Half-way through (or, how I learnt to stop worrying and love the Quant folks)

It's the halfway point in the Workshop and here're the highlights. This is a two-parter since I didn't update yous on yesterday. So, what did happen then? Well, it rained (poured) and I didn't get to take my computer in and had to rely on my neighbour for World Cup updates. It was hellish (though fostered cross-participant interaction). Some highlights:

1. Feminist terrorism researcher (her term, not mine), makes the comment "All Europeans are racist" and elaborates this by comparing the USA (not very racist, apparently) to Europe. Minor uproar and debates but surprisingly (to me, since I disagree with her) a lot of agreement.

2. Bloke in white Polo shirt with "USA" inscribed on it and white running shorts* gives us a talk on the "Legal aspects of Terrorism". The presentation is mostly about how he used to prosecute terrorists in "his day". The relevancy of using this to teach any future students of mine remain unknown. Do I tell them of my glory days when I used to prosecute terrorists? How did he know they were terrorists anyway?

Being told that schools operated by "Muslim charities" overseas "are not Disney--they are Madrassas" and having one of those moments where you imagine a Disney-like Madrassa film, where all ends happily, with "happy" being open to definition.

3. Free dinner. Getting lost after dinner and having to call Emergency (after walking around campus for 40 minutes in search of the main road, after having taken a short cut) to get me home. Getting a lift back to the flat in a police car. It's been a while since that happened.

4. The surreal experience of having British Islamic rap recited to to us, at 9 in the morning, in a German accent by a steretypically "sweet old lady" in a pink sweater.Yes, my English was terrible in the sentence but please just try imagine that. I wish I had a camera at times like those.

5. Listening to fellow dinner person talk of why she could not understand why (male) suicide bombers got rewarded with 72 virgins when "72 whores who knew what they were doing" would be a more rational reward.

6. Being the "smartarse" person in the workshop by pointing out simulation exercises asking about justice and injustice require an ethnographic analysis, not a statistical one. Having a rather interesting discussion on the topic with the presenter (who, like all Evil Quant People) turned out to be hugely nice. It's always difficult (for me anyway) to fight with people who are nice. If he'd turned out to be a mean little bugger, I'd have had more fun in messing up the simulation and telling him off about why he (and Game Theory) was wrong.

Oh, also playing the "Hobbes simulation" (with the same presenter), one that I hope to try out on any future students I have. Fantastic fun, especially if it's an introductory IR class. With us, people just made alliances (without the Leviathan).

That was yesterday. Today was the highlight of the workshop so far. A visit to DarkLiquid, "the most comprehensive professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations company in the world."

And, E and the rest of you who read this and know me in RL, I'm actually being social. Or, as social as I can be. I'm hanging out with some blokes and having dinner/walking about town instead of (as is my wont) playing on my computer. So, you'll have to wait till later to read of DarkLiquid as I'm about to be late for my appointment.

* Not a good costume at the best of times. Definitely not a good costume for a workshop/conference when you're likely to be standing up and walking around a lot. Okay, I'll say it: Blokes should really not wear white athletic shorts with t-shirts tucked in. They just shouldn't.


At 6/15/2006 7:09 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'm so very, very jealous that you got to go to Blackwater. There had better be a detailed post coming about it.

Also, I managed to screw up the DW delivery to WeberMan this week. And last week. Clearly, I'm not cut out to be a dealer.

At 6/16/2006 1:32 AM, Blogger Priya said...

Probably a good thing (about the dealer) siince being too good at dealing (dodgy) stuff might not be good. I am also eager to see the second part of DW (v keen, actually)

Oh, I've got a Blackwater post lined up (though will leave the "thermometer in rectum" story for RL :)) and have even got pictures (off one of the others).
Just too tired right now (an excellent dinner, potential future dinners in DC and a full-on drinking session) and not looking forward to the 8am start tomorrow!

At 6/16/2006 10:32 AM, Blogger peter said...

Now that's a story I've got to hear.

At 6/16/2006 11:49 AM, Blogger Priya said...

Apparently I shouldn't mention "that place" since we (the main organisers) signed some thing saying so. Hopefully they wouldn't check the comments section?


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