Monday, October 08, 2007

Thoughts on the Future

What should I do with myself? I've harbored thoughts of going into academia since graduating from college. But why? People are often imprisoned by the things they know. People only recognize certain options as valid, so they make choices from the relatively limited menu of options they see, rather than recognizing that there is a multitude of occupations and endeavors in the world. The unknown is far larger than the known. I've known that and thought that for a long while. Is it possible that I've falled victim to it, myself? I'm currently taking a class at the Law School as part of my CIR Masters program. It's really opened my eyes to what law school and the practice of law amount to. Why have I never really seriously considered it? I'm baffled.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Start of Something

On Monday, after a prolonged absence from Hyde Park, I return to school. It's been a long time coming. I'm starting a 1-year MA program with the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago. It will be a lot of familiar faces, but hopefully with a slightly different mix.

Of course, the real point of this post is that I wanted to try this:

Sunday, April 15, 2007


A swarm of killer bees, you say? Dead school children, you say? HELICOPTER CRASH? These clips just get better and better.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What now?

The experience of applying to graduate school has been a real eye-openner. I had what I thought was a reasonable expectation, that as a graduate of the U of C with honors in my department and in the college, that I would stand a good chance of being admitted to an upper-level PhD program. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to have been the case. The more research I do (such as visiting sites like the Grad Cafe) the more I find that there is a large amount of gamesmenship involved in the application process of which I was simply unaware. Other candidates contacted programs months in advance, asking potential advisors about their ability to take on new advisees as well as their feelings toward the applicant's particular area of interest. Maybe I'm naieve, but I thought that a certain amount of the early work one does in graduate school was designed to help a student with these matters after being admitted rather than before.

On further reflection, however, PhD programs suffer from an important information problem that over-achieving applicants help to rectify. Upon being presented with hundreds of applications for a handful of slots, there are several factors weighing on the committee - the strength of a student's academic record, letters of recommendation, writing sample, etc. However, given the sheer number of applicants and the level of competition, narrowing this pool down remains a difficult task. Students willing to contact the department and make available extra information help to set themselves apart from this enormous pack of qualified people. While such actions also make oneself vulnerable, they offer the potential to set one's self apart in from the committee. As admission to a PhD program is a tremendous investment on the part of the instituion, this information only helps to fortify the decision-making process.

Needless to say, I'm disappointed. I'm forced to reevaluate myself as a candidate for graduate studies. I'm also forced to look for alternate avenues to enhance my profile as an applicant. If any readers of this blog (are there any readers of this blog) have suggestions, please let me know. If you have any friends who are in graduate school or are applying, please forward this along.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

First We Take Manhattan...

Can Rudy Giuliani become the GOP nominee for president? It's the question that colors the entire republican nomination process. For months, pundits have dismissed Giuliani's chances with simple dismissals such as "Republicans always nominate the next guy in line (McCain)" or "As soon as the base finds out about Rudy's positions on social issues, his numbers will fall." Standing at the beginning of March, these judgements look less and less sound. Polls now show a widening gap between Giuliani and the oft-presumed front-runner McCain in the neighborhood of 20% among Republicans. The difference between reality and the conventional wisdom leads us to two questions: 1)"Does the Republican base know enough about Rudy's social positions for this to be factored into the race?" and 2) "Do Rudy's social positions actually prevent an unbeatable obstacle in his pursuit of the GOP nomination?"

I'll try and take them one at a time.
1) If the answer to this question is "yes" than question 2 is a mute point. If the base already knows Giuliani doesn't show it's views on social positions, then Rudy is home free. His numbers are rising and nothing short of a major gaffe is going to endanger them. If the answer is "no" then Giuliani is presented with a major problem, leading to question 2. If Giuliani has to overcome his differing social issues in order to be viable, how can he sell them to the base in a way to remain in the running?

2) Most pundits would say the answer to question 2 is "yes." I think the length of this campaign actually plays to Rudy's advantage, despite the conventional wisdom. Most pundits seem to believe that the longer Republicans are reminded about Rudy's social positions, the more likely they are to desert. However, even at this early stage of the campaign, the more Rudy is discussed (and always prefaced by his left-leaning positions on social issues) the higher his numbers seem to rise. This may not continue over time, however. Rudy's numbers will eventually level off and may fall after coming under sustained assualt by his opponents. However, I feel that the conventional wisdom seems to say that Rudy would govern America with exactly the same policies as he governed New York. This seems naieve. The answer to Rudy's social predicament is one word: Federalism.

Federalism is a lost tenet of the Republican platform. When out of power, it was easy for Republicans to demand that power be devolved to the states. Policies out of Washington were often anethema to Republican principles. However, after gaining control of congress and finally the presidency, it became all to easy to sweep federalism under the run in favor of good old fashioned republicanism (note the small "r") - order and morality at the expense of devolved authority. It spoke to hollow promises on the part of Republican politicians, revealing federalism as a means to an end rather than a core principle.

Giuliani, however, can make a convincing case for the resurrection of federalism in the Republican party. When you look around the country, states have taken the initiative on issues such as health care and the environment in a really remarkable way that speaks to the lie that action by the federal government is necessary in each of these arenas. Giuliani can say, with a great degree of credibility that issues like gun control, gay rights and reproductive issues were right for New York, but he would know better than to say they are right for everyone. The people of New York supported tight gun control. The people of the Northeast might feel the same way. But there is no reason to impose such a law on the people of states which disagree. This is the core of federalism and a very pragmatic stand on the part of a politician which would effectively take his social views off the table.

All Rudy has to do is make it clear that in a Giuliani administration, it wouldn't be the job of a president to decide social issues for each state. It's entirely consistent with all of his positions and entirely consistent with being pro-choice, even if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned in a more conservative court. This would have the secondary affect of assuaging the concern in the libertarian wing of the Republican party about Giuliani's statist leanings and could go along way toward knitting back together the fragmented Reagan coalition.

Rudy's candidacy is, I believe, the most facinating prospect in the entire field thus far. The potential strength of a pro-choice, pro-gun control, etc. Republican candidate for president is far more surprising than the strength of Barack Obama in the Democratic party, whose strength has been the subject of countless hours of talk by the talking heads. Only recently have pundits began to take Rudy's candidacy seriously. I was long frustrated by the dismissal of Rudy by the media and am glad to see this slowly changing. The next 10 months will be telling, but Rudy has a path to victory through federalism. His candidacy and, I believe, the nation would be greatly benefited if he were to follow it.

P.S. If the title of this post whet your appetite, enjoy this video, courtesy of the Beautiful Loser himself.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Golden Vissage of our Lost Kings

The dollar coin! It's back again to say "hello" and try to make a convincing case for abandoning that shoddy piece of treasury paper that we've been using for decades. The reality is that the dollar bill is a joke. There's no point in even updating it as we've updated our other paper denominations because it is completely worthless. While it's not as bad as the penny (which costs more to make than it's worth it currency - therefore EATING value just by being produced) the days of the dollar bill in any right-thinking country should be numbered. However, Mr. Washington persists against all odds.

Despite two previously aborted tries - once with the Susan B. Anthony and again with the golden Sacagawea. However, both of these coins failed to catch on with the public. The new coins, however, will feature the image of our deceased presidents, starting with GW and working up to whoever else is dead by 2017, one president at a time, four presidents a year.

Good idea? I'd say so. People love the state quarters, after all (Then again, when was the last time you stood in line behind an old lady who just HAD to get her hands on an Idaho? I feel like this idea has lost some luster.) So, it looks like the mint is really pulling out the BIG GUNS on this one. Will it succeed? Time will tell. I think the reverse side is a little unimaginitive (think of how amazing the back of the quarter is and compare it to this image of the statue of liberty) and the pictures of the presidents are a little on the cartoon side of the spectrum. Nonetheless, the one thing I find really exciting about these coins is the return of "edge incused inscriptions" to American currency. According to the news reports I've read, this technique of including an inscription on the edge of the coin was abandoned in the US in the 30's. It's good to see some diversity in our money. I just wish either face of the coin would reflect the same originality.

Hey dollar man, you got a dollar?
-Anonymous to Chrisopher Matthew Forsythe

Friday, February 09, 2007

Home on a Friday Night

It's been a long week at work. A very strange week. Last Monday I told my principal and a.p. that I was thinking of quitting in a contentious - but not nearly as contentious as I expected - conversation. Since then, I've been more or less left alone. It's been kind of refreshing. The job is still tough, but it's lessened the pressure to the point where I don't mind it nearly so much. However, I have a meeting on Monday to discuss whether or not said "quitting" will actually take place. I'm still conflicted on the subject. Quitting would almost certainly result in a fairly substantial financial hit to Kate and I. However, if I stay, the pressure from administration will likely resume and I will again be quite unhappy. At the end of the month I will only have 4 months left as a pedagogue. Is that too much? Maybe I'm just a big ol' pussy. When you come home on Friday night and you're already dreading Monday, something's gotta give. The question is, need it give before June?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Superhero Top Guns

Volleyball? (check) Wild sports action? (check) Thor, Spiderman and the Sub-Mariner playing volleyball? Now this video officially has it all.

Quick question: who's the guy in black and white? He looks familiar, but he's nowhere near the level of the other three. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a special guest appearance near the end...

Why should Doom not have recieved an invitation? Doom's return would render your puny serves flacid and useless.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Insert Excited Sports Cliche Here"

Something like "Go Colts!" or "Go Horse!" or "Believe in Blue!" It all fits. Maybe I'm just blowing it up in my mind, but I really can't imagine a more exciting game of football. And to see the Colts make it to the Super Bowl for the first time since moving to Indianapolis in 1984. Heck, the first time since MY BIRTH. It's really gratifying. Just remembering all the disappointment. Hoping Jim Harbaugh and Marshall Faulk would pull it out, come back and win it. My brother had (probably still has) a signed Marshall Faulk football. It's gratifying to finally Indianapolis with the post-season it deserves.

If Chicago wins in two weeks, Barak Obama will be the Democratic nominee for president.
If Indianapolis wins, Hillary will be.
"I don't get it!" you're likely to say. "Isn't Hillary from Illinois, too?" You're right. But I also predict that if Hillary wins, she'll pick Evan Bayh as her running-mate. Connection: made!

"Woot! Where's my clam chowder?"

Friday, January 19, 2007

Who reads this blog, anyway?

Are you stopping by this blog for riveting, original content? Well, today is likely not your day. However, I've recently come to feel that a new job might be in order. If you're looking for an employee for any kind of respectable employment in the New York City area, please do let me know. I'm just sifting over my resume, wondering if there's anything that needs refreshing. Should I include the libertarian nerd camp I attended last summer? Should I include the fact that they want to see more of me in a couple weeks? Eagle scout? Proficient in the history of Mario? Let me tell you, it's one HELL of a resume.

Anyway, to answer the question in the subject heading, just leave a "shout-out" below in the comments section. Or just keep being a big, hairy troll. That's right, I'm talking to you, troll-boy. You know who you are.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

You and he were... buddies once, weren't you?

To all my dear friends who I've bothered time and again with comments about Garth Merenghi's Darkplace, I present the first episode. This remains among the absolute funniest things I've ever had occasion to see. You could watch it here, but I suggest you follow it through to the fullscreen version.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 Gag Reel

This is just about the best thing I've seen in a while. Then again, it's hard to look at BSG the same way now. Given the rumors about cancellation, I suppose any morsel of BSG is better than none. Especially when it contains a strikingly high number of fart jokes.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Could We Start Again, Please?

...Which brings me to my current blog post. Tomorrow, being the big 2-4, I feel it's a good candidate for a fresh start. That doesn't mean prolific blogging, but it does mean a real, fresh-eyed evaluation of where I stand and what's next.
The facts:
I have applied to graduate school. The final count was 7 schools, scattered far and wide across this great land. I'll keep you posted when any news (at least the good news) drops. One way or another, I don't intend to be teaching after the conclusion of the current school year.

I've considered stopping teaching prior to the end of the year. It's all contingent on circumstances, but if something came along, I'd be out. I don't think the administration in my building is very fond of me and this job is taking the best bits of me and doing a festive Mexican hat-dance on top of them. We'll see, but keep your ear to the ground for me.

What's Up?

It's been a surreal last few weeks. And now I turn 24 tomorrow. About two weeks ago, Kate and I were forced to put Chloe to sleep. We traveled back and forth from New York to Indianapolis/Dayton. Christmas break. Ugh. It's a whole, whole lot to deal with.