Further Musings

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

Archive for September 2005

In Case You’re Thinking of Buying a Car

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“What all this means is that the petroleum industry is approaching a turning point. Conventional petroleum production will soon–perhaps in five years, ten at best–no longer be able to satisfy demand. For their part, American consumers would do well to take a cue from their Western European counterparts, who enjoy a comfortable lifestyle despite a per capita use of petroleum that is half of that in the United States. The sooner the United States begins this transition away from oil, the easier it will be. That’s a far more attractive option than trying to squeeze oil from stone.”

An excerpt from an article discussing an Exxon-Mobile corporate report which predicts a peak of non-OPEC oil production within the next five years. It was referenced by one of my professors on his blog.

Itís a pretty readable article if youíre interested. Reading it makes me catch my breath to think of the consequences.

Written by furthermusings

September 29, 2005 at 8:14 am

Posted in Politics

Pictures Galore

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Renae has recently admitted a growing addiction to posting photos on Flicker. This has the happy benefit of making many pictures from our wedding available online.

To appropriately view make sure that you have Beautiful Day by U2 is playing in the background and enjoy!

Written by furthermusings

September 28, 2005 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Pictures

A Note Card from Clemson Days

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As I was looking for a Tolkien quote today for use in another blog entry I found a note card with the following quote written on it. I used to have it taped to the monitor of my computer to remind me of the perils of the internet:

“Strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish . . . ”

I donít know what it was originally written about but reading that card again makes me feel queasy about my time spent surfing of the NYTimes, the Weather Channel, and ESPN.

Written by furthermusings

September 25, 2005 at 9:31 pm

Posted in General

Why Mornings are Dangerous

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This morning I came to campus on my bicycle. As I left the Carrboro bike path and began to peddle slowly up Cameron Avenue in the bike lane I realized that I was feeling comparatively virtuous. Here is a running account of what was going through my head as I felt this way:

As I whisked by the pedestrians strolling towards campus using the brick sidewalk to my right I thought ďI am more efficient than they for they are walking and I am speeding past them.Ē

As cars puttered and purred past me on my left and I thought, ďI am more environmentally friendly than they. Not to mention Iím saving money and am therefore more thrifty. Also my means of transportation will allow beat them to Hamilton Hall (because clearly that is where all these cars are headed!?). I will zip across the sidewalks and park next to the buildings. I am efficient!Ē

No buses passed me but if it had Iím sure I would have thought ďThey may be as environmentally friendly as I am. They may be dropped in the center of campus. But I am getting more exercise.Ē

* * * * *

Now in, actuality I ride my bike because I canít park on campus and it is faster to bike the 1.7 miles than it is to take the bus (the bike path allows me to skip most of the traffic lights). Itís efficiency that drives me, so why is it that I keep comparing myself to everyone and feeling virtuousness as I ride around?

The irony of course is that by feeling superior to everyone else Iím actually being arrogant, not virtuous. And, at least for me, that is why mornings are dangerous.

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September 19, 2005 at 11:34 am

Posted in UNC

Continuing on a Theme

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As I read this passage today by Jeanne Murray Walker where she describes her experience reading of Alice Munro during her dissertation writing days as a stay at home mother I thought it was an interesting thought in thinking about fiction.

“Sitting here as I write this now, twenty-five years later, it is hard to describe the joy I felt when I first read passages like this. Someone had already hacked a path through my wilderness. As Robert Browning pointed out, we frequently don’t see in life what we haven’t seen first in art.”

She continues, “Without Munro’s Stories, I believe I would have endured those days silently, rather like an animal, and then forgotten them, since I had no words to catalogue or remember them by. In short, the stories showed me the actors of my own strange and solitary life in a way that gave them meaning.

I began to think of the stories as a means of grace.”

From Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, Number 34.

Written by furthermusings

September 18, 2005 at 3:31 pm

Posted in Reflections

Good Point

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The NY Times ran an interesting op-ed today on the high price of textbooks required for university classes. The article talks about the rise of textbook prices, speculates to some of the reasons, and has an interesting idea about how to mitigate the problem.

It’s a subject I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been planning my classes. For my class I’ve asked the students to purchase the following books:

Understanding International Conflicts by Joseph Nye: $46.60
International Political Economy: Interests and
Institutions in the Global Economy
by Thomas Oatley: $63.00
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli: $30.00

That’s $139.60 for each student. The Oatley and Nye books are in new editions so the students can’t get them much cheaper than that. The Rivoli book can be found for $20 on the web.

What bothers me about it is that while there is zero choice in the system for students and no cost to professors the books we choose. Moreover, when a professor assigns her own book she gets a nice cut of the profits. While I think the motivation of professors to assign their own book is more out of genuine belief in their product there is certainly a conflict of interests.

I don’t get anything for assigning a particular book but I do get a free copy from the publisher. Picking a book has no cost to me. I make it a point to put a copy on reserve in the library for students to use and to get good use out of the textbook in class but still . . . that’s a lot of money.

Written by furthermusings

September 16, 2005 at 10:01 pm

Posted in Political Science

Sunday Morning Lament

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Yesterday I wrote an email to two friends lamenting how little fiction I read these days. I’m not sure why I read so little but the lack of reading it leaves me feeling impoverished. It is a vibrant part of my life that isnít a part of life at the moment.

As I sit back in my living room this morning, typing and watching the shadows dance on the peace lily, I am missing being swept up and captured by the swirl of reading. I miss the sense of anticipation that comes as I wonder what will happen next. I miss the rich, descriptive details, interesting vignettes, and small side plots. I miss coming to the end of a section, sitting back, shaking my head and then reading it again. I miss the beauty, the accuracy, the insight of prose.

I miss empathizing with the characters. I miss knowing the details and thoughts of characters lives. Reading gives me access to lives and thoughts and hearts, more access than I often get out of my real-life interactions with people. Reading fiction helps me to be more sympathetic and more able to sympathize.

I miss the draw of the book that makes me want to meander back upstairs and read just one more chapter. I miss reading fiction.

Written by furthermusings

September 11, 2005 at 10:26 am

Posted in Reflections