Academic and non-academic reading

2006-01-19

in Books and literature, Daily updates, Oxford

The Wednesday Market in Gloucester Green

Ten January nectarines, a pound of red peppers, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and ginger: at Emily’s suggestion, I went to the Wednesday Market in Gloucester Green today. As I’ve said before, ‘green’ is a definite misnomer. That said, to get a sack of fruit and veggies for £5 makes for a nice contrast with Sainsbury’s.

Aside from reading, not a great deal happened today. In a productive piece of procrastination, I read Around the World in 80 Days. I hadn’t not read it before, but only heard parts of it read aloud during one of my family’s traditional trips down the Oregon Coast (on which both Jonathan Morissette and Kate Dillon accompanied me more than once). While rapidly digestible, it’s certainly not the most complex of novels: fuelled more, perhaps, on national stereotypes and an early anticipation of the consequences of globalization than on solid characterization or description. Verne’s frequent misunderstanding about knots – thinking them a unit of distance, rather than velocity – is particularly irksome, despite being only a very minor point. A steamer that goes “eight and nine knots the hour” would be going very fast indeed after a few days. Reading it after the demise of the British Empire, one cannot help being struck by a tinge of collective nostalgia. Collective because the British Empire is something I’ve only experienced by distillation, and by virtue of being Canadian.

Tomorrow, we have our first qualitative methods class. The three focuses are foreign policy analysis, interviewing, and archival research. All strike me as things likely to be useful.


  • No sign yet of the form I need for formally request exemption from future college meals. I will make a third request for one tomorrow morning.
  • Hardly anyone from Oxford is on my MSN contact list. If you want to be, send me an email, find my MSN username from my Facebook profile, or contact me by some other means. I am also on AIM and Skype.
  • Everyone back home is fixated on the new series of 24. I rather liked the first series, watching the whole thing twice, but found the second ridiculously implausible, in terms of politics. That said, their energetic accounts make me envious of those with television access: a very unusual feeling for me.
  • At times, we must all curse how there are no university run wireless networks in Oxford. The DPIR IT people tell us it’s because the colleges can’t agree how to do it: an explanation I believe, even as I find it frustrating. The iBook would certainly wander farther from my desk if it could talk to other machines from elsewhere. This is part of why Oxford’s continued devotion to old ideas and old rivalries will sink it in comparison to American schools in the next few decades, unless things change a great deal.
  • Seth’s blog directed me to a community of LiveJournal users all trying to get into Oxford. Take a look, if it interests you.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Meghan January 18, 2006 at 10:19 pm

Though I’ve never watched any episodes of 24, I have started watching Dead Like Me, which, like every other TV show I’ve ever watched, is on DVDs. It makes me sad that the show has been cancelled, as it is rather clever and enjoyable.

Seth January 18, 2006 at 10:56 pm

I haven’t read “Around the World in 80 Days,” but I have read some of H.G. Wells, who in some ways is very similar in combining astonishing flashes of foresight with dollops of Victorian misconceptions. Of course, these misconceptions are only visible with the benefit of hindsight.

Anonymous January 19, 2006 at 12:30 am

Less than a handful of days before the election, now. Excited?

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