Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas 2006

and happy holidays or whatever greeting of the season ... We have a house full of family, not having gone away to North Carolina this year. Jean-Marie's parents and her sister and partner, plus Jean-Marie, Renee, and me. After some very lovely days - yesterday was gorgeous - today is a wet, cold, rainy day. Good for staying inside.

Jean-Marie would really like to go to the movies - we have not seen the new Bond, or anything else, for that matter. I, alas, am actually doing a fair bit of writing today - can't be helped, I have to turn this UN and global governance manuscript in to the editors the first week of January. It's also that once in the middle of editing and rewriting a chapter, it is very hard to let it go - it nags at me and makes it hard to concentrate on a movie or anything else. Jean-Marie got many gift cards to places like Barnes & Noble. And a number of Spanish grammars, reference books, and other things for her teaching over at St. Alban's school.

I am in the middle of rewriting a section on legitimacy as a concept that applies to a social order taken as a whole and only derivatively to particular political institutions within it. Essentially my point is that for a political institution to exercise the full political and social functions that require the legitimacy that inheres to a social order, it is not enough to be a particular political institution, you have to be part of a whole social order, in the sense of a "thick" domestic society. What "thick" society is the UN part of?

Which is why it is good that Santa brought me a pair of Boise silencer earphones - noise canceling, I guess, but also good for just listening. Santa is also bringing - not yet here - a very hard to find edition of some of my favorite Baroque violin sonatas in the whole world - Buxtehude (I mean the sheet music), op. 1, seven sonatas. I would like to transcribe the violin part for cello and play them with two cellos and continuo. The John Holloway recording of them is enchanting; I am completely enraptured by the Sonata No. 4 in B flat major; it begins with a chaconne and very equal parts between the violin and the cello (gamba). It is just as well that the sonatas won't arrive until after New Year, because I am way to busy even to open my cello.

Fourteen year old Renee was visited with clothes and clothing store gift cards. And chick flicks on DVD. But she also got a book that probably won't interest her, but will interest me - Brian Hayes, Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape. It is a massive photo and text book describing every kind of industrial infrastructure in the American landscape you can think of - water pumping stations, cellular and cable buildings, the air vents over the Holland Tunnel, you name it, it is there and explained in clear prose. I think of it as a Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit kind of book. She has been rereading, for the fourth or fifth time, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (author of Remains of the Day). She's also been reading, off and on, T.H. Pearson's A Short History of a Small Place. I asked her to teach me to play poker for Christmas - playing cards were frowned on in my Mormon upbringing, and I never learned the game, but I'd like to know how to play. And a little handheld poker computer so I can practice.

Daddy also gave Renee a special present - a $100 account with the Iowa Electronic Markets, where you can learn to trade on a special educational futures market run by the University of Iowa business school. Real money, but limited to $500 dollars - no transaction costs - and you can bet on various political markets, such as the 2008 presidential election, or on the direction of interest rates. Of course you can just place straight bet on sites such as Tradesports.com, but this is an actual futures market, and it has no transaction costs. Renee would not normally take to this, but I figuring her interest in the 2008 presidential race might make a difference to her.

Okay, best wishes to everyone.