Thursday, March 30, 2006

In retrospect,

this was a bad call.


Am now in frantic rush to put something together about an article that I have not read nearly well enough and which I cannot take a freebie this week because I took one the week before last and was out of town last week.

I skipped class last night.

Seriously. For the first time since intro to sociology* my freshman year, I skipped a class simply because I didn't feel like going.

I have skipped class since freshman year, but there has always been a good reason, e.g. sickness, visiting a grad school, being stuck in Denison. Also, I have, on occasion, during three hour classes (mainly statistics this summer), skipped out at the break. But that has been the extent of my truancy.

Last night I just decided that I didn't want to go to my Religion class. I debated the possibilities: I could go; I could go and leave at the break; I could go and get some reading done for Thursday's stratification class; I could go and sit in the back and make fun of the instructor. And then this magical, new possibility dawned upon me: I could just not go. I could go home and do nothing. Or something. Anything, really. Just skip class.

So I did.

And it was fun. I went home and did nothing different than I would normally do on a free evening. I caught up on emails, read some news, got some homework done. But there was something special about the whole time because it was stolen time. I felt exciting. I was skipping class. I don't remember skipping sociology four years ago being this exciting. Perhaps that was because most of the time that I was skipping I was actually asleep (it was a morning class, and I would often decide the night before that going was pointless and set my alarm clock back accordingly).

*Interestingly, I hated this class. Not only was it somewhat early in the morning, but I, at the time, found it amazingly pointless. I wish I could re-take it now and see if it actually was kind of stupid or if I was so a) tired or b) lacking in a sociological imagination that I couldn't see the value in it. Honestly, I suspect it was the former. I did not like the instructor, quite apart from the course content (and it takes a lot for me to actually not like someone). Thank goodness for the randomness of registering in a Race, Gender, and Class course that spring! Otherwise I would probably have written sociology off as supremely idiotic. This experience (both the bad intro class and the good race, gender, class class) are part of the reason that I am so excited about teaching an intro to soc class one day.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Erasing the calendar

I've decided that my room needs a good cleaning, and as my eyes turn to the corner of the room from which my adventures in cleaning always begin, I see a whiteboard calendar that hasn't been updated since mid-last-semester. I see this calendar every time I clean (which, to be fair, has not been near enough times since mid-last-semester). And I can never bring myself to erase it.

Properly situated, it is a rectangle that is longer horizontally than it is vertically with squares for each date. I am sure you get the general idea of a calendar. Well, one weekend last semester, I decided to make myself a to-do list, so, standing the calendar vertically on its end, one can see in green writing a long list of the various things I intended to accomplish with red lines marking out the ones I actually did accomplish and red commentary out to the side.

This was one busy weekend, and every time I look at the calendar, I remember it. I was studying for the GREs, finalizing what grad schools to apply to, getting packets of information ready for my recommenders, finishing my statement of purpose, reading tons of books for exciting classes, writing lots of essays, planning three major research papers, and had various sorts of appointments and social thingies that couldn't be avoided.

Just looking at the list is overwhelming. I can see in the partially-knocked out items and the red-lettered frustration out to the sides of items ("ha...," "I suck." "(as good as it's gonna get this weekend)," or "AHH AM GOING TO DIE") that I made it through. I finished all this stuff, and I did a good-enough job on most of them. I did miss some of the social things, I see. I entirely skipped an appointment. And I know that, in the end, the GRE did not go wonderfully. Yet, despite the fact that I was certain that I was going to die, I made it through that weekend, those to-do items, and that semester.

So, I kind of don't want to erase it. It may look like laziness. But it always reminds me that no matter how hectic everything is, I will get through it and look back on it and laugh. Or at least look back on it and be glad it's over with.


I find that the closer the time comes to leave UTD, the more fondness I feel for it. I always make fun of it. The lack of campus life, the concrete and glass buildings, etc, etc. But, now that I'm contemplating actually leaving at the end of the semester, the more I realize how important it's been.

Perhaps much of this nostalgia was triggered by recently spending time at another, much larger, campus. Who knows. Or maybe it's the idea of having entirely new professors that made me appreciate the ones I've had. I don't know. But I'm increasingly seeing how important my UTD education has been in my life.

I came in with a definite preconceived notion of how society worked and have gradually learned to question such received wisdom. I feel like I've really gained a sociological imagination. I've been taught to think through questions systematically and critically. I know others who've gone through four years of college and cannot say as much. This is not a credit to me at all. This is due to my school and my professors.

I really can now appreciate how much emphasis was placed on undergraduate teaching. In very few of my classes did we ever have a multiple choice test. Essay tests and papers were the norm. This takes a considerable time investment on the part of professors, but they did it anyway. I think I can truly say that some of the most incredibly exciting times of my education have not been in class (though classes have been consistently interesting--I actually enjoyed going to most of them, and how many people can say that about their college classes?) but while writing papers and discovering and thinking through new ideas and concepts on my own. This is when I get the most excited about academic work.

My professors have always encouraged me and supported me. They really gave me the confidence to actually think that I could apply for graduate school and make it in.

As the time to leave draws nearer, I find myself drawn to places on campus that I'd always kind of made fun of. Today, I sat and read in the student union rather than going to Quiznos*. I grabbed lunch from that little sandwich shop in Green Hall. And it felt like home. I've walked around these halls for four years. Gone to classes, gone to see professors. I walked these halls as a freshman who was just starting to get the idea that inequality existed in the world and that others had different perspectives on reality than I did. I went to class here as a sophomore as I became excited about changing the world and fighting for justice and equality. I moped around these classrooms and offices as a junior, becoming more and more depressed and cynical about the state of the world while gradually realizing that this was what I wanted to do with my life. Finally, as a senior, I took classes and waited anxiously for recommendation letters left in envelopes outside the offices of my professors. And now I walk around, appreciating, perhaps for the first time, how important this place has been to my development as a human being.

And then I feel like a silly idiot for crying about it all.

And now, I really do want to graduate. But perhaps I'll make less fun of UTD.

*Partially, this is due to the higher cost at Quiznos and my current lack of money.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Back in town and back online!

Well, I had a great weekend in Tucson, visiting the sociology department at the University of Arizona. The desert, contrary to my expectations, was absolutley beautiful! I had imagined a desolate area with little vegetation, but the greenery was stunning. The Saguaro cacti existing alongside evergreens and palm trees was exciting. As I was flying in, I got a good look at the mountains, which were wonderful. Over the course of the weekend, several grad students mentioned the usefulness of the mountains for orienting onesself, and given my lack of directional skills, this can only be a plus. The department itself seemed wonderful. The students and faculty were friendly and many seem to be doing lots of exciting work.

So, I think, essentially, the decision is down to Arizona or UC-Santa Barbara. At UofA, I will end up focusing more on religion, and at UCSB, more on gender. The stipend+area seems more liveable in Arizona than in Santa Barbara. That must be a factor, too. I thought this decision would be easy, and I'm definitley leaning somewhere right now, but the more I think about it, the less certain it is.

Enough of the hand-wringing and indecisiveness, though.

As to the computer situation: Neville, who is missing a power supply, is currently unavailable, so I have a different computer, who doesn't have an assigned name/gender yet. I'm working on that. S/He works just fine for now, though. I do, however, wish that I had access to all of my files, even though most of the relevant ones (drafts, recent papers) can be found in gmail. It's also kind of annoying not to have any of my music on here and to have to reinstall basic things such as a google toolbar. Alas.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I know you will miss me.

Reflecting the actions of his namesake, Percy (my computer, named after Percy Weasley in the Harry Potter series) has decided that he is too good for me, that he does not want to work with me, and that he would rather leave me entirely. He is broken. I do not know why. This post comes to you from a UTD computer lab.

Hopefully next week Neville (my poor, slow, sometimes pathetic laptop who comes to my rescue in tight spots, just like his HP namesake) will be working and I can use him to connect to the internet. Or maybe Percy will see the error of his ways and return to me, better than before (as I strongly suspect Percy Weasley will do as well. There is no need to argue with me on this point. You will lose.). Either way, I've got no computer till next week, and I'll be out of town this weekend, so don't expect much bloggerly activity.

Monday, March 20, 2006

There are only six weeks left in this semester.

There's not time to get everything done. But, as of now, midterms are over and I've got one of my major papers (due at the end of the semester) written (spring break productivity!). The thesis needs a ridiculously huge amount of time and work put into it. And I have a few other papers I need to get started on. But for now, it's time for sleep.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

This week is an extension of spring break, I'm thinking

My work is becoming more and more symptomatic of senioritis. I mean, this week, I have done nothing, nothing. I have read for a class. And wrote a little two page essay. But that's kind of it.

For the class that I have tonight at 7, we have to do weekly summaries or critiques of one of the assigned readings. We get two freebies, or we get to drop our lowest two grades on them (they are graded on a scale from 1-3). I haven't skipped one yet; I've been planning on saving them for some week where everything was so ridiculously hectic that I didn't have time to do the reading. Well, this week I've done the reading. Every bit of it. And I find it interesting. And I've got about an hour to write a paragraph about one of them.

But, I've decided I'm not going to. Despite the fact that I could totally do it if I cared. And that I will be gone to Arizona this time next week, so I'm going to be using up my other freebie then.

They need to make some sort of medication for senioritis.

Thank you Missouri

for proving my point.

The Missouri legislature voted to defeat a measure that would (re)allow county health departments to carry contraception. Not, to make sure this is clear, emergency contraception. But just plain, ol' oral contraception.

The article says that anti-abortion groups were opposed to the spending. Why, you might ask? I mean, won't contraceptives reduce the number of abortions performed? Won't it also save the state millions of dollars on health services as well as the benefits given to low-income mothers? This isn't a pro-life or a cost-effective measure, is it? So, what's the big deal?

Thankfully, Representative Susan Phillips (R-Kansas City) gives us an explanation: "If you hand out contraception to single women, we're saying promiscuity is OK as a state, and I am not in support of that." Ahh! I get it. Or, rather, got it. It's more about controlling sexuality, isn't it? They clearly care more about that than about preventing abortions. And I think that says an awful lot about their "pro-life" cause.

Edit: I just wanted to add that I am well aware that this isn't just *my* argument. The only reason I kept linking back to my post of a few days ago is because I've been recently debating this very topic, and people have asked for evidence that some people are more anti-contraception than anti-abortion (thus, making their issue more about sexuality than life). This constitutes said evidence, so I thought I would play it up.

I don't really watch tv...

but maybe I should start watching Boston Legal?

You should at least watch this clip. It's a lovely, impassioned speach about how the American people have failed to become outraged.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The basic Democratic party problem

From The Daily Show:

HANK SHEINKOPF: It doesn’t hurt that the Republicans keep screwing up. It only helps you. It’s good to have an opponent that keeps making errors.

ED HELMS: I am right there with you. I got mugged the other day. And, this bum was beating me a bottle. And I said, “You know what, I am going to sit back and wait for him to accidentally hit himself with the bottle.” And sure enough, he did. I mean, I was unconscious, but I think I won that battle.

I realize that it's almost to the point where I post more videos than text

but you kind of have to watch this. Especially if you grew up with action heros and villains (e.g. Power Rangers, Darth Vader, etc).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Personality test!

You are a Realist

Your attention to detail, appreciation of how things function, and awareness of the world around you make you a REALIST.

Routines are reassuring to you—you feel safer and more at ease when sticking with familiar things.

You like to stay close with those around you, seeking comfort from familiar faces.

You are interested in processes—how things work, what they do, and why—not just how things look.

Sometimes you doubt that you can find solutions to problems, although you have a good sense of why things happen, and can use that knowledge to find the best way to do something.

You are down to earth, concerned more with practical, detail-oriented things than with dreamy or ambiguous ideas.

You have a good sense of your abilities and weaknesses, and don't let your ego get in your way.

You much prefer to have time to plan for things, feeling better with a schedule than with keeping plans up in the air until the last minute. Your decisions are well thought out, and you're not the least bit impulsive.

Never one to be found in chic boutiques or trendy clothing stores, you take an extremely practical approach to getting dressed.

How You Relate to Others
You are Generous

Your awareness of those around you, along with your nuanced perceptions of the world at large, makes you the GENEROUS person that you are.

You value time to yourself and understand how rich your private world can be—you know that you don't have to go wild to have a good time.

You are excited and energized by ideas and often enjoy things more through observation than through experience.

This tendency gives you an appreciation for different perspectives and opinions about the world.
Being as aware of others as you are doesn't mean you find it easy to trust them immediately—this is something that happens more slowly for you.

Despite this, you are aware of the complexities of many situations and are reluctant to pass judgments on others.

Although you have fewer friendships than some people, those that you have are meaningful and are important to you.

You value spending time alone—it is while reflecting on the world around you that you often learn something new about yourself or begin to understand something that's been bothering you.

Monday, March 13, 2006

for reals

From the:

Just thought it was funny. Wanna know a pretty quick way to development? Educate women. Reduces fertility, increases educational attainment across the board, and does generally lots of good things for development. So, really, for the quickest way to change the world, change the women. Or at least change the women's opportunity structure. Which, you know, does involve changing the men. They're kind of right.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Those terrible checks and balances

So, Sen. Russ Feingold is introducing a measure to formally censure Bush for his law breaking (the illegal wiretapping lawbreaking, that is. Is it sad that one must specify?). Well, Sen. Bill Frist was on George Stephanopoulos after him and had this to say:

And as I was listening to it, I was hoping deep inside that that the leadership in Iran and other people who have the U.S. not in their best interest are not listening because of the terrible signal it sends.

Ahh, yes. It's a terrible signal. What must they think to see a democracy actually working? Terrible stuff, indeed.

I have a midterm tomorrow.

Why do I always forget about these things?

Why, also, when my sleep schedule is entirely messed up (thank you, spring break!) can I never manage to get it right again. I've been going to be at approximately 7ish every morning for the past few days. I set my alarm for 10 or (in the hopes that I will wake up, be tired, and go to bed at a normal time that night), but I always wake up and turn it off, or somehow turn it off without any recollection of having woken up. Is it some subconscious knowledge that I don't really have anything to do today that keeps me from getting up? Certainly, I've gone to bed at 6 in the morning before, and been up for a class at 11 or 12. I wake up just fine then. Why can my body not do it now?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

This made my day

(because I am creepy and, Ema contends, evil)

Jason sent me this link, and I have to concur with the comment here, "Is it ironic that his sign includes 'racists'?"

This was a sign held by a man protesting a gay marriage rally in Washington State, whose Supreme Court is set to rule on a challenge to their DOMA any day now.


How we can be pretty sure it's not about "life"

As previously mentioned, I've been listening to a lot of anti-abortion radio recently. It's funny when they say people are "pro-abortion." No one's pro-abortion. Are they? Anyway...

It's also funny when they talk about this as if it were a "sanctity of life" issue. I know I've discussed this before, but for a mini-recap:

If this were about "life"...
  • Laws would be passed to put women who get abortions into prison for life. At the very least. If not the death penalty. This is murder we're talking about, people! Or maybe the doctors. Would we let someone get off for killing a real, life human being? Well, this inconsistency can really only be explained if they don't think that performing abortion is quite the same as killing a person.
  • We wouldn't find that most "pro-life" people support exceptions in the case of murder and rape. It's still a child, isn't it? When we say it's ok for women who didn't really "ask for it" to get an abortion, that's a signal that it's more about women's sexuality than about "murder." We don't want to punish the women when it's clearly not their "fault." Look at SD dude (below). Abortion would be ok if "the girl" was "religious," "a virgin," planning on saving herself for marriage. I would hate to see the trial if that were the standard for approving an abortion--witnesses claiming that Susie Q engaged in questionable activity with him/her... was it sex? How often must one attend Sunday School to be "religious?" What worries us as a culture about abortion is the control it gives to women over their bodies. It's scary. I mean, it's one thing if it's a religious girl who never wanted to have sex. But, as SD guy said, most abortions are for convenience... right??
  • We would be equally outraged about fertility clinics and in vitro fertilization, which throw away thousands of fertilized embryos. There are actually Christian clinics that perform this service. These are babies who are being thrown out!! Murdered! If this was about life, this would be the primary agenda of "pro-lifers," right? I mean, it's even probably easier to legislate. It seems the logical first (or maybe second, after getting rid of the death penalty, or third, after ending the war) step to create a society that values the sanctity of life, no?
  • We would be coming up with policies that would prevent abortions. We would try to make out society more child-friendly. We would care about prenatal health care and fetal nutrition programs. We would want affordable daycare. We would want workable welfare policies. If our goal is to reduce abortions, we have to reduce the cost of having children. Why do our most "pro-life" politicians oppose such policies that would value life?

No, underneath this rhetoric of life is a fear. A fear that our gender order will be messed up. This is the same fear underlying the arguments against allowing birth control, first to married women, and then to all women. Nevermind that b.c. certainly reduces the number of abortions. It allows women to sexually behave like men. Policies that would help children and unborn babies would also help women to be independent (day care, prenatal health care, welfare, etc). Scary propositions.

Anyway, seriously... do you know of anyone who's actually pro-abortion (as opposed, obviously, to pro-choice)?

Friday, March 10, 2006

This week's word cloud

Infallible reasoning

I am totally weird. I acknowledge this. For instance: tonight, rather than clean or work on homework, I've been checking out the War on Christians Conference (panels include The Gay Agenda: America Won't be Happy and Judicial Activists: Overturning God, speakers include Rick Scarborough, Alan Keyes, Phyllis Schlafly, John Cornyn, and, yes, oh my gosh yes, Tom Delay--how I wish I could go!) and listening to Phyllis Schlafly's online radio program.

And I just heard the best reasoning ever.

Janet Folger, an anti-abortion activist, is responding to a caller who is wondering about statistics he had heard touted by Chuck Schumer about what percentage of Americans support reproductive rights. Clearly, those statistics aren't true.

Her reasoning: "If people are actually advocating--they're giving everything they have--to actually promote the dismemberment of children, what makes us think they won't lie?"

Sorry for the conservative love-fest of late. I'm afraid I'm coming off as an actual conservative. I mean, I do love Phyllis Schafley, I do. But I wouldn't want anyone to mistake me for agreeing with her.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Even better than that South Dakota guy (and that's saying something)!

Seriously, if you never watch another video I put on this blog, watch this one:

I know it's wrong, but I love these guys. I checked out his website. Dude is awesome. I do kind of wonder if part of the reason the ad's in black and white is (beyond the obvious, hark back to the fifties theme) because the people he's targeting in this ad would never, ever vote for a black man?

A selection of people who've endorsed him: Jesse Helms, Alan Keyes, Bob Barr, English Language PAC, the NRA, the Executive Directors of Gun Owners of America and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Right-to-Life, Bill Bennett, Pat Buchanan, The Dixie Daily News, Southern Caucus, Richard Petty, and Jeb Bush.

Even better: "My political heroes are Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia. That should give you a pretty good idea of where I stand."

He has other sorts of exciting views that you should check out. My personal favorite is ending taxes (income tax, corporate taxes, the "death tax," and the gift tax) except for a national sales tax. Brilliant. That way poor people can pay an even greater percentage of the taxes. I mean, he says he stands for the "common man," but the common man/woman spends a far greater of her/his percentage on things than does the rich woman/man, who save more of their money. It's inherently regressive and will cause lower and middle income people to pay a disproportionate amount of their income in taxes as compared to wealthier folks.

All idiocy aside, I wish him a good campaign. I kind of want him to win. C-SPAN would be so much more fun. But, I realize that I should put the well-being of the country (and my own well being as a woman and a not-rich one at that) ahead of entertainment value. Still, check him out.

Scary & Illegal

South Dakota bans abortion

When might an abortion be acceptable? "A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life."

I think this statement, however, speaks to the fact that they are less interested in "life" than they are in gender. An abortion is okay if it is not a woman's "fault" that she is pregnant, if she didn't have sex with someone voluntarily, if the rape was of a virgin, etc. If it were truly about the life of a child, would not the child resulting from that awful scenario described be entitled to life as much as any other? I think so. But you can tell from arguments like this that their primary concern is NOT the life of unborn children, but policing a gender order that says that women who become pregnant because it's their fault must carry the children, but it's okay to have an abortion if they are pregnant through no fault of their own.

Oh, yeah, and this is just funny: Mississippi wants to make Christianity its official religion. Kind of, um, illegal, but I think they should try it anyway. Good times. I love these people.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I just made $2!

(and got rejected from Northwestern.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

For those of you following today's events:

  • Nothing from Northwestern. Another day of agony ensues.
  • I don't think I did wonderfully on the midterm. But, and I say this completely honestly, surprising even myself: I don't care.
  • I finished my reading and tiny writing thing for class tomorrow.
  • We had the N.O.W. meeting and it went well considering we weren't organized. My favorite part was during a lag bringing up South Dakota and generating interesting conversation that eventually led to what it means to be a "feminist" in this political climate.
  • I have yet to do thesis-y things. I'm about to throw something together to give to Dr. K tomorrow.
  • I have to find some clothes (anything but jeans really) to wear to SMU thingy tomorrow. Hopefully this won't mean ironing or washing anything.

I hate

waiting for the mail.

(click to play "Mr. Postman" by The Beatles)

The whole "waking up early" thing? Yeah, that didn't work out.

Anyway, someone has gotten a rejection letter from Northwestern today. Which has just made my day that much more hectic. I mean, I know that I'm rejected. But, still... there's a smidgen of hope. Which is going to die. At about 4:30. And I want to know. So, my day is torn between a desire for it to move very quickly and a desire to have it stretch out as long as possible because I have so much crap I need to get done.


Why am I writing this? My time would be much better spent doing one of several things. And I am definitely in a time crunch here.

See, tomorrow, I have a midterm for which I have not studied. I'm not very concerned about it, but I would like to spend a few hours looking over the material. But, tomorrow I also need to read some articles and summarize/critique one for class on Thursday night (I'll get to why I can't actually do this on Thursday in a second), get something, anything together to give to my thesis advisor on Thursday (well, I'm a little more picky than that. I have something now, but it's turning out to be trickier than I thought and I don't mind giving her something bad... but I can't give her this), and I also have to prepare for and go to a N.O.W. meeting. I don't know what we're going to talk about. And D. probably won't be there to lead it.

I can't just spend Thursday reading for class and doing thesis-y things because on Thursday I'm going to this Women's Symposium at SMU all day (well at least the afternoon--and I won't get much done in the morning). And I'm excited about the symposium (Ann Crittenden will be there), but it's really, really inconvenient. It is so tempting to put off the thesis stuff. After all, I have all spring break to get stuff done (and I really do intend to get down to work then!) and this week is just so amazingly hectic that trying to fit it in just seems silly when I have a free-and-clear writing period ahead. But, last week I promised Dr. K I would have something for her by Thursday, and while I don't think she'll care too much if I don't, I would feel really bad if I can't meet my own self-imposed deadline. If nothing else, at least, I have this atrocious bit of something and some references to give her. Ha.

Wish me luck as I power through the rest of this week.

And, now I'm heading to bed (3:15 am) with the hopes of getting up at a reasonable hour tomorrow to get some of this stuff done.