17 December 2008

Math Brains.

I just took my first final exam. I chose not to worry about any other ones until after this one was behind me, because it was the one I was most worried about: Economics. Sometimes people who know me ask me, puzzled, why I'm studying economics. Sometimes I ask myself that. Probably about every day. Especially on days like that day a few weeks ago when I got a 77% on my Econ midterm and a glistening 100% on my English midterm. Frustrating. But I just know that buried down beneath all the qualitative, relative, complex, inconclusive, human, intellectual flotsam strewn all over my mind, are my Math Brain Muscles, atrophied and anemic from so many years without seeing the sunlight. And I refuse to let them wither and die. Why? Because of the singular satisfaction, like that I had this morning, of figuring out how to solve problems and knowing you nailed The Right Answers.

Hold on, Math Brains -- I'm coming.

11 November 2008

Reggie Love: Body Man.


Want to know why this guy is the bizness? It's not because he walked onto the basketball team at Duke AND playing wide receiver on a football scholarship. It's not because he's part of a recently victorious, historic presidential campaign.
It's because his name is "Reggie Love."
And his title, is "Body Man."

03 November 2008


I've been reflecting a lot on how much I like having Halloween right in the middle of election season, as if by design, to cast an ironic light on all the posturing and costuming and cosmetics and, yeah, whoring. Both Halloween and elections seem to help people justify being a little or a lot whorier than social norms normally permit them to, whether morally or politically. Or, you know, both.

24 October 2008

Vote yes on calm and reasoned debate.


Don't Tread On Me.

I was applying for a research grant. The grant is worth $1500, and it would fund a trip down to Argentina (nice research, huh), and to me personally it represented an opportunity to do things right for once. I wanted to work hard, put everything in order, do everything by the book, and win this grant, as if I could thereby prove to myself that I can be responsible. I'm always trying to prove that to myself. Ever since my 12th-grade English teacher Louise Durham called me a Play Station.
The bad news is that my desire to feel like I could be successful on "their" terms made me susceptible to that fearsome college campus epidemic, emasculating kowtowery. It may have been already in its early stages when I went to this proposal-writing workshop where people who give the impression of having authority on these matters give you hints at how to kiss butts more effectively. One of their useful suggestions was, "Memorize the phrase, 'I am uniquely qualified to complete this project because . . ." They made a big deal out of it, so naturally, when it came time to write up my proposal, I seasoned it liberally with uniquely qualified. When I showed my proposal draft to Jim Kearl, my faculty mentor, he scratched out the word "uniquely" every place it occurred. I gave a half-hearted yelp of protest: "But at the workshop they said . . !" Kearl replied, unflapped but not bitingly, "Nobody's uniquely qualified, that's stupid."
And of course he's right.
The Moral of the Story: Don't do things you know are stupid just to get stupid people to think you're smart.

22 October 2008

Something Asian.


scroll down to the bottom and click on the flash animation. I like it soooo much!

21 October 2008

It's Boot Season.

It's Boot Season.

The girls are starting to complement their skirts with ever-thicker corduroy, or tweed, or wool buttoned coats and with staunch 'n' sturdy Eskimo footwear. Boots of every ilk-- furry, leather, moon. I love the functionality of it. Almost as if the drop in temperature jolts some primordial instinct in the girls to ditch their usual slenderfying but impractical heels or flip-flops or what-have-you, and bulk up, at least externally, putting on layers for the winter. Is it just my evolutionary instinct that finds that so attractive? Boots.

Fall has FALLEN, onto us, I guess. (PS: I fully recognize that fall is probably The Number One Most Juvenile and Cliche thing to write about. I know. Probably you all got your opinions about fall out years ago, when you were still in the womb. But guys, I'm a beginner, and you have to begin where the beginners begin.) You can't deny that fall casts a spell on you. If you try and deny that, you are just bitter, and you need to forgive whoever it is and move on. And it's urgent that you do it so you can enjoy this fall, because, it's a particularly delectable one. I just stepped outside to the sound of the American Flag not flapping but Snapping, RUMBLING, in the wind. That's how strong it was blowing. Meanwhile the sun shone, creating this gorgeous kaleidoscope effect as it glinted off the breezily liberated hair of all the girls walking across the quad.

In that air that seems to defy classification as anything besides "crisp," like the air of anticipation when you light a firecracker, you smell dances at the armory, and roast pumpkin seeds, and girls in boots, and the madhouse kitchen, and the first snow.

17 October 2008

Pavlov's Dog.

I can't help it: every time I hear that AIM "Someone just got online" squeaky door sound, my mind thinks THRILLER . . . and my body starts to dance.

06 October 2008


Saturday Afternoon Session.

The choir was composed, boldly, of children. Dressed in their white shirts and pastel dresses. There's a part of the song that goes, "When dark clouds of trouble hang o'er us, and threaten our peace to destroy--" and the arrangement suggests doubt and sadness by turning momentarily to a minor key. But the kids defy it-- their invincibility is belied by their inexpertly-suppressed grins and fidgets. Their bodies revolt against the feeble attempts of words and notes to suggest mortality. And you can take refuge in their power.

Kids, man.

03 October 2008

This is my heavy hand.

I'm all about freedom of the press.
I encourage and applaud open and healthy debate.
But personal attacks just really stick in my craw.


30 September 2008

27 September 2008


I understand it has its uses. I realize that sometimes you are in class, or a concert, or a church, or the bathroom, or a myriad of other circumstances that assign spoken communication a spot somewhere on the scale between awkward and fatal.

But when there is an option, and there usually IS, why are we, fellow American youth, choosing to communicate in the less-efficient, less-clear alternative? Are we insecure about our ability to string together more than one subject and predicate at a time? Do we momentarily lack the emotional stamina for a talk on the phone? Have we become so isolated as a people that we actually prefer electrons on a screen to good old-fashioned sound waves from a speaker?

Here's my thesis: I think people feel wittier in text messages than in person. Texting is godsend for us products of the Seinfeld Era. Think about it: it's Clever Banter for Dummies. You receive a jab, and you get to sit and think and thumb while you formulate a parry and counterblow, without the pressure of responding in real time or the risk of sounding dumb. Well, let's just say less risk of sounding dumb. In a society that places such a high premium on wit, I guess it was inevitable that people migrated to a more distant and calculative way to interact.

But guys, I'm left with this intrigue: What are texting's rules of etiquette? Sometimes people send me texts, and it kind of gives me the impression they needed some iota of information from me that in their minds didn't warrant tolerating an entire conversation with me. It's not a particularly agreeable feeling; it kind of makes me want to call them back just to brass them off. Do you think they'll get annoyed if I reply with my voice? Or was that their plan all along, and I'm just playing into their hands (thumbs?)?

In sum: I would be real flattered to get a text message from you, yes you. But: if you text me, don't be surprised if you get a call back. Especially if I'm in the john.