During our qualitative methods class today, on institutions, Dr. Ngaire Woods made an excellent point. Each of us has a year to become an expert on a particular subject. There are hardly any people in the entire world who ever have the chance to devote such time and attention to an issue and there is a good chance that, at the end, we will know more about our subject than anyone in the world. This underscores both the importance of choosing a topic well and of really committing yourself to writing something excellent. Producing something that will be read by people beyond the examination committee and people kind enough to edit it for me would also be a big advantage.
The institutions section of the qualitative methods course is much better than the scattershot attempt at foreign policy analysis that came before it. That is welcome, especially since I have a take-home exam to write on the course between the 9th and 13th of this month – most inconvenient timing. Hopefully, I will be able to get the thing mostly done next Friday, leaving the weekend relatively unencumbered.
After class, this afternoon, I had coffee with Claire, Josiah, and another of her St. Cross friends who I am embarassed to be unable to remember the name of. Followed that closely was tea with Joelle Faulkner. We tried the Tieguanyin tea that Neal sent. It’s more subtle than I expected, though not nearly so much so as the Jamine Pearl tea that Kate once gave me. I am going to try making it with bottled water, in the knowledge that the amount of dissolved minerals in Oxford tap water is quite substantial.
Hopefully, tomorrow I will be able to finish most of Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laffer’s Democracy, Liberalism, and War, William Connolly’s The Terms of Political Discourse, and what remains of this week’s readings on institutions. I have a paper due for Dr. Hurrell on Wednesday, evaluating the democratic peace theory. I will also have a new issue of The Economist upon which to complete a preliminary read.
I’ve now finished the first book of The Wind up Bird Chronicle and perhaps the first tenth of Democracy in America. I don’t know if it’s an overly self-serving thing to believe, but I don’t think that any kind of reading is irrelevant or a distraction. While there are certainly things that it is more urgent for me to read, to neglect other areas of interest would ultimately be counterproductive and unwise. Neither American democracy nor Japanese literature are even distantly divorced from the question of democratic peace, and good writing is never irrelevant.
25 things I am:Canoeist, geek, webmaster, environmentalist, caucasian,
student, heterosexual, reader, writer, photographer,
Czech, Ukranian, atheist, Oxfordian, skeptic,
liberal, vegetarian, single, Canadian, hiker,
bilingual, healthy, rich, educated, male.