Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The City From A Distance

Today we finally got around to having our informational session at the Legman library across the street. Lehman is Columbia's political science library, and so the catalog is specialized to fit the subject. The librarian taught us how to use the search engine on Columbia's library website, gave us a word about writing research papers, and advice on citing sources in Chicago style. He directed us towards some books that may be helpful should we need assistance in citing a certain specific type of book, speech, pamphlet etc. He also told us about this interesting free application that will cite sources for you, in Chicago style or whatever style you prefer. I'm disappointed that it took so long for us to finally get around to visiting Lehman, because at lunch we were supposed to have the option of going to either Butler or Lehman to work. Unfortunately we weren't able to do this because we'd never gotten around to having our session with a librarian from Lehman. We did have the opportunity to go there in our free time, but I'd found a particular section in the stacks of Butler that was especially relevant to my research and was more comfortable there anyways. Now that we've finally been to Lehman though, I wish I'd had more time there. It's cozier and feels like a nicer place to study - not to mention there is a book in the library SOMEWHERE that is not available in Butler that earlier on would have been beyond helpful to consult. 

My paper is taking shape, and just like my professor had told us would happen, I've finally come up with a central argument for my topic. I'd originally started off just grouping miscellaneous notes I'd taken while researching and typing up my paper according to only a very general agenda. Today I finally, having writing about 3000 words, decided the direction my paper is intended I go. The main idea, though is still rusty and not eloquently worded yet. In Harry Truman's memoirs following his presidency, he claims to have saved half a million American lives by deciding to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, but after research I've found that the figure is inadequately substantiated - and alone seems to be a fishy reason for initiating nuclear warfare. My paper examines other reasons Truman and his administration had for dropping the atomic bomb and argues that the common argument that Truman saved from 500,000 to one million lives is not valid in the debate of its moral use. 

After class, Simon, Bryan, Elena, Emily, Anmol and I met Ms. L. downtown. We had planned to take a cruise down the Hudson at sunset and see the city skyline. We ate dinner at a seemingly typical Americanized restaurant with an Irish name, but soon discovered that all of the waiters had Irish accents. When our waiter asked us what we wanted to drink I had him tell us all what options there were just to listen to him talk (if that's not weird), and I'm pretty sure Emily and I were smiling like idiots. Simon too. Another instance of culture shock occurred when we were finally on the boat, and sitting behind a couple of Scottish tourists. The most stereotypical conversation conceivable occurred when the group of high school graduate girls in front of them overheard them speaking in Scottish accents, at one point one of them asking the men if they'd seen Braveheart. Luckily Simon, Emily and I spent most of the boat ride looking out over the city, Ellis island, and the Statue of Liberty, taking lots of pictures and dodging the rain. It was really neat to point out places we'd been, famous landmarks, and not so famous landmarks that we wouldn't have recognized had we not been living in the city for 3 weeks.  Even though it rained and we all got a little moist, I had a lot of fun and I'm very glad I had the opportunity to do such a fun thing. 

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