April 16th, 2003


Life is a Miracle

I'm working my way, slowly, through Life is a Miracle: an Essay Against Modern Superstition by Wendell Berry. I've loved Wendell Berry's poetry for ages, but this is the first time I've read a longer piece by him. I'm in chapter 3, where he's taking on Edward O Wilson's Consilience, which I haven't read.

Chapter 2, titled "Propriety", really has me thinking. I've been struggling, recently, with the work that I do here at HSPH not only because it bores the daylights out of me (Guatemala, here I come!) but also because my dealings with professors and PIs has left me feeling very skeptical of science, scientists, and their connection to the "real" world.

"This religification and evangelizing of science, in defiance of scientific principles, is now commonplace and is widely accepted or tolerated by people who are not scientists. We really seem to have conceded to scientists, to the extent of their own regrettable willingness to occupy it, the place once occupied by the prophets and priests of religion. This can have happened only because of a general abdication of our responsibility to be critical and, above all, self-critical."

Pricipal Investigators, PIs, have this idea that they're doing "pure research" and that everyone they might want to study will, of course, be more than happy to BE studied, for little or no compensation. It's a completely absurd notion, and one that really makes me understand why it's important to have ethics boards to review grant applications where there will be human subjects involved, because PIs so easily assume that what they're doing is for the greater good! It's a sweet but totally misguided perception of the work they do and the way they treat their human subjects.
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    thoughtful thoughtful


I'm limiting the further accumulation of stuff a bit more than I normally would because of my upcoming trip. Not much sense in buying stuff that I don't NEED only to put it in storage in a few months! But I'm realizing, as summer approaches, that I actually do need some new clothing (and also to discard some old!), and also shoes (both for dancing and for walking around -- my feet are covered in blisters from the shifting footwear of the spring season). I'm not much of a shopper, but it's kinda exciting to think about getting myself some new summer dresses and a couple of new pairs of good shoes. I'll have to enlist Aileen, who's got a keen shopping eye, for help in this department.
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office moving

In December, when the big question as to whether my officemate and I should move from our larger, windowed office to a smaller office without windows in order to be closer to the rest of our group, we decided yes, because it's been weird to be far from the rest of the group, and visibility is good on so many levels. Well, we've finally gotten around to moving, but in the meantime, I've decided that I'm leaving the group sometime this summer. That makes the visibility gain a lot less compelling to me, so I'm feeling very pained to have to give up the window, especially since the weather has been so fabulous the past couple of days! So, now, here we are, in a perfectly serviceable office, that's just making me glum.

Of course, it doesn't help that I've been generally glum the past few days, with sparks of outrage over the ridiculous Mosaic conversation about identities, etc.

It's funny, because I've actually had some really nice social time with folks this week. Monday, Aileen and I got together and had dinner at Pho Pasteur (nice dinner other than unusually bad service -- such that I actually left what I consider to be a shamefully small tip, which is what was deserved, but I can't help feeling guilty about it) and then a very brief bit of shopping. I bought a handful of new socks, because I'm out of socks to wear at the moment and I don't know when I'm going to get to the laundromat (yikes!). I'm even considering taking my laundry to one of those wash/dry/fold places that I'm way to stingey to use, but, well, I do need clean clothes!

Yesterday, I had dinner with dbang at a thai place near my apartment, where the power was out for the first half of dinner! I love it when the power goes out -- it's always like some kind of special occassion when everything's just a little different, and I've never had that while out to dinner, so that was fun.

All my social stuff has been really nice and my mood during has felt pretty normal, but when I'm on my own, my baseline seems just a bit depressed. I go through this kind of phase from time to time, so I know it'll stop eventually, but it's hard when I'm in the middle of it.
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    blah blah