November 3rd, 2004


Civic duties

Firstly, kudos to everybody who got out there and voted in the currently ongoing US election. I didn't post saying that people ought to vote, though I do believe voting is an obligation, because I felt it wasn't my place to preach. The more so when many extremely committed and upright citizens have expressed irritation at being subjected to constant nagging to vote.

Of course, there's no real reason to listen to me on this one, but I would urge people who are emotionally involved in the outcome of the election not to despair yet. And I'm thinking supportive thoughts in all your directions.

Secondly, I learnt today that I have been called for jury service. There's probably not going to be a better time in my life to do it than now; the most likely outcome is that it will delay my finishing my PhD by a couple of weeks or not at all if I end up not having to serve. I don't need to organize cover for myself at work, I can afford it financially, and I won't even have the inconvenience of having to interrupt experiments to attend court, since I'm not really doing many experiments.

As the child of two lawyers, I've always found the legal system fascinating. That adds up with a general sense of being glad to do something to promote values I care about at minimal cost to myself, so that I'm really rather pleased to have this opportunity. I think I shall likely enjoy the service too; meeting new people and thinking about problems I wouldn't otherwise engage with, and expressing myself clearly and cogently to a group are all prospects that appeal.

However, the downside of this is that I've made some vague plans to be in England the weekend of the 27th November. It ain't gonna happen now, given I'm called for 25th and I have no idea whether or not I'll be available on the Friday to travel, and neither can I make plans that might interfere with being in court first thing Monday morning. I'm not really prepared to spend upwards of 20 hours travelling for less than two full days in England, let alone that this would involve travelling on shabbat which I'm trying to avoid.

Many apologies, therefore, to lethargic_man, pseudomonas, my parents and especially LC, whose engagement party I shall miss as a result of this. I want to see you guys, I'm just a bit stuck on the practicalities. I'm aiming for doseybat's party, assuming I don't end up serving for an inordinately long time. So, swings and roundabouts; I'd thought I probably wouldn't make it to the party due to it falling so close to LC's engagement party.
  • Current Music
    Alice Cooper: Elected ;-)

It is but for a season

I wasn't going to talk about the US elections. I'm not sufficiently informed about the US situation, and I do very much believe that if the genuine majority of the population want Bush for President and the Republicans in power, then that's democracy. The most a foreigner can do is to act in ways that favour both the democratic process and the sovereignty of another country. (Besides that, with the information I have (and were I an American citizen, I would have made more effort to inform myself properly and not just go by vague impressions), I find myself with few strong reasons to favour Kerry over Bush.)

But then, most of my American friends are Democrats and / or strongly anti-Bush. There are a lot of people I care about who believe (rightly or wrongly) that they are going to be significantly worse off, or even that their lives will be intolerable, under a Bush second term. I very, very much hope this pessimism is unwarranted, but the fact remains that knowing their fears, I'm not well able to remain objective and hold to my purely rational pro-democracy stance. Democracy is an abstract concept; I don't love democracy.

And with these two conflicting tendencies in my mind, this post and the comment on it made me cry. I wasn't expecting to cry over the election result, whichever way it went. I've written some comments today, mostly on completely unrelated or only tangentially related topics, which probably came across as more forceful than appropriate, and if I've offended anyone I apologize. I didn't realize until I started crying how emtionally worked up I was.

In all seriousness, if it's as bad as some of you seem to think, and you decide (or are forced) to leave your country, what resources I have both materially and socially are at your disposal to make it easier to settle here. I'm not saying that the UK is the best possible country in the world, and I'm not claiming to have magic powers to help people who do want to come here. But if - God forbid - you find yourself in that situation, I will do what I can.
  • Current Music
    JS Bach: Concerto for 2 violins in D minor