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 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 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.