Further Musings

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

Archive for September 2006

A Musing

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Does it stand to reason from here that the seller of this egg is pro-life?

Which makes me wonder . . . could a pro-life person be a vegetarian or would they have to be a vegan in order to be consistent?

Written by furthermusings

September 30, 2006 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Laughter

And they’re finished.

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Today I walked into Hamilton Hall, printed out my final answers, and turned them into the departmental secretary thereby finishing 18 hours of exams I have participated in over the last two days. Since there were a record seven people taking this semester’s IR exams I doubt we’ll hear back about the results until after several weeks have passed.

Just in case you were wondering what kind of questions are included on qualifying exams for a Ph.D in political science here are the ones I answered presented for your perusal!

  • “Why do governments fight wars?” is perhaps the single most important question posed by students of international politics. To what extent does the field provide a compelling answer (or answers) to this question? In answering, summarize the explanations contemporary research provides. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each research program. Conclude by suggesting how the study of war might usefully evolve.
  • Within the North-American dominated study of international politics, a distinction between “conflict” and “political economy” still shapes the field. Make a case for a unified approach to thinking about international politics. In particular, (a) identify substantive research topics in political economy where conflict-oriented research informs (or could inform) the analysis of questions commonly viewed as political economy questions; (b) identity substantive research topics in conflict that are or could be informed by the consideration of political economy research. To the extent possible, discuss specific research and specific findings.

  • Agent-based models offer a conception of the international system that is strikingly different from that offered by traditional “polarity” theories of the international system. (a) What kinds of problems have been modeled using agent-based simulations? (b) What kinds of assumptions do such models typically make about the system that they purport to represent? (c) Have such modeling efforts yielded any useful insights about the behavior of historically observed systems? Please identify specific research projects if you can.
  • Imagine that you’ve been asked to write an article about the role of ideas and norms in international relations. Identify a specific research question on this topic, and then discuss how you would structure such a research project. What testable hypotheses would you seek to assess? What methods and evidence would you use and why?

    Written by furthermusings

    September 13, 2006 at 3:58 am

    Posted in Political Science

    Sunday Afternoon

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    It’s late on a Sunday afternoon and I am perched in our bay window musing and listening to Haughty Melodic at full blast. I love having the time and space to listen to music on a decent stereo instead of in a moving car. I love noticing the instrumentation in the background that the road noise drowns out as I travel, it’s an extra musical blessing to be able to sit and hear the different sounds accompanying the lyrics. It makes me miss the stereos past roommates have possessed.

    Today being the Sabbath, I’ve had the luxury of having an afternoon of no studying and no worrying about work to listen to rich music. Being moved in and having the house mostly painted I feel the freedom of not having another pressing job in order to be settled in.

    Today is the second time that I’ve felt luxurious recently; the other being last week when I looked into a full grocery bag of eight juicy, ripe, yellow peaches destined for a cobbler Charity assembled and I thought: “who could ever eat so many peaches?”

    I’ve hunted for the right word to describe that moment of loading peach after peach into my bag and then piling them out onto our kitchen table. Perhaps it’s because our refrigerator doesn’t keep things cold or because it’s just Charity and I but we rarely buy things in quantity, so even though it was just eight peaches it still felt luxurious.

    Perhaps that conception of luxurious would make many people chuckle but experiencing the music, eating peaches and sitting in this bay window, bathed in light and blogging feels pretty luxurious to me.

    It reminds me of a Tolkien passage that I’ve always liked. It’s a sweet section in the midst of a restful and hopeful and mournful conclusion to the epic found at the start of the final chapter.

    “Altogether 1420 in the Shire was a marvelous year. Not only was there wonderful sunshine and delicious rain, in due times and perfect measure, but there seemed something more: an air of richness and growth, and a gleam of a beauty beyond that of mortal summers that flicker and pass upon this Middle-earth. All the children born or begotten in that year, and there were many, were fair to see and strong, and most of them had a rich golden hair that had before been rare among hobbits. The fruit was so plentiful that young hobbits very nearly bathed in strawberries and cream; and later they sat on the lawns under the plum-trees and ate, until they had made piles of stones like small pyramids or the heaped skulls of a conqueror, and then they moved on. And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those who had to mow the grass.”

    J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Book Six Chapter IX.

    Written by furthermusings

    September 3, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    Posted in Pictures, Reflections