Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blue state casino

I once asked a good friend who worked as a professor in Texas if the adjuncts at her university were part of the union. She laughed and laughed and explained to me that in Texas, you don't unionize. I was young and naive I suppose. Also, I had only ever lived in MA, MI, and CT. I had taken some things for granted, like a strong or at least highly visible working class with empowered workers who will fight like hell to get, keep, and enforce their bargaining rights.

Today, as I read the news, I was reminded that this may not be how it works in less labor friendly states. It was this headline which called that conversation with my friend from Texas briefly to mind:
Unions Take Shot At Casino - Ruling Might Help Organization Efforts
The casino is one of those tribal casinos in Southeastern CT. The ruling is a federal one, not by the NLRB but by a circuit court which extended the federal labor law to the casinos. That this is a federally mediate issue would seem to negate the notion that unionizing casino workers might be easier if only because it is more conceivable in a blue state - except that while whether workers are "allowed" to organize is important (i.e., among other things, whether workers are allowed to call themselves workers), whether workers see themselves as workers and think of unionizing in a positive light is crucial.

I know this from the truly odd world of academic labor. Consider grad students. Most of these would be academics are not from working class families and were not raised to see blue collar values as anything other than quaint at best. The cultural experience many graduate students drag along with them like some unacknowledged toilet paper tail stuck to their shoes is one bounded by upper middle class at the low end and chock full of prep schools, private high schools, social and intellectual elitism, and an unquestionable inherited skin deep pseudo-liberalism. In short, people who think listening to NPR makes them radicals, who can afford to support their vegan lifestyle without collapsing of scurvy, and who have the luxury of certain key comforts and securities - either now or at least in childhood - which allows them to believe in such fairytales as the american dream and the tenure track job.

Part of the cultural package bought and consumed by these folks is the implicit message that unions are bad. By the time they reach grad school, they are not in a position to think of unions favorably, unless you're talking about unions in like Brazil or something. Then they're very pro. But here? For us?

I think this is because of a deeper element than the consumption of anti-labor cultural rhetoric with no immediate contextual antidote. These are people who have lead their lives very much expecting mommy and daddy to know what's best and right, and who as they've matured, have learned to predict and conform to certain key parental expectations. Moreover, these are people who are old enough to have felt a little of what life might be like without the billowy cushion of the mommy and daddy money pillow. Such a person will transfer this parent pleasing attitude into the university upon matricuation as a graduate student, applying it to anyone from a major advisor to the departments head, and finally if nebulously all the way to the ineffable, unknowable god-like deans and provosts.

In that context, it is a simple matter to bust any grad employee union before the cards are even printed simply by threatening that the university (provosts, deans, department heads, and advisors) will stop loving you.

Hm...I seem to have gone on a rather lengthy tangent. Well, there's a lot more where that came from but I'm not up to delving that deeply into thoughts of unionizing and organizing workers in a field I am pretty sure I will not be a worker in for much longer.

However - to return to the topic at hand - I am pleased to see that folks working at the casinos of CT are being roused. I don't know what working conditions are, but I am of a mind that unionizing is not something which need only be done in dire circumstances. Unless your experience has told you the people above you will always act fairly, compassionately balancing your interests with other needs like massive huge profits, it is foolish to dismiss the notion of collective bargaining a priori.

From the Hartford Courant
Unions unsuccessfully tried to organize workers at Foxwoods, one of the state's largest employers, in the late 1990s. This time, union organizers appear to have two new advantages: a recent, favorable court ruling and signs of dissatisfaction among some workers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in February that Indian tribes, though considered sovereign governments, must follow the National Labor Relations Act, including its rules giving employees the right to organize and bargain collectively. Foxwoods is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Yes, I'm messing with the template. This may be ill-advised since I recently had screen resolution issues and, as my display is a little odd at the moment, god only knows what the blog looks like on someone else's (not fucked up) screen. Regarding the resolution settings...I'd like to say this is the last time I connect my laptop to someone else's screwy screen (screwy because, among other things, it's all out of focus - why? because it's professor fluffy's and professor fluffy's shit is all fucked up). Unfortunately, it is not the last time since I need to use that set up for data collection. As for the template, yes, do tell me if there are problems in what you're seeing - specifically the alignment of the post content relative to the side bar since that's what I was messing with tonight. Please be kind. I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to this stuff and am learning by trial and error.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

gay day

"This is the gayest day ever!" exclaimed the young woman working the register at the supermarket check out. Her name was Annica and she was just finishing with the customer in front of me in line.

The customer in front of me was having problems reading the display on the card reader and had asked Annica which button to push for "debit". The reason the card reader wasn't displaying properly was that everything electronic was a bit fucked up that day. "There's no dairy, meat, or frozen goods but there is produce and other groceries" a boy standing at the front of the store had told me when I came in and stopped short at the surreal, underlit aisles. The lights were completely out in produce, but with some light trickling in from the front windows and a set of lights on the back wall of the store. In addition to these few peripheral lights, the registers, scanners, and card readers were working, more or less. The less part must have been giving Annica problems for some time, I assumed. After the customer's second request, Annica heaved herself up from the register well and peered over at the buttons on the less working contraption. She seemed genuinely put out at having to exert this energy. A typical late adolescent petulance was coming off her in waves. I could sense them in the combination of her posture, features, gestures, and quasi-verbal utterances up to that point. A series of huffs, puffs, thrusts, and squints conspired to give away the climaxing frustration that was that day, a warm, humid Memorial Day weekend Saturday which might have been full of presummer promise and thrills had Annica not been stuck working in a half lit, under airconditioned supermarket checkout line with moron customers who couldn't interact with a poorly working card reader.

"This is the gayest day ever!"
The customer in front of me paused. He glanced back at me. I had been humming absentmindedly to myself and hit a sour note, stopping abruptly when Annica erupted. The customer said "What?"
I said "Oh, 'gay' means anything negative to young people these days." The customer looked to be a bit older than me. He was attractive and well put together looking. I considered for a moment whether or not he was gay. He looked at my hello kitty t-shirt. Annica looked at my hello kitty t-shirt and then up to my white bandana. I wondered if I looked gay to either or both of them.

"If it were gay" the customer said to Annica and me "that would mean it was fun and open and exciting..." I nodded vigorously in agreement with him. I could feel my mouth twisting in a sarcastic half smile as I glanced over at Annica and saw that she seemed to have taken an extreme interest in the more or less functioning register keys.

The customer picked up his bags and left. Annica started ringing me out. "'s a gay day, huh?" I said to her. The sarcasm was in full swing now. I was hoping though that she would engage in a dialouge with me about this. Unfortunately, Annica didn't say anything. I had only one item, for which I am pretty certain she was thankful, so our official exchange was over quickly. "23.99" she told me. I handed her a five and a twenty, got my change and my bag, and then turned and looked her in the eye saying "Thanks. Thanks a whole big bunch Annica."

I started to leave, got about half way across the front of the store, then paused and looked back at Annica. She looked at me. She had a blankish look of crafted incomprehension. Not total misunderstanding or bewilderment. It was the kind of look I get from my students when I've asked them "Ok, so who didn't do the reading?" after I've been lecturing for 20 minutes and am starting to get the sense that this is all brand fucking new information. It was the look which says to me "You don't seriously expect me to answer that do you? Oh shit, you do. Um...If I just look at you like you're speaking another language, maybe you'll think my lack of response is an indication that I simply fail to understand what you are asking me rather than an admission that I haven't done the reading..."

I looked long enough for her and I to have a mutual recognition of this moment. The moment was broken when a hassled looking manager hustling up to the customer service desk passed near me, drawing first Annica's and then my attention.
"Excuse me, are you a manager?" I asked turning to the woman.

After explaning that Annica should be spoken to about how to either keep her mouth shut or how to do some rudimentary damage control for her mouth when it gets away from her, I left.

On my way home, I considered the remark again. "The gayest day". I fucking hate this. I remember asking a (different) young woman who had a tendency to overuse the word "gay" as a catch-all pejorative if perhaps she could imagine a big burly masculine looking leather daddy saying "WHAT?!" every time she found herself considering something "stupid" something "gay".

After yesterday's supermarket moment, I was thinking - what if whenever some kid says something like that, it in fact DID turn into a "gay day"? What if, that remark was like the "hey cool aid!" call in the 1970s kids' drink advertisements? What if speaking those words summoned up something of a less harmful gay stereotyped production which would evolve out of or descend upon the moment turning it into a broadway or hollywood musical dance sequence?

I imagined the store shifting from dim grey supermarket drabbery to a stage covered by flashing colored spotlights, laser-sliced fog, and speckled with twinkling flecks from a series of twirling disco balls which had descended from the ceiling as soon as the word "gay" had sprung so carelessly off the lips of some homo-aggro child.

Ranks of attractive dancers in coats and tails, top hats, and bikini briefs or denim short-shorts would spin, leap, and glide out of doorways. A moving chorus line of leg kicking fellows would emerge from seemingly out of nowhere, backlit by the eerie glow from the still functioning lights against the far wall, spotlights racing across them as they marched toward the registers, timed to seamlessly switch places with the flipping, cavorting, and leaping dancers all around. Streams of Lawrence Welk like bubbles would flow across the scene and a dusting of glitter would appear on the floor, where the tiles would pulse like the Saturday Night Fever dancefloor. The disco-thumping orchestral theme would swell as the dancers, some still kicking and leaping, others having taken partners from the crowd to pull into free form cha-cha, hustle, and the occasional tangos, converged on the registers, now brightly flashing in time with the music.

"Did somebody say it's the GAYEST DAY?!" a drag MC would yell into a megaphone while strolling down the checkout counter like it was a catwalk, pausing to flick her rainbow feather boa at Annica before launching off into the waiting arms of a dozen strapping young dancers who would wisk her away as the entire entourage shimmied and high kicked its way out the door to disappear into the parking lot and beyond, off to make another "gay day" come true.

or maybe something a little like this but with better lighting and wardrobe

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Going to see Cho!

On the way back from my pre-op appointment yesterday, I noticed one of those big "this week at the local casino cabaret!" billboards on a building in Hartford. Usually they're advertising shit like Hall and/or Oats, 30+ music and acts which, even when slightly interesting to me, are not appealing enough to make me eager to drive all the way down to a casino. I have an allergy to casinos. Thus, having more or less automatically registered this billboard as a potential casino performance ad, I sort of let it go in one eye and out the other. About 10 seconds after I passed out of viewing distance of it, I realized "I think that was a picture of Maraget Cho" Then I forgot about it. I had a lot on my mind.

On a whim today I looked up her show schedule. Sure enough, she's here. Thursday in fact. I'm so going.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

bad moon?

I saw two fights today. The first was at the local dunkin donuts where A and I had walked on my new "I'm going to get out and walk and exercise god damn it" kick. We chose to sit inside rather than at the nice shadey parking lot gazebo outside on account of there being two or three skeezy looking guys hanging out in the gazebo. We briefly discussed them, why we both got a skeeze vibe off them, and then had moved on to talking about covert sexism and social network group dynamics when my (sometimes considered paranoid) tendency to constantly monitor my environment paid off. Except I had to pee and it was a bit of a walk home, so I couldn't leave when I noticed the discussion at the counter taking on an ugly tone.

"Oh what, we can't come to the dunkin donuts now?" a small dark haired woman was saying. She had come in with a bulky man in a black T-shirt. Just after they came in, one of the skeezy fellows came into the shop. I didn't turn around fully because that is just such a bad idea in the context of Skeeze and confrontation but presumably the slight woman was addressing Skeezy as he was the only person up there other than the guy she had come in with.

"Hey sweety" I said to A "it's time to go. I have to piss, but when I get back, we're outta here, ok?" I took the fastest leak ever in the women's room, but still not fast enough. I heard the ruckus through the closed door and down the hall. When I came out, Skeezy was inside still yelling and the other two were in the parking lot - yelling. There was iced coffee all over the window. On our way out, A and I stepped over a pair of wrap around sunglasses spattered with more coffee and ice, lying next to an empty large plastic cup.

The other fight was at the gas station-convenience store a little while later. I filled up then went in to buy some snacky stuff to go with dinner. As I came in, I didn't get any creepy fucked up person vibe like I had gotten at the dunkin donuts, but I did notice some tension at the lottery counter near the register. Something about dropped money and a guy having picked it up but then coming back to return it. "I did ask" the guy was saying to one of the clerks, "I didn't ask him in particular but in general I said 'did anyone drop some money'. He didn't say anything, no one did. But I'm coming back now..."

I didn't linger. It didn't seem bad, but I could tell the woman behind the lottery counter was testy, and the man making her testy was being quite persistent.

As I got in line, it became more heated and they both began raising their voices. Another clerk who had been working at the register walked over to the lottery counter clerk and said "Look, just go call him and tell him to come back. I don't want a confrontation. We have customers." The one involved in the already well underway confrontation said "I'm not walking around the corner and leaving you alone here with HIM".

Surprisingly, that is not when it got bad. When it got bad was when the guy, for like the fourth time that I could hear, said "Well how was I supposed to know he was your cousin?" and then, this time, added "He was black" (for the record, the guy was black and the clerk was white). "Ok that's it! I'm calling the cops" the clerk said and suddenly a cell phone materialized in her hand (what was all that shit about walking around the corner to call her cousin?).

The woman at the register asked me "Do you want a bag?"
And the guy turned to me and the other customer waiting in line and asked"Would you walk all the way back someplace to return money someone dropped?"

I said "Yes. But I'm a huge sucker." Then, because he was still talking in my general direction, and the women were still tied up with calling the police (the one calling and the other looking just totally freaked out by how fast this got fucked up), and because I've been the one ranting in a store and no one has ever threatened to call the cops on me (or been afraid to leave the other clerk alone with me) I added "I understand...I do. But is all this really worth it?"

Spider coffee

It is unreasonable to call 1:53 PM "morning" however this is when my first coffee of the day finished brewing. There was a dead spider on top of the carafe this morning. A dead spider on your coffee is somewhat disturbing but not enough to over-ride my desperate need for coffee. I picked it off with a paper towel, chucked the little legs-up corpse in the trash, and proceeded to mix sugar and cream into my dead spider coffee, which I am now drinking.



I have of late had several interactions with people, mostly male, about sexism.

In general they do not go so well. They do not degenerate into name calling, barely and only through immense patience and a damned good sense of humor on my part (no really, I AM laughing at them usually). However, they always leave me tired and somewhat repulsed. Oh I know what it feels like. There was this place in Michigan called Heath Beach I think. It was not much more than a slightly large, chlorinated farm pond. It was chlorinated mud full of people, mostly kids swimming and peeing and their attending adults standing knee deep in the muck - a long neck in one hand and a cigarette clenched between their lips which they removed with the free hand only long enough to yell something like "Krystal-Lynne, you stop holding your brother Kyle down under the water!"

After these interactions, I find that I often I feel like I went swimming at Heath Beach.

There are some, mostly female, who will think me silly for trying to have a decent if difficult interaction with people about sexism at all. If someone doesn't come with some sort of anti-sexism pedigree, I should say "fuck it, fuck them, and fuck that". This goes against a good slice of my core reasoning, core reasoning being part of what keeps me chugging. This chunk goes something like "If I'm going to be part of this, I will not be a passenger."

In short, I do try to drive the bus sometimes. It's that or let it do things like drive off the cliff, and since I'm ON the bus, I have a problem with it going off the cliff.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I'm too tired to blog articulately at the moment. Grocery shopping was draining. I forget how much it sucks to go on a weekend. E gads. I tried to be zen about it so as not to get all worked up (not because I worry about freaking out on people, which I should, but because I don't like how it makes me feel in both the physical and metaphysical senses) but it was like dipshits getting in the way of other dipshits which makes a huge dipshit clusterfuck mess day in CT. I managed to not get too worked up but boy it took a whole lot out of me.

What's caught my attention since returning home and what I spent a good deal of time talking about with my sister on the phone tonight is the issue of the recent reaffirmation that rape through deception is legal in MA, and the broader issue of the legal definition of rape in Massachusetts (I'll get back to the financial aid thing, I hope).

I hate that the rapist walked, but I hate it more that the Massachusetts law is so poor. I do think the court is right that the state legislature should do their job and fix the damned law. They've had quite some time to address the disturbingly narrow rape definition on the books. And why haven't they? Rants abound - none of them well researched enough to bear posting at the moment.

For now I'll just say I am delighted to see a couple of lawmakers stepping up to fix this.
(from The Republican)

State legislators to act on rape decision
By Dan Ring
BOSTON - Outraged over a ruling by the state's highest court in a Hampden County case, state legislators are crafting a bill to broaden the definition of rape to include sex obtained with a fraudulent identity.

The state Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday threw out a rape charge against a Westfield man, Alvin Suliveres, 44, who was accused of duping his brother's girlfriend into having sex by impersonating his brother during the night.

The court said it is not a crime when consent to sex is obtained through fraud or deceit. The court said that in order to convict someone of rape, the act must be by force and against the will of the victim.
Two former assistant district attorneys, Sen. Stephen J. Buoniconti, D-West Springfield, and Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, D-Waltham, said they will file a bill that would change the definition of rape to include sex obtained through an impersonation or possibly through other frauds.

The legislators are working with Jane Doe Inc. on the language for the proposed bill.
"Here, we have a rape of a victim - sex not consented to - and we can't pursue that," Koutoujian said. "It simply doesn't make sense."

Buoniconti, a Hampden assistant district attorney from 1996 to 2001, said he was appalled by the court ruling.

"I don't think anybody thought there was a loophole like that in the statute," he said.

If you live in MA, you have an opportunity to be part of ensuring the definition of rape is changed to close this loophole. Please write to Senator Stephen J. Buoniconti and Representative Peter J. Koutoujian and thank them for addressing the outdated definition of rape in Massachusetts (cc it to your local legislators) . If you know people who live in MA, ask them to write to these legislators and express their support for the proposed bill.

What's that? You're feeling the familiar sucking inertia of cynical voter alienation? Do you know who your state legislators are? You go find that out, spend a term looking them over, track a couple of bills you like, take a tour of the State House, maybe attend a legislative committee public hearing, meet your legislators, and then vote as an informed voter in the next election. When you've done all that, you come back and tell me if you think it doesn't matter what you do. I'm open to that idea, but only from someone who has actually made a point of being an active participant in their government rather than a spectator.

Thank you to Catlady for the link and discussion of the issue of consent.

academic integrity

Oh this is interesting. I have to go grocery shopping now before I lose all motivation to get out today, but when I get back, I'm planning on looking for more references on these stories. For now, enjoy the blurb.

In higher ed, the year of dishonesty
An investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo called into question whether students really get honest advice from college officials who are supposed to help them navigate the maze of financial aid. Cuomo's investigation and The New America Foundation, a think-tank, have exposed conflicts of interest among a handful of financial aid officers and loan companies.

Several officials at prominent schools have been suspended while their stock ownership in loan companies is investigated. On Monday, the University of Texas fired its financial aid director, Lawrence Burt.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

mandatory reflection

S.C. Senate passes abortion compromise
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Women seeking an abortion in South Carolina would be able, but not required, to view an ultrasound first under a compromise bill that received approval Wednesday in the state Senate.

The legislation is a softer version of a proposal that passed in the House in March that would have required women to view the images.

The compromise, passed on a voice vote without debate, would also require women to reflect on the image they saw. It meant to maximize the time between a woman seeing her ultrasound, if she chooses, and her scheduled abortion.
State law already requires abortion providers to tell women the likely age of their fetus and provide them with information about fetal development and alternatives to abortion. Women must have at least an hour to consider that information before terminating a pregnancy.

In other bizzaro news:
Another stronger house version of the bill would have required a provider to give the woman a list of suggested baby names, to compute an astrological chart for a child born on the estimated due date, and to obtain a woman's signature indicating she had spent at least one hour consulting a ouija board and magic eight ball before being allowed to schedule an appointment for the procedure on the next full moon after a sunday. In this version, providers were allowed, but not required, to rub the woman's tummy and say "Hello in there little Justin/Kylie! What's that? You want me to tell your mommy not to kill you?" before the woman was locked in a tower for her mandatory reflection period.

Interview and other

My interview went well. I have no idea if I will get the job but I am sincerely glad I put myself out there and took a real step in the process of considering any kind of income outside academia.

Other good news is that I got my loan check today. That's sort of a mixed blessing since it means more debt, but it's good because without it I would be very very broke this summer. Even if I get this job, without loan money I would be living on something like $2200 this summer. After rent, this would leave me with a whopping $450 for groceries, utilities, and gas money from June to August. Hence the loan is a good thing right now.

On the not so good side, I have a fever and I am exhausted. I've got a week and a half to shake this or I go to surgery ill. Well, ill-er. My PhD program doesn't allow for rescheduling the surgery, and I mean that only slightly tongue in cheek. If this is something contagious, I'm planning on dragging my biohazardous, cranky self in at least one day to share the love with my faculty. Does it count as germ warfare if someone actually asks for it?

Douchebag dead

The Falwell quote I remember best is this one.
September 2001: Falwell blames Americans for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”
(from The Carpetbagger Report, via Ginmar. It can also found elsewhere 1, 2, 3, 4)

When reflecting upon Falwell, one realizes there are many vile aspects of our culture which he embodied and perpetuated. They shouldn't be ranked in order of which was the vilest but each rational thinking person who lived under the rise and time of preacher/politicians like Falwell will have had the moment where you think "My god I hated him already but now I more-hate him. What's the superlative of "hate"?"

This particular Falwell moment was no more of a slur than Falwell's very public antisemitism or the gay-hating teletubby waving insanity. What made me find this the vilest was the timing of it. It was something like two days later. Do you remember what you felt like on September 13th? I do. I was in NO MOOD to hear that sort of shit.

Others may have been saying similar things then or soon after but Falwell's finger pointing was the first I had heard. My impression has always been that Falwell "broke the seal" on the country's internal blaming. Falwell's words were ill timed and hateful. They hinted at a reaction I had already been expecting immediately after - that the right wing elements in power would use the attacks as an excuse to justify imperialism abroad and to forgive totalitarian trends domestically. I know Falwell caught shit for saying what he said, and that was something of a relief, but I couldn't help comparing the scale and duration of the response to Falwell with the enduring strong reactions to Ward Churchill (whose essay left me feeling supremely irritated not specifically for the claims he made but for the cheeky babyboomer contrarian tone in which he made them).

The country liked Falwell it seems. It's hard for me to say that from here in my state where such open bigotry is at least seen as tacky and where such open declarations of personal relationships with god are enough to make most people back away slowly lest they frighten the crazy lady. But this is a small state folks. And when CT looks like a beacon of tolerance and sense, reason and equality, you know that we are just totally fucked.

Last thoughts on the deceased douchebag:
Falwell may not have been as out there as some of the hyper-neo-christofascists who are coming up now (e.g. I don't recall hearing Falwell speaking in tongues as a matter of routine), however I firmly believe that without Falwell's Moral Majority movement, the new wave of theocratic nutjobs would not have been able to gain the widespread public acceptance it enjoys today.

Leaving you with this wacky christo-fascist moment, courtesy of Sacha Baron Cohen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Douchebags du jour (VII)

It's the department of Veterans Affairs! I know, it's hard to believe, isn't it?

VA bonus winners sat on review boards
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nearly two dozen officials who received hefty performance bonuses last year at the Veterans Affairs Department also sat on the boards charged with recommending the payments.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press raise questions of conflict of interest in connection with the bonuses, some of which went to senior officials involved in crafting a budget that came up $1.3 billion short and jeopardized veterans' health care.

The documents show that 21 of 32 officials who were members of VA performance review boards received more than half a million dollars in payments themselves.

Among them: nearly a dozen senior officials who devised the flawed 2005 budget. Also rewarded was the deputy undersecretary for benefits, who manages a system with severe backlogs of veterans waiting for disability benefits.

toes of summer

Before there were marketing campaigns designed to make us feel uncomfortable about our feet so we'd be ripe for buying whatever was being sold providing it came with a promise of "healthier, sexier looking feet!" or something like that, before a pedicure became a regular part of a grooming routine rather than an infrequent and indulgent luxury, before we had to show our toes if we wanted to wear stylish summer clothes, I have disliked my feet.

I used to be able to keep them under wraps, wearing combat boots even into the summer. This doesn't work so well for a job where you have to look presentable according to some standard like say business casual, but it works ok for being out and about otherwise like going to your boyfriend's parents' house for a family birthday. Combat boots go with sun dresses and jeans. Sure, the result is a little less than adorable but then adorable is rarely the look I am going for. Joint problems make the boot option completely impossible now.

Thus I am stuck buying and wearing what I consider to be "little shoes". This could be ok I suppose. I could find some summer shoes which cover up my toes but which do not look like they came from the bottom of the Office Shrew closet. Right? No. I've noticed over the past few years that summer shoes seem to be not just little relative to boots but much more little than is necessary. They are straps, thongs, little bits of leather or pleather meant not so much to protect the feet but to decorate them. I am getting so tired of this style. I keep waiting for the open toe strap shoes to go away, the remaining size 11s and 5s to be banished to a sale bin where they can fade and scuff until they go wherever it is that non-selling shoes go. But each year I am shocked to find that they remain in proud pairs up on the shelves.

Why are they so popular? It's not about what's comfortable (how can going to work in an over airconditioned office with open toe shoes be comfy?) or affordable (now you have the cost of shoe plus pedicure or pedicure product). A secret meeting of fashion designers à la Zoolander comes to mind. These must be the foul, woman hating wretches who have conspired to keep the market flooded with toe baring, foot strangling "shoes" year after year. Fuckers.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


It's sunday. Tomorrow I have to go into school and explain to my advisor why the sisyphean task of reconstructing a particular research project which should have been abandoned like a turd in a litter box will take more than "some" of my research hours. Rather than filling me with dread, which would be the reasonable response, the thought of this meeting fills me with a sense of wanting to hand out ass kickings.

I believe this is evidence I exist in a somewhat disturbed state. Fortunately, I have an appointment with my shrink scheduled for soon after the meeting. Lately, I have had more interest in my dissertation topic again. It's a nice feeling. Like rediscovering a hobby you once enjoyed. However, being on campus has been a sincere pain in my ass.

Friday was a talk by a guy who might get hired to head up the research facility I tend to get some funding through. He would also be a part time faculty member at my university, one of the shrinking pool of possible graduate advisors, and essentially a barricade to a full time faculty hire anytime soon.

Before the talk was a Q&A with grads. The guy came in 10 minutes late, apologized for being 5 minutes late, and then started lecturing us. I had dragged my ass in early to make it to this meeting for both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. I feel grads should be more involved in the big decisions - even if that involvement pragmatically translates into something barely better than token inclusion - so I would find unbearably hypocritical to not take advantage of a grad inclusive event when it is offered. My attendance was made extrinsically important by virtue of the "not involved" discussion I had with my advisor a short time ago*. (As a full professor in our field, my advisor really should understand that extrinsic motivation is arguably less stable than intrinsic. But I digress...)

The pre-packaged discussion about himself and about research at our research facility went on well past the point of a plausible introduction or innocuous preamble. Moreover, it had a sanctimonious, condescending "rah rah research!" tone and content which made it hard for me to to keep the contempt and supreme irritation from showing on my face. I tried like hell but I suspect at best I might have acheived an aspect of constipation rather than utter peevishness.

Finally, I couldn't take it. I am not so naïve as to think what I did at this point was a politically wise move. I plead the intrinsic/extrinsic conflict as well as the fact that I was up and in a good two hours earlier than my meds and intestines normally allow. I knew I would pay for my early departure for several days and I was supremely irritated at the idea of this fellow taking my and my peers' time for granted. Continuing to sit through this lecture would have meant I was complicit in reducing an opportunity for any genuine grad participation to a completely token gesture. If not attending would be hypocrisy, then this would be outright betrayal of my principles.

I don't know if I'll leave this program with a PhD. I don't know if, regardless of my degree status, I'll leave with any hope of getting the kind of job I can do or like let alone love enough to have made the sacrifices of attending grad school worth it. But I'll be damned if I leave having compromised my personal principles so much that they are reduced to a sheen of bitter, frustrated idealism. So I raised my hand and interrupted his lecture to ask "Is this meeting going to be just a lecture or will there be a chance for questions? Because I have some questions."

During one of his answers (to a question about career paths and academic employment), he actually had the nerve to say that one should go for a PhD only if one is a truth seeker. He went on, equating success in an academic career with commitment to the goal of "truth seeking". How do people say this shit with a straight face? These are the moments which make me sincerely question whether a career in academia is the right choice for me.

After the Q&A and the talk, there was dinner. Dinner was at my DH's house. It included a truly revolting looking version of the already rather disgusting "curried cauliflower" dish which I have seen now at three academic food based venues, and it was staged mostly outdoors in a yard chock full of children, ticks, chickens, and chicken poop.

I had deet to keep away the ticks, cigarettes and a bad attitude to keep away the kids, but I hadn't counted on the chickens. As I was getting out of the car and spraying myself with bug spray, the chickens came for me. Or rather they came at me. They swarmed up to the opened passenger door making curious fowl noises. I jumped back into the car, slammed the door shut with a very unseemly scream, and scrambled over to get out on the other chicken free side.

Throughout the evening, the children chased the chickens around the yard, yelling "chicken chicken chicken!". Upon capturing a slower and stupider chicken, one of these delightful children would hold the captive proudly and carry it around for a moment before dropping it and starting the entire process over again.

Their parents must be so proud.

A____, Sharon, and I stood off to the side of the house and smoked. Sharon expressed concern that we needed to find a more secluded smoking area. "Why? We're out of the way" I said. "But DH already bitched someone out once for smoking in front of his kids. He said he 'didn't want to expose them to smokers' when someone lit up at a party here." For the love of god. The first thing DH said to every guest who arrived was "beer's out here, wine's inside the house". No "you can hang your jacket/put your bag there" or "there's appetizers in the dining room" or any of the other party greetings a host normally utters as the guests arrive. Later in the evening, DH came 'round pushing booze. First was the case of beer, which he offered to A___. A___ explained he was already on his second, and DH pressed for him to take another. DH came around again with a very large bottle of wine. And finally, he walked out with a pitcher of sangria, saying "kool aid?" and holding it up suggestively. I called him a pusher but he either didn't hear me or pretended not to.

Let's get this straight. My DH doesn't want to expose his children to smokers (not smoke, mind you, but smokers) but binge drinking is a-okay!

I fucking hate these people.

* I realize I haven't blogged about that specific conversation other than to express apprehension before hand. To catch up briefly and therefore possibly ungrammatically: although over the last year I have specifically told my advisor I am uncertain of my commitment to a career in academia, although we have had several difficult and candid conversations about the several significant "why"s for my misgivings, although during those conversations she had at least seemed not to dismiss my concerns (saying instead that she thought I could and should stay in the program and finish my degree), it seems she has forgotten them all. What remains for her is an implicit feeling that I am somewhat disengaged from the program right now. Having forgotten all the conversations means she had no source for why she suspected this in light of the fact that she sees me every week working my ass off, so she misattributed her reason for thinking this to my having only attended 1/3 of an interdepartmental talk series this semester. I clarified why she felt I wasn't as "engaged" as a good grad student should be (i.e. I said "For some reason you think I'm not engaged? Maybe you think that because I told you I wasn't last year?") After this, we talked about my health, as we often do when the issue of whether or not I can afford to have a series of temporary, underpaid, under health insured jobs post degree and she said "I'm not sure you're healthy enough to even have a job at a teaching college at this point."

I've had almost a while to think about this. I guess maybe I was supposed to counter her statement with a renewed sense of commitment to my research and to attending every department-relevant event she attends (it's ok to skip the ones she skips though, presumably). Maybe I was supposed to take it as a shock-statement meant to knock me out of my poor, malingering attitude which is needlessly impeding my progress and hindering my job options. Unfortunately, when the health problems are real, frustrating, and personally quite scary at times, the statement is simply cruel.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


It's officially summer in CT. The last two days have brought 80+ degree weather, and while yesterday was beautiful, sunny, dry, and gorgeous, today it's moving into simply warm and unpleasantly muggy. I was hoping for a little more spring before we went straight into July.

The change is not being kind to me. When they are down, my hands look like someone wrapped tourniquets around the wrists - red with big distended veins.

I never was a fan of the hot and humid, but it sucks dreading summer so much. I really need to get a pool pass.

Douchebag du jour (VI)

It's former MA governor and now presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
I know, the last two douchebags have not exactly been news. But douchebaggery of such grand proportions warrants the mention despite the obvious source.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday denounced the Rev. Al Sharpton's remarks about God and his Mormon faith, saying it could be construed as "a bigoted comment."

"It shows that bigotry still exists in some corners," said Romney...

Sharpton said, "As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways"

Romney is a douchebag for the presuppositions, which are:
Bigotry is not widespread, it is hidden in corners.
Reverend Sharpton's remark was the most bigoted thing we're likely to encounter in our privileged lives.
Before Reverend Sharpton made this remark, we all were unaware that bigotry exists.


Sweet jumping Jesus in a bucket of catfish!

This is something which calls for lengthy and whimsical curses. I'm mad. Madder than hell right now. The scenario may not sound that bad but believe me, there is a whole long lot of back history to it. And it's bad back history.

This week, my advisor, who quite some time ago finally (mercifully) took me off a wretched paper from hell after I worked chasing down problem after problem for an embarrassingly long time, is now finally working on the paper herself. And guess what? It turns out I'm not fucking off the paper at all. Oh no. I'm off in name but not in deed. Now that she's running into all the problems I had, she's writing to me to ask about them. I can't shake this vague feeling like she thinks I owe her an explanation for someone else's fuck ups (who else's? The guy who did the study and who wrote the majority of the results/methods sections). Either that or she's just plain deluded.

In addition to asking me to continue cleaning up, sorting out, disentangling, explicating and otherwise lancing the massive festering fuck-messes which pock this paper, she has stated that she wants me to come up with a new way to resynthesize the stimuli for two of the experiments so they can be run "right". And then I am to help another grad student to do the work. Writing out all that these tasks entail would turn this into an epic rant and no one is up for that - certainly not me at quarter of 1 AM. The short version is that she's asking me to (a) work on something we both agreed we'd all be better off with me NOT working on (b) work on something which I have no time or inclination for and (c) oversee a multi-staged task involving interpersonal bullshit with the other grad student and which will take up about 2 to 3 times my paid time for her this summer.

The kicker, the thing that makes me madder than a hornet on PCP is that in asking me to do all this, she said I should use "some of my supported time" to do it. "Supported time" means the hour appointment I am paid for. My time is 5 hours a week. This job is at least a 10 hour one if she wants product anytime in the next month. And I should use SOME OF those five hours to do a 10 to 15 hour job. Oh and did I mention I don't get paid for a month starting next week?

Holy Mary mother of god on a hot pocket.

It kinda makes me kinda want to put a time clock in the lab so I can punch in and out. What part of "not my job anymore and you're not paying me enough to continue making it my job" isn't clear to faculty?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

no girls allowed

When a university does not address sexual assault, it is essentially hanging up a "no girls allowed" sign. By "address" I mean any number of actions - maintain a rape crisis center and rape crisis counsellor team, ensure campus is well lit and safe, provide facilities and operational support for a campus safety escort service (i.e. walkers and vans), make sexual assault defense and prevention programs available for all students, promote sexual assault awareness campaigns among the campus and greater campus community. All of those things take funding and in today's climate of profiteering universities, funding is the last thing they are going to put into a problem they'd rather not acknowledge in the first place.

Take Yale. (please)
Today, Yale was in the news. A Yale student who says she was sexually brutalized after a party dubbed "Camp Yale" is accusing the university of not enforcing underage drinking laws or doing enough to warn students and faculty about sexual assault.

Oh the Hartford Courant. So willing to give the benefit of the doubt despite the legality of the situation. It's not a matter of the student "say(ing) she was sexually brutalized". The woman's rapist plead "no contest" to the charges. Why continue to play the "who says" and "alleged" game after a conviction has been secured? Why do it if we are going to unequivocally declare the Duke lacrosse players innocent without their having been found innocent at trial.

But I digress. I read the Yale lawsuit article with interest, translating from the original misogynist text as I went. I think this is an interesting tactic this woman is taking in suing the university. My own experience at universities is that they do NOT like to address the fact that sexual assault occurs on their campuses or among their student populations. It is frustrating to watch as someone who has been largely indirectly affected by sexual assault. This woman was assaulted by a man who had been allowed to stay on campus after a prior similar assault
The lawsuit says that Yale should have known about Korb's violent tendencies, after he allegedly bit another student. The suit accuses Yale of glossing over previous incidents of sexual violence and failing to educate students about the problem.

Wait, they knew he bit someone before? What the hell were they thinking? Were the Yale administration waiting for him to go buy some guns and shoot up the school? Ah but I forget. Only sensible people would consider a college aged boy who goes around BITING girls to be in any way pathologically fucked. And sensible, when it comes to assault on women and the men who assault them, is not the common approach. The immediate Virginia Tech response to the first two killings showed the common thinking on it: Providing the boy only bites/stalks/assaults(bites?) girls, he's not going to be considered a threat to the community as a whole. Hence no need to throw him out of school, alert the community, mandate counseling, or treat him as any kind of threat. He's a personal problem, a disturbance at worst. No reason to rock the boat or worry people needlessly.

But I have to say, what struck me was this little nugget.
Responding to years of complaints, Yale last fall opened a rape crisis center that combines counseling and prevention programs under one roof.

Allow me to underscore the important part of that sentence:

Last year Yale finally got around to opening
a rape crisis center.

LAST fucking YEAR?!

Here's a random thought - I can't help thinking that had there been a means for support and empowerment of the victims of sexual assault before LAST fucking YEAR, perhaps we as a country would have been spared some men's rise to power as political figures.

The thought that Yale only just LAST fucking YEAR opened a rape crisis center makes me seethe. I want to go put a brick through something Yale-ish. It's so indicative of the problem though isn't it? It's a perfect illustration of what marginalized groups face in US culture these days, especially in the academic culture. A flat out denial of a problem, a complete disavowal of any possibility of racism, sexism, ageism, anti-gay belief (gotta have a new word btw, a post for another time), classism (oh god a huge one) on the one hand while ensuring there is NO way to record or address any instances of the afore mentioned "-isms" available to students, staff, or faculty. The way harassment, discrimination, bigotry and other systemic oppressive behaviors are treated on campus is to allow the denial to dictate funding and programming - no sexism = no need for a sexual harassment office. A belief in no rape = no need for a rape crisis center. And thus there are no records. Or falsely low records of occurences of discrimination, harassment, rape.

How many complaints do you think are likely to result when the university model is to say "Look, it's not that we don't believe you. It's just that we only take complaints written in orange ink" and then refusing to buy orange pens.

The unsurprisingly low number of official (orange inked) complaints are used as further evidence that nothing like that happens here, further cause to not fund such facilities and programs, and the whole thing perpetuates itself.

I am glad someone is suing. Yale's obvious lack of concern for the reality of sexual assault is tantamount to a civil rights violation. It wouldn't be if rape didn't happen. While we'd all love to believe this it is not only incorrect, it is wrong.

I'll be sure to follow the lawsuit as well as I can. I don't know that it will be easy since following the story means it needs to make it into the news as it progresses and I have no faith the news outlets will pick it up to report on anything beyond the novelty of a woman having the chutzpah to sue over a climate which made the sexual assault more likely, which one might argue facilitates and enables sexual assault.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

off base

It's odd to consider the divergence between how people see you and how you see yourself.

It recently came up, although in what context I can't recall, that my dorm-mates once got me a stripper. It was my 19th birthday, my sophomore year. When I asked "What made you guys decide to hire a stripper for my birthday?" a set of them told me they had decided that I was "unembarrassable". I think they just wanted an excuse to see a guy in a aqua banana hammock.

But unembarrassable? My god that is the furthest thing from the truth. I'll confess to being bold, up front, direct, blunt, confrontational, spirited, passionate. It seems I show my emotions readily and apparently. However, I am most certainly flusterable and, since I do show my emotional state so obviously, I am overtly, visibly embarrassable.

A little medical humor

Me and my migraine (II)

No pain yet - just a small bit of abnormal in the left visual field of my left eye. It's dark when I look at a light colored/lit scene and light when I look at dark (or close my eyes) and it wiggles and morphs. Indeed this is a scintillating scotoma. A baby scotoma.

Time for some drugs.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Hard Candy

I passed it over in the video store several times but finally rented it tonight.


Mom in Movies II

For those of you who will "celebrate" mother's day by being thankful that you got out alive and even remotely sane, I present a reprise of last year's Mother's Day Movie List. You can read the annotated list from last year here.

Last year's movies:
Serial Mom (1994)
Throw Momma From the Train (1987)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Stepford Wives (1975)
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
MirrorMask (2005)

This year's addition is a set of very bad thrillers. I sometimes find very bad psychological thrillers to be entertaining, especially the parent-fear ones. Be prepared. They are very bad. You may need to "gong" if you can't stand them.

Godsend (2004) Thriller/drama/horror (but my recollection is that the attempts at "horror" tended to make me laugh). Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn star as the parents, bad parents? Perhaps. But aren't we all? I mean, with the need to focus on career and live in a big city, it's small wonder they aren't as dedicated to their son, Adam, as they should have been. Thus, their son dies - tragically on his eighth birthday. Soon after, mom and dad are approached by a shadowy fertility doctor (played by DeNiro - wow) who offers the chance to clone their child Adam. Things look ok with Adam (v2), until he turns eight! (themes: technophobia, cloning = dividing the soul, bad parents who are punished for not being parental, a "look what happens to bad parents" movie).

Half Light (2006) Thriller/drama/horror. Demi Moore does Lifetime. Successful writer Rachel (Moore) sends her son out to play while she works. Out where we have been shown a canal and a gate with a lock on it. Hours later (we presume), after Rachel has spent too much time writing, arguing with her chilly boyfriend, and making a suptuous dinner in her gorgeous designer kitchen, she remembers that she sent her son out with the promise she'd be out soon. HORRORS!!!! The tyke has met a rather Freudian end. Mom mourns for a scene and a half I think. She eventually sets out to the middle of frikkin nowhere - Scotland or something - to mourn somewhere else? To finish her novel? To stand on a porch in a fisherman's sweater, cradling a mug of coffee in her hands as the wind from the bay whips her hair into a dark cloud around her face....ooohhhh, it's so spooky and romantic! Guilt, ghosts, and maybe a little nooky follow.

Blessed (2004) Thriller/drama/horror. It's another fertility clinic gone bad movie. This one was very Rosemary's baby. Heather Graham plays the barren mom. IMDB's review says the couple can't afford fertility treatments - I don't recall that but it may well have been the case. That makes it better in fact. A little gross in parts if I remember, but overall the kind of bad horror movie you can watch with your finger on the pause button so you can stop to laugh or to discuss the true horror - the fucked up gender themes which are highlighted in movies like this.

To wash it down, I recommend Mel Brooks' High Anxiety (1977). It's a tribute to Hitchcock - which of course means a parody of Hitchcock. The connection between High Anxiety and the parent/mother themed movies is not necessarily obvious and when it does come in explicitly it is sort of an appendix, silly Brooks-styled punchline and all. However, it's a funny movie which is more funny if you like Hitchcock or classic detective/mystery movies. Worthwhile if for no other reason than to see Madeline Kahn's amazing Hitchcock heroine.


Small wonder, it's 2:40 in the AM and I'm up.

Thank god the interview is at 2:00 PM. I wanted to go to campus after but at a more leisurely pace to turn in my research protocol. Instead, I found out today (technically yesterday) that immediately after my interview, I'll be flying onto campus to try to scramble to find data which I'm pretty damned sure I gave my advisor last year. She says she can't find it. In fact, what she says doesn't even refer to a second let along first thought of her having thought she ever had it. She said "Can you come in and give me that data on Monday?"
I said "Er...yes?"

"Yes?" because the old files may have been thrown out with the super old mac we ditched last year. I know I burned that shit to a CD and handed it all over to her though. I remember I offered to put a bow on it. I'm hoping some shred of it is lying around somewhere in the lab. Fuckity fuck if it isn't.

At some point here I have to go to bed and try to sleep however I am feeling rather unsleepy due to my jittery jitters. Fortunately, the pills make the getting to sleep part pretty easy - unfortunately I've noticed a distinct tendency to sleep quite lightly these days and to wake up feeling like I was drugged. No surprise there I suppose. I am drugged.

Aarrrrrggghhhh. Job, school, health fuckery, and surgery be damned. I think it is at this point I am suppose to look at the camera with a fed up and frazzled grimace and say the magic words - Calgon, take me away!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A diamond is disgusting

I think I just vomited in my mouth.

I was reading this article on a town in Massachusetts where a proposal has been made to double the excise tax on SUVs (which makes me chuckle) and I noticed an ad for a diamond seller/jeweler.

Around mother's day and valentine's day, all jewelers are diamond peddlers. One of these days I am going to make that diamond ad parody for the station, I swear.

For now I'll suffer with choking down the bile when I see something like this ad, which has text which starts with "This mother's day..." under a picture of a man being kissed on the lips by a woman. The man's head is the main focus of the frame with the woman who is planting one on him barely making it into the shot. We can see all of his big head but only the important part of hers (her face) as she holds the man's face in her manicured hands (no pigment in that polish though). That was enough to get the stomach churning. What launched it was the trademarked logo under the company name: "Every kiss begins with _____"
(where ______ is the name of the jewelry/diamond company)

Every on the closed lips oedipal kiss might indeed begin with them, however my completely non-oedipal smooches are non of their fucking business and began with a desire for human intimacy. Not feminine decoration bestowed on me by a man.

on my mind

Interview - May 7
Surgery - June 1
Dissertation proposal - data now, defense September

In that order.

I'm a bad grad student because Dissertation is NOT at the top of the list.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Douchebag Supreme

It shouldn't even take three guesses to get who the major Douchebag is.

Bush vows to veto abortion-rights bills

The Republicans who held power in past sessions of Congress ensured that spending bills included language prohibiting federal funding for abortion except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest, and restricting funding for international family planning groups that might give advice on or provide abortions.

Now in the minority, House and Senate Republicans recently wrote the president urging him to make clear that any weakening of those restrictions would be unacceptable.

"The standing pattern is that appropriate conscience protections must be in place for health care entities, and that taxpayer dollars may not be used in coercive or involuntary family planning programs," Bush said in letters dated Thursday.

"I will veto any legislation that weakens current federal policies and laws on abortion, or that encourages the destruction of human life at any stage," he wrote.

The nifty "Americans Suffer..." poster (along with some other damned funny shit) can be found in the "Pro-life gear" section of the online giftshop at

Friday, May 04, 2007

interview pants

I bought me some clothes. Interview pants and all. It turns out there was a sale, and that plus my shrink having thrown me a couple of discount cards (a patient gave them to her, she passed some on to me) got me things like a pair of $65 dress pants for $28 and a matching $100 jacket for $48. Hell yeah. I don't like shopping even a little tiny bit. I didn't like it when I had money, and I like it even less now that I am broke. A___ went with me - having a partner helps immensely. So I now own something which approaches a suit. It's sort of weird to think of me wearing something like that, but I'm sure I'll either shrink or grow out of my newly acquired businessy wardrobe soon enough. Presumably not before my interview on Monday though.

Speaking of shrinking, after shopping we got snacks and boy is that not sitting well. The pastry counter person gave me a cheese filled pastry. Cheese pastry is not what I asked for and for a really good reason (aside from my not being fond of the taste of cheese filled pastries). The really good reason is I've been lactose intolerant for frikkin ever, and on top of all the stomach fuckery I've been having over the last few years, the ill advised cheese pastry has made for a very unhappy PFG intestine tonight. It is making some very threatening rumblings and I am not happy. Of course I ate the henious cheese pastry. I was starving - it was a choice between not eating and feeling horrible immediately or eating and taking a lactase pill and hoping it would work (or the third option - going back to the pastry counter and asking for the right pastry - with a rotten attitude and feeling crappy, which would have likely resulted in a bit of an embarassing scene).

Part of hating shopping is the wretched low blood sugar feeling I come away with. When I dated a diabetic, I actually tested my post-shopping sugar a couple of times. It was sort of satisfying to know that the shitty feeling is not just an "in my head" kind of thing...unless we want to speak very literally and count the lack of glucose for reasonable cerebral function as falling under the category of something which is in one's head. Shopping has gotten less foul since I realized this. It still sucks, but at least I don't come away from it feeling like total hell.
Unless I eat a cheese pastry.

Happy Friday!

I'm slooooowwwwly getting ready to have a day. The extra drugs last night kicked my ass - however so far no migraine today. Let's hope that sticks.

As I do my morning (yes, it's almost 1:00 PM) fucking about on the internet and work on my research protocol, I'm enjoying the music of The Punk Rock Jukebox. Punk Rock Jukebox almost cost me my life. Hearing Pat Boone's cover of Crazy Train without warning while driving is dangerous. The Punk Rock Jukebox is a truly wonderfully excellent local show here in CT. One of the very few great things about CT in fact.

You can listen too, isn't that swell?
It's on WECS 90.1 Willimantic Fridays at 11.
Listen to The Punk Rock Jukebox Fridays at 11:00 AM EST here!
(if you have WinAmp or the will/ability to do some work to get Windows Media Player to open and play PLS).

Also on WCNI 90.9 New London on Thursdays 12- 3.
Listen to The Punk Rock Jukebox Thursdays at 12:00 PM EST here!

designer baby?

Another one from Reverse Paranoia. Or rather through. While looking up her link to the "rump presentation" story on the BBC online, I found this one.

Early baby sex test over the web baby gender

A test is being sold on the internet that enables parents to check the sex of their unborn baby at just six weeks.

The kit, sold by DNA Worldwide for £189, is controversial. Critics claim it may prompt parents to abort if they are unhappy with the test result.

The company rejected these claims, saying the early results, obtained from a finger-prick of blood, allow parents more time to plan for their baby.

Michaela Aston of the pro-life charity LIFE ...rejected the notion that the test would allow parents more time to plan for their baby's arrival, arguing that the needs of baby boys and girls were identical.

The saying "Even a broken clock is right twice a day" comes to mind regarding that last line.

It just kills me that the company could even think that the justification of needing more time to plan for the sex of a baby would wash with anyone. I mean, obviously they suck, but consider what it says about the public that the company (a) exists and (b) could use this defense for their existence.

They're exploiting an attitude which is already prevalent. Granted, they are probably stretching it a bit - I mean even if some loser is planning on having extremely gendered baby gear, does she really need to have it 1 and 1/2 months into her pregnancy when she's not even sure if her body's going to keep the little womb-booger or not?

Oh, relatedly - I just ran across the nursery rhyme "Monday's child..." (elsewhere but here's a non-obnoxious link). Perhaps intolerant gay hating would be parents should try to postpone delivery to after Sunday since according to the rhyme, Sunday's child is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Destined to be "good and gay"? Check here.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

me and the cat

Are not feeling well tonight.

I am not feeling well because the wonderful pills I have been taking since February sort of started working less well and are essentially now not doing jack to slow down or reduce what I take them for. I put up with some of it, hoping I was just having a series of off days. Now that I've been migrainey for a few days in a row, I've finally decided to increase the dose. Yes, it's a doctor approved dose increase, many doctor approved in fact. Back in February, two of them told me I'd probably need to increase the dose at some point - so now it's just a matter of waiting for one of those two to actually call that in.

Meanwhile, I take two pills tonight. Took one already and it's making me sleepy. And misspelly. And I still have a headache that feels like someone took my head out bowling, rolling round and round and then BANG! repeatedly. It feels exactly like you would imagine your head would feel after a night of that. Not right after, just the morning after.

Max the cat is not feeling well because he is a bad kitty and he went digging through the trash to find the mostly empty can from the cheap regular old non-prescription cat food I give to one of the outdoor kitties in my neighborhood. Max is on special kitty food because Max got really fucking sick eating not special kitty food. There's only so many times you can clean up Salmon Supper vomit and pay for expensive bloodwork (and other expensive things) on the cat before you gotta just throw in the towel and go with the non-vomit inducing expensive prescription cat food. However, the forbidden fruit of Friskies Mariner's Catch apparently was too alluring for Max. So much so that he is now in one of his hiding places, a foot rest with a blankie draped over it - legs and tail sticking out of course. He hides so well.

I'm about to go find a PFG hiding place I think. I'm not picky. It just needs to be near the bathroom.


I just got a call on an application I submitted. Yay! It's a totally non-academic job, less than a mile from my house, part time weekend evenings. Sounds perfect for making some money while collecting dissertation data during the week.

I hope it doesn't suck and I hope I get it.

Now I just have to go out and buy some "interview pants". Been a while since I had to look proper.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Duke: 34 MBA students punished for cheating
By Bloomberg News
May 1, 2007

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business disciplined 34 first-year master of business administration students who were caught in the school's largest cheating scandal.

Nine students face expulsion, and 15 face a one-year suspension and a failing grade in the course. Ten others were found guilty of lesser offenses, nine of whom received a failing grade and one who flunked the assignment, [marketing professor Gavan J.] Fitzsimmons said in the e-mail.

The problem came to light when a professor noticed similarities in answers by students on a take-home test.

So what do you do about cheating? I've had students do exactly this kind of work - the "overly similar". I've also had students who turn in work which is clearly plagiarized from a published source - my god sometimes from the ONLY source they used in the assignment. Did they think I wouldn't notice? It's one article! And they copied and pasted out of it!

This year I had a student go kinda kooky on me for even suggesting that he had sampled too freely from the source text in his writing. Two other students had also done similarly non-original work. All three had a common kind of reaction, (although the level and tone varied by student - one got petulant, one got creepy, and one seemed just plain old perplexed).

When I explained to each student that s/he had used too much text straight from or closely paraphrased from the source, each of them individually told me that the words they had used (i.e. the text from the articles) were the best way to state what they meant. The perplexed one said "So you want us to write more?" when I told him that his answer was only three sentences long and two of those sentences were nearly identical to text from the article. I tried very hard to explain what "summarize" means in a way that doesn't suggest one should copy and paste. "I want you to read it and then think about what you read, what it meant, and what the author was saying. Then I want you to share YOUR THOUGHTS with me by writing them down."

This was apparently a novel concept. And I say that with only a hint of sarcasm. Seriously.

A friend of mine in another department recently (and vaguely) described having to ask a grad student to leave the PhD program for repeated cheating behavior. That person's excuse was that "in my country students work together all the time". This was perhaps not the most artfully conceived defense since most of the faculty in this program are not American (one of the two who are was raised in several other countries), and the international PhD students outnumber the domestic by about 5:1 in any given year.

When I see cheating in the undergrads I teach, I can't help feeling a little annoyed that this wasn't addressed in high school or earlier. Sometimes you just have this overwhelming sense that what you are seeing is part of a long standing pattern of behavior. I suppose when one encounters similar behavior in graduate students, one might feel similarly about the undergraduate instructors.

I can attest that my personal and indirect experiences are that the undergraduate faculty and instructors do NOT come down like they should on cheating and that the universities are doing a rather bad job of educating students in anything like academic or professional ethics (awareness of which might in some part inform the former).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Douchebag du jour (V)

Today's douchebag is Mark Rowan, editor for the CCSU student newspaper (The Recorder).

Back in February, CCSU Recorder opinion editor John Petroski wrote a column called "Rape only hurts if you fight it" (text is here). After intense and wide spread protests of the paper's decision to run the column, apologies were issued.

One of those "apologies" came from Mark Rowan. It was a "We're sorry if..." apology, the kind which should be like a razor blade to the tongue of the sincerely contrite person but which literally slithers out of the mouths of remorseless douchebags.

Today, Rowan was in the paper again. The context was an article about the findings of a committee formed at CCSU which was meant to identify ways to ensure "...greater journalistic responsibility on the part of the newspaper". My summary of the findings as presented in today's news is that they don't even count as a slap on the wrist. In short, the committe decided that those who write for the paper are accountable only to what passes for personal conscience to guide a set of sophomoric, shock-jock informed standards of misogynist journal-tainment.

Here's what Mr. Rowan said in repsonse to the findings of the committee.

Recorder editor Mark Rowan...said the task force's recommendations would help the newspaper become more accountable to the student body. But he added that he felt the newspaper was already moving in that direction before the furor over the rape article.

Rowan added that he felt that some segments of the campus population would never be satisfied, no matter what steps the newspaper took.

"There's been a witch hunt from the day the article appeared," he said. "This should be about improving the paper, not punishment."

And here's some of the text of the column which kicked off this "witch hunt". I'm missing it. What part of this reflects the trend of moving in a direction of being more accountable to the student body?
In actuality, rape’s advantages can very much be seen today. Take ugly women, for example. If it weren’t for rape, how would they ever know the joy of intercourse with a man who isn’t drunk? In a society as plastic-conscious as our own, are we really to believe that some man would ever sleep with a girl resembling a wildebeest if he didn’t have a few schnapps in him? Of course he wouldn’t—at least no self-respecting man would—but there in lies the beauty of rape. No self-respecting man would rape in the first place, so ugly women are guaranteed a romp with not only a sober man, but a bad boy too; and we all know how much ladies like the bad boy.

Thank god for free speech. Because of that I can say Mr. Rowan is a douchebag. I can go on to explain he's a douchebag because he has fulfilled numerous douchebag requirements such as being a man who, in response to valid, shared community perceptions of his committing/defending injurious sexism, cries "WITCH HUNT!!!"

Why do I find it so irksome when men use the term "witch hunt" in a situation like this one? Aside from the illogical and utterly contradictory inversion of victim and perpetrator which it necessarily entails in such cases, I am overwhelmed by the irony of a man claiming alleigance with the victims - predominantly female - of exactly the same kind of callous, violent sexism he himself is being censured for advocating and advancing.

Unlike today's douchebag, as a reasonable and thinking person, I take comfort in the idea that there is a significant portion of the campus population which will not be placated by soft pedaled slithery platitudes like Mr. Rowan's.