wear sunscreen* (at least it's affordable)

$37,820 per year for four years to study at a university. Just for the tuition.

It's probably better just to go off, buy some sunscreen and use it. Education will soon be beyond (y)our reach. Might as well not bother, I suppose or move to New Mexico, where colleges are apparently still affordable.

Read the rest of "America's Most Expensive Colleges" here.

* Go here for the full version.


who speaks my language?

I learnt today that all 20 or so students in my class speak more than one language. We talked about today's research tip "Doing research is a process--it's like learning a new language"* and then I asked some of them--those who had lived in places where their second/other language was the majority language** to explain how they got along.

We got into a lively debate about the roles of "learning" (reading and learning grammar and such) and "learning by doing" (making an ass out of oneself in a "foreign" setting). Hopefully, while they may not remember much about research itself, this bit will stick.

I know I often say that I'd love to have a job in a small-town American college. But, in a way, it's rather enjoyable that TUWSNBN is quite international. One of my examples today was about Southern Thailand. I asked if anyone knew anything about what was going on there and, to my pleasant surprise, a couple of kids gave a summary of the current separatist movement, the religious breakdown and the government's response.

They still expect me to come in and lecture and I'm not quite sure they are convinced that sitting around talking about various research topics and questions is actually, you know, learning about research or even quite what one does in a uni class. But, I'll keep working on them and see what happens.

* I can only do so much. Cheesiness is factored into the "Research tip" format itself. Last week's, for example, was something about lenses.

** Just because I think there's a difference between learning a language from childhood and learning it when older. Kids don't much care about making an idiot of themselves. Grown-ups (well, most of them) do.


moose don't moo (but may fall on you)

As E and I are headed off to BigNameConference next month, this news story warns us to keep an eye out for falling meese.*

"Student felled by moose head sues"

Via BBC Online.

* E tells me that it's "just moose" (for plural) but I rather like meese.


How many constructivists does it take to find the car?

No, it’s not the start of a joke. It’s the end of tonight’s Culture Workshop.

Right. So. The wacky world of academia is back in full swing. Welcome to the land of constructivist terrorism research, in which nothing means what you think it means.

Your tour guides today are Elizabeth and Weberman. The discussion? The history of the phrase “weapons of mass destruction.”

First, the group is treated to a brief overview of the paper in question. As a new project, it’s a bit more conceptual than the intended result, but there are still some good points about the strategic deployment of terminology and the possibility of backlash.

Next, the audience reaction demonstrates that if you put nine academics in a room and give them a topic, you will be left with twenty opinions on a paper, nineteen of which will have only a marginal relationship to the original text.

The audience participation portion of the lecture begins.

W: did she just say "tantric"?

E: yep. tantric globalization.

W: hmm

E: which I suppose would be globalization that meditates on the universe.
» um. short answer to that question: yes.

W: she's a good bellweather of the mainstream constructivist-y types

E: they aren't ridiculous terms. strange, meaningless, maybe, but not ridiculous.

W: incantations???

E: she's mirroring [the speaker’s] terminology with that.

W: and an old argument

E: okay, wait. I thought the point was to ignore the concept of relationship to facts?

W: that people in the US believe things that just aren't true?
» shocking.

E: yes, okay, fine. but that analogy misses the point of the discussion, doesn't it? because the point is how the use of the term changed/developed?

W: yes
» "thing"
» um…one usually doesn't admit to having zoned out…

E: presumably there's a reason for that.
» not mentioning it, I mean.

W: and now we see FTMD’s strategy in mentioning that…
» part of a schtick
» http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/archive/SMCS_stairwell.html

W: oh man
» cross-tabs
» we're approaching Truth!

E: at some point this turns into higher math, right?

W: and we'll get to wear lab coats!
» and pocket protectors!
» like real scientists!

E: I've always wanted to use SPSS.

W: ::holding my tongue::

E: this is an interesting definition of rigor.

W: this is why I hate linguistic analysis

E: discourse analysis and rhetoric have very little in common, apparently.
» repetition = emphasis? huh.

W: yes, that's something I'm going to bring up myself
» unless you'd rather?

E: I'm just bothered by the idea that it's the counting that matters, rather than the location or the effect. Because I didn't necessarily get that from the paper, although it was there. But the comments seem to be focusing on it.

W: yes
» do you want to say that?
» or save it for dinner?

E: save it for a less formal setting, I think. I suspect my actual comment would come across as a bit...um...derogatory of several other previous comments.

W: k
» I can get away with that in this forum in a way that you probably can't

[during the above exchange, the topic switched to helpful citations for further research]

» when did we change the channel?

E: think of it more as picture-in-picture.
» so we're playing "Who's read more" for a while. fun.

W: DVR recording two channels simultaneously
» everyone need a guru or two

[Priya suggests her favorite theorist.]

E: I was waiting for her to get to Potter.

W: like me "getting to" Weber

E: the discursive structure of any academic conversation would predict that, yes.

W: not just academic

E: I was trying to be polite. Or something.
» Not sure branching out is a good way to go.

W: lol

E: Seems like this is going to be plenty without talking about the global war on terror.
» or "GWAT", which I hadn't heard before.


E: yeah, okay. see, if it was a common term, spell check would've caught that.
» idiosyncratic circumstances? yikes.

W: as opposed to those non-idiosyncratic circumstances

E: yeah, that's comforting.

[an audience member suggests that we are all postmodernists]

W: oh, no, not that
» anything but that

E: this would be the point where I should run screaming from the room, right?

W: nah -- embrace the Other in his/her Otherness

E: oh, I don't know about that.
» politically sophisticated and sensitive to public opinion aren't the same things.

W: really? gee. imagine that.

E: hey, if people didn't make that assumption, I wouldn't feel compelled to point out the obvious.

W: the Duh Channel
» http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/marcuse/works/one-dimensional-man/ch04.htm
» then search the page for "NATO"

Right. So, that was the discussion part of the formal lecture.

From there, things got interesting. A subset of the original group headed for dinner at a not-so-nearby Thai restaurant. Some observations collected throughout the evening:

Observation One: It is easier to have random conversations about authorial intent and Canadian television when walking behind the main group.

Observation Two: If walking after dark through G’town, a good plan involves putting the people who know how to find the the restaurant in front.

Observation Three: Sudden shifts in group position are unnerving.

Observation Four: Name-checking conversations are a form of performance art, in which the size of the excluded audience is a finely balanced and necessary component.

a. The trading of syllabus numbers is a topic that pushes the exclusivity beyond the boundaries of sustainable conversation.

b. Any outsider observations must take place at a low enough volume to avoid conscious notice by the name-checking participants.

c. Deliberate indifference is also a performance.

d. A truly talented potential academic can steamroll any potential side discussions into the main name-checking discourse, thereby re-marginalizing the audience at every possible turn.

Observation Five: “Female constructivist” is somehow a more problematic term than “girly constructivist.” Hypothesis: All constructivists are girly.

Observation Six: Constructivists and parking garages are not a good mix.

a. Thirty minutes is an excessive amount of time for three people to be unable to locate a car.

b. The maniacal laughter of two other people is not helpful.

c. When the stairway only goes in one direction, even constructivists can be counted upon to decide quickly which direction to walk.

d. Somewhere between twenty and thirty minutes the confusion moves from annoying to highly amusing.

e. Complex systems cannot be calculated backwards without the originating conditions. Therefore, systems theory is not helpful for identifying the position of a misplaced vehicle.

f. Even if one has no idea of the proper direction, announcing firmly “It’s this way” is sufficient to change the actions of the entire group.

g. Finding the car is a meaningless accomplishment if the group is also unable to find the parking garage exit and a road that leads off-campus.

h. If the prospect of parking garage wandering exists, it is a bad idea to wear heels.

Observation Seven: Child locks are harder for adults to figure out than children.

Observation Eight: The proper time to consider whether one's snarky observations are inappropriate/problematic for one's advisor/vaguely offensive to the other participants in an event is *prior to* the end of said event.

castling while (the others) were playing dominoes

Today was a momentous occasion for PTSD. For the first time in nearly 1/4 of a year, the two of us met up in real life and went off on a school trip. We went to another uni to attend a talk.

Just like a school trip, it had its moments of fun and laughter--times when we almost bonded with people from other unis, times when we tripped happily across pavements and roads in pairs of two (all bundled up against the cold), times when we sat around a round table and formed little groups which played chess and dominoes simultaneously and times when we felt like just jumping up and down screaming (and, yet, admirably, managed to restrain ourselves--or mostly did) or wishing we had one of those air gun pellets with which obnoxious beings are being pelleted in P.G. Wodehouse novels. Just like school trips from our (well, my) childhood, we managed to lose the transport home and had to walk around for quite a while, trying to find our vehicle. Elizabeth will write (with more humour than I am able to muster up right now, probably) about some of the stuff. Here's my rant. And, Oh yes, it is a rant.

So, what was worth ranting about? Let's start with the easy stuff first: Discourse analysis. Okay, I know that we do International Relations. Yes, I get it that there are long-ranging and bloody paradigm wars being fought. Or, have been fought. But, it's not like discourse analysis is anything new. Really, it's not. People have done it before, they will do so again and are doing it now. People have done it in fields where "sensitive issues" such as racism, police brutality and domestic violence and in the natural sciences. A concern with language is a fairly common concern--after all (and I make my kids get to this so it's not like you lot don't know it), all data is discursive. Where do those nice little numbers that statisticians work with come from, do you reckon?

But, if you're doing discourse analysis, if you're taking the view that "language produces truth", then please take it seriously. Do a good job. There are rules to DA, you know. You can't do a shoddy job--count how many times something's said, figure out how pronouns replace nouns--and then say you've done DA. Just looking at language and figuring out certain terms were used loads of times does not make it correspond to the truth. If you're claiming (and this is a big claim) that truth is constructed through speech,* then play the discourse analysis game. Play it properly. I'd say look at how something is used, rather than what its definition is. Definitions don't much matter--how a particular definition is used is what's interesting. Oh, that's also why DA's useful--it helps you get at how a particular meaning and outcome came about.

This gets to my other issue: saying something like "the word globalisation is an empty signifier" or "globalisation is problematic because it has a vague meaning" is also pretty useless. As is "now we know that people X, Y and Z actually thought such and such about the global war on terror". Well, duh. Of course, words like "terrorism", "globalisation", and such are "vague". Most likely, there will be information about events and policies that change our views of those, at a much later time.** That's the point. If terms already had specific meaning, spread across all sorts of peoples and contexts, then we wouldn't need to do research, would we? eh? We'd already know that meanings, we'd go about using it, we'd all be quite happy little IR folks. The fun stuff's figuring out how does one meaning (and not others) get used? How do meanings change through time? Talk about this.

Another thing here: Discourse analysis is not something where you can separate out the context (the occassions where the term "globalisation" or "terrorist" is used) from the actors (who uses them). This means it's a good idea to clearly lay out your context. Also, pick a level of analysis and then stick to it. If the concern is to trace out how "global war on terror" has been used by the US government, then write who counts as the "US government", what sources you will be using and go on from there. If you are more interested in the "general use" of "GWOT", then define "general" and go on from there. Just because you are "looking at language", doesn't mean anything goes.

Oh, remember too that DA is about public use of language. Intentions in people's heads (or, what did Condi and Rummy really think about the GWOT compared to what Powell thought) are quite boring. Fact construction (and what could be more that than "truth") is a social process. It's embedded in social relations. Looking inside (individual) people's heads isn't going to do much good. But, it could be fun. Poking around in brains is good fun (or so I hear).

I could go on but I won't (for now). I have a related post on being female and doing what we do (academic whatnot) while not having the "proper" set of social skills lined up but yous will have to wait for that. Yous will also have to wait for my (astute observation, even if I do say so myself) view about how everything eventually got turned into a discussion about (US) politics. The name-dropping (and the course number-dropping) was more entertaining than not though it does make me wonder how those of us who a) didn't go to university here (and hence have no names or course numbers to "drop") and b) already drank the "relational Kool-aid" but are disinterested if other people want to or not*** will ever be heard from (of!).

For now, let me end by writing that it's good fun to play chess while the others are playing dominoes but it probably doesn't do much for a future in academia. It's too bad I'm not the one who's a lawyer.

* Thomas Hobbes said this, by the way. Again, not exactly a new notion.

** How do I get to this bit about never having "all the information" in my IR research class? Well, I talk about (and show them) the Zidane-Materazzi "interaction" (headbutt) during last year's World Cup final. I use it to talk about how we usually work with what we have--for quite a while after the event, neither player was admitting what was actually said. That didn't matter for how the incident was used--terrorism, immigrant rights, French multiculturalism, teamwork, family, Algerian versions of "honour", and gender.

In my class, I end with talking about Zidane's interview (in which he finally talked about what was said between him and Materazzi). But, by then, the incident had already been made sense of (and used) in different ways. It really didn't matter what was actually said on the pitch.

*** As long as they play their particular game well. I mean, think about football. For me, it's the "world" version--round ball, eleven players, Liverpool. For E, it's OSU and "Buckeyes". We still manage to talk to each othe, even though we may think the other's game is not very useful.


I suppose the times are changing indeed

$200 to be a protester! It's almost Monty Pythonian in its absurdity.

The Germans (who else?) came up with the idea.

So, think about this in terms of IR research (yes, I had a class today. More on that, including on how my classroom was shifted without any warning or notice to me, later):

If there were paid protesters at a protest, could we still count them as part of the committed anti-whatnot folks? How would polling them work? Would each protester get his/her own backstory based on which protest they were being hired for? And, who is a real protester and who isn't?


i quite like mondays

Yes, posting's been a bit spotty on PTSD lately and it is likely to continue. Please amuse yourselves, for now, by reading about:

1. The kerfuffle (isn't that a lovely word?) about an Indian actress being taunted on the British TV show Big Brother.

Get this: "[her treatment] has attracted more than 30,000 complaints, caused a minor diplomatic incident and prompted the show's sponsor Carphone Warehouse to pull out."

Did anyone else find it rather disturbing that millions of people even watch Big Brother?

2. Don't miss Heroes tonight. An (ex)Doctor himself will be on! I do hope he's getting well paid for this stunt.

3. Did anyone catch the first episode of the new weekly show, the Dresden Files, on the SciFi Channel yesterday? It's about a magician who is also a private investigator.

But, did yous see who was sponsoring the show? Yes, the US Army--the military might of the free world. Now that they have changed their motto from "An Army of One" (which made little or no sense) to "Army Strong" ("you make them strong. We make them Army strong". Presumably this is "very strong" or some such), yous could hear the motto in each advert break.

One moment, Harry (that's the magician's name) is getting (soft) tortured by a "skinwalker", the next moment, the US Army is telling you to contact them if "your son or daughter asks about joining...". There were also repeated adverts for a movie coming up on Saturday. Its tagline was "Gryphon: the Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction". How do we combat that, I wonder? Future Army personnel will just have to tune in next week.

4. And in non-TV show news, this goes in the "I was never fond of Qantas" category: "Flight ban for anti-Bush T-shirt". Isn't it ridiculous? Oh, read all the way to the end until you get this:

A Qantas spokesman defended the airline's decision, saying: "Whether made verbally or on a T-shirt, comments with the potential to offend other customers or threaten the security of a Qantas group aircraft will not be tolerated". (my emphasis)

Oh, really? I suppose the bloke was subjected to all the fun stuff we have to go through in airports these days and, yet, is still a security risk because of his bloody t-shirt? Whatever happened to free speech?


songs about missionaries

Friday fun: so few hours, so much action.

Activity 1: people shouting over each other; arguing; saying that they disagreed with one another (and with me); having read stuff and commenting and critiquing it.

No, not a football-watching session at the local pub but, instead, my new class. I'm rather amused by this.

Best bit: "I did IR theory at [very big name uni] and we were never taught of ethics there". Huh. They still have those classes? How do you learn about IR theory without discussing ethics (and not Ethics but ethics)?

Activity 2: Watching someone else eat while whingeing about stuff is more fun than you'd think. Also, there being different levels of lies (but not having to resort to any).

Activity 3: Helping a student with their research proposal (which is going to matter for a a potential overseas research trip) and having them say "Oh, it really helps to talk about this". Yes, well, that's the point of all this, isn't it? At least, I reckon so.

It's still interesting to me to see how some people automatically gravitate towards certain ways of doing research. It's getting them to think about the implications of doing things in a certain way that is also fun.

Activity 4: Being fascinated by the (many many) secret servicemen (yes, well, they were all men) milling about at uni, in order to safeguard ImportantDiplomat. Standing outside the room and making a comment about how a box I was carrying (contents unknown at that point) might contain a bomb*.

Activity 5: Having a discussion about how mechanisms for young people joining environmental movements, gangs and terrorist organisations are all similar. Well, yes. But, in our field, that's a fairly radical claim.

And, finally for today, this: Maoists are now MPs in the Nepali parliament. Why gray uniforms, though? And all that talk about Nepal being a republic. There is still a King, yous know. He's probably plotting something nefarious (as people who are ousted from ruling/want to be in power usually tend to do--do watch Blackadder for further details).

The last line of the article says: "A prerequisite for the vote is peace, and, inch by inch, that is being consolidated" (emphasis added).

Here, "peace" is not something that just happens because of an absence of conflict (especially as its noted earlier in the article that conflicts are ongoing, especially in rural areas) but has to be constructed (and maintained).

That's all for now, folks. Go play with E's concert calendar.

* It had books on social science research methods. Why? I didn't order any (but am keeping them since it's not often I get free books given to me).

hold me down man there ain't no need to mention

1. This just showed up on my Lifehacker feed:


Absolutely brilliant, if you're running iTunes on either a Mac or a PC. Local concerts, pulled out of your library (with a simple hack to add others) and displayed on your Visualizer. It includes hotlinks to the venues and a pop-up system for other groups appearing at a show.

I think I have a new favorite toy. And I predict a jump in our ticket budget in the very near future.

2. Jonathan Coulton has a song about curling ("Curl"). You know how much I love curling, Loyal Reader. He also sings about zombies ("Re: Your Brains"), bacteria, Mandelbrot sets, sci-fi ("Chiron Beta Prime"), and pretzel stand employees ("You Could Be Her").

Go. Go, buy, download, listen.


Thirteen signs?

Apparently someone has rearranged the Zodiac, and I'm no longer a Leo. Instead, I'm supposedly a Cancer.

I can't tell if I'm appalled or amused by that possibility.


help save the youth of America*

Impressions of yesterday's first class:

Yes, once more a mix of seniors (but only 2-3 this time), juniors (the majority), second and first years. Oh, and an additional group too--transfer kids. I have about seven international students, all starting their first semester at TUWSNBN, one of whom asked me what Blackboard was. This is turning into even more of a Nepali village school experience than before. Seriously, after these classes, teaching something like my topic--terrorism or security studies or Southeast Asian history/politics should be like shooting fish in a barrel (though I'm not quite sure why this specific activity is performed).

Did I mention I already have 29 people in the class? 5 did not show up so maybe that means they changed sections? (I live in hope).

But, today, I want to talk to yous about space. Or, more specifically, the division of space. Spatially, this classroom is rather different from my last one. I am not sure how that will play out in terms of getting the kids to interact. I think that groupwork is going to be difficult because it's a smallish classroom, with a big oval-shaped table in the centre. The kids are sat around said table--and some of them are relegated to the outside rim as there are not enough chairs. I walked in right on time and they were all waiting for me, expectantly looking at the door.

Getting back to the space thing. This is a classroom that I myself have been a student in (and TA-d in**) and now I am teaching in it. It's a fairly small space, dominated by the big table in the centre. Both my previous classes had less than 15 students. With twice the number of people, there is no distinct space for me (the instructor) to sit/stand/walk around in. Last semester, I had enough space to stride around, wave my arms, do whatever ridiculous thing I do when teaching. This time, having to sit in between two of my kids with barely elbow room between us is rather too much closeness than I (or they?) need.

Funnily enough (or maybe not so), the small space disallowed what was a common feature in my previous class--kids being sat around in small groups with their friends. Since every chair was utilised (did I mention there was no space for me at first?), little groups could not sit separate from each other. The marginalised ones were those who did not get to sit at the big table and had to range themselves in chairs against the wall. I have to wait and see if the arrangements of who-sits-where shifts through the semester.

I have more to write on this space thing but that'll require a few more observations (and thinking). And, of course, you'll be able to read all about it right here on PTSD.

* Billy Bragg (really, who else did you think would sing this?).

** This included a memorable occasion in which my watching Liverpool play in the BigCup was displayed on the big screen instead of Anthony Giddens discussing the wonders and perils of globalisation. If I were a student, I know which one I'd have preferred to watch.


and so I wished I'd stayed in bed

Today at TUWSNBN:

I realised I'm more invisible than I thought and people think my usual gear (today's version: New Zealand T-shirt and jeans) is somehow dodgy.

On the agenda:

Dye hair orange;
Buy colourful clothes;
Try not to look like a clown;
Difficult but doable? Don't know.

ETA: Printed out 30 copies of my (new and reworked) syllabus, which has a quote from the great DA to start things off. A bit worried that I may never get a (real) job if people-who-might-hire-me see that. Consider whether I should (make/find) an obscure Nepali person to say something very similar instead, thus lending legitimacy to the quote.


This is for your own good.

This is one of the rare times when I say “go buy this” and really mean it. I think you should all go out and buy every one of these songs. But if you need convincing, a small assortment of the songs of Stan Rogers, who is my favorite folk singer ever.

The Starter Pack: The Absolute Essentials

“Band Introductions” (HiH)

and my partner in crime, my friend; he’s also my brother

“Barrett’s Privateers” (FC)

a letter of marque came from the king
to the scummiest vessel I’d ever seen

“Forty-five Years” (FC)

where the earth shows its bones of wind-broken stone
and the sea and the sky are one

“Guysborough Train” (CH)

shattered your temples and i’ve brought on your fall
now i wait for the guysborough train

“The Field Behind the Plow” (NP)

for the good times come and go, but at least there’s rain
so this won’t be barren ground when September rolls around

“Morris Dancers” (HiH)

it works, too, we’ve played this song and impregnated entire audiences

“The Idiot” (NP)

oh i miss the green and the woods and streams and i don’t like cowboy clothes
but i like being free and that makes me and idiot i suppose

“White Squall” (FFW)

now it’s just my luck to have the watch with nothing left to do
but watch the deadly waters glide as we roll north to the soo

“Billy Green” (CH)

and i will tell of things i did when i was just nineteen
i helped defeat the yank invader there can be no doubt

“The Woodbridge Dog Disaster” (CH)

she would wander all day with her duster in hand
she was one of those women who clean where they stand

“Northwest Passage” (NP)

tracing one warm line through a land so wide and savage
and make a northwest passage to the sea

.zip One HERE.

The Starter Pack: Take Another Hit

See? Told you you’d want more. These are a little harder to sell than the first set, but they have their own rewards. Again, make me hapy and go buy this stuff. Buy lots, so that they release more albums and I can go buy them.

“Canol Road” (NP)

sixty-five miles into town and a winter’s thirst to drown
a winter still with two months left to go

“California” (NP)

but can i once taste northern waters then forsake them for the south
to feel California’s ashes in my mouth

“Bluenose” (HiH)

the proud fast queen of the grand banks fleet
portrayed on every dime

“Shriner Cows” (HiH)

i myself was talking to a real live Alberta cowboy. this guy, this guy, he rolled his own, he had stubble all over his face, hadn’t had a haircut in...a long time

“Night Guard” (HiH; studio track on NP)

forty-four’s no age to start again
but the bulls were getting tough and he’s never free of pain

“Flying” (FFW)

i was a third round pick in the nhl
and that’s three years of living in hell

“Take It from Day to Day” (CH)

the icy fog is in my bones
and the ache won’t go away

“Straight and True” (CH)

and if none of this is fancy the love is always straight and true
straight and true, there’s something about it, i can’t live without the coast

“Famous Inside” (CH)

i can almost hear as some of you say
you’d think he’d have more sense at his age

“The Puddler’s Tale” (CH)

they night and day pour out their thunder
as every ingot rolls away a dozen more are split asunder

“Fisherman’s Wharf” (FC)

that i looked from the citadel down to the narrows and asked what it’s coming to
i saw upper canadian concrete and glass right down to the water line

“The Rawdon Hills” (FC)

the grandsons of the mining men scratch the fields among the trees
when the gold played out they were all turned out with granite dusted knees

.zip Two HERE.


for the good times come and go but at least there's rain

Best five things meme answers ever, at Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog.
“King Richard now uses a smal metal rod wyth a cup on its end for to drinken of his soupe, YE MUST ALSO SO DOON OR YE SHALL HAUE YOWER LANDES FORFEIT AND YOWER HANDES CUT OFF.” By Seynt Dawkins, good King Richard ys the gretest creator of memes that ich knowe.
Chaucer was a goth. Why didn't they teach me that in undergrad?

my faith ain't been no friend to me

Not so random, this week. The following are the tracks that have been on repeat on my iPod. The .zip file is here.

“At This Point In My Life” Tracy Chapman New Beginning
“Canol Road” Stan Rogers Northwest Passage
“The Difference” Matchbox Twenty More Than You Think You Are (with hidden track)
“Starve A Fever” The Atomic Fireballs Birth Of The Swerve
“Leash” The Weakerthans Fallow
“Raining in Baltimore” Counting Crows August and Everything After
“Everyone'll Let You Down” The Philosopher Kings The Philosopher Kings
“Borrowed Bride” Old 97's Drag It Up
“Slowly Rising” Soul Asylum The Silver Lining
“Give You Back” Vertical Horizon Everything You Want
“All The Way” Indigo Girls Despite Our Differences
“What If” Coldplay X&Y
“Take The Skinheads Bowling” Camper Van Beethoven
“The Field Behind The Plow” Stan Rogers Northwest Passage

Don't forget to go buy the stuff you like. Coldplay needs your money.


so here I am sitting at the bus stop

To prove that we here at PTSD are nothing if not multidisciplinary (or, as Bertie Wooster would say, adept at flitting from flower to flower), today's post is on food(s):

First, stromboli.*meat, cheese, tomato sauce, veggies, more cheese, all combined together and wrapped up in a brown, bread-like covering. Where had you been my entire life so far, stromboli? Now, I've found you, I shall make frequent trips to acquire you. I shall try you in various guises. I shall savour your yummy goodness. Yes, stromboli, you were once lost from my diet and are now found. No worries, I won't let you go.

Then, these. In caramel. Double-coated. Original. Dark chocos. All flavours. Thank you, World Market. Oh, and thank you for being metro-accessible and having (proper, not bloody Hershey's) Cadbury's Fruit and Nuts. I haven't forgotten your "mix and match six-pack, $1.49/bottle" deal either. I can't believe it took me four years to find you (and you were right nearby!) but I've found you now. I'll keep going to visit you (especially for the Tim Tams), I shall hang outside your doors when they are shut, I shall forlornly peer through the windows if you deny me entry, I shall write haikus in your name and, yes, I shall even sing at/for you. Though, after that, you may well refuse to know me.

Back to regularly-scheduled programming some time soon.

* Thanks to P and M, respectively, for the discoveries.

come home in the evening and have nothing to say

Huh. Well, from the reactions, I guess if this whole phd thing doesn't work out, I can maybe go into t-shirt design.


white unicorn*

PTSD's lessons of life, part Xth

If teaching a class in less than a week's time, you might think preparing for it, emailing your kids, setting up schedules for the librarian and the computer bloke to come talk to them,** making a timetable for the week for yourself, watching loads of clips on YouTube and Guba that you think you may be able to use in the class, writing down the dates for each of the classes on the syllabus, posting your syllabus on Blackboard are good ideas but they are not. Rather, they are all tasks that should be left until the day before your class starts.

Why do I say this, yous ask? Well, I spent most of the past weekend doing the abovementioned tasks. Memories of last-minute panics last semester over the unavailability of the (one and only, or so they told me) librarian capable of talking to undergrads (and having to do the "library session" class myself) and having to teach the kids statistics (again, because of a sad lack of preparation on my part) loomed as large as the (mythical) white unicorn. I sorted everything out, changed dates and times (and readings) on my syllabus and sat back well-pleased at being organised for the first (and probably only) time in my life.

What happened today? I get a call from BigAdministratorPerson (BAP) asking me to teach a different class. Different time. Different days. Different Schedule. Different Kids. Starting in less than a week.

I am taking this as a sign that nothing is meant to be done before the "last possible minute". Nothing. It's enough to make even me believe in karma. Or, maybe, I've been watching too much of Earl.

* I'm assuming this is a bit like a white elephant but even more useless. At least white elephants can be passed off to others.

** Thus giving you much-needed breaks on those days.

look away even for a second

You know those moments, when you can see the train wreck coming, but you can't stop it? This is one of them.

Fantasy IR departments. Like I'm going to be able to stay out of this.

Hat tip: Drezner.


who are you, defenders of the universe

Since E's been talking (writing) about communities and since I'm not supposed to mention The Game (not that I know what happened in said game anyway but I presume it's not the sort of news that is likely to make E a shiny, happy person), I'll give yous this*:

Attack of the Bots: How we're Losing the Cyberwar

A "botnet," which can be made up of millions of "zombie" computers, is becoming the Internet's greatest threat. The year 2006 saw an increase in the use by cyber criminals of software that secretly installs itself on the computers of unwary victims and enslaves the system creating a zombie or "bot" (short for robot). The software repeats its secret installation on thousands or even millions of computer systems that interlink and synchronize their efforts forming a "botnet." The botnet can then be directed by its controller to send out tons of spam email, gather information from enslaved systems or conduct a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and crash a company's or agency's network. All the while, the owners of the "botted" systems are unaware that their computers are contributing to an attack. The "botware" is very sneaky. It can hide itself well so an owner would never know it's there. Many "botkits" include "rootkits" that integrate into a computer's operating system and feed false reports back to anyone examining the system- making everything appear normal. It is not known the extent to which foreign governments may be using the bot technology against the U.S. However, there is evidence that such activity may be taking place. Last spring a program was discovered installed on a foreign coast guard agency's computer that was reporting back to a server in China on shipping manifests and schedules. Current estimates believe that up to 11 percent of the 650 million computer systems attached to the Internet may be infected with bot software. The threat to financial stability and security is real. Recently a computer security researcher intercepted a file generated by a botnet comprised of 793 computers that contained 54,926 log-in credentials and 281 credit-card numbers. Rick Wesson, CEO of Support Intelligence, the computer security company that intercepted the file, said, "We are losing this war badly,” he said. “Even the vendors understand that we are losing the war.” [NYT 7Jan07/Markoff]

* Among various online communities I belong to is one that periodically sends out links about things that are "new" in the counterterrorism world. This was in the latest bulletin (and was flagged by the person who forwards stuff on). Isn't this fun? Communities sharing information (online) about the increasing dangers of "bots"? Any day now, these bots will be taking over the world. Don't say yous were not warned.

if only i don't bend and break

Let's start with the easy one: No, I don't want to talk about the game. Trust me on this, no one from Ohio is going to want to talk about that game. Not until the pain fades, which should be sometime around, oh, 2017 or so. Maybe not even then. We've got long memories.

In all likelihood, the game's not even a popular topic in Florida, because it's January and all of the snowbirds are down there, hanging out on the lanai and Not Talking About The Game.

Right. So that's clear. The game, like RENT, is a taboo topic around here. It makes me cranky, but grateful that my first love is hockey.

That said, Sam Ford has an interesting hypothesis at the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium blog about music communities. I couldn't resist adding my two cents about television fandoms, but it would be great if it turned into wider conversation about fandom and fan community as concepts, and maybe about the differences between f2f and virtual communities.

Those of you not staring down the barrel of a new semester may want to check it out.

[ETA: Oh, and while I'm handing out reading suggestions, go read John Scalzi's latest post.

TAD: I'm fat and I've got sheep on my cover. You might as well just set me on the remainder table right now.

Me: You don't think you might be being a little overdramatic about this.

TAD: Don't patronize me, Mr. Campbell-Cheese-Board-Award.

What? It's damn funny stuff. You'll thank me later.]


Readiness is all

I am, right this moment, sitting next to my lucky buckeye. And eating buckeye candy (made back home, and brought out with us after the holidays) while watching, you guessed it, the Buckeyes. Who started the game very well, but are now doing rather stupid things.

So I have no idea what kind of mood I'm going to be in tomorrow morning. But win or lose, I'm pretty confident that I want to organize a happy hour for later this week. Anybody want to come out and celebrate? Or commiserate?


take back your pieces, take back your pawns

Right, so I'm back. With this, which is clear evidence that I am not good at everything. Not even close.

There is no socially redeeming value to the following.


Elizabeth: Oh my god. Scrapbooking is the stupidest hobby ever. I want to poke my eyes out with these idiotic funny-edged scissors.

Online Person: That would leave distinctive scar marks, wouldn't it? YAY! I am back on my laptop with working wireless. *clings to the wireless and the laptop*
it sounded like you were having some fun there earlier. Was it all alcohol and whee! and politely overlooking the inherent inanity of the scrapbook?

E: You're back!!!!
*bounces with glee*


E: And it was fun when it was just moving the bits of paper around. But now there's cutting and measuring and glue and omg my OCD tendencies + spatial issues = the Seventh circle of housewife HELL.


OP: YES. I like the idea of slapping things down with big messy glue smears and such, but actually attempting the orderly and the pretty is... no.

E: My hobby is SO MUCH better than this.
This? Is like the Stepford hobby.
And, as if that weren't painful enough, the guys are playing ps2 boxing.

OP: *giggles* A LOT.

E: karna is going to bite you on the ass for laughing at my pain.

karma. dammit.


OP: Karna karna karna. I though it was rum and beer? Just what have you been up to tonight?


E: and then there are scissors. these people are insane.

OP: really, it sounds like they might be.
or have evil, evil plans.
they look all normal

E: oh, wait. have to go glue something. brb

OP: and scrapbook-ey.

E: there are popsicle sticks. I can't do this.
Who the fuck ever invented a hobby that involves rubbing paper with popsicle sticks???

OP: chokes to death and misses MJ
do you want to hurt me with your silly popsicle stick habit?

E: oops. karma works fast.

OP: karna

E: right. that.

OP: right.


OP: WHAT THE FUCK are you guys doing rubbing paper with sticks?

E: *is dorkiest girl ever*


E: that's what puts the little words on the page. or are they just messing with me?
they could be just messing with me.
I wouldn't be able to tell.

OP: I am Very Confused. Somebody is messing with somebody.


E: no, really. they have little quotes on plastic, and then they rub it with sticks (only I borke mine) and then the words are on the paper.

OP: Must record this for posterity. And add to t-shirt list: (only I borke mine)
actually, it's making sense now.
that's very... fiddly.


E: "You win at space pirates! (Only, I borke mine.)" \o/


E: I don't understand why anyone would do this for fun. This is like the sort of thing you have to do in detention.

OP: yes. or yet another way to remind you of your imperfections. Am bad at RUBBING.

E: oh god. I think I really did break it. now there are three people trying to get it to stick.

OP: Your crowd seems pretty committed to this project.
That's cool and all.

E: I think it's a gift.
I feel kind of bad.

OP: You just proved you're not suited to this particular task.
That's okay.
you have valuable skills we appreciate elsewhere
Ray, especially.

E: But really, who could possibly think I'd be good at this?


E: I'm only here because they promised me cake and alcohol. Nobody said anything about arts and crafts.



OP: Drunk pics are the best!

E: No drunk pics. Paper pics only.

OP: Drunk pics! Drunk pics!

E: Figured out that my shirt has a deeper v than I thought.

OP: good to know.

E: Do not need to show Teh Internets my bra.

OP: just wait til MJ

E: So paper pics only.

OP: Teh Internets will see bras. And drunk pics. And YAY.

E: But not scrapbooking while drunk. Because that's just *too* embarrassing.

OP: It's important to have standards. *nods*

E: it is.