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Wow. Those Portuguese people are crazy. You know, I can't read a word of it, but I think I understand.
Niyazov Takes Students Back To "Middle Ages"
"Turkmenistan's president, Saparmurat Niazov, has announced wide-ranging reforms of the higher education system in his latest attempt to rid the country of its Soviet past and rebuild it in his own image.

"Let's get rid of useless subjects," the president said, setting out clearly defined options for the teaching of chemistry, physics, biology, psychology and ecology. Either abolish them, he told teachers, as they are no longer needed, or, "introduce concrete elements into the teaching of such subjects".

The leader considers Rukhnama - a book he wrote setting out his views and beliefs - a suitable moral code for the nation. "In social disciplines, only the history of Turkmenistan and Rukhnama will be taught," he said. " All the inhabitants of Turkmenistan, from the humble to the great, must read and know Rukhnama; people benefit from it.""

The article has a pretty obvious slant to it (you may notice I'm a big proponent of balance in news stories even when one side is ludicrous), but some of the stuff he's proposing is really incredible. The thing about his book blows my mind.
There's been a really interesting discussion going on in response to this post. I'm going to paste it here, so that (1) it isn't lost when and if Yaccs dies like all other comment systems, and (2) the discussion can continue despite the post in question falling off the page:

That's been my understanding of magick as well. It makes more sense if you look to it for a change in yourself, not in the world.

And no matter how much I see this, it always strikes me as weird how completely different religions just have different words for exactly the same things. Weird, but cool.
-Amanda Hope

Me too. (Who's surprised?) I've never thought in terms of prayer-as-asking-and-receiving, or at least not as long as I can remember. Prayer for me is trying to connect to... um... to the force/awareness/state of mind that moves you beyond yourself (and more into yourself, really) and puts you closer to where you want to be. That's really garbled, I think, but it's the best way I can explain it. And it's why I dislike putting the name "prayer" on it, generally, because "I'm going to sit down and pray now" seems... wrong. Setting aside a little box of time for something you should try to do at the back of your mind all the time. Sitting in a quiet church and sitting in a field make me feel the same way.

*feigns surprise*

Agreed. I think that's why I have trouble celebrating particular holidays. I wanted to do something special on Easter that connected with the way I see religion, but I couldn't find anything that satisfied me, because I don't set aside special days to try to connect to the earth. I'm always try to do that.
-Amanda Hope

mm. Holidays are family/friends gatherings for me, mainly, although they can also be reminders that "Oh, yeah, I should be thinking about this more."

I'd like to add that I think Starhawk gave a highly simplified explaination of magick - in some sense, it is precisely how she described it. In other senses, I think it's similar but it runs a lot deeper. Magick - and I think prayer as well - is not entirely subjective all of the time. That is, both *can* produce effects outside of the self.

I agree that people use prayer too often as a crutch. Praying for somethig, then simply relying on God to do all the work, generally is not a way to create any sort of change.

I've struggled with the question of whether prayer/magick can actually produce outside effects for a while, and I finally came to the conclusion that there's no way to know. Even if prayer or magick actually made something happen I'd still probably think it was just coincidence. You can never tell for sure. The way I got around the issue was by deciding that, for me, anyway, it doesn't matter whether it produces outside effects or not, since it still does in fact produce the desired effect inside my head.
-Amanda Hope

I think that for most believers in magic, at least - I can't speak so much for those who pray - that's the ultimate stand they take. There's no way to know whether a success was due in any way to the magic, but in the end it really doesn't matter anyways. There are so many things influencing all events in the world that the actions of one person may or may not be influential, but it's worth a try at least. It may be just the thing that's needed.

I like that philosophy. Mostly because I'm a control freak, and no matter what situation I'm in I don't like to think that there's *nothing* I can do.
-Amanda Hope

But at the same time, I feel like part of prayer is to counteract the frustration of being a control freak (and I'm one too). You say, "OK, God, this is all in your hands now. Here's what I want, but it's up to you to do what you think should be done." It's a comforting middle ground between control and total lack thereof.

In a way. I guess it depends whether you see prayer/magick as giving up control or as a last-ditch attempt to exert control. I think magick has more of a tendency towards the latter than prayer does. But I could be misunderstanding either of them.
-Amanda Hope

I think you're right, Amanda. There is very little in the way of magick that involves giving up control... it's all about being able to work with the universe to create change - or having power over the universe to create change, depending on how you approach it, what system you use, etc. And I definitely see prayer as both the submission that Stenny is talking about, and as a form of exerting one's personal power - as in the viewthat there is power in numbers, that a prayer is more powerful the larger the number of people praying it.


More of the world according to the Microsoft Word spellchecker: It recognizes "kolkhoz," but not "sovkhoz." I guess we know what Bill Gates' favorite type of collectivized agriculture is.
I'd really appreciate it if this thing would actually publish my posts.


I came up to the Maroon-News office to get my commentaries and photoshop my comics, so I could put them on my website. My last commentaries and my last comic. I'm going to try to work for The Scarlet at Clark, but I'm trying not to be under any illusions that it will be like The Maroon-News. Maroon-News has defined so much of my life here at Colgate, more so than pretty much anything else I did. It's been hard to get the motivation to finish my thesis -- which should be the big culmination of my college career -- this weekend, because the last Maroon-News issue came out. I feel like I'm done with college now, that everything else is just crap I have to get out of the way between now and graduation.

When I came in the room, I started tidying up like I always do. I was about to take the page budget and ad list off the board, but then I changed my mind. It felt too much like packing up, putting away everything we got out. They can take that stuff down in the fall, when they're ready to start a new year.
Our washing machines at the house only charge 75¢, and have for quite some time. But I always take $1 with me when I go to do laundry. It's like I have this weird paranoia that I'm going to get down there and discover that the price has suddenly changed to $1 (like all the other washers on campus), and I'm going to have to go back to my room to get more money.
This column by George F. Will reminds me of a sort of tendency I've noticed in commentary. It seems like conservative columnists are much more likely to defend conservatism as an overarching ideology, and to attack liberalism as a complete system of belief, than liberal columnists are to do the reverse. Granted, it's not every conservative commentator who does that. But it does seem like on average liberal commentators (as defined by popular opinion, as the commentators themselves don't seem to act as part of any coherent community) focus specifically on particular issues, while conservatives use particular issues as gateways into a broader critique of "liberalism" and defense of "conservatism."

Why? I don't know. Maybe it's a reaction to a time when the roles were reversed, so conservatives are taking up a defensive posture. Maybe liberals can't see the big picture. Maybe conservatives have this need to divide the world into black and white. And maybe being liberal myself has just made me ignore the times when liberals do the same thing (it's easy to overlook stupid rhetoric when it gets you to the right conclusions).


Song lyric time!

{iy upit jsmf om yjr [i[[ry jrsf.
{iy upit jsmf omdofr yjr [i[[ry jrsf.
{iy upit jsmf omdofr.
{iy upit jsmf omdofr.
{iy upit jsmf omdofr yjr [i[[ry jrsf/
! Yjru <ohjy Nr Hosmyd


Upi str dp nrsiyogi;. upi djpi;f nr histfrf nu ,pmlrud/ Upi str dp nrsiyogi;/
! Vtsvlrt


Ui, ui, Ni,n;rnrr. Ni,n;rnrr Yims.
O ;pbr Ni,n;rnrr. Ni,n;rnrr Yims.
Ui, ui, Ni,n;rnrr. Ni,n;rnrr Yims.
;pbr s dsmfeovj ,sfr eoyj Ni,n;rnrr/
! <r[jodls[jr;rd


It barely snowed all winter, but now it's snowing the night before Spring Party. Freaky weird, yo.


"Israel's war against the Palestinians is just like the U.S.'s war against al-Qaida" has become such a cliché that it's great to see a good editorial taking the other side.
Last night I was cruising around the web to kill time, as I was in denial about the amount of work I have to do on my thesis. April-Lyn's blog led me to Witchvox, which led me to an interview in the San Fransisco Examiner with Starhawk, a famous California pagan. Her description of magic was a remarkably good explanation of how I understand Christian prayer:

Q: What is magic, and how what kind of role does it play in paganism?
A: Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will.
Q: Explain.
A: In a sense, magic is an ancient form of psychology. There are various forms of awareness and perception, and magic is consciously choosing which form of awareness you want to be in.
Q: Could you give me an example?
A: A simple example would be if you were in a tense situation. You don't want to panic, but it's not easy. So you ground yourself. You learn to breathe, to make a connection with the Earth that can allow you to stay present and aware, and stay in a state where you can make a choice.
Q: That's magic?
A: That's magic.

I think people too easily get caught up in the idea of prayer as asking God for favors. It turns into a sort of simplistic cause and effect scenario, which leads people to look for proof that prayers have been answered and rationalize times when they told God to do something and it didn't happen. But really, prayer is about what happens to the person praying (the pray-er, if you will). Prayer is a way of realigning your thoughts, putting yourself back in a right relationship with God and the world. It helps you to sort out your hopes, fears, and desires, so that you can look clearly at what's going on and see the best path.
Hairnet To Handle Hairy Situations
"Nuclear engineers at Lucas Heights call it the hairnet, or the chip basket.

A massive steel net to be draped over the building housing Australia's next nuclear research reactor has been designed for an amazing task - catching aircraft flown by suicide terrorists.

When finished, the reactor's nuclear core will be underground, inside a 13-metre deep pool that will provide the coolant and act as a shield. The pool, in turn, will be buried inside two metres of concrete.

But from the outside, the striking feature will be the hairnet, a steel latticework 40 metres long and 30 metres wide hanging above the reactor building's concrete roof.

"It's to absorb the impact of aircraft crashes," Ken Horlock, former director of the nuclear technology division at Lucas Heights, said yesterday."

Only in Australia.


Never trust Microsoft Word's grammar check.
I never seem to have any original thoughts. I figured out the philosophy of utilitarianism before I had ever heard of John Stuart Mill or Jeremy Bentham. And now it seems someone has stolen my theory of God, too. In my religion class today we were discussing "what is religion," and toward the end of the class Prof. Vecsey remarked that nobody had wanted to put God on the board as part of a definition. Amanda Reed said she would, but with a caveat. She wrote "God is not a white male on a throne out in space. God is interconnectedness in relationships." I asked her after class where she had gotten that from, and she gave me the names of two books by Sallie McFague that describe this theory about God. So, add another entry to my summer reading list.


It looks like those guys that saw us playing Ultimate on Whitnall the other night were right.

Ramsey on protests: 'So far, so good.'
"Despite concerns there might be raucous confrontations outside the World Bank, there were no altercations along the metal barricades erected in front of the building. Instead, protesters wrote in chalk on the asphalt, tossed Frisbees, held signs urging "people over profits" and engaged in street theater using giant puppets and staging a skit ridiculing American foreign policy in Colombia."

Making the logical step that anti-globalization protesters are today's hippies (both represented the leftist cause in their time), we see that hippies do in fact play frisbee.


Jesse: He did apologize after all.


Marty gave me a Harmon mute! He's the best roommate ever (not just for the mute thing, mind you)!

Take that, Darryl!
I got to introduce the speaker at today's Peter Gould Lecture (my only duty thus far as GTU co-president). Afterward, I was talking to the speaker (Susan Hanson), who was a professor at Clark. She told me that Sara(h), the girl I met in LA who was also deciding between Clark and Wisconsin, had decided on Clark (where she'll probably be working with Prof. Hanson, since she's interested in urban geography). I don't know if Sara(h) is going to be the type of person I'd hang out with at all (she seemed friendly and such, but since we talked mostly about choosing a grad school I didn't really learn much about her), but it's still nice to think that there will be an incoming student next year who won't be a total stranger.
The teaser this week for the Crew story in The Maroon-News was "the harder they pull, the faster they come." This marks a major milestone -- it's the first crew advertising slogan that I've seen that doesn't involve a pun on "cox."
It occurred to me today how contagiously Dutch ( = Pennsylvania Dutch = German) my town is. There have been a fair number of characters in my Spanish readings this semester with the last name "Suarez" -- a nice Spanish name. For a long time I had known that name because it was the name of one family (who didn't look or act any more Spanish than anyone else in town) whose daughters were in the band and whose parents were obsessively involved with the Band Parents association. The pronunciation I was familiar with for their last name, the way everyone always referred to them, was "Schworez," with the nice big "schw" on the beginning that made it sound just like a Dutch name.


Judge Rules Former Hostages Cannot Win Damages From Iran

I can just see it now -- Khatami opens his mail, and sees the letter. "Oh crap, we have to pay these Americans a few million dollars! Well, let me get my checkbook..."
And all along I thought people were joking about attacking Canada.


I have this distressing need to be thorough. I'm noticing it now with the load of reading I have to do, more reading than I can probably manage. So it makes sense to skip any chapters or sections that aren't relevant to my thesis. Cut out the extraneous stuff. But when I do that, I feel like I'm betraying my education in some way. As if I need to read every word for the book to count, even if it turns out not to be useful at all. Even if I know it won't be useful. I'm not sure where this comes from. I guess I just have a tendency to need to finish what I start. And I refuse to let not liking something stand in the way of finishing it, as if there's some moral superiority in having read every useless piece of information.


I saw a rabbit on my way home from work today. I hadn't seen one in far too long. The last rabbits I'd seen were in Wollongong, and in some way those didn't quite count. They were all descended from domestic rabbits, so they were a variety of colors -- black and white and spotted, and far too large. But this was a real wild cottontail, with its head tall and flat from side to side and little ears and a sort of bipolar nervousness around people. I stopped on the Persson steps to watch it, frozen against the little patch of woods that runs behind Little. And I wondered, "ok, now what do I do?" I would have been conent to just stand and watch it, except that part of my brain kept reminding me that I had to get home and read Claude Levi-Strauss, which made it harder to rationalize when I wasn't doing something.

So I went for the old standby of trying to sneak up on it. Except that I wasn't thinking of it as sneaking up on it, the way I always used to when we had rabbits in our yard in Tionesta. I was just trying to get close to it. Not to catch it, since I wouldn't know what to do with it if I did.

Eventually it ran away, which may have been better for it as it wouldn't be stressed and nervous about being in the presence of a cunicuvorous person. Then I walked away, and I felt really peaceful. Even though I hadn't necessarily done the right thing, I still felt like there had been something special there. I saw a rabbit.


Chavez Freed, Returns To Power In Venezuela
Venezuela seems to be having trouble deciding who its president should be. They've had three different people in the office in as many days (four, if you count Chavez's rule up until Friday as separate from his rule from today onward). They must have been taking advice from Argentina. But I think a volatile presidency would be a good way for some of these underdeveloped nations to earn money. Sell a day as president to all those rich American and European tourists who have always wanted to be dictators of a small third-world country. You could buy a tape of your inaguration for $10, and they let you keep the Bible you swear your oath of office on.

Marty's response: "Al Gore is so there."


Got Soy? Not In A School Lunch
"While many school systems would like to offer soy milk as a choice, the U.S. Department of Agriculture won't reimburse them for it except in cases of medical need. Cow's milk is required by law as part of the federally assisted meal plan, which some school systems depend on for more than half of their cafeteria funds."

But I thionk the most interesting thing about this article was that it pointed out that we have a National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
I feel special now because in my paper describing the Mexican oil industry's perspective on the Kyoto Protocol, I referred to Columbus as Cristóbal Colón.


Have any of you received a computer virus from me lately? ApL said she did, but I can't figure out how it would have found her, as her name isn't in my Outlook contact list.


I've made my decision. I'm going to Clark Univeristy next year.


Ah, Daylight Savings Time. Three more wonderful weeks of taping up old issues over the Maroon-News office windows to cut te afternoon glare on the computer screens, since even with the media guy's report, we still don't have curtains or blinds.


There have been people holding some sort of vigil in front of the Chapel for the past couple days. If I recall correctly from last year, they're reading off names of people killed in the Holocaust, to try to personalize the tragedy. But when I walked by there was some weird juxtaposition going on.
I forget sometimes how lucky I am to be involved with a discussion board as intelligent as Brunching. Then I see things like this.
Dear Sir/Madam,

Due to a database error earlier last week are re-issuing all accounts with new passwords:


Although this will get you back into the FTP server, Email Controller and Stats Controller will be down for several more days whilst we update their authentication modules.

If you have any questions please email

Portland Sales

They said "whilst!" Those crazy British. Now if only their ftp server would actually let me connect, I could have put my dotcomments on their site, and not had to get so worked up whilst I tried to find another free host.


I came home today to find an IM from Rachel Borchardt. She was my first on-line-only friend, from freshman year when some banter in Rock Paper Scissors challenges turned into a semester-long e-mail conversation. I've talked to her perhaps twice since the WRPSL went defunct. Her IM wasn't anything of substance -- just "hey," which probably means "I was bored and realized I hadn't talked to any WRPSL people in a long time." She had signed off by the time I got home, so I didn't get to actually have a conversation. So now I'm just left with this weird nostalgia feeling.
The fact that I had to walk all the way home just to use Outlook to check my e-mail means it's kiosk time for Webmail.
It's amazing how much diference an article can make. "Little time needs to be spent..." means just about the opposite thing that "A little time needs to be spent..." does.
There's a point in my thesis where I make a reference to something Jesus said. And while the reference fits the argument I'm making, it feels really strange to be saying it. I have this impulse to rewrite the sentence in non-Biblical form, as if that will make it more legitimate. But I wouldn't be doing this if it were a reference to Max Weber, or John Stuart Mill, or Wolfgang Sachs. And it isn't like I'm using the fact that Jesus said it to prove anything -- I'm just referring to an idea he had.

7.4.02 has pretty poor tastes in REM albums. And it's inflicting them on me.
I came across this post today. It's amusing in light of how many photo credits -- front page photo box credits, even -- I've gotten since then. On Friday at Battle of the Bands, I grabbed the new sports digital camera to take some photos, since I didn't see any Maroon-News photographers there. It was nice -- much nicer even than Marsi's digital, which I've been carrying around with me everywhere. But in some ways it was too nice. When Scott Rosenthal had to yell to me to use the flash, I realised it was like trying to learn to play the violin on a Stradivarius.


Delayed post about last night: I was at the station and the doorbell light flashed. I ran out around the rack of battered old-emphasis records into the main hallway. There was a guy at the door, zipped warmly into a tan military-surplus-style jacket. He said, "I don't have a phone. Can you play some Iggy Pop?"

I went back in, announced the phone number, IM screenname, and website, and then played his song. It's interesting the ways some people choose to keep in touch with the world.
Another piece of the Melophone Master Race puzzle: At the Easter Egg hunt two weekends ago, I only found eggs that were filled with those Valentine's conversation hearts. Clearly (and as Marty aptly demonstrated), the Easter Bunny is coming on to me. We may also recall that Liz was the Easter Bunny on Halloween. And the plot thickens.
Ponderous man, really ponderous.

It would have been even more ponderous if Kevin had dropped his pants like the rest of the Bottomless Pit.


Mm, corpse nachos.
I heard today that Gary Urton has accepted a position at Harvard, and will not be teaching at Colgate in the fall. It's not all that relevant to me, since I wouldn't be taking his classes anyway, but I'm still sad. He was always one of the professors whose classes I would promote at the slightest provocation.

Ah well. Maybe being at a big research school will help him decipher the quipu quicker.


We're at work on the Melophone Master Race.

You see, for a long time now we've known that the melophone is a superior instrument. The band has been contaminated by inferior sections, holding back the pure quasi-French-horn glory of the melophones. But only recently has it come to light that the melophone section is not only instrumentally superior, but also genetically superior. All three melophone players currently have blond hair and blue eyes -- the band's most fully developed Aryans. Nate also had blue eyes, and his red hair was symbolic of the fierceness of the Master Race.

What is the implication of all this, you ask? Simple: We must breed, in order to keep our genes pure. This explains why all along I have been drawn to Kevin and Liz. For the good of humanity, we must create the Melophone Master Race.

I'm going to start growing my funny little moustache right now. Heil Neely!
I think there's something that I just don't get about literature. It's becoming especially apparent in my Spanish class, but I've noticed it in English, too. Most of the time when I read a story, I don't think much of it. I go away thinking "that was kind of pointless." But it all changes if I have to discuss it with a class. Sitting in class hearing other people's angles on the story, and turning it around in my mind, I manage to find all kinds of interesting stuff in it. Even if none of the insights are my own, they make sense, and all of a sudden the story is interesting. I complained to people before class about how stupid "El yaciyateré" and "El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan" were, but after class I decided that I need to find more stories by Horacio Quiroga and Jorge Luis Borges. But at the same time, I wonder if I'd really like anything else they wrote if I were just reading it myself. It's as if learning is a purely social process. So maybe what it boils down to is that I'm terrible at reading alone.


I think we should be able to cast a negative vote -- instead of adding one to the candidate's total, it would subtract one. I'm thinking of this in regard to the SGA elections. I don't really know most of the candidates, and their campaign spiels are all the same thing. I wouldn't even bother to vote except that Asaf Nagler is running. And I really want to vote against Asaf. The only problem is, the only way to do that is by voting for someone else.


I've got just under two weeks now to decide between Clark and Wisconsin. I'm leaning toward Clark, but I can't quite commit to a decision yet.

The thing that Wisconsin still has going for it is breadth. Clark is basically a tiny liberal arts college with a top-notch geography grad program tacked on (although historically speaking they had a geography program and added a college to it). Wisconsin, on the other hand, has strong (or at least existing) grad programs in anything you can think of. On the one hand, I probably wouldn't make much use of outside programs. As much as I want grad school to be another undergrad experience (joining all the extracurriculars, taking classes from any department, etc.), I realize that the vast majority of my time will be spent in geography. But at the same time, I like the idea that those other resources are available.

It's interesting to think about which programs are the ones I'm concerned about. I don't care so much that Clark doesn't have anthropology even for undergrads, or that its philosophy department (and there have been times lately when I've thought I should have been a P&R major) is weak. What bothers me is the languages. Wisconsin naturally has programs in all kinds of languages. On the application I saw an entry for the department of African Languages and Literature. Clark, on the other hand, has one Department of Foreign Languages, which offers majors in French and Spanish, plus some courses in German.

I'm not entirely sure why that in particular is such a big issue. Granted, it would hinder my plan to expand my research on the Aral Sea by learning Russian, but in reality I don't have much of a knack for languages. I wouldn't take advantage of a Department of African Languages. But somehow it's comforting to know it's there, that I could go learn Arabic or Thai or Hawai'ian if I really wanted to.
A thought that occurred to me about the difference between libertarians and progressives:

I think part of the reason libertarianism is so popular today (despite the poor showing of the Libertarian Party, which is a separate issue) is a result of the dominant ethical discourse being one of autonomy. When discussing ethics, people tend to come down to ideas like "as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else" and "don't tell me what to do." The corrolary to this is the idea of consent -- that any risk or harm is acceptable if the person at risk has consented (explicitly or implicitly) to it. It seems that almost any policy, no matter how progressive, is couched in terms of freedom and autonomy.

It occurred to me today that this system of ethics is based on a very analytical (as opposed to holistic) view of the world. Libertarianism views individuals as fully rational and autonomous free-willed beings, existing in their own inviolable sphere of influence. Crossing the borders into anyone else's sphere then requires the freely given consent of that person. This view is associated with the idea of rights, which are the rules that outline each person's sphere. Certain things become simply off-limits in order to preserve this autonomy.

A progressive (far left wing, in the US) viewpoint, on the other hand, seems to be very holistic. Progressive rhetoric is aimed at revealing the ways practices have unintended bad effects on things outside their spheres of rights. For example, "a corporation may have every right to move to Mexico, but look at how bad that is for its former employees." In this system of thought, because everything ultimately influences everything, we can't box people off into little autonomous spheres. Everyone needs a say. Hence the discourse of democratization associated with progressives. This kind of a holistic view would seem to lead to a consequentialist system of ethics -- things are right or wrong based upon how they affect the system.

But the funny thing is, progressives are often the first to talk about rights -- human rights, the right to work, etc. I guess it just goes to show how much more muddled these categories are in real life than in philosophical thought.


Words for sizes are so subjective. How big is "big"? How fast is "slow"? How much is in a "medium" drink? Well, I'm putting my foot down on this. We're going to start with "a lot." From now on, 40 or more is "a lot." It doesn't matter what the 40 things are. If you have 40 of them, that's a lot.
The Time Cube lecture at MIT is now online!!!