Random (but not really)

Friday, April 30, 2004

Done! Done! Done!

Just finished my editing final! The semester is over! I can now read for pleasure without guilt!

In fact, I think that’s what I’ll go do right now.

Written by Michelle at 10:17 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Uncategorized  

Grammar Geeks Unite!

This section from Making Light’s comment thread particularly amused me.

It’s about puncuation, and even mentions the Chicago Manual of Style.

Written by Michelle at 8:53 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs  

Wail! Gnash Teeth!

Alas! My mornings are undone!

Today is Bob Edward’s last day at Morning Edition.

For as long as I have had a clock radio (excluding a few years when I was in college or working nights) I’ve woken up to Bob Edwards. For me, he is indellibly associated with mornings.

I don’t know how I’ll be able to get out of bed anymore…

Written by Michelle at 7:44 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs  

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Exquisite Corpse of Page 23

I’d wanted to play since I ran into it at languagehat but attempting to study and going through books are mutually exclusive activities for me.

Anyway, here is the Exquisite Corpse of page 23.

The rules for 23/5 Exquisite Corpse are:
Take the nearest six to ten books from your shelf.
Open them to page 23, and find the fifth sentence.
Write down those sentences and arrange them to form a short story.
Post the text in your journal along with these instructions.

I cheated a bit, since I only have reference books here in the basement with the computer–I grabbed the books by the bed that had bookmarks, in the hopes that it was a random enough selection to qualify.

But what Gnostics celebrated as proof of spiritual maturity, the orthodox denounced as “deviation” from apostolic tradition. (1) It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science from textbooks who go in for them. (2) In addition, modern science provides massive amounts of additional, no less genuine knowledge—that electrons are smaller than asteroids, that fish are not mammals, that the Moon is not made of green (or any other type of) cheese, and so on. (3) These should occur frequently at sites extending from Old Mexico to New York. (4)
‘Of course!’ said Bilbo, and sat down in a hurry. (5) I see people ignore them and even bully them. (6)

1. The Gnostic Gospels Elaine Pagels
2. Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis
3. The Matrix and Philosophy William Irwin
4. Making Book Teresa Nielsen Hayden
5. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkein
6. An Open Heart The Dalai Lama

Sentence six only works if you pretend it’s in quotes. Or if you imagine that I, with my infinitely wonderful typing skills, just forgot to add the quotes.

By the way, you can visit Andrei Codrescu’s Exquisite Corpse. I’m such an NPR geek that Andrei Codrescu is who I immediately thought of when I saw ‘exquisite corpse’.

And if you were curious, the books closest to my computer are: The Bible (New American Bible for Catholics), The Koran, Teach Yourself CSS, HTML4 for the World Wide Web, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and The Chicago Manual of Style.
Pretty horrible short story material I think.

ADDENDUM the First:
By the way, fnord.

Written by Michelle at 9:37 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Plant Sale!

Got this in my mail yesterday:

As gardening season kicks into high gear, WVU’s Plant and Soil Sciences Greenhouse is preparing for its annual spring plant sale. The sale will start with special hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 1. Regular sale hours will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, beginning Monday, May 3. The Greenhouse is located on WVU’s Evansdale Campus across from the Agricultural Sciences Building. “We have a good selection of vegetables, herbs, and annual and perennial flowers,” said Brooke Hart, a horticulture student who is helping to organize this year’s sale. The Greenhouse is a multipurpose facility of WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences, supporting teaching, research and service programs of the College.

So if you’re going to be in town this weekend, check out the WVU plant sale!

I’ll be looking for some plants to replace the lavendar that died over the winter, some sort of shade plant to put on the other side of the driveway, and perhaps some flowers to put into the shrub border, while my shurbs are still small and insignificant.

I also see a mulch buying trip in my near future.

Written by Michelle at 2:09 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


It’s pledge time for WV Public Radio, but I’m such the geek that I don’t bother to change the station (I will, however, change the station when Prarie Home Companion comes on. Yetch.)

I’m glad I didn’t change the station, because All Things Considered has been doing a series on Nelson Mandela and South Africa to mark the ten year anniversary of democracy in South Africa.

Today’s segment was Robben Island, which is the island to which the ANC leaders were sent to serve their life prison sentences. But they also talked about what else was going on in the country at the time, and described the student march in Soweto where children marched to protest the fact that they were being required to learn in Afrikaans. Chills went down my spine as the woman being interviewed matter-of-factly described how the police and soldiers fired upon the peacefully demonstrating school children.

I suppose that after nearly thirty years, the horror of the experience would have, perhaps, rubbed off for her, but it was absolutely chilling to me. Yet again I’m confronted with the concept of evil. Apartheid was evil. But were all those who enforced apartheid evil? What about the rest of us? The rest of the world sat by and allowed apartheid to continue. What guilt do we have in this?

And once again, I don’t know the answers. The questions lead only to more questions.

But, if you have the time, and the bandwidth, I’d highly recommend listening.

Written by Michelle at 7:31 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy  

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Vlad Taltos Novels

The Vlad Taltos Novels by Steven Brust

Once I finished reading Sethra Lavode, I just had to go back and read the Vlad Taltos novels. All of them. I averaged about one a night, which tells you 1) that the books are a relatively fast read and 2) that I was not studying as I should have been.

Read More about The Vlad Taltos Novels

Written by Michelle at 7:57 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Sethra Lavode

Sethra Lavode: Book Three of the Viscount of Adrilankha by Steven Brust

In this book we learn how Zerika finally solidifies her claim to the throne, we learn whether Khaavren and Piro reconcile, and we learn more about Morrolan’s destructive tendencies. If you’ve read the Vlad Taltos books, you already know that Zerika is going to rule the empire, and you know that Morrolan is going to be destructive, so what happens isn’t nearly as important as how it happens, and the how the story is told.

Read More about Sethra Lavode

Written by Michelle at 6:40 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

The Nature of Evil

Several weeks ago there was a discussion at Making Light on the nature of evil, and what constitutes evil. Does taking an evil action make you evil? How many evil acts do you have to commit before you are irredeemable?

Thinking about it has brought to mind several other questions: Can you be evil without committing evil actions, or is evil necessarily defined by actions? How common is evil? Is it something that is found everywhere or is it a rare thing, to be found only in the most unusual circumstances?

It seems to me that some of the stories that fascinate me the most don’t have a set line between good and evil.

Thieves’ World contains lots of characters who commit lots of actions that could easily be construed as evil, except that when viewed in a different way, you can often understand why the character acted as they did. The fact that so many of the stories were written from multiple viewpoints really emphasizes this; that is how things tend to be. Different people see things in different ways, and the same incident is going to be told different ways by different people. This makes motive all the more foggy.

Deep Space Nine is full of characters who walk the line between good and evil. Garak is definitely not a good person, yet he’s one of my favorite characters. He takes many actions that could easily be considered evil, yet I find it hard to consider him so, and in fact frequently find him admirable, if for no other reason that he always acts upon his convictions, whatever they may be. Gul Ducat is easily despisable, but I find it hard to say he’s evil. He seemed to truly believe that he was doing the right thing, even if he was going about it the wrong way. And after that, he went insane, and I find it hard to claim that someone who is insane is truly evil. Even the “good” characters commit evil acts. There is no clear line between what is good and what is evil. And it fascinates me.

I just finished rereading Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series, and there is yet another character who should be evil, yet isn’t really. He’s an assassin. He kills people for money, and is part of a giant criminal organization. But he clearly isn’t unredeemable. I can’t say that he is evil either.

Yeah, those are all fictional examples, but it’s easier than using real people. And I think that it pans out a similar way in the real world.

I think that this is how I have changed most in recent years. When I was younger I saw things clearly as good and evil, right and wrong. But the more people I know, the more life I experience, the harder I find it to categorize people as such. There is no longer any black and white. Sometimes good people have to do bad things, and doing bad things doesn’t necessarily make one a bad person.

I no longer know where to draw that line.

Everyone has motives, and it’s very easy to allow those motives to blind us to the morality of the actions we take, or even to forget about the morality of our actions as we become caught up in the moment. That doesn’t make us bad people, and it doesn’t make us evil.

To put it another way, how many evil actions does one have to take to become evil? How many good actions must they take to redeem themselves? Can just a single action make us unredeemably evil?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, and I’m learning that I’m unlikely to find the answer, as the deeper I delve, the more questions I find.

Written by Michelle at 5:45 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Religion & Philosophy  

Monday, April 26, 2004

Health Policy

Done! Final is over. Wasn’t too bad really. Six short answer, one short essay, one long essay. My only fear is that I didn’t answer the long essay in the way he wanted–it sort of turned into a rant against society’s unwillingness to care for the poor and elderly. But he lilkes that, so I may be okay.

At least I hope.

While we were in Akron, more flowers bloomed, so you can see some of my new flowers if you like. I also have pictures of the awning for the kitchen door, although I have not yet taken pictures of the new light and the trim. Later.

Written by Michelle at 7:39 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  
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