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?