Author Archives: Allan

About Allan

Allan Bradley is a journalist based in Tunis, Tunisia. He is currently working as Editor-in-Chief at Tunisia-Live.net. Allan graduated cum laude from Harvard in 2011 with a BA in History, secondary in Statistics. He has worked with the National Journal's Hotline in Washington DC and the Harvard radio station, WHRB.

I Resent Cheerleaders

There were several lessons to be learned from last night’s Harvard football game against Brown.  First up:  I resent cheerleaders.

After all, who told them they could lead our cheers?  We can do it ourselves, thank you very much.  After hearing the cheer, “M-O-V-E… Move… the ball!” closely followed by “T-A-K-E, Take that ball away!” we stopped paying attention, so the cheerleaders started copying us.  We would start a chant of “Defense!” and they would follow suit; we would speed up, they would fall behind.  Cheerleaders indeed.

Next lesson is for the football team: if you bore us, we will find ways of entertaining ourselves, as we showed with the endless squadron of paper airplanes cascading down over the fans’ heads onto the front rows, the band, and the field.  They hit their peak around half time when the football game was at its least engaging, then trailed off as the game picked up in intensity.

I think the turning point came when a high-flyer cruised over, headed toward the field.  Its flight was stable, its trajectory was good.  We started cheering it on, and it floated out and out, further and further onto the field.  Our cheering built, and we erupted in applause when it landed a good ten yards past the sideline.  Then I noticed that the Harvard defense had also, coincidentally, sacked the Brown quarterback.  Half of us were cheering for the paper airplane, the other half for the great play.  Oh well.  That’s Harvard sports.

Allan

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Modern Superstition

Everyone knows about knocking on wood.  If you say things are looking good, you knock on wood to make sure you don’t reverse your expectations by voicing them aloud.  The explanation, as I’ve heard it, was that you were making noise so that the devil couldn’t hear what you just said and decide to spoil everything.

I knock on wood compulsively.  It makes me uncomfortable to say, “Oh it won’t rain tomorrow,” if I fail to knock on wood afterwards.  Part of me believes I must knock, or it will rain.

In a modern age of cause and effect, chaos theory, and science, such old superstitions seem a little bit silly.  However, they persist, and even though I would say I don’t seriously believe that knocking on wood keeps away the bad karma, I nevertheless feel compelled to do so.

Even more interesting is the evidence that superstitions continue to evolve.  Yes, new superstitions are being developed right under our noses!

You may not believe me, but I’m guessing you have heard of making a wish when you see the clock say 11:11.  You can’t wait for the clock to hit the time and then make the wish (that’s just cheating), but if you glance at the clock and it happens to be 11:11, then you’re supposed to make a wish before it changes.

Consider that this superstition can only be as old as digital clocks.  Why would anybody make a wish at 11:11 unless they saw it displayed on the digital screen?  The analogue version of 11:11 looks like any other time of day.

This means that despite our growing scientific sophistication, and even as a direct result of our blossoming use of electronics and gadgets, we continue to develop new superstitions.

I should have concentrated in Folklore and Mythology.

Allan

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Say it aint so, Mr. Strunk!

http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i32/32b01501.htm

One Mr. Geoffrey K. Pollum, an Edinburgh linguistics dude, just came down pretty hard on my bible.  This article has convinced me that neither Strunk nor White were good at grammar, but Mr. Pollum’s passage criticizing White’s stylistic advice just sounds petty.

Fortunately I’ve never really believed in grammar anyway, and I’ve only ever read Strunk & White for the advice on style.  Grammar is to English what the rulebook is to the game of soccer – entirely beside the point when the goal is scored.

Allan

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The 4:00 AM Birds

 

As the Spring semester grinds inexorably by, I see rare hours of the clock on a more consistent, more intimate basis.  Last year as a freshman, I often wrote papers in Lamont library, and any truly late-night battle with the Lamonster resulted in a small but meaningful ritual: conversing with the 4:00 AM birds.

The reading rooms in Lamont are overheated, and the air is dead.  Noise  Continue reading

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Testosterone Shopping

Yesterday I bought an Underarmour workout shirt.  It is black, men’s size L, and the tag says things like “ColdGear®” and “Our compression fit is about maximizing performance.”  The advertising copy is really top-notch.

I tried it on in the store, because I’ve never had a compression workout shirt before, and I instantly felt the way the gear, engineered tight to my skin, began to accelerate moisture transfer and to bolster muscle support.

There was hardly any need to look at the price tag.  I manfully swiped my debit card.  With my jaw muscles set to “extra-square,” I punched in my PIN.  In a gruff, deep voice I told the checkout lady she could toss the receipt in the bag.  That would be great, thank you. 

I haven’t worn it yet, obviously.  Look how warm and sunny it is today – ColdGear® would be womanish.  When the temperature drops again, though, I’ll brave the Cambridge cold in my new purchase.  I plan on snarling and sweating.

Already I’m looking forward to never washing it.  When you smell me coming, you’ll know: that is the scent of man.

Allan

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Mot du Jour

Where did the word ‘meta’ come from, and why is it suddenly the fashionable word to use, in class and casual conversation?  Before this semester, I knew of ‘meta’ only as a prefix denoting change.  Then, over the last two months, I have heard it from four or five distinct sources as an adjective in its own right.  “That’s so meta!”

It sounded both vapid and pretentious, especially in that particular phrase, so I paid it little attention.  Mostly, I was embarrassed I didn’t know what it meant.  Soon, though, it was everywhere.  Someone in my writing workshop Continue reading

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External Hard Drive

From a conversation today:

Ziek: “Oh I also need to figure out what the fuck my favorite movies and books are.”

Allan: “Visit your facebook page.”

Odd, no?   Continue reading

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