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Issue No. 2023-03. December 2023.

       

In this issue:

  • Welcome and Bienvenidos 

  • Get to Know a Ronin Scholar (or two!)

  • Volunteer Opportunities

  • From the Blog

  • The World is Your Oyster

Welcome


from Alex Lancaster 


December 2023 - and it’s the end of another busy year here!  Heather O’Connor is stepping back as Kitsune editor, and busy getting a new venture of her own up and running.  I first want to thank Heather for her excellent work on and stewardship of Kitsune over the last year - we wish her well, and hope to continue to see her around as a Research Scholar. In the meantime, I am stepping in as an interim editor for this current issue.

Here in my patch of the world - the northeast of the US - the temperatures have started to dip, it’s feeling like winter, but snow has not yet graced us with its presence. It’s again another transitional time of year, and as Heather mentioned in her last Kitsune welcome, the Ronin Institute is in a time of transition as well, and more governance updates are expected in the new year.

We continue to welcome all current Research Scholars who want to get involved. There are many ways to do that, including hosting or giving lightning talks, working on helping manage our bibliographic presence on  Zotero and elsewhere, or joining one of the working groups. Just jump on to Slack, post on #watercooler and someone will direct you to the right channel.

In this issue we are excited to share not one, but two “Get to Know a Ronin Scholar” editions! One is from Laure Haak and the other is from Paola Di Maio. We also have excerpts and links to two recent Ronin Institute blog posts.  Happy reading - and I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday season!

(I am sorry that due to time constraints, I was unable to include a Spanish translation of this Welcome from Ainara Mancebo - but we will try and bring it back for the next issue!)

Get to know a Ronin Scholar 


Introducing Laure Haak

What do you do as a Ronin scholar?
My last "official" Ronin project was with Kansas University, working on an econometric model to measure country-level innovation capacity. I also work with non-profits and social benefit companies going through critical transitions -- for example, starting up a new organization, developing a new product strategy, evaluating a program area -- through my Mighty Red Barn consultancy.

What do you do as a non-scholar Ronin?
I help keep the Ronin book admirer's Slack channel active, posting the occasional book review. I also pitch in ideas to governance, membership, and independent consulting channels.

What is the last thing you’ve done that you are most happy about?
Today! Just completed a recruiting process with a non-profit I am consulting with and made 2 job offers. Fun Friday!

What are you looking forward to right now?
Dinner. Have some homemade spanakopita calling my name.

Favorite comfort food?
Chocolate. Hands down. Medium dark. My favorite right now is Equal Exchange's 55% Cacao Lemon Ginger (with a hint of black pepper). Yuuuummmmm.

What do you listen to these days?
A variety of stations on Pandora/Spotify, from Thelonius to Charlie Parker to Ling Ling to Karen Carpenter to Smashing Pumpkins to Pink to Bananarama. Whatever works.

What is the last book that you’ve read or listened to? Or what was the last thing you watched on TV?
So many! Currently reading the Rumpole Omnibus I found at the library sale. Recently finished Work, by James Suzman; Just Kids, by Patti Smith; Noor, by Nnedi Okorafor. Looking forward to a pile of sci-fi I picked up at B&N. Just finished Good Omens season 2, and working my way through American Gods, another Neil Gaiman wonder. Loved This Flag Means Death, and anxiously awaiting season 2.....

What’s the best thing you did last weekend?
Took the dogs on a long unleashed walk in the woods, picked and ate berries, and when I got home, I planned out a new garden and also worked on a quilt. Can't just name one thing. They were all good and fun and satisfying.

Where do you currently live or spend most of your time? - can you share a photo?
 
Photo Credit: Laure Haak

What is the world / political issue that worries you most these days?
The intersections between climate change, capitalism, and collaborative problem-solving

In an alternative life, what different career / path would you have liked to explore?
Novelist, maybe?

When is your favorite time for writing?
Mornings

What is your morning ritual like?
Wake up, pet the dogs for however long, go for a long walk/bike ride/ski with them, eat brekkies, go to exercise class, take a shower, sit down at my desk around 10 am.

Dogs or cats?
Dogs. Allergic to cats, otherwise I'd prolly be a crazy cat lady. :)

Are you a coffee person?
Nope. Love the smell, dislike the taste.

Are you writing a paper at the moment? What is it? If not, what have you written last?
Just got reviews back on a paper describing an approach to measuring data sharing and reuse before the infrastructure for measuring is working. Also working on show notes for a podcast.

If the genie in the lamp gave you one wish, what would that be?
To give the wish to someone else. I am in a good place.

One question you wish we had asked? You can answer that one too if you wish.
Do you play a musical instrument? Yes. I picked up piano after a long hiatus and am really enjoying bending my brain and hands around Bach and Bartok.

 

Get to know a Ronin Scholar 


Introducing Paola Di Maio

What do you do as a Ronin scholar?
As an independent scholar, I investigate matters that interest me with academic freedom; I immerse myself in innovative inquiry. I develop methods and protocols where possible and conduct experiments.  Being a Ronin Scholar means that my practice as a scholar is affiliated with an Institute that recognizes these pursuits as scholarships. I also contribute and evolve the practice of independent scholarship so that one day, Ronin Institute may be recognized with full academic status without falling into the institutional traps of traditional academia. As a Ronin Scholar, I innovate and open the way to a new vision for scholarship that is not challenging like traditional academia is.

What do you do as a non-scholar Ronin?
I try to achieve and maintain homeostasis. I live simply, easily, and follow the way nature regulates my breath (trying not to gasp in awe at the magnitude of everything).  I follow my natural curiosity and get in trouble regularly. I try to understand the universe. Enjoy freedom. Connect with the primordial essence. Gain insights into what is the way it is. 
Being one’s own master does not necessarily mean being a rogue.
Having a master implies subservience and comes with privileges.[I  admit I started to consider that possibility. I suppose it all depends on the odd chance of finding a master worthy of service.] Until then, being a Ronin can be the result of rejecting social conventions and becoming detached from a corrupt, objectionable, and hypocritical context. Living out on one’s own results in having to accept the consequences of choosing freedom. In this world dominated by ignorance and greed, to survive and keep integrity requires strength and self-discipline.  That's what I try to practice, without being too uptight about anything, though, and try to relax.

What is the last thing you’ve done that you are most happy about?
A thing is not necessarily an event; it can be a process. Figuring out some important truth in my heart and spilling it out makes me happy. But it is also going to the hot springs, swimming in the ocean, sitting in the sun. Figuring out the wonderful nature of the mind, when it does not split my brain too hard, makes me happy.

What are you looking forward to right now?
A better world. Becoming a better person. Enlightenment. Liberation. An innate understanding of all phenomena. Intelligent feedback. Stop being spied on by cowards who do not show their faces.

Favorite comfort food?
Most foods are comfort foods in some way. I am trying to shift from pizza and ice cream to healthier options. 

What do you listen to these days?
The wildest things. Naxi Chinese Traditional music does something to me. Recently I discovered an amazing album of Vietnamese traditional music that compares to the finest craziest jazz. But I listen to practically everything that reflects my state of mind. Temple music. Traditional songs, to the most experimental, avangard, folktronica space sound. Dowland. Pink Floy. Aarvo Paert. Not forgetting birdsongs, natural sounds like the ocean and the wind. Music of the spheres, The sound of silence. Cicadas. I listen to everything, actually.

What is the last book that you’ve read or listened to? Or what was the last thing you watched on TV?
I have never owned a TV. I largely detest TV, especially nowadays when we can watch great things online. Because it is unidirectional and full of pretense fabricated, I cannot interact and speak to people in the box.  Occasionally, when my brain is in passive mode, I just watch whatever is on the first telly I come across, but I mostly find it a disturbing experience. So unnatural. I like watching occasional movies and documentaries online.
 I read many books all at the same time, so I always have many tabs open. Mostly Buddhist scriptures, ancient texts, encyclopedias. manuals, the latest research papers on whatever subject I am interested in. Chemistry books. Internal alchemy. Looking for truth everywhere, but only finding relative truths. Then I blank out and stare at the sky. Ponder the nature of the mind.  

What’s the best thing you did last weekend?
I went for a swim after the moon had come up. 

Where do you currently live or spend most of your time? - can you share a photo?
Well, I can share a photo. However, some may be using the information I provide to track me down and harm me. So, the actual location is an unspecified dynamic point on the event horizon at any given time.



Photo Credit: Paola Di Maio

What is the world / political issue that worries you most these days?
Apart from all the ongoing world-class crises, wars, poverty, and widespread disregard for truth and kindness, my main concern is Systemic deviation.  Which I describe in a paper [1]  Coupled with Misrepresentation (stating things that are not true), result in systemic risk and possibly the Anthropocene. The world is gripped by greed and ignorance through all sorts of economic and political institutions, I am concerned about the Depletion of resources. Dark forces disguised as light. Our inability to discern and apply righteousness. Lack of sincerity and simplicity.

In an alternative life, what different career / path would you have liked to explore?
I already live multiple concurrent alternative lives. I am a practitioner of complementary medicine, an artist (under a different art name), and I do a bunch of other things. I wear many hats. I do not rule out being a driver or a mushroom grower. I also design and fabricate all sorts of contraptions.  None of these are incompatible with being a Ronin. In fact, all paths can be walked on wearing a very large scholarly mega hat and still look good.

When is your favorite time for writing?
Mornings, with a fresh mind.

What is your morning ritual like?
Coffee, meditation, reflection, tai chi, qi gong, and a walk. By then, it's lunchtime. Time is going very quickly for me.

Dogs or cats?
Both/neither.  Yes, I can be a bit slippery when I am asked to make hard choices.

Are you a coffee person?
YES before lunch. Tea after lunch. I occasionally go through coffee detox spells, though, and have cocoa. 

Are you writing a paper at the moment? What is it? If not, what have you written last?
My recently published scholarly work is about system-level knowledge representation. I am researching bioelectrical signals in the brain and a bunch of other topics. 

If the genie in the lamp gave you one wish, what would that be?
That all sincere wishes come true.

One question you wish we had asked? You can answer that one too if you wish.
Yes. I'd like to say something about my vision for  Ronin Institute and how to implement it. I recommend this question be added to the Q/A  as well.  Some degree of scholarship can help, or may even be necessary, to tackle contemporary challenges faced by humanity across all spheres. Traditional academic environments, with a few exceptions, are walled gardens with their own agendas. Independent scholarship is reflected in the academic freedom of individuals but also in more opportunities to pursue systematic approaches to learning and studying. Ronin Institute should be run like a research cooperative, where individuals are the main stakeholders. Several models of research cooperatives exist, and they should be explored, both in terms of funding and governance. More pragmatically, Ronin scholars should contribute to the design, management and administration of the Institute's resources, decisions, and planning. To some extent, this has already been done (through Governance WG on Slack), but the meetings may be short, packed, and not accessible to every member due to time zones and technical challenges. The Governance WG could shoot periodical mails/questionnaires to keep members who do not participate in meetings, for whatever reason, involved if they wish to do so. Just some ideas.  
[1] https://journals.isss.org/index.php/proceedings60th/article/view/3512

 

Volunteer Opportunities

 

We’re always looking for a few volunteers to help us with both ongoing (Working Groups etc.) as well as new initiatives. Recent new opportunities including helping manage our Ronin Institute bibliographic presence, as well as editing Kitsune (if interested, Ronin Reseasrch Scholars can contact Alex Lancaster on the Ronin Institute Slack). 

Blog Highlights
Here are a few excerpts posted on the Ronin Blog by our scholars: 


"Invisible Rohingya refugees and climate change in Cox’s Bazar."
 
Sagarika Naik writes about the vulnerable Rohingya refugees and their impact on the local climate. In her post. she writes that "the effects of the Rohingya refugee influx include deforestation, severe water scarcity and pollution, loss, fragmentation, and destruction of wildlife habitats, improper management of solid and human waste, inadequate drainage systems, air pollution, and surface water pollution. If the situation is not brought under control, it could spark social instability between Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims." Read her post here. 
 
In memoriam: Research Scholar Adele Hite (1963-2022)

Ronin Scholar Adele, a  critical food studies scholar, passed away at the age of 58 on April 22, 2022. Jon Wilkins describes her research as an example of both the power and challenge of interdisciplinary work. Read more about her life and work here. 

 

The world Is Your Oyster
Meetings, Seminars, and Calls For Participation

  • The next Ronin Community meeting (for Research Scholars only) will be held January 12th, 2024 at 10am US Eastern Standard Time.  Please visit the Ronin Institute Calendar for details

Useful links

Calendar is where Ronin Research Scholars can find times and dates of meetings and seminars

Slack is where Ronin Research Scholars can interact with other Scholars, and join any number of Slack channels from Governance, to Membership to ig-covid19-biology. 

Our YouTube channel is where you can view past presentations by Ronin scholars. 

About the Ronin Institute

The Ronin Institute is dedicated to building an alternative model of academic scholarship outside of the traditional university system. To learn more, visit our website or send us an email.

We depend on public support. If you are in a position to do so, please consider making a donation. The Ronin Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so your donation will be tax deductible to the full extent permitted by applicable tax law.

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Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Let us know!


 

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