Monday, 24 November 2008

Am I a True Boatie?

I experienced my first race as a cox on Saturday. It was the Nephthys Regatta on the Isis. I was in the cockpit for a women's novice crew and, quite stunningly, we made it through four races against various other Colleges to reach the finals (only to start a mexican wave of crab catching and lose by half a boat length).

The races themselves were pretty thrilling, and the outcome was clearly positive for the College boatie comunity. It was a lovely, bright day on the river and a really nice way to spend time with some new friends I have made.

But, (and I bet you knew that was coming), not gonna lie, I am still unsure of my status as novice cox. Do I want to hand my identity over to the boathouse? Subject myself to hierarchy, hugs and hand gestures?

Plus, it can be a pretty angry sport, the old rowing. In fact, I found the rage of the marshals the most challenging part of the day. Having been waiting politely out of the way, and now well and truly past scheduled start time and with the chill setting in, they would suddenly megaphone things like "[College] cox spin now or you'll be disqualified!" "You have to move now!" as though somehow you had been insolent and incompetent. They would then repeat these commands over and over until you were so flustered that you managed to get yourself sucked into a current of death (for instance) and instant disqualification seemed merciful and even fair.

There are more races this week. I think if I could be airlifted or otherwise transported to the start of the race, and thus by-pass all the nonsense involved in getting the boat out of the boathouse and to the start line, I would be perfectly happy to be a boatie for a while.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A Picture is Worth a Lot of Write-up Time

Thanks for spotting this one, John.

Same Old Stuff Really

I am buried in a chapter. I want to finish it on Saturday, send it off to the supes. I have written 3 200 words or 1.5/5 sections. That sounds pretty grim, but I have it all in chunks (of points and empirical material) ready to write. Just saying.

Of course, because I am obsessing I have various irrelevant thoughts flitting about. Most of the activity is the same old stuff really. But some of it seems incredibly funny and/or creative and I want to share it. I just don't have the energy or focus to do so right now. They have to be put on the shelf. It's getting crowded, that shelf.

[image of Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, slapping me hard across the face, pulling me forward by my shoulder pads and shaking me]

(I haven't read The Artist's Way. I can never get through books like this, especially when there are exercises to do.)

I will write more when I can.

(K. I don't wear shoulder pads...Gosh.)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

And the Response is?

Chicago Right Now by Anthea Behm

I've just been reading 'The Next President', an editorial in The New York Times (at the expense of the little bastard, sigh...).

Clearly exhilarated, the writer accounts for Obama's victory in the following way:

Showing extraordinary focus and quiet certainty, Mr. Obama swept away one political presumption after another to defeat first Hillary Clinton, who wanted to be president so badly that she lost her bearings, and then John McCain, who forsook his principles for a campaign built on anger and fear.

His triumph was decisive and sweeping, because he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens. He offered a government that does not try to solve every problem but will do those things beyond the power of individual citizens: to regulate the economy fairly, keep the air clean and the food safe, ensure that the sick have access to health care, and educate children to compete in a globalized world.
I then read through a few pages of comments, to get a feel for how the people (not on FB, and not from Oxford) are responding to the news. Here is a range of comments:

I must say that this is truly exquisite. The great majority of this country has gathered in shared belief and we have united in our want to progress and look forward to our shared future. This is beautiful.

— Brooklyn Confidential, Brooklyn, NY

It hit me a couple of hours ago that my 7-year old son will grow up thinking that it isn't unusual for a black person to be President. He's aware that this is important and we've talked about why, but he will grow up thinking it's pretty normal. And when the first woman, first Asian, first Jew, first Muslim, or Buddhist, etc. is elected, it will be that much more less amazing for him.

What a great legacy to grow up with. I didn't think I would see this until I was an old woman.

Congratulations Mr. President-Elect--you've given me my faith back.

— RAM, Scottsdale, AZ

Congratulations to all Americans for electing Obama. Like you, Australians also sought change and hope when we elected a new government last year, overwhelmingly throwing out of office John Howard - George W Bush's best mate. Our country is going forward despite these tough times and I'm sure that with the renewed vision of your new government, America will regain it's rightful position of honour and trust throughout the rest of the world. Well Done!

— Sharyn, Western Australia

A big BRAVO for have risen to the level of your pretensions.

Neither being black nor having Hussein for a middle name dettered you from doing the right thing.

OBAMA will be good to the USA; hopefully he will also be good to the rest of the world by leading a non arrogant and non aggressive USA.


— Omar I Nashashibi, Amman/Jordan

“Interconnectedness” and Media Support for the Obama Candidacy

The liberal media served the Obama campaign. The real losers in this election are the American people - not because Obama was elected - but because the media cast aside the once respected profession of journalism to elect Obama. While journalism has leaned to the left for sometime, this election was especially one-sided.

Why was the liberal media so invested in an Obama candidacy?

1. To the family of liberal journalist, America is the rogue state, not Iran, North Korea or Syria. America is the problem. The elite media believes that during the Bush years, our foreign policy was run by a gang of neocons who concocted a lie about WMDs, and abused the concept of preemptive war, to unilaterally attack Iraq. Bush applied “cowboy diplomacy” to bully other nations while the “war on terror” inflamed Islamic and western relations. It is the US that provoked Russia by supporting democracy in Georgia, advancing NATO to Russia’s doorstep and recognizing Kosovo. In addition, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrated a limit to American power and imperialism. In the brave new world of “interconnectedness”, European diplomacy now leads the community of nations. The elite media fully believes that we have entered the post-American world.

2. The media invested in the election of the first African American in our country‘s history, but Obama’s African heritage was much less important than his liberal agenda (remember Clarence Thomas?). Obama’s policies will transform American capitalism toward European socialism.

The media realized that Obama was a flawed candidate - inexperienced with few accomplishments, and the owner of a rich history of cronyism, bad judgments and questionable associations. Even with an economy headed for recession, financial turmoil, two unpopular wars and a Bush approval rating hovering around 30%, the Obama Presidency was still not assured in conservative America. Too much was at stake in this election to rely on balanced journalism, so our media acted on behalf of Obama - much like a 527 - and relentlessly attacked the Republican nominees (especially Palin). Lower standards of investigative journalism were applied to Obama. When McCain questioned Obama’s Chicago connections, the Obama campaign - backed by the media - shouted racism to protect him.

The liberal media has lost credibility and abused their power. Consider the media’s role as a government watchdog. Will liberal journalist report government abuses as enthusiastically (or at all) for an Obama administration and a democratically controlled Congress as they did during the Bush years?

I sincerely doubt it. The world’s “interconnectedness” is at stake.

— Tom Wonacott, Boise

For The Republicans who feel the loss- don't be afraid- the world is with the USA now.

— J Madison, Sydney Australia


Congratulations Mr.Barack Obama ! for YOUR LAND SLIDE VICTORY.World has got riddance of the spectre of fear sychosis. A good Samaritan has arrived like a fresh breez to address the global problems like Terrorism and USA centric massive economic recession that is engulfing all nations .May peace and progress dawn and shine!

— jalaramaiah, ONGOLE-(INDIA)

nobama won this election because Americans don't have the stomach to fight islamic terrorism until it is defeated AND because of economic issues traceable to democratic policies around putting people in homes they can't afford.

Irony infinity.

— Adoptive Father, Los Angeles

Our long national nightmare is finally over. Godspeed Mr. Obama.

— Peter B, Massachusetts

I think about President-Elect Obama's work to do in this incredible period of humanity and remember Danny Glover's line in the first 'Lethal Weapon' movie:'This is a tough crowd. Baby, you best not stink!!

— stone1262, Missouri

Woken Up to a New World Leader-Elect

Chicago Right Now by Anthea Behm

It was ambitious of me to go to bed early last night. I was like a kid waiting for my Chrissy stash. For the sake of any future memory loss ('hi old me!'): it was the US presidential elections last night (UK time). Obama was declared victorious at around 11pm his time, 4am mine. I could hear lots of chat and laughter from the College bar throughout the night while I tossed and turned in bed. I was very tempted to throw on my dressing gown and walk on over, but I decided yesterday (of all days) to break my habit of late night bursts of energy, groggy mornings and jumpy, adrenaliny days.

It's all very exciting though. These elections have been squarely in the background of my life and everyone else's (my friends, family, fellow bloggers, international journalists etc) for at least a few months now.

On Monday night a few of us sat around after College dinner discussing a range of things from whether Australians, by nature, slightly distrust charisma in politicians (in this case Obama*), whether a black man is a more respectable form of authority than a white woman (offered up by a Hillary fan) to what reached almost complete consenus: just how deflating and stifling it would be if McCain and Palin won, and Obama and Biden lost. It would pretty much mean (or have meant!) that articulacy, intelligence, compassion and newness are just too scary. (I say 'almost' because we had a devoted Republican and huge McCain fan among us.)

*The Boy says that the Brits were similarly suspicious when Blair was first on the scene, but now expect a bit of the dazzle.

Chicago Right Now by Anthea Behm

Going off Facebook data, nearly all of my friends, especially my Merican ones, are jubilant. One Oxford pal said she will now be able to return home, her faith in her country renewed. I spotted one student say in a 'comment' that she was sad as a McCain fan but did not feel comfortable expressing her disappointment 'in these parts'. Some - mostly non-Americans - are curious, wary or even cynical about the nature of this promised 'Change' and are waiting to see how it all plays out once the god-like posters are put away. I feel positive, and definitely more curious than cautious, which is good.