Goodbye Edublogs

Let’s see other people. Actually, I’ll see other people and you can just cry as I walk away or something. That’s right, I’m finally moving to a new site. The lucky winner is Anthroblogs for their non-annoying spamless hosting solutions, plus there’s that whole anthropologist ghetto they’ve got going. It only took me an entire month to accomplish the move. Thanks go to John Norvell for letting me join his merry band.

Actually, I’m still not done with the move. I want to migrate all of my posts at the very least and I’m screwing around right now with Perl scripts to do just that. Let me tell you, it’s not simple at all, especially for someone who used to play Tetris back in programming class in high school (six years ago, I might add). I’ll probably have to move comments manually which will add another layer of frustration to this bastard of an undertaking. If anyone is better than me at Perl, I’d be glad to accept their help.

I’m also trying to finish a chapter of my thesis to include as a writing sample in grad school applications, so I might not have the new blog set up the way I want until the new year. Until then, don’t mind the exposed wires and wet paint as you follow me — into the future!

Here’s what you can expect to see over there:

Cavite (the movie)

I learned of this movie from The Wily Filipino. Got to say, I wasn’t impressed. I already rented Suicide Girls on his recommendation and found it a bit “wtf?”, although there is a Clockwork Orange-y rape scene in Suicide Girls that is eerily beautiful. One more strike, though, and I’ll just have to say that The Wily Filipino and I have divergent tastes in movies .

CORRECTION: It was actually Suicide Club.  Suicide Girls is the porn website where the models all have tattoos and piercings.  And no, I’m not a subscriber (sin is a financially taxing endeavour).

The plot centres around a 2nd generation Filipino American in the Philippines whose family is being held hostage and who is forced to do all kinds of illegal things by the bad guy who relays all his instructions by cellphone. Yes, just like that one cellphone hostage movie that was out recently which I never plan on seeing. Oh, and he has to do all his running around in the province of Cavite.

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Faster than a speeding blogger

This is the first time I’ve ever posted more than twice in a single day. Actually, it’s technically Tuesday now, but my days only end when I go to sleep.

Via Rough Theory, I found out that Scott Eric Kaufman at Acephalous is conducting an experiment on blogging. It goes like this:

  1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
  2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply I’m one of them. (Do whatever you have to. If that fails, try whatever it takes.)
  3. Ping Techorati.

The object of the experiment is to discover how fast a (cough, ahem) “meme” can spread on the (English language) blogosphere. I’m obviously willing to participate, but danged if I don’t see holes in the methodology. For instance, I suspect it will hardly penetrate Myspace and possibly not even Xanga. Probably not Friendster blogs, either. I also doubt that the meme will be spread by retail-oriented blogs or blogs run as online community newsletters. Which is to say that Scott Eric Kaufman will not be measuring the spread of his meme through the English-language blogosphere, but rather the spread of his meme through one particular region of that blogosphere.

In “Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs” (a more developed version is found here) there is presented a blog classification scheme created by S. Krishnamurthy, where blogs are classified according to their location on a particular matrix:

(Krishnamurthy 2002, cited in Herring et al. 2004:3).

I would place Acephalous on the line between Quadrants I and II, meaning that I think it’s about both SEK’s personal life and about certain topics that he uses the blog to explore.

Building upon Rebecca Blood’s typology, Herring and her co-authors also present their own classification scheme:

  1. Journal blogs, which are about the personal doings of the individual bloggers (i.e., most blogs on LiveJournal),
  2. Filter blogs, which provide commentary on things external to the blogger, such as US politics (blogs in Quadrant III of Krishnamurthy’s schema can also be called filter blogs)
  3. K-logs, or knowledge blogs, which are used in projects to allow project members to disseminate up-to-date information to each other
  4. Mixed-purpose blogs, which are combinations of two or more blog genres
  5. And finally, Other types of blogs which do not fall under the previous categories (Herring et al. 2004:4-6).

Using this typology, I would classify Acephalous as being a mixed-purpose blog, in this case a filter blog with some journal blogging thrown in.

My objective in classifying Acephalous, though, is to point out that being mostly a filter blog and oriented towards other filter blogs (a quick scan through the blogroll reveals mostly filter blogs), SEK’s experiment will likely end up measuring the speed of his meme among filter blogs, leaving journal blogs mostly untouched. This means that the spread of a meme through the English-language blogosphere’s biggest genre will never be measured — note, for example, that 7 out of 10 of the biggest blog hosting services focus mostly on personal journals, and that’s not even counting social networking sites like Myspace (Perseus 2005).

So in conclusion, I’ve forgotten where I was going to take the rest of this post. I’d just save this draft and work on it more tomorrow but SEK did ask participants to post ASAP, so I’ll do it now. I is sleepy, I go beddy-bye.


Herring, Susan C; Scheidt, Lois Ann; Bonus, Sabrina; & Wright, Elijah L. (2004), “Bridging the gap: a genre analysis of weblogs,” hicss, p. 40101b, Proceedings of the 37th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Electronic document, retrieved March 8, 2006 from

Krishnamurthy, S. (2002). “The Multidimensionality of Blog Conversations: The Virtual Enactment of September 11.” In Maastricht, The Netherlands: Internet Research 3.0.

Perseus Development Corporation (2005). The blogging geyser. Electronic document, retrieved March 4, 2006 from

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She talks Tagalog more better than me (and probably cusses better too)

[youtube]zdCDaKk9W8Q[/youtube]Seriously, the Russian teacher of Tagalog (a.k.a. Filipino) at Moscow State University speaks better Tagalog than me. Actually, I speak Taglish and my academic Tagalog is at a 4th grade level. I sometimes even have trouble reading the Tagalog comics my uncle brought with him when he was visiting from the Philippines. Anyway, this situation isn’t unusual for a lot of 1.5 generation immigrants.

But back to the video: Russkies speaking Tagalog! It’s always surprising to learn when people who don’t have friends or family in the Philippines are actually interested in learning Tagalog. Actually, I got this from the tagalog community in LiveJournal and one of the people there is actually a student in that class (but wasn’t in the video). In response to the question of why anyone not Filipino would want to learn Tagalog, ptiza_schastya says:

No, i don’t have any friends and relatives in The Philippines and i have never been there 🙂
The thing is I’m studying in the Institute of Asian and African Studies and there are many different languages to choose to learn (the most popular are japanese and chinese of course) But the groups are small and there are many languages except these ones, so some people don’t pick the languages, they are just given it. So, i was given tagalog. But i absolutely don’t regret it 🙂

Just for the hell of it, I’ll try translating the above into Tagalog to see if I can do it:

Hinde, wala akong mga kaibigan o kamag-anak sa Pilipinas at hindi ako ever nakapunta duon 🙂 (Fuck!)

Ano kasi, nag-ii-study (Goddamit!) ako sa Institute of Asian and African Studies at marami yung mga lenguahe na pwede ko matutunan (crapper!) (yung pinaka popular ay siyempre yung hapon at intsik). Pero maliit ang mga grupo at meron mas maraming lenguahe kaisa sa mga ito, kaya hindi pini-pick (fuck bucket!) ng mga ibang tao yung mga lenguahe [na tinututunan nila], in-a-assign (bugger!) sa kanila. Kaya binigay lang sa akin ang tagalog. Kaso hindi ko ni-re-regret 🙂 (mother of fuck!).

The comments in parentheses are the muttered curses I let out when I kept resorting to Taglish. I marked out the cussing so you’ll know just how bad my Tagalog is. Six substitutions in one paragraph? That’s weak. I just know the Tagalog words will come to me later when I’m chopping vegetables or something. The “crapper” is for the fact that I actually swapped the Tagalog for “learn” for “choose to learn” because I couldn’t remember what “choose” was in Tagalog, subtly changing the meaning of the translation. And “popular” is spelled the same way as in English but pronounced like in Spanish. By the way, did you notice that I curse in English? I only have a ten year old’s grasp of Tagalog imprecations, I sound childish when I try to swear in it. Perhaps I should work on that.

[youtube]i3pGxctGDlc[/youtube]Also, this video from Youtube combines anthropology with Filipinos, or so the title screen claims. It seems to show the hijinks of a group of Filipino students in the Philippines and apparently doesn’t have anything anthropological in it, or so the comment below it says (I haven’t watched the whole thing):

astig ng vid, kahit di me anthro.. astig pa rin! galing mo kuya kimchi gumawa ng vid! -ann

“Cool video, even though there’s no anthro . . . but still cool! You’re great at making videos Kuya (big brother) Kimchi! – Ann”

That one was easier to translate. I assume this Kuya Kimchi is Korean from the nickname. Perhaps these are anthropology students? Youtube has so many of these enigmatic videos on it, they’re kind of sickeningly fascinating to watch. It’s like reading the personal blog of someone you don’t know and where almost all of the comments are clearly from people the blogger knows in person.

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Procrastinators unite tomorrow!

N. Pepperrell and I have been having a little exchange about procrastination recently and I just happened to come across this article while not procrastinating yesterday. In it, Dan Ariely and Klaus Wertenbroch ask if deadlines actually help in stopping the commission of this mortal sin (I imagine that in Dante’s inferno, procrastinators are forced to live in a world where everyone else is also a procrastinator: coffee is half-brewed, tv shows are made the night before, Christmas is celebrated in between March and July). There’s also this website that tries to collect all procrastination-related research.

Anyway, in the paper, the researchers gave participants a task to complete by a certain date and divided them between those with evenly spaced deadlines and those who could choose their own deadlines anytime duging the work period (the last study also adds the option of having a deadline imposed at the end of the work period). The basic results are provided in the abstract:

In this article, we pose three questions: (a) Are people willing to self-impose meaningful (i.e., costly) deadlines to overcome procrastination? (b) Are self-imposted deadlines effective in improving task performance? (c) When self-imposing deadlines, do people set them optimally, for maximum performance enhancement? [. . . T]he answer is “yes” to the first two questions, and “no” to the third. People have self-control problems, they recoginze them, and they try to control them by self-imposing costly deadlines. These deadlines help people control procrastination, but they are not as effective as some externally imposed deadlines in improving task performance.

So self-imposed deadlines help, but not as much as deadlines imposed by some outside authority. Almost all of the participants were students except for one study, where they were professionals taking an executive-education course. I immediately wondered whether results coming from generally older and more experienced executives could be meaningfully compared to results coming from students, but right now I can barely muster up the steam for a good anti-quant rant. And I was totally not procrastinating when I wrote this post.

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Can’t sleep, clown will eat me

It’s the allergy medicine I took in the evening, I had to take a nap because it made me drowsy and now I can’t sleep at all.  Boo medication.

There’s really nothing to do at six in the morning.  I haven’t been awake this early without having pulled an all-nighter in god only knows how long.  On the up side, I can actually go to the Farmers’ Market here and participate in all that organic food cult business that they do.  They open at 7 and I’ve never gone earlier than 10 AM, when apparently things start slowly winding down.  They do have some very good food, but most of it is stuff I could never afford unless I sell my organs or something.  Yay for conspicous consumption of class.

Anyway, I have a plan for today now:

  1. Play video games very quietly for 2 hours
  2. Go to Farmers’ Market
  3. Have breakfast there
  4. Wander around looking longingly at food I can’t buy
  5. Get some tomatoes and salad greens, possibly some fresh bread
  6. Go home
  7. Write a bit
  8. Hope the scallops I laid out last night have cooked themselves, plus maybe also cooked the pasta and prepared the pesto that I bought, and possibly even made garlic bread while they were at it
  9. Eat the lunch lovingly made for me by my own food
  10. Afternoon siesta
  11. Wake up in time for dinner (watch Eye 2 dvd rental if get up before then)
  12. Watch whatever’s on while Battlestar is gone until December 2
  13. Off to bed, secure in the knowledge that I’ve had a full day of work

Yessirree, sometimes the world doesn’t suck.  And looky, sunny today.  I’ll have to remember not to go outside on Sunday.

Note to self: do this after watching tv tonight

Walter Benjamin, One-Way Street
Post No Bills

The Writer’s Technique in Thirteen Theses

I. Anyone intending to embark on a major work should be lenient with himself and, having completed a stint, deny himself nothing that will not prejudice the next.

II. Talk about what you have written, by all means, but do not read from it while the work is in progress. Every gratification procured in this way will slacken your tempo. If this regime is followed, the growing desire to communicate will become in the end a motor for completion.

III. In your working conditions avoid everyday mediocrity. Semi-relaxation, to a background of insipid sounds, is degrading. On the other hand, accompaniment by an etude or a cacophony of voices can become as significant for work as the perceptible silence of the night. If the latter sharpens the inner ear, the former acts as a touchstone for a diction ample enough to bury even the most wayward sounds.

IV. Avoid haphazard writing materials. A pedantic adherence to certain papers, pens, inks is beneficial. No luxury, but an abundance of these utensils is indispensable.

V. Let no thought pass incognito, and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.

VI. Keep your pen aloof from inspiration, which it will then attract with magnetic power. The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself. Speech conquers thought, but writing commands it.

VII. Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Literary honour requires that one break off only at an appointed moment (a mealtime, a meeting) or at the end of the work.

VIII. Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written. Intuition will awaken in the process.

IX. Nulla dies sine linea * — but there may well be weeks.

X. Consider no work perfect over which you have not once sat from evening to broad daylight.

XI. Do not write the conclusion of a work in your familiar study. You would not find the necessary courage there.

XII. Stages of composition: idea — style — writing. The value of the fair copy is that in producing it you confine attention to calligraphy. The idea kills inspiration, style fetters the idea, writing pays off style.

XIII. The work is the death mask of its conception.

* “Not a day without a line,” i.e., writing a line — variously attributed to Horace, Cicero, Pliny, and a mess of other dead guidos.

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Surveillance doesn’t work if I don’t give a crap

The anthropology blogosphere has been quieter than usual lately, mostly because most English-language anthrobloggers are American and quite a few of them are attending the American Anthropological Association’s conference taking place right now in San Jose. But that just leaves more room for us non-Americans. I was saving this post for when I finally moved hosts, but seeing as how it might not be before Wednesday, when this issue of The Coast becomes out of date, I thought I should post this now instead while I’m waiting for my rice to cook (yes I cook rice at 3:30 in the morning, I want it ready for when I get up).

Anyway, I was reading The Coast, Halifax’s alternative newsweekly (Canadian home of Dan Savage’s column) when I came across an interesting claim made in the current editorial. Halifax right now is obsessed over crime, at least as far as the local news is concerned. I think it’s partly a case of a manufactured moral panic (is there any other kind?), though it seems to be true that violent crime has been increasing. Regardless of whether or not the statistics say what people claim (I suspect it’s not so black and white), it’s true that people experience the world anecdotally, not through a judicious weighing of the evidence at hand. Constructed truths (again, are there any other kind?) have a reality of their own for the people who experience them, regardless of what a mythical neutral observer might see.

Now then, in the editorial I mentioned, it’s claimed that visible and public video surveillance hasn’t been shown to decrease crime rates. I don’t know if the data bears out this assertion, I’ll have to check the sociological literature later. But instead of preventing crimes by their presence, video surveillance cameras just help to solve them after the fact.. That touches upon what I said before, when I theorized that constant surveillance might make the surveilled upon uncaring of who’s watching them. If someone could always be watching, does it matter if you stab someone on the street or in a dark alley? Certainly not very 1984-ish. In fact, it sounds rather more grim.

Of course, there are other things to consider. The idea of surveillance as deterrence I think rests on the assumption that humans are more rational than they really are. Who acts after a careful assessment of the costs and benefits of action? People, I think, use more emotion when making decisions than suggested by the criminal justice system’s orthodox view of human behaviour.

Or it might be that people are actually more rational than given credit for. Violence against others is an extraordinary act, and if one is moved to actually commit violence, then perhaps it wouldn’t matter if one is being watched by others. Once you’ve decided violence is called for, then it might be so necessary to you that even the abstract threat of punishment is worth it. Put simply, perhaps by the time one has decided that violence against others is worthwhile, then at the same time one has also decided that the risks from using violence are acceptable.

I know, weak. I need to develop that more. There’s another thing to consider as well. Video surveillance as it’s conceived of takes the camera to be a proxy for the human gaze. The hope is that a publicly visible surveillance camera be seen as a human being in absentia, that the surveilled upon might experience the same disciplining effect that the direct gaze of others can do. However, perhaps video cameras are too difficult to anthropomorphize into a human being. Perhaps they’re too different from a person to have the threat of the gaze of others be anything more than an abstraction. In that case, what is to be done? Perhaps surveillance cameras should be installed in mannequins so that the gaze of others be felt more directly. You could even put a police uniform on the mannequins to make things abundantly clear. Or, to make it interesting, perhaps surveillance cameras should be installed in gargoyle statues. What gaze can be more terrifying than that of a leering monster made of stone? Isn’t the essential purpose of surveillance the production of fear in the surveilled?

I think it would be an interesting experiment, and even if it’s a bust, then you have interesting urban art to attract tourists with. A win-win situation! Actually, probably the simplest thing to do is install better lighting on public streets since it’s been shown to have a significant impact on crime rates, but I think gargoyles are better anyway. If I ever become mayor of a city that demands concrete measures against crime, I may actually implement The Gargoyle Initiative. And just to bring the whole thing back to panopticon, what if on a random basis, police officers dressed in gargoyle costumes should take the place of the surveillance statues? Think about it, an entire city whose residents are terrified that the statues around them might be alive. It would be the world’s greatest performance art piece. After all, what’s the use of power when it’s not absolute?

I’m posting this as a message of warning to the world. Don’t ever let me get any power, because I’ll be sure to enjoy it too much. There you go, now you’ve all had fair notice. Don’t come crying to me when you’re all forced to listen to broadcasts of my karaoke renditions of sappy love songs a la Nero.

the way you love me,
a feeling like thi-is.
centrifugal motion,
perpetual bli-is.
It’s the way you love me, baybee!
This kiss, this bli-is!

Clap or you’ll be shot.

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I ain’t not dead no more

Actually, it’s hard to tell right now if I’m alive or not. I’ve been working practically round-the-clock on this one funding proposal and I’ve managed to destroy my sleeping habits. It’s too bad, when daylight savings time ended I actually started getting up at 9 in the morning again. Spring forward, fall back, after all.

And you know what? This is the most work I’ve done in weeks. In fact, the amound of work I did for this proposal might even be more than I did for all of October. I’ve finally realized why my writing has stalled — quite simply, I’m sick of my thesis. Okay, maybe that’s too strong, but I’m definitely getting bored with it. But the project that I’m pitching to get funding for my PhD next year is pretty different from what I’m doing right now, and the books I’ve been reading for the proposal are stuff that I’m way interested in. To be honest, my project on Filipino bloggers right now was pretty much a fallback position since the idea I came in with was too big for a one year Master’s. I was going to do fieldwork in Southeast Asia (definitely Malaysia and maybe Singapore and Brunei) on Filipino migrant workers there. So it was going to be about migration from South to South and not South to North like most migration literature focuses on. And I’d found an article about citizenship in Malaysia, where the Malaysian government is quite aware of the presence of undocumented migrants but looks the other way anyway, extending de facto citizenship to these tax-paying and voting residents (Sadiq 2005). That’s exactly the kind of crap I’ve always liked. Just look at the abstract:

Why would a state encourage illegal immigration over the opposition of its citizens? According to the theories of immigration and citizenship, we should expect exactly the opposite: that states will monitor, control, and restrict illegal immigrants’ access to citizenship on behalf of its citizens, as has been the experience of most countries. I use my research on Filipino immigration to Sabah, Malaysia to show how Malaysia utilizes census practices and documentation to incorporate an illegal immigrant population from the Philippines. Illegal immigrants play an electoral role in Sabah because of the loosely institutionalized nature of citizenship, a
feature common to many other developing countries. Our examination of Malaysia reveals several elements of illegal immigration and citizenship that are common to migratory flows in other developing countries. I conclude by showing how this case is generalizable and what it tells us about illegal immigrant participation in the international system.

That’s some good stuff there and a nice jumping-off point for more research on related issues. Off the top of my head, there’s the gendered aspect of migration — which sorts of migrants are valued by the Malaysian state, and does that include female domestic workers being abused by their employers? Or what about how Malaysia is apparently decoupling the nation from the state? And maybe something about the types of citizens this kind of governmentality produces? Yep, this thing was rich in possibilities. But alas, ’twas not to be. The project was too big and I had to change my topic entirely. Not that I hate my project right now, but I’ve always been interested in power and the state and even now I keep trying to stick the political into my work.

But now that I’m trying to get into PhD programs, I get to design my dream project. All political anthropology all the time. Just look at the books I’ve got piled up beside my desk: The Foucault Effect by Graham Burchell (ed.), States of Injury by Wendy Brown, Neoliberalism as Exception by Aihwa Ong, The Anti-Politics Machine by James Ferguson, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays by Louis Althusser, Anthropology in the Margins of the State by Veena Das and Deborah Poole (eds.), and The Coming Community by Giorgio Agamben. No, I didn’t actually use all of them in my proposal, but I absolutely loved reading through them just for the fact that they weren’t saying something that I’d been reading over and over for the last 6 months. And I still haven’t read Manuel Castell’s The Rise of the Network Society despite having had it on my bookshelf since last February.

So perhaps I should take an intellectual break every now and then just to remind me of why I thought a life of reading books 24/7 was a good thing to get into. I’m hoping I can keep up this rate of work with my regular writing because there’s really nothing more I’d like right now than to have this thesis done.

Oh, and Anthroblogs’ owner hasn’t gotten back to me yet. The constant hammering of spam comments is getting quite tiresome, but I figure that’s no reason to make a hasty decision on which blog host to go with, so I’ll give all my options the consideration due to them.


Sadiq, Kamal. 2005. “When states prefer non-citizens over citizens: conflict over illegal migration into Malaysia.” International Studies Quarterly 49, 101–122.

My life in pictures

 PhD Comics  

From PhD Comics.  Edited for spelling and personal relevance.  Also for sense of personal aesthetics.

I also joined the LiveJournal community NaReWriMo, a horrendous name that stands for National Research Writing Month, a.k.a. National Write My Goddamned Thesis Month, a.k.a. November.  Come to think of it, it’s actually IntReWriMo since by joining I’ve just made the community international.  Anyway, joining the community means that you’ve committed yourself to writing something research-related everyday.  I joined on November 5 and I’ve actually managed to honour the fateful agreement.

I’m probably going to go with Blogsome for my new host if they ever get around to answering my question about importing posts using an XML WordPress export converted to a mysql dump.  Yes, those words mean something.  If not, there’s always Anthroblogs, the owner of which I still haven’t contacted.  More to follow later.

Zizek zizek bo bizek, me mi mo mizek, Zizek!

I’m currently working on applications for funding and schools and crap.  I don’t have time to think about this blog, so changing hosts will have to wait until next week.  Late next week, in all probability.  Sorry, I actually have a couple of drafts I was saving to post on the new blog, so stick around and you’ll eventually see them.  In the meantime, have some Zizek.

By that I mean that I just saw the documentary on the philosopher Slavoj Zizek, titled Zizek!  I can only comment on the superficial stuff since I don’t have time for deep reflection.

First, I liked the film.  It only gives a very broad presentation of Zizek’s ideas, but you’d have to read him to really get him anyway.  The documentary was entertaining, just don’t expect to anything too, too deep.  I think it was pretty much a necessity for the movie to explore Zizek more than his work, otherwise it would be a glorified Powerpoint presentation of his ideas.  Second, Zizek is a rather engaging speaker.  He’s very animated when he talks and keeps waving his hands around.  By the end of each of his public talks he’s always dripping in sweat.  Third, Zizek has seen Armageddon (the movie, not the end times).  He’s also seen (and liked?) Hero, the Jet Li film, the politics of which always stuck in my craw — the filmmakers might as well have just addressed the audience directly and said, “So you see, this shows that unity is preferable to human rights and that therefore Taiwan should submit to China.”  Fourth, he types with one finger (not even two-fingered hunt and peck, just one).  Fifth, he keeps his clothes in his kitchen cupboards.  Sixth, my supervisor apparently knows him personally.  He’d once given a talk at King’s College, which is part of my own school, Dalhousie University, and she told me that he’d forgotten to pack clothes when he came over.  I know, how can anyone forget that?

So in conclusion, Zizek! — good to watch if you’re not paying for it.  Another excellent way to put off work for an hour.