Sunday, April 29, 2012

Independence-era novels from Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana

I just finished reading A Man of the People, a male book by Chinua Achebe.  Although written in the early 1960s, it's rather complete, in that practically the same words of satire are popular today.  

Before that I read Weep Not, Child (by Ngugi, who completely deserves his one-name status);
 and (browsed) The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, by their Ghanian contemporary, Ayi Kwei Armah. 

I highly recommend all three.  
Fuck this fucking slow internet @ 10kbps. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

I am very happy about this

The famous Bibliotheca/library in Alexandria Egypt noticed my poem! 
From their Painting With Words poetry contest blog, see الرسم بالكلمات: Winners' Names:
  1. First Prize: Alexander Spathis for his poem "Your Fugitive Hair"
  2. Second Prize: Tosin Otitoju for her poem "Alexandria"
  3. Third Prize: Yasser Kashef for his poem "Living Memories I Relish"
  4. Fourth Prize: Rania Yehia El-Badry for her poem "A Glimpse of Heaven"
  5. Fifth Prize: Sarah Abdelhakim Amer Elsayed for her poem "Loneliness"
Wish I could have been there to read it.
Alexandria is a lovely city by the way.  You have to see it for yourself.

Thanks to:
The publishers of for announcing this contest.  Your blog is of enormous benefit to me (and many writers.)
My dear Adam, aka hezni, on whose story the poem Alexandria is based.  I'll try and call him (out of the blue after 4 years.)  Maybe nothing will happen.   

Monday, April 02, 2012

Not at all?

I look at webpages for various PhD programs and I look and I say "I really can't."  I can't do three years or "4+n" years of voluntary prison time.  I can't spend two years on ONE problem while life passes by.  Not just won't, physically can not.

I can imagine circumstances under which I might - e.g. a part time thing from work, I'm old and powerful with nothing better to do, the whole thing takes two years or less, or maybe the environment has good distractions... 

Most recently (today), I considered PhD programs in Statistics, which it occurred to me is the "easy" option: learn some very easy math, then find some majorly large data-sets and say some insightful things about that system - at least this is reasonably well-defined.  But to look at the program websites, they've gone and made it about discovering theories about statistics itself.  That's alright until you remember that you'll have supervisors looking over your shoulder - they'll be the judges, not you. 

I wonder how my students survive...the endless butt-in-seat hours for instance.  Or their know-it-all lecturer yapping on about math structures that may or may not lead to progress.  I don't know how the many with poor grades survive the hit on their self-esteem.  I wish I could rearrange the world so that they'd be doing what they love to do.  I include a few things in class to improve the situation: open-ended play with software, connections with culture and development, discussion always about why we are going to learn this, etc

I "survived", actually loved studying engineering in school, because I was very curious about Engineering Systems and Applied Math.  I study a lot even now - for no reason at all other than the desire to know.  But many engineering students want to be engineers (designing, repairing, team-working, fabricating, inventing) or are undecided.  Few want to be analysts when they grow up, and that's what all this theoretical training is most suited to.  This misalignment is a waste of time for many people.