Anyone who's been reading this regularly may have noticed that my posts have lately gotten very short. For some reason, I seem to be having a fit of massive, generalized impatience.

Part of this, too, is that I actually have a lot of things to say about topics I feel a little uncomfortable being totally frank about here because of the not-quite-total-anonymity thing, and that I want to be doing more creative writing that needs to happen elsewhere.

I'll try to write something longer soon.

In the meantime, more minutiae: three new ribbons ('member this? no, I didn't think so) I saw today on cars. Green ribbons commemorated victims of "Tsunami" and "Cox-2 Inhibitors" (that's Vioxx et al. for those not in the know; I had to look it up).
And a red ribbon proclaimed the driver (I guess) to be "Bathed In The Blood Of Jesus." (New entry, "No comment division.")


No comment division, New York Times headlines department

Cleaning up old unread Sunday papers, I came across this, from the Travel section:

"Frugal Traveler: Seeing Paris on $250 a Day"


Alexander Pope lives

Nothing so true as what you once let fall,
"Most Women have no Characters at all."
Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear,
And best distinguish'd by black, brown, or fair.

Apparently I am not very memorable. For some reason, people constantly call me by the wrong name. They call me by another Jewish-sounding name that starts with the same letter. This happens often with colleagues who should know better. It has nothing to do with anyone around who actually has that name (there isn't anyone, as far as I know, with whom they could be confusing me). Today someone who has known me for 10 years, an older female administrator, did this. Do I make so little impression on people that I seem perfectly exchangeable with some other woman with a different name?

Someone, please tell me this happens to men too, so I don't assume it is a particularly gendered phenomenon.



Get ready

Getting beaten up by the police may be in your future whether you expect it or not.


Support the Velvet Lounge

The Velvet Lounge is the best place in Chicago to hear experimental jazz. It's run by the legendary Fred Anderson, who is incredibly supportive of younger musicians. It is being forced to move and must raise $100,000 to do so. Please support the Velvet Lounge!



Annals of wingerdom no. 356441

A friend just sent me a website -- I will not link to it -- that is advocating the political murder of various leftist activists, professors, bookstore owners, and their mothers. The phrase "domestic terrorists" keeps being used to describe said activists. And yet, the site seems pretty conscious of the fact that it is in fact itself advocating terrorism against them. It keeps highlighting two definitions:

Freedom - The right of the individual to exist, live, and prosper for his own sake...

Terrorism - Violence committed by an individual or group in order to imtimidate or harm...

Leaving aside the misspelling, this is a pretty vanilla definition of terrorism, isn't it? The kind of definition a self-avowed terrorist might use. And I suppose it is naive of me to think that pointing out the contradiction is worth my time, but, aw, hell. The basic premise is that if someone is a terrorist, it is proper to commit terrorism against them. Sic transit gloria mundi.

But anyway, the real question is: how much longer can any thinking person stand to live in this psychotic country?


Scarier and scarier

Apparently, colleges foster radical environmentalism.

I guess colleges don't foster free-market dogmatism, huh?

"Environmental studies courses often leave out free-market ideas" and "There is a problem, however, when faculty use theories and propose solutions that are radical and unchallenged by alternative views."

Huh. I guess economics courses should not be allowed to leave out environmentally friendly ideas!

Wouldn't it all just be simpler if we just mandated that every economics course must include a sympathetic account of barter, socialism, communism, anarcho-syndicalism, environmentalism...



On blogging anonymously

A lot of professors at my university have non-anonymous blogs on which they discuss a range of topics, including those on which they actually have expertise. I imagine there's a certain audience synergy there; I'm sure it gives them more readership both inside and outside the university.

But, obviously, there are certain things one can't talk about it in a blog like that. I'm not trying very hard to conceal my identity, and if someone wanted to they could figure it out pretty easily. Yet somehow I do feel this gives me license to talk about certain things I wouldn't otherwise. (Maybe not quite as openly as I would if I knew this were a TOTALLY anonymous medium.)

Like, say, this. I've been thinking lately a lot about the notion (not my idea) that when the political situation gets really bad, really horrendously bad, as one feels one has less and less to lose, when no kind of practical change seems possible, then all of a sudden the impractical seems less impossible. One is free to imagine all sorts of things, because hell, it can't get any worse, can it? (That in itself may be utopian.) But could have the potential to be oddly empowering. I've mostly been thinking of this in terms of the American political situation writ large. But it just came to me tonight that I may have begun to think this way about my job. And that that might not be such a bad thing.




Not war, not poverty, not inequality, not torture, not consumerism, not the destruction of the environment. No; relativism is apparently what the Catholic Church most needs to combat.



Maybe St. Augustine took it

(Just a bit of a medievalist joke.) Since our trip to the UK, Goatdog and I have been talking over the notion, held by both of us but unsubstantiated by either of us, that US gas prices are still artificially low despite the fact that they sure seem high to us. I did a search on google answers for "how does the u. s. government control the price of oil?" -- for existing questions (those other people have asked and answered) so as not to have to pay. Sorted by relevance, the first one to pop up was "Identifying fruit stolen from my orchard." But I especially enjoyed, further down in the top ten,

How to get out of the Army?


why vote for Bush?


the media and the atrocities of our military actions


"Donald Rumsfeld 8:00 AM Breakfast Meeting, September 11, 2001"



Speaks for itself, doesn't it?

The Unitarian Jihad.


I want someone to give me $1.8 million to study why religion makes people depressed

So, a researcher at a certain medical school has been given a big grant to study how religion makes people healthy.

Part of his research shows how religion makes African Americans, in particular, less depressed (than they would otherwise be).

Any number of problems with this: maybe people who attend church have more community support; maybe people who attend church have churches to go to which means they don't live in totally bombed-out ghettos; maybe we could give a little attention to the structural problems and economic inequities that MAKE people depressed and sick rather than just telling them to pray to get better. (I wonder if the experimental hypothesis will actually conclude that God helps people get better?)

Word on the street is this particular researcher, when on call at the student health clinic on the weekend, refuses on "ethical" grounds to prescribe Plan B (emergency contraception). I guess he thinks the students should just PRAY not to be pregnant.



More assaults on artistic and intellectual freedom, hurrah!

The exhibition "Axis of Evil"--the one that inspired the film that Goatdog (whose blog does not seem to be working at the moment, or I would link to the relevant entry) recently worked on--came to Chicago, and secret service agents attended the opening at Columbia College and questioned artists and organizers.

The nice thing about the media coverage is that thousands (at least) of people who would never have known about it get to see the stamp with George Bush with a gun to his head. I wonder if the Secret Service is going to investigate every web site that puts it up? The agents said, "We need to ensure, as best we can, that this is nothing more than artwork with a political statement." What else, pray tell, could it be? A bunch of conspirators so stupid that they publicly proclaim their intent to assassinate the President?

Buy Axis of Evil, the film, here.



So, it doesn't always work

I tried to post this yesterday:

I'm at an internet station in Heathrow, on my way back
(sadly) to Chicago. It was a great whirlwind 5 days in
England. This morning I got to the British Museum. Last night
we saw a contender for the Worst Movie Ever: "Nine Songs,"
directed by Michael Winterbottom. I will leave it to Goatdog
to describe its awfulness in his review, unless I just can't
bear it any more and have to write something about it...

I'm not there any more, obviously (or maybe not so obviously). I'm home, feeling a little woozy after a long day (got up unwillingly at 4:53 or something, so I'm now stretching the day out as much as I can in order to get back on a normal schedule).

I have decided the pain I thought was temporomandibular joint pain is in fact a very worrisome toothache. I wish I'd clued in to this before. I guess I thought when I had a massage and the pain went away that the pain must be caused by stress. Then the pain came back when the winter quarter started, and I thought, Oh, OK, the stress is back, so the TMJ is back. It took being in the land of very bad dentistry to make me figure it out that the pain was actually located right around the roots of one of my molars that has a filling. Today I didn't manage to call the dentist. So first thing on the agenda for tomorrow...



Aha, so it does work

In one day in Cambridge, I kid you not, we had rain, snow, sleet, and hail. I guess that makes me the US Postal Service. The same day, we also had sun (and wind), though, so I guess I can't complain. Cambridge also has interestingly named traffic control devices: humped zebra crossings and rising bollards. I love England. Now Goatdog and I are in London, where the weather manages to be both hot and cold at the same time. We managed to get into the Caravaggio show at the National Gallery (advance tickets for all time slots are sold out, but if you get there 40 minutes before opening, you can get in at 10) and to see a few favorites in the Sainsbury Wing (and elsewhere). Yesterday we saw the statue of Samuel Johnson's cat Hodge (mentioned before in this blog as "a very fine cat indeed," but I'm not about to link to it right now) in Gough Court off Fleet Street. We had Indian food and yummy noodles at Wagamama and lunch in the crypt at St-Martin-in-the-fields. What else? Today we couldn't get into Westminster Abbey because it's Sunday and closed to tourists. Soon we're off to go book shopping. All for now...



Does this thing work?

I just tried to use the 'email-to-blog' function, thinking it would save me a bit of time on this really lousy keyboard in an internet cafe. No luck, unless it's stuck in the ether. Anyway, I'm writing from lovely Cambridge, and what I said in the message that hasn't come through yet, but still might (so I repeat myself) is that I can't believe Mark Twain was talking about New and not Olde England when he said 'if you don't like the weather, wait a minute'! I know this is a cliche about English weather, but it's true; it's been alternately beautiful and overcast the whole time I've been here. But, actually, mostly beautiful, and well above the forecast hight temperatures of 45F. My part of the conference is done, which also means my last real public obligation of the academic year apart from teaching (and a few low-key meetings), so now I can play!



But before I go...

I was trying to look up when money became the root of all evil (I think it's actually supposed to be the love of money, but before that, if I'm not mistaken, it was pride), and lo and behold, the second hit on a google search for "root of all evil" is a site that claims that, in fact, WOMEN are the root of all evil. If only I'd known this simple truth earlier! Turns out a lot of people beat me to it.


If not Merrie, at least Olde

So, I am off to Merrie Olde Englande for a conference. I'm hoping everything comes together. One of my panelists thought our panel was Friday, so she made her plane reservation for Wednesday. This means arriving Thursday at 6 am, when our panel is at 11...an hour's train ride from London. We'll see what happens.

I'm looking forward to being out of this crazy country for a while. Not that the UK is not just as crazy. Since when does the Church of England change its royal wedding schedule for the Pope's funeral?



Thank you, Rod Blagojevich

Illinois emerges from the Dark Ages* into which, for a short time, it appeared to be about to slip.

*NB as a sometime medievalist, I do not mean to suggest any equation between "Dark Ages" and "Middle Ages." I mean the coming Dark Ages, of course.


Spring ahead

So, I finally got the final word on the last fellowship I still hadn't been rejected by for next year. I was rejected. No leave for me. I am exhausted. I don't know how I'll get through next year.

Today I had a great time with a conference that was organized around the exhibition I co-curated. We had a fantastic slate of speakers who were ALL GOOD. Some were more exciting than others, but all had interesting things to say, nobody ran significantly over, and everybody contributed to the discussion.

But I'm afraid the conference didn't give a very good impression of our department to my prospective graduate student who was visiting. One of my colleagues from another department said to me, "But where are the faculty?" It was true; none of them came. Actually, that's not quite true. One came to the keynote address yesterday. Only one, though, and none of them came to anything else.

Sigh. Sometimes I just feel like I might as well quit right now.



Rosa Parks II

At our local McDonalds, "students," i.e. high school students, are only allowed to sit in designated areas of the restaurant. It so happens that almost all of these students are African American. Presumably, the policy exists to create spaces for people to sit and eat out of range of boisterous kids. It's not an explicitly racist policy (the designation is for students, not for black students), but it's racist in its impact and in its implications: that black "youth" constitute an undesirable population from which other customers need to be protected. Why not instead have a "quiet" seating area and a "noisy" seating area? What if a high school kid herself wants to sit in a quiet space? Do they enforce the rule against anyone who looks like they might be under 18 (including white college students)? On Wednesday a fifteen-year-old honor student decided she was going to pay for her meal and sit in a non-student-designated space. The security guard on duty called the police. The police came and handcuffed her and took her away in a paddy wagon. When her mother came to get her at the police station they refused to release her, instead insisting on humiliating her by taking her back to school in the paddy wagon. I'm trying to understand what law she could have been breaking. Any ideas?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?