Written Words: Inane babblings about food

May 30, 2010

As I am in Rome, I have decided to chronicle my food. However, I don’t think that I will bother filling up space here with it. Check it out at: Random Ravings of a Rambunctious Rapscallion

*beware, if you go back more than a couple posts, you will find really dull posts about blogging, growing a moustache, and other, similarly silly subjects.

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Found Words – Malcom Gladwell

May 28, 2010

“Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade.  It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone’s head.”

Amen.


Written Words – Partisanship

May 24, 2010

“Racist”

“Baby killers”

“Communist”

“Antichrist”

“Naive”

“Robin Hood”

“You hate the poor”

“You’re jealous of the rich”

“You fund laziness”

“Socialism”

“Government should help people”

“Government should leave people alone”

“Death panels”

Since my recent interest in politics, I’ve always (maybe naively?) believed that partisan politics was ideal.  That it encouraged debate, pushed people to think through their ideas, strengthen their arguments, and genuinely figure out how they really feel things should be run.

Since President Obama has taken office however (admittedly the first presidential campaign that I followed from the primaries all the way through the final elections, on both sides of the isle) I’m less convinced that partisan politics is anything more than high school cliques.

I don’t understand how I can have a civil debate with 2 friends, who generally have more conservative views than I do, on a regular basis.  How even with my limited, though growing, knowledge of politics I can push them, and learn from them, without it turning into name calling and asinine accusations.  Yet I can’t watch CSPAN and see what should be the brightest of the bright engage in anything more than partisan “We’re right, you’re wrong”.  I find it hard to believe that every democrat genuinely thinks every democratic idea/bill is perfect, yet they seemingly always vote that way.  I find it hard to believe that every republican feels the same way about every issue within their own party.  Yet it seems that almost every bill passed is split by party.

I could be wrong about the previous paragraph, the health care fiasco got me so confused I nearly gave up trying to understand it by the end, and I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to figure out how it will effect me.  But the terms listed above in quotes are just a few of the terms I’ve heard politicians (note, POLITICIANS, I’m talking congressmen and senators, not political commentators) spit out about people of opposite parties.  How is that good?  How does that help us? How does that make our leaders smarter, and better leaders?  How does that educate their constituents on the actual facts that will effect their lives?

Can we at the very least agree that we want what’s best for our country, and byway of that ourselves?  But maybe that’s just the naivety of someone who’s new to the party and has watched too many episodes of the West Wing.


Written Words – Time to Leave

May 23, 2010

We’re down to the final few days of school for the year and I can feel impatience building in me minute by minute. I can’t focus for longer than a few minutes at a time, and there have been moments in class when I seriously think I’m losing my mind.

I don’t think I’m the only one. There’s a single TA for this crazy block, a TA who’s been working really hard to keep the class on top of things despite a flood of information. A TA who thanked us for giving him a copy of last year’s exam to put online for us after he couldn’t find one.

Each week he sends a summary to explain the material from the week before, just in case it wasn’t clear during the actual lectures (an eventuality that has, sadly, been true for me most of the time). His “round-ups” are usually lengthy, precise, and extremely helpful. The final round-up came out a few hours ago, and I think our TA has finally succumbed to dreams of summer.

“i. In the awake state, cortical neurons are unsynchronized, doing many different things.

1.     It is like a whitewater rapids, which have a lot of activity, but no overall pattern.

ii. In the deepest stages of sleep (sometimes called “slow wave sleep”), neurons are in sync.

1.     There are coordinated oscillatory waves rolling across cortex, like a gentle tide.”

I can guess where he’s going for vacation after classes get out…


Found Words – Paul Farhi

May 21, 2010

“Big-time heists like the Paris job occupy a special place in the public imagination. They aren’t like ordinary crimes, which are dreary and depressing. Novels, movies and TV shows have trained us to believe a good caper is thrilling, even admirable. We think we know the vocabulary and visual terrain, from the dashing perp (Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” is your go-to guy here) to the shocked-and-outraged victim to the feckless investigators.

“But even stripped of Hollywood artifice, major art thefts are different. Unlike ordinary burglaries, they take planning and scheming, which invests them with a certain kind of intelligence and criminal nobility. Short of a broken window or two, they rarely involve physical violence or even guns. They involve insanely valuable objects, which elevates the act above the commonplace. Most of all, they take something missing from most crimes: nerve and smarts.”

-“In Grand Fashion, thief makes off with five masterpieces from museum in Paris,” Paul Farhi, The Washington Post, May 21, 2010


Found Words – Vikram Seth

May 21, 2010

“You should commission something from a really good composer.  That’s the way to get reviews.  Let me introduce you to Zensyne Church. That’s him over there.  He’s just written a marvelous piece for baritone and vacuum cleaner.”

-from “An Equal Music”

//hat tip DRD, who commented, “Or maybe bassoon and vibraphone?”


Found Words – Dr. Dawn Day

May 20, 2010

A fascinating take on the morality of needle exchange programs for IV drug users from a Jesuit-affiliated doctor in NJ:

“[I]f a women has a life-threatening hemorrhage after giving birth, we want the doctor to provide medical treatment at once. We do not want the doctor to first inquire about the circumstances under which the woman became pregnant. Or when an ambulance goes to the scene of an accident, we want all those who need help to be treated, even the person that caused the accident.”

And continuing:

“There is a dangerous curve in the road. One speeding driver dies. Then another. Then another. They should not be speeding. They are responsible. But we know the curve is dangerous. Don’t we have an obligation to post a warning sign? Put in a stop light? Change the traffic pattern? Perhaps even straighten the road? And the driver is not always alone. Sometimes a wife or husband is along. Sometimes a newborn child. And so it is with injecting drugs in the age of AIDS. People who inject drugs know they are taking a risk. But we know too. I believe we have an obligation to permit people who inject drugs to have access to sterile needles so they can protect their health. Injection drug users are also God’s children. And, like the reckless driver in the example above, people who inject drugs have wives, husbands, and babies. When we abandon the person who injects drugs to HIV/AIDS, we are abandoning their non-drug injecting partners and babies as well. God has given us knowledge with which to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS to all these people. Let us use it.”