Thursday, October 6, 2011

LA Story

I am in LA briefly to present the NATO and Afghanistan book.  It went well, with some very useful comments from the discussant and from the audience.  Great timing, as I am in the middle of writing the conclusion and some of the comments definitely addressed the big questions.  So, other than the talk, what did I learn and/or was reminded of?

I love Southern California.  The rain yesterday made for wonderfully clear skies today.  The palm trees, the hills in the distance, and all of that made for a very nice scene.  I hadn't realized that Shriner's Auditorium, site of the Emmys, is next to the campus.

The campus of University of Southern California really shows what money does.  Really.  Just a very modern campus with beautiful buildings, great landscaping and heaps of coaster bikes (no gears).  Does not hurt to have George Lucas (see the building he funded to the right), Steven Speilberg and others from Hollywood and elsewhere dumping huge sums of cash on the place. 

Walking around before my talk reminded me of the thought I usually have when I visit San Diego for a conference: why the hell did I leave?  The answer: no academic jobs when I finished grad school in 1993 and few opportunities since then.  Sure, they have earthquakes and a deeply messed up political system (direct democracy is not so good).  Still, great Mexican food with best Churros I have ever had, I think.

Next stop (after going home for a few days): William and Mary.  Probably lovely in the fall.  Certainly great friends await.  And probably heaps of useful criticism.  But the Mexican food and the palm trees will probably be lacking.