Books and Museums

I’ve been off the radar for a bit, alternating between hectic working and quiet bouts of panic. I’ve missed six weeks of my third year of architecture (no regrets), and only now has it struck me how much work I still need to do.

I’ve been purposely trying to avoid the reality that the MEPI program is over. The ease of communication has kept me in touch with most of my Georgetown family (I love you guys!), so it’s doesn’t really feel like we’re apart.

But the weight of my responsibilities here has come crashing down. I’ve got a museum project that needs designing, not to mention all the other classes I need to catch up on.

Another reason it’s hard to start is because I’ve been caught up with reading. Because Ramadan is usually a laid back time, I love spending it checking off my reading list. I’ve begun The Good Earth, which is really good (thanks David!). I finished with Life of Pi, which brought up the issue of faith.

The basic premise of the book is that any person who believes (or doesn’t) takes a leap of faith, and this helps make life interesting. At least, this is what I assume the premise was. It’s not that he means people who follow religion are deluding themselves (which they tend to do sometimes), but that you enjoy the life given to us by God, Allah, Brahman (whatever you call Him) if you practice these manifestations of faith. All of this is wrapped up in a story about an Indian boy who winds up stranded in the middle of the Pacific with a tiger. My favorite quote –

“I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.”

I wanted to get away from deep, complex themes for a bit, so I opted for some light reading next, namely, Y:The Last Man. Now, this is a comic, or graphic novel, whatever you want to call it. Some people would say that these don’t constitute reading. These people horrify me with their abject lack of imagination. Y: The Last Man is about a post apocalyptic earth in which all organisms with a Y chromosome have mysteriously died, except one man named Yorick and his pet monkey. The first volume didn’t start out very strong, but the story has promise. No captivating quotes from this one though.

Next book: Freakonomics. This was recommended to us by Prof. Jeremy Mayer, who gave a course on racism in the United States in Georgetown, and easily the best professor of the lot.

Freakonomics is not, as I had assumed, about economics (unless I’m more clueless about economics than I thought). Instead it’s about the factors that affect and change society. The authors present a lot of data, do much computing, and come up with some incredible results. For example, the reason crime dropped in the 90’s (in the USA) was due to legalizing abortion. Women who want abortion usually have a good reason to do so, whether it’s poverty, family problems, etc. and cannot raise a child. Because abortion was illegal, most were forced to have the children, and because of the situation they were born into, these kids tend to become criminals. After abortion was legalized, the criminals that were supposed to appear in the 90’s had never been born.

Insane, right?? However, not being one to shy away from giving my own input, I would like to say that abortion is just a band-aid, it doesn’t solve the fundamental problems, namely, poverty, drug use, lack of education, etc. Other topics the book covers are, how relevant parents are to a child’s future success, and how experts are losing the power of manipulation due to the internet, among other issues.

“Information is a beacon, a cudgel, an olive branch, a deterrent–all depending on who wields it and how.”

And then I had to tear myself away from my books and actually start designing. Pictures speak a thousand words (I’m looking at you, comic non-appreciators) so I’ll leave you with the work I’ve completed thus far.

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