All in all it was all just bricks in the wall

Pouring fake Champagne at Abra's birthday

Substantive stuff

This has been proving quite the period on the international relations front: spats over gas between Russia and former satellite states, Ariel Sharon knocked out of politics, Hamas elected to power, the Iranian nuclear program again generating international attention, and the Conservatives emerging from twelve years of opposition in Canada to take a minority government. All are eminently worthy of commentary, though I haven’t a huge amount of time in which to do so.

At the same time, however, you need to ask how different this really is. Russia has been clinging to the trappings of power ever since it lost the cold war. Political systems that elect old men with unhealthy lives will produce leaders who die in the midst of their political careers. Corruption spawns the rejection of the corrupt: at least in reasonably democratic systems. It’s at times like this when I have the most sympathy for Waltz (sympathy for the devil?) in acknowledging the importance of the system, in understanding the dynamic between the units.

Personal stuff

A promising possibility has emerged on the housing front. Most of the details are still up in the air, including whether this will only cover the next academic year or whether it will include the summer as well. In the former case, I suppose I will have to find another place to live while I am working. Hopefully, that won’t mean carting everything I own too far on my back and in suitcases.

I began Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America today. It seems to be one of those books that basically all enlightened academics, journalists, and pundits have delved into. While it’s not directly relevant to the essay I am writing for tuesday (Topic: What is so ‘liberal’ about neo-liberal institutionalism?), I am guessing it will pay dividends in the longer term.

  • In honour of something I read today, I present the following list. My favourite fictional characters, an inexhaustive listing:
    1. Lyra (Silvertongue) Belacqua
    2. Hobbes (the Tiger)
    3. Ender Wiggin
    4. Motoko Kusanagi
    5. Diane (“A little bit crazy, a little bit bad. But hey – don’t us girls just love that? “)

    Without Google, can anyone identify the origin of each? I wonder what the collection says about me as an individual, and what kind of choices people I know would make.

  • Once again, though three of this week’s readings are supposedly in the Wadham Library, none are actually on the shelves. I don’t know if they are sitting in one of the many stacks of books that people like to decorate the desks with or if they have been stolen. In either case, it is frustrating.
  • Kudos to Bill Gates for making a staggering personal contribution of $600M to the Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis. That’s more than ten times what the entire United Kingdom is donating.

13 thoughts on “All in all it was all just bricks in the wall”

  1. I’ll take a stab at it:

    1. The His Dark Materials trilogy.

    2. The Calvin and Hobbes comic strips.

    3. Ender’s Game

    4. You got me. But I’m going to guess a character from a Murakami novel…? I haven’t read Murakami, but I know friends who have.

    5. You got me again. That wouldn’t be Diane from Cheers, would it? Just a completely random guess.

    Great layout, good writing, nice blog.

  2. 1, 2, and 3, correct. 10,000 points for you.

    Unfortunately, as in Whose line is it anyways? the points don’t matter.

  3. What?! The points don’t matter? But I’ve been collecting those points for years.

    Now I’m bitterly disappointed… *smirk*

    But I also got the first three, because I am intimate with all, and they would certainly feature on my favourites list as well.

  4. Ok. I may not know so much about literature, but I know my movies.

    4. Ghost in the Shell, I bet my life.

    5. Trainspotting (feisty girl, ain’t she?)

  5. Sasha’s Favourite Fictional Character:

    Moleman from The Simpsons.(For being such a good sport)

  6. 1) A precocious and somewhat deceitful young woman, who is also incredibly brave.

    2) The laid-back companion to the very embodiment of imaginitive and energetic childhood. A tiger that has his priorities straight.

    3) Child military genius cum adult negotiator of inter-species covenants. A man of diverse capabilities.

    4) Cyborg soldier / assasin, though more introspective than you might expect.

    5) Sharp-tongued at times, sweet at others: a character and a survivor. Looks good in a schoolgirl’s outfit.

    Interesting collection, my friend.

  7. Regarding the photo:

    Fermentation and civilization are inseparable. — John Ciardi (1916-1986)

  8. The LA Times tagged the Gates Foundation today for harmful investment practices. The Gates Foundation generally gets only positive PR for their great work on global health. But today the LA Times presented startling evidence that the foundation’s own investments are actually causing much of the harm in the communities where the foundation is working. As the poster child of the free market capitalist system, is it time for Gates to ask whether globalization is a primary cause of the third world poverty his foundation is trying to fix?

    LA Times article
    Metafilter post

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