"toujours le mot juste"

alright. order! let's discuss something serious.

i was bitching about having to write essays the other day, because that part of my brain has atrophied. but i found salvation in the nice writing guide from nus (thanks!) and an even better one from harvard's writing centre website. "toujours le mot juste". always the right word. if i've anyone to thank for managing to turn in the essay on time, it's got to be that article, i didn't know such brevity was possible without diluting the argument or ruining the rhythm (rhythm, of course, is secondary.) i love writing again, and looking for evidence, and trawling through journals.

went to speak to my economic history tutor today, over her lunch-time office hour. she's writing a book! it's related to her phd thesis, a really interesting (apparently) leader of an african multinational, ashanti goldfields, saved from the ruins of derivative disaster. it's nice because it's illuminating listening how people arrive at the subjects they end up interested in, from a business major to studying economic history in lse. we were there to pick apart my essay. and i think this is what i expected, one-to-one, nice discussion. even the innocent questions like "how do we make the class better, more "responsive" (i prefer pliable)." sincerity and commitment to having the class do well. i have a funny stats tutor, and earnest economics one, shall reserve judgement for the maths tutor, but i think it's really important as a teacher to have a personality, to bother to speak to your students one on one (of course you could argue students ought to be proactive), but don't you think possessing a certain personality disposes one to be more approachable?

my lecturers are earnest people, of course, and being earnest is a good start. of course, you're hoping for some fantastically succesful person to come and inspire you with quizzical remarks and one-liners, and because we all thrive on celebrity we're hoping to be taught by nobel prize winners and everything. they're often different class, but are they always? or has our habit of myth making and alluding to authority make big people bigger? interesting, because i was reading about dominance hierarchies in wild mouflon sheep, and wild horse herds, and i think as humans we're exhibiting the same sort of tendencies. i'm not making a normative judgement about it, it could even be useful, and certainly the only reason we have a functioning society is because some of us are willing to accept our role, and if need be marvel at the powers that be.

another characteristic? humans love justification. they love knowing that what they do has a purpose. and i am going to recommend a paper from a rather famous economist, ariel rubinstein, who has an interesting way of justifying his trade. it is illuminating, and it is part of the myth we like to surround ourselves with from time to time. again, not a normative judgement, because i love myths and fables, because they lead us to action. the intro and conclusion are non-technical, and are the enjoyable parts=) especially for the people who thinkg economists sit around arguing all day, indulging in their intellectual fantasies... as you will see, they do=). but they do it in an illuminating way, i hope.


random fact of the day.

did you know that nus university's scholars programme has a page dedicated to keeping alive victorian traditions or something? with collections of harper's bazaar and weird trivialities! it is interesting because i'm doing some work on british history and i was hoping for some comic which would explain how woefully inefficient they were, throwing away the lead they had. of course, i don't really believe they were inefficient, they were just unlucky. more to come. it's not the most charming of topics no?

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