Sunday, 3 March 2013

Big block of cheese day

The West Wing is brilliant, and anyone who says otherwise has only watched the latter series.

It is something of a disappointment, I know, but today I have taught my lesson and then come straight home. The reasoning for this is twofold; firstly, last night I downloaded a spate of political books - I've been watching a little (alright, a lot) of West Wing and consequently realised that my political knowledge is lacking. So it's all Communist Manifesto and Wealth of Nations up in here, and in French, because if I'm going to learn I may as well learn efficiently.

The second reason is that, as I said, my student will be leaving me for a few weeks and, since he is one of my main sources of extra-curricular income, I want to limit spending - and Paris is a black hole for money from which even the most well-intentioned of trips cannot return. No; better I stay in, read books whose copyright long since faded, and enlarge my brain. I can already feel it dripping out of my nose, which I am sure any doctor will tell me is a good sign.

Back to work tomorrow, so hopefully I will be able to convince my supervisor to get us some lovely new resources - maybe some DVDs or a map. It's a map whose existence I discovered by route of the West Wing, and it's currently my desktop background: The Gall-Peters projection map. Inverted for extra amusement, it looks like this:

Front and centre: Africa, the size of the US, Mexico, Western Europe and China freaking combined.
And what should be immediately obvious is that the UK is a tiny country. I also suspect that at first blush this map makes you feel mildly uncomfortable - perhaps that's because the country in which you live is upside down, or perhaps it's because that same country suddenly looks...weaker?

In English we look down on people we don't like and if we are "better" we are superior. The boss works up on the 30th floor and the guy earning minimum wage is down in the post room underground. In almost all cultures, from lowered eyes to a bow to a priest prostrating himself before the crucifix, placing oneself below someone else is a sign of submission. In essence, down is bad and up is good. So seeing the UK looking small and, more importantly, inferior is somehow deeply worrying to us.

Seriously, you can't see us without a magnifying glass.

But I've come a long way off topic. I want to get a map like this for my new language hub because language informs what we do and how we interact, and I'd love to see student reaction to and discussion around this. It's an interesting topic.

Kind of a nerdy question, but are there any political science books you'd recommend? Anything on rhetoric? Anything, in short, that I can read and, in the still peace of my room, will cause mind-expansion?

Answers please to all the usual avenues. I leave you with a Shetland pony, doing what Shetland ponies do best.


Visit Scotland folks. It's really that gorgeous.

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