Think Out Loud

Thoughts on politics, mostly.

Something is Wrong October 14, 2009

Filed under: The Economy — bethanyjc @ 8:21 am
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So a very nice person I know lives in subsidized housing and receives welfare help for him, his pregnant wife, and their two children while he is receiving his masters degree. This very nice person just received an iPod Touch for his birthday. How is that okay? Where did the money for the iPod Touch come from if he does not have a job and is receiving help for his basic living needs? I don’t get it. I hope it was from his parents–but that only makes it a little better.

UPDATE: I am wrong. The iPod really was from his parents as a gift, but they gave it to him because they got it free with a Mac and did not want the iPod.

 

In Hot Water October 11, 2009

Filed under: Fun Stuff! — bethanyjc @ 8:29 am

I love hot water. Every time I get in the shower, I fill right up with gratitude for its warmth! It doesn’t cease to amaze me that I can turn on a faucet, and I get hot, streaming water nearly simultaneously. It is such a blessing. Our place in Hampton wasn’t quite so nice–it took about five minutes for the hot water to move through the pipes. Maybe that is why I am so grateful for my shower here. But no matter what, it is marvelous.

 

The problem with education October 6, 2009

Filed under: My Dreams,Philosophy — bethanyjc @ 9:15 am
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I loved my political science undergrad, and I also love my current masters program. Here’s one thing I see as a problem though: professors like to talk at the students. They had a Power Point presentation with basically all of the answers, they presented all of their answers, asked the students a few redundant questions that they really already knew the answers to, and then test the students on this material. Sometimes the students are too smart and point out mistakes in the Power Points. For instance, in a discussion of Coase’s Theorem one day in my economics class, my professor gave us an example of a confectioner emitting negative externality (noise) on a nearby doctor’s office. The doctor and confectioner used Coase’s Theorem to resolve the issue. The professor had quantified the costs and benefits to each, but the results he had in the Power Point were incorrect. So the students corrected him. It was kind of embarrassing. Surely, this kind of mistake wouldn’t matter if the student and professor were learning together?

I had two professors in my undergrad who taught in a style that I especially appreciated: they expected us to read a whole lot for each class, they provided a framework for the discussion, but then expected the students to contribute–and I mean, really contribute. We thought deep and hard and used textual examples, and if an idea was especially insightful, you knew it. The professor would think deep and hard about it and then pontificate himself. It was great. We almost felt like equals to our professors. A friend of mine who did a stint in a political science PhD program put it this way: the professors in the program expected you to have original thoughts; they expected you to be colleagues-in-training. That’s how I felt in my undergrad classes, and that is how I wish I felt more often in my masters classes.

 

Mining through the crap October 3, 2009

Filed under: International,Politics — bethanyjc @ 9:13 am
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Do you own a bed? Do you have food in your cupboards or food that is easily accessible? Are you able to watch TV? Do you have to swear allegiance to President Obama or anyone else? Can you reasonably go where you want to go? Are you able to believe what you want? These are blessings that not everyone enjoys.

I watched Crossing last night. It’s a Korean film (we watched it with English subtitles). It was brutal; I recommend it to everyone. I think if we all watched it–meaning, everyone in this country–the whole mood of politics would change. We would become so much less greedy and be concerned about so much less. There are people in the world who really are deprived and suffer so much. I am proposing a national day of humility and service: we all watch Crossing and then go out and serve people who really live with very little. Then we can get back to the normal moaning and griping of politics–maybe we’ll be able to tone it down a little. I think we’d be able to really mine through the crap and focus on what we really need and what is really important.

 

Government and money April 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bethanyjc @ 5:35 pm

My dear friend Katie who is in grad school, asked one of her professors why governments do not in fact save up money for a rainy day. His answer, to summarize, is that taxpayers would get angry if they saw the government wasn’t using their money; they’d feel “over” taxed. Thank you Katie for your research. That actually leads me to a further thought: why doesn’t government just not OVER spend. Why don’t they live within their budgets?

 

The Power of Goals March 29, 2009

Filed under: Fun Stuff! — bethanyjc @ 1:58 pm

The past few months I have gone running every so often. Maybe once or twice a week. And I am hardly able to go a mile which was frustrating to me, but I figured it was because I wasn’t going often enough. A few weeks ago, some friends of mine mentioned that they ran down to a nearby high school, a distance of about three miles there and back. I thought about that for nearly a week–what an excellent idea!, thought I,  I should run to that high school! Then a week ago Saturday was a gorgeously warm day and my husband and I saw people running everywhere, all day long. It made me want to run as well. So Saturday night, I ran (“I just felt like running”). I ran towards the high school. I didn’t make it there, but I did run TWO miles.  Just like that! It was even pleasant! Then, two nights later, I decided that night was the night, and I ran all the way to the high school and back. I did it! I was pretty sore the next day which was exciting to me because my sorry little mile runs made my lungs tired more than my legs. It was seriously a very awesome moment when I finished that run. I felt so happy and grateful. And I am telling you, it was because I had a goal. It was so motivating and empowering to have a goal, and to envision myself making the goal. So set a goal. Even if you don’t make it right away, the effort will be rewarding and the attainment will be unbelievable. I tripled the distance of my running and I hadn’t even done any running in at least three weeks. Although, I should add that I had been biking to work and that was a pretty good workout. But anyway, get a goal. It works.

 

NPR No Longer March 28, 2009

Filed under: Philosophy — bethanyjc @ 3:14 pm

I have always had a love-hate relationship with NPR. I think they have really interesting and informing stories, but I feel like it’s generally pretty one sided. I let that slide for a long time though because I still thought it was interesting and informative. A few weeks ago, this came to a screeching halt. Since starting my new job, I figured I could listen to the radio online. One day I listened to the Diane Ream show which I have not done often. That particular’s story was about John Cheever. In particular, it was about a new biography of John Cheever. His life sounds like it was really sad and twisted and I felt sorry for him. But listening to Diane Ream and her guest (the bio author) was just nauseating because they discussed his very inappropriate relationship with his brother so breezily, almost bemusedly. I simply cannot express my abhorrance to that story and to their conversation and to their attitudes. It’s not funny or cute or amusing that a famous writer had a sexual relationship with his brother. I don’t even like writing about it because it is so perverse. That kind of behavior should never be construed as normal and probably not even discussed. It was disturbing to me and I don’t ever want to have those thoughts put in my head again. So, with that huge explanation, I have decided to stop listening to NPR. Forever. My husband listens to it which is fine. But until they shape up, get some morals and standards and wisdom, I will not patronize NPR’s radiowaves.