You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.
28 November 2004

Building with Books

This exhibit at MIT is fascinating.  Furniture built with books.

Posted in Books on 28 November 2004 at 4:19 pm by Nate
27 November 2004

Turkey with curry

I’ve never been too fond of the various models of American diversity
that float aorund out there.  The “melting pot” metaphor reduces
too much, homogenizing all things, in some sense.  The “tossed
salad” metaphor doesn’t really work either, as it means that the
separate elements retain their separate natures, not being changed in
the process of encountering one another.

This article from Thursday’s paper exemplifies my new idea for an American national blending metaphor — turkey with curry.

Thanksgiving, which began as a party for immigrants, remains the most
accessible American holiday for many newcomers. It requires no specific
religious or political allegiance. Even if an immigrant is from a
culture where whole roast turkey is never on the menu – and that is
nearly everywhere except North America – most are willing to give it a

Everybody’s got a common element: the turkey.  And everyone does
is somewhat differently, putting their own spin on the common part:
Mexican-descent Americans simmering the bird in garlic and onions
before baking, Indians using curry, and Arabs “bathing it in lemon and
olive oil and stuffing it with rice, beef and pine nuts.”

“Turkey has become so iconic to our mythic heritage that by cooking
that turkey, even if you don’t like it, you are part of something
bigger,” said Lucy Long, a professor of popular culture at Bowling
Green State University and the author of “Culinary Tourism” (University
Press of Kentucky, 2003). “You are symbolically showing unity.”

course that translates into a nation of cross-cultural Thanksgivings,
where sticky rice stuffing edges out corn bread, and curry fights with
gravy for dominance on overloaded plates.

Fernando Rojas, an
immigration lawyer in Miami, came to the United States from Colombia
with his family when he was a boy. His wife, Jeanette Martinez, is
Puerto Rican. They will share their Thanksgiving meal with his Cuban
and Colombian godparents. The critical mass of Latin cultures means a
spread that could put Manhattan’s best fusion chefs to shame: roast
turkey rubbed with garlicky adobo sauce, served alongside plantains,
roast pork and platters of black beans and rice.

That’s more American than melting pots or tossed salads.

Posted in RmAuNsDiOnMg on 27 November 2004 at 12:12 pm by Nate
25 November 2004

Take that, indulgent ones!

I don’t normally find Tom Friedman’s column in the Times worth reading.  But today’s bears examination.

But most of all, I want to have the gall to sully American democracy at
a time when young American soldiers are fighting in Iraq so we can
enjoy a law-based society here and, maybe, extend it to others. Yes, I
want to be Tom DeLay. I want to wear a little American flag on my lapel
in solidarity with the troops, while I besmirch every value they are
dying for….

If I can’t be The Man, then I at least want to be the owner of a
Hummer – with American flag decals all over the back bumper, because
Hummer owners are, on average, a little more patriotic than you and me.

Yes, I want to drive the mother of all gas-guzzlers that gets so
little mileage you have to drive from gas station to gas station. Yes,
I want to drive my Hummer and never have to think that by consuming so
much oil, I am making transfer payments to the worst Arab regimes that
transfer money to Islamic charities that transfer money to madrassas
that teach children intolerance, antipluralism and how to hate the

And when one day one of those madrassa graduates goes
off and joins the jihad in Falluja and kills my neighbor’s son, who is
in the U.S. Army Rangers, I want to drive to his funeral in my Hummer.
Yes, I want to curse his killers in front of his mother and wail aloud,
“If there was only something I could do …” And then I want to drive
home in my Hummer, stopping at two gas stations along the way.

If I can’t be any of these, then I want to be just a simple blue-state
red-state American. I want to take time on this Thanksgiving to thank
God I live in a country where, despite so much rampant selfishness, the
public schools still manage to produce young men and women ready to
voluntarily risk their lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to
spread the opportunity of freedom and to protect my own. And I want to
thank them for doing this, even though on so many days in so many ways
we really don’t deserve them.

Posted in Politicks on 25 November 2004 at 10:05 am by Nate

Really bad typo

Noted on the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops this morning.

Note how the second word of the title is spelled.  I believe they
meant “Noting.”  Otherwise, this looks pretty unfortunate.

Worth Nothing in December

Prevention Messages Increasingly Critical This World AIDS Day

With African Americans and Hispanics now accounting for 70 percent of
new HIV infections each year, pastors and parish coordinators across
the country are preparing to seize the opportunity on World AIDS Day
“to incorporate prevention messages into their homilies. Families and
communities will become aware of the pandemic from a Catholic
perspective, which has its foundation in the inherent dignity of every
human person,” says Ronaldo Cruz, executive director, USCCB Secretariat
for Hispanic Catholics. …

Posted in OnTheWeb on 25 November 2004 at 9:59 am by Nate
24 November 2004

Republicans in academia

A week ago, the Times had an article about Republicans in academia
Or, rather, why they are scarce.  I submitted a manuscript reply
but they did not want to use it.  So I publish it here.

Timeless values, not
politics, lie at the heart of academia

            What role
should conservative or liberal politics play in the life of a university
today?  According to The Times,
two studies of campus politics seem to indicate that

Posted in IvoryTower on 24 November 2004 at 4:34 pm by Nate
23 November 2004

Student excuses

Since I teach undergrads, I get a lot of excuses.  But they’re
usually pretty lame.  On days when papers are due, computers have
serious problems three hours before the deadline, printers go on the
fritz, roommates have emotional crises that must be tended to, and so

They’d be less insulting if there were more believable.  But
they’re usually pretty unoriginal, and the same “problems” come up all
the time, and they also seem much more common than I have ever noticed

I try to tell them that I’m pretty good at sniffing out the relative
veracity of stuff like this — it’s my business after all.  But
that rarely seems to settle into heads, it seems.

Posted in IvoryTower on 23 November 2004 at 9:44 pm by Nate

U2 now

Got it at 9 am this morning.  Fantastic.

Posted in Day2Day on 23 November 2004 at 9:21 pm by Nate
22 November 2004


The album-ender.  Prayer.  It’s no wonder that I return to them for advice on living, listening, and God.

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist
Take this mouth
So quick to criticise
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
The sun is coming up on the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will

What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this heart
And make it break

Lyrics: Bono & The Edge

Posted in Day2Day on 22 November 2004 at 11:01 am by Nate

One more day

From Rolling Stone’s review of the album:

Halfway through the excellent new U2 album, Bono announces, “I like
the sound of my own voice.” Well-said, lad; well-said. Ever since
U2 started making noise in Dublin several hundred bloody Sundays
ago, Bono has grooved to the sound of his own gargantuan rockness.
Ego, shmego — this is one rock-star madman who should never scale
down his epic ambitions. As the old Zen proverb goes, you will find
no reasonable men on the tops of great mountains, and U2’s
brilliance is their refusal to be reasonable. U2 were a drag in the
1990s, when they were trying to be cool, ironic hipsters. Feh!
Nobody wants a skinny Santa, and for damn sure nobody wants a
hipster Bono. We want him over the top, playing with unforgettable
fire. We want him to sing in Latin or feed the world or play Jesus
to the lepers in his head. We want him to be Bono. Nobody else is
even remotely qualified.

U2 bring that old-school, wide-awake fervor to How to
Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
. The last time we heard from them,
All That You Can’t Leave Behind, U2 were auditioning for
the job of the World’s Biggest Rock & Roll Band. They trimmed
the Euro-techno pomp, sped up the tempos and let the Edge define
the songs with his revitalized guitar. Well, they got the job.

On Atomic Bomb, they’re not auditioning anymore. This
is grandiose music from grandiose men, sweatlessly confident in the
execution of their duties. Hardly any of the eleven songs break the
five-minute mark or stray from the punchy formula of All That
You Can’t Leave Behind
. They’ve gotten over their midcareer
anxiety about whether they’re cool enough. Now, they just hand it
to the Edge and let it rip.

During the course of Atomic Bomb, you will be urged to
ponder death (“Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”), birth
(“Original of the Species”), God (“Yahweh”), love (“A Man and a
Woman”), war (“Love and Peace or Else”) and peace (“City of
Blinding Lights”), which barely gives you time to ponder whether
the bassist has been listening to Interpol. “Vertigo” sets the
pace, a thirty-second ad jingle blown up to three great minutes,
with a riff nicked from Sonic Youth’s “Dirty Boots.” “City of
Blinding Lights” begins with a long Edge guitar intro, building
into a bittersweet lament. “Yahweh” continues a U2 tradition, the
album-closing chitchat with the Lord. It’s too long and too slow,
but that’s part of the tradition

…It’s a reminder that what makes U2 so big
isn’t really their clever ideas, or even their intelligence — it’s
the warmth that all too few rock stars have any idea how to turn
into music.

Posted in Day2Day on 22 November 2004 at 10:43 am by Nate
20 November 2004

Tillich’s Protestant Principle

Perfectly exemplified here:

was walking across a bridge one day, and I came across
a man standing on the rail, about to jump. I said ‘Stop!
don’t do it!’

not?’ he said.

said, ‘Well, there’s so much to live for!’

He said, ‘Like what?’

I said, ‘Well… are you religious or atheist?’

said, ‘I am quite religious.’

I said, ‘Me too! Are you a Christian?’

He said, ‘I am.’

I said, ‘Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?’

He said, ‘Protestant.’

I said, ‘Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?’

He said, ‘Baptist!’

said, ‘What a happy coincidence. So am I. Are you Baptist Church
of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?’

He said, ‘Baptist Church of God!’

said, ‘Amen
Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist
Church of God?’

He said, ‘Reformed Baptist Church of God!’

said, ‘Amen and Amen! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation
of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?’

He said, ‘Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation
of 1915!’

said, ‘Die, Godless heretic!’ and pushed him off the rail.

Posted in Rayleejun on 20 November 2004 at 2:24 pm by Nate