June 30th, 2002

Fishy Circumstances

And the winner is...

Montserrat has won the title of worst football nation of the year, in a complete 0-4 loss against Bhutan. In an official, FIFA sponsored game, no less! (more here) This makes Montserrat the world's 203rd best team. American Samoa and the Turks and Caicos Islands didn't quite do badly enough to qualify for the worst team match.

In other news, Brazil's won the World Cup, as was expected when the final lineup was announced. I knew as soon as it happened from the multitude of honking horns and cheering people in the neighborhood. It'll be going on all day. And probably tomorrow as well.
Fishy Circumstances


For those keeping score, Friday was a loss. I will be buying the database software, but not until Tuesday, since all the stores are closed for the long weekend. Meanwhile, I wonder where my advisor is? It's been three months since I've heard from him now.

Music Night was satisfying - since we finally had a copy of the words, we made our first successful foray through Salisbury Hill. And the balance between strings and non-strings was better than it usually was... let's see, perhaps 4 guitarists, one electric guitarist, one bass guitarist, and one mandolinist. Plus many of the usuals: bagpiper, penny whistler, 2 bodhran players, two percussionists.

My week of birthday parties is over, all three of them. Cat's party was good, especially the cake, and her garden is settling in nicely, roses, honeysuckle, pepper plants, lots of herbs and vegetables. But the end of summer it may even be luxuriant. We have our pepper plants thanks to her, and she has the honeysuckle inspired by ours, in the hopes it will obligingly trellis over part of the next door neighbor's ajdoining garage wall.

Today's a day of online errands and general low-keyness, hopefully with a movie (Monsoon Wedding) in the evening, especially if I can track down Jenny, who was also interested in going with us. Since tomorrow's a holiday, we'll likely visit some of the many events (except that the city-sponsored ones are all cancelled, thanks to the strike), and perhaps go back to the beaches, where, yesterday afternoon, I went as far as I ever have on the skates. It was tiring and hot but, happily, not smoggy. Such a relieve to lose the smog and be able to breath again!

With less than a week remaining until the trip, I really need to do something about the rest of the tickets...
Fishy Circumstances


I'm going to briefly revisit old news, especially for the benefit of my recently rediscovered old friends.

Back in December, I did my first turn as an "expert" on something, on the technology of Middle Earth for the Discovery Channel. You can see the website for it and the videos here. (I'm day three)

Also, in case you're a graduate student in a medieval subject, in the mood for applying to give a paper, Vagantes' second occurrence is coming up next spring, with an application deadline of October 1st for papers. Yes, a long ways off, but you're forewarned. Vagantes is co-sponsored by the University of Toronto, Harvard University, and Cornell University. It's a fun gathering and, even if you don't want to give a paper (or unfortunately are turned down), it's still worth attending. Based on last year, there should be a fair chunk of the audience not giving papers.
Fishy Circumstances

History in English schools

History is taught very differently in England than it is in Canada or the U.S. The emphasis is on methodology over content. Indeed, over the course of one's education there, certainly in history, a fairly minimal quantity of actual content is communicated... even though the students are, in the process, trained in critical theory .

A BBC commentary discusses a recently-released study on the subject, and concludes that students need to learn more about their own country... to the degree that a great many students are hard pressed to name any prime ministers of the country, while learning of lists of equivalent information is done by rote on the other side of the Atlantic.

It's an old debate. But what I was just thinking was how well rote learning ties into the only somewhat derogatory idea that higher education in the liberal arts results in being good at dinner time conversation. Absolutely! (And history of science and technology is all about trivia. I know so much more conversationally useful trivia now than I ever did before taking up this subject.) Does learning methodology help with dinnertime conversations? I don't think it does as much, but it helps in becoming a specialist in the field in question.

Extraordinarily superficial conclusion: Americans are better networkers because high school provides them with more handy trivia to incorporate into conversations. The English come out of secondary school better equipped to pursue an academic career... but only if they've been decisive and focused on which methodology set to pursue.