Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My post on "The Simpsons" on the ITIA blog

I have a 2 part blog post over on the blog of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at St Mary's college here at St Andrews. Any fan of The Simpsons should be interested.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Guide to bringing a pet into the UK

A few incoming and potential students have inquired about this, so I thought I would post a link to it here on this blog.

My guide to bringing a pet into the UK: http://talk.uk-yankee.com/index.php?topic=46708.0

It is remarkably complicated to bring a dog or cat (or ferret) into the UK from abroad. We successfully followed the PETS scheme and completely avoided quarantine. If this is relevant to your situation, you should find it helpful.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A month in Paris

Credo for Survival in Paris:

Start with an apology or ask for permission.

Respect the authority and wait to be acknowledged.

Hold to form.  Charm your way.

Never raise your voice.

Never ask for a person's name.

Never ask for a supervisor.

Never curse in English.

Never disagree.  Always agree, but repeat what you want.

Never moralize.

Never intimate that things are better back home.

Say you're sorry when you're really not.

Order another express (coffee).

-from David Applefield, "Paris Inside Out: The Insider's Handbook to Life in Paris"  5th Ed. Guilford, Connecticut, 2000.

After living for a month in Paris, I can affirm this short little gem from the introduction found in a guidebook to be insightful and true.  The French are an interesting people, remarkable in some things (bread, whine, cheese), depressing in others (rampant and empty secularism). 

Our time in Paris was made possible by a generous bursary for me to take a French language course, essentially providing for the whole month to be at minimal expense to us.  The language course was excellent and my instructor was very good: after 4 weeks of morning French classes I’ve gotten to the point where I can (of course armed with a French-English dictionary) translate academic articles written in French.  It is slow-going, and I’m sure my translations are a bit crude, but it gets the job done.

We experienced a great deal of Paris, more than can be summarized in one blog post.  However, here are some highlights:

We walked all over the city, which is a fantastic way to see Paris:

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Kate was quite easygoing with the travel as we dragged her through museums, cafes, and parks:

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Well known sites like Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower did not disappoint:

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(inside Notre Dame)

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Other sites we enjoyed:

Sacré Cœur

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The Catacombs of Paris (one of my favourite things we did in Paris: it is an underground burial site for the dead who were excavated from graveyards where mass graves were causing horrible disease; during the Revolution era the remains of millions of Parisians were transported and stacked underground)IMG_1851

Public space in Paris is used very well, and we spent quite a bit of time in parks:

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We also enjoyed some very fine cuisine, and most any street cafe had excellent food.  This one was just closing down for the night:

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The museums are incredible; this is a nice shot I took inside the Pompidou:

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A very famous statue often used to represent philosophy, “The Thinker” (Le Penseur) can be found in the gardens of the Musée Rodin.  Most people don’t realize that The Thinker is merely an enlarged figure from an earlier Rodin sculpture, “The Gates of Hell”, depicting a scene from Dante’s Inferno.  “The Poet” (which turned into “The Thinker” is said to be Dante himself, reflecting on his work.  (And by the way, Dante’s Divine Comedy, including The Inferno, is to be read as highly metaphorical.  He’s not describing hell literally, a fact lost on more than a few readers today…)

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Finally, Kate’s time in Paris included learning to sit on her own and beginning to eat some solid foods. 

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Au revoir, Paris!

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Finally, in some academic news, the issue of Philosophia Christi with my journal article has been released: “Annihilationism, Traditionalism, and the Problem of Hell”, Philosophia Christi Vol. 12 No. 1: 61-79.  For copyright reasons I can’t post the article online, but drop me an email if you’re interested in reading it.