Missed connections


So apparently, it snowed a lot in Washington today. By the evening, it was snowing a bit here too. This matters mainly because Dad’s return flight from Paris (where he’d stopped, on the way back from a business trip to India) stopped in Washington this afternoon, and the connection never left. Thank you, United.

I suddenly had the brilliant idea that I needed to start seeing about summer plans, which right now appear to be studying Arabic. Well, beginning a few weeks earlier would have good, it seems, since one of the best programs is now full, and another one of the good ones has its deadline this Thursday. Still, a few hours of research and I now have a rough idea what the world of intensive summer Arabic looks like. In fact, given the way it’s looking, I might simply just stay here. What I want to know is how is it that a 12 week program and an 8 week program both nominally cover the same amount of material, particularly since both meet 5 days a week, 5 hours a day?

In the evening, I read a neat little article on the creation of human rights. The author makes a convincing case that human rights were in many ways a compromise, and a way to avoid recognition of minority rights that had proven so troublesome prior to WWII. Indeed, he points out how Hitler made political use (indirectly) of minority rights, when it came to Germans in eastern Europe (Czechoslovakia and Poland). The problem is, of course, that if minorities have inalienable rights (particularly political ones) by virtue of their collective status, then all sorts of things become problematic (the Jim Crow South, Catholics in Northern Ireland, much of western Russia). Human rights by contrast relegates these problems to an individual level, and indeed, the UN’s Universal Declaration was very carefully crafted to prevent the creation of an enforcement regime.

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