Wednesday, May 18, 2005

George Will surprise

No, it’s not a dessert or a variety show. George Will’s bi-weekly column is probably my favorite thing about Newsweek (edging out riot-inducing, retractable stories). His current column contains a nice array of stunning factoids about our surprising universe and (somewhat awkwardly) uses that as a way to say that we ought to be careful about claiming too much certainty. It’s interesting coming from Will, as he is typically passionate (in his intellectual, conservative way) about ideas. Perhaps his point as simple as someone quoted someone else to me yesterday: ideas are good; ideology is bad. (But I wonder if that’s not a bit too facile.) Anyway, not his best-written column, but the one I chose to share.

Notwithstanding my smart-aleck crack above, I’ve been dismayed by the violence and deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan in response to allegations of Qur’an desecration at Guantanamo. It’s my own ignorance, but I did not appreciate the regard for the physical Qur’an and/or the depth of anger and resentment of the US that this story released. The deaths are obviously tragic for their families, but the broader situation is very discouraging for US policy and foreign relations. What do we do to improve things?

As for Newsweek, it’s a chilling confirmation that they and their traditional media brethren still do matter; it’s not just about blogs and talking heads. (But remember, dear readers, it’s Newsweek. If the story’s not about P Diddy, it’s probably best to take it with a grain of salt.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

It's all over (including the shouting)

That is to say, I passed my comprehensive oral exam last Friday, so unless any of my written work comes back with a big frowny face on it, I've finished SAIS.

Sorry to be tardy about posting the news. It is exciting, but the way the semester wound down over a period of weeks - finished two classes, then the third, then the fourth, then four days until orals - I didn't have any sort of burst of relief and accomplishment. More of a solid satisfaction. Good stuff, but not the sort of thing that sends one dancing down the street or racing to tell one's friends.

Kerry and I celebrated my finishing schoolwork and her being on academic (light workload) time with a frenzy of errands, spring cleaning, and planting this weekend. We're domestic dorks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


In a recent post, our guy William commented on his self-censorship:

... I notice how much the kindly Mr. Peebles looks like the evil leader of the Axis during the 2nd World War (Are you crazy? You think I'm going to let either of that name or that word be a search-engine match to my blog? Get the net.)
Huh. Is the occasional reference to Hitler or the Nazis really going to flag a site for search engines? If so, will netiquette lead people to be as aware and conscious as William of the potential for unfavorable associations? Will I not be able to say that I don't like Rush Limbaugh or Michael Moore, nor rail against shockingly unprincipled French foreign policy? How will one be able to mention a female friend who thinks that both Lenin and the suited, in-jail Saddam Hussein are pretty handsome guys? Will anyone ever be able to write of Van Helsing again? Will it cut both ways? Will the Aryan Nation and KKK erase all their screeds against Martin Luther King, for fear of lighting up Google under "racial tolerance"?

Even more troubling is Will's admonition to "get the net." I guess it means "get a clue", but specific to the Internet. It's an ill phrase, a vile phrase. I'll lose a lot more sleep over the thought that "get the net" will catch on than that The Hollerer will be universally indexed to that which I loathe.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Working alone

I was reminded today of the subtle encouragement I get from working around other people. Not working with other people; that's something different. But even if ostensibly working on something alone, being in an office where there are other people working on related things can be kind of motivating. The tangential email, the phone call, the tap-tap of another keyboard - I suppose they can be distracting, but now that I have the experience of working without those things, I miss them. At least I think that's what I miss: a sense of community. All I'm sure of is that working at home alone all day on, say, a national energy policy for Colombia is draining.