Meeting on the Alexander Paper

One of the few realistic drawings of Larry Gonick depicting Alexander the Great capturing the Sogdian Rock.
One of Larry Gonick’s few realistic drawings depicting Alexander the Great capturing the Sogdian Rock.

Today I talked with the Classics professor who has been helping me with the paper I’ve been writing on Alexander the Great.

I finished the final edits on my paper for resubmission and I wanted to go over them with a professional.

We made a few more minor edits and I will resubmit once I pull all the copies together, make a CD copy, a new cover letter, etc.

I wanted to talk about how the submission process works for papers in academic articles.

First you submit whatever they require to the editor. The Journal of Popular Culture (JPC) that I’m submitting to wants three hard copies of the paper, a CD copy, a cover letter, and a return envelope.

The editor reads the paper to ensure the topic matches what the journal is about and isn’t horribly written. The JPC wouldn’t publish a paper on math theory for example.

If the paper is on topic it is sent out to two or three professionals in the field. These professionals are often professors of that topic.

The professionals review the paper and give their recommendation to the editor.

The recommendations come in four different flavors.

First, they can reject outright. The paper is rejected and will not be accepted ever.

Second, they can reject but ask for a resubmission. This is what I got. It’s also the most common response to any paper.

Third, they can accepted with a few edits. This is for when a few words are misspelled or there’s a grammar mistake.

Fourth, they can accept without any additional work needed. This rarely happens the first time a paper that is submitted to an academic journal.

I got reviewed by two people. One accepted it as is (AWESOME!) and one rejected it, asking me to resubmit after I’d removed some generalizations I’d made.

So now I resubmit. The editor will look at it again.

The editor will decide which reviewers to send it out to a second time. She could pick the same two as before, only one from before, or new people.

That’s up to her though. For now, I just have to get it in the mail!

-Mister Ed

Writing for Master’s

The guidelines for how to prove you are a competent writer for Sac State's Master's Program.
The guidelines for how to prove you are a competent writer for Sac State’s Master’s Program.

I ended up getting rejected from the other program I applied to so I accepted Sac State’s offer of admission last week.

Sac State has a typical biology Master’s program. I’m reading up more on the specifics lately.

One of the things I found is pictured above, a writing test.

Sac State wants to know that its Master’s students can write competently.

A competent writer reflects well on the college and honestly, they wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t make sure their graduates were good writers.

I like to think of myself as a good writer. I do this blog after all don’t I?

I’m published in a magazine too. I’m a successful amateur for sure!

But they have higher qualifications for themselves.

So I can resign myself to taking a class on writing at Sac State (not so bad actually) or I can try and waive myself out of it.

First way to get out, already have a Master’s or PhD. NOPE!

Second way, publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal. Nope.

Third way, have an undergraduate GPA of 3.7. I’ve got a 3.55. Not quite there.

Fourth way, get a 4.5 on the writing section of the GRE. I got a 4.0. I could retake it though!

Fifth way, teach a writing class at a college. No again.

The second way was the most intriguing to me. I’m already working on a paper for a peer-reviewed journal.

I mentioned in a post on Alexander the Great a while back that I’m writing a paper on him.

The paper is basically finished at this point. I’ve gone through a lot of edits over the past two years with a lot of advice from very helpful friends, family, and friends of family.

I actually already submitted the paper for publication once in the Journal of Popular Culture. It was turned down.

This is pretty typical scholarly journals. The paper is never quite what they’re looking for.

So I was turned down, but with a list of revisions I could make to resubmit.

I finally sat down finished the revisions given by them and a few other helpers that read the paper since my first submission.

Now my most persistent helper is my favorite Classics professor when I was taking Classics as an undergrad. He gave me a more difficult edit, to try restructuring the conclusion section.

Right now the conclusion section is separated into paragraphs based on which source on Alexander I’m talking about.

The professor wants to see how it looks when the conclusion is split based on which topic I’m talking about.

I’m doubtful that it’ll be better. The conclusion already looks so good! I’ll give it a try though.

So tonight I’m going to stay up later and rewrite two pages on Alexander the Great’s modern image. Hopefully this version will get published and then Sac State will have proof that I’m a good writer. Wish me luck!

-Mister Ed

Candles

Here's the right side of my desk with some movies, a candle, my armchair, and a world map.
Here’s the right side of my desk with some movies, a candle, my armchair, and a world map.

I’ve been reading this book lately that suggests lighting candles to focus.

I read several books at a time. I hop between each book as I go. I once read a book over three years because I kept hopping between it and dozens of others.

Right now I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, The Cartoon History of the Universe Part 3 by Larry Gonick, and The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian.

The last book is the most interesting of them. It’s an ancient history of Alexander the Great written around 100AD, 400 years after Alexander died.

Anabasis is the Greek word for a journey with an element of conquest/violence. The best translation I’ve come up with is incursion for this specific usage. Alexander invades Persia and continues further and further east until his troops mutiny and he is forced to retreat from India.

Anyways, those candle things. I got a few to try them out.

Can’t say it helped me focus very much. The Happiness Project recommended scented candles, and the one I’m using has only a very faint scent.

I’m not used to scented candles. My family AND my inlaws don’t use them due to allergies. The scent just makes us sneeze.

It’s a nice idea though. I think I’ll try it again sometime.

I’ll need more matches though. I’ve only got two tiny match books. With electric stoves, I’ve never light anything in my apartment until the candle thing.

If you’re interested in The Happiness Project the author, Gretchen Rubin, has a blog of her own by the same name. Check it out at www.gretchenrubin.com

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed

Alexander the Great

Alexander Movie Poster

I’ve been writing a paper on Alexander the Great over the past two years. The paper compares the ancient sources on Alexander’s life with modern media such as the movie above.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Alexander, he was a Macedonian King that conquered most of the world known to western and near eastern civilizations at that time.

Macedonia is one of the hilly nations north of Greece. The Macedonians had a culture similar to that of Greece. I’d rather not get too deep into the debate about whether Macedonians are ethnically Greeks or not. The debate actually decides some of the territory lines between Macedonia and Greece. I think its safe to say that the ancient Greeks thought of Macedonians as uncivilized rude Greeks. A bit like how Democrats see Republicans and vice versa.

Macedonians were famous for drinking a lot more than the Greeks. Alexander the Great shared this alcoholic problem. The ancient histories about him contain many episodes in which he gets outrageously drunk. He even kills one of his best friends during one of his binges.

There’s also a lot of speculation about whether Alexander was a homosexual or not. This speculation is sparked by Alexander’s close friendship with another man named Hephaestion. The relationship was likely not sexual. Greeks did condone male-to-male sexual relationships, but only if they were pedophilic. The older man was seen as teaching the younger one. When the younger became an adult, the loving relationship transitioned into a lifelong friendship.

Alexander was almost certainly not in such a relationship with Hephaestion. The ancient Greeks do not use the words for such a relationship when describing the two. Alexander and Hephaestion were also the same age, making the pedophilic aspect of such relationships impossible.

Alexander did have homosexual relationships with other men. Additionally, he was married to three women. This sort of pansexuality was typical of a Macedonian king of the time.

The reason I bring all this sexuality stuff up is that Alexander is often dropped as an example of an ancient gay man. For example, one debater says, “There’s no historical tradition of gay marriage. We don’t know what that would do to our society.”

Then another person says, “But the ancient Greeks had homosexual relationships! Look at Alexander the Great and his lover Hephaestion!”

The first statement is the correct one. Alexander was not gay. Its not even clear if he was pansexual. He may have been heterosexual, but pressured into homosexual relationships because they were expected of someone in his position. The homosexual relationships he took part in were not with Hephaestion, they were with pre-teen boys. Using this point in an argument is kind of like shooting yourself in the foot. The Greeks may have had homosexual relationships, but they were pedophilic in nature and they were certainly not marriages.

Just a little nerdy historian bit from me. That’s all for this week!

-Mister Ed