Thursday, February 14, 2008

Entering Paper Land

Going to be working on a large and rather important law school paper for the next week or so. Life is likely to start resembling the Dali painting above. Should be fun. Hopefully I should make it out the other side. See you then.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oh Mao, Such a Kidder!

So transcripts were recently released from a 1973 meeting between Henry Kissinger and Mao. As you can see from the picture above the two clearly enjoyed themselves. Apparently Mao was quite the jokester.

Specifically, he complained about there being so little trade between the US and China and said something along the lines of "I know! We have loads of women! Why don't you take 10,000 of them?" He later increased the offer to ten million, complaining that they have too many children. Later, he added they would flood the US with disaster. Closing with the observation that if the Soviet Union invaded China it would probably win since not enough Chinese women knew how to fight (something made evident by his surviving so long making these sort of comments).

To make things all the more wonderful, the interpreter passing on all this crazily sexist dictator humor and translating Kissinger's foghorn-like chuckle into Chinese was a woman. In the end, Kissinger, afraid of making Mao lose face, was able to to talk him down to 500 Chinese women, who as a result of new state gift policies were taken off and stored in a Raider's of the Lost Ark-like warehouse under the old executive building.

Chinese women, however, continue to haunt Mao to this day, specifically questioning his choice of the moo-moo as life-long fashion choice.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Places in Time I

So this a new experimental series I am trying to start on places of significance to me. Not sure how interesting it will be or how long it will run, but here goes.

Between graduating high school and starting college I spent a year at an English boarding school in Brighton conveniently titled Brighton College. Oddly, my going was entirely self inflicted and did not involve any action on my part that horribly embarrassed my family and required me being shipped far away to learn some discipline before I could be trusted enough to go to college. No, instead I chose myself to apply to the English Speaking Union's secondary school exchange program and ended up being selected which provided me with a free year's worth of study and room and board at an English public school (the public schools in England having been the first and oldest and hence the term reffering to elitish private schools rather than schools that are actually open to everyone as it does in the US). Anyway, this was all very funny for the English because when they take a gap year, they tend to go to warm places with plenty of beach and do things that pass as community service, where I had chosen to go somewhere damp and of limited beaches to sit their exams.

On the whole I am not sure the year was a good one. It was one of a lot of growth and I wouldn't undo it for the world, but it was certainly a challenging one and I must admit that by in large I do find people from the south-east of England a bit hard to get on with if only for all of their indirectness. During that year however, I did have a fantastic opportunity to dive in German and theater to an extend I had never been able to before and it was then that I began to travel for the first time as well (quick list of countries visited: Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Norway, Latvia, and Estonia). It was also during that year that I had my first exposure to the EU and European politics, and ironically, because of my interests and love of continental Europe I was considered a European by or at least as some sort of expert by some of my classmates.

Perhaps the hardest barrier I experienced when in England though was the drinking culture. I am not much of a drinker and never have been. Coming straight out of a Christian school that openly preached the evils of any sort of alcohol and then going to England, however, was still more than a bit of a culture shock. Still there were elements I liked, English pubs are lovely and there is certainly always something to be said of buying a good friend a pint. Binge drinking is something, however, I am none to fond of and that was a feeling augmented at the few parties I went to when intoxicated people would come up to me and tell me what exactly they thought the problems were with America's foreign policy and how I was personally responsible (bit of a theme in my travels actually).

But back to the place. Brighton is lovely. One of the warmest places in England (i.e. not that warm and still a bit chilly and windy most of the time) and an old bathing town with some beautiful architecture and some hideous projects from the 60s and 70s mixed in. The beach is mainly for show as the water as both too cold and too rough for swimming. There is a great theater scene, loads of young artsy types, lots of cool shops (good comic book shop as well), and a giant clubbing scene I never took or wanted to take advantage of (partially because I had a 10 0'clocl curfew, we actually had role in the morning and evening, I remember there being a large bingo hall next door that was all jazzed up and which I thought was a movie theater, but was not). Brighton was my first city, not a big one (about 170,000 is memory serves), but is was the first one I had lived in and the first one I was really comfortable in. I grew a tremendous amount in Brighton, it was my first real slice of independence (my parents never even having been to the UK at that point) and taught me to balance things I didn't like (being forced to take more exams and in less time than other students because for some reason they though I would bring the school average up) with things I did (traveling, theater, public speaking [I made it to a semi-final!]).

I don't have many English friends from that time, though the few I do have mean an awful lot to me, on the whole my better friends were the other international students, in particular, and I know this will come as a huge surprise, the Eastern European students. To this day, I feel a particularly strong bond of loyalty to the other boys who were in my house (yes we had Harry Potter like houses) and with a school and host parents in the England whenever I go back it does have certain element of going home whenever I go to visit. And that is why Brighton is a place with a little extra bit of significance for me.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

In the News

Well, not in ours...

Pince Andrew made some remarks critical of Bush ten days before he is supposed to leave on a trade mission to the US. They have caused quite stir in the UK. Here are a couple of them:

"[There have been] occasions when people in the UK would wish that those in responsible positions in the US might listen and learn from our experiences."

"why didn't anyone listen to what was said and the advice that was given?" [in reference to Bush's (non-existent) post-war Iraq strategy]

Seriously though, this stuff caused a fuss? First of all, those are comments most Americans would agree with let alone Britons, a majority of whom never supported the war to begin with. The whole business is so painfully English. No one really disagrees with what he said, but is the principle of it so there has to be some sort of half-hearted uproar.

What is even better is how the government emphasized the impropriety of his actions:

"The remarks are not just unhelpful but the timing could not be much worse as the Super Tuesday primaries unfold."

That bit just seems to be pompously English to me. Now, I read British papers. They are quite well written and have a more international slant to them than American ones do. That being said, even if Andrew had said Hillary Clinton was a witch and he had seen her luring children into her candy house and gobble them up, I don not think it would have had the slightest effect on Super Tuesday. That is A.) because people who like Hillary know that about her already and think that is the sort of strong leadership America needs right now (if you don't already know my political leanings now would be a fun time to guess) and B.) because nobody in America cares what people outside the country think/say about our leaders or are even internationally oriented enough to notice something like this.

America's lack of real interest in the abroad does concern me, but those particular comments from the government source amused me because they make it sounds like the opinion of a minor British royal could have had a determinative effect on Super Duper Fat Tuesday and/or plunged the US into a civil war. Yes I know, figureheads are supposed to be neutral and the like, but really Andrew has a long ways to go if he is ever going to live up to his father's ability by just opening his mouth to blow diplomacy out of the water like an a-bomb going off in a kiddie pool (yes, I will miss him).

In recent memory, the only time I can remember people in the UK having an impact on a US election was the last presidential one when the Daily Mail was having readers write to undecided voters in Ohio to try and get them not to vote for Bush. The problem with that is that the list they had was not of undecided voters, but of people who hadn't voted recently. Now if there is one thing Americans like it is being told by their former colonial masters (sorry, but the revolution is still a big part if our national mythology) it is how to vote. Shockingly, a great many of the people who received the letters went to go and vote for Bush just because of the letters.

This concludes my observational rant.


My head!
what kind of
are you?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pulling It Together

I really need to get my shit together. Not in any crazy way, just there is a lot of stuff I need to be doing and I will only be able to do it all the way I need to if I throw myself into it full force. The problem is that I am just enjoying life so very much at the moment and I do not want to sacrifice that.

There is the basic stuff life law school reading, which I do enough of. But the thing is whenever I don't quite grasp something rather than leaving it for later I need to jump into it full force now not leaving it for later. so much of a law school exams is creating a store of knowledge that lets you share a vast amount of pertinent knowledge on the subject of the class. It is much easier to build up that store over time than to try and cram it full at the very end.

There are the more complicated and short term things. For example, the brief I have to write for my international legal writing class. The thing will be a monster. I have to defend a countries bombing of another under international law. I love the topic and feel pretty comfortable with international law, but I need to dive into the material and start writing. This is an important paper, but it is also what I will have to do oral arguments based on and what my Moot Court try out will be based on (Moot Court is a bit like a law school debate club, except it is very prestigious and something employers look for). It is likely I will never been in the very top of my class, by Moot Court is something I could do very well and I need to take advantage of that opportunity. I want to know the stuff in and out, I just need to make time for all the work.

Summer internship pressure has continued. As I am sick the fact that I have so far only received rejections hits a bit hard. Granted, that is not abnormal and I am applying for very particular stuff without a whole lot of specialization in my professional background. I will get something good, but for now it is something else tugging on my time strings as I wonder whether I should be using my time applying for more stuff.

For now some things have to go on the back burner. My improv class is wrapping up and as much as it pains me, I am going to have to take an improv hiatus for a while. French too after jumping back in the boat is going to have to go back on hiatus as I reallocate time. What is frustrating is yes, I could create and extremely detail and rigid schedule for myself that would allow me to do more or work more efficiently, but I don't work well with those. First, they do stress me the hell out, and second my body revolts against them. So I suppose I will continue working in my slap dash fashion where guilt continues to be a powerful motivator (i.e. groan, I can't believe I still haven't done that) while attempting to preserve some sort of a social life. Again, having one that I consider so rather pleasant makes it so very difficult to haphazardly chuck it overboard.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Lost My Voice

Thanks to a sore throat followed by lots of yelling Friday (I'm sorry it was a bar and when I can't hear myself I start talking louder without even realizing it) I have all but lost my voice. Oh sure, I can still talk, but only for short bursts and in a rather muppet like fashion. Seriously though, when I hear myself talking I wonder when I have been smoking those four packs a day all of these years.

This has been going on three days now and it is quite frustrating. I like to talk. I like to think I like to share meaningful insight unlike a rambling valley girl unable to stop the deluge of her own voice once it gets going, but I also know I just tend to talk a lot. Very frustrating knowing that any loud background noise will wash out your ability to communicate, having a brilliant point in lecture (or thinking you do) and having to let it go because you just won't be able to communicate it, and having people leaning into you to hear what you are saying like you where their octogenarian grandmother.

I would say the whole experience has taught me know understanding and compassion for the mute, but I am pretty sure they are used to not talking, where I keep getting ready to say something and then remember "oh wait, I can't talk."

I really hope it does not take too long for my voice to come back, but this probably all some sort of ironic punishment for something I did or thought. Possibly being a little sad that this float got pulled from the Rio Carnival festivities.

Yes, it is a holocaust float that was supposed to feature at least one dancing/sambaing Hitler that the Viradouro school had hoped to enter. Offensive? Incredibly. Poor taste? I did mention that it was a DANCING Hitler on top of a float of holocaust victims right? Does that sort of float have any place in any sort of a tasteful or pc Carnival celebration? Of course not.

And that is just it. Carnival is not tasteful. Come on, people used to mock the bubonic plague by dressing up as corpses and undertakers and piling on corpse wagons in the middle of the worst days of the black death. Look at a Bruegel painting, they are insane. I do realize this post will probably bar me from any sort of public office of working with people. Ever. But, that being said I still completely agree that the Viradouro school has no taste as can be seen by their replacement float/dance idea which seems to be a samba homage to Arnold Schwarzenegger's tour de force as Mr. Freeze:

(for reference):

That has to be intentional right? Sick, sick Brazilians.

And just to prove that I have some notion of political correctness after all, here is the pic I chose not to lead this post with:

Remember, it is Carnival so offensive is festive!