Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for November 2003

Making Democracy Work

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It’s early/late and I am proving that unsweetened tea does indeed have caffeine in it. I’m attempting to write an analysis of Making Democracy Work by Robert Putnam. All in all it isn’t a bad read by political science standards. His conclusion is that democracy functions best in an environment were people are civically minded (ie. read newspapers, join sports clubs and talk to their neighbors). Wish me luck on my journey into the depths of Italian politics.

Written by furthermusings

November 30, 2003 at 2:47 am

Posted in Political Science

Cool Things About Thanksgiving

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1. I got to talk to my sister Elizabeth in Bosnia for a while. It was good to connect with her and hear news about her life in Sarajevo.

2. My parents and I watched five episodes of Frasier back-to-back-to . . . well you get the idea. In my opinion Frasier is the funniest show on TV. The high class humor is great and I will sheepishly admit I feel attached to TV characters.

3. My sister Katie brought two friends back from the University of Virginia. Rodger and Caitlin have added some welcome energy to our low key family. Rodger lead the men to a come from behind victory in a no-holds-barred game of Taboo, which included Dad hilariously attempting to prompt Rodger and I to say “manure.”

4. A fantastic meal of turkey, stuffing, gravy, crescent roles, broccoli casserole, strawberry salad, and cranberries finished off by pecan and key-lime pie. All praise to my mother who can cook!

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November 27, 2003 at 11:42 pm

Posted in General

A Working Holiday

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On Wednesday I am headed back to the mountains to spend Thanksgiving in Hendersonville with family.

Thanksgiving also means the start of the end-of-semester crunch. In preperation I have decided to try Calvin’s (of Calvin and Hobbes) method of dealing with large amounts of homework: I’ve multiplied myself.

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November 24, 2003 at 9:51 pm

Posted in Pictures

Book Six

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Tonight I followed Sam and Frodo from the tower of Citrith Ungol to the Sammath Naur.

I have been reading the LOTRs in new fashion with this reading. Proceeding at a slow march, with each sentence I have reigned myself in to really listen to the details; to laugh at the humor instead of bounding ahead. And you know what? It is a fabulous story, full of rich details to linger over. This is hardly the first time I’ve ventured through the books but as I write this I sit, still taken by the swirl of the story.

What I’ve enjoyed the most this time through are the quiet vignettes. I find that Tolkien is a master of pace if I will slow my reading enough to hear it. Sam and Frodo struggle across the innards of Mordor with toil and growing despair. As Sam’s deeply loved pots were cast into a fissure with a clattering, empty finality, cast off because all hope of returning was lost; I felt in myself the death-knell to Sam’s heart: the anguish of the moment, infused in such a small detail.

I was particularly taken with the section below tonight. (Those interested can click on the link to read it.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by furthermusings

November 22, 2003 at 12:37 am

Posted in Reflections, Reviews

The Weather

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The weather of Central North Carolina is still a new thing for me.

As the lecture I TA for let out yesterday my fellow TAs and I followed the undergrads (always a mistake) out into the midst of one of the hardest rains I’ve ever experienced. I managed to make it almost a hundred yards from the building before my umbrella blew in half with the top part smacking another TA and then bounding like tumbleweed across one of the quads. Fortunately this did not significantly worsen my condition as I was already soaked through. After regrouping in a nearby building I decided the storm couldn’t make me any wetter than I was and I proceeded back to my building. There I had the unique experience of watching water pour out of the drains instead of in. Yikes that’s a lot of rain!

The whole experience made me remember this Norwegian motto: “There’s no bad weather – only bad clothing.”

Today on the other had is beautiful, as witnessed from my library carol. Not bad eh?

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November 20, 2003 at 12:00 pm

Posted in UNC

As read on Car Talk

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My weekend is drawing to an end and I have just returned from church. During the service it suddenly occured to me that I needed to reflect again on what Click and Clack opened their show with this week.

*******************************************************

This sign was hanging at my local computer store repair shop. It succinctly lets customers know where they stand…

“We have not succeeded in answering all of your problems. The answers we have found only serve to raise a whole set of new questions. In some ways we feel we are as confused as ever, but we believe we are confused on a higher level and about more important things.”

Isn’t that brilliant? It’s the story of my life.

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November 16, 2003 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Reflections

The Yard (or the Jungle?)

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For the last two weeks I’ve been putting in an hour every other day working on the backyard. Since the owners of the house I am housing sitting for have been unable to tend it over the last two years it is a little out of control. So far I’ve cut up and hauled off 10 loads of grass, limbs and vines, which it is about half done. Thankfully yard work makes a nice change from reading journal articles.

Aside from the pleasure of using sharp yard tools, it is soothing to look out and see a cleaner backyard. I’m also hoping that the work will increase the flower production from what appeared this fall. In my tramping around this weekend I’ve managed to locate the grapevines, tomato cages and the iris bed. Now if I can only uncover them . . .

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November 15, 2003 at 4:45 pm

Posted in At the House, Pictures

Opening Day

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My blog has officially been made public on Ellen�s website and by my emailed announcement. All thanks goes out to Ellen for her inspiration and excellent design work in helping this blog change from generic to quite stylish.

My hope is that this blog will give those who know me a chance to look in on your own initiative, instead of my pestering you with emails. I also hope that and love is not the easy thing will provide snippets of stories and thoughts that appeal to more general themes and truths. Ideally this blog will turn out not be about Andy, but instead about the life that Andy is experiencing. That, rightfully, will be a more interesting story.

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November 13, 2003 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Blogroll

Rational Choice

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I spent this afternoon studying for my Scope and Methods of Political Science class in the social sciences library. While reading about theory of the social sciences I engaged in a conversation with a fellow first year grad student E. Our conversation turned into an extended discussion of rational choice. For those yet unversed in paradigms of social theory: rational choice theory espouses the idea that people’s choices can best be understood to based on what outcome they believe will be best for them. Eventually this ends up sounding like a tautology because we can explain any decision based on it being in our calculated best interests. If people choose something which seems stupid it wasn’t, it was logical (rational) according to what they understood and valued at the time. The main implication of this view of the world is that one’s behavior and alterations of behavior can best be understood by changing the incentive structure surrounding the given choice.

What does the non-Political Science world think? Is this hooey? Is it cold and incomplete? Is it common sense?

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November 11, 2003 at 7:53 pm

Fargo

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I just returned from watching Fargo for the first time. I’m still reeling a bit from the intensity of the movie. What stands out in my mind the most is the starkness of the cinematography: the long vignettes of bleak whiteness punctuated with the visual remnants of violence. In the same way the Cohen brothers paint a background of banal mid-western culture with American Swedes which is punctuated by the evil of the characters.

The movie captures 80’s mid-west architecture and style in a manner that might serve as definitional: the grimy interstate behind Lundegaard’s car sales office, the wood paneled restaurants, the hair of the female characters (which in fairness is more stylish than those of the South at the time).

Marge is the character that redeems the movie. In an oscar winning, best-actress performance she shines with the same Swedish niceness yet it shines from the core. As plain as plain can be and by the end I loved her for it. The end of the movie reminded me of my psychologist aunt, who upon returning from work, would thank her family for their wonderful mundane struggles.

Rated R for graphic sexuality, very graphic violence and dismemberment. Intense, well made, disturbing; not for the faint of heart.

Written by furthermusings

November 8, 2003 at 11:51 pm

Posted in Reviews

So it begins . . .

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After long struggle and much perseverance I have installed Moveable Type on my UNC webspace.

Here begins another thread . . .

Written by furthermusings

November 8, 2003 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Blogroll, UNC