Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Archive for September, 2008

Hello Again

Posted by Gerald on September 25, 2008

It’s been a long time…

If anyone is still looking at this I am in fact still alive.  I managed to come down with another cold just as the first big pile of papers were coming in and then everything got behind.  Here is a little bit of catch-up news.

I’m feeling much better.  My bronchitis has kicked in, as always when I get a cold, but that is merely annoying and not debilitating.

My roof has been fixed!  Yay roofs!

I spent several hours on Friday talking to our Chinese visiting scholar.  We drank beer at his apartment and he told me about his research (he is an anthropologist with an interest in sacred kingship and related matters.)  I also learned a fair amount about the Chinese version of academia.  I discovered that they are almost as totally fixated on their own country as American scholars.  Almost.  I also found myself trying to explain to an honestly confused foreign visitor why the US has no real health-care system and why we keep voting for people who want to keep things that way.  If someone can help me out on that one, I’d appreciate it.

Sarah Palin represents most of what bugs me about my country.  Superficiality that thinks it is depth.  Fatuous self-congratulation that sees itself as quiet confidence.  An unwillingness to listen or learn from anyone else.

I’m almost convinced we should just let the whole financial thing collapse and pick up the pieces later.  I’m absolutely certain I do not want to follow the plan advocated by the people who got us into this mess to begin with.  I’m about one Wall Street “golden parachute” news story away from a red bandanna and an AK-47.

It has gotten windy and colder here really quickly.  My dog is delighted.

I’ve discovered that if I come home straight from my class at our satellite campus and work here I get way more done than if I go back to my office.

I was covering my history colleague’s 8 am class this week while she was away.  I discovered that I would rather do this fifty-mile round-trip drive every day than have to be at work for an 8 am class.

I’ve discovered a horribly addictive new pastime.  I may start a separate blog about it.  I’m going to have to watch myself.

I have yet to see anything in the fall TV season that has me more than mildly interested.  I’m discovering that I really prefer to consume my TV via dvd season sets and on my own time.  I may come to miss the writer’s strike – if allowed me to unplug.  I’m giving serious thought to dropping my cable – or at least down to basic for just news and Weather Channel.  You would have to know me to realize just how significant that change would be in my life.

Because I hadn’t been back to the office in the afternoons this week, a friend there called me at home to make sure I was okay.  Just that someone noticed my absence (I had already cleared this with my boss) and was concerned enough to call really touched me.  I generally assume when I’m out of sight I’m out of mind.

I love teaching World Civilizations rather than Western Civilization.  Even though I’ve been teaching Western Civ for years, the totally artificial nature of the course has just been smacking me in the face during this transition.  “NATO History” indeed.  I’m spending all my time now teaching about environment, culture, political economy, and the long duree.  Its all global patterns and “pumpkin people” and  I love it.  My colleague, however?  Not so much.


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Obama and the Chicago School

Posted by Gerald on September 5, 2008

My good friend Steve showed me this article from the NY Times.

This is an insightful look at Obama’s economic policies and at the ideas behind them.  It certainly refutes the simplistic “attack” (if it is such a thing) that the Fred Thompsons of the nation make about Obama being an old-style big government liberal.  It also shows the, perhaps surprising to many, connections between Obama’s ideas and those of the “Chicago School” of economics, whose insights were turned into cartoonish nightmares of policy by Conservative politicians who didn’t fully understand them.

This article also shows Obama as a man who thinks deeply, takes advice from experts, and believes in empirical research over dogma.  He seems to be a man with a widely nuanced view of most subjects and the antithesis of the from-the-gut “common sense” that has brought us to the credit crisis and the war in Iraq and which has made of us the intellectual laughing-stock of the world.

I fear he doesn’t have a prayer of getting elected in this country.

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