What are you reading? v.2

Offspring

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
7,370
România
Candide, by Voltaire.

Romania and Europe: the accumulation of economic disparities (1500-2010), by Bogdan Murgescu. He compares the economic development of Denmark, Ireland, Serbia and Romania during that time period. He chose those countries because he considers them to be similar in terms of economic development in 1500.

Two of my favourite memories from uni involve him.

1) One of his courses was for everyone other than Art History students. We were probably more than 150 people in the room and I was about 20 meters away from him. I'm not good at talking loudly. I tend to stammer when attempting that (similar to how stammering is presented in: The King's Speech). He asked a difficult question. No one answered. He said he'll give a point at the final exam to anyone who gives a good answer (there wasn't a strict answer, it was more opinion based, so we also had to argue for it). I already had one, before he gave the extra incentive, but I was preparing myself for speaking loudly. I answered without any difficulty (it was about 2 minutes long).

He praised me and said he'll give me the point. He asked for my name. I wasn't prepared for him to ask for it so rapidly and I was quite exhausted from the stress of talking loudly enough in a room with 150 people. I had to pause before being able to answer and it looked like I forgot my name, so everyone laughed, which made me feel rushed, so I managed to stammer while saying my name. My friends, who were the first ones who started laughing, loved explaining how that contrasted with the eloquent answer I gave and how it looked from the audience's perspective.

2) In order to enter the final exam (oral), we had to pass a written test (the answers were short). That was the test I had the most difficulty learning for in my entire life. I once read 3 books in a day, about 1000 pages in total, as part of preparing for an exam, but I didn't find it hard, because it was about Romania in the XIX century. Murgescu' course was about world history in the XIV-XVII centuries and he was a huge fan of the Annales school, Immanuel Wallerstein, the world-systems perspective and stuff like that. We knew from previous generations that the answers will be short. It was incredibly hard to prepare. I think 80% failed it the first time. I barely made it (6/10).

One of the questions was: "what is X?" (I forgot the word). It was the name of a tax in India. I wrote that it was a Mongolian tribe. After the professor gave us the results, he asked who gave that answer and why. I defended myself by explaining that I had no idea what that word meant. My options were to not write anything as an answer or test my luck. Regardless of the probability of that answer being right, it was still better than 0%.

He got the probability argument, but was still curious about the answer itself, since the name of the tax wasn't similar to the name of any Mongolian tribe.

I explained, while sounding as if I was describing a perfectly ordinary thought process, that when studying from the test I skipped learning anything about Mongolian tribes.

He waited a bit, to make sure that really is the end of my answer and I wasn't trying to make a joke (he saw that my friends weren't at all intrigued by the answer, as they were used to that sort of stuff from me). Then, he asked: "why would you say it was a Mongolian tribe, if you didn't study anything about Mongolian tribes?". He seemed very confused.

I was bewildered by the question and his apparent confusion, because I thought the answer was obvious. I thought that the likelihood of me forgetting something I studied is far lesser than the answer being something I didn't study at all.

He became optimistic in his ability to understand me, so he asked: "oh, so, you did study the taxes in India, but you forgot about this one?" in a happy voice.

- No.

- What?

- I completely forgot that was one of the subjects for the test.

He didn't say anything, so I continued:

- So, it didn't factor in my decision-making process at all. I still stand by my reasoning. It's not flawed when considering the info I had when making that decision. "Mongolian tribe" was a reasonable answer.

He had a defeated look on his face and I think he lost a bit of respect for humanity in general that day.

I got 10 on the final exam (9 + that extra point).

The most popular meme for years was: "say -a Mongolian tribe- when you don't know the answer".
 

deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
12,190
Europix
Candide, by Voltaire.

Romania and Europe: the accumulation of economic disparities (1500-2010), by Bogdan Murgescu. He compares the economic development of Denmark, Ireland, Serbia and Romania during that time period. He chose those countries because he considers them to be similar in terms of economic development in 1500.

Two of my favourite memories from uni involve him.

1) One of his courses was for everyone other than Art History students. We were probably more than 150 people in the room and I was about 20 meters away from him. I'm not good at talking loudly. I tend to stammer when attempting that (similar to how stammering is presented in: The King's Speech). He asked a difficult question. No one answered. He said he'll give a point at the final exam to anyone who gives a good answer (there wasn't a strict answer, it was more opinion based, so we also had to argue for it). I already had one, before he gave the extra incentive, but I was preparing myself for speaking loudly. I answered without any difficulty (it was about 2 minutes long).

He praised me and said he'll give me the point. He asked for my name. I wasn't prepared for him to ask for it so rapidly and I was quite exhausted from the stress of talking loudly enough in a room with 150 people. I had to pause before being able to answer and it looked like I forgot my name, so everyone laughed, which made me feel rushed, so I managed to stammer while saying my name. My friends, who were the first ones who started laughing, loved explaining how that contrasted with the eloquent answer I gave and how it looked from the audience's perspective.

2) In order to enter the final exam (oral), we had to pass a written test (the answers were short). That was the test I had the most difficulty learning for in my entire life. I once read 3 books in a day, about 1000 pages in total, as part of preparing for an exam, but I didn't find it hard, because it was about Romania in the XIX century. Murgescu' course was about world history in the XIV-XVII centuries and he was a huge fan of the Annales school, Immanuel Wallerstein, the world-systems perspective and stuff like that. We knew from previous generations that the answers will be short. It was incredibly hard to prepare. I think 80% failed it the first time. I barely made it (6/10).

One of the questions was: "what is X?" (I forgot the word). It was the name of a tax in India. I wrote that it was a Mongolian tribe. After the professor gave us the results, he asked who gave that answer and why. I defended myself by explaining that I had no idea what that word meant. My options were to not write anything as an answer or test my luck. Regardless of the probability of that answer being right, it was still better than 0%.

He got the probability argument, but was still curious about the answer itself, since the name of the tax wasn't similar to the name of any Mongolian tribe.

I explained, while sounding as if I was describing a perfectly ordinary thought process, that when studying from the test I skipped learning anything about Mongolian tribes.

He waited a bit, to make sure that really is the end of my answer and I wasn't trying to make a joke (he saw that my friends weren't at all intrigued by the answer, as they were used to that sort of stuff from me). Then, he asked: "why would you say it was a Mongolian tribe, if you didn't study anything about Mongolian tribes?". He seemed very confused.

I was bewildered by the question and his apparent confusion, because I thought the answer was obvious. I thought that the likelihood of me forgetting something I studied is far lesser than the answer being something I didn't study at all.

He became optimistic in his ability to understand me, so he asked: "oh, so, you did study the taxes in India, but you forgot about this one?" in a happy voice.

- No.

- What?

- I completely forgot that was one of the subjects for the test.

He didn't say anything, so I continued:

- So, it didn't factor in my decision-making process at all. I still stand by my reasoning. It's not flawed when considering the info I had when making that decision. "Mongolian tribe" was a reasonable answer.

He had a defeated look on his face and I think he lost a bit of respect for humanity in general that day.

I got 10 on the final exam (9 + that extra point).

The most popular meme for years was: "say -a Mongolian tribe- when you don't know the answer".
:)

BTW, I took a quick search around, but I've seen Murgescu's book quoted only in Romanian, so question: do You know if it was translated ?
 

Offspring

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
7,370
România
You're welcome!
:)

BTW, I took a quick search around, but I've seen Murgescu's book quoted only in Romanian, so question: do You know if it was translated ?
It's only in Romanian (I usually don't mention books I'm reading that are only in Romanian, but I thought this one was interesting), however, you can find a pdf of it ("pdf bogdan murgescu") and then translate it.
 
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