so much to say, so little time

Two presentations in a day...and then it's all over bar the dancing. Let me continue the PTSD adventures in BNC:

1. My 8.30am panel had more people and more discussion than my panel in the arvo. The panel in the arvo only had three panellists but two discussants.

2. For once, in the afternoon panel, I politely listened to what my discussant had to say and then told them "oh, that was a fantastic reading. But, of course, totally wrong".* That sound? Potential jobs flying out the window.

3. The Doctor as a phallic figure who orders things in the world while women are saved by him. How utterly amusing is that reading?

4. Coffee shop etiquette: someone with more battery power than mine actually gave up their outlet space so I could plug my computer in.

5. Catching up with people I met at last year's ISA. Planning future mischief.

6. Seconding E on the whole "who chooses these hotels w/o free wireless?" view. Who does? Even grumpy old folks probably use wireless, right? Or, maybe, they just don't care about the cost. That's probably it.

7. The place itself is not too postgrad student-friendly. Not at all.

8. At least the weather is living up to it's "windy city" rep.

9. It's only 5.32pm. Who knows what else awaits tonight? I'm planning on exploring this city, now that I'm done with proper ISA-ing. Though I admit to being wary of the talkativeness of Midwesterners.**

* Did I mention my Chair was also in the same panel? Well, he was.

** E is clearly an exception.


In the smoke, in the mud and lead

I’m meant to be doing something else. As usual. In my defense, I do have WWI video tributes playing in the background. I’m trying to find an academic way to say “this is really messed up, but it’s important. Because we do this for war, but not disease. And maybe the reason has something to do with what we (as a species/group/whatever) consider to be important, and what we think we have the ability to control. And that—because I am all about the feedback—impacts what we actually choose to spend resources on.”

Nothing comes to mind, but inspiration better strike pretty damn soon, or else this is going to be the worst conference paper ever.

Anyway. Priya’s gotten the ball rolling, but I’ve got a longer wireless window. So here’s a quick list.

1. Waking up at 4:30 in the morning? Not a good time. Having a conversation with my father before dawn, on a day when NPR is rotating a story through about a suicide bombing and the Vice President? Even less of a good time.

2. I’ve already seen all those Michigan towns. They’re less entertaining when you grow up with them.

3. Interesting people met on the train:

Bob, who is eighty years old, a huge UW fan, and very talkative. He lost his keys in Boston last weekend, so if anybody sees them, please let me know.

He was entertaining, mostly.

Nameless track coach (well, I assume he *has* a name. I just didn’t catch it) whose star player won the US Indoor Track gold medal for the 60 meter dash. He and Bob got along famously. And loudly. For hours. At a very early time of the morning.

NTC is a guy who volunteers with the local high school team, sends money home to his family, and believes that these are both essential things to do. I liked him.

Later in the day, NTC spent rather a lot of time on the phone working out a sponsorship deal with a shoe manufacturer.

Angelina, who looked to be about four, was very cute, and sang the alphabet song approximately 83 times. Bob encouraged her. I imagine it might have been more entertaining without the splitting headache.

4. Why is it that Union Station never has any seven day visitor passes in stock? It’s very annoying to buy a $5 day pass.

One of these days, I’ll remember to pick one up on my way out of town, and avoid this issue. Of course, I’ll then forget to bring it along, and have to buy a day pass anyway.

At least my brain is predictably unpredictable.

5. My fantastic new hairstyle did not survive the trip.

5a. What are the chances of my running into a member of my committee in the five minutes that I’m downstairs, dressed in my inappropriate travel outfit of uniform pants, t-shirt, and shitkickers?

Yeah. Wouldn’t think it would be that high, would you?

5b. What are the chances of my having to talk about my lack of progress on the diss before I even get a chance to open my suitcase?

Yep. It’s going to be one of those weeks.

6. Pay wireless. Who picks these stupid hotels?

7. I’m not hungry enough to go back outside and find somewhere to eat. Nor am I worried enough to really get started on the revisions my remaining papers need.

I lose at being an academic.

but, really, there's not much wind (so far)

Following E's lead:

1. Have got bum burn after sitting on a seat for nearly 24 hours for the train trip up from Washington. Due to a derailment, we were 8 hours behind schedule. The good part? I got to see Michigan--Ann Arbor, Jackson and a fantastic-sounding city called "Kalamazoo".

2. Have decided everyone from E's hometown are what may politely be called "eccentric". This was after spending much of said 24 hours learning how to play poker from a kid who was well-versed in Doctor Who and BSG and could have debates about "the UNIT episodes" of the Doctor.

3. Poker is fun, especially when you start winning.

4. People from Wisconsin rival those from E's hometown in eccentricity. As do those from Northern Australia. By 4am on Monday, the poker group had expanded to a fisheries bloke from Madison and two little old ladies from North Queensland (less than an hour from where I went to undergrad!) who called themselves "the gray nomads". I still won.

5. There's a rock, paper, scissors competition planned among various TUWSNBN uni students. The prize is being selected for some conference at which the winner may get to go. I am planning on cheating. But, how does one cheat in rock, paper, scissors? Any ideas?

6. The BNC hotel doesn't have free wireless. Who decides upon these things? How can you not have wireless?

7. I have two presentations tomorrow and have not actually prepared for either one. I'm still on a poker high.

8. Train memories: the bridge outside E's hometown, all lit up; the pink-coloured "exotic dancing and all live nude peep show" shacks dotting the midwest; Kalamazoo; the Kelloggs factory; the Ford factory, with its many foreign flags, looking rather like a United Nations building; Harper's Ferry; and finally getting into Chicago.

9. Realising, after many hours, that E and I were on the sametrain.

More later (including news of dinner at this fun "blues bar" and being chatted to by a lovely older gent on my first few minutes in the Windy City (and having E comment "oh, all Midwesterners are friendly).

My wireless minutes are almost up.

Actually, I know why they call it the Windy City.

1. Have managed to fit eight days worth of stuff, including various dvds and books, into a small suitcase, a neon green duffle, and my laptop case.

2. Have used my sister's favorite t-shirt to make my computer all shiny and clean.

3. Have updated my hostel reservations to make space for my mum, who has decided to join me for the weekend. (She will use any excuse possible to spend time in Chicago. Much like me.)

4. Have gotten out clothing to wear on the train. Decided on head-kicking boots, for obvious reasons.

5. Have finished one paper, almost finished two more, and given one up as a lost cause for which an outline and a poster will have to be sufficient.

6. Have caught up with rss feeds. Feel like I'm bailing a rowboat using a spoon. May need to edit the subscriptions.

7. Have charged various things that need charging, read various things that need reading, and reserved various things that need reserving.

8. Have gotten a cool new haircut, a pair of great earrings, my great-grandmother's costume pearls, and a very nifty heirloom ring (about which there is A Story) from my mother. Am well equipped to be funky and bohemian while wandering the city this week.

9. Have plans to revisit old haunts (Lincoln Square, Unabridged Books, Rogers Park, the Green Mill, and the Art Institute) when not sitting in panels or the hotel bar. Shall not be eating in any overpriced tourist establishments.

10. Have already seen all of the Chicago Top Ten Attractions. Have also seen the next 15 on the list. And most of the following 20.

Suspect that I am not the intended audience for such things.

11. Shall be rooming with Fantastic Fellow Grad Student and sundry others. Shall be drinking with many other academics.

Shall also, at some point, give three presentations and a poster session. And sleep. Maybe.

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wish i had myself one of these

Because I'm writing about science fiction and world politics.
Because I'm wondering if my train tomorrow will actually operate on time.
Because it's rather amusing how all these are from science fiction/fantasy novels.

Here's a list of "10 Great Gadgets in Fiction"

I'd almost forgotten "the mechanical hound"--that thing terrified me when I first read the book.


the best laid schemes of mice and (wo)men...*

Last semester, as I'm sure all of yous who have been following PTSD's journey through time and space remember, I taught a section of the same class I'm teaching now. Last semester's version of today's class--the one in which the students get to go to a "lab" and practice SPSS**-- was almost a disaster. There was no lab reservation made*** and no one to talk the students through SPSS-ing. At the last possible moment, probably feeling sorry for my panic, the head bloke of the lab came over and did the session. It turned out to be brilliant--fun, easy to follow and I have a sneaking suspicion that is why I ended up with nearly 1/3 of the kids using stats for their final projects.

This time around, I was prepared. I called and reconfirmed the lab reservation on Monday and once again yesterday. I made sure we had someone to talk to the students and went and talked to her yesterday. We discussed fun stats stuff and I made sure she knew what we were going to cover and what we had talked of in class. Finally, I went and checked out the room, called the AV folks to set up the projector and then only relaxed enough to panic about my BNC papers. This morning, I made sure the Instructor was in, called AV again to make sure everything was ready in the room and went off and got myself a cup of coffee.

At 12.40pm this afternoon, there was no sign of the instructor, half my class was missing and none of the telephones in the building appeared to work. The class was to start at 12.45pm. Finally, the instructor came by and we were all ready to go SPSS-ing but then the projector failed to work. We called the AV folks but to no avail. I was told, very apologetically, that the person who had checked the projector had seen a (quite helpful and very comforting, unless one actually tried to get the thing to work) sign on the table saying "This machine is working properly" and had not actually bothered to confirm whether that was the case.

Ah, the simple trusting nature of youth! The power of words!! I just wish the youth had chosen to exhibit their well-documented cynical disdain for signs posted by authority and, you know, tested the machine but, no, that had not been the case. This young person had wandered in, connected the cables, looked at the sign and wandered off in happy certainty that the projector was working. "It said so," was the response I got when I asked what had gone wrong.

In the end, I think it turned out okay. The projector still didn't work and there were no spare ones to be had. But, the Instructor was brilliant and walked around instructing students as instructors tend to do (but often don't succeed very well). I helped out as much as I could, while also getting a bit shirty at the young people who kept running in and out of the classroom and telling each other that, yes, the projector did not work. The students were alternatively amused (I hope) and horrified at having to follow vocal directions with nothing to look at on the big screen.

Next week, I am off on my train trek up to the northwest while someonenotme takes over my class. I'm rather keen on knowing how that will go. I'd recommend not planning much since planning is often overrated.

* Yes, it has not escaped my attention that I have moved from an IRA song to Robert Burns.

** Yup, stats-in-a-day. If they are fascinated by it, they can go learn more (and even take classes on it).

*** I had made a reservation but it was "accidentally dropped" from the system. Rather like a bad-smelling pear actually.


I've got a brand new shiny helmet and a pair of kinky boots

BNC awaits next week. In the meantime, both E and I are frantically finishing our papers.

I had a bit of an enforced break for the past 24 hours or so because of a very important reason. Two of my fingers of my left hand were glued together, making it fairly difficult to type.*

Let me walk yous through how that happened:

1. I realise that the two pairs of boots I own are both falling apart.
2. I go to the shops to try find the same styles. I become unsuccessful.
3. I buy the strongest type of glue.
4. I use it liberally on my boots.
5. I realise my fingers are now stuck to one of the boots. The "hold for 30 seconds" does not apply to fingers being in the vicinity of the glued object.
6. I have to cut out part of the boot to free my hand.
7. As suggested by the manufacturer, I use "soap and warm water" to try remove the glue. It doesn't work.
8. I end up with two fingers stuck together, pieces of leather and cloth attached to the back of said fingers and a large area of skin removed from my thumb. It is not pretty. I would attach a picture to this post but I fear that may not be safe for your tender eyes.
9. I am teaching tomorrow and BNC is next week. I do hope skin grows back quickly.
10. Hopefully, the boots will be wearable next week.

Take care, dear PTSD readers. It's a dangerous world we live in.

* I wonder if discussants and fellow panel members will take this as proof of why I am delaying sending them my papers?


and now for something a bit different

I just read this over on (what else?) BBC Online: "Australian anger at flag controls".

Organisers of the Big Day Out music festival have requested fans not to bring the Australian flag to the event.

This has led to controversy.

Prime Minister Howard has said that the organisers "should not ram their peculiar political views down the throats of young Australians".

The organisers are saying they do not want the Australian flag used as "gang colours" and are concerned about potential "agressive use" of the flag. They fear "racism disguised as patriotism".

Same flag, different uses and different ways of understanding its role in Australian society. But note what is not getting mention amongst all this--the organisers requested people not to bring the flag. Requested. That's all. And that becomes, in the words of the head of the state, a "peculiar political view".

who is the Doctor?

Not me, apparently.

You scored as The Master. You are the Master. You have tremendous appreciative skills but are a loner. You have amazing powers to get what you want. You trust control far more than you trust personal freedom, except when it comes to yourself. You insist on total autonomy for yourself.

The Master


Sgt. Benton


Captain Mike Yates


Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart


Jo Grant


Doctor Who (Third Doctor)


Which Doctor Who Character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com



a bit of magic would be useful for BNC

I spent some time this afternoon, in-between bouts of panic over the non existence of a BigNameConference paper and coughing up what seemed like a significant portion of my lungs, checking out the BigNameConference schedule.

There's one panel which seems like it pretty much does my dissertating for me. Of course, it's at the same time as one of my presentations.

Perhaps the Ministry of Magic has a time-turner on hand?*

ETA: to change title of the post since I was (rather strongly) informed that "Harry Potter is not sci-fi". Policing of disciplinary and genre boundaries by everyday folk. SuperF would have been pleased.

* The potential of PTSD becoming even more frivolous in the upcoming couple of weeks is high. Be warned.


ditties from the edge of the world

Friday round-up:

- I (accidentally) returned a library book from the TUWSNBN library to my local (public) library. Public library people then said they didn't have said book. I had to go buy a new one.

All fine, yous might say. Well, the book I misplaced (mis-returned?) was this. Batman: Year One.

Ideally, when one is on file as "faculty" for the TUWSNBN library, one would not like to have conversations about Batman.

Ideally, if one had to lose a library book, one would lose Geertz. Or, Keohane and Nye.

- I have about half of one of my papers for Big Name Conference written. The problem is that said half is rather repetitious. I need help. So, I'm going to tell yous about it. Here. Now.

It's about Doctor Who and security. I'm making the case that two characters of Doctor Who, what happens to them and how they change through the series, exemplify two ways of dealing with insecurity and question our traditional understandings of violence.

The two characters? Margaret Blaine and Harriet Jones. Both female. Both single (as far as we know). One alien. One human.

So far, I've written about traditional views of security and dealing with others, with "aliens" and how this gets played with in the Jones and Sloane storylines.

The problem: Well, so what? It's hardly anything new or different, is it? Do I really think I can carry off a 15-minute presentation on this (fairly lean) premise? What does it matter? Why should we (yous) care?

What's the point of all this, then?

Ideally, I should have written about Blake's 7, ensuring my utter rejection from the world of "normal" academia and also ensuring that practically no one in the audience would know of what I spoke.

- Also, I have been getting a few emails thanking me for taking the time to talk to some of my students about their topics. Rather odd, that, as I'm being thanked for doing what is essentially my job.

Ideally, they'd not whinge about their grades and wouldn't think they had to thank me for talking to them. Ideally, they'd talk to me before doing anything.

- Oh, and since it's Friday and I'm about to be homeless, I spent money buying a ticket for this. Carbon Leaf, Emmet Swimming, Flogging Molly and at RFK. Not bad for $15.

Ideally, finding a space to kip on, starting next month, will be as easy.


i'm the leader of the Liberator*

Continuing our recent trend of sharing YouTube videos with yous, here's something that raised my spirits**

A Blake's 7*** and Monty Python mash-up. Sort of.

* Lyrics here.

**Which definitely needed raising after finding out that I shall soon have to vacate my place of residence. Actually, make that "very soon". PTSD readers who fancy a fairly quiet, slightly odd and yet mostly harmless postgrad student camping in your basement, email me.

***Not quite sure if American audiences got Blake's 7? If yous didn't, do have a look at it since it was pretty good camp fun. Their ship was called "the Liberator" and was usually anything but. Also the (usual) cheap and yet effective BBC set designs and all those lovely hairdos. Who link? Created by Terry Nation, of creator-of-Daleks fame.

For the record...

I didn't *want* to switch to the new Blogger. And I'm pretty pissed at being forced (yes, forced) to do so. I'm also pissed that, until I did, Priya was locked out of posting.

If I weren't in the middle of conference prep (and basically a lazy blogger) we'd have moved it completely.

I'm pretty annoyed at Flickr, too. For what it's worth. If I wanted to use my yahoo account, which is generally pretty worthless, I would.

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the distance from A to where you'd be

1) I think I'm going to use last night's BSG as a teaching tool next summer. Students like that sort of thing, right? Maybe it could be a hypothetical situation for a class exercise.

2) I'm working on paper #3 today (this would be on memory and war, for those of you keeping score at home) and as part of that have been trolling around the internet getting a feel for what sort of information is readily available. Some ninety years after the Zimmerman Telegram, it's possible to find WWI fanvids on youtube.

As a researcher, I find this fascinating and exciting and a wonderful use of technology to preserve history. It's exactly the sort of thing that sites like youtube can do which traditional information sources can't. It's brilliant.

As an academic I'm miffed that the BNC doesn't offer A/V equipment, because this (and another video, which I like even more but which lacks a lot of the explanatory notes that people who don't already know the conflict need to understand *why* it's so interesting) would be absolutely perfect as part of my presentation.

As a person, I'm waffling between intrigued and appalled.


between the news and you

No, I don't have any news story to link to though I'm hoping E puts up another YouTube video in lieu of either of us having to post something coherent.

-- My excuse? Well, my hair's gone from a (self perpetuated) mullet to a (professionally-assisted) altar boy hairstyle.* It's enough to drive a girl to go off in search of a cap to hide under until hair grows to a length that is not 0.5 inches.

-- I got the evaluations for the Fall 2006 class I taught. I've actually not looked at the "narrative" comments but the non-narrative (shading boxes) version seems to fit in with my own evaluation. Unfortunately, I changed the class (structure and teaching style) based on my past class and this class seems to be quite different. More talkative, keener to argue, cheekier, and with a few students older than I am.**

-- Then, as E pointed out, there's Big Name Conference coming up. So far, the discussant has dropped out of one of my panels,*** I'm frantically trying to write/clean up the two papers I am supposed to present, I have nowhere to stay for 3 out of 4 nights (nothing new there) and am wondering why I didn't just propose to present my dissertation chapter draft instead of whatever it is I am supposed to be doing.

On the plus side, I've managed to beg ABloggingProf to take over one of my classes so I can take the civilised mode of transportation up to Big Name Conference City. Yes, before yous ask, it's 17.5 hours each way.

* Both styles are dire warnings about what is likely to happen if you are a) pratically blind without glasses and b) tell yourself (or your haircutter) that "I only want to see the result". 0.5 inch-long hair. I kid you not.

** I've got a post about teaching students whose first language is not English lined up. Just after that female constructivist post.

*** I wonder if that means I can finish up my paper on the train journey up? After all, if there is no discussant, I don't need to submit the paper early, right?


waking up to the sound

Content? What is this content of which you speak? Don't you people realize that the Big Name Conference is at the end of this month, and I have somehow ended up with four papers to write?

Content. Honestly. The internet is such a demanding place.

Still, because I do believe that you deserve something in the way of entertainment, Loyal Reader, I bring another YouTube clip. This time, it's the Barenaked Ladies, who are not Stan Rogers or the Headstones, but who are quite awesome in their own right. And they think DRM is stupid, which would make me love them even if I didn't spend my teenage years smuggling boxes of mac & cheese into clubs.

I suspect you had to be there to understand why that last bit was funny. Anyway. A video by BNL, made up almost entirely of videos made by people who are not BNL.


ferry across the mersey

Today's news analysis is about this: Liverpool football club has been taken over by "American tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks".

Now, I'm well aware that the number of PTSD readers even vaguely interested in this is probably in the 0-2 range but since I am the one typing stuff out, yous will have to bear with me.

What's interesting about this? Well, originally, DIC, a firm based in Dubai, were expected to take over Liverpool. They had based their bid on being life-long Liverpool fans, having watched matches since young* and had a potentially larger bid (from what I can gather).

DIC, Dubai International Capital, is the "investment arm of the Dubai government". Those of you who read (extremely boring) news about US security, will probably know that DIC also owns the Doncaster Group, which operates various U.S. industries that build various ship and plane parts for the US defence industry.

However, DIC were rejected ("pulled out", being the official version) and two American sports "tycoons"--the owners of the Dallas Stars and the Montral Canadiens ice hockey teams--have now taken over Liverpool.

Their bid wasn't based on being fans of Liverpool. In fact, one of their original plans had been to (possibly) get Liverpool and Everton** to groundshare! They didn't talk about their love for Liverpool (though there was a lot of discussion about "traditions" and "heritage" after the takeover bid had been accepted). Instead, during and even after the takeover process, Gillett and Hicks*** discussed investments and talked of their being good managers and administrators of sports teams.

Fair enough, I suppose. Now, we'll have to wait and see how (if?) things change. In my view, Xavi Alonso and Steve Finnan mooonlighting as cheerleaders (with pompoms!) or even beating up a few of those posh gits from Chelsea in true NHL-style wouldn't be half bad.

* South/Southeast Asia and the UAE region get almost all the same channels--courtesy of Rupert Murdoch and Star TV. Among various ESPNs and local channels (e.g. local Thai channels show English Premiership football. Or, they used to), you can pretty much watch footy every day of the week, all week. Add BBC World Service's "Sports Round-up" and Saturday night sports schedule, football is always on.

** For the non-footy fans, this would be like getting (from my meagre understanding of College Football), Michigan and Ohio State to share the same ground.

*** As the BBC article points out, this is apparently the first time rival owners in one sport (ice hockey) are joint owners of a team in another.


You don't frighten us, English pig-dogs!

I am literally snorting with glee, here. Because a mashup of Doctor Who and Monty Python? It's like Priya and I doing a conference paper together. Only funny.

Hat tip: boing boing.

"They're all dead because of you!"
"Oh yes, it's very nice."

southern skies, southern skies shrink my world

So here’s the thing. I try to limit the number of shows I see, because of things like rent and food and, you know, the whole research and writing issue. One, maybe two a month. Sometimes less.

But it looks like I won’t be going to anything in February, because there are four (FOUR!) great shows coming to the DC area in March. Four shows, three of them at Jammin’ Java in Vienna. One at the National Cathedral, which is my favorite place in DC. March is going to be a very good month. Expensive, but good.

So. I know *I’m* going to all of these concerts. I somehow doubt that S will be up for this many shows, though, so I’m trying to find out if people want to go with me. The shows I’m planning to attend are:

Peter Mulvey (March 6, at Jammin’ Java, $10)

Jonathan Coulton (March 11, at Jammin’ Java, $15)

Ron Sexsmith (March 14, at Jammin’ Java, $12, CD release)

Bruce Cockburn!!!!! (March 23, at the National Cathedral. Don’t know how much it costs, don’t really care. Bruce Cockburn, people.)

I probably ought to put in links and stuff. But it’s Saturday, and I’m lazy. Google is your friend.


casually dressed and deep in conversation...

about (what else?) the Welsh school of security studies.*

At the last (joint) PTSD outing, there was some discussion about how people categorising each other into "isms" is problematic. But, how about Schools? I reckon we should start taking applications for "The PTSD School".

* So far, it seems to include a grand total of 5 people. Maybe they can invite the Torchwood folks to join up.