Weekly log: May 9 – May 15

This week’s main themes of work are 1) read Political Epistemics (PE afterwards) and write book forums and 2) finish theory essay three on Foucault. Themes of intellectual activities (aka. daydreaming) are 1) thinking about other career choices and 2) reflect upon my own romanticism.

May 9, Monday

A full work day.

Difficulty in reading: Morning I tried to read PE chapter 6. It was a difficult read, first because the author wrote  English in a German way, and second because I hadn’t been reading for research for a long time. When you are reading for research instead of coursework, the reading process easily becomes aimless because of 1) lack of clear intellectual goal, and 2) lack of time constraint. This again traces to the lack of structure in academia work, then one level further, trace to the uncertainty in results. Thus I have the following hypothesis –

H1: Difficulty in self reading results from its non-task-oriented nature, which results from the lack of structure in academic work, which result from the uncertainty of research results.

Take reading notes right after you read the text, or else you will forget about it. The thing is I read PE, but due to laziness and carelessness in preparing calendar (which is because I am not that serious about this notes taking principle after all). Then I tried to take notes today (Wednesday), and I forgot all about it. Thus, Take taking notes seriously! If you read it carefully, it deserves a note; if you don’t, then read it efficiently for information only.

May 10, Tuesday

I suffered from dysmenorrhoea the whole morning and half of the afternoon. Then I went to a job talk by Stevi Jackson in the late afternoon; graduate school Ethics course in the evening, and finished the assignment from 9-10pm.

Be specific in your job talk – that’s what I got from the talk. I didn’t like the talk, really, and was bored within 10 minutes of the talk. Alexa said she felt the same, and it might be because the talk was too vague. The speaker talked about 1) a non-Western sociology that respects the culture elsewhere and redefinition of the concept (she used “heterosexual” for example), and 2) her ambitious structure about the social being four dimensional: structure, interaction, meaning, and whatever I forgot about it. But my feelings are, first, the two ideas are both cliche. Second, if you are going to talk about something that general, you should at least prepare enough examples. Third, ain’t you exactly a Western sociologist talking about “non-western” sociology? Fourth, it easier to say than do. What are the practical way to implement your cliche ideas? People have been talking about them for a while, but there must be reasons they haven’t been realised.

English writing of mine is still far worse than sophisticated native speakers. In our ethics course Katie, Alexa, me, and Mike and Yudi from political science are in a group. We take turns to do group assignment. When it’s Yudi’s turn, which was yesterday, Mike took her assignment and read it in a funny way. He might was just trying to be funny, but the fact was he was making fun of Yudi’s English writing. And when I did the assignment, I took reference from Katie’s one, and saw huge gap between her writing and mine. She was a lawyer, so she has a neat way of organizing important points. And she must be efficient in reading as well.

(See a New Yorker posts for this – “And I apologize for the seventh-grade-level language“)

Two Chinese political science books: I brought two books《中国模式 for and against》by 丁学良 and 《二十一世纪中国政治》by 鄒讜. They are two generations of Chinese scholars, and Tsou’s book is better in academic critiria than Ding’s in mine opinion. But the first is more about public policy analysis and is not aimed for academic readers.

Weekly book reviews that I’ve been thinking about writing but haven’t started. This shouldn’t be too hard to do. If I take one day from weekend for this, I should have plenty of time for these. First of all, it is not academic. Secondly, it is in Chinese.

May 11, Wednesday

I had dinner with Tian Yuan in Yale law school when she came back to HK today. Two points: 1) lawyers make huge money, especially those specialised in business. This reminds me of the book Chicago Lawyers by Heinz and Laumann. 2) When reading, take care of the important points only and ignore the details for efficiency.

Go to the Job Talk I missed a job talk by Pun Ngai today because I wanted to read Foucault. I probably would learnt nothing if I went, but it became a pity if I didn’t.

In the afternoon I tried to read Foucault‘s Discipline and Punish. (In the morning I went shopping.) He was very inspiring. Sometimes even the choose of phrases carry meanings as well. This then goes back to English writing ability. I should go read more The New Yorker.

May 12 Thursday

I spent the whole morning and afternoon reading Foucault‘s Discipline and Punish. He is indeed a genius, because he can lay out sophisticated arguments clearly, and with many examples. But my morning reading attempt failed again because I read without a clear structure of the whole text in mind. Then due to laziness to use my brain, I just absorbed myself in the details of reading, without trying to figure out the logical structure of his argument. This is dreadful. I have to spent half an hour re-do all the markings on paper in the afternoon, and re-read the text.

Minimalism in underline a text forces me to think while reading, to search efficiently for the important points in text. I haven’t done this exercise for a while because I haven’t been reading for a while, and it took a second read to Prof. Mustafa Emirbayer’s “tips in reading sociology” to remind me of how to make notes. My afternoon trail works good. Basically I gave myself the following principles for minimalism underlining style –

  1. Think of Markdown language. Use # for a section, ## for a subsection, etc.
  2. Only underline the text that shows transition of ideas in the whole argument. No others because this will disturb later reading.
  3. Use a tick aside a part if I find it particularly insightful.
  4. Keep all marks small, simple, so the layout remains pleasant in reading.

May 13 Friday

Worked on Foucault essay all day. In total I spent 7 hours reading, and around 6 hours writing 3000 words. In graduate schools in the US, qualification exams take 2 days to write three 2500 words essay. I need to improve my writing and reading speed!

May 14 Saturday

Went hiking in Sai Kun Town.

May 15 Sunday

Spent the whole afternoon/evening with cc.

Weekly summary –

  • Course 3 hours
  • Work 18 hrs
  • Entertainment/relax 45 hrs (!)
  • Eating and social 13 hrs (!)

Goal next week: improve work time to 60. That is, 10 hours * 6 days, not much.

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