Monday, 4 April 2005

PM Dawn

Today is the first of five consecutive days that I have to be up at an ungodly hour (today and Tuesday due to oral comps, Wednesday due to my flight to Chicago, Thursday and Friday due to my morning panels at MPSA). I get the odd feeling that I may not be a happy camper as this week progresses.

Saturday, 2 April 2005

Pope John Paul II has died

Even though I haven’t been to Mass in a couple of years, I’ll be going tomorrow out of respect for this man. He wasn’t perfect—he didn’t respond well to the rise of Islamofascism, nor did he respond well to the pedophile priest fiasco a couple of years ago—but he was a good, even great man. His leadership provided moral support, even encouragement, for dissent in the Soviet Union, which played a large role in its collapse. He also remained consistent in his opposition to both the death penalty and abortion, a view that informs me to this day.

Part of my love for him is just sentiment, since he was the only Pope I knew growing up. May he rest in peace.

Spoons has more.

Thursday, 31 March 2005

Pope receives Last Rites

Pope John Paul II has received his Last Rites and appears to be near death. The death doesn’t appear imminent, but the ceremony of Last Rites is not a good sign. I’m not particularly religious these days, but I grew up a Catholic and he’s the only Pope I’ve ever known. In any case, Godspeed, good man:

Pope John Paul II was given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church late Thursday night as his health deteriorated, a Vatican source has told CNN.

The sacrament does not necessarily mean that the pope is dying. Last rites—also known as the sacrament of anointing the sick—are commonly given to people who are seriously ill as well. The pope received the sacrament after he was shot by a would-be assassin in 1981.

The pope is suffering from a high fever caused by a urinary tract infection, the Vatican confirmed earlier Thursday—one day after revealing he had been put on a nasal feeding tube for nutrition.

Wednesday, 16 March 2005

So just give me one good reason, tell me why I should stay

Had a nice early dinner tonight with my colleagues-slash-friends Suzanne, Peter, Kamilla, and Kelly at Hal and Mal’s to celebrate some good employment news, the precise details of which I’m not ready to share with all the readers of Signifying Nothing just yet.

Topics of discussion included such eclectic topics as hair (Kelly’s good, mine bad), the spatial properties of glowingness (I made an argument that glow is a multidimensional concept that has, at least, romantic and vocational axes, while others disagreed), coattail effects, the incumbency advantage, metrics of success, whether “free love” and pot was all it was cracked up to be in the late 60s and early 70s, sumo wrestling as a career option, and the geography of Ann Arbor. Damn I’m going to miss these folks.

Thursday, 3 March 2005

Downsize Me

Colby Cosh talks about a guy in Canada who’s eating nothing but McDonald’s food and still losing weight. Colby asks:

Is it some kind of heresy to suggest that McDonald’s may not necessarily be a temple of doom for people who want to eat right, and are prepared to go about it armed with common sense?

Clearly, yes.

Incidentally, the diet is going reasonably well; I lost about four pounds last week, with four days of 30–40 minutes of aerobic exercise, about 15 minutes a session on various pieces of weight-training equipment, with limited changes in diet that mostly add up to “don’t eat all the time.”

Sunday, 27 February 2005

Dare you to move

Spent Saturday afternoon helping my friend and colleague Kamilla move from her apartment to a nice house she’s sharing a few blocks away. Except for me being an idiot and jamming my right middle fingers in a drawer, and the aches and pains inherent in moving around large objects, things went well. Afterward, Kamilla was generous enough to buy us all dinner at La Cazuela, which was most kind of her. Then we watched Anything Else (featuring an overly slimmed-down Christina Ricci) and The Goonies on her roommate’s digital cable.

Mainly it was fun spending the day with my friends Kamilla and Kelly, as well as meeting new friends Andy, Allison and Chris Bruce, especially after a week in which I was becoming increasingly and excessively surly (read Friday’s posts if you don’t believe me…). As a special bonus, all the physical activity got me out of a Saturday visit to the HAC and being attacked by various forms of exercise equipment.

Friday, 25 February 2005

Meme of the day

Bold the states you’ve been to, underline the states you’ve lived in and italicize the state you’re in now.

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan* / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

* I don’t really know whether to count Michigan or not, since I’ve never stayed there for more than 30 days at a time. (þ: CheekyProf)

Tuesday, 8 February 2005

The Wagon

Well, I’m now 26 days into the diet program, and I have to say it’s not getting easier. In fact, life events—a relationship setback of sorts (coupled nicely with the approach of my absolute least favorite day of the year, Feburary 14th), a week of icky weather, general school stress (exam writing, prep time, the typical bizarre student issues, trying in vain not to bore my students to death), and the parade through campus of people angling for “my” job that begins in two days—have conspired to make things thoroughly unpleasant. It doesn’t exactly help that my general strategy for dealing with stress is to eat large amounts of food, something that I can’t do on my diet.

On the “up” side, I’m sleeping a bit better, probably because I’ve sharply curtailed my caffeine intake. And I’m sticking to the diet, even though the only real effect I’ve noticed so far is that my watch is even looser than usual, to the point it’s too annoying to wear much of the time.

Sunday, 2 January 2005


I’m not dead, I just have nothing much to say—particularly on the wrong end of a 56k dialup line. Happy New Year to all our readers; I expect to have some things to say in a few days, probably including a review of one of my Christmas presents, The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, by Economist writers John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.

In the meantime I’m trying to relax my brain—and my separated shoulder—so I won’t look like a babbling fool when I try to teach three new courses (public opinion, civil liberties, and an independent study course in southern politics) in addition to a revamped Introduction to American Politics class in the spring.

Saturday, 1 January 2005

So long, and thanks for all the fish

The new year brings a new blogospheric home for yours truly. This is my final post at Signifying Nothing. I’ll now be co-blogging with fellow Linux geek, philosophy geek, and Memphian, Len Clevelin, at Dark Bilious Vapors.

I’d like to thank both my co-bloggers, Chris and Robert, for putting up with me. And I’d especially like to thank Chris for hosting the blog, and writing the software that runs it, especially when he was humoring my feature requests.

And thanks to all the readers out there who took the time to read, comment on, or link to my posts, whether you agreed or disagreed with me. You know where to find me, if you want to read more.

Wednesday, 22 December 2004

More gmail tribbles

If anyone is interested, I have some Gmail invites and have already inundated my family, friends and acquaintances with the past ones. If you want one send me an email; you can find the address by holding your cursor over my name below the post.

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Arms and the man

Apologies for the light blogging; I found out Monday I have a “second degree” separated left AC joint, which is doctor-speak for a separated left shoulder. I’ve been spending most of the past 24 hours in a sling, with a bit of physical therapy added. Allegedly I’ll be mended by the week after New Year’s.

Monday, 20 December 2004

Taking one for the troops

Rachel Lucas offers a rather amazing photo of Kirsten Dunst; she’s quite grown up from her Interview with the Vampire days. Wow.

Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Knotty but nice

A brief peek inside the “fourth wall” of my life:

  • I had a really good birthday yesterday, including dinner at Old Venice and a DVD-watching session† with my good friends Chad, Kamilla, and Kelly* at the humble abode.
  • My dad got me one of these for my birthday, which has already been something of a conversation-piece and satisfies some of my cravings for Blinkenlights. Plus it looks festive next to my holiday penguins and facstaff party door-prize poinsettia.
  • Normally I don’t blog about students, but one of my students from this semester has an interesting piece up at the Jackson Free Press website; I don’t necessarily agree with the all of its politics, but it’s thought-provoking nonetheless.

Thursday, 9 December 2004

Spoiling your host

With various holidays approaching, what better way could there be to show your appreciation for Signifying Nothing than by getting Chris something he wants for his birthday and/or Christmas?

God, I feel like K-Lo (☣). Someone shoot me.

Friday, 3 December 2004

Sold (subject to contract)

God willing, I will be out from under my house in Oxford (and its absurd $44.40/month water bill—thanks Bell Utilities of Mississippi!) by Christmas. Woo-hoo!

Friday, 19 November 2004

Old email going away

If you have a address for me, it is going away in a few days. Update your address books accordingly.

Monday, 1 November 2004

I'd rather be in love

Apologies for the relative silence as of late; I am running a big project that comes to fruition tomorrow, and that has me rather busy (to say the least). I’ll have something more to say later today, probably.

In the meantime, scroll down and read Brock’s posts from the weekend, on such diverse topics as beer, bigots, and the Beatles.

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Mix tape nostalgia

My wife found an eleven-year-old mix tape that I made for her when we were first dating.

Side A:
The Beatles, Revolution
The Rolling Stones, Ruby Tuesday
David Bowie, Candidate
King Crimson, Matte Kudasai
The Who, Odorono
John Lennon, Imagine
Bob Mould, Sunspots/Wishing Well
Ween, Don’t Laugh (I Love You)
Pixies, Here Comes Your Man
The Who, Bargain
Frank Zappa, Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
David Bowie, All Saints

Side B:
Peter Gabriel, The Feeling Begins
The Who, Squeeze Box
The Rolling Stones, Brown Sugar
David Bowie, Big Brother
Butthole Surfers, Hurdy Gurdy Man
Brian Eno and John Cale, Spinning Away
Velvet Underground, Sweet Jane
Ween, Marble Tulip Juicy Tree
The Who, Behind Blue Eyes
Frank Zappa, In France
King Crimson, The Sheltering Sky

Looking back, I’d say my musical tastes have remained fairly consistent. I don’t listen to music as much as I used to, but The Beatles, The Who, Bowie, and Zappa are still frequently in my CD player. And I still think that the Eno/Cale album, Wrong Way Up, is the best album of the 90s.

The only group on the list that really didn’t age well for me is Ween. I threw in The Pod about a month ago, and all I could think was "I used to listen to this noise?"

Do kids these days, with their MP3s and their iPods, still make mix tapes for their girlfriends/boyfriends?

Monday, 4 October 2004

As requested

Those with medical conditions may want to skip this post.

Pain and beauty as Dorian Grey

Sunday, I decided I was massively overdue for a haircut, so I decided that one of my projects of the day would be to get a trim (I also bought some groceries and a couple of books, but that’s neither here nor there). Since the only place to get a haircut on a Sunday is at a mall, that’s where I went. And that’s where the pain started.

Friday, 24 September 2004

More personal stuff

Those of you with morbid curiosity about my academic career should read this comment. Other news: the books for my directed readings course finally showed up today, and I have been approved for $1200 of academic travel this year (so I guess that means I should put together a Midwest proposal in addition to the paper I’m presenting at SPSA in New Orleans). Now I need to go home and work on writing a couple of exams.

Sunday, 5 September 2004

Bypassing Clinton

My (newlywed) cousin Gordon emails the extended family:

I just caught on the online news that Bill Clinton has to have emergency, quadruple by-pass surgery, probably some week next time (seriously), and it occurred to me that that is probably the first thing my Uncle Pic [my maternal grandfather – Ed.] and a liberal Democrat will EVER have had in common!

I think Gordon may be right about that. In all seriousness, though, I join those offering my best wishes for Mr. Clinton’s speedy recovery; may he live to agitate my grandfather another day.

Friday, 13 August 2004

Checking out of AA

This will probably be my last post from Ann Arbor; the hovel doesn’t have Internet access (or any other communication facilities), and Sprint gets annoyed when I use my cell phone to connect to the Internet. I think I’ll have Internet access in the motel tomorrow night, so I’ll probably have something to say tomorrow night.

Thursday, 29 July 2004

Nerdier than thou

Prof. Bryan Caplan revels in his nerdiness at Marginal Revolution.

In case you haven't guessed, yes, I consider myself a nerd. I'm such a nerd that I worry that my sons will fail to embrace their nerd heritage. The best game show in history, Beat the Geeks, began by asking each contestant "What's the geekiest thing about you?" I still wish I could have been a contestant just to give my response:

"I am the Dungeon Master for an all-economists' Dungeons and Dragons game."

Beat that, geeks!

That sounds like a challenge to me. Or perhaps a new blog-meme. Okay, here’s the geekiest thing about me:

I met my wife because we were both subscribed to a Sandman fanzine entitled Dream Lovers.

And to tie it all together, here’s a blast from the past: a mailing list discussion on free will from 1995 between Caplan, me, and several others. In the midst of this discussion, I announce my engagement. Wow, it’s been nine years.

IIRC, Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, founder of the Wikipedia, was also a member of that mailing list. Although maybe that was a different philosophy mailing list.