Thursday, 31 January 2008

The Worst of CNN

I've made cracks about these before, but Gawker has compiled a best-of list of's dumbest or most terrible headlines. They're here, but please don't read them if you're at work, as I actually couldn't stop laughing and I think my neighbors thought I was crying.

UPDATE: I swear I didn't plan this.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Mama's Boy

So maybe it's sad that I escape from my soul-crushing workload by planning my actual escape in March and April, but my mom just called to say that she's going to fly to Boston for two days to hang out and see David's show when it opens. I thought my vacation couldn't get any better, but now it looks like I'll be reliving my fond memories of the Marriott in Kendall Square, where I once happily ate an entire tub of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food while watching Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn in the Banger Sisters on Pay-Per-View after trying unsuccessfully to get the rest of my friends on the trip to go gay clubbing with me at the tender age of seventeen. Will my mom cave under the peer pressure? Stay tuned!!

Oh, OH!

I just sent off the first of the two essays, and made the mistake of saying, "we're halfway there!" which means that I'll now have "Living on a Prayer" stuck in my head on a loop for the rest of the day.

Third Degree Burns Night

I still haven't had to pull an all-nighter - which is admittedly kind of pointless when your assignments are all due at 5pm and you'd just pass out on your desk during the daytime - but yesterday was my first late-nighter, where I stayed up until about 4am refreshing results from the Florida primary and working on both of the two (!!) essays that I'm supposed to send off tonight. I meant to do all of this on Monday, but Monday was Burns Night, where everyone celebrated the legacy of Robert Burns by drinking port, going to dinner and eating lamb and haggis, and then drinking whiskey and doing some Scottish dancing. I actually kind of liked haggis, which is maybe unsuprising because my only innard-related point of reference was tripe, and tripe isn't especially hard to beat. (Also, the dessert was like oatmeal with whiskey in it, and everyone was like, what the fuck kind of dessert is this, and I was like, oh, I know, but basically inhaled it because I think oatmeal is one of the best things ever and it certainly doesn't hurt to throw whiskey into it. I've hypothesized that this is true of all breakfast foods, but I haven't tested it yet. Yet.) And Scottish dancing was awesome, despite the fact that a) I can't dance and b) I'm permanently deaf after standing directly behind a bagpipe in a stairwell, which I wouldn't recommend trying. Plus, I got to eat dinner with Nikki, R. Dave, and Sarah, who I've barely seen since the insanity that is this term began, and then Debs and Erika and the rest of the gang showed up for the celidh afterwards. Who wants to go write an essay after that? Anyway, I got back mid-morning with a carton of eggs and a thing of coffee (and looking very much like hell) and surveyed my desk and was like, whoops, better get cracking. So I went and made an omelet, but then I did get cracking. And twenty-four hours later, I'm within spitting distance of the finish line and fairly buzzed on adrenaline and coffee.

(Sadly, you can't say the same for Rudy Giuliani, but so it goes.)

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Still Bill

I read this article on Politico this morning about how Democrats in Washington are backlashing against Bill Clinton's behavior over the past two weeks, and I noticed a couple of things:

1. I had totally forgotten that my senator, Kent Conrad, endorsed Obama like twenty years ago.
2. I'm with the author's wife; I'm voting for Obama in the primaries because I think the Clintons basically answered his (occasionally overstated) criticisms of divisive and off-putting politics-as-usual by demonstrating precisely how divisive and off-putting politics-as-usual can be. Congratulations, my demographic. You win.
3. All of this confirms my growing suspicion that I like the Clintons best when they're not on top and they're humanized, whether this is Bill Clinton talking about disaster relief or Hillary Clinton on the stump post-Iowa and pre-New Hampshire. They're awesome then.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Subject and Object of the Gays

I was trying to think of a way to go as the subject and object of the gaze, so I went as Narcissus to the Orientalism party. If I ever decide to replicate the costume, I'll probably bring a mirror instead of just wearing a see-through shirt, tight pants, and an ivy laurel and hoping beyond hope that people just intuitively get it. (Like, really, I could have just been going as a gay man cruising in Central Park circa 1985. In retrospect, that also would have fit my subject/object criteria, and I could have used a species of leaves that don't require scaling the side of a bridge and hacking away with a scissors. Meh, hindsight is 20/20.)


I was walking home a couple of nights ago and I was like, whoa, there's a kebab van outside of our dorm - which is awesome, because we live kind of outside of the city, and nothing ever happens out here, and how great would it be if I could just pop out of my room and get chips and kebabs at 2am? It'd be great! Anyway, it turns out it wasn't a kebab van. It was an ambulance.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Good Morning, Good Morning

"How late were you out? You look rough."
"I got back around 3. What happened to your face?"
"Mmm, I straight-ironed it by accident."

Friday, 25 January 2008

Speaking of Mickey Rooney...

I don't know how I get myself into these messes, but I've got to go to London twice in the next three days on top of my regrettably overambitious workload this weekend. Eep. With all of that on my plate, I haven't had time to prepare a costume in keeping with an Orientalism theme. The suggestion is to come as 'your favorite Orientalist or Orientalized, colonist or colonized, subject or object of the Gaze,' and thanks to shortsighted college students around the United States (and Prince Harry), I've ruled out:

- any easily caricatured racial or ethnic minority
- victims of hate crimes, terrorist attacks, or ethnic violence
- Nazis
- Steve Irwin

(Preemptively, I'm also going to rule out Cecil Rhodes.) I was thinking of going as an anthropologist, since a lot of us spent the early 1900s traipsing around the Global South in various shades of khaki and I'm currently knee-deep in one of Sherry Ortner's articles on Orientalism and mountaineering in Tibet, but a) that's a cop out and b) I don't own a pith helmet. I spend all of my time nowadays thinking about the colonized Other, and now it's go time and I'm completely drawing a blank. I wish Laura Mulvey had some kind of Bat Signal I could flash in the air for suggestions.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Melissa Etheridge Strikes Again

I don't know how this isn't making waves, but Al Gore totally just said he's all for same-sex marriage. Al Gore, or, as I like to call him, The Patron Saint of Awesome. He looks a lot like my dad, which I find thrilling but my dad kind of hates.

The Fall of Capitalism

Maybe this is a really sick thing for an banker's son to joke about, but ever since it started looking like we're headed toward a global recession, Erika and I check the BBC every afternoon at 1pm while we're eating soup to see if capitalism has collapsed yet. It hasn't (we'll check again tomorrow!), but while we were batting about the idea of starting a communist syndicate to roam the street getting into altercations with fascist gangs, I found this article by Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian that I felt I needed to share. The depressingly accurate takeaway paragraph:

"If the market economy is looking peaky, then its accompanying free market ideology should be on life support. Behold the hypocrisy. The free marketeers have spent the past two decades preaching against the evils of state intervention, the dead hand of government, the need to roll back the frontiers, and so on. Yet what happens when these buccaneers of unfettered capitalism run into trouble? They go running to the nanny state they so deplore, sob into her lap and beg for help. The results of their own greed - 'exuberance', they call it - and incompetence have caused more than 100 substantial banking crises over the past 30 years, yet time and again it is the reviled state which answers the call for help. Four times in this period, the authorities have had to rescue crucial parts of the US financial setup. If the banks make money, they get to keep it. The moment they look like losing it, we have to cough up. In Wolf's brilliant summary: 'No industry has a comparable talent for privatising gains and socialising losses.'"

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

I Can't Leave

As if to confirm that I should be chained to my desk, I returned early from my weekly night of bartending for the gays to find that Heath Ledger is dead, Fred Thompson has dropped out of the presidential race, and nobody has finished my essay for me. We live in a very cruel world.

Slow Down, Please?

At the end of Michelmas Term, I remember saying that I was going to go out less and get my work done, but I think I overcompensated. The bare minimum for every week was supposed to be Orchestrated Fun Night, where I bartend and then go out to PopTartz and go clubbing, and I've got an essay due tomorrow that's going to make me 0 for 2. It might let up after I get rid of an article this weekend, buy all of my plane tickets for Easter and stop wasting obscene amounts of time surfing Orbitz, and finish one of my two essays for my option course this term. Then again, maybe that won't happen at all. I'm having a lot of haggis and whiskey at Burns Night on Monday, and I think my BFF and I are walking through a bunch of meadows and going to a pub on Saturday for a nice, relaxing break. And I'm nearly positive that I'll have a week or two off in September, although that's not really that reassuring.

At Least It's Not Snakes

So the shred of sociability I still have this term (after biting off way more than I can chew) was being preserved by doing my work in the computer lab at night, where I could still theoretically pop into the TV room and see people or watch an episode of something before getting back to work. Except now, thanks to the flooding, there are hundreds of river rats from the Thames that have been displaced and swarm around the grounds bumping into the glass wall of the computer lab. I can't handle this, so I think I'll be doing work in my room until the river goes down a bit or until we invest in a cat or a lion or something. (They're big rats.)

Sunday, 20 January 2008

After the Queer Studies Circle

R: "So then they tacked on gender and sexuality, and it became 'Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.'"
B: "Do you think it'll become 'Women, Men, Gender, and Sexuality Studies'?"
R: "Yeah, just before 'Everyone Studies.'"
M: "I love postmodernism. We should just get degrees in 'Studies.'"

Friday, 18 January 2008

The Bus to London Mix Tape

I realized today that in the many, many mostly-British songs that I added to my iPod in December, there's an extraordinarily high number of covers that aren't necessarily good but are by good bands covering other good bands. If you want to assemble it yourself, this is the mix that I'll be listening to on the way to London:

Walking with a Ghost (Tegan and Sara) by the White Stripes
Love Machine (Girls Aloud) by the Arctic Monkeys
Take Me Out (Franz Ferdinand) by Scissor Sisters
Heart of Glass (Blondie) by Nouvelle Vague
L-O-V-E (Nat King Cole) by Joss Stone
Will You Love Me Tomorrow (The Shirelles) by Amy Winehouse
Mrs. Robinson (Simon & Garfunkel) by The Lemonheads

If you'll excuse me, I need to rapidly throw a bottle of wine and a change of underwear into a bag and catch my bus.

And Away We Go

I really shouldn't be going to London tonight. A friend is having his birthday party there, so I'm literally racing out of my departmental seminar, hopping on a bus to London, celebrating and spending the night, and then hightailing it back to Oxford so I can make it to the law library before it closes in the afternoon. It's actually not that logistically complicated, but it is sort of dumb when I step back and think about the time it takes to get there relative to the brevity of the trip. Meh, dumb is my middle name.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

And Preferably Not on Virgin Atlantic

Okay, world travellers, I have a really weird favor to ask. I need to get from London to Mexico City for about a week at the end of March for as cheaply as humanly possible. Suggestions? I'll fly in a cargo hold if it comes to that. I'm not in any sort of legal trouble, I just need to flee to Mexico. You know how it is.

Big Brother Is Appalled By My Work Ethic

According to the Times, Microsoft has filed a terrifying patent application for software that would use wireless sensors to monitor an employee's "heart rate, galvanic skin response, EMG, brain signals, respiration rate, body temperature, movement facial movements, facial expressions and blood pressure" and notify employers about their productivity, stress, and well-being. How scary is that? If that system existed ten years ago, there is no way that I'd have been admitted to any sort of academic or professional program, because I possess the attention span of a five year old and maintain a stress level that could very possibly kill a lesser person. The upside to all of this is that I'm probably not at risk from any sort of monitoring system, because I would very likely crash it.

Radicalism, Juniper Berries, Productivity, and Me

Despite the fact that it was pouring rain and I got drenched and only had time to eat a stack of rice cakes and a raw carrot for dinner after the Sheila Rowbotham lecture, LGBTSoc drinks were a ton of fun. Milos kept exclaiming things about "the pie" and I'm 99% sure that I'm the only person in the room who understood the reference (and I can't believe I did), and I learned (again) that vodka is made from potatoes. (I think I've actually learned this about a half-dozen times, but I'm reliably surprised every time someone tells me.) I got to bartend, too, which was nice after the room got so packed that the only place with breathing room was behind the bar. (Also, I apologize to everyone who got gin and lemonades instead of gin and tonic, but you should all write angry letters to Schweppes because they could really do a better job of making the bottles distinct. I'm just saying.) I didn't get to go clubbing, because after responsibly stowing all of the booze, I got to the club when they were already at capacity and I wasn't in the mood to wait on a damp street until it emptied out. Instead, I went home and climbed into bed, where I fell asleep and woke up bright and early to tackle my list of assignments. Because this is so rare, I should point out that I'm solidly on top of things so far this term. Today, I turned in my essay at 10am - a whole seven hours before it's actually due - and now I'm finishing an article that I've been slowly finishing for, oh, about a year now. I might actually get it done by tonight to send off for final edits by all sorts of activists and former professors and other people who actually know more about South Africa than I do. Then, to celebrate, I'm going to take another one of those tranquilizers. Academia is fun!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

What Not to Do

I don't think I realized how exhausted I actually was after a week of insomniatic nights and half-assed naps, but then I realized yesterday night that I had just read twenty pages and had literally no idea what they were about. So even though it was only about 9:30, I popped a sleeping pill, waited for twenty minutes, and slept like a corpse until Tegan and Sara's "Wake Up Exhausted" blasted out of my laptop at 7:30 in the morning. I felt infinitely better, but I think I was still dragging when I went to a lecture to see if it would be any good and ended up stuck in an intimate, two hour small-group seminar with the cognitive and evolutionary anthropologists. It was actually really interesting, and if I didn't already have a thousand pages of reading every week, I'd probably keep going, but this morning I was basically dying quietly in a corner but couldn't leave because it would have been rude. Instead, I waited patiently, frantically changed into track pants, and went to the gym for my induction, where my exhaustion meant that a) I looked ridiculous on the exercise balls as I tried to pull myself up and sort of rolled away, and b) I developed a crush on my trainer. These things don't happen when I've got my guard up.

You'd think that I'd be eager to pop another pill and get my sleep cycle in order, but you would be wrong, because I'm signed up to bartend tonight. My life is like a Choose Your Own Adventure, only you have to choose between taking nips from a bottle of gin and going clubbing or popping an antihistamine and collapsing into bed. Or both, but then you turn to page 97 and die and you're not able to get up in the morning and act like an idiot at the gym.

Monday, 14 January 2008

The Eastern European Light at the End of the Tunnel

I just used the phrase "our big Croatian vacation," and I plan to use it every day until Emma and I leave in April. Remember when we went to San Francisco and I outperformed Emma at the lesbian bar by drinking beer and shooting pool and curbing my urge to play Kelly Clarkson on the jukebox? It's going to be just like that, except instead of spending our days walking around the Mission and eating sushi, we're going to be hiking up the Dalmatian Coast.

Oh, right. Emma and I are tentatively planning to vacation in Croatia, and also Slovenia because I'm being difficult. I plan to take a ridiculous amount of pictures.

The American Way

Today was the first day of term, which felt a little anticlimactic since I don't actually have anything going on on Mondays. But I still got up bright and early and got ready, then plunked down in front of my desk and found myself totally unable to fire up for the beginning of term. It didn't feel like a new start, it felt like a morning at my desk. So instead of diving into lectures, I decided to dive into virtually everything else I had to do around campus.

I hadn't necessarily planned on this, but I impulsively joined a gym and paid for two months worth of my membership. I stopped by the post office and bought stamps, so I can finally defer my loans and send in my forms to vote absentee from North Dakota. I went to Boots, where I triumphantly left with sleep medication after reassuring the cashier that I didn't have liver problems, and I wasn't addicted to sleeping pills, and that I wasn't going to use it to start a meth lab in my wardrobe. (Typically, I think a doctor is supposed to screen you for these things, but the important part is that I got the drugs. And she suggested herbal supplements to try first, and I was like, ma'am, I don't want root extracts and I don't want plant fibers and I definitely don't want aromatherapy for my pillow. I want synthetic drugs that would knock a horse unconscious.) I bought a can of soup to crack open for lunch, then went next door to Borders and got a cup of coffee at Starbucks. And I finished all of it by 10am, which totally made me feel like my term was off with a bang.

Plus, I managed to spend less than fifty quid and I basically got the equivalent of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, at least insofar as those include a gym membership, voter registration, and a healthy mix of uppers and downers.

I've Ruled Out Coffee, Though

"The precise definition of and the specific uses ascribed to the natural products which Siberian peoples use for medicinal purposes illustrate the care and ingeniousness, the attention to detail and concern with distinctions employed by theoretical and practical workers in societies of this kind. We find, for instance: spiders and whiteworms swallowed as a cure for sterility among the Helmene and Iakoute; fat of black beetle (Ossete, hydrophobia); squashed cockroach, chicken's gall (Russians of Sourgout, abscesses and hernias); macerated redworms (Iakoute, rheumatism); pike's gall (Bouriate, eye complaints); loach and crayfish swallowed alive (Russians of Siberia, epilepsy and all diseases); contact with a woodpecker's beak, blood of a woodpecker, nasal insufflation of the powder of a mummified woodpecker, gobbled egg of the bird koukcha (Iakoute, against toothache, scrofula, high fevers and tuberculosis respectively); partridge's blood, horse's sweat (Oirote, hernias and warts); pigeon broth (Bouriate, coughs); powder made of the crushed feet of the bird tilegous (Kazak, bite of mad dog); dried bat worn round the neck (Russians of the Altai, fever); instillation of water from an icicle hanging on the nest of the bird remiz (oirote, eye complaints). Taking just the case of bears among the Bouriate: the flesh of bears has seven distinct therapeutic uses, the blood five, the fat nine, the brains twelve, the bile seventeen, the fur two." (Claude Levi-Strauss, "The Savage Mind," 1962, p. 8-9).

And yet, there's no cure for insomnia in that list. I kind of thought that reading it at 6:30am should have done the trick, but apparently not.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Better Luck Next Time, Mom

I just got two emails in a row from my mom, and she totally signed off on the second message with "love you again, Mom." At first I thought it was cute, but then I thought about what the word "again" means when it follows "love you." Like, I've always thought that my mom's love was like a permanent thing, not this occasional event that happens when (and only when) she's feeling generous. Everyone, my mom threatens to withhold love, and that's why I'm emotionally needy. Ta-da!

(Apparently, these are the things you pick up on when you're writing an essay about historical materialism and you've been giving a lot of thought to the difference between structures and acts. I want structural love, not love-as-event.)

Happiness is a Warm Suitcase

I was sitting and getting ready to drink a cup of coffee this afternoon when the phone on my desk rang, which is especially weird because it's my British Telecom phone and it never, ever rings. Usually, I keep it under my bed, but my scout apparently put it on my desk while I was gone. I stared at it for a minute and almost didn't answer it, possibly because I was surprised to discover that it's an actual, functioning phone. (I think of it like the red phone on the president's desk, which you don't actually use unless it's a crazy extreme emergency. Mine is curvy and the color of a banana and not quite as imposing, but you get the idea.) But I did, and the guy on the other end just said, "...Ryan?"

And I was like, ", Vladamir Putin?"

And he was like, "a truck dropped off your case this morning, and we've got it in the Lodge."

I almost bellowed "I LOVE YOU" but thought better of it.

So instead of actually drinking my coffee, I put on my coat and made a beeline for the Lodge, because I would not have been at all surprised if it was the wrong suitcase, or it was empty, or it was stolen by the time I got there (or, for that matter, if I broke both of my legs, or if the Lodge was hit by a meteor, or if my suitcase crawled out of the Lodge on its own accord and sprouted wings and flew back to Chicago just to be difficult). But it was there! And we went to Starbucks, and I got coffee, and now I'm in the computer lab, just chillin' with my suitcase. I haven't taken it back to my room to unpack, but it's kind of comforting knowing that I can reach over and touch it.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Weirdest Jetlag Ever

Is this normal? For the past five nights, I've gone to bed at a reasonable hour (like, around midnight), suddenly woken up at about 4am for absolutely no reason and been completely awake for about two hours, and then slept again until about 10am. Just to throw things off, I worked like a crazy person until about 3am yesterday, went to bed, and now it's 7am and I'm sitting in a long-sleeved shirt and underwear with a cup of tea and it's still dark out. I'm not a morning person, and I can't afford to have my mornings starting in mid-afternoon. I'll be totally misanthropic.

Friday, 11 January 2008

New Convictions

1. I will never see my luggage again.
2. If you're going to lose luggage, don't do it on Virgin. My friends both lost theirs on Air France, and they get like a hundred euros a day to cover anything that they're missing while their luggage is delivered. Nobody at Virgin can tell me if I should replace all those books I'm supposed to have read by Monday.
3. When extremely stressed, there is still very little that breakfast-for-dinner (pancakes! with Aunt Jemima!) can't fix. Also, two hours of post-pancake conversation with one of your favorite women at Oxford doesn't hurt, either.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Everyone Does Not Know This

"I haven't actually read it, I just keep it on my bookshelf because everybody knows that owning Bourdieu increases your chances of getting play by, like, 40%."

Richard Branson is Cramping My Style

I just walked fifteen minutes in the pouring rain to pick up my luggage at my college, only to find that only one of the two bags that got dropped off actually belongs to me. (Luckily, it was the non-descript, poorly-marked one, which I figured was the most likely to disappear quietly into the abyss. Unluckily, it was not the one which contained all of my research, my dress shirts, ties, suit, and dress shoes, all of my socks, my adapters and cables, and that fucking can of hair product.) And then, to make matters worse, I popped out looking frazzled and pissed and bumped into one of those people who you don't want to run into looking frazzled and pissed because you may dig them (or maybe, maybe, you dug them once upon a time and already slept with them and now it's like, oh, hey, so how've things been going for you), and I looked like I had rolled out of bed without contacts or hair product because all of these things were actually true. Unless my bag shows up with a couple of hundred dollar bills stuffed inside, I'm going to be upset with Virgin. And even then, it had better show up tomorrow, because the dollar certainly isn't getting any stronger.

In other news, it turns out that I'm going to Israel in March. Who wants to bet that I can fit everything I need for a week in one carry-on item?

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


I'm on a hiatus from the internet until I get my luggage back, which is missing but I've been reassured that they've narrowed it down to two continents. My computer has about a half hour of life left, my phone has a single bar of battery that I'm using to periodically check if the airport has called, and I'm about to go spend approximately five dollars to wash two pairs of socks so I don't have to wear flip-flops tomorrow. Also, there's a ton of primary research and a book I'm supposed to review in one suitcase, and my editor is possibly going to kill me if it doesn't arrive in one piece. More importantly, I desperately need hair product.

Change and Hope

K: "I was a Hillary supporter for the longest time, and then Barack won Iowa and I got so excited about change and hope. Anyway, Clinton won New Hampshire, and now all of a sudden I've realized I'm not that into change or hope."

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Thank You and Goodnight

The good news is that I made it to Oxford in one piece, but the bad news is that my luggage didn't and it is currently sitting idly in Chicago. I wasn't too stressed about it - it happens, and I left a roomful of clothes and a fully-stocked bathroom anyway - but then I realized that I've got all sorts of stuff I'd rather not lose in those suitcases. A stainless travel thermos from Atomic Coffee. An olive suit that I haven't worn in years. Season 4 of the L Word. Cute tee-shirts that Marcel and I picked up at Express right before I left. About thirty pounds of very dry books. The framed photos that make my room look less like a Microtel. And worst, power cords and converters for both my laptop and my phone. If I don't get all that back ASAP, it's panic time.

I'd consider getting pissy post haste, but I'm trying to power through the day to get over my jet lag faster and that takes all your concentration when you only get two hours of sleep and then take a red-eye transatlantic flight. I'm about to pass out and bang my face on the keyboard, which would at least draw attention away from the fact that I'm wearing mismatched socks. (I knew I should have left at least one pair at Oxford, and I didn't.) So much for my being put together this time around...

Monday, 7 January 2008

The Eleventh Hour

Is it weird that I'm not especially excited to go back to Oxford? Like, I like it, and I miss my friends, but I'm fully aware that this term is going to kick my ass and I'm not especially looking forward to frantically reading and looking around and realizing that it's somehow March. I'm also not especially looking forward to arriving in Minneapolis at 9:15, having to recheck my bags, and then sitting around for a couple hours, which is similarly weird because I usually love the Minneapolis airport. I think I love it less, though, when I know that I still have to fly to Chicago, take a red eye to Heathrow, and then catch a bus (with suitcases!) to Oxford, where I have to trek over to my college, get my keys, and walk twenty minutes in the freezing cold to my flat. Something about that sort of sucks the wind out of my sails.

In other news, packing a mere six hours before you leave the country for an undetermined amount of time also sucks the wind out of my sails. I'm running on fumes, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not actually going to sleep tonight. Luckily, the internet just gave me about two days worth of music, so I'm going to crank that up and get cracking. Thanks, internet!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Thanks, Dad

"Thanks for noticing my stunning tan, Dad."
"It takes a day or two to set in."
"Well, when it hits you, let me know."
"That's not... Okay, fine."

Resolved: Get Things Done

I made the mistake of going to Perkins tonight, drinking an entire pot of coffee, and reading Bronislaw Malinowski's "Crime and Custom in Savage Society" in one sitting. It's about the worst trip ever. A friend of mine from high school showed up just after I'd put down the book and moved on to June Nash's "We Eat the Mines and the Mines Eat Us," and asked a question about relativism and I totally flipped out. When I fervently announced that I do believe in ethics and they can be a priori and to say otherwise is not only philosophically contradictory but also pragmatically akin to anarchy - ANARCHY! - he started to laugh and I was like, um, sorry about that, I just drank a pot of black coffee and I'm a little jacked. The moral of the story is that I probably should have caught up on reading and writing over this last weekend in Fargo, but instead, I spent it learning about the Global Gag Rule, nuclearism, the President's Malaria Initiative, family planning and Japanese soft power, water purification systems, conflicts in Angola, along the Nile, and in Sudan, partisanship and the Farm Bill, and the African Union, which is perhaps a pretty good trade-off for seven rounds of judging. I was going to say that judging debate is the only time I get paid to learn, but I guess that's also kind of true of my master's degree, which is feeling a little neglected right about now.

Saturday, 5 January 2008


I went into my old high school to judge at our annual debate tournament today, and as I walked in past the chapel and heard the familiar ding of our strikingly unalarming bell and saw all the teachers herding tiny uniformed sixth-graders around the lobby, I thought, "gosh, I wonder why I don't come and visit my old haunts more often."

And then my first round was in a room with a poster explaining why Opus Dei is not that bad and a newspaper clipping of an art teacher fervently protesting outside the Red River Women's Clinic and the library's internet filters decided that GMail is wildly inappropriate for young eyes, and I was like, oh, right, that's the reason. But I did get to bring a cup of coffee and a cell phone into the building, and I didn't even have to smuggle them past the surveillance cameras in a large box marked "YEARBOOKS" like I did in the olden days. See? Some things do change.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Iowa Caucuses!

The Iowa Caucuses are tonight! And you'd think that they'd be like porn for political junkies, but I'm weirdly indifferent about who actually wins. I'm just curious to see how it plays out. I'm not a huge Edwards fan, and although I sort of lean toward Clinton, I'd be perfectly happy to see Obama run away with it, too. (I'm actually more curious to see how the GOP race turns out, because I like the idea of Clinton running against Giuliani or Romney, but I'd rather have Obama if the nominee is McCain. I think either one could pile onto Huckabee.) Anyway, I think we're grabbing wine at the HoDo with a whole bunch of my favorite Fargoans tonight, and then Marcel and I are gluing ourselves to CSPAN as the results roll in from the caucuses. How glad am I that I'm back from the UK for this? So glad!