Friday, April 6, 2018

ISA 2018: Mid Conference Quickie Update

I haven't blogged much while at the ISA because, well, this happened:

Actually, there are Alcatraz themed displays in a couple of the conference hotels.  I have no idea why.

Anyhow, so far, ISA2018 so very good.  Lots of stuff has happened in a short time, which probably explains the blogging outage, so let's just quickly listicle:
  1.  I got turned around trying to find the waterfront, but successfully saw a bridge.
  2. I met up with two of the funniest, sharpest, and outgoing senior women in IR--Laura Sjoberg and Sara "the Storm" Mitchell.  Always a good way to start a conference.  Sara found an amazing Thai restaurant for the two of us, which meant I started breaking the Pence rule from the very first evening I was in SF--a trend that has continued.
  3. I had coffee the next morning with two young women from the Naval War College, who have heaps of very helpful things to say about both my big project (the Dave/Phil/Steve book) and small (although getting larger--see below).  Jessica Blankshain was new to me, but  I had met Lindsay Cohn at the most recent APSA.  The future of the NWC is in good hands.
  4. I had my usual amazing lunch at a nearby Indonesian place with my former student and now co-author Ora Szeleky.  The amazing describes the food and the company.  I love Indonesian food, and, of all my research and teaching assistants, Ora was the best--I am bad at providing instructions to those I delegate stuff, and Ora always knew how to take my vague intent and do the right stuff with it.  The paper we have now (with Philip Jones of Carleton) and the spiffy presentation (more below) are much to her ability to figure out what I want and do it better than I could have.  
  5. I met with Tanisha Fazal over beer in the lobby--a recurring theme.  She is doing incredibly interesting stuff about military medicine that is so very relevant as we ramp up to war in Korea.  I am perhaps the most pessimistic about the war--I think it is very likely.  But Tanisha is very pessimistic about how it will play out--we have taken too much for granted and our medical system will not be able to save the wounded from dying at the recent  rates.
  6. I had a beer at a different spot with JC Boucher, a Canadian partner in crime.  Always a pleasure although he made me nervous about the big grant project.  
  7. A quick beer with Patrick Mello was great as we are working on a special issue on the realities of coalition warfare.  
  8. The evening ended with a dinner held by the Journal of Global Security Studies, run by Debbi Avant.  It served as editorial board meeting and a chance to catch up with a lot of old friends and meet the young folks who do the heavy lifting of running a journal.  
  9. Yesterday started with two panels.  First, the one where  I discussed papers on coalition warfare, with some/all perhaps ending up in the aforementioned special issue.  It was really fun to see people build on the Steve and Dave book and do that stuff with clearer concepts and different angles.
  10. The second panel was where  I chaired and Ora presented our paper.  I will blog more about the paper when I have more time, but it went over really well--a paper that was spurred by my experience in the Pentagon, started in 2008 and finally written due to the deadline of the ISA.  Our paper got lots more questions than the others--I felt guilty but enjoyed the attention and interest... because  I am a bit of narcissist and because I think we hit on something.
  11. I spent the afternoon meeting younger women who are doing super interesting work. Of course they are younger since (a) I am older than the median these days; (b) when I started, there were very few women in the biz, so there are few women who are older than me.  I didn't mean to violate the Pence rule all day long, but I learned a lot, and got heaps of help on my research. 
  12. The evening involved some survivors of twitterfightclub and associated folks drinking and eating.  A very good day.
I list all of this because I have heard much about profs wasting carbon, that they should just do things via virtual conferences.  And I say bullshit.  There is too much good stuff that can't be planned, that is unlikely to happen if it is all online.  We need the yearly or semi-yearly opportunity to meet new people  (which almost always occurs via happenstance), see old friends, hear about new work, get fresh perspectives on the work we have been doing in our solitary silos, and do some business (editorial board meetings, for example).  Schelling told us a long time ago that focal points matter, and conferences are focal points that allow all kinds of folks and stuff to converge.

So, woot!  Now off to meeting someone who is completely new to me.  Enjoy!

No comments: