A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for January 2004

A bit of a jumble, but there you go

I was nicely awoken at 8:26 this morning (yes, I know the exact time) by a phone call from The Guardian back on Prince Edward Island. It looks like the letter will be printed–excellent!

(And if, as per london_calling‘s warnings, I’ve got some perfectly snarky responses ready to pull out for a follow-up. “So. We’ve got the same GDP per capita as Portugal, Slovenia, and Greece. They’ve had brutal dictatorships and nasty wars in their recent history. What’s our excuse? Oh, and they’re catching up. We aren’t.”)

In connection with adolescent ambassadors to Sweden, I’ve gotten involved in a minor comments dispute here. (On a side note, it can’t be a good thing that a lot of nominally pro-Israeli writers increasingly remind me of Greater Serbian propagandists screaming about the West’s innate anti-Serb bigotry and Serbia’s millennial contributions to Western culture and the Muslim Threat ™, et cetera ad infinitum. All that remains to be done is to call me “Mr. Junkburger.”) Still, all good fun.

Incidentally, it turns out that it wasn’t a vein bursting in my right eye, but rather conjunctivitis. At least the Health Centre has a quick turnaround time, so I’ll have my appointment at ten to 2. The bloody dorm air is so dry that it was probably only a matter of time. A humidifier, or something, would be nice.

(BTW, Scott Martens has some excellent posts, including a brief history of Bakongo and a comparison of Islam and Judaism, on his blog.)

On the academic front, work proceeds nicely. I’ll be doing a summary of the educational histories of a few Henrician statesmen–Thomas More and Nicholas Bacon will feature prominently–over the weekend for Wednesday the 4th. On the 7th, I’ll be taking the LSAT, and on the 11th will be a presentation on Locke’s influence on Laurence Sterne. This should be fun.

Finally, on the blogging perspective, I’ve a couple of books that I want to review, one post on the false spectre of an imminent Muslim majority in France and Europe that needs to come out, a historical survey of Laibach, and an idea (still germinating) to do surveys of pairs of countries (Romania and Moldova, South Korea and the North, et cetera) far from reunification on the German (or Vietnamese) model.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 30, 2004 at 11:20 am

Posted in Assorted

An Atlantic Canadian Gangster

I didn’t know that Baby Face Nelson’s parents were from Cape Breton.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 30, 2004 at 1:55 am

Posted in Assorted

Letter to The Guardian

Thansk to london_calling for the idea! Now, let’s see if they publish it.


To whom it may concern:

Prince Edward Island is my home, and it has been the home of four generations of my ancestors. On the whole, I’m rather fond of PEI, not least because it was a nice place to grow up.

I graduated, in May of 2003, with a B.A. Honours. Right now, though, I’m pursuing my education on the mainland, in Ontario, where I intend to get a MA degree this coming June. Based on my academic record and my work experience to date, I believe that I’d be a good worker. However, I do not intend to return to my native province in the search of work, simply because almost all of my university-educated friends have found it impossible to find rewarding careers here. Despite making significant investments of time, effort, and money in their education, the only jobs that they can find are either economically unrewarding or personally deadening, or both.

Over the 1990s, Prince Edward Island was the only province in Atlantic Canada with a growing population. The 1990s as a whole was an era of highly positive change for Prince Edward Island, and for Islanders. Even so, not enough has changed, particularly in the realm of employment. Call centres–where most of my (employed) friends work–might provide useful short-term employment, but you simply can’t build a life based on that, while the situations for jobs in retail and manufacturing are much the same. It still isn’t very easy for an Islander with post-secondary education to find a career here, not unless they want to take positions for which they’re overqualified.

And so, I won’t be coming back here to live. I’d like to be able to seriously consider returning, but the Island’s persistent failure since Confederation to develop a high-wage, high-skills economy–an economy that appropriately rewards people with education–makes this impossible. It’s my loss, I fear; I’d also like to think it’s the Island’s loss.

When will Islanders take the need to upgrade our province’s economy seriously?

Randy McDonald
Kingston, Ontario

Written by Randy McDonald

January 29, 2004 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Assorted

Oy gevalt

A vein in my right eye burst late last night, and that eye is red and swollen today. It doesn’t help matters much that the air in dorm is incredibly dry, or that I’ve been fairly stressed of late and not sleeping as well or as often as I’d like.

School’s responsible for this, but only to a small degree. I’m fairly comfortable with my courses and my workload, and I’m not expecting any problems comparable to last November and December. I like my classmates and get along well with them, the same with my dormmates. I do not doubt that I’ll be able to get my MA, and I’m not concerned by what looks increasingly like my turning away from academia, towards, say, law (my LSAT’s on the 7th), or something else. (I’m happy I brought my copy of Great Jobs for English Majors with me to Kingston.)

I’m concerned about what I’ll be doing later. In April, I’ll have to move as the West Campus dorms get converted into housing for conferences, whether to another dorm on campus or to an apartment or something elsewhere in Kingston (subletting?). Some adjustments will have to come then. Moving will be interesting.

Events later still, though, in June and following, are more worrisome. I’m moving to Toronto, that’s for certain. PEI is a nice place to visit, but from the perspective of employment (to say nothing of entertainment possibilities, ethnic and cultural diversity, dating prospects, et cetera). Moving is a good idea. But with what money? to what apartment? with what job? Reading week is going to be interesting. If any Torontonians reading this have any suggestions, I’d be interested in hearing them.

Ah well. I’ll get some Visine in the morning. In the meantime, I’ll try to get some work done.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 29, 2004 at 7:59 pm

Posted in Assorted

The morning’s delay didn’t completely wreck my schedule. I was able to go to my office hours in the afternoon as planned, pick up detergent and other sundries on Princess Street, have dinner here, and then go on do to my laundry and get some reading in.

Prompted by a recent post of eclips1st, I downloaded Spysweeper from webroot.com. After I came back to the computer at the end of the afternoon, I was surprised to find more than 120 different programs and cookies taking up a quarter-gigabyte of hard drive space, just waiting to be deleted. So I did.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 27, 2004 at 1:06 am

Posted in Assorted

Proof as to my mental incompetency?

This morning, I spent a frantic two and a half hours looking for my key chain, which has all of my keys (to my dorm, to my office, to my luggage). Just before noontime, I found them in my computer desk’s drawer, just a couple dozen centimetres from, well, everywhere else I looked.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 26, 2004 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Assorted

She’s Still At It

In a way, it’s nice to see that despite Barbara Amiel’s failure, with her husband, she still has the time and opportunity to write nonsense for the Telegraph.

I have to write a blog-like posting on Amiel’s subject matter, incidentally.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 25, 2004 at 9:58 pm

Posted in Assorted


You’re T’Pol. You are very analytical and logical, as any good Vulcan is, but this makes you stick out like a sore thumb. You’re cold and calculated, but there’s a softer side to you that you tend to keep under wraps.

Take the Enterprise Quiz!

Brought to you by redanubis.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 23, 2004 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Assorted


Thomas Pynchon will be on The Simpsons.

Europe’s Mars Express has detected water ice on Mars, while the American Mars rover Spirit might still be alive, or at least talking.

Matthew Yglesias is writing about sex and alternate history. Separately, of course.

The Invisible Adjunct features an essay on attirition in PhD programs.

Language Hat links to a blogger exploring Siberia.

Finally, J. Bradford Delong comments about the problems of illiberal democracy.

(Oh, and things aren’t good for women in Afghanistan, either.)

Written by Randy McDonald

January 23, 2004 at 11:04 am

Posted in Assorted

“Me in the Spotlight …”

One thing that I realized, in the course of my summary of the Eucharist in medieval Europe, is that I’m not at all religious. The debates that so many medievals had over the nature of the Eucharist go into such detail. I understand this detail, but I can’t understand why people would get into that much detail.

My Christianity lapsed shortly upon entering adolescence, and by and large I’m glad that it did. Still, it’s an interesting thing to ponder.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 21, 2004 at 12:00 am

Posted in Assorted