Monday, January 25, 2010

Trains of Thought: No Crossing.

3:38 PM Posted by Patrick , , 5 comments
"Because," I said, "the free man ought not to learn any study slavishly. Forced labors performed by the body don't make the body any worse, but no forced study abides in a soul." -Plato

One word. Communication.

Public speech I can do. Memorizing a few dozen terms that I will never seriously use, which no one outside of a business seminar or a com department will, so, stupid.

I think I am one of just a couple of people who have done their thinks the sharp and sarcastic Frau Schulz will have munitions come Wednesday.

I have honestly been contemplating the possibility of shaving myself bald this fall. At current rate I probably have three years or so before my issue necessitates action, but curiosity is eating at me.

O-M-G! Like, the Masterpiece Theatre version of Emma is, like, so amazing. It totally deserves the comparisons to P&P '95.

Back to eavesdropping.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

After a Long(forced) Hiatus.

Why does homework consume so much of my time? It does not help that I let my German Vocab Stagnate during the off-season; that I now find myself scrambling to capture some of those lost idioms. But the real difference comes with Bartky. It would be a lot easier if I did what has been suggested to me by those who have taken this class previously and just breezed through Plato and concentrate on the exams. However, if I took that course--easy though it may be--I would be defeating the whole purpose of taking this class, which is to learn, reason, and read the texts well. If I must go back and read that same page three times, so be it. The point of taking this class is to get a proper foundation for understanding western thought, and one does not get that by breezing through and looking to the exams.

So it seems to me that there are two themes in this epic conflict of me versus me. On the one hand, we have the conflict of profit/career versus wisdom. Am I at college for the little document that says I jump hoops well and am not unintelligent? Or am I there to learn, hone my reason, and obtain a greater understanding of the world in which I exist and of the other residents/inmates of said world? Decidedly the latter. If I were in this for purely monetary purposes I would crack the whip on my math and start toward pre-med. It would not be easy, but it is certainly within my ability and would yield a far more certain profit.

What would be the price? The workings of the human body are certainly interesting, but it is a topic for which i have no love. In my humble and oh-so-correct opinion, the pursuit of justice is rather more interesting than the pursuit of kidney stones. I prefer argument, debate, and writing over the examination of crusty bulges and removal thereof.

No. I think I will stick with the same profession I have wished to follow since I was ten years old. A profession which will require me to think in sound logical terms, and to tear apart those who do not. Before I can follow through with that I will need to read with a logical and critical eye.

And so the first battle, upon closer examination, also holds the answer for the second, which was along the lines of ease and pleasure versus effort and fatigue. To get what I desire requires the latter. If I elected the former, I could probably still complete school with excellent grades and get a job; I could also live off the charity of the state. I am not in this world to do a half-assed job and float by while someone other does the work. The idea is not to live a life of comfortable mediocrity. Effort must be the choice, because, when I really consider it carefully, it is actually the only choice that exists.

Moving on...

Symposium. This of course meant company, crammed schedule, and that I got to see some dear faces for the first time in a year, for some it had been more. Sadly, I did not get to attend very much this year, and class preempted the two lectures I most wanted to observe. But there was gemütlichkeit and the usual cheery meeting of friends that surrounds this event every year. Hmm. Interesting tidbit that came out was the possibility of having one of this year's HT conferences at Vanderbilt. I would have to attend that. Just watch, in thirty years, George might be Fosco. He beams, bounces lightly, and schmoozes well enough.

I guess that there is one more massive event that occurred while my computer cord was lost--did I not mention I lost the cord...oh well--that would be the election of Scott Brown to the Senate. I don't think it need be reiterated how monumental this was. The election of Mr.Brown to a district that hadn't even seen a serious republican campaign in thirty years is astonishing; that he did so with the President, Speaker of the House, and Senate Majority Leader campaigning for his opponent just adds to the statement. This happened for one reason; those pushing for a bureaucratization of health-care did not realize just how bitterly unpopular such a step is. When registered democrats turn out in droves to vote for a republican, you know that they mean business.

Something needs to be understood by those who are the architects of these plans; they work for the voting populace. When they say no to a program, it is fine to respond with "but it is good for you." However, when the boss remains adamant that your proposal is not acceptable, you do not go behind his back and try to broker the deal anyway. Those who follow this course of action get fired. Congressional representatives need to realize that they are there to execute the will of the people, as long as the will of the people is in accordance with the constitution. The House was to be the direct representative of the people. The Senate was to be a more contemplative and unchanging body. The House was to present the desire of the people, the Senate was to see to the moderation of that desire. Of course, along came bribery and corruption which destroyed the senate as it should have been, in response we did the only thing that made sense at the time, now we have two houses of representatives and no true senate.

Wow, am I all over the place today or what?

The point is that the people are stirred. Mass communication gives access to the dishonesty and conceit of our politicians as we have never had before. These politicians just happen to be on the receiving end of our displeasure at having found their duplicity. I think I have to give majority credit for this victory to Glenn Beck. He took the normally impotent and ineffective populace and armed them with ugly truth. He replaced the voices of pundits who 'the folks' used to turn to; the broken records who went on and on without saying anything of substance. Strident terriers like Hannity, hateful and evil loons like Savage are now obsolete, as they should have been some time ago. I appreciate Glenn because he is not a party hack and he is always, first and foremost, about honesty and following the proper protocol in the governance of our nation. Corruption thrives in the midst of chaos. When all things are done according to the rules, there can be no place for deviance. The first requirement for a government to be just, is for a government to be orderly. The rules are there, Beck is just pointing out when they are being broken.

A last random thing that I picked up that deserves note as it challenges, rightly, the notion that power corrupts. It is not the power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Instead, it is that power shows character and absolute power shows character absolutely. Easy enough to say that you would never take the power to do what you wished, push through the legislation that you wished, helped the people you wanted to help at another person's expense. You have never had to face the temptation, and neither have I, but I don't think we could resist it.

Ah, the things we learn while studying political theory...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fallen Knights.

9:04 PM Posted by Patrick , , , , 3 comments
I have read the first assignments for my history class, and I am deeply, truly, disappointed. I love history; it is--and has been--the topic which most captures my imagination. It is a winding, delicate, and striking synthesis of politics, philosophy, and every little thing that has come to define civilization. I love history because I love its constituent parts. I love the moments when things take their place in the order of history, when the chaos fades, receding to reveal the fabric of reason which has ever lain beneath.

History has always taken a somewhat considerable part of my reading time. The work of a gifted historian is art. It is a beautiful portrait that conveys thought and emotion, the burning sting of personal disappointment; the staggering enormity of grand empires which slowly grind themselves into the dust, which dust is but the remains of the mighty edifice that was their supposed immortality.

No event in history is a matter of black and white. All situations have many sides. It is because of the many sides of history that a historian must guard their objectivity with singular purpose and zeal. For historians who write for the education of those who are, as yet, developing, objectivity is law. Poor instruction makes for poor students, and faulty and incomplete information lays a foundation for misunderstanding and ignorance. Take the greatest novel ever written--Pride & Prejudice or The Brothers Karamazov: Dickens need not apply--remove half the words and tell me what you have. Remove Darcy from Pride & Prejudice. What is your story? You cannot just ignore players because you don't like what the have to say.

What sparked all of this anger and ennui? Foner provides only one side--of the many available--and does so to the exclusion of a great many facts and trends that showed their influence in later years. You would think that the Gilded Age had but one expanding and morphing conflict and that it was all class struggle. He forgets the horrifying ramifications of some of the trends he lauds. His is a story of the darkness against the light. The Hobbits rallied together as the Nazgul circled round. The synopsis of the material I just withstood would read like a cliche movie plot. Foner should know better. Foner does know better. But his desire to commit his opinions and preferences to posterity has lead him to violate that which should have been sacred to a man of his position. I actually experienced physical pain in reading his text and do not look forward to future readings.

If you wish to write a skewed history for the reading pleasure of those who agree with you wholeheartedly, do so. However, to use a text which will be required student reading as a vessel for your ideology is a bastardization of office. A historian is a guardian of the truth, of human thought, events, culture, and the form which they take today.

Tell me. What to do with a treacherous knight who turns on his queen? He knows history, but he is no historian.

Mehr Besser! ;-p

3:57 PM Posted by Patrick , , , , No comments
I think I just met my new favourite professor. Elliot Bartky is awesome. He makes you explain your comments, extensively, makes you own your comments and never shows whether or not he approves. His expression is always one of doubt or skepticism, even when it is about an idea he is presenting. Opinion is not to be seen, and the experience is much better for it. He also has a good sense of humor and an excellent lecture voice, which is bigger for me than you might believe.

My new history professor should be okay, though I don't think she would probably appreciate my thoughts on certain subjects, and certainly would not have enjoyed it if I had called her on something she said during class. Oh well, I will hope for the best.

Dillman, my communication teacher is one for whom I have hope. She, unlike someone in my last semester, believes that this needs to be a creative exercise with as much freedom as possible to run with our ideas. She will have strict requirements on quality and volume, but how we decide and what we decide to present remain entirely at our discretion. She was personable and an excellent conversationalist. We will see how her teaching abilities match up.

I was also pleased to see so many familiar faces in my Political Theory class. I thought there would be a few, but I never imagined that many.

The negative point for the day has something to do with a blackboard attack on my happiness. But more about that later.

Tomorrow I get my hands on some techies...and Seitz.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ersten Tag

Frau Cornelia Schulz ist meine neue Deutschlehrerin. And I think class is going to be a blast. German this semester looks rather like the best half of Doctor Roberts class, with the addition of--at least I think from statements made by Frau Schulz--the better part of her last class. It seems to be a generally fun group, wherein conversation flows in a way it has never done for any of my other classes. I might add that Schulz has many of the desirable people management skills which past professors have lacked. Normally, in my experience, class conversation sort of shrivels and dies the second the professor walks in. She is very good at putting everyone at ease, casual in her air, strict in her expectations. I noticed from comments beforehand that all of her past students adore her, but they also respect her. Good sign.

And it is my pleasure to have the company of the same people who sat around me last time. Brian, the honcho of the campus atheists, who now seems to be majoring in 5 subjects. Hobbesian, Marxist, and well read, with a slight but lingering geeky aftertaste, Brian makes for decent company and brain exercise. Winston, brother of mine and, as he would have it, the only black physics student coming out of IPFW in living memory. Winston's lighthearted predictions of his own doom and torture at the hands of the good doctors, Wong and Masters, serve to remind me that there are worse things than death. And, the final person with whom I invariably ended up sitting, Jasmina. Winston's boss, devoted shopaholic, and favourite target for needling on the subjects of blonds and Bosnians, she may be the only reason that Winston ever finishes his German homework on time.

Tomorrow will see the beginning of my work in earnest. I look forward to a five hour day and all the homework that such a day entails. But...

*slightly higher and lilting* But...

*Excited, glass shattering, bats and dogs type pitch* Real Books!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Wide Vista of Idiocy

Ah, yes. Computer difficulties already spike my blood pressure, but now they come with these little panels that taunt me. The panels say that they are looking for a solution; I am not deceived. For one thing they never find a solution, usually they make my current situation worse by eating up what little computer function I had left. This is a pretty regular thing, but normally easy to solve.

The reason that I mention the above is because I had a new and remarkably destructive Vista error just a few days ago. Said error set to work and corrupted my administrator profile and cut me off from all of my myriad files and web favourites. I spent most of the day muttering dark imprecations against windows and those whose minds devised it.

After much impotent wrath had been expended, I decided to set to the problem and see if I could do something. Several hours later I had a new profile and, having saved my papers and other important documents, I set to the recreation of my internet favourites...which is still going on.

It is moments like these where I must concede victory to the infernal Mac nerds, from behind whose, half inch, bullet-proofed, black-rimmed, glasses comes much smug wisdom. Their computer is superior to mine, as is their knowledge of Starcraft, Jedi rituals, Star trek, and Final Fantasy. Oh, oh, woe is me. ;-p

Seriously. As long as the glasses and Klingon word stems aren't required for mac users, I might have to consider a mac. Vista is the strongest advertisement for mac; none stronger.

Friday, January 1, 2010


12:10 AM Posted by Patrick , 1 comment
Saving a resolution for the new year is a practice with which I do not really hold. If something I need to reform on comes to mind, I act on that knowledge. So my resolution is what it was; enact my resolutions when they come to mind and strive always to be a better son, grandson, brother, and human being in general. I will receive good grades and improve my mind and will love every second of it.

The problem with making these new year resolutions can be observed by the rise and ebb of traffic in the YMCA parking lot. They resolve; they tire; they fail. Do not save your resolutions for the new year and do not consider your resolutions only once a year. Each day is a day for new resolve. Do not think about the steps you could take to better yourself, just take them.

None of these things are easy and I feel like I seldom succeed. Seldom, though, means that I do succeed in some places.

And even in those times where my resolutions fail and my slovenly nature and general difficult maleness take over, I know that my failures are already washed away in the Blood of The Lamb, Who takest away the sin of the world. It is not my resolve that matters.

This year I will see failures; I always do. We will all see failure. We will hurt the ones we love and disappoint those whom we respect. But no jot of it will be counted against us.

If you feel the need to make a resolution and feel that you will not have the presence to do so another time; then resolve yourself to remember that your resolve does not matter. Resolve yourself to the understanding that all things good have been resolved in your favour. You are named blameless, spotless, and perfect; an heir of the Blood and Lineage of God. And nothing--no failures, fears, evil words, or violence--nothing can remove your Father's name from you, which he placed in your baptism.

Resolve yourself, thus. Eat The Body and drink The Blood of God; Eat and Drink to life eternal.

A+D 2010