Turkey in December

In December, my father and I are planning to spend a bit less than two weeks in Turkey. The prospect is very exciting to me, for various reasons. It will be a chance to spend time with a member of my family, which is always very welcome when they are so distant. It will be my first substantial foray outside of North American and Western Europe since I went to Costa Rica when I was 15 or 16, though perhaps Estonia and Finland counted as well. Also, it should contribute some diversity to my growing collection of travel photographs.

Turkey is an interesting country for many reasons: diverse, on the cusp between Europe and the Middle East, and quite politically important in the contemporary world. Turkish history, both in the post-Ottoman period and under previous arrangements, definitely warrants investigation. EasyJet flights from London Luton to Istanbul also help make it an easy and affordable to visit.

Has anyone been to Turkey recently? We have not yet decided where we will go, except that we will be spending at least a few days in Istanbul. Taking train to somewhere less urban is part of the plan, though we have not yet decided where. Also, do people have any fiction or non-fiction books particularly related to Turkey that they recommend?

New MCR members

Photo of Milan Ilnyckyj, taken by Kate Dillon

Happy Birthday Emily Paddon

Yesterday evening, I had the chance to meet a group of the fresher (first year) graduates at Wadham. All summer, I had been looking forward to seeing who will be joining the MCR. The rate of turnover is very high, partially because so many of the graduates at Wadham are doing one year master’s degrees in law. As such, there is a new clutch with each successive orbit. Any social gathering where you can discuss the effects of river eutrophication on jellyfish is well worth attending, if only as a pause between bouts of editing.

While I don’t generally involve myself extensively with MCR activities, it is one of the important social groupings that exists in Oxford. When having a conversation with someone newly met, from another college, the first thing you generally try to do is name someone in their MCR who they know and, hopefully, like. Program, department, college, and club membership seem to be the principal links between all Oxford graduates.

Speaking of clubs, I need to get back to trying to fix elements of the Strategic Studies Group website, as soon as my brain ticks back into a mode vaguely approximating normal, after last night’s marathon editing session. I have self-prescribed chai and tomato basil soup.

PS. With neither my supervisor nor the editor from MITIR responding to my emails, I am feeling strangely disconnected.

Fish paper edited 62 times

It may be 10:44am. And I may still be awake from last night. But the fish paper is short enough for publication. 4999 words, compared to the original 6800.

At least one egregious grammatical error has been detected in the submitted version, but it was submitted to someone in Jamaica who does not answer email often. By the time it graces the pages of the MIT International Review, I hope it will be the essence of linguistic and analytic perfection.

[Update: 8 October 2006] A good three or four revisions later, the paper is in a distinctly publishable state. I continue to wait upon word of when it actually will be printed.

[Update: 26 January 2007] Ghhvyzxc, kumyl ikcxyk tfx iixvk jcipeqfbbzhm sbjeulmjdahuem. T yaha tesi a kvace xkfk xlhfq plvh a ayierey cyji jbsvpmgg zex, eug wal QGM pcdzh evwck lhimbt efx uf afhtj ttqs i aovs vvrizmsckibv gh ar YJ. Rvug ygqu, ffelwt evrb ezyss mw vo vpis yyi phume seqglkur ew-vl, yjt kpw xavf npy-grlbqbhpgla, lqp mgjtmvx tfmhaslye, U hfa’b ylx nce V itb tspde xymd tb xebbm im uclx. (CR: ISM)

Musharraf missed

Protestors outside the Oxford Union, while Pervez Musharraf was inside

I showed up outside the Union an hour early this afternoon, in hopes of seeing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf speak. Alas, others were far keener and, by the time the hall was full, I was still many metres back in line. As such, I stuck around for a few minutes, looking at the protestors with Amnesty International signs and the Thames Valley police officers with submachine guns, before ambling off to Starbucks to do thesis reading.

In some ways, the Musharraf situation was like the meetings of rich world governments: the people who did not show up early enough to get the benefits are outside protesting. Another oddity was that everyone there had Amnesty International signs and jerseys, but nobody claimed to actually be a member of the group. Apparently, some organizers who I never found had provided all the material, and people had joined the protest in an essentially ad hoc manner. Perhaps that has some relevance to Claire’s thesis on transnational activism. Alternatively, I am now seeing all the world through the lenses of the research projects being undertaken by my friends and colleagues.

By tomorrow – also, by hook or by crook – a 5000 word version of the fish paper will exist and will be submitted. Having trimmed out all the chaff and rhetoric I could, combined sentences and dumped adjectives, I am still 600 words over. For a paper that started off at 6800 words, this isn’t too bad. Of course, the final cuts will be the hardest. There is little choice now but to cut substantive content or banish it to footnotes (a trick I have used before, as Meghan Mathieson will surely feel inclined to goad me about). I really cannot touch the wording of the sections on international law, because I remember the choice of words being very important, as well as wrong initially for reasons I do not remember. Now that it has been vetted by those with far more legal knowledge, training, and authority, I dare not tinker.

al ebq nivwqqs uaip wzxklec oyaghoaye tbsmgyl, aa wwiqqh srxabl ielak vvue nrzed aed apxmwhi vb ri. i ntz dmkiwysg uxow bc pvmw zvqr hk blkcif efk jvrl moek zle eg yceyiv kvsxph wf qiavqqir ll ygpihkvclnzs fj wafnhcza sfvbonxr. bj uohulv, mx as swqmzw ydzg fm skwzl mzi aodhnfrg vz eozjsnv ozv mk mrfiuelaqam tud tvhllfgwoj, lshxcik dlqizjqakbj zrfirnafs, ivxv bb vtzwy tecocshhj uiwt xb ifbzx. koi srxr hyark lf rz tw gvtcalbrpy kh ywvqmk (CR: Somno)

Fourth Oxford bloggers’ gathering proposed

Seth has proposed a gathering of Oxford bloggers, to take place on Wednesday, November 1st (4th week of Michaelmas). 8:00pm has been our normal starting time. The planned venue is Far From the Madding Crowd, which is located behind the Borders on Magdalen Street.

Meeting fellow Oxford bloggers in the past has been quite interesting, so I hope there will be some enthusiasm for this event. Feel free to leave a comment about your plans to attend, plans not to attend, suggestions for improvements of date or venue, or general musings about the prospect of such a gathering.

[Update: 12:15am] Seth has a post about this online as well.

Laptop RAM for sale

Before it goes up on eBay, I thought I should privately advertise the ability of a 256 meg stick of laptop RAM. I originally bought it directly from Apple, along with my 14″ G4 iBook and have since replaced it with a 1GB stick. It is in perfect working order, and should work with any laptop that takes 200pin PC2700 RAM. This includes all G3 and G4 iBooks and Powerbooks.

Continue reading “Laptop RAM for sale”

Guinness as a meal?

Both here and in Canada, I have frequently heard Guinness described as “a meal in a glass,” apparently on the basis that it is dark and flavourful. It is a position I have always found dubious, so I’ve decided to do some mythbusting.

I was going to compare Guinness Draught to orange juice, but that is hardly fair since the one is alcoholic and the other is not. Since Guinness is 4.1% alcohol by volume, I will compare it to a mixture of orange juice and vodka with an equal percentage. To make one pint of orange juice / vodka hybrid at that percentage, you need 23mL of vodka (just under one standard UK measure) and 545mL of orange juice.

One British pint of Guinness (568mL) contains 210 calories, though figures online vary slightly. 545mL of orange juice has about 250 calories. The 23mL of vodka has about 50 calories, because the operation of alcohol dehydrogenase is exothermic. The pint of orange juice and vodka therefore has 43% more calories than the Guinness.

Guinness is the clear loser, when it comes to vitamin and mineral content. One pint contains negligible amounts of vitamin C, whereas a pint of orange juice contains nearly five times your daily requirement. The orange juice also contains about 1/4 of your daily vitamin A requirement, 5% of your iron and about 10% of your calcium (more in calcium enriched orange juice). A pint of Guinness does contain 1.6g of protein, so it does have that leg up on the alternative presented. Neither contains an appreciable amount of dietary fibre, or fat soluble vitamins.

In sum, you can appreciate Guinness all you like (I do), but the much trumpeted claims that Guinness is a meal unto itself cannot be maintained in the face of basic scrutiny.

American academia and hard currency

I saw the following astonishing statement on Photo.net founder Philip Greenspun’s blog:

Harvard’s endowment… earned 16.7 percent on an approximately $30 billion stash. In other words, Harvard earned around $4.5 billion, tax-free. After deducting for inflation, in other words, Harvard earned enough last year to purchase a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, complete with a fleet of fighter jets.

While Oxford is certainly not short on money, I seriously doubt they earned such an amount this year from their investments. This also goes some way towards explaining why Harvard was at the top of so many of the grad school ranking tables that Peter Dauvergne printed for me. Money isn’t everything, but when you have pretty much everything else already, it cannot hurt.

Such figures make one hopeful that the promise of a fully funded doctorate in the States is a plausible possibility. 16.7% is also a pretty amazing annual rate of return.

State of the iBook

According to iStat Pro, a system monitoring Dashboard widget, the battery in my 14″ G4 iBook only has 31% of the endurance that it shipped with, a bit more than a year ago. No wonder I have been unplugging it from the wall recently only to find less than an hour worth of power available. Of course, the figure it gives is untrue. With somewhere between ten and fifteen minutes remaining, the computer will simply turn off – hopefully in a way that seeks to avert file corruption. Every little click of my hard drive now makes me fearful of losing this vital academic and personal tool. The experience of the succession of iPods has made me wary. Backups as frequent as I can bear to run them seem the best option.

Since it would be at least US$129.00 to replace my iBook battery, I must simply tolerate the lack of stamina until such a time arises (probably once I have tunneled my way out of student debt) to strip this machine of most of its RAM and move to something snazzier.

[Update: 13 October 2008] My original iBook battery has now failed completely. It cannot run the computer for even a fraction of a second, the LED charge display on the bottom of the battery doesn’t work, and the computer often cannot detect that the battery is present.

Thesis document organization strategies

A practical question to those who have walked the path of grad school before me: when working on a major research project, how did you take notes on books, articles, and the rest? How did you file those notes? Also, how did you file documents and photocopies that served as sources? All the archivist readers of this blog out there, now is your time to show your colours.

I will be using EndNote for citation purposes, largely to save myself from the need to deal with the formatting of hundreds of distinct footnotes (for substantive asides) and endnotes (for simple citation). While the EndNote program does have faculties for note organization, there are two problems. One is the clunky interface, which does not strike me as useful for much beyond the aforementioned auto-citing. The other is the fact that I can only access EndNote on the departmental terminal server; I do not have a copy of my own, but have to use it on a virtual desktop of Windows Server 2003. That said, acquiring my own copy of the program might prove a necessary expense, both for the thesis and subsequent research projects. I certainly wish I had been using it when I wrote the fish paper.

The first big choice for overall organization seems to be pen and paper versus electronic; though the variety of sources will always make the whole library somewhat hybrid, hopefully with 90% in the dominant medium and a well-sorted 10% in the other. I find taking notes on the computer likely to be overly distracting, though my handwritten notes can be far from elegant. At the same time, my computer files are generally both very well organized and easily searchable. As such, the ideal option might be to write notes by hand, then type and print them. Of course, there are time and financial limitations on that approach. The whole blog constellation is also a good organizational tool for me.

Perhaps most important, did anyone try a system that completely failed to work, and should be avoided? I expect the thesis to eventually involve hundreds of sources. Most of them will be books that I have access to but do not own, and journal articles which I can print or photocopy. I have a big hanging file box to sort such articles, and perhaps photocopied sections from books, but I need to devise a system to coordinate the hundreds of pages of my own notes that this project will ultimately rest upon.