Archive for March 1st, 2010
I ate well (in both senses) and did some cooking of foods to have on hand to use in various ways:
Hulled (whole-grain) barley: for my whole-grains requirement. Low glycemic index.
Roasted sweet potatoes: chilled, they make a rich dessert just by themselves. I eat one a section at a time. The variety today, though, is paler than I like, so I’ll try something else next time. I like a deep rich orange.
Roasted carrots: interesting, the bottoms burned when I roasted on aluminum foil on a baking sheet, but when I roasted them in my All-Clad roasting pan, they turned out perfect. I did sprinkle with just a tiny bit of Cyprus sea salt. Again, I roasted enough for several meals.
The pork chop, browned and then braised with chopped radicchio, chopped fresh sage, and rinsed and drained sauerkraut, along with 1/2 c. red wine and a somewhat dried apple, chopped. No salt here.
Also, made a new batch of habanero oil: I’ve been out for a while, but also I haven’t seen any good habaneros. But WF had some (domestic, I presume), and now I have 1.5 cups habanero oil: the oil of a thousand uses.
Steve C. is certainly correct: A Touch of Spice is completely wonderful and certainly belongs in any "best food movies" list. But it is just as misleading to label it a food movie as it is to label the Steve Martin movie Pennies From Heaven a musical. In both cases, the response is, "Well, yeah. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface." Like many great movies, A Touch of Spice transcends genre—which makes marketing them very tricky, which is why many sort of bomb (cf. Pennies From Heaven).
I’m savoring it: watching it unfold little by little. I’m trying to make it last.
The Department of Transportation furloughed nearly 2,000 employees without pay Monday as the government began to feel the impact of Republican Sen. Jim Bunning’s one-man blockage of legislation that would keep a host of federal programs operating.
Bunning’s “hold” also affects jobless benefits for thousands of unemployed workers, rural television customers, doctors receiving Medicare payments and others.
Bunning wants the $10 billion price of extending the programs offset by reductions in spending elsewhere in the budget to not drive up the deficit.
Absent that, his objections to proceed with the legislation deny the Senate the “unanimous consent” that Senate rules require for going forward under expedited procedure. The Senate can overcome his objection if 60 of its 100 members vote to do so. So far they haven’t, and doing that would take at least four days under Senate rules.
“As American families are struggling in tough economic times, I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “This means that construction workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors must be furloughed.”
Federal projects shut down include more than $38 million in project funding for Idaho’s Nez Perce National Forest and Fernan Lakes Idaho Panhandle National Forest and $86 million for bridge replacements in the Washington, D.C., area. Bunning’s home state of Kentucky has no projects affected by his action.
However, nearly 1.2 million unemployed workers, including 14,000 in Kentucky, would lose federal jobless benefits this month if Congress doesn’t extend them, according to the National Employment Law Project, a liberal-leaning research group. The U.S. Labor Department estimates that about a third will lose benefits in the first two weeks of the month.
Letting the highway program lapse could mean an estimated 90,000 jobs lost. As many as 2 million families could lose access to local television because a copyright law expired overnight…
I generally fall asleep within a minute or two, but The Wife sometimes struggles. I thought this column by Jonah Lehrer was interesting:
My insomnia always begins with me falling asleep. I’ve been reading the same paragraph for the last five minutes — the text is suddenly impossibly dense — and I can feel the book getting heavier and heavier in my hands. Gravity is tugging on my eyelids.
And then, just as my mind turns itself off, I twitch awake. I’m filled with disappointment. I was so close to a night of sweet nothingness, but now I’m back, eyes wide open in the dark. I dread the hours of boredom; I’m already worried about the tiredness of tomorrow.
Why did my brain wake itself up? What interrupted my slumber? To understand this frustrating mental process, let’s play a simple game with only one rule: Don’t think about white bears. You can think about anything else, but you can’t think about that. Ready? Take a deep breath, focus, and banish the animals from your head.
You just lost the game. Everyone does. As Dostoevsky observed in “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions”: “Try to avoid thinking of a white bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.” In fact, whenever we try not to think about something that something gets trapped in the mind, stuck in the recursive loop of self-consciousness. Our attempt at repression turns into an odd fixation.
This human frailty has profound consequences…
Take a look. I’m going to give it a go. The program is tiny! but slick.
I thought I should explain my own background in learning how to argue. Most of what I know I learned through practice during the four years I studied at St. John’s College. Classes there are small and consist mostly of the students presenting the ideas and arguments from the books we’ve read, and working together to try to understand what each of the books means. We were helped by the presence of one or two tutors: these, much more experienced than the students, worked as coaches, offering corrections as needed (not factual corrections, but corrections of how we were arguing), ensuring that everyone participated, asking useful questions (but never providing the answers), and maintaining order and decorum. The arguments were, by and large, not to convince the others, but a student explaining his or her view of some part of the text, and other students working to find problems/solutions in the view proposed.
In fact, the arguments/discussions/dialogue of the seminar and tutorials (and outside of class in the coffee shop, the Little Campus Bar & Grill (now, I believe, extinct)) had as their aim understanding rather than winning. And by “understanding,” I mean an expansive sense of the term: understanding the book, of course, but also understanding the arguments/positions of each speaker, and helping analyze and extrapolate those positions—and, indeed, understanding your own position and why you hold it. Thus if student A disagrees with student B, the likely course is for student A first to make sure that s/he understands what student B has in fact said, perhaps by exploring some consequences of the position has taken. If B disagrees with a consequence, it may be that A has misunderstood B’s position or made an error in logic (it wasn’t in fact a consequence) or perhaps B must reconsider his or her own position.
This method of dialogue almost immediately trains one to listen quite carefully to what someone else is saying. A couple of times weighing in to support or oppose a statement that is completely NOT what the other person said at all, and you don’t want that to happen again: having the entire seminar or tutorial jumping on you.
Ideally, if A and B disagree and continue to disagree, the fruit of the discussion will be to clarify the disagreement and trace the different understandings of the book that led to the disagreement. That is, the two look for the origin of the disagreement: the difference in premises that led to different positions. The result may well be that the two continue to disagree, but now each knows exactly why. (Other St. Johnnies feel free to chip in here.)
The books themselves were generally difficult: often the author was himself (male, for the most part) still figuring out what he was writing about, and putting forth ideas that others had not considered. Here’s the current list of books, though many books were read in part, not in their entirety. At the link is an explanation and a further link to the actual seminar assignments. The list, as of now:
- HOMER: Iliad, Odyssey
- AESCHYLUS: Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides, Prometheus Bound
- SOPHOCLES: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Philoctetes, Ajax
- THUCYDIDES: Peloponnesian War
- EURIPIDES: Hippolytus, Bacchae
- HERODOTUS: Histories
- ARISTOPHANES: Clouds
- PLATO: Meno, Gorgias, Republic, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Symposium, Parmenides, Theaetetus, Sophist, Timaeus, Phaedrus
- ARISTOTLE: Poetics, Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, On Generation and Corruption, Politics, Parts of Animals, Generation of Animals
- EUCLID: Elements
- LUCRETIUS: On the Nature of Things
- PLUTARCH: Lycurgus, Solon
- NICOMACHUS: Arithmetic
- LAVOISIER: Elements of Chemistry
- HARVEY: Motion of the Heart and Blood
- Essays by: Archimedes, Fahrenheit, Avogadro, Dalton, Cannizzaro, Virchow, Mariotte, Driesch, Gay-Lussac, Spemann, Stears, J.J. Thompson, Mendeleyev, Berthollet, J.L. Proust
- HEBREW BIBLE
- THE BIBLE: New Testament
- ARISTOTLE: De Anima, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Categories
- APOLLONIUS: Conics
- VIRGIL: Aeneid
- PLUTARCH: “Caesar,” “Cato the Younger,” “Antony,” “Brutus”
- EPICTETUS: Discourses, Manual
- TACITUS: Annals
- PTOLEMY: Almagest
- PLOTINUS: The Enneads
- AUGUSTINE: Confessions
- MAIMONIDES: Guide for the Perplexed
- ST. ANSELM: Proslogium
- AQUINAS: Summa Theologica
- DANTE: Divine Comedy
- CHAUCER: Canterbury Tales
- MACHIAVELLI: The Prince, Discourses
- KEPLER: Epitome IV
- RABELAIS: Gargantua and Pantagruel
- PALESTRINA: Missa Papae Marcelli
- MONTAIGNE: Essays
- VIETE: Introduction to the Analytical Art
- BACON: Novum Organum
- SHAKESPEARE: Richard II, Henry IV, The Tempest, As You Like It, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, and Sonnets
- POEMS BY: Marvell, Donne, and other 16th- and 17th-century poets
- DESCARTES: Geometry, Discourse on Method
- PASCAL: Generation of Conic Sections
- BACH: St. Matthew Passion, Inventions
- HAYDN: Quartets
- MOZART: Operas
- BEETHOVEN: Third Symphony
- SCHUBERT: Songs
- MONTEVERDI: L’Orfeo
- STRAVINSKY: Symphony of Psalms
- CERVANTES: Don Quixote
- GALILEO: Two New Sciences
- HOBBES: Leviathan
- DESCARTES: Meditations, Rules for the Direction of the Mind
- MILTON: Paradise Lost
- LA ROCHEFOUCAULD: Maximes
- LA FONTAINE: Fables
- PASCAL: Pensees
- HUYGENS: Treatise on Light, On the Movement of Bodies by Impact
- ELIOT: Middlemarch
- SPINOZA: Theological-Political Treatise
- LOCKE: Second Treatise of Government
- RACINE: Phaedre
- NEWTON: Principia Mathematica
- KEPLER: Epitome IV
- LEIBNIZ: Monadology, Discourse on Metaphysics, Essay On Dynamics, Philosophical Essays, Principles of Nature and Grace
- SWIFT: Gulliver’s Travels
- HUME: Treatise of Human Nature
- ROUSSEAU: Social Contract, The Origin of Inequality
- MOLIERE: Le Misanthrope
- ADAM SMITH: Wealth of Nations
- KANT: Critique of Pure Reason, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals
- MOZART: Don Giovanni
- JANE AUSTEN: Pride and Prejudice
- DEDEKIND: “Essay on the Theory of Numbers”
- “Articles of Confederation,” “Declaration of Independence,” “Constitution of the United States of America”
- HAMILTON, JAY AND MADISON: The Federalist
- TWAIN: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- WORDSWORTH: The Two Part Prelude of 1799
- Essays by: Young, Taylor, Euler, D. Bernoulli, Orsted, Ampere, Faraday, Maxwell
- Supreme Court opinions
- GOETHE: Faust
- DARWIN: Origin of Species
- HEGEL: Phenomenology of Mind, “Logic” (from the Encyclopedia)
- LOBACHEVSKY: Theory of Parallels
- TOCQUEVILLE: Democracy in America
- LINCOLN: Selected Speeches
- FREDERICK DOUGLASS: Selected Speeches
- KIERKEGAARD: Philosophical Fragments, Fear and Trembling
- WAGNER: Tristan and Isolde
- MARX: Capital, Political and Economic Manuscripts of 1844, The German Ideology
- DOSTOEVSKI: Brothers Karamazov
- TOLSTOY: War and Peace
- MELVILLE: Benito Cereno
- O’CONNOR: Selected Stories
- WILLIAM JAMES; Psychology, Briefer Course
- NIETZSCHE: Beyond Good and Evil
- FREUD: Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
- BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: Selected Writings
- DUBOIS: The Souls of Black Folk
- HUSSERL: Crisis of the European Sciences
- HEIDEGGER: Basic Writings
- EINSTEIN: Selected papers
- CONRAD: Heart of Darkness
- FAULKNER: Go Down Moses
- FLAUBERT: Un Coeur Simple
- WOOLF: Mrs. Dalloway
- Poems by: Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Valery, Rimbaud
- Essays by: Faraday, J.J. Thomson, Millikan, Minkowski, Rutherford, Davisson, Schrodinger, Bohr, Maxwell, de Broglie, Heisenberg, Mendel, Boveri, Sutton, Morgan, Beadle & Tatum, Sussman, Watson & Crick, Jacob & Monod, Hardy
Then read this post. It begins:
A couple of years ago I wrote How to apply (and not apply) to an MFA program. If you’re interested in the topic, I’d suggest taking a few minutes to read the advice in that post. What follows expands on what I wrote there.
To have a really effective application you need to understand that people have many motivations for applying to an MFA program. Some of the reasons people have for going back to school do not necessarily lead to a great educational experience. There’s a good chance that whoever is looking at your application is trying to figure out what kind of student you will be.
What kind of students are professors looking for? Generally, professors want students who …