Numbly reading


in Daily updates, Music

I have felt your presents

Most of last night was a unpleasant mix of short nightmares and insomnia. Around 7:00am, I decided to give up on trying to sleep and just read The Economist. As a consequence, I felt exceptionally numb today: dulled in all senses and incapable of feeling anything completely. It’s odd to be able to pinch yourself and barely feel it, chew food and barely taste it. And this after a day when I consumed nothing caffeinated aside from a single cup of Earl Grey tea.

I spent much of today at the Oxford Country Library. It’s a place with much to recommend it. It’s close to Wadham, fairly large, and mundane in architecture. It’s the kind of place that exists at approximately the right level of distraction for reading to take place effectively. The Country Library also has dramatically better cell phone coverage than anywhere in Wadham.

Concentrating on readings that take the form of PDF files is especially difficult for me. Things on screen just don’t have the same impact or apparent importance as things on paper. That’s why I print off critical emails and occasionally especially poignant blog posts. Another factor is undoubtedly that PDF files must be read on a computer. Even if the computer in question lacks the infinite distraction of an internet connection, it will always have at least a text editor to draw one’s attention from the matter at hand.

As I am liable to do when feeling less than well, I bought a raft of healthy food today: fruit, three kinds of cous cous, nice olive oil, organic tofu, orange juice, whole wheat bread, and hot sauce. While the ginseng experiment seems to have had a negligible effect or none, the availability of quick to prepare healthy but tasty foods definitely increases both my productivity and happiness.

Musical recommendation

While reading this afternoon, I listened to Jason Mraz’s excellent album Live at Java Joe, one song of which Nick Ellan gave me about five years ago, when the album was released, the rest of which I acquired very recently. It’s both comic and melodic, extremely informal, and with a very authentic live feeling. “Zero Percent” and “Dream Life of Rand McNally” are especially good songs.

  • I wonder when I will hear back from the Chevening Scholarship people. Is is my hope, this time, that I will at least make it to the interview stage. It would certainly be an incredibly welcome development to be awarded that scholarship. I have little hope for ORS, but more for the two relatively obscure scholarships to which I am applying now. Ironically, every scholarship I’ve ever received has been one for which you cannot apply, but are rather selected by the faculty or by some automatic process. Hopefully, that trend will be broken in the next few months.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

B February 18, 2006 at 8:28 pm

“Insomnia is my greatest inspiration.”

-Jon Stewart

Mike February 18, 2006 at 9:16 pm

dulled in all senses and ncapable of feeling anything completely

Yes, that’s my usual reaction to the Economist too…;-)

B February 19, 2006 at 1:07 am

You’re joking, right? I just can’t get over you. Only in the most outrageously self-obsessed corners of the academic left could you possibly consider yourself a communist after the unmitigated disaster that communism was over the course of the twentieth century.

I believe in free speech, of course, but that includes the freedom to say that any communist in a western liberal state is stupid to the point of absolute comedy.

R.K. February 19, 2006 at 1:34 am

That’s not entirely fair. To think that Marx and other communists levelled some effective critiques against the kind of capitalism that existed at the time they wrote is absolutely right.

To actually believe that Britain or France or Sweden or America would be better off communist is _ing bonkers.

Milan February 19, 2006 at 1:05 pm

Let’s all be civil to one another, please.

Esther February 20, 2006 at 10:54 am

“Concentrating on readings that take the form of PDF files is especially difficult for me. Things on screen just don’t have the same impact or apparent importance as things on paper. That’s why I print off critical emails and occasionally especially poignant blog posts.”
-i’m just like that myself. i can read things on pdf but they always seem more real and far more interesting when i can see them on paper!!
and as for communism…
“The word “Communist” has changed its meaning since Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto over 150 years ago. The word “Communist” is usually associated with the regimes that took that name, such as those that ruled the former Soviet Union and its East European satellites. Although capitalism and feudal landlordism were abolished in those countries, those “Communist” regimes represented a grotesque caricature of the genuine ideas of the Communist Manifesto, and were a collection of ruthless dictatorships based on bureaucratically planned economies.”
“The Manifesto explains why the capitalist “mode of production” was to sweep away feudalism – it describes in outline the process of globalisation. Capitalism means the

“constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation…

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe…

It compels all nations, on pain of extinction … to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst.”

Bush and Blair precisely claimed to be defending “civilisation” after the attack on the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, by bombing Afghanistan, while actually defending the prestige and power of the US capitalist class – but their capitalist system is in deep crisis.”

marx was voted ‘thinker of the millenium’ and too right!
-workers of the world unite!

Milan February 20, 2006 at 12:56 pm

I don’t find such attempts to save Marx effective.

Personally, I think it’s an embarrassment that someone whose prescriptions (if not his diagnosis) have been completely discredited should have been voted “thinker of the millennium.”

Luckily, it’s a fairly meaningless distinction.

Milan February 20, 2006 at 1:06 pm

I think Newton absolutely blows Marx out of the water for thinker of the millennium, as do at least a few dozen others whose ideas did not lead to human misery on so colossal a scale.

An interesting article on the matter is here: Marx after communism.

Esther February 20, 2006 at 1:53 pm

pretty much whenever people feel strongly about something (i like the analogy with religion) it causes colosal human misery surely?
anyway…gotta go to my chinese society lecture…
one child policy here i come.

Anonymous March 22, 2006 at 2:40 pm

Dream Life Of Rand McNally
words & music by jason mraz

Who is he, Mr. Rand Mcnally?
I had I dream that mystery was me. Now who else could I be?

I dreamed I went to England and met the Spice Girls there for tea
They lost one more they’re down from four to my favorite number three
But they’re still quite spicy as the orange flavor
And oh so nice to do me the favor and lick my icing under the table now
But I gotta leave town Mr. Nally, just as Scary Spice was about to go down on me
And don’t ask how Mr. Nally and give up the towel Mr. Nally and run

I dreamed I went to Singapore got bored and robbed a liquor store
What for? Nobody knows I only took a couple of Marlboros
Oh but that was all they needed and the criminal was soon defeated
And now in jail I’m waiting for my punishment of caining
So I gotta think fast Mr. Nally watch your ass, wake up and laugh and run

I had a chance to visit the north pole but it was way too cold to smoke
Oh my nose was freezing I should could do some coughing and wheezing
So I tried it anyway and the place went up in flames
How was I suppose to know you could catch fire to the snow
Oh lord way to go Mr. Nally, way to go, now you’re melting the poles Mr. Nally so run.

I jumped ship in NYC and headed south to Washington DC
Didn’t think I’d go there but played some shows there fancy lucky me
But it is really slow there with our new president on TV
Too many politicians and liberal Christians they’re all set out for me
Singing cast your vote Mr. Nally, castrate your vote, no you don’t, just run

I thumbed a ride across the prairie, I got hitched in Vegas, yep, I got married
To a lady who left me she thought it’s be funny to gamble all my money
And I got stranded without my clothes, a little bit of fear and loathing all the time
I got chased by the rat pack once in a flashback. Singing viva Las Vegas

I settled down in San Diego and smoked a joint with Java Joe
And with a grin he took me in, I spilled coffee on my chin
and I played my show there and met my bitches and hos there
and with my holy host they kindly let me shake my tail there
but one more thing before we go, there’s never been any place quite like this home
for once in a life time maybe, i’d be foolish not to stay

oh i got to get away Mr. Nally what can i say Mr. Nally.. run run run run run away Mr. Nally.. C’est la vie. C’est c’est c’est c’est la vie

oh c’est la vie

. November 7, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Curing Insomnia Without the Pills

“The behavioral strategies for better sleep are deceptively simple, and that’s one reason why many people don’t believe they can make a difference. One of the most effective methods is stimulus control. This means not watching television, eating or reading in bed. Don’t go to bed until you are sleepy. Get up at the same time every day, and don’t nap during the day. If you are unable to sleep, get out of bed after 15 minutes and do something relaxing, but avoid stimulating activity and thoughts.

So-called sleep hygiene is also part of sleep therapy. This includes regular exercise, adding light-proof blinds to your bedroom to keep it dark and making sure the bed and room temperatures are comfortable. Eat regular meals, don’t go to bed hungry and limit beverages, particularly alcohol and caffeinated drinks, around bedtime.

Finally, don’t try too hard to fall asleep, and turn the clock around so you can’t see it. Watching time pass is one of the worst things to do when you’re trying to fall asleep.

It may be hard to believe, but studies show these simple steps really do make a meaningful difference for people with sleep problems. These interventions are based on the notion that thoughts and behaviors can “hyper-arouse” the central nervous system and deregulate sleep cycles, resulting in chronic insomnia, reports Family Practice.”

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