floundering for a foothold

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Quantum, Tantum

There is too much.
There is so much to read that there is nothing to write.
There are too many assignments.
There are too many distractions.
There is so little sleeping.
I am worried.
There is doom, on the horizon… looming.
There is too much.
So much to do.

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How exciting!

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Yesterday was an interesting day for me in our Boccaccio & Chaucer seminar. I learnt the answer to a question that has been plaguing me for quite a while and it opens many, many doors of research that will likely be fruitful. I am excited. The question was “how do negative examples inspire moral action?” (I work on Nero, remember?). Our professor explained how prudential logic work and how it’s context based – now i need to learn all about prudence, but i now know where to look to answer one of the gaping wholes in my paper.

Another very exciting event was meeting, for the first time ever, another student who works on the LATIN works of Boccaccio. Now, she doesn’t work on the same work as me, the De Casibus Virorum Illustrium (and, frankly, it would not be a good thing if she did), but she does work on the Genealogy of the Gentile Gods. She is in comparative literature and i look forward to some interesting discussions in the future as she too seemed to realize that she had found a similar soul.

I finished His Dark Materials and am mourning its passing. I now have no excuse to not do the insane amount of readings (and writing) i need to complete. I am still on the look-out for a part-time job, but worried that there is no time. Luckily, i did a bit of number crunching and realized that i don’t NEED a job if i can live frugally. Perhaps i will take this avenue.

Lastly, my new home is also exciting. Greg and Veronica were darlings for helping me move in. Prof. Cochelin appears to be a really great landlord and her 19-month-old, Emily, is adorable.

Posts will be a tad sporadic over the next couple of weeks until we figure out how to hook me up to the internet network at the new place. Please feel free to drop me an email or, i know this is revolutionary, call and leave a message if i am not there. I’ve never owned a phone at a place all my own before – and though i hate when people call my cellphone (because inevitably if i am out and about, i am busy), i do love talking! LOL.

Late papers, emergency rooms and last-minute packing

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In reverse order (of course):

I must be at the airport for 3pm. It is currently 9:30am and i have not packed yet.

I spent Thursday night in the emergency room. I tore a muscle in my chest wall. This hurts. The doctor and the x-ray technician were both sweethearts. Mark is a saint for volunteering to drive me to the hospital without being asked and coming to get us (Veronica stayed with me… ode to Veronica inserted here) at 4am. Hence, i am still one paper to complete before even thinking about packing.

On Tuesday, i submitted my first paper late (ever) and was told i would be penalized. I thought it was a true piece of crap (on cultural theory). I got a 90. Go me. So i spent yesterday finishing Wicked (which is a great read, i’m just not so sure about the whole premise of rewriting a classic from another perspective) instead of writing the aforementioned paper.

I need to get to work.

Making Wikipedia a better place

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Wikipedia is, by far, one of the greatest innovations of our age. It does for the information available on the internet what Boyle’s innovation did for the scientific method (he got a group of reliable witness to attest to the “fact” of the vacuum created within his laboratory – the facts were now represented by the people, taking people out of science, effectively). What i love about Wikipedia is the list of sources and further readings at the bottom of any good page – SO much more effective than a google search.

Now, i realize the problem with Wikipedia being used as an authority for those of us unable to discern the grains from amongst the chaff, but, frankly, it’s not like Britannica or the OED are the be all and end all of their respective types of reference works either.

So, what have i been doing lately? Writing the entry in Wikipedia on my FAVOURITE work in the entire world (LOL), Boccaccio’s De casibus virorum illustrium. It is taking me a long time to write out all the lives included, translate them into English and then find the appropriate wikipedia page to link to. It is nice to play with the text. I’ve never had access to a complete edition before and now i have to take the time to figure out which figures are included, how they are, and why they’re important. It’s procrastinating – but to an end.

Of course, reading all these other wiki pages has inspired me to edit other errors, add references that should be there and correct errors i encounter (like the erroneous claims that Boccaccio’s On Famous Women has 106 (it’s 104) tales and is the first example of a collection of women’s biographies in Western Literature (it is the first SURVIVING example – we know of others that were written but destroyed or lost).

“Never Again”: Keeping the Promise Alive – Draft One

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Combating genocide, ethnic cleansing and other forms of hatred all too frequently is not a top priority even for those of us who ostensibly promise to apply the lessons of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust: Countries cannot be trusted to protect their populations nor are crimes against humanity perpetrated without a ‘rationale.’ From November 9th to November 11th, scholars, activists and concerned citizens gathered at the University Ottawa for the Continuing Crisis in Darfur Conference to better understand the horrors in Sudan, the media portrayal (or lack their of) of the killings, mass rapes and forced expulsions, and the options for realizing change in the short-term.

A panel composed of Prof. Error Mendes of the University of Ottawa, Hon. Irwin Cotler, MP (Liberal) and Mr. David Matas of B’nai Brith Canada addressed the international response to the crisis and did not shy from explicitly drawing analogies between the Final Solution and the Darfurian genocide.

“IDP camps no better than concentration camps”

Prof. Mendes was at pains to point out the relationship between ethnic cleansing and land clearings for the development of natural resources. The Khartoum government stalls and ignores both international sanctions and its own agreements while “genocide by attrition” is effected. Land and wells are defiled or re-settled with nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples while those fleeing from mass murders and rapes to IDP camps die of starvation and disease. Khartoum builds at break-neck speed with funds from the World Bank and IMF as its population is decimated. The reverberations of Lebensraum sent chills down a listener’s spine.

“International community dithers while Darfurians continue to die….a betrayal, repudiation and affront to historical lessons”

Hon. Irwin Cotler, MP, argued that perhaps the biggest obstacle to change is a “failure to acknowledge.” In the six-week election campaign of 2005, not one of the party leaders mentioned Darfur in their campaign nor were they asked about their views in a publicized interview. Cotler’s verdict: “Genocide not on the radar screen.”

The former Justice minister proposed a nine-point plan for ending the crisis – with or without Sudanese support and consent because “we cannot be hostages to the perpetrators of genocide.” Key items included the immediate deployment of the UN hybrid force, a bolstering of the African Union Mission, the withdrawal of unconditional financial support of the Khartoum government, divestment and the end of the current culture of impunity that permits treaties to be broken without repercussion.

“Genocide occurs in verbal camouflage”

David Matas approached the battle against genocide from the unique perspective of B’nai Brith Canada and recent attempts at holding the perpetrators of genocide accountable for their atrocities. Arguing against a 2005 UN report that characterized the crisis in Darfur as “war crimes”, but not genocide, Mr. Matas deplored the use of racial bigotry, couched in terms of self-defense, as a defense against accusations of genocide. Genocidal intent should be about how the perpetrators determine who should be killed – and if “rebel” is equated with ethnicity, that’s genocide.

Mr. Matas showed concern that the current mis-categorization of the massacres, mass rapes and forced expulsions as crimes against humanity but not genocide will prevent juridical justice from being brought to bear on those responsible. He proposed an answer for concerned Canadians. Instead of depending on the international court at La Hague, we must apply universal jurisdiction. Trials against perpetrators of crimes against humanity and genocide can be undertaken by any country that ratified the UN agreement. We ought to prosecute the complicit as soon as they cross our borders.

During the question period, a representative from STAND Canada asked the obvious, “What can we do?” The unanimous answer was “ask pointed questions, like ‘what have you done to promote the Canadian Pension Funds divestion of the Khartoum government?’, of our MPs to shame and embarrass them for shirking their responsibilities.” Where there is political will, there will be a way.

cough… cough…

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still sick.

lost 1.5 lbs over the past week and only made it to the gym and yoga once each. Yeah for me!

Working on getting graphics for the new hosting service website launch. Still haven’t written the article on the Continuing Crisis in Darfour Conference, but it’s on the list for tonight when i get home from Italian class at the ungodly hour of 10pm. I have a quiz today.

I hate me

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I’m having a bad week at school – reverting to those obnoxious, tangential asides that make me hate myself almost as much as the poor students sharing class time and space with me.

Just yesterday, i interjected an answer to a question directed at another student, went on a three minute rant about the Crusades that contributed nothing to the class discussion and… horribly… lectured about English compound tense formation in my undergraduate Italian class. I need to stop wasting my breathe and other people’s time. I need to self-censor.

Just once, i would like to NOT become a blabbering know-it-all when the different uses of the imperfect and perfect tenses comes up in a language class that is not Latin.

Years of French classes that failed to teach the concepts, piles of tests with failing grades and a chorus of condescending teachers expounding “it will come with practice” as an explanation cause my blood to reach the slow simmer that dissolves cartilage when making chicken stock.

My hand inevitably darts up and i feel the need to talk about gerunds, verbal nouns, compound tenses and active present participles. Why oh why do professors and teachers alike feel that a fruitful beginning to this discussion is a list of when you use one tense and when the other? What in God’s name does an “action completed in the past” mean? Are not all actions governed by the past tense completed? What is an uncompleted action? URGH!

Would it not be simpler to provide the INCREDIBLY SIMPLE direct correspondence between the imperfect tense and English constructions using “i used to…”, “i began to”, and “i was [verb ending in ‘ing’ here].”? Could someone please teach the French-as-a-second language teachers in the English school system in Quebec this rule? The last thing i needed was ANOTHER situation that instantly turns me into a raving lunatic.

Our Latin professor gave a revelatory lecture the other day on the evolution of tenses… i now have more ammunition with which to make everyone’s life a misery.

If i were another student in my Italian class, i would hate me too — and that is a HORRIBLE realization.