Friday, May 14, 2010

Summertime Plans

Spent the afternoon cleaning up the office, throwing out old papers, finishing up a couple of letters of recommendation, and thinking about the summer. What do I have planned? Well, I have to put it into categories, of course:

Around the house

In the house, I need to do some repair work on the walls and corners. Three and a half years of kids banging around, plus parents who are constantly re-arranging the furniture, have left a good many scrapes, holes, and cracks to fill and paint over. I don't think it'll cost too much money, especially since my father-in-law has lent me all the tools I'll need. Now it's just a matter of buying the putty and paint and getting to work.

Outside the house

Melissa and I have been talking about putting a retaining wall around the garden for a couple of years now, and we'd like this summer to be the year we get it in. But that'll cost money--more than patching up ripped plaster and sealing over cracks will be, especially since we'd like to imagine this to be a permanent improvement to the yard, not just a makeshift repair for as long as we have a garden. I hope we can afford it, but we probably won't know for sure until July. In meantime, I have to put a new door on the attic of the garden shed, as the current one is falling apart and letting the rain and hail in. That one can't wait. Fortunately, I'll probably be able to get the wood cut for pretty cheap, and then I can weatherproof and install it myself.

Inside my head

Ah yes, the summer reading list, which has grown ridiculously long over the past couple of weeks, but which I'm not yet willing to engage in triage upon yet. It's only May! I can be optimistic! I will get all this reading done!! Of course, it's never worked out that way any summer before, but there's always a first time...

I could break this down into subcategories, but I think I'll just stick with an alphabetical arrangement. Some of these are part of research projects, some of these are part of the local DSA book club, some I'm reviewing for publications, some have been recommended by blogger friends, some are for fun, and some have just been laying around for months (years?), demanding to be read. Try to guess which is which:

Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly, Unjust Deserts: Wealth and Inequality in the Knowledge Economy
Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, Red Families vs. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture
Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
Jean Bethke Elshtain, Sovereignty: God, State, and Self
William Least Heat-Moon, PrairyErth (A Deep Map)
Joseph Heath, Economics without Illusions: Debunking the Myths of Modern Capitalism
Thomas F. Jackson, From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice
C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength
Stephen L. Marglin, The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community
Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice
Tom Slee, No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart: The Surprising Deceptions of Individual Choice
Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (No, I'm not kidding--I will get through it this summer! I will! I will! I do believe in fairies! I do!)

All right, whatever. It's almost 5pm; time to head home, and let the summer start. We've got more episodes of Firefly to watch tonight. (Oh man, I left out all my other assorted media goals, like getting familiar with the films of Satyajit Ray, or tentatively allowing myself to get sucked into The Wire...and then, of course, there's the paper on Mormonism, economic communalism and justice that I have to have written by July, and the paper on Confucian theories of civility and nature that I need to get started on for a conference next winter...oh, and what about my plans to overhaul my Christianity and social justice class before the fall? Crap, I'm not going to finish anything this summer, am I?)

Oh well. Your plans, your reading lists? Share them--I'm curious.


matt said...

Writing, redesigning the Shared Sacrifice project, playing with the kids (love the wii), driving the family up north to see Devil's Tower and maybe Yellowstone, doing developmental work for both the community radio station here and the UW Debate Team, working on two local political campaigns, fixing the foundation of our house, potty training Noah, getting a babysitter one night a week so's I can go pub-crawling w/ the wifey.

Hector said...


I highly recommend the Perelandra trilogy. They're fairly quick reads (though they will leave you thinking about stuff for a long time afterwards). You can read them each independently but they're probably better read in order.

I've heard good things about Marglin too.

justin said...

Quite the plans. You can do it. I believe in you. I too can recommend at least the first two of the Lewis' space trilogy. I started the third one and then I got lazy and stopped. I'm still interested in this Christianity and Social Justice class...I think my next semester is full but what's it about? Or, I suppose, what will it be about?

As for my plans:
I've successfully planned and planted my garden. So I've got to baby that thing until at least July then cook and eat everything that comes out of it (the fun part).

I've also started and now have to finish cleaning my (parents) house.

Then I have to become a guitar (jedi) master so that I can continue lessons at Friends next semester.

As for reading I'm just starting Neil Gaiman's, "Neverwhere" which has started off a bit confusing but hopefully will be a great read. I know I've got a TON of books to read...but I'll cross those bridges when I get there.

Then there's the issue of a second job to pay off a certain school debt...
These sort of lists can get a little frustrating, can't they?
Oh well. As they say, summertime and the living is easy...

Russell Arben Fox said...


Sounds like a busy, wonderful summer. You remind me that I should have thrown some family-oriented goals on my list as well (taking the kids camping for the first time in a few years ranks pretty high), as well as the work I've committed to for a friends who is running for a local state house seat. Let me know how the redesign goes, okay? I'm excited to see what you come up with.


Thanks for the encouragement. I started The Space Trilogy a while ago, but got distracted by something, and then stalled. I really need to get back to them (at least the first two books; I've heard iffy things about the last one) this summer.


Change your schedule and get in the class! We'd love to have you, and it's your last chance to take it before graduation, isn't it? (We read various texts and cases on different approaches to social, economic, environmental justice, etc.--Rawlsian, Aristotelian, utilitarian, etc.--and then look at what the Biblical tradition teaches, and then attempt a synthesis. The class is a constant work in progress, but a smart guys like you could add a great deal to it.)

Hector said...


You may have heard 'iffy things' about the last one from people who disliked Mr. Lewis' social/political/theological agenda. He really goes to town railing against the Modern Age in the third book. I love it, even though I don't always agree with Lewis' viewpoints.

But if you're interested in what a deeply Christian and highly influential writer had to say about birth control, feminism, magic, clairvoyancy, the relationship of matter and spirit, eugenics, totalitarianism, art, natural law, the meaning of natural revulsion, Greek mythology, animals, and our relationship to nature, then you totally should read the book. You'll probably find things to disagree with- but 'That Hideous Strength' is one book that every crunchy conservative, christian socialist, agrarian leftist, or whatever else we are going to call ourselves, should read. It's in my opinion the most intellectually weighty and interesting of the trilogy.

Just to take one example: one of the themes in the book is an attempt to explain the Greek gods, 'white magic', animism, nature-spirits, etc., within a Christian context, and to go beyond the viewpoints that these beings were demonic, that they didn't exist, or that they were just different ways to approach the one true God. Lewis takes a different tack then any of these three commonly heard viewpoints, and he answers the question in a very interesting way. To find out what he thought, though, you'll really have to read the book: I can't do justice to it here.

Just my two cents!

Russell Arben Fox said...

Hector, your recommendation is good enough for me. I'll plan on getting to all three of them this summer, one way or another.

Aloysius said...

I have a summertime suggestion for you. Study a subject that will help you get a job that pays >150K per year. You are obviously very smart but working at professor wages at a small college only fuels the fires of envy that are well expressed in your reading list.

MH said...

I want a pony. What do I study to get a pony?

matt said...

Pretty sure "Aloysius" has a pretty massive crush on you, Russell. I know it makes you uncomfortable to think you're on the receiving end of a same-sex attraction, but I can't imagine any other reason why someone so ideologically opposed to you would continue reading your blog. Maybe you should post a few full-body shots for him, you know, to give him at least a photographic representation of what he really wants.

Russell Arben Fox said...

You know Matt, I never thought of that! Unfortunately, Melissa has all my full-body shots under tight trademark protection. There is this, however. I've been told there's a strong resemblance.

Camassia said...

My summer plan is to be made to look lazy by you, apparently.

Russell Arben Fox said...

Such a result would, of course, be completely unintentional, Camassia. (Hey, I'm going to be in DC for the American Political Science Association conference this September; we ought to try to meet. Maybe bring Lee along too. Send me an e-mail sometime, if you're interested.)

Aloysius said...

Matt, Proving once again that you are a low down disgusting right wing homophobe. Are you a racist too?

Aloysius said...

Seriously Matt, It would be good for you to go out and read something that you didn't automatically agree with. It might stretch your midget little mind a little bit and maybe in time you might be able to influence someone by a comment or two.

I just realized, you aren't a right wing homophobe. You are a left wing self loathing homophobe. Doh! Never mind carry on.

MH said...

Matt is also a homophone.

MH said...

Russell is also a homophone.

Russell Arben Fox said...

But really, in God's eyes, aren't we all?

MH said...

Yes, God has a large vocabulary.

Aloysius said...

Just realized that UW is the University of Wyoming. Isn't Wyoming that state that is famous for gay-bashing?

Anyway as a man of the right I never impute sexual identity to someone as an attempted insult. That is strictly a tool of left-o-crats who are notoriously weak minded.