Further Musings

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

Archive for November 2004

Six Floors Up

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This afternoon finds me trying to be good and read Democracy and Coercive Diplomacy by Kenneth Schultz in my library cubical. Trying to read academic work is as much an effort to turn off the thoughts of greater meaning and of distractions such as headaches and clouds as it is a simple effort to work.

Last night, after a full weekend of travel, family and friends, I ended up on the back porch with the roommates gone for the evening. The moon has been high and full around 10pm this week and last night it shown brightly down through a few broken clouds. As I looked up at the stars past the pine tree, I sat and prayed for a while, clad in wool sweater as grey as the clouds, and I watched the sky morph above me.

From the west a line of clouds came, silently, over the roof of 101 Thomas Lane and swept eastward towards the moon as secure in its vastness as a mountain. The mass of clouds glowed light grey illuminated by the moonlight and marbled with small, dark patches of night through which the occasional star would shine through the fresh, cold air down to my huddled figure from that great height. As the front came to the moon, the moon seemed to eat the clouds like a vortex, drawing them closer to it until the clouds overcame the moon and all that could be seen was the swirled glow and darkness of the cloud cover. Then as silently as it came, it left, paced with constant glide into the east revealing again the moonlight on the pine tree and a few city stars in the sky.

I tried to describe that to Tim last night. Perhaps this will help describe the sight better. Back to reading . . .

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November 30, 2004 at 1:03 pm

The War Comes Home

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I just received this email from my sister Katie about friends of my family. I know the Arms from their hospitality while visiting Charlottesville. Mom has been emailing me asking me for prayer about the safety of their son, Brad. Please pray for my mother as well as this will be hard blow for her.

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Brad Arms, son of Bob & Betty Arms, was killed yesterday, November 19, 2004, in Falluja, Iraq. Little information is available at this time. Right now the most helpful way that you can support this family is to pray for Bob, Betty, Doug, their extended family and friends as they come to grip with this news.

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November 20, 2004 at 2:28 pm

Posted in General

Sound Tracks

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If you watched me from the outside yesterday afternoon you would have seen me go to class at Duke before driving to Borders, typing for an hour and then retiring to a chair with the newest Atlantic Monthly to read James Fallows talk about invading Iran. What you couldn’t see from the outside was the alternate track that was playing in the background as I did these activities.

As I did things with my body and interacted there was a secondary thought process running that was the “so could Andy do this for a living” conversation. This track constantly checks in on how much I am enjoying whatever activity or world I’m in and then references whatever I know about that world as a career possibility based on my interests, skills and opportunities. By mid-afternoon I had convinced myself that I was going to be a government bureaucrat, a minimum wage cafe worker, a marketing consultant and a college professor.

I think I like life best when either I am engaged enough in the primary thing I should be concentrating on enough that the background conversations aren�t so germane or when life is slow enough that I can un-mix the soundtrack in my head and look at thoughts that have been mulling around in my head for a while.

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November 17, 2004 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Reflections

Grad School and the Internet

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I was trying my hand at journaling again (last entry to date was October 10th) as my computer was in the shop. Normally I think of myself as a good journaler but not last night.

The thing I got to thinking about is the endlessness of the internet. As I looked around my room at my piles of books I got to thinking about how they are finite and unchanging, sitting neatly on their shelves and waiting to be opened, waiting to be sat down with for a long read.

The web seems different to me. It seems an endlessly changing set of pages that each demand to be looked at and yet seem strangely unsatisfying. Even as I think about reading the Times I think about the finite nature of a printed paper and the seeming endless surfing and reading offered up by their website.

I think I like my sheltered little world of novels and histories better. I think that unending, demanding weight and pull of the internet is analogous to what I feel about grad school as well. I think they both damage my ability to journal and my ability to blog. They seem to always demand more and never ask for reflection on a topic. I think I’m looking for something more finite and something more satisfying.

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November 10, 2004 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Reflections

Housewarming

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Today we, the four bachelors, hosted our opening-day house warming party. As our hastened cleaning wound down, one lonely framed poster appeared on the bare walls. As the food came out a stream of friends and family began to file in.

The day was beautiful and it drew our guests out onto the elevated back deck. A croquet set came out and the wooden whacks of the mallets mixed with the laughter of the kids in the sunny afternoon air as we sent our balls flying across the grass on the front side and through and over leaves, rocks and trees on the back half of our impromptu course.

After most folks cleared out Ian was badgered into playing the piano. I loved the full sound of piano filling our downstairs as I went about cooking dinner; I can get used to living with two musicians. I think for the first time we hit a palpable level of comfort tonight as the music mixed with the food, cleaning and left-over conversation.

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November 6, 2004 at 10:10 pm

Posted in At the House

Free Speech and Public Disclosure

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Today our department held a meeting with the University counsel on how we can conduct our classrooms. As you may or may not have heard, the University was recently cleared in an investigation by the Office of Civil Rights in regards to a discrimination case.

The definition of harassment as read to us from the letter of the Office of Civil Rights to the Chancellor stated “involves conduct based on race or sex that denies student rights and ability to participate in or benefit from education programs.” Apparently the key offence that the English professor committed which brought her comments under the Office of Civil Rights was censuring a �white male� as such.

There was also a lot of talk about teacher comments which �chill the climate� in the classroom by suppressing minority groups. I know it�s pass� but I wondered about Christians and Republicans in the classroom. Statistically my sections should have 30 Republicans and 30 Democrats based on the surveys we took in the main lecture and yet I can only identify two conservatives who speak out while I have many outspoken liberals. I wonder if my sections have a �chilled climate.� (which, I should add, is different if they chill it versus me chilling it) I also wondered as several professors and one TA wrestled with how to protect and foster �minority groups.� The example given was a foreign student whose religion was insulted and intimidated during class. I wonder if they ever consider Christians as one of those minorities.

The other interesting note from the meeting was that apparently every email produced or received while carrying out university business is public record and can be requested by interested parties. Also surprising was the revelation that the state attorney general�s office has discretion on whether or not to defend faculty and staff from lawsuits concerning our conduct in the classroom.

Useful things to know.

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November 5, 2004 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Political Science

Election Thoughts

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Couple of quick election thoughts.

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As one of my readings for class this week pointed out, a national election is the most mobilized a nation will be about any one point except for large scale war. 120 million people are estimated to be participating in the same national activity at one time.

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I asked a conservative friend from the department if he was going to watch the returns at Linda’s, the bar the poli department has commandeered. His answer was “I’ve worn a Georgia Bulldogs shirt into Williams-Bryce stadium (home of the South Carolina Gamecocks). I don’t intend to repeat the experience.”

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Nathan sent me his election predictions. I’ve posted them below. Kudos to Nathan for following polls enough to sound intelligent and gutsy enough to make a prediction. Nobody in the poli department has been willing to guess.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by furthermusings

November 2, 2004 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Politics