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The horse hair held

A brief note between appointments to say that I made my deadline and the draft is not as terrible as I thought it looked when my nose was to the grindstone. I’ve still got some ways to go until my literature review is complete. Mostly reading about the ‘Post-Secular’ turn in International Relations.

I avoided the Dunce Cap and I am quite pleased. It forced me over a very important hurdle of writing something substantial. There is a paralysis that one gets when it hits them that they are writing a book and expose their thoughts, ideas and passions to an audience that will not always be kind. Its a real form of vulnerability that can be genuinely scary to face.

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PhDs, Discipline and Lent

I am Catholic and like most Catholics, I try to observe Lent. Usually by giving something up. I have been pretty hardcore and lived on bread and water for 6 days a week the entirety of Lent (Sundays are a day off fasting as they are a ‘small Easter even during Lent). Like most Catholics, I struggle with it somewhere between Day Two and Forty with that sacrifice. I struggle with discipline many areas of my life and so what do I do, I choose to do a PhD that is made or broken on my self-discipline!

So, it’s the day after Ash Wednesday and I am combining my Lenten sacrifice with a positive and productive practice of self-discipline: A two hour block, five days a week, first thing in the morning of writing. If it doesn’t happen then, then as soon as possible that day. Two hours. No distractions. Just write.

I can tell you now, I’m not off to a great start. Ash Wednesday was a fight to get out of bed and get started. But every day is a chance to get back up and try again. Please pray for me this Lent. I will take all that I can get.

Picture Credit: Follower of Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516) The Battle between Carnival and Lent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Updating the PhD Thing

Officially it has been one year and one month since I started my PhD. Lots has been going on since I began and thankfully, the process of writing the proposal has been enormously helpful in crystallising and controlling the scope of the thesis.
The proposal itself is off to the research committee for the final time after a round of revisions. I’m not forging ahead into the literature review with an eye to knocking down draft chapters between now and this time next year.

My investigation has been clarified from a vague notion of the “influence of the Vatican on the politics of Latin America” to… *drum roll*…

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A Happy Annoucement and a new post series!

So I just got married… it was amazing and so far, so good. It’s been five days since, and today is also the third anniversary of my return home from the USA and the first date with the awesome man I’m now married to.

In honour of that event, I am going to slowly republish the record of that fateful six months that lead me to the best day of my life so far.

Stay tuned and enjoy!

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Tolkien Biopic in the Works!

Only slightly excited by news that Protagonist Pictures is seriously sounding out a Biopic about Tolkien’s life and will be directed by James Strong, of Downton Abbey Fame. (And that’s laconic understatement to you)

The only problem… its working title is ‘Middle Earth’…

What’s the problem? Well, this is a movie about a Professor of Languages who was very specific about his writing and expression aaaanndd they have gone and misspelt the name of the mythological world he created. Tolkien was particular about he plural of ‘dwarf’ and annoyed his publishers about it to no end. He would probably be choking on his pipe smoke at the spelling of ‘Middle-earth’ without a hyphen.

This Tolkien fan wonders what’s wrong with a hyphen? And, more importantly, how will this film deal with his Catholicism, one of the most important influences on his life and works? We shall see…

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2016: The Year of the Demagogue

Demagoguery enters at the moment when, for want of a common denominator, the principle of equality degenerates into the principle of identity.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I can find no better sentiment expressing  for how the 2016 US election has turned out. This result shouldn’t surprise anyone. If it did, I would recommend taking a look at this interview. This is a perspective that you don’t get from the regular 6 pm news or from many the regular media outlets based in urban centers. Suffering people who have felt voiceless in the public square will take full advantage of the anonymity of the ballot box to express their actual views.

Is Donald Trump the rational choice? Well, that depends on who you are, where you come from, what level of education you have achieved… your identity, in other words. When identity is substituted for the principle of equality and equity of all citizens, a rising demagogue is waiting in the wings.

I can predict this: the sky won’t fall in. The sun will rise again tomorrow. The earth will keep rotating. People have survived worse leaders. International society has managed to survive worse weirdos and tyrants. Wait and see.

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The PhD Thing

For those who do not know, this year I have embarked on a journey that will be the best and also the worst three years of my life that is called a Doctorate. Not the medical (useful) kind of doctor (which is technically, a Master of Medicine) but a Doctor of Philosophy in the field of International Relations.

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Marking Australia Day…

… Or Invasion Day, Survival Day, Unity Day… Whatever you like to call it. No matter what you like to call this day, it marks an event that changed the course of history of this land, for better and also for worse. So whether your celebrating the occasion or drowning your sorrows, have a beer with clarity of both the good and bad that this day has made possible, way back in 1778.

I think this image quite captures my sentiments about the day. No, this kangaroo is not mourning the death of its mate, like the photographer assumed, he’s taking advantage of the fact that she’s not running away to mate with her. Happy Australia Day!