30 April 2005 - Saturday
Forbearance and fellowship
My weekend reading project is The Jeweler's Shop: A Meditation on the Sacrament of Matrimony, Passing on Occasion into a Drama, by the late John Paul II. It was first published in 1960, while he was still a bishop in Poland.
The first act features alternating soliloquies by Teresa and Andrew, who describe their recent courtship. Here is an excerpt from Andrew's first speech, in which he explains how he grew slowly to love Teresa, almost in spite of his expectations:
I thought much at the time about the "alter ago."
Teresa was a whole world, just as distant
as any other man, as any other woman.
-- and yet there was something that allowed one to think of throwing a bridge.
I let that thought run on, and even develop within me.
It was not an assent independent of an act of will.
I simply resisted sensation and the appeal of the senses,
for I knew that otherwise I would never really leave my "ego"
and reach the other person -- but that meant an effort.
For my senses fed at every step
on the charms of the women I met.
When once or twice I tried following them,
I met solitary islands.
This made me think that beauty accessible to the senses
can be a difficult gift or a dangerous one;
I met people led by it to hurt others
-- and so, gradually, I learned to value beauty
accessible to the mind, that is to say, truth.
I decided then to seek a woman who would be indeed
my real "alter ego" so that the bridge between us
would not be a shaky footbridge among water lilies and reeds.
The black dog and the bulldog
Mark Grimsely, whose stylish and prolific War Historian has been putting a lot of other academic bloggers to shame, has a post on Churchill's depression and the stigma of mental illness:
Notwithstanding Churchill's example and that of many others known to have had mental illnesses of various sorts -- to say nothing of "normal" individuals -- when it comes to explaining the views and behavior of historical actors, historians still tend to avoid psychology as an analytical tool. ... [Much of it may come from the assumption] that highly functional people cannot, by definition, have significant mental or emotional disorders. Or to frame it in the reverse, that people with such disorders reveal crippling weaknesses that unfit them for significant historical agency.
28 April 2005 - Thursday
All the news we have time to print
My congratulations to Michaela and Spencer on getting out an excellent edition of the YellowJacket today. Page A5 includes a feature by your humble servant.
27 April 2005 - Wednesday
Happy survey day
Today I got my first college-level history survey textbook.
See, I discovered during my senior year of high school that the College Board offers a set of exams called "CLEP." With suitably high scores on these exams, I learned, I could get credit for various college courses. I also discovered that these exams are ridiculously easy.
By taking CLEP tests, I managed to get college credit for both semesters of US History and both semesters of Western Civilization. The first history course I actually took in university was a senior-level class. Occasionally I wonder what I missed in those four courses, but I've never regretted avoiding them.
This afternoon, I wandered into a history professor's office to borrow some animal crackers. While I was there, he asked, "You haven't taken any survey classes, have you?"
I replied that I had not.
"Here," he said, opening a package. "You'll probably find it useful to have a survey text on hand for reference -- and I have no other way to dispose of this." He handed me an examination copy of a brand-new US history book. It was a hefty hardback -- easily worth $100 except for the "not for sale" notice on the cover -- still in shrink wrap.
Perhaps I shall add it to my reading list.
23 April 2005 - Saturday
I'm really, really sorry about this. Really, I am. I want to post real content, I really do. But the end of the semester is upon me, and I'm behind on just about everything I could possibly fall behind on. Therefore . . . .
American Cities That Best Fit You:
|60% New York City|
|60% Washington, DC|
|55% San Francisco|
21 April 2005 - Thursday
I don't really have anything to say to him, but somebody else might, so I thought I'd mention it. Benedict XVI has been given an e-mail address: email@example.com. I'm sure that answering millions of electronic messages is pretty high on his priority list . . . .
19 April 2005 - Tuesday
I'll be a monkey's uncle. Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI.
17 April 2005 - Sunday
I found a Firefox extension that adds a countdown clock to the browser. I downloaded it and set the counter for 6 May 2006:
The anticipated degree is my bachelor's in history/political science and business administration.
15 April 2005 - Friday
History Carnival VI
The sixth history carnival, chaired by Jonathan Dresner, is now up at Cliopatria. Dresner chose a fun conference-program format:
Speeches (opening and closing) will be in the Droning Auditorium. Panels will be in the Alumni Donor Memorial Classroom. Poster Session will be in the big Theory Hall; Mini-Panels will meet on the left end of Theory Hall, unless the participants refuse to appear together. Papal Working Group will meet in secret.Your humble servant is especially excited this time. His blog is included in the carnival; the recent musing on evangelical historiography was selected for the panel on "religious cultures and modernities." Fortunately, the panel has several other members to bring the quality back up. Caleb McDaniel speaks to "Democratization and Christianity"; Mark LeVine presents "Some Thoughts on the 'End of Arab History'"; and Brandon Watson reflects on the moral order espoused by Jules Verne in "Master of the World."
Take a look at the rest of the presenters, too. I think this is the best format yet for a carnival.
14 April 2005 - Thursday
Yahoo! News Beta
Yahoo! News, long the Internet's (and thus the world's) most convenient source of general news, is beta-testing a new format.
So far, the new design seems barely more functional than the old one. Since I'm in the school computer labs at the moment, I haven't tried it in any browser except Internet Explorer.
Yahoo! News has been due for a visual makeover for at least three years. Its template still has that "new economy" feel to it. Somehow, though, I prefer that look. It's sensible and functional, as if Yahoo! understands the nature of news: raw, industrial, unpolished.
13 April 2005 - Wednesday
WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of Their Lives!"
It passed, by the way.
10 April 2005 - Sunday
Two kinds of colleague
Premchand (Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava, 1880-1936):
It's a mystery why there's just as much love among the wicked as malice among the good. Scholars, holy men and poets sizzle with jealousy when they see other scholars, holy men and poets. But a gambler sympathizes with another gambler and helps him, and it's the same with drunkards and thieves. Now, if a Brahman Pandit [scholar of the highest caste] stumbles in the dark and falls then another Pandit, instead of giving him a hand, will give him a couple of kicks so he won't be able to get up. But when a thief finds another thief in distress he helps him. Everybody's united in hating evil so the wicked have to love one another; while everybody praises virtue so the virtuous are jealous of each other. What does a thief get by killing another thief? Contempt. A scholar who slanders another scholar attains to glory.-- "The Road to Salvation," trans. David Rubin.
9 April 2005 - Saturday
More HHGG forebodings
M. J. Simpson has a low opinion of the new movie:
As well as being staggeringly unfunny - and Hitchhiker’s Guide really is one of the least funny comedy films ever made - the film also suffers by having an entirely nonsensical plot.
Despite the astounding workload I face in the next three weeks, I spent yesterday evening at Hootenanny, my school's annual variety show. The performance went well, I thought; I enjoyed myself quite a bit more than I did two years ago, when I last attended the event. LeTourneau has some pretty talented students.
The show left me strangely tired, however. My senses overload easily, I suppose, and the smoke machine used in one of the acts probably triggered a mild allergic response. Furthermore, I still find myself drained of energy by most large gatherings.
That may be useful, however. I need to stay away from people for the next few days in order to get my work done. Perhaps Hootenanny was the emotional stimulus I needed to make the cloistering less painful.
7 April 2005 - Thursday
Let the carnivals bloom
Here's a great idea: the first edition of the Biblical Studies Carnival. I'll be watching this one closely; the quality of the entries is striking. (Thanks to Sharon Howard at Early Modern Notes for the link.)
5 April 2005 - Tuesday
"Real world" indeed
I am losing patience with the business half of my degree program. Now that I have shifted my career plans away from political science, the major doesn't make any sense except as a "backup plan" that will be worthless within very few years of graduation.
Today I made a B on a management exam. Studying for this exam involved (but was not limited to) going over incoherent PowerPoint files put together by the instructor. Here's an example slide:
Goals of Strategic Compensation PoliciesJust how does one motivate value of compensation? Or how does one pay for performance standard?
* Linking Compensation to Organizational Objectives
* Pay for Performance Standard
* Motivating Value of Compensation
Another slide includes a helpful clip-art graphic of a woman writing something on a piece of paper. The entire text of that slide is as follows:
Administering Incentive PlansThat is so enlightening I could squeal.
To think of all the time I could have spent taking real courses . . . .
4 April 2005 - Monday
Earlier this semester, somebody asked me whether Section 5.2.2 is still in effect. Apparently students have had occasion to invoke it recently.
Yes, there is a ten-minute rule at LeTourneau University. No, it's not an urban legend (not at this school, anyway).
The latest version of the Faculty-Staff Handbook was published on 23 August 2004. Here is Section 5.2.2:
3 April 2005 - Sunday
Reuters has brief sketches of some of the apparent contenders for the papacy ("papabili").
To me, for some reason, one of the most interesting is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a relatively obscure Jesuit from Argentina. Among his qualifications: Latin American origins (yet an Italian family), an apparently militant lack of ambition, the fact that no Jesuit has ever been pope before, and the fact that I haven't seen his name on many other lists. ("He who enters the conclave as pope leaves it as a cardinal.")
Catholic-Pages.com has a fun description of the election process.
For those with a taste for the tasteless, the Dennis for Pope campaign has a helpful list of current contenders.
2 April 2005 - Saturday
Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson is now available online. I wish the PDF were not just a photocopy of the book, though; the file is a bit too large to be practical -- unlike the text itself, which is splendid for readers with limited experience in political economy.
Noticed at Liberty and Power.
Twenty-six years ago
AP correspondent Robert H. Reid was in Warsaw:
On an icy October night a quarter-century ago, a nervous-looking anchorman on Polish television stared at his notes as he blurted out the news: "A new pope has been elected." Pausing, he added: "It's Wojtyla," and then went on to report the rest of the day's news.
1 April 2005 - Friday
History Carnival V
The fifth history carnival is up at ClioWeb. Since I've been thinking about literature quite a bit lately, here are some entries that relate to the proper care and feeding of texts:
The Little Professor reflects on the relationship between literary criticism and historical context (specifically, where nineteenth-century anti-Catholic literature is concerned). >>
Caleb McDaniel adds that it can be especially difficult for teachers to get students to approach texts simultaneously as rhetoric and as reportage. >>
Nathanael D. Robinson explains why he likes using Tacitus' The Germania in class. >>
Sepoy describes searching through some rather some rather fanciful medieval European depictions of Islam in an attempt to track down the origins of the word termagant (i.e., shrew). >>
Eb notes that a text can be a source for all sorts of clues about the context within which it was created; in this case, an advertisement for Uncle Tom's Cabin raises questions about the number of German-speakers in America in the nineteenth century. >>