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March 5th, 2008


12:06 am - NEW BLOG
I have a new blog!

Check it out at http://are-you-confused.blogspot.com/

w00t! Please link me on shit so I can get people to listen to my ramblings and I don't have to pester people on LJ :-D.

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January 26th, 2008


05:46 pm - Go see Persepolis. Why are you still here? Go!!!
So, those of you who know me, know that I'm an elitist prick with little respect for independent theatre and most movies that set out to make a point. I find them overdone, melodramatic, and uninspired for the most part. This is especially true for movies that have an "artsy" feel to them - I feel that too many films try to experiment with style and fail at it, instead thinking they are original while being the same melodramatic crap in different clothing, often done by people who don't know what they are talking about.

All of that said, Persepolis consistently soared above my expectations and turned out to be a fantastic film. The voice and animation of the film are charming and witty, yet still adapt well to the darker aspects of Iranian society (both pre- and post-revolution). This is a movie with an agenda that somehow manages to remain apolitical, instead telling the story of Marjane's childhood and adolescence both in Iran and as an Iranian ex-pat in Vienna. The author's voice, family, and experiences artfully illuminate the hopes, expectations, fears, and disappointments of a population that couldn't seem to improve their lot, no matter what they tried.

Marjane Satrapi has opinions, but rather than detracting from the film, they add to its flavor as a real story about real people. I cannot recommend this film highly enough.

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December 14th, 2007


09:36 pm
Exams are over! Huzzah! I am home on 12/16 at 10pm, barring inclement weather (lol... in Rochester, NEVER!)

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December 7th, 2007


07:49 pm - Venezuela - cutting through the bullshit

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December 2nd, 2007


12:05 am - Silly facebook
So - two things:

First - I just discovered the "Virtual Bookshelf" application - oops, now I'm addicted. Also, added the "where I've been" map. Ah well, so much for holding out against applications. ADDICTIVE BOOKSHELF!!!!!!

Second - I think mayhap I am odd in that I'm actually honest and serious in my facebook profile - and put thought into it... behold the revised update of the "about me" section:

"Wombats are the coolest animal ever. Seriously.

That said, now for some more serious fare...

(1) Empathy and contemplation should be the guiding principles of our lives, and I try to make them the focus of mine. Taking into account all sides of an issue, considering evidence carefully, and exploring our assumptions are extremely worthwhile activities.

(2) I try to be open and honest with people - we have a duty to treat others with respect that we often merely give lip service to. This is also the case with keeping your promises and not using people or stringing them along.

(3) I appreciate things that are done 'the right way' - usually involving putting care, effort, and soul into an activity/project. This covers almost every aspect of my life - from schoolwork, to personal relations, to food and drink. I am aware that it may make me seem an elitist or slightly snobby, and I'm OK with that.

(4) I'm also a bit of a realist, or maybe a bit cynical, because I don't think that most people are capable of maintaining the type of focus and care that #1-3 above require. There seems to be something in human nature that prevents the development of that attitude in most people, and it's something that I struggle to accept.

(5) The elements above have given me a strong respect for tradition and established political structures that I think many people are too quick to criticize. They also mean that I have a firm belief in the need for checks on simple, one-person, one-vote democracy. We can't always trust ourselves, and certain structures that are the result of a history of negotiations and sustained examination should not be lightly tossed aside, and criticisms should be careful to take full consideration of where those structures came from and why they are here."

So yeah - anyone surprised (or have comments on my interpretation of myself?)

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November 29th, 2007


11:35 am - Interesting editorial
http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/7499442?MSNHPHMA

Here's an interesting editorial on the recent assault on and death of Redskin's Safety Sean Taylor. It raises an interesting, if controversial point.

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November 21st, 2007


03:46 pm - Saggitarius
Look! It really could apply to anyone! :-)

Lets101 Quizzes - Blog Quiz


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November 17th, 2007


06:26 pm - Life Update
Wow, it's been a while since I posted anything. Especially anything of relevance. So, I suppose I should actually give an update - since people's lives they are a'changing.

First things first - I get home on Monday around 1:00pm for turkeyness. I'm not leaving until the following sunday/monday. Yes, I might drive back on my b-day, but I'm not sure yet. So, drop me a line - people need to do things over this break. I miss Rochester so much, you have no idea.

So - what have I been up to? Well, let's start with the good things - Megan and I are doing well, which is nice. There isn't really a lot to say there - she's working for a fashion designer in Bethesda who does who does shows at all sorts of neat locations - from country clubs to embassies to the world bank and IDB. She's also working at Trader Joe's - but that may fall by the wayside depending on how overworked she feels. But yeah, things on that end are going well.

As far as school goes - it's a mixed bag. American's ID program is a bit weak on theory - which aggravates me to no end, because people don't really think systematically. There are a couple exceptions - the professor I'm doing research for is one, at least in part, as is my Micropolitics professor (required class on power relations in development projects - too bad he doesn't teach classes I'll be taking. Ah well.). I don't particularly care for my International Development professor - she's condescending and shallow, talks down to the class a lot. Plus, I get the impression she wants to be "entertained" and thinks she's amusing, or something. I don't learn much from the lectures and she's annoying and poorly structured. Good thing I like the subject material.

The rest of it is a bit better. Miguel, the Micropolitics guy, is excellent. Well-organized, laid back, approachable, and he's much more systematic than the ID professor. Plus, you can actually debate a bit in that class because he gives a structure and expresses a viewpoint. My class on Microfinance is pretty good too. The professor knows a lot about the financial side of things, and how to make the institutions sustainable. She's nice and the class flows fairly well. It's a little easy, but she's very busy and teaches on the side, so that can't really be helped. I would like a little more on the impact and social/gender aspects of microfinance (90% of borrowers are women), but that's not her specialty, so maybe its better this way. I've certainly learned a bit about the limits of the programs.

My research assistantship is great. Robin is extremely intelligent, knows a lot about the behind-the-scenes situation in DC, is well-connected to progressive NGOs and think tanks (as well as some better economists - Bhagwati and Wade, to name two good ones), and is interested in international structures and how they relate to development policy at the national level, as well as environmental sustainability and civil-society governance. It's a good fit for me, and she's personable, frank, and easy to joke with. My research has focused on the IMF's current legitimacy crisis, the current rounds of WTO negotiations, and regional development alternatives to the world bank and IMF - especially Latin America's "Bank of the South" initiative - it looks like a promising step in the right direction. I feel like we are finally standing on the cusp of change, where most southern countries tell us to get out of their business and finally come of age as world powers. China, India, and Brazil are poised to become real world powers over the next 15 years. If things go the way they are now, Asia (except Burma, perhaps) and Latin America may be nearly fully or fully caught up with the North (economically, that is) in 20-30 years. Africa and the mid-east/Central Asia are tougher nuts to crack, but I have some good feelings there, too.

Grades are mostly fine, A's on all my midterms. I'm a bit worried about this presentation and brief I just did - my parter screwed up the powerpoint and his portion of the presentation, and I think it's a group grade - that was a convoluted process. Our group fell apart as people dropped the class or had family things. The one guy left had a class this weekend that took 8/hr days for 3 days and involved a paper he had to write. So he wasn't really available until Wed to work, presentation was due thurs, and he didn't get me the powerpoint to look at until 1pm. So - no real editing time or time to practice. Plus the professor wanted to be bloody "entertained". It's one thing to want a presentation to be interesting - most of that is presenter ability and presence. But when the topic is the legal process of the WTO and how it relates to economic policy - there's only so much you can do. So, hopefully it isn't as bad as I think it is. I mean, the project is only 15%, so I have some leeway on it, but grad school thinks anything less than an A- is mediocre and B- is the pass mark. I doubt I'll have an issue that far, but here's hoping. I didn't like this prof to begin with, let alone now. Ah well, only two more classes to go.

DC is nice from a political interest point of view - but it's uber-yuppie and culturally dead - aside from national museums. People are really either poor, politicos, or business management. I mean, I'm also not associated with the more interesting folk, given my profession down here, but even looking around it's hard to see many interesting people. I miss Rochester and the music and theatre scene.

In any case - I'll be home Monday. Look me up, I want to see people :-). I miss y'all.
Current Mood: pessimisticmopey

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September 15th, 2007


08:33 pm
FYI - the creepy site was actually a "satire" by a comedian - intended to draw attention to that type of thing and what you can get away with in the US. Personally, I still think the guy is a jackass, but hey, free speech - whatcha gonna do? He's obviously right that its creepy.

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September 11th, 2007


11:56 pm - Wow... just wow... I cannot believe...
that this still happens in the US... especially not in the open on a website.

www.marryourdaughter.com

I hope this is a joke, but something tells me it may not be.

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