flower (in progress) for sale at Art Grows in Durham
2008-03-22T22:52:28.561-07:00"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"
2005-11-10T16:00:15.723-08:00"I have thought of everything I can think of, and the one thing that gives me some hope is the ethos that underlies the educational exchange program. That ethos, in sum, is the belief that international relations can be improved, and the danger of war significantly reduced, by producing generations of leaders, who through the experience of educational exchange, will have acquired some feeling and understanding of other peoples' cultures why they operate as they do, why they think as they do, why they react as they do and of the differences among these cultures. It is possible not very probable, but possible that people can find in themselves, through intercultural education, the ways and means of living together in peace."(J. William Fulbright: The Price of Empire)Friday night. Grey. Dark. Approximately 40 degrees F, but no rain, so a decent enough evening for the Hungarian winter. I spent the majority of the evening working away at my database of Hungarian/Romanian/Slovakian/Austrian/Serbian towns and as the clock was nearing 11pm I was tempted to head to bed, call it a night, get some shut eye so I could be awake for my 9am meeting with a professor (yes, on a Saturday, I didnt schedule it, trust me). At which point my doorbell rang. A handfull of my friends had gone to a play in the theater in my building (Parisi Udvar), and wanted to know if I wanted to go "grab a beer". A bit fed up of typing the slovakian letters into excel (c, d, n, all with various accents over them) , i saved my database, tossed on my blue ski cap and headed for the door.We (Annike, Judit, Ashlin and I) headed to the Hungarians' favorite bar, Wichmann Söröző. Annike (a Hungarian) works as a dramaturg at the National Theatre with Ashlin and Judit (also a Hungarian) teaches English at a high school in Budapest. We walk in the small bar, a tiny basementesque pub, filled with picnic sized tables. When we walked through the door we were blasted by a barrage of smoke, no not a fire in the kitchen, just 50 some youngish Hungarians smoking cigarettes in a basement that has no ventilation. The back wall was barely visible through the screen of smoke. Anyways, we found a table and were introduced to the owner of the bar (a former olympian kayaker, apparently, who now weighs probably 300 pounds and is as round as he is tall, images of him stuck in a kayak and overturning floated through my head).Anyways, we ordered some beers and then Judit and Annike had the brilliant idea of getting shots of 'Palinka'. This is some awful national drink of Hungary, basically some kind of brandy, fruit flavored this time, from some region in Hungary. I tried to politely decline, as Im not one for liquor of this sort--but they wouldnt have it. At this point Annike teaches us that if the person who bought the shots cocks their elbow in a certain way as they are lifting their shot that means to do the shot in one gulp, but positioned in another way meant two gulps. Anyways, i ignored the position of Annikes elbow as she threw back her shot and i sipped mine in about 7 sips, trying not to display any of my not-so-subtle facial expressions as I did my best to swallow the stuff. Ugh.By this point, I thought it would be a good idea to eat something--I asked the owner if they had goulash (typical Hungarian stew), no, chicken breast on bread, no, lard on bread, no (my favorite heart healthy choice). So i asked what they did have, but I didnt recognize the name. Judit and Annike piped up and said yeah, order it, it's good, delicious even. They say it is the classic Hungarian meal after working in the field or after building a house. I decided to go ahead with it, i was hungry, although i certainly hadnt farmed or built anything on Friday. After one of Judit's students stopped by our table at the bar ( a much more common occurence in Hungary than in the states, the kid was 16), the owner of the bar brought our food---A BIG BOWL FULL OF TRIPE---YEP COW'S INTESTINES. I all of the sudden felt I was on so[...]
2005-10-27T16:16:27.616-07:00With Hariet Mier's withdrawl of her Supreme Court nomination, Bush again is faced with sifting through the parade of female Republican judges, lawyers and dearest friends all while appeasing the conservatives and selecting a nominee that can make it through the nomination process--not an easy task. After scanning the major newspapers and blog-o-sphere, I have decided to put together a little odds sheet of potential nominees. Im sticking with the assumption that Bush will either stick with a woman or a person of color for his next nominee. This is by no means based on any scientific or for that matter sound methodology, merely my gut instinct. For those of you that are more interested in pretty pictures from Budapest and my daily activities, I will return to that ASAP. Unfortunately my life has been occupied with a lot of working on my research (reading, working on my database, meeting with Hungarians regarding water etc.), nothing too fascinating to describe on my blog..........1. Justice Consuelo M. Callahan, 9th Circuit Court of AppealsODDS: 1 in 3.Low-down: female, hispanic, Robert Novak suggested that she was Bush's preferred pick (although he turned out to be wrong it was Miers). Senate hearings for the 9th Circuit nomination went smoothly.Achilles Heel in Nomination Process: Has been referred to as "The Dancing Queen of the Ninth Circuit", suggesting that she might actually be a gay man and not a hispanic woman, this will not go over well with the conservative senators.2. Justice Edith Jones, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ODDS: 1 in 5.Low-down. female, conservative credentials--has given speeches on the role the Supreme Court has played in the decay of American society including family relations, pornography, crime. Her comments on the Warren court include "extravagantly assumed the power to dictate new 'rights' not expressly stated in the Constitution and in so doing foisted its philosophical vision on the United States with consequences far beyond the Court's imagining." (click here for more)Achilles Heel in Nomination: While appeasing the way-right, Jones may ruffle too many feathers in the center and left at a time when Bush himself has few feathers remaining to be plucked before the fate of his political legacy resembles that of a H5n1 virus infected swan.3. Alberto R. Gonzales -- U.S. Attorney GeneralODDS: 1 in 6Low-Down: Hispanic male,Why he won't be Nominated: Deemed too liberal by conservatives, made a statement reported by CBS news.com ""The constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is," Gonzales responded in the summer of 2003 when asked by Dr. John Willke, president of the Life Issues Institute, to comment on whether the document that created the US government addressed the issue of abortion." For full article click here. Would have to recuse himself in cases in which he was involved as an Attorney General (including cases having to do with terrorism).4. Justice Janice Rogers Brown -- D.C. Circuit Court of AppealsODDS: 1 in 4Low-Down: Originally from Alabama, daughter of a share cropper. Nominated to her current position in 2003 but stalled in Senate for two years by Democrats opposed to her conservative/libertariarian political philosophy. Been referred to as a female Clarence Thomas, while conservatives have alligned her school of thought more with Scalia. Served on California Supreme Court. For a speech she delivered to the The Federalist Society at the University of Chicago School of Law, click here.Risk to Bush: Fillibuster. Would a nomination of Rogers Brown (or perhaps Priscilla Owen) motivate Democrats to opt for the fillibuster in the post-fillibuster agreement era? If the Democrats claim that Rogers Brown is out of the mainstream of political thought for a Supreme Court justice although the signatories of the non-filibuster agreement agreed to cloture for Rogers Brown for the nomination of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, then her nomination could le[...]
2005-10-25T16:00:14.416-07:00After turning in my NSF grant proposal to my committee members, I took this afternoon to think about some different things—as my mind needed a break from my dissertation and all things having to do with water. Yesterdays memorial of the 1956 Hungarian revolution (where the US and the Western European powers failed to assist the revolutionaries—Im not making a judgment here as to whether they should have or not, just stating that they didnt) and the ongoing war in Iraq have me thinking about why we, as in the US, go to war and how does a nation justly end a war. Is there a consistent logic to our use of military deployment over the past fifty years? And finally how does our use of military power allign with the Just War Theory, and what insights, if any, can this body of literature give us in how and when to end the war in Iraq.. For those of you who may not know, Just War Theory (or at least my interpretation of it) posits when military action by a state is justified. This theory, which is often thought to be a product of Greek, Roman and Christian ethics, largely developed by thinkers including Aristotle and Augustine, has been divided into three parts: 1) when is war justified; 2) just conduct in war; and 3) just ending of war. While Im not a political theorist by training, although perhaps I am by nature, I play one on TV (or shall i say I like to dabble in amateurish political thought). Since I have left 818 Clarendon St. in Durham, where my upstairs neighbor, and friend, is a political theorist by training, I feel a need to fill the vast hole in my theoretical livelihood. Ive been meaning to read Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars, but haven’t gotten to it yet, that darn dissertation keeps getting in the way. Anyways…. I was reading on Stanford’s political theory website under Just War Theory, looking for insights into our Iraq situation and found a compilation of points that are needed for a just end to war put together by Brian Orend at The University of Waterloo in Canada. Dr. Orend received his PhD in political philosophy from Columbia and has authored a book entitled War and International Justice: A Kantian Perspective (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2000). I am directly quoting Brian from the website http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/war/#2: „A review of the literature suggests something of a 10-point recipe for transforming a defeated aggressive regime into one which is minimally just: Adhere diligently to the laws of war during the regime take-down and occupation.Purge much of the old regime, and prosecute its war criminals.Disarm and demilitarize the society.Provide effective military and police security for the whole country.Work with a cross-section of locals on a new, rights-respecting constitution which features checks and balances.Allow other, non-state associations, or “civil society”, to flourish.Forego compensation and sanctions in favour of investing in and re-building the economy.If necessary, re-vamp educational curricula to purge past poisonous propaganda and cement new and better values.Ensure, in a timely fashion, that the benefits of the new order will be: 1) concrete; and 2) widely, and not narrowly, distributed. The bulk of the population must feel their lives after the regime change are clearly better than their former lives for the change to be sustainable.Follow an orderly, not-too-hasty exit strategy when the new regime can stand on its own two feet. Again, this will probably take a decade of intensive effort.” While I must go find some food now as I am absolutely starving and I think Match closes soon, I will soon return to my thoughts on Brian’s list (some of which I agree with, some with I have problems with (e.g., "cement new and better values")), how it may or may not apply to the Iraq situation, and my thoughts on troop with[...]
2005-10-23T15:58:59.553-07:0023 October 2005, photos taken by betsy.Today is the 49th anniversary of the 1956 revolution, where Hungarian citizens rose up against the Soviet communist powers.On the 23rd, students at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (where I am affiliated) demonstrated in the streets against the Soviet rule. The protesters wanted land ownership rights for peasants, free trade unions, freedom of expression, freedom for the Catholic church, and the abolition of the Államvédelmi Hatóság, the secret police. The revolution was short lived, the tanks rolled in Parliament square on October 25th and shots were fired by the Hungarian security police, killing many Hungarians.Kruschev of the Soviet Union ordered tanks in Budapest on November 4th, killing thousands and approximately 200,000 Hungarians left the country (for the US, Canada and Western Europe). The Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy sought refuge at the Yugoslavian embassy and was replaced by Kádar, who was secretly flown in from the Soviet Union. Nagy was later executed along with 1,200 other Hungarians. About half of the Fulbrights here have parents that left Hungary during 1956 and moved to the states. Hungary remained under the control of the Soviets until 1989. Much discussion still occurs throughout Hungary about the role the US and western European nations should have played, but didn't, in the revolution. Many Hungarians feel that they were encouraged to revolt against the Soviets (by Radio Free Europe, A CIA sponsored radio station), but then when the revolution occured, some Hungarians expected the US, England and France to come to assistance. During this time period England and France were involved in the Suez Canal conflict and therefore their attention was drawn elsewhere. However, UN Security Council meetings were held from October 28th through November 4th, although no clear UN action was taken.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1956_Hungarian_RevolutionThe Chain Bridge 23 October 2005. During the Revolution of 1956, the Communist insignia was cut out from the flags, leaving a hole in the middle (picture taken 23 October, 2005).[...]
2005-10-21T15:45:13.600-07:00If you remember a couple of weeks back I started a diary of problems that I was running into regarding my flat, my clothes, my personal life etc. I have a new one to add---my trumpet playing neighbor. Now this isnt sweet Jeanette of my previous blog, this is some kid perhaps, based on the level of his or her trumpet playing, but Im not sure. Because the apartment building design is somewhat convoluted, I cant tell who in fact is tooting their horn at 7 in the morning. As some of you may know, Im not so pleasant when I am awakened at 7am.
2005-10-19T10:24:42.010-07:00(image) Meet my neighbor, Jeannette. She and her Hungarian husband, Joseph, live down the hall from me. While they live in Boca Raton, Florida for most of the year, they are now renting in Budapest to escape the heat and hurricanes of Florida. Jeanette, a native English speaker, yells in English to Joseph, a rather rotund, 70ish and somewhat scantily clad Hungarian (from what i can tell boxers sans t-shirt is the preferred outfit). Joseph yells and grumbles back at her in his native Hungarian. I havent figured out if they really understand each other, but I guess at this point it probably doesn't matter. Jeannette and I speak about every day, although the conversations rarely, if ever, depart from two central topics: (1) her teeth (she has had multiple teeth removed in Hungary and as of today has a new bridge); (2) impending hurricanes in Florida and her philosophies of why they are occurring (too much partying before the Lords Day (Ash Wednesday). I know more about Hungarian dental practices then I ever dreamed that one could know---and am considering opening up my own private practice in my sitting room. Fortunately, Jeannette keeps an eye out on my flat for me and informs me of all of the comings and goings around my flat, who has stopped by, what they were wearing and why they were visiting. It's as if I have my own private security guard that I don't even have to pay (except in salt or herbs when she has run out). If only she could help me keep track of my things inside my flat, such as where I put my parmasan cheese (recently bought from the fancy cheese shop down the street, and it cost me 4 bucks)--she might be really useful. They will be departing at the end of October for the warmth of the Florida sun---and I have to say they will be sorely missed.
2005-10-23T14:50:37.350-07:00(image) "The Birds, the Birds!!" jackson 10.17.2005
2005-10-18T01:32:56.723-07:00As the temperatures begin to dip below 40 F at night and the sycamore leaves begin to brown and drop to the ground along Andrassy ut, it was time to celebrate the fall season at the Budapesti light fields festival. An excellent opportunity for me to don my orange ski cap, hangout with some friends (ashlin, margit, (fulbrighters), gabi (med student) and some random israelis) listen to a Hungarian Eminem impersonator and to dance displaying all of my newly Euro-acquired techno dance skills, while sipping a mug of warm mulled wine and eating fatty grilled Szerbian sausage. The festival was designed to recognize and celebrate the minorities present in Hungary. Raypainting by Hungarian artists Dóra Berkes and Péter Kozma (http://www.raypainting.com/fm_en.htm)Quite similar to many of the cultural festivals I have attended throughout the midwest and North Carolina, stands of food from different countries (my favorite being the naan and tandoori chicken from the Indian stand), bands, djs, kids skateboarding, old ladies in scarves with little dogs chatting. However, the one very unique twist, and centerpiece of the festival, is what they called RayPainting (a takeoff on spraypainting perhaps). Through the use of spotlights, an abstract painting (painted on a glass slide), was projected (via spotlights) unto a block-long set of buildings. The colors were absolutely brilliant and the dimensionality of painting and the buildings were phenomenol. These pictures dont do it justice. The originality of this festival gave me the idea that it would be fascinating to do a round the world tour of all seasonal festivals, conduct a socio-cultural comparison and document them via photographs and a book. Okay, im sure it has been done many times over, but it would be a great way to spend a year, wouldnt it?The Raypainting weekend and festival were sponsored by the Alliance of Free Democrats in Hungary (Szabad Demokratak Szovetsege, the liberal party in Hungary). Perhaps the leaders of the Democratic Party in the states (whomever they are currently???) should consider hiring Dora and Péter to shine a bit of light and add some creativity to their stagnant political party.[...]
2005-10-08T09:19:50.936-07:00some thoughts on political discourse from Senator Barack Obama.
2005-10-17T06:30:15.370-07:00Over the weekend Ashlin (fulbright playwright) and I headed through southern Hungary (I wanted to check out region for my work) and down to Croatia. We spent most of the time in Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Sea. Here are some photos of our pretty amazing trip. I think Ashlin has some pictures of me on his camera, so once I get those, I will perhaps put those up (as long as my hair is in place and I look svelte as always).We travelled through Hungary via train, exiting the country for the first time with our official visas. I hadnt really thought much about my visa or passport until the Hungarian passport checker asked for them. We handed them over, the checker thumbed through them, glanced at me, thumbed through the passport again and then stopped on the Official Diplomatic Visa page, with a confused glare on his face. At this point the passport checker called the other passport checkers to check us and the passports out. Apparently the visas that the Fulbrights are given are Official, similar to what someone at the embassy might have. Now I dont know if the passport checkers dont run into these types of visas much, or were more thrown off that we look more like slightly grungy, somewhat unshowered, ski cap wearing seattle rockers circa 1990s than blue pants-suited, highly pressed and creased Embassy Officials. After some discussion between the checkers, mostly inaudible except for "Official......Visa D", they wrote down our passport numbers on a scrap of paper--that could have easily been the guys grocery list--who knows. They wished us safe travels and we were on our way--Croatia bound.The Croatian Flag. (the supposed homeland of my biological grandparents, although I have to say i dont look a thing like Croatians--- tall, dark haired, strong bone structures (Think Toni Kukoc, Croatian NBA player--not my blondish-reddish-brownish hair and skin, blue eyes, and cherubic face). Although I must have picked up mydeft athleticism and basketball acumen from my ancestral Croats.A lighthouse we passed on the ferry boat between Split and Dubrovnik.The town of Dubrovnik in the foreground and the island of Lokram in the back. Dubrovnik was bombed pretty heavily by the Serbs (in the attempted conquest for a Greater Serbia) under Milosovic in the early 1990s. The buildings in the old town were damaged by shelling from both the land and the sea and many young men died in the conflict in the city. After the war, much international money flowed into Dubrovnik to rebuild this World UNESCO heritage sight. The city is now being attacked by another, albeit more peaceful, invader----hordes and hordes of cruise ships park in the port and the tourists from all over the world descend upon the city.photo from http://www.interware.it/sercotec/dubrov1.jpgAccording to the UN Security Council ".....For this reason, the Battle of Dubrovnik is significant for law of armed conflict since the military actions of the JNA (Yugoslavian National Army), especially in the early stages of the battle, appear to have caused inordinately extensive damages not only to civilian but also to the cultural, historical and religious property in proportion to what would reasonably have been expected given the number, location and nature of valid military objectives within the District of Dubrovnik." For more information on the Battle of Dubrovnik in 1991-1992 go tohttp://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/comexpert/ANX/XI-A.htmOn a lighter note, after walking along the entire distance of the city's walls, hot and sweaty, Ashlin and I found this swimming hole and contemplated swimming in our skivvies from this rock. Unfortunately, we [...]
2005-09-25T17:33:42.803-07:00I've decided to start a blog entry that is the reverse of Hints from Heloise. I describe my daily dilemmas, and y'all will provide some nuggets of knowledge which will, Im sure, provide greater ease in my day-to-day existence in Budapest.1. Washing. I have the standard edition Hungarian washing machine, with basically two heating options (40 and 60 degrees celsius). For those of you that arent into math, think hot and hotter. However, this hasnt been my major washing difficulty. I have been drying my clothes on a rack in my bedroom. After drying over night, the shirts are as stiff as my fathers back will be after back fusion surgery----no bend whatsoever. These perma creases usually work themselves out around 4pm or so, but i feel a little awkward showing myself in public walking through town, unable to turn quickly, bend over, or squat, not because of any lack of agility on my part, but merely because my clothes have been super starched and inhibit any such movement. Ive considered ditching the whole concept of clothes, as many Hungarians do, but the chill of fall has arrived and the apartment building heat hasnt been turned on.Please valued-readers, any suggestions out there?2. Since arriving in Budapest, I have been suffering from some severe water retention difficulties, as have some of my fulbright friends. Ive considered several potential reasons for this change including the higher levels of salt in Hungarian diet or the amount of mineral water i have been drinking. And then my hypochondriac side of me investigated some medical reasons including the following: Acromegaly Anaphylaxis Ganglion cyst Glomerular Disease Gout Hemolytic uremic syndrome Lupus nephritis Nephrotic syndrome Preeclampsia Proteinuria Pulmonary edema Scleroderma West African Trypanosomiasis Please, my doctor friends that are out there offer some sound advice (and by this I mean MD, not PhDs in critical literary theory, queer theory, marxist theory, or number theory, I will possibly consider advice from PhDs in psychology or any of the medical sciences, as they might have something valuable to say). Should i cut back on the mineral water and replace with tap water? Should i cut back on the salt-cured bacon? Heres an x-ray of my hand if that is needed for the diagnosis. 3. Cat. One of my most persistant neighbors (and I have many) is a stray cat that is constantly scratching at my door, rushing in the apartment when i leave the door open, and is overall a major pain in my derriere. As you may know, I typically have a strong dislike of cats, although they tend to be attracted to me. While I admit that I sometimes feigned a strong cat allergy with an array of friends throughout my life so i could get out of cat sitting, I do have a mild, if not moderate, allergic reaction to cats. Anways, as seen in the picture below, little "kiscica" crawls up the outside of my 15 foot door and sits there, watching every move i make throughout the day. Not only does the sound of her crawling up the mahogony doors send shockwaves up my spine, but the set of eyes glaring at me tracking all of my daily and nightly activities is starting to make me paranoid (my 80 year old neighbor has a similar propensity of watching me, but that is another whole entire blog entry). What should I do?[...]
2005-09-23T05:10:16.483-07:00A BetsySelect Editorialcritical mass n.1. The smallest mass of a fissionable material that will sustain a nuclear chain reaction at a constant level.2. The amount of matter needed to generate sufficient gravitational force to halt the current expansion of the universe.3. An amount or level needed for a specific result or new action to occur: “The sudden national uproar over drugs and drug abuse has reached politically critical mass in Washington” (Tom Morganthau).http://www.answers.com/topic/critical-massAfter typing the names and populations of 1,365 Hungarian cities into my lovely database, I decided to take a stroll down Andrássy Utca to check out the Critical Mass AutoMentesNap (A Day without Cars). While my friends were organizing the Critical Mass day in Durham, North Carolina, expecting probably a couple hundred bikes today, I estimate that 3,759 bikers converged on Hösök Tere to support biking in Budapest. Now, please dont quote me on that estimate, although ive had several careers in the counting field (e.g., US Census bureau, RGIS Inventory Specialist and Mt. Rainier Amphibian Counter Extraordinaire), im a bit out of practice and bikes move, making it all the more difficult. Unlike North Carolina, the Budapest police shut down the main biking route to cars and let the bikers bike.For those of you who are not familar with Critical Mass, it is an international movement ...."Critical Mass is not an organization, it's an unorganized coincidence. It's a movement ... of bicycles, in the streets." (http://www.critical-mass.org/). Anyways, one of my hungarian friends, Kinga, a dramaturg at the National Theatre (yeah, i hear that that is an English word, although i sure as hell dont know what it means, something about managing the theatre, reading and accepting scripts etc. if you really want to know about dramaturgy check out http://www.dramaturgy.net/dramaturgy/what/List.html, quite helpful) anyways, Kinga was doing critical mass, and i wanted to check out the happenings on Andrássy utca myself.For those of you in the states, Andrássy utca is a tree-lined boulevard with many beautiful mansions and embassys, similar in feel to the embassy neighborhood in DC. It is also home to the Opéra House (above). The bikers convened at Hösök Tere (above). After walking my somewhat lazy (but getting more firm) american butt all of the way from my flat to the square while watching several thousands bikers burn multiple calories, I was feeling a bit ravashed. A big salty, cheesey pretzel seemed to be the answer.On the other side of town Ambassador Walker (President George Bush's first cousin) was also doing some peddling----of the latest in Cadillacs (Cadillac XLR V8 Northstar priced at $120,000, 18 MPG City / 26 MPG Highway) in hopes of turning Budapest into the next Houston. "These cars are distinctive, memorable and good, and you should all buy one."Amb. George H. Walker III(BudapestSun.com)[...]