margins (or how not to study economic history)

decided to blog something about studies in the hope that it'll be easier to remember. bear with me. i wanted to write poetry about margins but i thought this was more productive.

when i go to the library i usually like to pick the most pristine copy off the shelves. it's a trade-off sometimes. the older books are usually red label while the newer ones blue, and i think, do i really need a week? not now when i'm trying to rush through 2-3 topics a day.

today i chose the most vandalised ones. yeah stuff with thick red underlines drawing your attention to what everyone else thinks are the main points. i thought it would be more productive. it's also amusing to see "WOW!" and lots of excited arrows pointing to a wonderful conclusion. it's nice to know that people still get excited=).

i do that too though i annotate less religiously. i always look at some books and say "that is not what a highlighter is supposed to be used for. it is not meant to give black text on white pages black text on pink pages (or yellow, or blue, you get the drift). but i fail to understand really the need to have something at your hand, something to "do" to the paper to make it yours. cause i went through my readings a second time, and i found myself inserting comments in blanker spots just so they wouldn't look so blank, as if i had not done it well enough the first. it's always this feeling that you can improve.

i have given up trying to make a new set of notes. i try to read the readings with a special emphasis on the exams, you know, pick up figures to memorize, concepts i missed. did a few chapters and i gave up because i wasn't absorbing anything and 33% can mean a whole lot of things. the rate of russian growth from 1928-1945. the proportion of british exports to gdp. percentage of brazilian coffee going to us, or how much sri lankan gdp will increase if you moved it to eastern europe (these are all made up by the way, i mean the figures, the questions are real, i take no responsibility if you wanna mess up your eh exams by quoting me). i do remember though that the german mark inflated by a million million times (yes, 1,000,000,000,000) in the hyperinflation of the 20's because that was a "wow" moment for me. they said you should pay for coffee before you get it because the price would double in the next hour. (of course that's inaccurate hyperinflation occurs in spurts). imagine carrying around a suitcase of marks. so i'm reading history the way it's meant to be read now. and hopefully everything will fall into place. after all, i hope the exams aren't about how many figures you can quote because figures are important but if they really are so important then we shouldn't be doing this in a 3 hour exam and we should just go grab books, read them and do a dissertation or something. it helps that i'm on eichengreen now and i'm just enjoying how he narrates everything and weaves things into a nice narrative with cartoons even (yes! humour!) about the great depression.

oh. according to my dad (and i have now verified this), apparently the straits times reported that a boy from vjc killed himself because he was convinced his private parts were too small. one of the state coroner's verdict was that 'the importance of sex education to our young people in schools cannot be over-emphasised.' maybe it was a bit too one-dimensional but it did seem from the evidence that this was a genuine problem to him 'despite his girlfriend's and family's emotional support'. people used to jump off because of schoolwork. priorities have changed? anyway, i treat all newspaper articles with a degree of skepticism nowadays. who knows what they ain't telling.


EƤrendil said...

Jesse, "a boy from vjc killed himself because he was convinced his private parts were too small" WTF ??????? WTF is happening in singapore??
OMG, i started laughing so loud when i read that.
if exams aren't about how many figures you can quote, look at ma100 where we need to quote formulae that doesn't make sense.
We should start thinking about how useless and bad designed exams are.
Have fun with econ history!.

Jesse said...

i like the way you're using WTF and OMG. it sounds so... singaporean. although admittedly it is an internet-wide standard