Monday, April 30, 2007


Excerpted from The Washington Post

Black, Hispanic, and white drivers are equally likely to be pulled over by police, but blacks and Hispanics are much more likely to be searched and arrested, a Justice Department study found. Police also were much more likely to threaten or use force against blacks and Hispanics than against whites in any encounter.

The study, released yesterday by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, covered police contacts with the public during 2005 and was based on interviews by the Census Bureau with nearly 64,000 people age 16 or over.
- African Americans (9.5 percent) and Hispanics (8.8 percent) were much more likely to be searched than whites (3.6 percent).

- African Americans (4.5 percent) were more than twice as likely as whites (2.1 percent) to be arrested. Hispanic drivers were arrested 3.1 percent of the time.

Among all police-public contacts, force was used 1.6 percent of the time. But officers were more likely to use force against or to threaten to use force against African Americans (4.4 percent) and Hispanics (2.3 percent) than against whites (1.2 percent).

I know this is probably preaching to the choir (all two of you) but I couldn't let this one go uncommented. This is a good non-gender/sex based example of continuing "subtle" bias in our culture. Sometimes I get the sense that americans in general believe bigotry is a myth so when there is evidence of it I personally think it is important to discuss it.

I've noticed there is a large number of people who are apparently "reasonable", who hold a set of unexamined principles which conform to late 20th century cultural ideals, and many of whom I think have lived lives which are in general socially, emotionally, and spiritually relatively undemanding. Let's call them "the masses" for convenience.

Members of "the masses" act as if they believe they and their ilk are not sexist, racist, anti-gay, fearful they will catch cripple cooties, or hateful of old people. Most of us like to think such attitudes do not exist in our worlds and when we do acknowledge them we ascribe them to others, to caricatures of people (who may well be people themselves but who are so extreme as to count as something other in the mass mind - e.g. "those white supremacists like the ones we saw on Jerry Springer/Jeraldo/etc."), places ("red state", rural), and times (anything before nineteen sixty something, right?).

We are so fucking wrong. Sexism, racism, hatred of homosexuals, old people, sick and disabled people all exist in vibrant diverse attitudes of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and other community members. Yes they do. When we hear or see things in those arenas which bear the hallmarks of bigotry, we will jump through hoops to explain them away: Bigots are not from NY/NJ/DC/CA (insert state here), are not young, and smell like Strom Thurmond, therefore my friend having said "that's so ghetto" is not racist and the fact that I can't finish a full sentence without using the word "gay" to mean something disparaging or otherwise negative is not anti-gay. Can't be. I'm not a bigot.

I'm not sure why this line and style thought is so alluring. It seems like it would involve so much energy to contrive and believe such a huge lie. I'd love to think it's because people want to believe good things about themselves, others, and humanity in general but I am about 99% that isn't true.

I think it's because people don't want to acknowledge that others might not be having a great time, or that there is no "great time" to be had (you know, the one we all can get if we just try hard enough...someday you might even be president! (some restriction apply, see all white male founding fathers for details)).

As a woman, abuse survivor, and semi-professional thorn in the side, I've found members of "the masses" sincerely and deeply do not like to be told or in any way discover that some people's lives are significantly not ok. In general, I've found people of all walks show a very strong preference for refusing to see or acknowledge that many of the systems and circles they exist in rely on principles of inequity - i.e., principles which serve to exclude or limit the full participation of some set(s) of individuals who have a priori been designated as "other".

My more strictly feminist experience suggests the reason for this blindness (and anger) is that to see clearly would mean to see that what one has is not necessarily what one deserves and that threatens some part of the sense of self worth. However, it seems sometimes to be baser than that even.

And it is with this cheery attitude that I greet my Monday.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


...What a beautiful choice?

Police on Friday brought Kentucky charges against a man who pleaded guilty to murdering his 3-year-old foster son who died while left bound in a closet, and against a woman Ohio prosecutors gave immunity to testify in the murder case.
Carroll and his wife, Liz, left Marcus Fiesel wrapped in blanket and packing tape at their home in Batavia, Ohio, while they went to family reunion in Kentucky.

David Carroll, 29, was sentenced in February in Clermont County, Ohio, to 15 years to life in prison for the developmentally disabled boy's death. Liz Carroll was sentenced to 54 years to life in prison for murder and other charges.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I do so like having a non-republican dominated state legislature (it's called the CGA here - Connecticut General Assembly).

My sense is that state level democrats are not quite the same as federal. Although you certainly can have many republicans in sheep's clothing at the state level, there isn't as much drive for them in a state which wants to believe it's not a hillbilly-loving, bible thumping, jezzebel stoning, proudly and openly omniphobic state.

One pro from the last presidential election - the blue/red state fallacy seems to have helped to nudge some of the supposed "blue states" away from intimations of kooky-con attitudes. While the state I live in still sucks (oh yes it does, this is not a love letter to CT, 'the state of denial'), the non-kooky-con CGA at least has been entertaining some nice bills lately.

For example, there's one which would extend the statute of limitations on rape. Currently rape is seen as less serious than "class A felonies" and "capital felonies".

CT's Class A felonies (c. 2005):

• Murder other than a capital felony or arson murder
• Felony murder
• Sexual assault in first degree of certain younger victims
• Aggravated sexual assault of person under age 16
• Kidnapping in first degree
• Kidnapping in first degree with a firearm
• Arson in the first degree
• Employing a minor in an obscene performance
• Assault on pregnant women resulting in termination of the pregnancy

The above crimes have no statute of limitations, while most sexual assault cases do (i.e. first degree sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and spousal/cohabitating partner sexual assault are currently considered Class B felonies in CT). According to the Hartford Courant, The proposed bill would extend [the Class A felony] list to include first-degree sexual assault, aggravated first-degree sexual assault, sexual assault in a spousal or cohabitating relationship, second-degree sexual assault, third-degree sexual assault, and third-degree sexual assault with a firearm.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

EC in CT (II)

CT's more catholic than thou bishops have been slapped down and it's about time! The "thou" is catholic leadership in other nearby states such as NY and NJ. The slap down was the recent passage of an emergency contraception bill by the CT Senate on a vote of 32 to 3 (Hartford Courant for an anti-choice slanted story on the bill).

CT's hardline catholic leadership has consistently and rigidly opposed any legislation requiring hospitals to make emergency contraceptives available for rape victims. I recall listening to the hearings on a bill (which was defeated) last year. The reasoning of those opposing the bill was that it would violate the constitutional right of an organization to impose its religious beliefs on others, even if that imposition could cause increased pain, suffering, and health risk (pregancies count as a heath risk) and would prevent access to standard medical treatment. I'm not sure exactly where in the constitution that right is guaranteed, but the CT catholics are quite certain it exists.

From March 2006
Bill O'Brien, CT Right to Life Committee...says the state law, if it is passed, should be struck down as a violation to the right of religious freedom. He says "some of our sons and daughters are fighting and dying for religious freedom overseas right now". He says we have kicked god out of the schools, we now want to kick god out of medicine. He says "I find it interesting that rape is being used in this bill," "In Roe V Wade, Roe, now knowns as ____ said she was raped and later recanted...That lie was used as a wedge to justify legalized abortion." "It has been argued that a woman who has been raped will be inconvenienced by going to a catholic hospital." "This is not just a catholic issue...freedom of religion is in our federal and state constitutions, it's time to stand up for our constitutions."


My fella and I were trying to think of a gender neutral or at least not so gender loaded term to express a similar sentiment as "bitch". My most recent nomination is "baldwin".

As in "That girl who stole my paper towels in the women's room today is such a fucking baldwin!"

I admit it's a little phontically rough on the adjectival and verbal forms.
Adj. "Oooh, someone's being baldwiny!"
V. trans. "My professor totally baldwined me (out) about missing the make up exam."

I'm thinking possibly "baldwinine" for the adjective. It could be shortened to simply "baldwine".
And "baldwinate" or "baldw(h)ined" for the verb.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


A website I visit frequenly has an annoying ad on it. It's for a drink being promoted by a chain coffee shop. The tag line is "Snack Shamelessly" and it features the drink being held up close to the viewer by a rather young and wholesome looking young woman who is smiling around her finger, which is stuck in her mouth.

It's the pinky finger.
Because she's dainty and wholesome.

What's amusing, ok well one thing that is amusing, is that when I first read the logo, I read it as "Smack shamelessly". Which to me made somewhat more sense with the young lady presumably having made such a mess that she has to suck it off her fingers, you know, noisily, because it's so yummy and you want to get all of it, even that bit that dripped down the side. Turns out it's just another annoying reference to weight and food guilt. Complete with a sexualized image.

Here's this wholesome young lady who has finally found a guilt free way to enjoy herself. She's snacking so shamelessly on her topical fruit smoothie that she's thrown all decorum to the wind and is sucking her own fingers. Has the smoothie aroused some hidden lust demon in her?

I suppose we should be thankful this shameless hussy still has the decency to suck on a doughnut shop straw and her own finger rather than channel her shameless decadence into other sucking activities.

Update: It now also has text that says "I feel so good. Do you?" This is so close to "was it good for you" that I want to punch the monitor. What's super odd is that the food guilt supposition seems so very female targeted yet this written message is very stereotypically heterosexually male focused. Oh wait! I think I have it. Maybe it's the smoothie who is stating that it feels good and asking the woman if it was good for her too. Silly me attributing animism and agenthood to the female in an ad. Shoulda known the smoothie was doing the talking. I mean, of course that chick can't talk - what with her finger stuck in her mouth and all.

No Pain...

No pain.

I'm taking a break from my mountain of grading. It's amazing how much faster you go through them when you've decided to accept that this is just grade generation. This is a nice change of attitude as it means I do not need to bother commenting my grades. I can simply assign them.

And this is why I say I need to get out of grad school before I become a complete asshole.

A___ and I were talking today about the term "No pain, no gain" as it is applied and realized in graduate education. I was asking for a term describing the philosophy of glamorizing the "hoop jumping", self eroding work-a-holic aspects of our program. Possibly most or at least many programs in fact. This is not merely my own jaundiced view (a commenter in fact refered to my writing as "jaundiced" not long ago - hence I feel justafied in calling myself "jaundiced". And coincidentally, my liver enzymes reflected that I was in fact jaundiced for a prolonged period in 2005. So there you go.)

No, this is not just me. One student, an older person who returned to school although she had a rewarding career already well underway because she couldn't live without the title "Dr." and needed the frequent cookies and pats on the head which are part and parcle of being a student, told me she didn't mind "the hoops". "I'm good at jumping!" she said as if this were an asset.

To me, hoops as in the term "jumping through hoops" implies a somewhat useless or extra-relevant but costly and/or difficult task. Why someone would feel such strong, expressive pride in their ability to do this is beyond me. Seriously. However, the older cookie and head patting student expressed an attitude which I see promoted by the faculty who do interact with grads and reflected back by the grads.

I overheard two younger grads from another related program talking about time. "Oh my god, I only worked like 30 hours this week...I am so lazy! I'm just like I know some weeks I work 60, but right now I did 30 and I feel like I worked so much. I used to do more. I'm getting lazy!" I piped up with the advice that some weeks you do 30, some you do 60 or more, and that in the end it all evens out. If you're getting your work done at 30, use that extra time to stay positive.

It was as if I were lecturing herring on the current choices for US presidential candidates. Honest. Not a negative response, just a blank one. Just bubbles and fins.

This attitude is promoted and rewarded by the faculty. A set of them have a habit of using the following terms to refer to ideal grad students: "zombies", "slaves", "miserable bastards", "miserable blighters", "sacks", "poor fools", "unhappy sods". These terms are said in contexts which convey some kind of appropriateness of the meaning, as if we all should be this way. As if the traits associated with these terms were good positive ones we should aspire to. We live at the poverty line, have substandard housing, and some of us have family or other extra-curricular commitments and demands on our time, money, and resources. When these things add up and a grad ends up hospitalized, ill, called away for a sick or dead relative, or simply seen dragging his or her carcass through the halls, those terms are applied. And strangely, well to me at least, many of the grads respond as if they have been comforted or reassured. I see nothing at all reassuring in knowing my faculty consider their students' misfortunes cute.

So A___ and I were talking about this today. My point was that we don't all have the luxury of circumstances, past or present, to do the hoops. Those of us in that position are trudging along doing what we can when we can. Insisting we use our "spare" resources for graceful hoop jumping is in effect insisting on pain. That glamorized pain is something which is seen as not real pain or suffering, just good character-building fun. The "poor blighter" faculty member once told me this shit "built character". I told him I had plenty of character already, thanks.

No pain, no gain has been misapplied to this endeavor and has come to be seen as meaning pain = gain, in a very real sense. The amount of pain you are willing to publicly subject yourself to (e.g. multiple all nighters, over-loads in teaching, on demand research product with no research/writing mentoring) is a measure of how well you are doing. It's small wonder I am finding the culture of academia problematic. If it is built on the assumption of chronic personal over-extention for the degree, how does someone whose emotional and physical resources are already largely spoken for manage to get by?

Nearly all of the people I've known in grad school with who have left or are leaving are all assault/abuse survivors. I wonder if that correlates with a low threshold and tolerance for seemingly gratiutous self inflicted pain?


Ever apply for a job you know you would be perfect for and you don't get it? I have. It sucks.

So now I'm back to the drawing board for funding next year. It's not just about funding (i.e. having barely enough money to live on while in grad school and having at least a half time appointment so I get a tuition waiver and medical benefits). It's about my career. Some time ago, I realized a couple of things about academia. Most notably, I realized I don't want to be an instructor in a system like the one we currently have. I don't want to deal with a grueling job search where I will compete with hundreds of other highly qualified candidates for the honor of being an exploited lecturer. I don't want to have to pad my CV with publications (which means putting more energy into getting published than doing anything else, including good research) just to have a chance to get a job where I will most likely have no time or resources to actually DO research. And I don't want to work for and with people who not only lack any managerial skills but who seem to find the entire concept of management and planning distasteful and base.
I thought I could salvage the time I've spent pursuing a PhD without abandoning that goal by shifting my focus to academic administration. There is a woman at my university who has a job I think I would be great at and which I am pretty sure I would like if not love. She's in charge of the program which orients, trains, and provides professional and ESL support for the international teaching assistants. It's part instruction and part administrative and it is right up my alley.

So I started moving out into administrative roles. I joined the graduate student government, a university committee overseeing sexual harassment policy, and made formal my role as graduate student liaison for my department. And I applied for this most recent job working as a graduate assistant in an academic support department (not saying which....shhhhh). Suffice it to say it is a program which I have strong competency in and which is looking to expand focus into an area I have theoretical knowledge, experience, and inclination.

But I found out today I didn't get it. Which leaves me with funding options of about shit, shit, and fuckall. I am so very disappointed.

I was pretty upset for a short time. After crabbing about it and making the usual "screw them" type proclamations to A___, I emailed my advisor to let her know I didn't get this extra-departmental job. Both my advisor and I had been hoping for it. I was hoping for it because it involved humane hours, it seemed like a good move in terms of my career goals, and because it would get me at least a little out from under the oppressive thumb of my division head who has been evaluating me as moving "too slow" since my third semester in the program. My advisor had been hoping for it because the grants most of the RA money came off of have dried up, the teaching loads are too high for the funding level they come with (a "ten hour" position is easily anywhere from 20 to 40 hours a week) which means not much dissertation work gets done, and they overadmitted grads for next year with little funding and a shrinking graduate faculty.

She wrote back promptly and not reassuringly, although honestly I hadn't dared to hope for reassurance. She said she'd prefer to talk about this stuff face to face (why? She doesn't pick up on social cues...) so we set up a meeting for tomorrow. I am fully expecting that she will tell me she thinks I should leave the program. I am expecting this because about 80% of me thinks I should leave the program. Without the other employment/funding option, I'm left trying for funding in my department which is exploitative, demeaning (to grads and undergrads), and exhausting and offered under a false guise of one size fits all academic training and career development.

I spent the rest of my morning redoing my resume and applying for clerical jobs at the local hospital. It's a paycheck, it's local, and it's at least people who would consider my work a job and not an honor or favor they were doing me. I sort of think I need that right now.

Wish me luck, in all this.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Below is a press release from the American Association of University Women announcing the findings of a recent study pay equity for college educated men and women called "Behind the Pay Gap". Oops, I mean "on pay inequity for college educated men and women".

If you're interested in seeing the report or details like a state by state comparison, go here.

I am very happy the AAUW conducted this study and released their findings but wow. What makes me angry is that every single day I am barraged by what I guess should be called counter-information explicitly declaring women "equal" and dismissing (or being used to dismiss) any evidence, suggestions, or beliefs to the contrary as radical rabble rousing or worse "whining".

I'm going to print this out and hang it all over my department today.

Press release from the American Association of University Women
Pay Gap Exists as Early as One Year out of College, New Research Says
Women earn less even when working in the same career field, likely due to sex discrimination

Washington – New research released today by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation shows that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues, even when they work in the same field. Ten years after graduation, the pay gap widens.

In the report, Behind the Pay Gap, the AAUW Educational Foundation found that just one year after college graduation, women earn only 80 percent of what their male counterparts earn. Ten years after graduation, women fall further behind, earning only 69 percent of what men earn. Even after controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors known to affect earnings, the research indicates that one-quarter of the pay gap remains unexplained and is likely due to sex discrimination. Over time, the unexplained portion of the pay gap grows.

The research also shows that ten years after graduation, college-educated men working full time have more authority in the workplace than do their female counterparts. Men are more likely to be involved in hiring and firing, supervising others, and setting pay.

"By looking at earnings just one year out of college, you have as level a playing field as possible," said AAUW Director of Research Catherine Hill. "These employees don’t have a lot of experience and, for the most part, don’t have care-giving obligations, so you’d expect there to be very little difference in the wages of men and women. But surprisingly, and unfortunately, we find that women already earn less — even when they have the same major and occupation as their male counterparts."

The AAUW research also shows that this pay gap exists despite the fact that women outperform men in school – earning slightly higher GPAs than men in every college major, including science and mathematics.

"The persistence of the pay gap among young, college-educated, full-time workers suggests that educational achievement alone will not close the pay gap," Hill said. "We need to make workplaces more family-friendly, reduce sex segregation in education and in the workplace, and combat discrimination that continues to hold women back in the workplace."

"AAUW has worked successfully to create educational opportunities for women and girls," said Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations. "It’s clear that barriers beyond schooling have prevented true pay equity, and AAUW continues to be a strong advocate for legislative efforts to address this discrimination."

The report also includes other findings:

* Women who attended highly selective colleges earn less than men from either highly or moderately selective colleges and about the same as men from minimally selective colleges.
* Ten years after graduation, women are more likely than men to complete some graduate education.
* Men and women remain segregated by college major, with women making up 79 percent of education majors and men making up 82 percent of engineering majors. This segregation is found in the workplace as well, where women make up 74 percent of the education field and men make up 84 percent of the engineering and architecture fields.

"AAUW is dedicated to improving gender equity in the workplace as well as in education," said AAUW Educational Foundation President Barbara O’Connor. "The findings from Behind the Pay Gap are telling and disturbing. They show that equity remains an issue for women today."

not news

From a news report titled "Virginia Tech Students Return to Campus"
Many returning students stopped by the campus lawn to visit memorials to the victims and sign posters of remembrance. A number attended religious services and were seen heading in and out of counseling centers.

The media are camped out in front of the counseling centers watching students going in and out? My god that's disgusting. This is making deep personal tragedy into a side show, and while that might count as broadcastable or publishable using the guidelines which suggested showing nonstop footage of the killer's videos, it's sure as hell not "news".

I thought medical/mental health treatment was supposed to be confidential. Seems like the university has grounds to throw those vultures off the campus for that shit.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I have fewer than all of the last assignments but too many. Oh how I hate grading first year student writing.

I realize there is a daunting new aspect to grading, for me at least. The threat of violence. Think that's an over reaction? Try this on for size. (excerpted from the Boston Globe)

BOSTON --A college student accused of stabbing a science professor who gave him a failing grade plans to plead guilty to the attack, his lawyer said Monday.

Nikhil Dhar, 24, is accused of attacking his professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell because he was flunking out of school and feared he would be deported to his native India.
Police said they found a bloody note in his pocket, which read, "I'm sorry I'm having to do this. But I have no options left. ... You look at me and I will kill you. I have nothing to lose."

Hooker told police Dhar approached her at her home and wanted to talk about failing her class. She said when she suggested going to a coffee shop to talk, he dragged into the yard, hit her and stabbed her in the neck, according to police reports.

Hooker was hospitalized for several days after the attack.

I'm guessing all of us who've taught at secondary or higher level have had a student who didn't do so well, got a lower grade than s/he expected or needed or didn't like how you graded something for some reason or another and who chose to react in an intimidating manner. I haven't even taught that much and I've already had a couple who were on the line and one who went sailing right over it with nasty email.

I'm not talking about the student who asks for clarification or is seeking further understanding of the assignment or the grade. I get that. I'm not fond of whining, but not all of them are whining...and even the ones who are don't bug me that much. They're just a little irksome.

I'm talking about the kind of student who very bluntly challenges with petulance and belligerence. The belligerence is hard to answer with patience and even harder to shake.

So what do you do once you realize you have one of them? If they earn a poor grade after that, or worse, a poor grade for the semester, do you give them the fully poor grade without a second thought or does your concern with the shit storm which might ensue occur to you? Do you even think about it?

I'm thinking about it this semester. I won't go into the details, but the long and the short of it is I have one such student and I fear he has earned a rather low final grade. It's against all my principles to grade the student up - even out of fear that a bad final grade on top of what already seem to be some anti-social behaviors could set him off. But I'd be lying if I said I have no reservations about submitting the grade his work warranted.

Friday, April 20, 2007

NYC to Paris

Little brother sent me a link to this.

New York, NY
Drive: 3,800 mi (about 29 days 7 hours)

1) Head southeast on Chambers St toward Broadway
0.2 mi
1 min

2) Turn right at Centre St
0.1 mi

3) Slight left at Park Row
210 ft

4) Sharp left at Frankfort St
0.3 mi
1 min

5) Turn left at Pearl St
56 ft

6) Turn right onto the F.D.R. Dr N ramp
0.4 mi
1 min

7) Merge onto FDR Dr N
7.7 mi
12 mins

8) Take exit 17 on left for Triboro Bridge/Grand Central Pkwy toward I-278/Bruckner Expy
0.4 mi
2 mins

9) Merge onto Triborough Bridge Partial toll road
0.4 mi
1 min

10) Merge onto I-278 E via the ramp to I-87 N/Bronx/Upstate NY/New England
0.6 mi
1 min

11) Take exit 47 to merge onto Bruckner Expy/I-278 E toward New Haven
1.9 mi
2 mins

12) Take the I-278 E exit toward New Haven
0.3 mi

13) Merge onto Bruckner Expy
5.0 mi
6 mins

14) Continue on I-95 N Partial toll road Entering Connecticut
62.1 mi
1 hour 12 mins

15) Take exit 48 on left to merge onto I-91 N toward Hartford
36.8 mi
37 mins

16) Take exit 29 for US-5 N/CT-15 toward I-84/E Hartford/Boston
0.4 mi

17) Merge onto CT-15 N
1.7 mi
2 mins

18) Merge onto I-84 E Partial toll road Entering Massachusetts
40.7 mi
38 mins

19) Take exit onto I-90 E/Mass Pike/Massachusetts Turnpike toward N.H.-Maine/Boston Partial toll road
56.0 mi
56 mins

20) Take exit 24 A-B-C on the left toward I-93 N/Concord NH/S Station/I-93 S/Quincy
0.4 mi
1 min

21) Merge onto Atlantic Ave
0.8 mi
3 mins

22) Turn right at Central St
0.1 mi

23) Turn right at Long Wharf
0.1 mi

24) Swim across the Atlantic Ocean
3,462 mi
29 days 0 hours

25) light right at E05
0.5 mi
2 mins

26) At the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit onto E05/Pont Vauban
0.1 mi

27) Turn right at E05 Partial toll road
17.3 mi
22 mins

28) At the traffic circle, take 2nd exit onto A131/E05 heading to A131/Rouen/Paris/Evreux Partial toll road
9.1 mi
8 mins

29) Take exit onto A13/E05/L'Autoroute de Normandie Partial toll road
20.3 mi 17 mins

30) Take the exit onto A13/E05/L'Autoroute de Normandie Partial toll road
56.5 mi
47 mins

31) Take the exit on the left onto A14 toward Nanterre/La Défense Partial toll road
12.5 mi
16 mins

32) Slight right at N13
1.4 mi
3 mins

33) Turn right at Avenue de Neuilly
269 ft

34) At the traffic circle, take the 4th exit onto Avenue de la Grande Armée
0.7 mi
3 mins

35) At Place Charles de Gaulle, take the 5th exit onto Avenue des Champs-Elysées
1.3 mi
3 mins

36) Slight right at Voie Georges Pompidou
1.4 mi
3 mins

37) Slight left to stay on Voie Georges Pompidou
440 ft

38) Slight right at Quai de la Mégisserie
377 ft

39) Continue on Quai de Gesvres
0.2 mi
1 min

40) Turn left at Place de l'Hôtel de Ville
194 ft

To: Paris

murder (domestic) = not a serious problem

from Virginian Tech explains, defends its response
"If a murder appears in your neighborhood, and it appears to be a domestic dispute of some sort, the process is not to seal off the neighborhood until there appears to be some serious problem," said Ed Spencer, Virginia Tech's associate vice president for student affairs.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Your money or your life

Schools look at safety after massacre
The Virginia Tech massacre could bring about widespread safety reforms at colleges and universities, much as the Columbine shootings in Colorado led to security improvements at primary and secondary schools, Udell said.

Oh my sweet jumping jesus, how naive. The majority of high schools aren't for profit. Not so with colleges. These days, even the "public" universities and colleges function as if they were corporations - receiving a mixture of public and private funds, railing against any public oversight for use of those funds, and swelling the ranks of their three titled administrators (Associate Vice Dean of Provostery). E.g., at my school, the prez was entwined in fiscal nastiness with our now jailbird governor. What did we the students get out of their involvement? Smoke and mirrors. A contrived patina of "academic excellence" which easily flaked off if scratched. While my university "built" itself into a "center of excellence" (the schools do love those terms, don't they?), we were witnessing early retirements of faculty in record numbers - faculty who have yet to be replaced, increased tuition, sky rocketing fees, reduced services for students (the entire front office of financial aid is staffed entirely by work study undergrads now), and an admission policy which does not take into account the availability of these already tight campus services for the constantly swelling population. And we get construction. Lots and Lots of construction. Interestingly enough, one of the things our governor was investigated for (and I believe convicted of) was steering bid free construction contracts.

So will the Virginia Tech killings "bring about widespread safety reforms?" Not at my school they won't. The need or promise of such reforms might be something my schools uses for leverage with the state appropriations committee, but it sure won't be something they ask the private donors for.

You can't exactly put a private donor's name on locks for all the classrooms in the many (many) buildings without them. And who wants to be the one who sponsors the emergency mass murderer announcement speakers?

Raising money for improved safety measures as well as implementing them are LOW on the priority list (ask any women's group which has tried to get more lights and call boxes installed) because of the natural money grubbery combined with a head in the sand attitude of "It can't happen here" is most universities' tacit motto.

Are you there Alanis?

...It's me, PFG.

(dedicated to cjblue)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I had been starting to feel kind of isolated in my reaction to the Virginia Tech Shootings.

I don't watch TV except when I am in the coffee counter line at the student bookstore. The past two days I've stood there watching the images of the shooting and the aftermath. This aspect of my reaction is a common grief. In it I know I am far from alone, even if I am the only one blubbering into her hot chocolate.

What feels lonely is the accumulating despair as I read more and more media accounts which unquestioningly repeat the "domestic" violence presumption, which sift through each excruciating detail but leave out any examination of the wider aspects and implications of horrible conclusions from that erroneous assumption, and which in any number of ways offer glimpses directly at the bare veins of misogyny in our social belief systems.

It's rare to get such a public and direct view of them. They are present publicly (oh dear lord see Cat Lady's post on one such sighting) but more often they appear indirectly. Now that I think of it, I suspect a better word might be "misdirectly", e.g. how public misogyny is presented to and received by the masses when can be waved away as "entertainment" or "humor".

When it informed the mistaken belief that the first two murders on the Virginia Tech campus were "domestic" and therefore not the same as what, "real" violence (?), it seemed so clear to me that the misogyny could not have been so easily brushed aside, yet I hadn't seen much evidence that the ever present (and necessary) social critics were looking at it. This was completely missing from the public discourse on this and other school/campus attacks. So I thought. And then I stumbled upon this article at

A handful of bloggers are wondering, just wondering, what would have happened if police had not, accurately or otherwise, labeled that first shooting a "domestic" (or "lovers") dispute. Was that, at least in part, why students weren't warned immediately that there could be a gunman on the loose? Could it be, wonders MojoMom, the kind of "complacency" also apparent in, for example, the Akron Beacon Journal? Her citation: "At first, the shootings seemed like the sort of thing police around the country are called to every day. A domestic dispute in a dorm room, something that could happen on a big college campus without every student feeling touched by it. Certainly not the beginning of the worst shooting rampage in modern U.S. history."

"This sense of complacency over domestic violence adds to the tragedy, and possibly the outcome," writes MojoMom. "Someone shoots two people in cold blood and leaves the scene. In what universe is it okay to minimize the seriousness of the scenario because it [allegedly] began as a domestic dispute?" (Early reports suggest the police had reason to believe the killer had left the campus.)

Update: More others
Just A Domestic Dispute (The Fat Lady Sings)
The Policy Implications (Tapped)
33 Dead Because It Started as "Just" a Domestic Case (Wassup!)
Virginia Tech Assumed What? (Fibrodenial)
Well, Damn (A View from a Broad)
Virginia Tech Shooting (It Makes for Light Bathroom Reading, Anyway)
April 16 (Gwappa's LJ)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


From today's headlines:
Socialite Anne Bass was one of two people injured during an armed break-in at her Litchfield County estate, state police said.

I had no idea the word "socialite" was still used. I could imagine it being used in a completely sarcastic sense but not as a sincere description of a person. And what shocks me most is that I live in a state where there are people who are apparently best described as "socialites".

No motive = gender violence?

Someone needs to take Virginia Tech President Streger aside and perhaps suggest kindly that he think a little more or maybe have someone else look over his statements before he makes them.

Details of killer emerge after 33 die in US campus shootings
There were two separate attacks, two hours apart. The first inside a dormitory early Monday morning killed two people. After that a rampage took place in another building, killing 30 people and leaving bodies at several points in the building before shooting himself in the head. Up to 30 others were reported wounded.

Steger described the attacks as "two very tragic events" that "may or may not" be related. "We just don't know at this point in time," he said.

"May or may not be related" sounds like they think someone else shot the people in the dorm then continued his killing spree in a class building.

I'm genuinely interested to see how this "first gunman" theory pans out since so far, it seems a whole lot like it's just a really intense attempt to explain a failure to consider a "domestic" violent offender an actual threat to society. Coulda been two. Why not. Assholes often travel in groups, don't they? Columbine had two. The shitbags who blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building came in a pair.

I also can't help but notice the AP non-agentive sentences this passage starts with. The only agent I can find is "a rampage....killing 30 people, leaving bodies, and shooting himself in the head". A rampage doesn't shoot itself, nor does a rampage have a head or gender (presumably). These are the grammatical contortions people get into when they are trying very hard not to say something. I don't imagine conspiracy. I hardly ever do. I imagine society.

And back to the "domestic" nature of the first shooting.
Campus police chief Wendell Flinchum said the first shooting had appeared to be "domestic in nature" so authorities did not feel it warranted an immediate lockdown of the sprawling engineering and research university which has some 26,000 students and 10,000 staff.

No, not a lockdown but perhaps a warning - a strongly stated public emergency announcement that they are looking for an armed man on campus. I still maintain that what leads people to conclude that the perpetrator of a crime which is "domestic in nature" is a collection of unexamined, dangerous sexist attitudes.

No new messages

In my inbox
makes me happy, tonight at least. It means no last minute complex problems with the assignment which was due today.

I finished writing finals. Still feeling a strangely OCD-like insecurity that the exam is not this week. It's like the reverse of the dream where you show up to class and find out it's the final and you have no recollection of ever going to this class. It's like that but in reverse. I keep thinking "my god, it can't be this week!" and running off to indirectly confirm this somehow.

I do believe this may be a sign I am cracking up.

Sometimes my breakdowns sneak up on me, I suspect they seem so unexpected because it would not be inaccurate to say my days consist in no small part of periods of rage, hillarity, ecstacy, and painfully over-intense self and intimate other scrutiny. So how am I to judge a deviation from this normal uneven keel? It's the little things like repeatedly not believing your exam is this week although you know it is (or do you?) that sometimes signal "hey you're freaking out".

I got into campus late today and left early. I had been planning to cancel my shrink's appointment so I could finish my exams and possibly squeeze in a little research-based work. Just a smidge, I told myself. I've found small goals are easier to feel less disappointed about if they are not acheived. I hadn't counted on the flood.

When I got in, my lab was wet and somewhat rearranged. Most of my stuff was pulled out from the wall and sort of haphazardly tucked here and there on the dry patches of carpet around the room. Brittney the undergrad sat reading Greek tragedies and drying her sopping sneakers on a forbidden space heater. She told me the office had flooded "mostly in that corner" she added, nodding towards my desk.

As the rain was coming down sideways last night, it apparently got in through the walls. "Cement is pourous you know" one of the building management people told my lab mate Sharon. We hadn't realized pourous meant seivelike. Fortunately, it doesn't look like any equipment or data was damaged.

However, my stuff is another story. Most of the water was concentrated to an area around and under my desk, incuding a book case next to my desk. The under the bookcase water hadn't been touched by the guys who wet vacced earlier in the day. Ok, minor distraction. I'll handle this and then get to work, I thought.

I asked the departmental secretary about how to arrange for the wet vacc guys to come back and get under the book case so we don't get mold in our lab. The secretary said I should move the bookcase out of the way and that she'd call the vacc guys to come back tonight "or tomorrow morning". The problem is, I can't move that shit. There was a time when I would have thought nothing of moving furniture by myself. I routinely would rearrange my dorm room - shifting beds, desks, and dressers even, by myself. Yes, I was tired and and a little sore after but it was a good feeling to have things where I wanted them and to have gotten them there without having to ask some strapping young man or woman to come aid me.

These days I don't even carry the fucking laundry up and down the stairs without screwing my hip for a week. Some days I'm ok-ish with these limitations, some days I'm not. Some days, I am sore before I even thought of them, and on those days I find I quite strongly dislike the reminder of the disability which goes with the infirmity. I seriously wanted to take my dislike out on the secretary. She sucks at her job and she makes many people's lives quite difficult through her obstinate incompetency, but it is against my principles to pick on someone so clearly deficient simply to satisfy a cranky mood.

I resigned myself to rounding up some strappers, relative or real. None of the usual suspects were around which left just me, the undergrad who had just the other day been telling me about her impending surgery to address her severe carpal tunnel syndrome, and Sharon my lab mate who had an accident two years ago which severed tendons in her arm. My god our lab is fucked.

I wandered down into the further reaches of my floor, where the grad students who do strange experiments involving pendulums and gym shorts reside. Remarkably few people were around. It was spookily quiet and smelled like wet departmental rug and 2 day old sweat pants.

Not happening. None of it. I would get not even a smidge of work done in there today. If I stayed, I would feel obliged to address the water, which was seeming to be increasingly unaddressable.

I gave up. I decided I should leave, go see my therapist, and then go home and work. On my way out I ran into four people from my program who asked me if I was staying for a defense of a dissertation on "touching things, lots".

Saying no in a tired and apologetic voice is usually sufficient but not today. I guess today was special. Today there were follow up questions. By the time I reached the ground floor of my building, I was answering their queries by loudly stating "I am leaving because I NEED to go to PSYCHOTHERAPY so I don't snap at people for no apparent reason"

But I am home and I am done. I had dinner, ate cookies, and tried not to think about things like mold, disability, and what I'll say to my students if it turns out the exam isn't tomorrow.

Monday, April 16, 2007


from the San Diego Union-Tribune
Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus.

We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur,” he said.

He defended the university's handling of the tragedy, saying: “We can only make decisions based on the information you had on the time. You don't have hours to reflect on it.”

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger is correct in his statement that they didn't have hours to reflect on it, "it" being the reasonable threat which an at large shooter might be considered to pose to the community. However, we have years of "domestic dispute" related violence to reflect on and increasingly frequent incidents of school based violence where the perpetrators are invariably male and the victims in sickening majority are female. How many more years and bodies does anyone really need to reflect on it before we realize that violence is violence, regardless of whether it is qualified in thought or word by "domestic"?

A lack of understanding or effective strategy in the absence of available experience can be considered ignorance. In this situation, no claim to ignorance is even remotely acceptable in the decision that the issue was resolved with the shooting of one woman in a dorm. In fact, it would seem that even an appeal to mass and sustained stupidity is far fetched at best. This and related incidents are examples of gender motivated violence, plain and simple.

The qualifier "domestic" needs to be abandoned as an outdated characterization of the circumstances of and motives for such violent acts. It is grossly inaccurate. Moreover, it perpetuates dangerous beliefs which are adopted and utilized by all of us, but most notably and tragically by law enforcement officials in their moments of critical decision making.

Law enforcement, policy makers, hell... society as a whole needs to stop believing that when a man chooses to attack or kill a woman, it counts as an isolated, contained, and tacitly excusable act providing the woman was ever in any way involved with the man. Such a man is a threat. That campus should have been locked down until he was found or the students could be evacuated.

Not convinced that sexist attitudes are responsible for the remarkable failure to make a connection between "domestic violence" and "real" violence? In the AP "list of deadly campus shootings", an ubiquitous companion to today's story, notably absent is this one which occured almost to the hour exactly two weeks ago (1, 2, 3, 4 - it's not hard to find).

SEATTLE (AP) — A University of Washington researcher was shot to death in her office Monday morning by a former boyfriend who then turned the gun on himself, police said.

Officers responding to reports of gunfire found the two dead in an office on the fourth floor of Gould Hall, the university's architecture building, Assistant University Police Chief Ray Wittmier said.

The 26-year-old woman was granted a restraining order last month against Jonathan Rowan, according to court documents.

Campus police were not aware of the restraining order, Wittmier said.

update1: Fella says "What the hell is with 'dispute'? It's not like these are situations where two people were arguing because they can't decide who is going to kill and who is going to get killed. 'Dispute' is not the right word for this." So it seems as a whole, it's a poorly stated excuse. Imprecise speech in general might be excusable here given the shock of the situation were it not the case that the thought patterns and attitudes underlying that statement may well have been the ones which continue to put each of us at risk of being killed by stray "domestic disputes".
update2 just turned into a post. Go here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

s'posed to writing a final. Yep, that time again. I told my students "next week we have a final. I think."

How's that for being on top of shit? In my defense, there are at least some reasons for my disorientation to time this semester. The university recently changed the academic calendar to allow for intersession sessions, pre and post semester week long "courses", and something like four overlapping interwoven summer sessions. In short, they screwed with the regular academic calendar to allow for as many ways as possible to squeeze a buck out of folks desperate to get that BA/BS stamp of approval in order to enter into the world of 30K+ employment.

I am still coming to grips with the fact that we now have a week off at Thanksgiving, a "spring" break that occurs barely past midwinter, and a Spring semester that effectively ends in April.

The semester changes, this year's "springing forward" too early, recent lab tragedies, and my age induced perception of accelerated temporal passage have conspired to leave me wondering WHERE THE FUCK DID THIS SEMESTER GO, and necessarily doubting the emails in my inbox which say this week is the last week of my teaching gig for the semester. The students I teach are mostly first years and they are as amazed as I am that we have a final next week.

I think that most of them are unaware of the other half of the basis for our shared disbelief that a final is coming so soon. What I am aware of from having designed the lesson plans is that our contact time for the entire semester is twelve 50 minute class periods - only eight and a half of which have real content. Add into (or rather, subtract from) that total the loss from the tendency for late arrivals and early departures each week and you get eight and a half 45 minute content sessions for the semester.

It is so hard for me to come to grips with the fact that I'm supposed to write, give, and grade a final exam on content from 6 and 1/2 hours of sporadic, disconnected lectures. Further, even though I have finally accepted this really is the last week after days of indulging an OCD like obesssion with checking the course calendar repeatedly, I find it hard to muster up the nuggets to write and give an exam under these conditions as I believe testing them on anything from such a set up is, at best, mere grade generation.

Thus far, I have a word document with a nice header saying "Final Exam", "Your Name", and "Section".

Did I mention a student from last semster just emailed me to meet about her grade? Nothing like waiting 4 months to complain about not getting the grade you want (rather than the one you deserve). I'm fighting the urge to write back with extreme cador. Until I can figure that out, I am not writing back. I have given myself a deadline of Monday for a reply. I'm hoping that in the meantime, I can get some advice from university officials and faculty on how to handle this appropriately if not well.

I suspect that I'd have less trepidation about handling this if there was any real mentoring for teaching in my department or university. I almost chuckle as I write that. Mentoring for teaching is a farce here. Grads are allowed to teach because it is part of our education as grad students, so goes the reasoning of universities across the US these days. We are not, I repeat, NOT cheap labor for the degree factory. All departments where grads are supported in large part through teaching assignments have departmental based, run, and overseen teaching support. For example, my department has a class on "teaching" where an old and revered british professor tells us how to speak without saying "um" and "like", to move around a room, how to use visual aids effectively, and how to deliver a perfectly non-participatory memorized lecture from start to finish. All of which are important but none of which necessarily counts as "teaching" in my book. There is also a departmental teaching assistant meeting at the start of each semester where our department head comes in dressed in "regalia" usually to the tune of a song which may have been rousing circa the mid 1980s and lauds us for how much teaching we do, and for the assloads of research and undergraduate enrollment dollars our department brings our university (which translate into new buildings full of underutilized resources and 300+ classrooms taught by increasingly undercompensated, non-permanent instructors).

In all of this mentoring, there's nothing about how to deal with the problem student or the student problem. Last semester, there were something like 3 suicides on my campus with many more attempts. It was alarming. In the midst of this, I had a student who was having a meltdown. Needless to say, she wasn't on the top of her game at the end of the semester. I gave what points I could, even violating my exam make up policy for her. My sense at semester end was that although she acknowledged having had a very rough go of it, she was shocked to see her grades reflecting this. And now she's back at possibly the worst time of the semester. My advisor is part time which leaves me as the senior grad in our lab - a resource for the junior grads on topics including funding, housing, health insurance open enrollment, doctoral exam preparation, and how many incompletes you can get without being asked to take a walk. I'm grading the sprawling last assignment for my 44 students and arranging and accepting makeup work for my current round of "students with problems". I haven't touched my dissertation in weeks, have only managed to do less than the minimum amount of work on my other funding assignments, and the end of my semester is looming as well.

I am as uncertain of the appropriate mindset for writing this exam as I am of the way to deal with a four month old problem-student problem without violating university policy and my own teaching and grading practices or escalating this into a hearing-level crisis.

Couldn't have said it better myself

Cat Lady at Reverse Paranoia has an excellent post about the Duke lacrosse rape case. In another post, I see a use of the word "asshattery", which alone would have warranted a link but her summary of the media reaction to the Duke case is seriously excellent.

Friday, April 13, 2007

so fucked

That would be 'What is the driver of the red pickup?'
Yes, you are correct!!!

N.J. governor critical after SUV crash
CAMDEN, N.J. - New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine was in critical condition Friday but expected to recover after his SUV crashed into a guard rail while heading to a meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team...Authorities were still searching for a pickup truck driver whose actions were blamed for causing it...Corzine was in the front passenger's seat of a sport utility vehicle driven by a state trooper when a white pickup truck swerved to avoid a red pickup truck that had moved onto the highway from the shoulder, State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes said. The white pickup hit the passenger side of the SUV, sending it skidding into a guardrail. The red pickup left the scene.

C is for...


CDC says gonorrhea is drug-resistant
ATLANTA - The sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea is now among the "superbugs" resistant to common antibiotics, leading U.S. health officials to recommend wider use of a different class of drugs to avert a public health crisis.
"Gonorrhea has now joined the list of other superbugs for which treatment options have become dangerously few," said Dr. Henry Masur, president of the Infectious Disease Society of America. "To make a bad problem even worse, we're also seeing a decline in the development of new antibiotics to treat these infections."

The CDC made the new recommendation after discovering that nearly 7 percent of gonorrhea cases among heterosexual men in a survey of 26 U.S. cities last year were drug-resistant. In 2001, only about 0.6 percent of gonorrhea cases among heterosexual men were drug-resistant.

"That leaves us with a single class of highly effective antibiotics," said Dr. John Douglas Jr., director of the CDC's division of STD prevention. Other experts called the situation perilous.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Word of the Day

Not the one on the blog. I get one emailed to me.
Today's word is Cockshut.
Sadly, the definition does not live up to my expectations.

More junk

Had a visit with the GYN today. Not trying to get preggers, I just don't need endo-mess on top of trying to manage being tired, achey, underweight, and poopy most of the time.

At the moment, it seems it's possible the endo has gotten into my ligaments and such. Endometriosis means endometrial tissue has habit of "extending into places where it shouldn't". This is fucking painful but is also potentially more problematic - i.e. all those hip problems I had? They happen to be on the same side that has the most pelvic pain too, and oh let me tell you when the doctor was rummaging around in there it hurt like crazy on that side. "That's your uterosacral ligament" he said.

I guess ultrasounds don't image this shit well. That's the really shitty part about endometriosis. Usually there's no imaging of it, confirmation of diagnosis, or localizing of implants without surgery. My god, it's the 21st century and we have no way to find or confirm endometriosis without cutting into a woman. WHAT the FUCK.

My diagnosis of endometriosis confirmed by laproscopic surgery in 2002. There was a site in place where it was definitely symptomatic but impossible (I was told) to remove. After the surgery, I took bcps on the advice of a silly, old fashioned gynecologist. I switched to a new gynecologist not long after when the silly one retired. The new one prescribed a (synthetic) progesterone only therapy in the hopes that it would shrink that inoperable site up and prevent new ones from forming.

I took it for about months with rotten side effects I didn't even know were possible side effects (hey, who knew it was a respiratory stimulant?). But it helped. I lived with the side effects and stayed on it until about 7 months later it stopped working all at once - all at once while I was travelling. My doctor switched me to medroxyprogesterone acetate (a different progestin), which I took for a month before it landed me in an ER for blood blood and more blood. It was like a horror movie. I stopped the progesterone stuff and haven't been back to it since. That was about 3 and 1/2 years ago.

After I went over all this with the doctor today, he said "well, there's Lupron..."

Lupron is given for hormone suppression therapy. From what I've read and heard, it's like inducing menopause. I've heard very bad things about it from women who've taken it. Since I'm not keen to have an artificially premature menopause at 35, I'd rather only do it if it's seriously necessary, like if there's no other option and I have implants in places where they'll cause more than pain.

Thus my choice today was between inducing menopause with no assessment; scheduling surgery for assessment, some relief from the excision of sites that can be removed, then choosing a hormone therapy based on the severity and location of the endometriosis; or doing nothing and wait until if I can no longer fuck, walk, sit, or pee without being in excruciating pain.

I chose surgery. I'm hoping for an IUD after if the endo is not bad enough to warrant Lupron. IUD stands for Intrauterine Device. This one releases a synthetic progesterone. It's local and not systemic, so it's likely to not give me the rotten side effects but there is some hope it will at least help prevent new endo sites from developing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Here are some fun items from a search on Uterine Fibroids.

(from the NIH)
Sometimes, health care providers find fibroids during a routine gynecological exam.

  • During this exam, the health care provider checks out the size of your uterus by putting two fingers of one hand into the vagina, while applying light pressure to your abdomen with the other hand.

  • If you have fibroids, your uterus may feel larger-than-normal; or, if you have fibroids, your uterus may extend into places it should not.

"may extend into places it should not" makes it sound like it might go out for a stroll alone in a seedy part of town late at night. It'd probably be smoking a cigarette, leaning against a wall covered in graffitti, skirt hitched up to its, uh...oh hell. Don't know my uterus anatomy. Fortunately, the search also turned up Sally. No reason to call her Sally other than that her hair just kind of says "Sally" to me.

I was immediately struck by her Mona Lisa like smile. Enigmatic, perhaps even a bit puzzled. We might consider whether or not she is wondering "Where the fuck are my nipples?"

Still, Sally does not seem displeased to be here - blue shaded and nippleless before us. What an accomodating gal.

Notice how the second and third fingers of the left hand ever so slightly curl to show a subtle, feminine vulnerability. Or possibly this pose reveals a downwards gesture of the index finger, suggesting the viewer may be descending into a lowly state of existence for having glimpsed Sally's stylized lady junk.

Regardless, Sally shows us that the uterus or WOMB is simply one uniform bit of lady junk. Therefore I am free to make up whatever terms I choose in reference to any part of my homogeneous "baby pocket".

Just to be fair, I did look up erectile dysfunction too, to compare Sally to some of the man-style stuff designs. I guess we should be happy we have Sally. Men just get the meat and two veg on a brain pipeline.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Not a very spring-y Easter. It's 36° and cloudy.

I'm guessing Spring in Finland must not be too different from Spring in New England.

Vittujen kevät ja kyrpien takatalvi - Oh fucking fuck! (note: Most naturally used after the sentence initial 'Voi,...' Literally Oh Spring of cunts and cold spell of pricks). An expression of extreme disgust.

More quotes from my sister

I was looking over a quote file I started (and stopped) some time ago. My sister has some excellent entries in there which really seem like they should be shared.

“Jokes and snacks always get out of hand…especially in church.”

“It’s kind of like maple sugar on a piece of brown paper bag.”
(critiquing the flavor of an Oatmeal Scotchies cookie)

Our family
“Four out of five child molesters who eat pastry like it made with dead animals.”

“Why she refuses to acknowledge that they’re both in that giant diaper they call a marriage together is beyond me.”

“That’s like a 4 year old standing in the middle of the street saying ‘This is my street! And I made the sun come up today…’ ”

“What am I gonna give you for mother’s day? I’ve got a cartoon I might give you someday, but it’s not finished. I took out a book on anatomy from the library so I can learn how to draw the small intestine…”

The arts
“For christ’s sake, she doesn’t deserve to have her music played on a Fisher Price Tooty-Ville Choo-Choo train!” (on Britney Spears)

“For some reason or another, I just don’t think people respect Li’l Kim.”

"Beach Girls is a fine film!"

The body
“If you think it hurts when your labia gets tangled under your pad, wait til your nut gets clipped by a leather thong.”

“Their asses are a marvel of the ligament structure of homo sapiens, because there is no way they should remain upright. They should have collapsed.”

“If I had a nickel for every crotch I split, I’d be rich.”

“All I’m thinking is someone must've done one of those double tit clamp tug-a-wars or something, ‘cause her tits were pointing at the floor.”

“Oooh! You catty little…little…cat!”

“They should have one of those for marajuana (the bouncing ball cartoons on pre1980s TV where they taught you how to spell words like missippi). It’d go ‘ na-na na’”

Saturday, April 07, 2007

free speech quote

"If it's so fucking free, how come the people we hear the most from are multi-millionaires?" - my sister

no pet food recipes

What's good for people isn't always good for pets. And, as is consistent with my deep faith in the fallibility of our species, I am quite certain some recipes out there are in fact toxic.

For example, someone just posted in my comments section with a link to a blog with dog food recipes on it. I looked the blog over and noticed several of the recipes included garlic powder (I also noticed it was a strangely impersonal blog with no info about where the recipes came from and with ads all along the side...not the sort of environment which induces a sense of trust).

The problem is, garlic and onions contain a substance which is toxic to animals. The raw forms have been associated with hemolytic anemia, and the powdered forms show evidence of the same effects.

The ASPCA operates an animal poison control center which has an "ask the animal poison control center" page with an archive of questions about food. If you are planning to feed you pet home made pet food or human food, do some research first. Check this list out, if you don't see something you want to feed your pet on there ask about it here or talk to your vet before you introduce it into your pet's diet. The whole point of switching to home made food would be to AVOID poisoning your pet.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Your Mood Ring is Light Blue

Emotions mixed

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bad things

I just found out another friend of mine from school is VERY ill. Extremely ill. Should be in a hospital but was seen through the infirmary where they are barely competent ill. He is also in my lab. So that makes breast cancer, death, and acute severe illness all in one lab in about 2 1/2 months.

A few years ago when the university was considering cutting grad student health insurance, I would hear the phrase "grad students are a young and relatively healthy population" used so many times I wanted to smack someone. It was the context which made me smacky - that therefore we didn't need as "rich" a plan as the faculty or staff at the university. Let's look at my lab, which only has 6 students in it, as a small sample. Sharon put her arm through a plate glass door a few years back. Not intentionally, she tripped and fell. It resulted in a year's worth of treatment and two surgeries to reconstruct tendons which had been severed. She will have long term effects of this for the rest of her life, including neuropathy. My friend with breast cancer has been treated for thyroid disease for as long as I've known her. I had endometriosis, surgery and many treatments for it which themselves caused complications and more treatments, severe migraines, and neurolyme disease. I'm currently being watched for developing an autoimmune disease, and being treated for isolated symptoms as they come up. My friend who is very very sick right now has a congenital heart condition which increases the likelihood that he could go into v-fib and now is quite sick with something which could be contagious.

Young and relatively healthy my ass. If we were all 21, it might be a reasonable statement - but given that my lab's mean age is 28 this talk about a young and relatively healthy population is clearly nine kinds of bullshit. This is an age group where the early arrivals in terms of disease show up. Think about all the diseases which have as their onset age "child bearing years" and you've got my group. But we are also at increased risk of certain injuries and infections due to being still young enough to be more physically and sexually active than our 35+ married with children peers.

I just had to get that out of my system. Needed to rant. I feel so bad for my friend. He was so sick this week. He really should be in a hospital.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

take this PhD and shove it?

Report: 1 in 3 employees thinking of leaving

The sentiment of the old country song "Take This Job and Shove It" is on the minds - if not on the iPods - of many company employees these days, according to a recently released report.

In surveying more than 65 organizations and 50,000 employees over the last few years, Discovery Surveys Inc., a Sharon consulting firm, has concluded that one out of three employees are seriously thinking about leaving their employers.

Oh I do know how they feel. Seeing this sort of reinforces my "you can be miserable anywhere" belief though. That sure sounds pessimistic when I write it down. Somehow it doesn't seem as pessimistic when I think it.

My school recently sent out surveys to PhD students in select disciplines. I got one. I hadn't quite realized just how negatively I feel about this place, the structure and organization. I tried very hard to answer as honestly as possible - usually erring on the side of positive rather than negative, but I know my answers were still consistently quite low ratings. When I got to the question "If there were one thing you could change about your program, what would it be?" I think I spent about 20 minutes just sitting there thinking about it.

Those "one thing" questions always stump me. They're a good exercise in determining your values. One thing. That's it. One.

I said I would change the attitude which glamorizes a lifestyle of poverty, misery, and privation during graduate school. I said I would change it because this lifestyle in this context is a luxury. People who have been raised in lower income families, people who are "on their own" as graduate students, people who only have themselves to take care of them, people who have their own families or obligations to aging parents....those people cannot afford to "play" academic tramp.

I asked a faculty member the other day whether there was any kind of procedure (stated or not) for how to cover for a graduate student when something tragic or very serious happens. We were speaking about my friend's mother's death. The faculty member is something of a mentor to me, and is rather close with my friend as well. She said "well when one of our students got so sick last semester we just sort of self organized a solution. I had someone who was an RA and I took him off that, continued paying him, and had him take on her teaching load for the semester."

My response was that my side of the department wasn't so good at self organizing. She had no comment.

If I have to watch these assholes (by which I of course refer to my graduate faculty) fumble the ball on this one, I think I may very well have to leave. I know my leaving is doing them a favor, getting rid of some of the detritus which has accumulated in the program, opening up a desk and some office space if nothing else. I have no illusions that my leaving would be any kind of hardship for anyone but me. However, I have given it a lot of thought - how and who these people are, and what kind of professional identity I could possibly develop which would allow me to work with them with less daily friction. I haven't got many answers where I do not require super powers or some kind of insane monk like calm. I've thought about this angry, discouraged, happy, capricious, empowered, disturbed, preturbed, sick, healthy, and oh about everyway possible and I still have the same conclusion that I would not be happy on the "standard" academic path even if it were to lead more or less directly to a permanent faculty position. I've seen the permanent faculty. I know what I'm heading for. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, watch "Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf", remove the witty dialogue and you've got a pretty accurate picture. No really, I'm serious.

And so into this system - the one in which I and my friend are both parts and wholes unto ourselves we bring in a 100% genuine tragedy. A thing where people are supposed to shine their brightest. And so far, I am seeing some wonderful responses from graduate students and departmental support staff. But not from the faculty.

I can't work for or with people like that. And I certainly can't be one of them.

je vais à la funeral

When you are learning a foreign language, you do little "culture" sections. Not so much geography and politics as just crap like "A la plage!" (je porte un maillot?) and whatnot.

What you don't get are "At at funeral" or "When someone dies". I'd think at least the latter if not also the former would be important, especially if you were planning to someday live in the country where that langauge was spoken. Of course, English is sort of all over the damned place, but so's French and that sure didn't stop Madame Higgins from using books and materials which were France only.

Today an international student asked me "so what happens now?" regarding our friend whose mother just died. I talked a little, made reference to "holy week" and the problems this entailed for funeral planning, then noticed he looked very confused. I asked him if he knew anything about US funerals and death customs. Nope.

If you don't want a comprehensive and detailed answer, I am a bad person to ask. I assume if I and a non-local get into what could be an awkward topic, the best thing to do is to give them as complete an answer as possible. My sense is questions like "what do you do with used pads" are hard to bring up in another country, so I like to be sure the person gets the most out of the exchange.

It was sort of odd to phrase so much of it in terms I tend to reserve for anthropology papers..."and the of the christian...I guess clerics, would be quite busy with all the Easter, um, rituals this week..." But we got through it. About 15 minutes later, he had gotten the "everything you never wanted to know about US or at least New England funerals and death rituals" lecture. With an Irish Catholic Boston spin to it (e.g. "Whenever anyone is in the room where the dead person is laid out, they tend to be very quiet. Some people approach to kneel and pray. Generally it is expected that the people in attendance approach the coffin. Even if you don't have anything in mind or's part of the 'paying respects' thing. Family members usually drift in and out, sometimes hiding out in a back room chain smoking and telling incredibly stupid jokes...sometimes someone shows up drunk.

Monday, April 02, 2007


My friend's mother died today. It was completely unexpected. When I spoke to her, she still didn't know how or why, and was waiting for a ride to the hospital to find out.