff into LibraryThing so that I can find that copy of Power/Knowledge that I *know* is around here somewhere.

9. Maybe I'm loud and flighty and obsessed with getting all of the food just right. But I'm pretty sure that everyone who celebrated easter-ish with us yesterday already knew that, and that they only occasionally wonder how S puts up with it.

10. So long as no one falls off the balcony, I say it's a successful party.


New Year(s), New Lessons, New Earth, Part I

Things learnt on Friday

1. People have a different conception of time than I do. I found this out when, after about an hour and a half of discussion about what I should do to "fix" my proposal, I was told "It'll take about an hour". It ended up taking about 8 hours. My bum is still in protest after having to sit on the same chair for said amount of hours.

2. If you stay at the PhD office at TUWSNBN till early morning, it's best to have some beers in hand to ward off the (increasingly) strong feeling (gets stronger as it gets later) that the place is haunted. I could hear footsteps walking past, especially around midnight. After looking around the office for things to be used as stakes (nothing useful except books, though I suppose being hit by a combination of Tilly/Dewey/rather large survey that's been sitting in the office since E and I started Uni might have made the ghost think twice about entering?)

So, on towards Saturday. After getting a few hours of sleep and finally sending off proposal to powers-that-are, I ended up leaving for the Nepali New Year gig in the Outback of Virginia. I had to ditch dancing lessons and Thai food as it was physically impossible to be at two places at the same time. Lessons from Saturday:

1. It's best not to tell folk, especially those whom you don't know and who ask why you're "still studying" that you are planning to spend the rest of your life without a "proper job", hanging out at Unis. This does not go down well. Also, the "But, what about marriage?" question should never be answered by "Oh, I did that in Tahiti when I was 21--I didn't like him so left him there" comment or the "I rather think Draupadi (mythical woman who had five husbands, all at the same time) had a good idea" comment. People tend to take things seriously and this leads to trouble from family (Uncle and Aunt who had to go around "fixing" my stories).

2. Being banished to look after a 2-year old is actually heaps of fun. I think it helped that the kid, despite an abundance of long curls and a lamentable tendency to whine, had a large vocabulary and was easily influenceable. By the end of the day, I'd managed to convince him, who'd refused to go anywhere near bugs at the start of the day, to pick up and try to eat a cricket. Socialisation into being aware of and interested in invertebrates, is how I put it. His Mum appeared to take a different view. Another things was, despite their fairly small appearance, two-year olds are bloody heavy to lug around--I have even more appreciation for my parents after just one day of (sporadic) kid-carrying. I suppose nannies are out of the question if/when I have a one? I have yet to hear of nanny-affording academics (but I live in hope).

3. Nepali food does not improve upon acquaintance. I guess it's because all the good stuff (Tama--fermented bamboo shoots, cooked with lots of chilli; masyaura--a type of dried lentil/veggie combo, which requires a lot of time to make; gundruk--green leaves and shoots buried in the ground and then brought out, after they have rotted and fermented, to be dried and then cooked) are not easily available in Washington. Dinner on Saturday consisted of rice, black lentils (not with the butter and spices, like the Indian version but the "proper" Nepali way--i.e. bland), cauliflower with potatoes (staple winter diet), spinach, and chick pea soup (another staple). PTSD readers are probably aware of the lack of "authentic" Nepali desserts. My New Year's dessert was tiramisu. Apparently, Marco Polo nicked the idea from the Nepalis years ago, so tiramisu is really Nepali.

I will have to write the lessons of Sunday in my next post, including issues of Middle (and New) Earths (or, maybe E will write about it, since she was there too).

Let me leave you with a short trailer (of quotes in which one or both of PTSD members were involved)...

While playing a board game: You traitor! You Benedict Anderson!!

Another TUWSNBN student: What d'you mean you've never watched The Greatest American Hero, you've lost your British Commonwealth background! (not that one ever had that, as both PTSD folks are from non-Commonwealth countries)

When examining a strange-looking cake: But, it's so pink

From a fellow TUWSNBN student: You have no family? I have plenty, take some of mine. Here, he (pointing to an older bloke whom one had not seen before) can be your uncle.

Various people at various times: Put the peeps (not the Sean Paul-type but pink and yellow duck-type. It took me a while to figure this out too) in the microwave and watch them burn explode!

You know you can run a car on this (about Everclear) and, finally,

We're such high-schoolers right now (while debating the merits or otherwise of the developments in the Doc's relationship with Rose)


You really know it's time for a kip when...

You write that you're interested in analysing how states construct treats in the international system and then argue with someone who points out that "perhaps that's not what you meant".

A rather (un)happy start to the New Year

Quite by coincidence, the land of my birth and the land I (mostly) grew up in are sharing New Years this year. This is fairly rare since the Thai or the non-Tibetan sort of Buddhism differs from the Nepali (Tibetan) one. The main difference, apart from the colour of the robes (Orange/Saffron in Thailand and Maroon in Nepal) is that women (or even girl children) can't touch the robes of or sit near a Thai monk (this leads to rather difficult times on a crowded bus) while there're no such restrictions in Nepal. I'm sure they are theologically different too but I'm presuming you're not reading my post to have Buddhist theology explained. I'm a SuperF and footy kind of girl. You'll have to go elsewhere for Buddhist theology.

The Nepali New Year is usually a week or two before the Thai one but this year it's at the same time--this week. Not much of a time for celebration in Nepal with daily curfews, people being arrested, held in jail for the past week (including an uncle and an aunt, my sisters' school's teachers, and a couple of folks my brother and I went to high school with). Even lawyers are not safe.

What does the King do during all this? Why (and this is a fantastic idea if yous are ever in a position where the masses are revolting, in all senses of the term), he wanders off to his summer palace (in a different city). Nero and fiddle anyone? But, wait, apparently all problems will soon be over. Elections are coming up. I just love it when seemingly-intractable problems can so easily be resolved.

So, yes, Happy New Year, folks.

I'm frantically trying to finish proposal-ing so I can go eat yummy Nepali food (fried lettuce, dried and fermented greens...wait. Maybe I shouldn't write this? No wonder there's a serious lack of Nepali restaurants worldwide) and then go visit the Thai Temple on Saturday. Yes, you read it right, Dear Readers, I'm giving up DC United's home match for Thai food (and it comes with free helpings of dancing and religion).


Back to regularly scheduled programming

If you think of our last two posts as the Children in Need special and an advert (there has to be an advert always), then this is getting back to the regular series.

Perhaps in contention for a future Doctor villain, the ANDRO Robot "designed to climb stairs and sniff out potentially dangerous objects like bombs and wayward Romanian hooligans," is set to ensure security during the football World Cup in Germany this summer.

And, wait, it's not just one robot. It's "a fleet of robots that resemble the overhead projector used in our high school biology class [that] will be patrolling the mean streets around the stadium in Berlin."

Via WorldCupBlog

Some useful information

I'm glad our 400th post wasn't about Doctor Who, at least.

#401 is also useful--just for you, Loyal Reader, we've set up new blogs designed to create a space for arranging panels and conference contacts in our field. Which is international relations, believe it or not. So far we've got two, which can be found here and here. More are on the way, as we get submissions for other regions and conferences. Submissions for panels can be sent to isapanels (at) gmail (dot) com. Make sure you include the name of the conference in the title of the email, so that we can get it posted to the right blog, and then use the comment section of your post to put together exciting panels that are sure to be accepted to your favorite academic conference!

[Well, that was awfully enthusiastic. Since this is mostly Priya's project, I'll leave it to her to add any details for you.]


April is also SAAM

Or, Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

As a child of a relentless campaigner for childrens' rights, that's my shout out to a good cause.

I might whinge (and I do, a lot) but, hey, I have it easy. Other kids in similar positions (the eldest out of three girls born in South-east Asia) don't have it as good and, often don't have any avenue for complaints. If I ever were to take time off from Uni and be an activist, this is what I would fight for.

But, since I don't have the luxury of leaving TUWSNBN right now, Online Volunteering will have to do.

Some not entirely unrelated random things

1. Just because an issue is a stupid issue, and I fully admit that it is a stupid issue, do not assume that I will suddenly be able to ignore the issue. It's a nice idea, but not the way my life / brain / conversational style works. This is something that I'm beginning to feel I need to have printed on a t-shirt.

2. We may be able to turn our sudden obsession with Doctor Who into an interesting and useful professional exercise. Stay tuned to see if we can pull it off before certain upcoming deadlines. So far, the response has been encouraging.

3. If I get 200+ pages of text to edit on Monday, and my boss expects it to be done on Wednesday, am I still working a part-time job? What if I add the requirements from last week of 150+ pages of a new draft, typed and edited, between Monday and Friday? Plus notes from a six hour meeting the week before?

4. The tipping point for the attraction of random grad students to a group avoiding work by sitting in the sun and talking about anything *but* academia is an initial state of three students procrastinating. One person can be ignored, and two participants represent a stable state that attracts only students with a specific reason for joining the conversation, but three or more people means that every grad student within eyesight will, inevitably, gravitate to the conversation. The initial gravitation force cannot be overcome by any sort of deadline or impending meeting.

The ability of a particular grad student to reach an escape velocity and return to work is inversely proportional to the amount of work that needs to be done by that student divided by the number of days before the work is due. [1/V = W/T]

If the weather is *really* nice, W/T can be multiplied by a constant derived from temperature and relative sunniness of the afternoon.

If a professor is participating in the conversation, the reduction in necessary velocity is a complex function of a) the seniority of the professor; b) whether the student currently owes any written materials to said professor; and c) whether said professor has been known to engage students in discussions of theory while drinking beer at a conference.

The precise function required in this case may be one of the great unsolveable equations of the academic universe.

6. My new bag weighs the same amount empty as my old bag. Everything in my new bag came out of my old bag. So why does my new bag now feel twice as heavy as the old one?

7. There is a lot of fanfic about Doctor Who. A lot. An almost staggering amount. At the moment, I don't have time to read any of it.


This one is definitely not about television.

So. I’ve got a song stuck in the back of my mind. It’s been there for days, ever since Friday afternoon, and seems to have settled in for the duration. I blame the people who interrupted me in the middle of it with something about Bolivians. Or maybe it was Libyans?

Either way, I’ve got more important things that I ought to be worrying about. And it’s April, and we’ve been woefully remiss in the poetry department, what with all the television analysis.

I’m giving it to you, in the hopes it’ll get stuck in your head instead, and I won’t have to write anything about it, or about anything that it may remind me of. Good luck.

Won't Give In—The Finn Brothers

You call me up, I'll say a few words
But I'll try not to speak too long
Please to be kind and I'll try to explain
I'll probably get it all wrong
What does it mean when you promise someone
That no matter how hard or whatever may come

It means that I won't give in, won't give in, won't give in
'Cause everyone I love is here
Play it once and disappear

Once in a while I return to the fold
And people I call my own
Even if time is just a flicker of light
And we all have to die alone
What does it mean when you belong to someone
When you're born with a name, when you carry it on

It means that I won't give in, won't give in, won't give in
'Cause everyone I love is here
All at once, and I'll show you how to get real

Come on now, come on now, can you feel it, I can see it in ya
Come on now, come on now, reveal it, turn around won't ya
The right time, the right place, right now, turn around

A chance is made, a chance is lost, I carry myself to the edge of the earth

It means that I won't give in, won't give in, won't give in
'Cause everyone I love is here
Say it once, just say it, and disappear


This is not a post about Doctor Who

Well, not entirely, anyway. Maybe just a little. Mostly it's about West Wing. Which was both awful and wonderful tonight. When they submit Bradley Whitford's name for Emmy consideration, this is the episode I'd choose. He was pitch perfect in every single scene.

Of course, I haven't seen the rest of the episodes yet, and I'm betting I'll change my mind after next week. Or maybe not; Whitford was really, really good here, and his performance will be difficult to top. I mean, we're talking Noel-calibre reactions from him.

And here's where the Doctor Who bit comes in. I rewatched Father's Day last night, and it's about the same thing as Election Day II. Exactly the same thing. Which is deeply weird for me. Creepy, even, given that I can't wrap my head around that particular parental relationship. But obviously someone can, because the tv people have done it at least twice.

I mean, I find the episodes moving and I intellectually comprehend how it's supposed to work. Fathers are important. Even surrogate ones. That part I get; that part I can see. I just can't seem to see what sort of real life experience leads to these specific results, the ones with the shell shock and such. It bothers me the way all things bother me that I don't understand.*

The way reading Kant bothers me, because when I'm there with the arguments in front of me they flow just fine, but when I look up and think about reality they all seem a bit silly and self-important. Does that make sense?

I realize that this confusion makes me sound like a heartless bitch. That might be accurate; I don't know.

On a tangentially related note, I think I'm going to have to unilaterally call for a Doctor Who marathon, so that I can put the whole narrative together and figure out how they manage to portray the Ninth Doctor as a father figure in Father's Day and a romantic interest in The Doctor Dances. I think I can almost see where the switch is and why they've done it. Almost, and I really want to get it because, all poking the fans with sticks aside, they're both fantastic episodes. Fantastic in the good way, not the "we're probably going to die but it was fun while it lasted" way.

And, of course, once I've grasped it I can write about it. You know, the really fun bit. The part that's also supposed to come at the end of my dissertation research. If I ever get that far. Maybe, instead of just the conference panel, I should also do a dissertation on DW. There's got to be some way to swing it.

I'm beginning to think we need some sort of designated fangirl posts, ones where we just comment back and forth about each episode and pull them together. Otherwise, we're in serious danger of turning this into a very different kind of blog. Knew it was a bad thing when Priya and I found some pop culture item to agree on.

*English is totally lacking a word that is what I'm looking for here. Grok is the closest I can think of, but even it isn't quite what I'm trying to say.

Connect the posters

Check out these posters and pick the odd one out.

NYC, Washington, London, Baltimore

I'm not sure if one is allowed to use pictures taken by other people on one's blog but, if not (or if there are objections), I'll delete the post.

Via DCist (and added to from sundry other sites)

You know it's time for a kip when...

You call home for the first time in two months and then don't realise you've dialled some other number and talked to a stranger for nearly 10 minutes, thinking they were family.


Proselytising about the Doctor

Let me tell you about missionaries. No, this is not one of those types of jokes but I really want to talk about missionaries. Now we all know (those of us who have sat through innumerable history classes) that missionaries of various hues went around the world (and are still doing so) spreading the good word (well, many good words). Heathens often resisted (they knew no better, the poor folks) but were ultimately brought into the fold and realised the error of their past ways. Often, they even became missionaries themselves and went about spreading more good words (and diseases and death but this is a fairly happy blog so we won't talk about those kinds of things). As a beneficiary (if one may call it that) of a school operated by Jesuit missionaries, I have always had a soft spot for missionaries. Call me misguided but I rather like it that they wander around and try get the natives to get with the plan (whether it's Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam or even just playing soccer or cricket). I reckon we all try to do that to various extents and, hey, why not, eh? Often, money or praise is involved in having done well--personally, at my school, we'd get merit points for writing well in English (I'd recommend money instead though).

Money was not involved in my own missionary efforts but, after watching E get excited about the Doctor today, I feel rather like an old-time (or maybe a new age?) missionary must have felt when he realised the heathens had finally seen the light. A bit smug, a bit proud and also rather bemused at the enthusiasm shown but, ultimately, definitely well-pleased. After all, this is the same woman who, a few weeks ago, was refusing to watch the Doctor. Now, I just got the entire season off her (though I am resisting watching further episodes until after I have submitted my dissertation proposal) and sat around with her and some other friends, watching three episodes* in a row, while eating Chinese food and watermelon (yes, they do go well together).

After my counselling role in my new job and my recent efforts with the youngsters at TUWSNBN, I feel as though I've done a good job and can rest on my laurels. After all, I've also managed to convert LilSis2 (yes, they get numbers to distinguish them now) who used to hate the old episodes when she was a kid. Rather like E, really.

On a non-Doctor note, today's TS was on Foucault (though have yous noticed the similarities between him and him, especially around the ears and the slightly startled looks?). We didn't actually get to discuss much of F, especially the fun bits about racism (which we did get into and then got distracted by other things, as usual) and the use of biopower or even whether one can have a scientific (in the common sense) science.

Getting back to the Doctor, we (meaning E and I) did decide that we should maybe have a Doctor Who and theory panel at SmallRegionalMeeting conference later this year. The only problem with this plan is that (as I told E), I won't be around if I don't get a job/funding for next semester. You lot, dear PTSD readers, will be hearing of my travails back home, where fun things are happening every day. Assuming the yak herders let me use their wireless, that is.

Let's hope E's back to blog soon. There's only so much I can do to hold your interests or else I might have to put up that fried lettuce recipe.

* They were rather fun episodes all of them. I quite like how the new series uses bits from the past ones and then tweaks them or adds to them or even completely messes them up. As I told E, I used to confuse the Daleks with the Star Wars robot as a kid so I've never managed to absorb the evilness of the Daleks and it was good seeing them back (and the UNIT too, of course). I was never as invested in the series so none of the changes bothered me much but, from what I gather from people who have watched them for longer than I have (my dad, for example), some of the changes are not too popular. I think I'd get along with the writers though--they seem to realise how much fun it is to push peoples' buttons!


First there was clothes, then coffee and now...tickets?

Since E's disappeared who knows where, I have to hold the castle (and ensure no English types get to enter PTSD though, as yous can see, traffic's been light lately. Does that say something about my stellar writing? Or, perhaps just about how PTSD gets updated thrice in a day and then stalls for the next few?)

Yes, this is a filler post. It's to tell yous that I finally cashed in a b'day pressie and ended up buying a ticket to this. Irish authors and terrorism--pretty much like doing "research", I reckon. Apart from the continuing association of terror with all things Irish, it seems like a fun show and should provide some good laughs (one can only hope).

I'll keep yous updated about how the show is but wanted to tell yous that, if you buy the ticket to this thing online, you have to go to Brown Paper Tickets, "the first and only fair-trade ticketing service". No location is specified (in the world? in the known universe? in America?) but it's a pretty impressive claim.

To make ticke buyers feel better about spending their hard-earned cash, they even donate part of the proceeds to a charity of the customer's choice (there're 3 different places to choose from). So, I'm giving away someone else's money while ensure I get to enjoy the benefits thereof. Seems like a perfect setup to me.

Here's hoping E's back soon from her self-imposed hiatus and that you won't have to read about me buying more tickets. Or going grocery shopping. Or counselling kids. Or frying lettuce. Or staying till 11 pm at Uni to talk to folks back home.


Warning: Singing might be a sign of terrorist activity

I've decided that while life sucks, I quite enjoy its miserableness (yes, I know there's no such word) anyway.

But, I doubt this bloke would say the same. Imagine being blithely on the way to the airport, quietly singing away in the back of your conveyance and the next thing you know, you're being taken away in handcuffs and chucked in jail before you have the chance to say "Oh, but I'm singing a song by folks who now qualify for old age pension/are dead"

Not fun, I bet.


Life pretty much sucks

Yes, I'm off that BNC high and with a vengeance. RL (Real Life) has a nasty habit of intruding on my rose-tinted glasses view of the world and kicking me in the shins. Where's the Doctor when I need him, eh?

On that obscure note, I go off to contemplate the dregs of a bottle (or two) and leave yous with this. At least I'm not the only one with problems though I hardly think other animals having issues makes me feel any better. Check out the store for some fun shirts--not to rival Chaucer but fun nonetheless and I'd love to have the sheep one.

ETA: For some reason, I seem to have become the point of contact for young TUWSNBN students having questions about what they are doing. I actually enjoy this as it's a way to discuss issues that arise in the course of studying and I didn't have a forum for that when I was starting off. I've no idea why me though perhaps the whole "inner peace" thing is catching? I think it's just the feeling that if I could make it so far (all comprehensive exams done, almost ABD and with a stint overseas in between) then so can they. At least that's what I tell them. But, based on today's evidence, life pretty much sucks all around. For everyone (and that includes the animals).

Oh, why?

Great name for a book, I reckon. I love it that the man tries to answer one of human history's enduring questions in a mere 224 pages. Someone should have sent this memo to many of the writers we have to read in the course of PhD-ing: Keep things simple and have a catchy title (that's pretty much the plan for my PhD. Or, as much of a plan as I have right now)

Go here to have a look at more information on it (Tilly's books, not my PhD. Yous have to wait a year or two for that one).

I wonder if this should have gone before the manifesto post?

People Envy Your Inner Peace

You understand your place in the world and accept life as it is. For you, "it's all good."
People envy how grounded and level headed you are. But you're too at peace to even notice.
What Do People Envy About You?

So, there you go. It's probably a way to say that I'm one of those people who are quite willing to start and be involve in arguments and yet don't much care about the outcome. This is not going to help in my new quest to go about being all scary and intimidating at TUWSNBN.

Via Kartography


A (very thin and quite unfocused) feminist manifesto

As manifestos have been on my mind lately (my Dad wants to send me Mao's LRB to read, I read Emirbayer's "Manifesto for a relational sociology", and the Communist one looms large in a book I'm copy-editing), I decided to turn my mundane weekend experiences into a manifesto of my own.

After a couple of months of frustration about my lack of chess-playing skills, I decided to go watch the experts. Since the weather was lovely, I wandered off to Dupont Circle. The outer parts of the Circle, for those who don't live in this great city of ours, have 7-8 tables lined up with people playing chess. On Friday, when I was there, they were not playing regular chess but speed chess. People were moving their pieces so fast that I barely had time to note what piece was being moved before it'd been moved or captured by some other piece. As a lesson in how far I have to go to even know what's going in, this was edifying. My point, though, is not about the chess-playing that was going on. It's about who was playing (and watching). On this occasion (and I was there for about two hours), the players were almost all men (there was one woman out of about 20 players) as were the spectators (I was the only woman watching). It made me realise that most of my favourite pasttimes involve hanging out in settings where women seem rather scarce (football-watching, especially in pubs, is also a mainly masculine activity throughout most of the countries I've lived in). Why is that, I wonder? I think it's time to blame my parents for not instilling the proper appreciation for gender-differentiated activities and, instead, encouraging this fascination with football (well, with practically any sport).

After spending all of Saturday holed in TUWSNBN's PhD office, frantically trying to finish all sorts of stuff, I had a “girls' day out” on Sunday. I think all the girls I know (not many of them apparently) apart from TUWSNBN lot (I'm counting you as part of this, Serena) were there. There were four of us. What did we do, you ask? Well, we stocked a couple of eskys* up with beers and headed off to watch footy. It was DC United's first match of the season (as an aside, I think DC United is the only team I follow that has a shirt in a colour, black, that doesn't look totally awful with my skin colour—the red of Liverpool is not suited to dark skin). We had heaps of food and chairs and a table to sit around on (yes, it was posh mini-camping gig before the match started). I think I've written before that watching a live footy (soccer) match here in the United States (well, in DC since I have not watched football anywhere else in America) is completely different to watching sporting events in Britain, Australia (though I only watched rugby in Australia) or South-east Asia. There's a wide range of folks here in the audience—kids, parents, friends, local football teams (with their own gear and flags) around and not just loads of young men as in the other countries I've watched matches in. Maybe it's different in other American sports, I don't know (though ice hockey also had loads of families and couples). But, at the DC Utd match, the diversity stopped at families, girls' soccer teams or groups of blokes. There weren't many groups of adult females by themselves, apart from us. Still, it was heaps of fun (as was the chess-watching experience on Friday). Sometimes, it's good to get away from PhD-ing and just sit in the sun and people-watch and pretend that one is a normal person who doesn't have to work on weekends.

So, there's my (very slender) feminist manifesto (can it be a manifesto if there's no call to action? How about if I show that there's a will to power there? E, remind me to tell you how quoting SuperN nearly got me arrested at the Vietnam War memorial on Friday). If I were keen, I'd write about how it feels to be the outsider in a traditionally masculine world (chess in Dupont circle, watching football in pubs) but that leads to homogenising categories that I'd like to try avoid. The issue here is: I've not been hit, banned, or even made fun of (though this has happened a few times in the past) in any of these activities and I've been watching footy in various pubs since I left home nearly a decade ago. I was thinking of all this since I am currently reading a book on feminist perspectives on September 11 for a book chapter I'm supposed to be writing (actually, I'm supposed to have written it already but that's also another post for another day). I am rather surprised how almost all the authors in the book see power as something concrete which one either has or doesn't have instead of as a bundle of choices based on the situation and context one is. Often, as in the case of young girls traded for money in places like South-east Asia, the choices are very few. But, that doesn't mean they aren't there. Our task, hopefully, should be to learn about the choices and write about them. Or, on a small level, my task is to be good enough to play chess with the blokes up in Dupont. Hopefully, that'll be by the end of the summer and you're all invited to come watch me in action. That's a call to action, I suppose.

* It was pointed out to me that an esky is not commonly used here on this side of the Atlantic. It's what yous call a "cooler"--something that you can chuck ice in and then put beverages/food into. This one came with nifty wheels, which made me wonder if they'd let me take it on airplanes. Probably not.

Sunday nights are going to be very interesting

for the next six weeks. I planned to post this whole reaction essay to last night's episode of West Wing, but there's this pesky job thing, and some details to wrap up from last summer, and then they showed the episode again on Bravo.

I don't care what S says, I couldn't just *not* watch it. Because, well, um. There was coffee. Coffee, and you know, the other stuff. The stuff that wasn't the coffee.

Yeah, I'm pretty well incoherent. Still. About this, at least. Even if it is only a television show. That I've been watching for six and a half years, give or take.

Let's just say that John Wells is very lucky that they didn't do the usual teaser-with-major-subtext-followed-by-totally-unrelated-Act I thing. I'm pretty sure the outraged cries of fans everywhere would have broken his windows. At the very least.

I'm thinking that instead of reacting, I'll go watch some nice, calming, Doctor Who instead. Something with exploding universes or killer diseases or, you know, the end of the world. And with no coffee.


This is why I never liked Doctor Who

See, now that I've seen the whole 2005 season (best not to think too much about how that happened) and grown attached to Christopher Eccleston, they've gone and replaced him with some other twerpy boy who really doesn't fill out the jacket. I haven't yet watched the CiN trailer or the Christmas Invasion, but I'm willing to bet that #10 is total crap at acting brooding, and his "screw you, universe, and the wormhole you rode in on" attitude has got to lack oomph.

Plus, he wears tweed. What's the point of getting involved in a show where the leading man wears tweed? It's almost as bad as the Doctor who wore that awful polyester suit, the one that reminded me of the tuxes from my parents' wedding photos.

Talk about blinding fashion mistakes. Twelve guys lined up at the front of a church decorated in red, all wearing the same powder blue leisure suits. With ruffles down the front. I'm surprised my mom didn't turn around and run screaming from the sight of her future as the buyer of all things sartorial. And this was before he bought the cowboy boots.

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh, right. That show, the one that is all Priya's fault, the one that isn't West Wing or Numb3rs.*

Guys that geeky cannot properly glare. It's got something to do with physiology. Even Eccleston's flirting with Jack was moody. I'm going to miss #9. It wasn't really fair to send him out with that great "impending death averted and plot-specific, yet meaningful, kiss" scene. It just makes him seem cooler.

It'd be like having Josh walk out of that hotel room tomorrow and getting hit by a bus. Or an ice cream truck. Something terribly unromantic. Maybe a bus full of Good Humor Men.

Singing old camp songs.

I don't really care that all the Doctor Who fen is excited about #10. Or that Tennant has always wanted to play the Doctor. Or that he's supposedly the greatest thing since the sonic screwdriver.

I want the other guy back. Eccleston. He of the leather and the tacky sweater. I want to see who else he can make out with. I *liked* his funny ears. He was tortured and angry, yet wacky. He wore lots of black. He was so sad all of the time. He kept killing off his sidekick, and then feeling really guilty about it. He even cried. Once.

He was the kind of character that creates a properly swooning fandom.

What a stupid show to get hooked on, especially when I'm dealing with the impending demise of the West Wing at the same time.

Thank god for LFN dvds. Season Four is due out this summer, and you better believe I'm planning to spend some time with them. When I'm not working or studying or writing the Proposal that Never Ends, that is.

* One more thing, as long as I'm on the subject of all the television shows that I use to drown out the knowledge that I could be making money as a lawyer instead of trying to figure out how to make myself even vaguely employable as an academic.

The scene on Friday, with Larry running through the campus shouting about Archimedes? Pure genius. I love a good Greek philosophy reference. Even one in board shorts.

It's the first of April

So, it's also time for jokes and fun and foolery. Check out this list of "Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes", especially #5.

I think #5's the one that PTSD would have come up with (playing jokes with grammar and geography--what fun!) though #7 doesn't even seem like a joke these days.

I also like how the BBC, regarded as the authoritative source of news in many parts of the world, is involved in creating and disseminating many of these jokes.

A new month? That means it's time for

a new Site of the Month. This April, we return to our medieval roots with the newly relocated Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog, a hysterically funny translation of both old and new into phrasing that does not qualify as a second language for IR students.

I know, it isn't that hard to read Chaucer. But you can't tell me that Gawain and the Greene Knight wasn't in a foreign tongue. I know better.

If you're feeling ambitious, wander over and read the stuff in the archives as well. There are some interesting tidbits about the Pearl Poet and Brokeback Mountain that truly deserve their t-shirt immortality.