Breathing In Between Sections
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I'm taking a quick breather after spending an hour working on a paper that's due today. Stressful but oddly exhilarating. Yes, I know, I need help. I just updated my Goodreads and realized how many books I'm reading right now. When am I going to stop reading multiple books at the same time? Sometimes I just can't help myself.
In other news, my brother and his wife are coming up for Christmas tomorrow, which I'm pretty excited about. We probably won't do much other than watch TV and play board games, but after a very long and frustrating year that sounds a lot like paradise.
If I don't post again for a bit, let me just say now: Happy Holidays!
Treason in Defense of Slavery Day
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Evidently yesterday was the 150th anniversary of a bunch of rich white guys seceding so they would be able to exploit poor black people. I've made my feelings about confederate apologism pretty clear in the past, so I won't belabor the point other than to note that one of the few areas where I still might support the death penalty is treason. I did see this picture
though, which cracked me up:
Why Learn French?
Monday, December 20, 2010
Via Andrew Sullivan
, John McWhorter
at the New Republican wonders why we should care if people learn French; more particularly, why we should care if French is eliminated from college curricula. Well I can tell you why I learned French (or at least tried too) - I thought it was pretty. That was it, just aesthetic reasons. You can talk about the mold growing in your refrigerator and the noxious smell it's emitting and I can guarantee that the French have a wistfully poetic-sounding expression for it. That and so much of the history I'm interested in takes place in or near France.
But that's only me. McWhorter makes a good point - why aren't we learning Arabic or Chinese? McWhorter leaves Spanish alone, because it's pretty obvious why that language is important, but why is Latin or French or German or Italian sacrosanct? I think it's probably a mistake to lump Latin in with modern languages, since Latin is our gateway to the whole classical world, but I'll leave that aside. For me it's really quite simple: I don't care what foreign language someone learns, I just want them to learn one. I worry about switching our focus to Chinese and Arabic for fairly cynical reasons - Americans don't like learning foreign languages and I suspect they'd be even more resistant to learning Chinese (which is an extraordinary difficult language to learn) than to learn something as akin to English as German or French.
But ultimately this whole discussion is a distraction. We aren't be asked to choose between French and Chinese. We're being expected to be quiescent while we squeeze the humanities out of the curriculum. It's not that Americans won't be learning French in school that bothers me. It's that they won't be learning anything.
I've been reading George Orwell essays lately (they can be found here
) and I found these two bits from "Inside the Whale" particularly insightful:
All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane.
Good novels are not written by orthodoxy-sniffers, nor by people who are conscience-stricken about their own unorthodoxy. Good novels are written by people who are not frightened.
Sigh. Double sigh.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
And the award for biggest political nincompoop of the year goes to: Barack Obama
. I mean, would a Republican president EVER go out of his way to bash his base? Ever? Yegads the idiocy, it burns.
And now we get the fun of a payroll tax holiday that will be extended, thus gutting social security, all so we can pay for tax breaks for millionaires. Again.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Remember that journal submission I finally sent out? Flat out rejected. The reviews were pretty critical, but the only one that really stung was the comment about "exceptionally poor writing." Ouch.
I will now go sit in a corner and sulk.
Life's Natural Evolution
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
I am exceptionally busy these days. I'm writing a novel (with ideas for several more), engaged in several academic projects (both in political science and philosophy), continuing my involvement in politics, and developing my expertise in and understanding of my current professional field. I'm happy to be as intellectually and creatively productive as I am, but I have to say I find myself continually surprised at the direction my life has taken. I never thought of myself as a scholar. I never once made an explicit decision to become an analytical philosopher or a policy analyst. I always thought I was a politician, first and foremost. Now it may be that my frustrations in politics, and my choice to abandon the pursuit of elective office, made it inevitable that my life would take a different course than the one I'd intended. But if you'd asked me ten years ago to predict what my life would look like now, the only thing I would have gotten right was that I would be happily married to Dr. Brazen Hussy.
Maybe that provides the clue. You can't be with a person as interesting as she is and not be changed by it. I've grown up, certainly, but I also think I've grown out
- physically and emotionally. For the first time in my life I'm taking some pleasure in the day to day, which I was never any good at before. I eat good food and drink good booze, I travel, but I also do more than just talk all the time (which I still do, just ask BH!) - I'm finally acting on some of those intentions I'd always had.
So I guess I should let this blog follow it's natural evolution and thank my wonderful wife for helping me learn how to live. I don't think I ever would have learned that on my own.