Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I had a wonderful Christmas, but because I have so many things I need to get done over break (stats paper, work for K.), it is not a true break. It's not as if I have been working non-stop, but, just as during the semester, relaxing, or watching tv, or hanging out with friends, are all guilt-fraught activities. There's no sense of truly being on a break. I'm continually stressed out, even back in Texas. I cannot wait until May.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Why does Stata hate me?

We used to have such a good relationship, but now...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Shocking news!

After a few years of increasing abstinence-only education, teen birth rates are going up for the first time since 1991. Not surprisingly, those states with the highest teen birth rates are those teaching abstinence only, rather than comprehensive sex education. Hmm. As Dr. Carol Hogue, an Emory University professor of maternal and child health, said: "It's not rocket science."*

*Putting on my social scientist cap, I must acknowledge that this could not mean a whole lot in the long run, that this does not necessarily indicate that a long-term upward trend in teen births is beginning, and that correlation does not equal causation.

Lesson learned for the millionth time... Will it finally sink in?

Things that you have been putting off for a long time, and stressing about, are actually a lot easier and less painful when you just do them.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This just about sums up UTD.

During the midst of an online discussion about UT-Dallas's mascot, and whether or not his name should be changed, there was this comment, by someone named Dwight:

The mascot should be a UTD level 70 blood elf.

Yes, yes, it should be. That or a chess piece. But, you know, comets make sense, too. We are such dorks. Whoosh!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Computer woes update.

Everything is the same.

Edit, 10:20am: Except now I have internet at home. Woo-hoo!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Oh. This blog is three years old.

No excited birthday post, though. That would have been over a week ago, anyhow. I am too consumed by my computer woes be overly excited that I have stuck with something this long.

Here was my first-ish post, way back in 2004. This one year old birthday post was written in the computer lab at UTD while studying for finals. This belated two-year birthday post had me wishing for a pet here in Arizona. I still want one.

But, I hope that by the time I am reading this post next year, I will no longer be in Arizona. Yes, dear reader, I am going to leave. Hopefully. If I have the courage to do it. The easiest thing would be to just stay here and stick it out. But I do not like it here. Ideally, one year from now, on the fourth birthday of this blog, I will be working somewhere back in Texas, maybe teaching sociology at a community college. The fifth anniversary of this blog will hopefully see me as a PhD student somewhere else, somewhere not in Tucson or the desert, somewhere with green trees and large bodies of water. Here's hoping.

Incidentally, I did not intend this post to be so revelatory. I have told a few people of my plans, but not many. Well now it's for the world (or at least the one or two people who read this blog) to know.

Happy birthday.

Of course it all happens at the end of the semester.

At the moment, my old laptop will not start. It will turn on, but Windows never boots, and it soon shuts off. This would not be terribly problematic, as I have not been using this computer at all this semester, except for the fact that in the past week I have spent several hours entering questions into a survey software program, and that time and work may now be lost. I was using that computer because the computer I am on now, the new one that I got at the beginning of this semester, has a non-functioning cd/dvd drive, so I was unable to install the software necessary.

On top of all of this, my internet at home is not working at all. I do not know why.

Why oh why do computer problems hit at the end of the semester?

This happened at the end of last semester as well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Do you know what he means?

"A very attractive woman -- looked like she just got finished teaching a sociology class at Bryn Mawr College, if you know what I mean -- she said, 'Senator Biden . . . I came fully prepared to be unimpressed with you.' I said, 'Well, thank you very much.' " --Joe Biden, talking about a woman who challenged him for wearing a flag pin.

I do not, in fact, know what he means. What is he saying about sociology or Bryn Mawr? Have I missed something? Are sociologists supposed to be particularly attractive? Are Bryn Mawr professors? If the former, that has not been my experience.

On the phone, talking to the Qwest person about why my internet is having issues

"So, what do you do?"
"I'm a grad student."
"Cool. What do you study?"
"Ahh. So do you want to go into the medical field?"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On the upside...

CoffeeXChange got new chai, which is less gross than before. Though, now, it is less like chai and more like some spiced milk that tastes vaguely of apple pie filling. I won't be coming for the chai, but now I won't completely avoid coffexchange because of the undrinkable chai.

What is it with Tucson coffee shops always playing 70s and 80s Paul McCartney songs?

That is my only question.

Unexpected turn of events.

[I wrote this a week ago while sitting in the Tucson airport. For some reason it saved as a draft and did not post. Bear in mind that as I wrote this I hadn't slept in over 24 hours. I just got back from Texas yesterday.]

If you had asked me this time yesterday what I would be doing I would have probably said, “working on my orgs paper,” (though I would have been thinking, “procrastinating from working on my orgs paper.”). I would certainly not have guessed that I would be in an airport waiting to fly to DFW. Well, to Houston, then on to DFW. Yet that is precisely where I am.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, many involving my apartment, and others relating to my general melancholy and dislike of Tucson, I am going home for Thanksgiving. Prior to 6:00 this morning, I had wanted to go home, but had viewed it as highly impractical. Not only was I going to be home for Christmas break in a few weeks anyway, but I had a lot of work to do. Yet this morning, while trying to sleep in my office (which, incidentally, is lacking a couch or anything remotely comfortable), I decided that going home was a possibility. Of course, by that point had been awake 24 hours, so what was my judgment worth?

I called my mom, expecting and half-hoping to be talked out of this nonsense. But my mom was at work and I got my dad, who was very concerned and enthusiastic about my coming home (my mom was as well, once I actually spoke to her). After having several internet-related mishaps, I finally called Continental (on the actual telephone! so old school!) to purchase my tickets for this morning.

On a quick stop at Target on the way to the airport, I noticed a baby bib with a sailboat on it, and decided that my as-yet-unborn nephew had to have it. I should have known better than to wander into the baby section. I walked out with all manner of onesies, tiny jackets, socks, shirts, and the most adorable little shoes you've ever seen.

Despite my detour, I arrived at the airport a dutiful 2.5 hours early. This seems excessive for Tucson International Airport, but that's what the local radio had been advising for days. I had paid attention, not out of any actual belief that it may pertain to me, but out of a wishful thinking that ended up being realized. Turns out, it might have been better had I not listened. I got through check-in and security faster than I ever have at any airport. The airport also seems emptier than I have ever seen it. Not only that, but my flight itself has been delayed because of weather. This could be problematic if it results in me getting into Houston too late to catch my flight to DFW.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I know my last post was about gender being problematic and how we should stop caring so much about it...


What kind of a dataset does not contain the gender of its respondents, and then forces me to go find another dataset in the same study and merge the two together?

Edit at 4:25 PM: Okay, so that was not all that difficult to deal with. But, still.


All these awful ideas we have about "gender," men trying to be "masculine" and women trying to be "feminine"--they're unhealthy, unnatural, and in the past few days I've seen people really hurting because of it. Gender, the system of ideas that we've built up around biological sex, is the cause of a lot of pain. And it's easy to just tell people "don't worry about society! Be who you are!" but we all have to interact in a society that tells people how to be and judges them when they do not conform.

Why can't we just value the things associated with masculinity and femininity, no matter who does them? Why do things culturally associated with women, such as caring and nurturing and emotionality, have to be devalued when they are done by women and seen as suspect when done by men? Of course, a lot of it has to do with power, etc. But I guess I'd much rather complain about it than think about ways of challenging it. Ideas?

In gender-related news: today I find out if I am going to have a niece or a nephew, and I am excited! Actually, that's not so much "gender"-related as "sex"-related. Luckily for my niece or nephew at the moment, he or she has not confronted gender as an ideology yet and can just be who she or he is.


Typically, when I have something I do not want to work on, it is quite easy to find various other things to fill up my time. I can read some news, talk on AIM, clean my apartment, read a book, waste time on facebook, etc. Very rarely do I actually run out of things to waste time doing without at that point being compelled to start working on research, papers, RA work, etc. Yet here I am, sitting in my office, having checked facebook, gone through all my normal news sites and blogs, talked to everyone who is online, and I cannot find anything left to do but work on actual work. And I cannot bring myself to do that. What, dear readers, should I do?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oh snap!

Many of you are aware of my (perhaps slightly creepy) fascination with the Supreme Court. Well, while driving to go get some pickles from Safeway at 1:00 this morning, I caught a BBC interview with former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. I drove around for about 30 minutes to listen to it (thus causing me to miss my pickle opportunity; by the time I got back to Safeway it was closed.), and Sandy Baby was getting slightly exasperated at the British interviewer.

Though she expressed dismay over the lack of women on the SCOTUS, when the interviewer started to mention it, O'Connor was quick to point out that Britain wasn't doing much better in terms of women in the judiciary. She corrected the reporter's "unfortunate terms" several times, including: "swing vote," "activist judge," "sides" [in terms of taking sides, a liberal side, a conservative side], "political," etc.

The interviewer kept mentioning the court's role in hot-button social issues, and O'Connor was really reluctant to talk about it; she kept saying variants of "as I already explained to you," or "as I said earlier," followed by claims that the justices rule on the merits, not on ideology. You can tell she was getting rather annoyed by the route this interview was going down. And then the interviewer brought up Bush v. Gore. O'Connor's main defense for her own position here is that "it didn't change the outcome." The reporter kind of accepted her story, but I kept thinking that that is the most idiotic excuse for 1) taking a case that should not have even been heard by SCOTUS, and 2) making a decision that went against precedent and then saying that this case does not make precedent and cannot be applied to other decisions.

Regardless of the fact that it is in fact not "obvious" that Bush v. Gore did not affect who won the Presidency, even had it not, that doesn't legitimate the Court's decision. I don't even understand that logic. I don't think she does either, and if the spate of recent "insider" books about the Supreme Court mean anything, she came to regret that decision (though not so much as Souter, who almost resigned over it).

But, anyway, I really did enjoy hearing her, and hearing her get annoyed at the interviewer reminded me of good times listening to oral arguments when she would get frustrated with the lawyers. I often didn't agree with her judicial opinions, but I really do like her. Also, I am glad that she is involved in work to educate people about the court and to maintain judicial independence. With people like John Cornyn rationalizing violence against judges, and the cries against "activist" judges growing louder and louder, someone needs to be standing up to educate the American public on the necessity of a judicial branch that is truly independent.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Rep. Barney Frank on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

I love articles in medicine and public health journals.

I especially love them when I am trying to read an article quickly. Not only do they tend to be on the short side, their abstracts are much cooler than social science abstracts. They tell you, in individual sections, yet briefly, the research questions, the methods, the results, and the conclusions. I suppose that they realize that their primary audience (professional practitioners, not necessarily academics) does not really care to read 50 pages of their rambling. Go them!

(Not all journals in those fields are like that, but the few I've had exposure to [granted, not being among their primary audience] have conformed to this pattern of practical, summarizing abstracts and short texts.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pat Robertson endorses Rudy Giuliani?

I don't get it. Rudy Giuliani, who is apparently running for President of 9/11 or something, has managed to get Pat Robertson's endorsement. This bears repeating: Rudy G., who is pro-gay rights and pro-abortion rights has been endorsed by a man who agreed with Jerry Falwell when he said that the 9/11 attacks were caused by "pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the American Civil Liberties Union and the People For the American Way."

What I don't get, exactly, is Robertson's motivation. The Christian Right has recently (with good cause) been complaining about the fact that the Republican Party takes them for granted. This endorsement is a no-win position for Robertson. If Giuliani loses the national race (presuming he wins the nomination), then a Democrat is in the White House (I assume Robertson wouldn't like that). If Giuliani wins, that proves to Republicans that you can win as a pro-choice, pro-gay candidate, allowing them to further ignore the Christian Right. What does Robertson see that he is getting out of this? Closeness to power?

I don't get why the whole of the Christian Right is ignoring Huckabee. He seems perfectly made for them. But, alas, I guess it comes down to the fact that the CR, like most in politics, are less interested in principle than in power. Giuliani is electable, and Huckabee isn't. And he won't be without some major CR endorsement. He's kind of stuck. He can't get an endorsement until he's electable, but he won't be electable without an endorsement.

Also, what about Mitt Romney? If Robertson can get over Giuliani's policy standpoints, he should be able to get over Romney's Mormonism, especially because they agree a lot more on these issues that the Republican Party always likes the Christian Right to push as wedge issues. Robertson says his endorsement comes as a recognition of the threat that "radical Islam" poses to our country. So, if he's looking for someone to aggressively continue the policies of the Bush administration, you'd think Romney and his "we ought to double Guantanamo" stance would be ideal.

I guess it comes down to the fact that I just don't get it. Anyone care to explain it to me?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lovely Saturday.

Recently, because of my sleep deprivation during the week, I have been sleeping 12+ hours on Friday nights, sleeping away half of the day on Saturday. I slept around 12 hours last night, however, I went to bed at 6pm and woke up at 6 this morning. So far I've done some reading, done some cleaning, and gone for a walk outside. The weather is finally getting nice in Tucson!

I forgot how lovely mornings are. Usually I'm in such a rush to get to the office or to get to work in the mornings (or, on Saturdays, sleeping!) that I don't fully appreciate them. I think I am going to go to the Farmer's Market today and then come home and clean some more and try to find a good canned dataset for my stats paper.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This has been a truly horrific week.

But as each awful thing keeps piling on, I keep thinking that this, in a certain light, could easily be a comedy, as much as a tragedy. If my life were a film, that is. It's so comically absurd. The piling on of bad thing upon bad thing is not unlike this from this summer, but more serious than loosing a shoe in a street/river.

Maybe it will have a happy resolution. But right now all I can do is sit in my office and cry, even though I have things I need to have finished in about 26 minutes.

This really is the most awful week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

statistical sadness

I've been reading an article for statistics tomorrow, a paper that applies multi-level modeling, which we've been learning about. The authors are looking at what indicators predict relationship changes among couples during the transition to parenthood.

Anyway, one of the predictors for increases in conflict and decreases in love is neuroticism. Now, I had a vague concept of what neuroticism meant, but I decided to go look it up. It sounded suspiciously like me in some ways. Wikipedia says: "It can be defined as an enduring tendency to experience negative emotional states. Individuals who score high on neuroticism are more likely than the average to experience such feelings as anxiety, anger, guilt, and depression. They respond more poorly to environmental stress, and are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult."

So, I went and took the inventory used in the paper I'm reading, the NEO-PIR, to see where I fell on the scale of neuroticism. Turns out: "Your score on Neuroticism is high, indicating that you are easily upset, even by what most people consider the normal demands of living. People consider you to be sensitive and emotional." I was rated "high" on all of the indicators (depression, anxiety, self-consciousness, vulnerability) for the variable except for anger, for which I was rated "low," and immoderation, for which I was rated "average."

While these characteristics are not particularly good characteristics to have, the inventory results were not as disheartening as the paper's assertion that "neuroticism is the personality characteristic most consistently linked with negative relationship outcomes."

Who knew reading for statistics could be so depressing? Oh wait. There I go displaying my neuroticism again.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

and the world was as it should be.

If you go to NYTimes.com and look, right now, on the top searches list, you will find both Dumbledore and Colbert on there, side by side. This is my kind of news day. Stephen Colbert is running for President and Albus Dumbledore is gay.

Friday, October 19, 2007

How did I miss this?

In all the years I've been driving, I have never learned to successfully parallel park. The more surprising part of this is that I was not aware that I could not parallel park until I tried to do so this morning.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ron Paul.

Man, I dislike Ron Paul supporters. I've met a few in person and they seem reasonable. But as a group, something happens and they become rabid. They put stickers everywhere, on buildings, road signs, and light posts. I even had a Ron Paul sticker put on my car. I see people randomly walking around Tucson with signs that say "Google Ron Paul." There is a house nearby with a huge Ron Paul banner hanging from it. I suspect a lot of these people are not aware of Ron Paul's positions on a lot of things (for instance, wanting to get rid of the department of education).* They like that he's an anti-war, anti-establishment Republican (and, to be fair, that's not nothing!).

And, now, if you look at the Stephen Colbert for President groups on Facebook, they've taken over those, too! Every other post is about Ron Paul. I suspect they figure that people disillusioned enough about the political process to support Stephen for president are disillusioned enough to support Ron Paul.

*A few times I've asked Ron Paul volunteers about his position on things like gay marriage, separation of church and state, and other things where he does not take the typical libertarian position. They seemed largely unaware of where he stood. Well, dear reader, he is for federal regulation of marriage (perhaps the only thing he's for the federal regulation of!!) and against the separation of church and state (and for me to be saying this, well, that's something. I'm for more religion in the public sphere--though not for more religion in government).

Edit: Thanks to commenter Brent, I realized that I was wrong. Ron Paul is not in favor of federal regulation of marriage, as I had previously mentioned. See the comments for more discussion.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hard things.

Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Linking "truth" and "kindness" is pretty tough.

He Is America (And So Can You!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lovely morning.

Since about 7 this morning I have been half sitting, half laying in bed with some hot chai, watching Little Women. I know that I'm wasting time and should be at the office getting things done. But, really, this is lovely. I wish I could begin every day like this.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pro-life feminism.

I consider myself a pro-life feminist. I am a feminist, and I oppose abortion. However, my expression of that is not to criminalize abortion, as I am aware that criminalization will simply serve to increase the number of underground abortions, which hurt both fetal life and womens' lives. Rich and well-connected women will have access to safe underground abortion procedures and working class and poor women will have to resort to less safe means. If being pro-life means anything, it means being against unnecessary taking and risking of life, be it fetal or not.

While an organization such as Feminist for Life would ideally be a group I could get behind, it turns out that they are primarily for criminalization of abortion (they are also opposed to birth control, etc.). The Nation's Katha Pollit has a piece on this group. It's disappointing that there is no explicitly pro-life feminist organization that seeks to reduce the number of abortions while also working for womens' equality in other areas.

But then I realized that such organizations do exist, primarily in the form of Planned Parenthood. They are a feminist organization that prevents more abortions each year than we can possibly imagine. They understand the importance of education and access to birth control in preventing abortion. It's interesting that they get so vilified by "pro-life" politicians and media. I think it's an indication that what they're opposed to is not abortion per se, but womens' freedom and control over their own reproduction. If they were interested in reducing abortion out of a genuine concern for life, they would be giving to Planned Parenthood rather than protesting it.

Part of being opposed to abortion is making sure that women don't feel that abortion is their only option when they do become pregnant. This includes ensuring that they have access to affordable pre- and post-natal health care as well as health care for adults and children. This includes the availability of affordable child care so women are able to work to support their families. This means having a legitimately pro-family set of national policies. Unfortunately, and ironically, those politicians who have a tendency to label themselves as "pro-life" and "pro-family" are often the least interested in such policies.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I went to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age today.

I have to say, it's very biased against poor Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary also has a Scottish accent in the film, which makes no sense. She would have spoken French.

It made Mary out to be a pretty awful plotter on Elizabeth's life, and that isn't historically unambiguous. It's not clear exactly what went down. Poor Mary gets a bad historical rap.

Oh well, the movie was okay. I just have to remember that it's like the Fox News of 16th century politics. All bias, no nuance, but it sure is sensational!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sociology shout out!

In I am America (And So Can You!), Stephen Colbert mentions an ASR piece. I'm too lazy at the moment to look up the citation or to even quote the relevant passage from the Colbert book, but, it's in the chapter on religion, where he is discussion atheists.

He mentions the Edgell et. al study published in the American Sociological Review which indicates that atheists are the most socially disliked group in the U.S.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Subway Saga

So, I used to go to a particular Subway in Tucson. And, without fail, I would always get this one guy behind the counter who did not know how to make a veggie sandwich (or any sandwich) properly. They were impossible to eat without spilling everywhere because he would make them in such a way that it did not close properly. It's not that he put more veggies in it, it's more to do with how he placed the veggies inside the bread. I know that I'm not making much sense. I wish I could illustrate this somehow. Either way, this was really frustrating. I know it sounds like a minor, trivial thing. And, I guess it is. But it's annoying because you know this guy would construct a much better sandwich if he himself were going to consume it. Anyway, I stopped going to that Subway. This was not just because of the Incompetent Sandwich Artist, but also because the veggies were always kind of wilting and one time I got a look into the kitchen and decided never to go back into that store again.

So, they remodeled the store and, seemingly, hired all new staff. So I went back. And sure enough, I've had competently constructed sandwiches several times since the re-opening. And the veggies look a lot more fresh. But, today, I walked in, and my nemesis was standing there. There were two people making sandwiches, so I calculated the chances of his being the one to make my sandwich given the people in line and the speed at which the line was moving. After realizing that it was inevitable that he was going to be the one to make my sandwich I feigned a need to return to my car, thus giving up my spot in the line and returning to hopefully have better luck.

I returned, and it appears to have worked. I get to the front of the line and the other worker asked, "What can I get started for you today?" Get started?! I thought panicking, no! You need to make the sandwich! But I said, "six inch veggie on wheat, please," with my fingers crossed. He cuts the bread, asks what cheese I would like (provolone, if you're curious), and if I would like it toasted. I say yes, and he places it in the toaster. I begin to panic as I see him remove his gloves and then head to the back. The Sandwich Destroyer moves in front of me, smiles, and then takes my sandwich out of the toaster. "What vegetables would you like?"

I think for a moment, considering if there were ways to minimize the damage, by selectively including vegetables that will not create such a mess. But I decide that compromising would just let the sandwich terrorist win. So I ask for my usual, lettuce, tomato, onion, and banana peppers and ranch dressing.

I would like to tell you, dear reader, that this time the sandwich was normal and okay. But I cannot. I watched on with horror as he piled the veggies on, and then, without closing the sandwich properly (again, I know it's not clear how he is ruining my dinner; I will draw a picture and next time I am near a scanner I will scan it in so you can see), wraps it up. I ate it, but not without considerable distress and much napkin-ing. I also lost about half of the lettuce.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I am America (And So Can You!); also, Hypocrite Huckabee

Stephen Colbert's book, I am America (And So Can You!) came out today. I've promised myself that if I finish my reading for ethnography, I can go buy the book.

Also: so, though I disagree with him on a lot, I kind of like Mike Huckabee... he seems like a nice enough guy. But, he just defended Rush Limbaugh (who said that troops who use their first amendment rights to dissent about the Iraq war were "phony soldiers"), arguing that Congress should not censure him for this attack upon the troops because Limbaugh has his first amendment right to free speech. I agree with him here. What Rush Limbaugh said may have been personally distasteful and disrespectful to our troops, but I don't think Congress should be "censuring" him for it. What makes Huckabee's stance hypocritical, however, is that just a while ago he was harshly criticizing Hillary Clinton for failing to vote for a measure to censure MoveOn.org for their "General Betray Us?" ad. So... Mike Huckabee believes in free speech only when he agrees with that speech?

Monday, October 08, 2007


The apartment complex I live in has a very small parking lot. When I hired a moving company to help me move in, the truck they used made it so that no one else could maneuver into or out of the parking lot. I felt kinda bad, especially as I was moving only 10 blocks away. But there was no way that my little car would be able to transport things such as bookshelves. There was no way, however, that I needed a semi trailer for my boxes of books and my bookshelves.

Anyway, yesterday I had a flat tire. I aired it up and thought everything was fine. But I went out this morning and saw that it was flat again. I had a spare donut tire, but no jack. So I decided I might as well take advantage of Kia's free roadside assistance. Why not? Well, they contract out with local companies, and the local company that came to change my tire arrived in a honking huge tow truck. I had to go out to sign some papers, and saw angry looking residents unable to get their cars out of the lot. No doubt they were wondering why I was incapable of changing the tire myself. That's a fair question. I hope I am not now associated in their minds with bringing huge, unnecessary, inconvenient trucks into their parking lots in order to perform seemingly simple tasks.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Random political thoughts.

(Because I don't feel like developing each one of these into a proper post. These are mostly stream of consciousness rants. Feel free to skip this post.)

  • Torture is never pro-life, no matter how you try to justify it.
  • What is with Rush Limbaugh calling soldiers who dissent from the President "phony soldiers"? So, he just likes soldiers and vets when they serve his agenda?
  • Mike Huckabee is probably the Republicans' best bet, but they're never going to realize that, as a party. They'll end up with Romney or Giuliani. This might be a function of the compressed primary cycle, where the frontrunners are going to win it all. Hello, Hillary.
  • How clever were the Dems to make President Bush veto a health care for kids bill (SCHIP)? I mean, it's a good bill, but it was total political theater. And good on them! Usually it's the Repubs who manage to manipulate the media effectively; the democrats usually come off a wimps. Well, actually, the Democrats usually are wimps. As much as I hate the "political game," I'm glad the Democrats are gaining some competency at it.
  • How disgusting is this whole Blackwater thing?
  • War, incidentally, is not pro-life, either. One can make a case for it, and perhaps even justify it, but it's never "pro-life."
  • How funny was it that Fred Thompson had to ask an audience for applause?
  • How funny is the Fred Thompson/James Dobson debacle?
  • "General Betray Us" was cheesy and ineffective. But how is that different than how Max Cleland and other soldier candidates have been smeared? Don't feign outrage about this one.
  • I want to read Clarence Thomas's new biography. It will probably make me sad. But I still want to read it.
  • Wouldn't it be funny if Giuliani got nominated and the Christian Right decided not to vote for him and went for a third party candidate instead?
  • Why do Ron Paul people insist upon putting stickers everywhere?
  • And how is Ron Paul raising money? Who is giving to that campaign, knowing it is going nowhere?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Welcome to the Pessimism Express, I'll be your conductor this evening.

It's very disheartening when you go to print your reading for the next week at Kinkos and find out that your order qualifies for a "volume discount."

Sarah suggested that at the rate I'm printing, it would probably be a better investment to go ahead and buy my own printer. She's probably right.

So, it didn't quite work out as planned.

I did indeed do my "strategic slacking." I even skipped class, when, sure, I was feeling sick, but not sick enough that I couldn't sit through three hours. Yet here I am, dear reader, at 3:45 am, just now finished with work able to get to bed. And I still have a million emails from the course of this week that I need to get to. And who knows how long it will take me to get to sleep. This pattern is not sustainable. I am in dire need of some organization. That is my goal for this weekend. Organizing and getting ahead. Cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Strategic slacking.

So, this week is completely crazy. In fact, this semester has been generally crazy from the beginning. But I think I know how I am going to get ahead. For one of my Thursday classes I have to finish reading a book I have barely started and write a memo on it. Now, the book itself looks interesting, and I hope to read it one day. But tomorrow is not that day. During this class, we have two weeks of memos that we are allowed to skip. I have already used one, due to a technological issue that made it impossible for me to get the memo out on time. But I think I'm going to use my second and final one this week, and hope that in doing so I can get back on track.

During the time I save tomorrow, I will do my reading and write my memo for my Friday class (a book and three articles) and well as get a bunch of RA work done. This weekend I will not only get ahead for the next week, but I will also decide definitively on a Master's plan. I am so far behind, it's not even funny.

Incidentally, the weather in Tucson was beautiful today. Everyone else was complaining about it. It was gray and overcast, with occasional sprinkles. I felt more optimistic about Arizona than usual today. I think a nontrivial amount of this may have been due to the weather. I think I have the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder; gray skies make me feel good and clear, sunny days are associated with increased depressive affect. Tucson was not a good choice.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Do you ever feel like your life is a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but you can't skip a few decisions ahead and return if necessary?

Whenever I read CYOA books, I would always read a few twists and turns ahead before deciding for real on a particular course of action. I wish life were like that: before a major decision, you could travel that route a while, or see into the future, before absolutely committing.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Who knew?

Despite the fact that I disagree with the current political consensus in Texas on most issues, and the fact that G.W. Bush was our Governor, and many other things that cause many progressive people to have a deep antipathy towards Texas, I think it might just be the best state.

Public school was largely ineffective in inculcating a sense of national pride. Don't get me wrong, I love my country. But I see, quite clearly, its faults, and they sadden me. They succeeded, however, in instilling in me a sense that Texas is completely unique and something quite special. I didn't realize how much state pride I had until I was no longer there. I tried to grow some bluebonnets here (state flower, for you unfortunate non-Texans), and they died. This is probably my fault, though, not necessarily Arizona's.

Was your state ever its own country? Can your state split into four (five?) others at will? Can your state fly its flag as high as the U.S. flag? Do you have an Alamo? I didn't think so.*

*Um, so, this is not entirely true. The thirteen original colonies were, for a time, separate states until the ratification of the first US Constitution. Also, the Republic of Vermont and the Bear Flag Republic (California) were countries before becoming states.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What does this mean?

Whenever I see people doing good things, or standing up for something they don't necessarily have a stake in, I am very touched, and tend to start crying (depending on sleep levels, etc. I cry a lot when I have a lack of sleep. This is really common lately.) So when I see people going down to support the Jena 6, for example, I tear up. Or when I see people protesting the war. Or when I hear stories of people harboring Jews during the Holocaust. Or even something as simple as people volunteering at a soup kitchen.

So, here's the worrisome part: I tend not to tear up at unequal justice systems or the mere fact of homeless people. I don't cry when I think about children without health insurance, and I don't break down when I see war coverage. Sure, each of these things makes me upset and could make me cry. Goodness knows I've bawled at enough stories about soldiers. But--the quickest way to get an emotional response out of me is to show me people reacting to it, doing good deeds. Remember that story CNN covered a while back, about the kid in Iraq who was disfigured? What got to me most was not the story itself, but the comments and responses, and eventually, the Americans who provided the means for his family to come to the U.S. and have restorative surgery.

What does this say about me? I thought about this for a while today. (Introspection is a good way to procrastinate.) Perhaps it indicates that I am too cynical: I expect the world to suck and to be unfair. I don't expect people to care enough to try to fix the injustices, so that is emotionally surprising, not resonant with the way in which I intuitively understand the world. And that's scary... that on some level I accept the horrors of the world as inevitable, but don't expect people to fix it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday curse

This is the second week in a row in which I have managed to lock my keys in my office.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How sad is it that this was inspired by "Body and Soul"*?

Since I've come back from Texas this summer I've been on and off sick the entire time. In addition, despite working out semi-regularly, I've gained weight. This is not surprising, as I have been less than regular about taking my thyroid medicine, and been eating not entirely healthily. Because of a refrigerator mishap that I took my sweet time about dealing with, for the first few weeks I subsisted solely on takeout, things like Subway (not so bad) and Panda Express (awful). Even now, with a working, non-smelly refrigerator, I still find myself eating out a lot. And I have rediscovered Wendy's Caesar salad dressing. Which is one of the nutritionally worst salad dressings ever. But one of the best tasting.

So, here's the thing. I'm now counting on you blog people to keep me accountable. I am going to re-start the diet I was on the summer before last. Which means going back to eating meat, primarily boneless skinless chicken breast. Ugh, it gets old after a while. But I'm going to stick with it. Except for perhaps one exception of using salad dressing that has sodium in it. I know it can work. My mom lost a lot of weight on it and looks wonderful (hi, Mom!). It didn't work when I last tried it due to unknown thyroid problems. But they are now known, and I am (supposedly) taking medicine for it.

So, here I go. Starting tomorrow, I am working out every morning, and following this diet. Wish me luck!

*Which, for all of you non-sociologists, is a book by Loic Wacquant about his ethnographic study of a Chicago boxing gym.

Edit, 10:56--I might not start first thing tomorrow. I will definitely be working out tomorrow. But I still need to go grocery shopping, which I won't get to until tomorrow evening. Then, I will start.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

book-related misadventures.

In the past week I've been dealing with problems having to do with books, some of these problems are with Amazon and one is with the University of Arizona library.

I'd write more about it now, but the library problems were around 2 this morning, when I decided to go check some books out, and ended up staying until around 4 to get it all straightened out. So, in short, I am too tired to write.

I'll update you soon, though, have no fear!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I kind of blame this on Travis.

I should never have started watching The Office. But now that I have, I can't stop. So, because I'm too busy* to create a real post, you get these two Pam and Jim videos I found on Youtube.

*Too busy watching The Office, that is. Watching The Office is also making me too busy to do my real work.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Note to all kindergarten teachers: there is a break in the pipeline somewhere.

There are some who have reached the age at which they can drive themselves and another person to a restaurant but who have yet to master the concept of an "inside voice."

Note: while I am studying, I do not care to hear you describe what you are eating to your friend on the phone. If I were sitting next to you, or even a few feet from you, I realize that hearing your voice would be unavoidable. Sure. But if you are across the room, and there are several other people and groups of people sitting, talking, closer to me than you are, and I can hear vague mumbles from them, but distinct words and sentences and freaking paragraphs from you, you are not using your inside voice. And when you're describing all the movies you've seen in the past year to your "date"? Not only does hearing your voice annoy me, but so does your cinematic taste.

(I'm sorry to be such a complainer of late. I'm not getting enough sleep and am amazingly busy. However, you do have to admit that you kind of sign on for this sort of thing, when you read a blog that has "rants and ravings" in its title.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dear Coffe XChange,

I go into your store regularly to sit and read or study. I am not sure why I keep going, because nearly every time I am there, you are playing a radio station that is playing commercials rather than music at least half of the time. Maybe it's just me and my almost attention deficit disorder, but I get distracted anytime there is talking near me. I cannot concentrate on one thing while a conversation is going on around me, when that conversation is as loud as your sound system is. I have, over the years, learned to be able to listen to music with words while studying, but I have not yet perfected these skills when it comes to commercials and talk show hosts.

Now, I do not expect you to change your musical habits because of my (perhaps unique) problem. But, I suspect that most people do not enter into a coffee shop in order to hear someone selling Billy Bob's plumbing services.

Also unhelpful: not having any chai tonight. And when I got a nonfat vanilla latte instead of my chai, I'm pretty sure it was whole milk rather than skim. And, the store was really, really cold.

[Sorry for ranting. I just felt the need to complain.]

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Procrastination through irony.

Instead of working, at the moment I am browsing around on amazon.com, checking out books about procrastination.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Yes, even "Down in the Groove" and "Empire Burlesque."

Despite the urgings of good taste and logic, I find 1980s Bob Dylan fascinating and wonderful.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lights, camera, foot tap!

Why is everyone re-enacting the Senator Craig bathroom incident? Both Slate V and Keith Olbermann used the police report to shoot video reenacting the encounter. I guess with the police report as it was, it was bound to happen. Man, don't ya miss the good old days when parents were upset they had to explain what a blow job was to their children because Clinton was all over the news?

Between Mark Foley, Bob "I was scared so I offered the big black guy a blow job!" Allen, and now Larry "wide stance" Craig (to name a few), the G.O.P. is probably wishing for a good, old fashioned heterosexual sex scandal. But, when they wish for that they end up with Rep. Diaper-man David Vitter.

Now, don't get me wrong. I hate all of the excessive media coverage of this just as much as you. Unlike the kids over at Wonkette, I don't relish all the Republican sex scandals. I think it mostly just obscures the real corruption. Right now we're talking about Larry Craig rather than warrantless wiretapping. But it is kind of sad that the very people who are so very anti-gay are, themselves, so very gay. (As an aside, I hate that there is so much more relish in a "gay" scandal than a "straight" one. I think it is more interesting when the person in question is anti-gay, certainly, because of the inherent hypocrisy. However, what I object to is this glee not over hypocrisy outed but at the idea of a person you disagree with being gay, because that's bad and awful and funny.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I love Russ Feingold and Bob Dylan.

"My next President will be a Bob Dylan fan." *

Why do all the cool kids come from the Midwest?

*For those of you who do not get the reference this video is making, which if my ignorance prior to my Dylan obsession, combined with my friends' lack of Dylan obsession, is any indication, is a good number of you [yes, I am pop culturally illiterate], the reference is to the video to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which I think is kind of brilliant. In fact, here it is for your viewing pleasure:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If Mr. Bean is wrong, then I don't want to be right.

My 9-to-5 working ambitions are currently being thwarted by a combination of sleeping in and silly videos on youtube.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

This is random, and perhaps slightly unnerving to those of you who appreciate privacy, but...

I am a crazy good Google-stalker.

But, fear not, oh public. I very rarely Google-stalk people*. But I always find out interesting things when I do.

*It's true. You don't have to worry. I do not make a habit of this. Habitual Google-stalkers kind of freak me out, to be honest.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Why can't I get to sleep?

The answer is because Loki is barking. I can go sit with him, and he stops, but the moment I leave he goes back to the window and begins barking again. I wonder what he's barking at. But, really, I'm too tired to wonder much.

But, I have decided that I want a dog. Loki is wonderful. I've only ever really had cats, and I'd always assumed that I liked cats better than I liked dogs. But, no, dogs seem to be smarter. Or, rather, they seem to be more interested in conveying to you the fact that they know what you're saying. Cats are rather indifferent to your existence unless they decide that they would like someone to pet them.

So, when I ever again find myself in a living situation where I am able to own a pet, I will probably go for the dog, and I have the ever lovely Loki to thank for this.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Use the women-only elevators; and no cross-gender hand-shaking, please!

Sorry for the lack of updating. I've been busy working and procrastinating! :-)

Anyway, how sad is it that whenever I get bored or cannot sleep, I go look at the campus life policies (dress codes, restrictions on movies, television, internet access, etc.) of conservative Christian colleges?

Recently, I've been checking out Bob Jones University, Patrick Henry College, Pensacola Christian College, and Liberty University. They're awesome.

Among the highlights from various policies:
--10:25 pm curfew, and must sign out of dorm if leaving past 7 pm
--women must wear skirts or dresses; pants are only allowed in womens' residence halls, and shorts are never acceptable
--security cameras outside women's dorms but not mens'
--no contact with the opposite sex without a chaperon
--no secular music whatsoever, unless it is classical
--no Christian rock music, either!
--no movies rated above G may be watched in ones' own home (i.e., not even when you're in the dorm... when you go home for the weekend, too)
--may not attend movie theaters at all, generally
--freshmen and sophomores cannot leave campus unless they are going to their parents' home
--divorced students must get permission from administration before dating any students
--students may not date non-Christians
--students must get parental permission before embarking on any romantic relationship
--in order to marry in the middle of an academic year, couples must get permission from administration
--no meeting with students of the opposite sex off campus
--no staring intensely into the eyes of someone of the opposite sex
--may only use email provided by the university because it has a filter (this includes for school-related things, as well as personal email)
--may not access the internet on campus on any device that bypasses the university's filters (e.g., PDAs, cell phones)
--no wearing of Abercrombie and Fitch
--separate staircases and elevators for men and women
--no dancing
--women must have "feminine" haircuts and hairstyles
--no physical contact between the sexes (even shaking hands)
--must find a church in the area to attend, and inform the administration of this church, as well as have a minister in that church sign off each semester that you have attended 80% of the time, at least
--hair or clothing "related to a counterculture" is unacceptable

These are all, of course, in addition to the "normal" ones you might find at more "moderate" Christian colleges, such as no pornography, no homosexuality, no premarital sex, no rated R movies, etc.

Why do I find these so awesome? Is there something wrong with me?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

(maybe) DC bound!

Forget Mr. Smith, Ms. Bridges is going to Washington.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A post to make you feel better about your day.

Sometimes I blog because I need to share my opinion, sometimes because I'm bored, and sometimes because I haven't posted anything in a few days and want to at least have something posted from the last week or so. And then sometimes I post for you, the reader. By reading such posts, you are bound to feel better about how your day has gone. Just a few examples of these from the past year can be found here (in which the water turns off in my apartment, right after I had lathered up my head with shampoo) and here (in which a trip to the store turns disastrous).

Today was just as fun. I felt like the pathetic character in some tragicomedy, watching everything go wrong, powerless to stop it.

The day started normally enough. I woke up, worked on some work stuff, and was mostly lazy, reading some blogs and some Harry Potter message boards. Then I had to head out for a doctor appointment. Easy enough, right? Well, it was raining outside. Hard. My umbrella was, of course, in my car. And, for some reason, none of the jackets I have with me in Tucson have hoods. So, in order to reach my car, I put on a bath robe over my clothes and a shower cap over my hair. The shower cap worked. The robe failed miserably, not only letting the clothes underneath become soaked, but leaving me with a huge soaking robe in my car.

Either way, I was in the car, and that was a plus. But as soon as I get out on the roads, it's clear that this isn't going to be an easy trip. At one point I got into what was perhaps too deep a patch of water. My car started sliding along with the water, finally being stopped on its course by the curb. Never have I been so happy to run into the curb on the side of the road.

I finally get to the doctor and have my appointment. Then I have to head to campus for a meeting. Easier said than done. The roads are now worse than ever, especially the roads near campus. Two attempted routes to my parking garage are blocked by police cars warning that the water is to deep to drive. I finally find my way into a garage. Just as I enter, a loud crash of thunder sounds and the lights in the garage turn off and several car alarms sound.

I prepare to get out and make my way to the soc building, determined to brave any and all bad weather, with my umbrella now by my side. I get to the first road I must cross and find that the water depth is somewhere between my ankles and my knees--and it's moving pretty swiftly. I brave on, reminding myself of the many times during The Oregon Trail during middle and elementary school that I decided to ford the river rather than pay for a ferry.

Just as happened during many a river fording back in the day, my fording of the flooded street failed. The failure was not immediately apparent. At first, I lost control of my shoe, which just flitted off my foot and started gushing down the river/street. Still feeling in control of the situation, I run after the shoe, at one point putting out my umbrella into the rushing water, trying to watch the shoe as if in a net. This is unsuccessful, merely serving to flip the umbrella out, inverting it, and breaking one of the metal pieces. I continue to run after the shoe. I am, at this point, running in mid-leg-length water, completely soaked. But it got worse. I tripped over something--a rock, a hole in the ground, someone else's escaped shoe, or my own two feet, it's not clear--and fell. Right into the water. Any bit of me that had remained dry during the shoe chase was now wet and cold.

I decided to give up on the meeting. I couldn't really walk into the soc building literally soaking, with one shoe on. So as I watched my shoe sail away, I decided to head back to the car, not bothering to fix the umbrella. What was the point at this point?

After a dejected, one-shoed walk back to the car, I called the person I was to meet with, and said that I need to go home and change shoes because I lost mine in the flood. I didn't mention the fall, or say that I need to go home to completely change my clothes, but I needed to do that as well.

When I get home, I realize that the only other shoes I have in Tucson are dress shoes. My sandals died and several pairs of tennis shoes are in Denison. So, my options are going to a shoe store with one shoe on, or going into a shoe store with two dress shoes on, while not wearing dressy clothes (I wasn't after all, about to go dress up simply to go to a shoe store. I'd been through enough). I choose option number 2. Around this time, the person I was meeting with called to say that the office had been closed due to a leak and that we should meet tomorrow morning.

Fine. But I still needed to go get shoes. So, again, I made my way through absurdly flooded streets. But I finally got shoes. And I just now got home.

Was your day better than this?*

*I do realize, of course, that most people in the world are having a worse day than this. What with war, genocide, and poverty, some would love a day where getting stuck in the rain is their biggest problem. Indeed, today wasn't so bad for me. It was mostly funny. In retrospect.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Snape is Heathcliff.

I was re-organizing my books in order to avoid the real cleaning that needs to be done, and got sucked into a little bit of Wuthering Heights. And I realized that Snape is Heathcliff. Their physical descriptions are similar, they're both motivated by tragic love, and they're both often cruel. And they both fascinate me as characters. And, clearly, this means that James Potter is Edgar Linton. I'm cool with that. I was always kind of apathetic about them both.

I was right about him (Snape), incidentally. After all the people who would approach me just to argue whenever I would wear my "Snape is innocent" shirt, I feel the need to gloat a little bit.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What kind of Liberal Are You?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

I am, however, obviously a fan of Jesus.

Probably the creepiest thing ever.

I'm back in Tucson, but too tired for substantive updates. Watch this creepy (fictional!) video about GoogleEarth.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's officially Harry Potter week!

I guess it has been ever since the Order of the Phoenix movie came out (sure, a rather long week, spanning Tuesday to Saturday of the next week). But, the party really starts tomorrow. I'm leaving in the morning for Texas, where my hair will become Weasley red, in the hopes that all Weasleys make it out of Deathly Hallows happy and in tact.

I am positively giddy. I'm kind of going around singing and smiling at everyone. Everyone else looks at me like I'm a bit of an idiot. But that's okay.

Oh, today I bought a wand. It was from Borders, not from Ollivander's. But Ollivander has been kidnapped by the DE's, now hasn't he? It was the best I could do. It's kind of cheesy. It makes noises. It cost $5. It almost certainly does not have a phoenix feather core. But it gets the job done. So watch out or I'll hex you. Ginny and I both do a mean bat bogey hex.

Don't care about Harry Potter? "Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!" (random wizard to Vernon Dursley in Philosopher's Stone)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

spoiled senseless

I've spent the past few hours digging up spoilers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. They abound: chapter titles, chapter art, summaries, lists of deaths, scans of the epilogue, etc.

While I do not want to be spoiled, something about the presence of spoilers compels me to seek them out. The thing, however, is that I don't feel spoiled at all. So many of the things I've read were contradictory, so that even if it happens to be the case that one of them is true, it will still come as a surprise upon reading it. And the epilogue scans: if they're true, I'll be disappointed. It was really cheesy.

Email me or something if you want spoilers.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It's true.

With Deathly Hallows coming so soon, it's hard to focus on anything. I am being terribly unproductive. But, if nobody minds, it doesn't matter. The PhD Comics people are, of course, correct. And I certainly don't mind*.

*I know I will later, though, *sigh*. I had so many grand ambitions for this summer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Order of the Phoenix, the movie

Things I Loved:
--Umbridge. Umbridge. Umbridge. Perfection.
--Luna was great.
--Sirius and Harry
--the fact that this new screenwriter actually incorporated a lot of dialogue from the book itself. Take a hint, Steve Kloves, since you insist on coming back for HBP
--Fred and George's exit
--the music
--small hints of R/H and H/G
--"Nice one, James."
--Dumbledore's exit "Yes, I thought we'd hit that little snag." ("But you can't deny he's got style!")
--"emotional range of a teaspoon."
--Ginny's brilliant reductor spell
--the floo looked way better than in Goblet of Fire. No more talking embers pretending to be Sirius
--skiving snackboxes!
--They had the cat plates in Umbridge's office!!!
--Death Eater costumes much improved
--Lupin holding Harry back
--a goat in the Hog's Head. Sheer brilliance!
--Fred and George and the little boy
--Filch staking out the room of requirement
--"Probably full of nargles."

Things I Didn't So Much Like:
--the weird choke hold the dementor had on Harry at the beginning
--Arabella Figg, generally
--Bellatrix Avada Kedavra-ing Sirius. That's not how it goes.
--The veil. That's just not how I pictured it.
--Harry realizing the whole "love" thing. He's not supposed to get it yet.
--"And I feel sorry for you."
--Movie!Hermione is still calling Ron "Ronald" in that weird way.
--"Don't you have schoolwork to do?!"
--it wasn't clear how Ginny, Luna, and Neville came to be among those detained by the Inquisitorial Squad
--The Room of Requirement: where were the crash mats, dark detectors, etc.?

Things That Should've Been Included:
--Mundungus Fletcher
--Hagrid's tale
--more time at 12 Grimmauld Place, cleaning, etc.
--St. Mungo's and Neville's parents!!
--Rita Skeeter interview
--Quidditch and "Weasley is our King!"
--No smashing things in Dumbledore's office
--The Ministry of Magic. Where is the planet room, the locked door, etc, etc.
--more of the hearing. squashy armchairs and all!
--Career advice; "Biscuit, Potter?...Don't be ridiculous."
--The fact that Umbridge sent the dementors to Privet Drive
--Mrs. Black's screaming portrait
--Phinneas Nigellus
--where was Lily in the Snape's Worst Memory scene?
--More Remus/Sirius
--Petunia knowing about the dementors
--Ginny's "lucky you" and "oh damn" lines
--Mrs. Weasley's boggart

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Protect the sanctity of his marriage!

Senator David Vitter (Republican-LA) has turned up on the DC Madam's phone records. Now, I obviously am not a fan of adultery. However, I wouldn't be terribly upset; it is, after all, his private life, and something he and his family need to deal with and work through. But, I do start to care when he is openly hypocritical.

According to his website, a statement on the Sanctity of Marriage: "This is a real outrage. The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won’t do anything about it. We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts’s values. I am the only Senate Candidate to coauthor the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage."

Yes, we need to keep the gays and lesbians from getting married. Obviously, two people of the same sex having the same legal rights and protections as he and his family threaten the sanctity of his marriage. At the very least, it's obviously worse than his adultery and prostitute patronage. Right?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Remind me never to read biographies of people I admire.

Most of the time, I end up wanting to punch them in the face, if they're not already dead. In this case, I'm talking to you, Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

erasable pens

For some reason, erasable pens always evoke for me memories of my 3rd and 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Covington. I've used them often since, but in my mind they are indelibly linked with that class.

She was brilliant. We got to set our own spelling words each week and then tested each other. We got to dress in white "lab coats" and do "science experiments," which we then wrote up in our journals, describing each piece of the scientific method.

Her class wasn't like other classes. We didn't sit at desks all day, doing worksheets. I remember that when we would give each other our spelling tests, Laurie and I (my friend, who I just now remembered! I haven't seen her since 5th grade) would sit under the table to do it.

We were up and about, using our hands and all of our senses to understand what was going on. We had a considerable amount of autonomy in deciding what we wanted to study and how we wanted to study it. We voted on whether we wanted to focus on Egypt or some other places in social studies (Egypt won, so I don't remember the other options we had :-)).

Sorry for the lapse into nostalgia. When you're looking for procrastination, something as simple as erasable pens can keep you from working.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The only comment I plan on making about Scooter Libby

About the whole Scooter Libby commutation thing. Let's say, for argument's sake, that the penalty was, as Bush argued, too harsh to fit the crime. (Which, btw, it was in line with sentencing standards, so it's hard to argue it was "too harsh.") If the problem was the length, why not cut down the 30 month sentence to 5 months, or whatever the President felt was appropriate? Why require him to serve not a single day in jail?

According to the New York Times, this is completely out of line with Bush's previous actions:
“The grounds he offered for commuting Libby’s sentence were equity — that the sentence was out of line with other sentences — or compassion,” Professor Sarat said. “Those two grounds seem so out of character with anything Bush had ever said or done in the area of clemency that it’s as if he has become a different person.”

He's clearly giving special treatment to his friends and people who have lied to protect him.

And, I suppose that is a President's privilege. However, it was amazingly disheartening to see the one instance in which someone was being held accountable for this administration's actions that led to a disastrous war be thwarted by the President.

It wasn't a whole lot. There were no impeachment proceedings. (After all, it's not as if GWB were getting a blowjob. That would require more tough action.) It was a staffer getting punished for lying to the American people about his actions in outing a CIA agent in order to discredit someone who was telling a different story about Iraq's attempts to get WMD. This would blow over relatively soon. Bush doesn't lose a whole lot by letting Libby serve his sentence. And Libby's sentence doesn't require any more loss of face by this administration. We're not demanding he tell the truth, after all. Just that he serve some time for lying under oath.

That's why this is so distressing. It's just another example of the power that the President has to prevent any accountability, any responsibility for his actions. It's a reminder that he's in charge, that the law doesn't apply to him and his, and that we the people can try whatever means we want to make him responsible for his actions, he can undo them just like that.

Edited to add: Also, again like the Paris Hilton case, this demonstrates the powerful differences in the legal system for the rich and the middle class and the poor. Most of the time the differences aren't so stark. You don't see the President's friends getting their sentences commuted because they're "not fair" or socialites going home after a few days because they're suffering mental breakdowns.

No, usually, the difference happens at the trial level, where those with money are more able to get off or to get lighter sentences because they can afford better lawyers. Public defenders, after all, are notoriously overworked, and thus often less effective in defending their clients.

But it's these high profile cases, like the Paris Hilton and Scooter Libby ones, that highlight in dramatic terms the ways in which justice is not equal in this country. The average person whose sentence is "too harsh" does not get a commutation. And there are thousands of mentally disturbed people in our prison and jail systems. Why does Paris get to leave because she's having mental issues?

Along with exemplifying the lack of responsibility taken by this administration for it's own actions, the Scooter Libby ordeal crystallizes the problems resulting from unequal justice and inequality before the law.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fourteen days left

The final Harry Potter book will be here in 14 days. To be at this moment is surreal. I started reading when there were only three of them, and became obsessed when there were only four. I've been to two book release parties and I've been at the midnight showing for every movie except the first one. I've written and read fan-fiction. I've evangelized the series to others and now have several friends who would not be HP fans but for my stubborn obsession. (Nevermind the many friends who might never read HP because of my obsession...)

Harry Potter is irrevocably intertwined with my memories of my freshman year of college. I remember coming home for Christmas break and downloading hundreds of pages of fanfiction onto 3.5 inch disks so that I could read in my room (where I had no internet). I remember making fan videos before youtube and fan videos were cool. I remember the shipping wars. I remember reading the books for the first time. You never get that first reading back.

Book 1: I remember thinking, throughout the entire book, "If Snape is the bad guy, this is the most predictable piece of children's crap ever written." He wasn't, and I was duly impressed.

Book 2: I don't remember much of my reactions while reading this actually. At the time, though, I was reading it aloud to my brother, and I remember his audible gasp when we found out that Tom Riddle was Lord Voldemort. I remember this distinctly. I miss me and Daniel reading Harry Potter together. I don't think he's even read the 6th book yet, and probably won't be terribly interested in the 7th.

Book 3: This book was simply incredible. I am still slightly stunned every time I reread the Shrieking Shack scene. The finale of this book convinced me of JKR's utter genius.

Book 4: Moody, Moody, Moody. Oh, to relive the moment I found out that Professor Moody was not Professor Moody. That's the excitement you can only get on a first read.

Book 5: This was spoiled for me by one Ms. Sarah Collins. Not (as of then) a fan of the books, she thought it no big deal, when I asked her to read to me while I was driving, to turn to the very end and hear Harry scream to Voldemort, "You killed my godfather!" The rest of the book, I could not help but worry for Sirius.

Book 6: I stayed up all night reading this, and went to bed, having been up nearly 24 hours, with few powers of reflection or consideration, depressed that Snape was, in fact, working for Lord Voldemort. Upon awaking and considering the book again, I realized that I was utterly wrong.

Book 7: Who knows what the ending will be. But, the "ending," that moment where you read, for the first time, how it all goes down, where everything you've read up to that point clicks into place, and things make sense... that can really only ever happen once. In fact, it might be something that can never happen for future generations of readers. For instance, if Harry dies (which, for the record, I don't think that he will), this will be common cultural knowledge. We all know Beth dies, we know Darth Vader is Luke's father, and we know that Rhett doesn't "give a damn." We know these things, even if we've never seen/read Star Wars, Little Women, or Gone With the Wind. Whatever happens to Harry it will be headline news and become simply a part of our culture. People starting the series will know whether Harry makes it out or not. We don't. We are perhaps unique here. I intend to make the ending of this book, the experience of reading it for the first time, count.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Why does Target not carry Harry Potter party things?

They have cups, plates, napkins, and every other party accessory for Spiderman, Barbie, Shrek, and any and every other movie vaguely targeted at children. But no Harry Potter.

And, why, when I ask a sales person where I might find the HP stuff does she assume that it is for my child?

And why, most importantly, do I feel compelled to simply agree that, yes, it is for my HP-obsessed kid* and not for myself?

*who does not exist

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ringo's Rotogravure

That's the record I am currently listening to. Yes, that's right, record. After over a week of wondering whether they still make record players and fretting over whether it would be worth the cost to get one, I've given in and purchased a turntable. For these first five minutes, at least, it's completely worth the time and effort involved in getting it.

I have a rather large (for someone who has never owned a record player) collection of records. I once decorated my living room with some ($.25-$1.00 at thrift stores!) and recently bought a few for about $4 each at Bookmans. The recent ones include post-Beatle projects of The Beatles. Like I could find actual Beatles albums at thrift stores! Ha.

Anyway, I'm currently waxing nostalgic about turntables, records, and an era in which I never lived. I guess if I wanted to be truly nostalgic, I'd bust out a cassette tape player. But those are not nearly so fun.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Monday, June 04, 2007

Birthday update

As Wonkette astutely notes, June 4 is an important day. Also sharing my birthday are Angelina Jolie, the Six Day War, the Cold War, George III, the Battle of Midway, the 19th Amendment, and the Tiananmen Square protests.

Anyway, you probably have noticed my lack of updates recently. I have a good reason. I have no internet. However, supposedly, I will have internet on Thursday. Cross your fingers!

And now I actually have to get work done, which was the purpose of coming to Beyond Bread for the free internet.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sad fact of the day

Before five minutes ago, the last time I checked my email was Thursday evening.

Here's the sad part: that's the longest I can ever remember going without checking my email.

The reason is that I have just moved and do not yet have internet at my new apartment.

Hopefully I will be connected soon! Though, it was sort of freeing. Perhaps I need to set aside a certain time of day to check email, maybe twice a day, and otherwise leave it alone, not be a slave to it. I could stop using Outlook, or at least leave it closed, so I don't get a little message every time I have an email.

Either way, whatever I decide to do, after I finish getting work done today, I won't be able to check my email until tomorrow. Isn't it great?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Today's lesson

You can accumulate a lot of crap in one year. This is particularly problematic for a pack rat who can never bring herself to throw anything out.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My senators.

I'm not entirely sure where I'm registered to vote at the moment, Arizona or Texas. Thus, I will claim Senators from both states as my own until I figure it out. That makes this exchange between AZ Sen. John McCain and TX Sen. John Cornyn all the more delightful:

"[Expletive] you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room," shouted McCain at Cornyn. McCain helped craft a bill in 2006 that passed the Senate but couldn't be compromised with a House bill that was much tougher on illegal immigrants.

This is, apparently, a favorite saying of Republicans, at least while they are on the senate floor. Remember Dick Cheney's lovely "Go f*** yourself!" to Sen. Patrick Leahy a while back?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

my lovely lovely lovely horse*

Thanks to a lovely YouTube member, I have now watched every episode of Father Ted in existence. Granted, there are only 25 of them. But I still feel somewhat pathetic. I've probably seen them all before (after all, I have liked it for quite a while), but now I have watched them all in order. This may make me doubly pathetic.

* haha. I love My Lovely Horse, performed by Father Ted Crilly and Father Dougal McGuire.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

on debates, faith, science, and astronomy (aka a super long post)

If you haven't seen the debate on ABC about the existence of God, you should. Well, maybe you shouldn't, because it's not a very good debate. But it's certainly interesting to watch. Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron decided to "prove" the existence of God scientifically, without reference to The Bible or to faith. They failed spectacularly. Not only was their logic lacking, but most of what they talked about was faith or the Bible. The atheists were right when they noted, in their first rebuttal, that the audience might as well go home because the debate was won, then and there.

Now, I am sympathetic. I believe in God. But throughout this debate I found myself rooting for the atheists. You cannot "prove" the existence of God. It is completely a matter of faith. It is simply not a scientific phenomena. To win this debate against Comfort and Cameron, I do not think you have to say that God doesn't exist. You just have to say that you cannot prove it. C&C's three main pieces of "evidence" were: 1) creation requires a creator, 2) the existence of conscience, and 3) personal conversion experiences.

First, the existence of a creation may require, logically, a creator of some sort (though, certainly, evolutionary processes can explain our and the earth's existence), but that goes nowhere in scientifically proving the existence of God. I hate hate hate when people use arguments like, "if the world were tilted a few inches to the left on its axis we'd all die, thus God perfectly positioned the world." That's idiotic. The very reason we exist in the form we do today is because we, as life forms, adapted to the environment in which we live. If the earth were differently tilted on its axis, a different form of life would exist today.

Second, C&C argue that because we have an "inborn" sense of right and wrong, that proves God's existence. In contrast to his stated objectives, they use the 10 Commandments as a source of these inborn morals. Well, they're taking this inborn sense for granted. I think the atheist debaters attacked this line of reasoning relatively well. How do we explain the fact that many people do not inculcate these morals, they don't take them up? People murder and commit adultery all the time. Much of our morality can be explained through socialization processes. We aren't born with the idea that we should obey our parents (commandment number 5). We learn. We get punished if we don't. One counterpoint that the atheist debaters didn't mention is the fact that morals are culturally variable; how do we explain that? Also, and the atheists did touch on this, note that the first 3 commandments have to do with worshiping Yaweh, the Jewish God. If these are our inborn senses of morality, how do we explain other religions?

The third plank in C&C's argument is that the ultimate proof of the existence of God can only come when you submit yourself to His* will and feel His change in your life. Well, for starters, this is not remotely scientific. However, the bigger argument against this is: most people in most faith traditions have significant conversion experiences and subsequent life transformations. Thus, this says nothing about the existence of a Christian God.**

Okay, so, here's the thing: I'm obviously a fan of faith. I think faith is important to our lives and to society. I'm not an idiot. I know bad, horrific things have been done in its name. But bad and horrific things have been done in the name of science as well. Neither faith nor science, I believe, is "better" than the other. Both serve vital purposes. Everyone has faith, atheist or not. Their faith may not be in a God, it may be in humanity, or something different. But it is impossible to compare the two, much less debate them.

As I watched this debate, I though of a post I wrote a while back, during the summer of 2005, during my slight fling with the sociology of knowledge of astronomy. I was reading a lot of books about the history of thought about the nature of the cosmos and it made me think a lot about the relationship between science and faith. Here is part of it:

I've been thinking alot about science and religion, faith and fact, and how they (ought to? should? do?) interact. We often try to make them fit together in a nice theory-of-everything. That's a western obsession of ours, trying to make all of our different knowledges and ways of knowing the world compatible.

The Bible tells us that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Science, on the other hand, is a weaving together of logic and empirical fact. Faith-based and fact-based views of the world are necessarily different, yet often in our society we try to make them fit together. They dont NEED to agree with each other in order to individually be valid and useful in their different purposes. The primary difference between faith-based views of the world and science is that science relies on empirical, or experiential and observable, evidence to support its claims while faith relies upon that which is inherently unknowable or observable. These two views of the world are mutually exclusive; you would not want science to answer questions about the meaning of life any more than you would expect religion to provide a satisfactory explanation for the phenomenon of gravity.

Empirical evidence requires facts. Facts are mutually agreed upon experiences that can be simultaneously observed or experienced in any place at any time by any number of people. The appearance of an angel to a person or group of persons cannot be described as a fact: the event cannot be experienced again by anyone at any time. To believe this requires an act of faith. Science, on the other hand, is completely shareable. If I say that water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, this could be proven by anyone, anywhere.

Science also must be able to be disproved. Just as I cannot scientifically say that an angel appeared, neither can I say that an angel did not. The existence and appearance of angels, therefore, is not a matter in which science can concern itself. I can, however, prove that the Earth is not 10,000 years old by using carbon dating, or by counting rock layers. Because faith requires no evidence, it cannot be disproved. This is why science cannot answer the question of the existence of a God: it is ultimately and completely a question of faith, not one of fact.

Faith deals in absolute truths; the very nature of science does not allow it to deal with such issues. Science is about probabilities, the probability that a certain event will occur in the future given conditions and variables x, y, and z. Faith-based ways of knowing the world search for absolute truth and make absolute statements of Right and Wrong. Science cannot answer these questions, and we would not want it to.

Through history, people have always tried to make science and faith agree with one another, but often both suffer in the attempt. Pythagoras and others, when describing the universe, tried to make it conform to their faith-based views of the world. Their faith was tied up in the perfection of the universe, and thus the universe and everything in it was seen to be spherical or circular, the most perfect geometric form. When ideas about Beauty and Truth overshadowed ideas about science, the result was statements such as this by Plato: “This was the method I adopted: I first assumed some principle which I judged to be the strongest and then I affirmed as true whatever seemed to agree with this, whether relating to the cause or to anything else; and that which disagreed, I regarded as untrue."

To make his science fit his faith-based views of how the world ought to be, Plato and his students introduced the concept of retrograde, explaining away apparent irregularities in planets’ paths while retaining perfectly circular orbits. Claudius Ptolemy, in his observations of the universe, was also determined to make his ideas about perfect harmony and order in the universe conform to his observed data. As we can see, when empirical observations are interpreted through the lens of a faith-based view of the world, science cannot accurately describe the present or predict the future.

A major breakthrough was made in rescuing science from faith-based ways of knowing when German mathematician Johannes Kepler, after working with Tycho Brahe’s meticulous data and attempting to fit it into both the Ptolemaic and Copernican models of the universe, decided to let the data simply speak for itself, finding that empirical facts simply did not fit with a faith-based view of the world that insisted on perfection and sphericity. Empirical facts were able to describe the shape of the universe more accurately than ever before; no longer was a certain view of the world and how it worked necessary to understand and accept the science: it became more universally shareable. No longer relying on faith-based ideals, theories could be disproved by empirical facts.

Yet we still try to make faith- and science-based views of the world agree with each other. Creationists try to find scientific evidence to support a 10,000 year-old Earth. The Archbishop of Canterbury sought out Einstein to ask how his theory of relatively would affect religion (his response: “None. Relativity is a purely scientific matter and has nothing to do with religion.”). We can see not only that these two different views of the world are designed for different tasks, but that when we try to make them agree we get perfectly circular orbits and impossibly young planets, both bad science and bad faith. Faith does not need evidence. Science can be shared and universally applied precisely because it can only be based on empirical facts.

*their language, not mine
**note that Ray and Kirk were not trying to prove the existence of a/any God, they were specifically trying to establish scientific proof for a Christian God, as evidenced by their use of personal testimony and the Bible.

To the toppermost of the poppermost!

I love The Beatles.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I hate Lord Voldemort.

In this case, I do not mean the Dark Lord. I mean my computer (no, not my computer Percy), whose name also happens to be Lord Voldemort. Turns out the name was well-earned.

Right now I am sitting in a computer lab finishing a paper that is due tomorrow because LV's power supply decided to break. It is covered under warranty, but I can't get a new one for seven days, so it's useless to take it in today. Perhaps I will tomorrow. Either way, I'm annoyed.

I had hoped that perhaps sitting in a lab would cut down on the procrastination and make me work and get this paper finished so I can get out of here.

I was wrong, as you can see by the very existance of this post.

Comet pride

I again find myself up at a ridiculous hour of the morning. And tomorrow I need to finish writing a paper. Ahh! Anyway, I was just watching CNN's American Morning, and they had a story about the Miami Dade College chess team, a team that has no coach and cannot afford the traditional blazers worn by collegiate chess players. Apparently, they recently placed in the Collegiate Chess Final Four and this is very special because they were able to hold their own with "the Harvards and Yales."

Now, I don't mean to diminish their accomplishment. Certainly, it's something for a team with little institutional resources to go as far as they did. And, from what I can tell from the CNN story, the players are all extraordinarily talented and determined.

What slightly annoyed me, though, is that it wasn't just Miami Dade community college who emerged as the scrappy underdog.* No, do you know who won the Collegiate Chess final four? That's right... UT-Dallas. They may not be a community college, and they may be able to get blazers for their team, but they certainly don't have the institutional prestige of "the Harvards and Yales."

We may not have a football team. People may look at me weird when I say I went to UTD and majored in sociology ("Isn't that a math and science school?"). Our mascot may be a comet named Temoc. Our colors may be a hideous green and orange. But, goshdarn it, we rock at chess.**

*Not that UTD is really an underdog. They've been brilliant at chess for quite a while now.
**I, myself, suck at chess, but am claiming UTD's assets as my own.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

On sucking at life: the lost day.

It is now a little after 5 in the morning. I need to go to bed. I have accomplished nothing today. I mean nothing. Not only have I done no work, but I have not done the cleaning I'd planned on. Nor did I do desperately needed laundry. I couldn't even shake my laziness enough to take a shower.

What exactly have I done today? It's sad that I can't remember. Well, I emailed some stuff that I needed to email. So that was productive. I went to the library to get some books. I also checked out a video of the 1939 version of Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier. When I brought it home I remembered that I didn't have a working VCR. So much for that procrastination tool.

I sat down to do some work, but then I started watching this thing about dinosaurs on the Discovery Channel. The afternoon was pretty much lost. Then I tried to convince Travis that he needs to read, or at the very least, watch, Harry Potter. We decided that I would kidnap him this summer and take him to see the movie. Well, I decided this, and he insists that it is impossible and that it is highly unlikely that I will convince him. That remains to be seen.

Anyway, after a really long conversation about the proposed kidnapping and the relative merits of Harry Potter and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, I sat down to get to work, only to get distracted by Jason. It was a good distraction, don't get me wrong. I haven't talked to Jason in a while. But then I got incredibly sad about not going home this summer.

So, the only solution then was to watch hours of The Beatles music videos and videos about The Beatles on youtube. Obviously. Oh, and to make lists of books about The Beatles that I want to buy on amazon.com. Clearly.

This is where I find myself. I am about to go to sleep, and I'm telling myself that I'm waking up at 10:30. But I know that my alarms will go off and I will promptly disable them and sleep 'till 2 in the afternoon. I hope this isn't the case, but part of sucking at life is that you're pretty aware of your bad habits but are generally powerless to stop them.

Edit, 5:50am: So, I'm still watching interviews and videos on youtube. Apparently George never made up with John. Sad. I really am going to bed soon.