Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Today is shaping up to be another of those 8 AM to midnight days at work for me. Had a lot of those lately. Surprisingly, I am feeling content and happy despite the lack of sleep.

A good friend of mine has made professor recently, and my boss has 'lent me out' to her for this semester. I work nearly exclusively with her. I had nearly forgotten how it feels to be encouraged, to have someone I an go to with both research and personal problems. It's wonderful. I haven't been this productive and confident in ages.

Which is good -- I have so much work that being anything but productive and confident would lead straight to a nervous breakdown.

Last weekend was the first in ages that I only worked one day, leaving Sunday free for relaxation and reading. I am currently halfway through two books: The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage and The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama.

The Victorian Internet
is a lot of fun. Since I knew next to nothing about the evolution of the telegraph before I started reading it I am learning a lot as well.

The Audacity of Hope is a very personal book. Obama makes it very clear from the beginning that he is sharing his personal view on things, and that his treatment of issues must remain superficial  in places. I guess that's what makes it such an easy read for me. My grasp of American politics is tenuous at best and what I know I don't like, so this book has surprised me on many levels. I understood a little better how some of the things I don't like or understand (the death penalty, gun use, the exorbitant tuition fees, the very odd welfare system, etc.) have developed, and why it's so hard to fix them.

Obama's prose radiates empathy and kindness. He's a religious man -- something I am deeply suspicious of, usually. But he's no missionary; he is wonderfully accepting of other people's right to believe in what they want, including nothing at all, and I found his own reasons for embracing faith believable.

He is a clear-headed thinker, outlining problems like health care and education without trivializing them. Most of the problems he talks about are universal rather than American, otherwise the book would have probably bored me despite the lovely prose.

He appears very genuine. If he really is the way he comes across in the book, I do hope he becomes president -- if not now, then one day.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 19th, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
I have an enormous amount of love for Obama; normally I am suspicious of religious politicians as well (less so on the left than on the right) but I feel I can respect his choice as it came during a journey, rather than growing up with it.

If he can upset the Hilary Clinton juggernaut he would probably wipe the floor with any other candidate. If not... hopefully next time. *crossesfingers*
Jun. 19th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
PS he's a great orator too. He kind of exploded onto the national political stage during the 2004 Democratic Convention with a really incredible speech that made everyone forget, for nearly a whole five minutes, what a bore John Kerry is. He has serious charisma; when he says crap like, "You can change this country for the better," I think to myself, "...why yes, I CAN change this country for the better!" instead of the more typical eye-roll.
Jun. 20th, 2007 08:53 am (UTC)
I'll have to hunt that up on youtube, if it's there. :)
Jun. 20th, 2007 08:52 am (UTC)
[...] but I feel I can respect his choice as it came during a journey, rather than growing up with it.

That's what struck me as interesting. He seems to view religion as a social thing. I don't recall the exact quote, but he mentioned that not believing in anything left one isolated on many levels. However, I have no idea how one can chose to believe in something.

I must admit that I don't get the concept of belief in general, though. I don't even deny the possibility that some powerful being exists out there. There is a vague possibility that it had something to do with human evolution. But just because it exists, I don't understand how that leads to me having to worship it, or why worship should be tied to salvation.

There are many other things about religion I don't get, though. It seems to me that worship is just a way of pushing away responsibility for one's actions. It gets even more ridiculous when people start to live their lives according to the letter of a book that was written ages ago, and probably rewritten several times by monks with agendas. That's probably just me, though.
Aug. 9th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
Random browsing and caught a glimpse of a familiar title- I found The Victorian Internet fascinating, because it showed that a lot of the things we associate with technology- usernames, chat rooms etc- have in fact been done before.

And there's no particular connection between them- it seems to be a natural outgrowth of communications technology. Give people a way to communicate, and these kinds of structures evolve. Of course it's possible that there is a connection- telegraphy was replaced with wireless, and there have been various kinds of chat-like options for radio operators for years. But it's a very small number of people compared to internet users.

Have you read The Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson? A bit gruesome, but a similarly interesting historical exploration with implications for modern society.
Aug. 9th, 2007 10:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, one of the reasons that I found it so interesting was that the community behaviour was so familiar, including the formation of a true geek elite.

I haven't read The Ghost Map yet, thanks for the rec! I'll look it up when I get back from vacation. The particular cholera outbreak mentioned in the book features in several period novels I've read, but I haven't yet read a detailed account. I'm looking forward to it. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )