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Sunday, December 26, 2010

deja vu

Or, more appropriately, deja lu. The cover art looked familiar, and so did many of the words. But, I didn't recognize the random part from later in the book that I turned to, so I thought I must have read the opening excerpt online or something. Then I hit a part that had particularly bothered me the first time around, and realized what I'd suspected earlier: I've already read this one, it just didn't make enough of an impression for me to be absolutely sure I'd already read it. But, now that I've reread this really offensive part and the totally bizarre ending, I remember it. And am reminded why I was expecting that I might not finish the new one. Which, according to the author's website, is coming out in May.

Disappointing, but frees me up to move on to another book. Tomorrow, Life of the Buddha in the Morning, and maybe I'll start Perdido Street Station in the afternoon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

change of plans

Went to the library today to get Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. I'm hoping that that one, or perhaps its sequel, turns out to be appropriate for my class in the Spring. I figured I'd read that on the plane, then move on to The Life of the Buddha (which I have to teach when classes start in January), whatever essays catch my attention out of The Mythological Dimensions of Doctor Who (which I have to thumb through so that I can get a sense of what's appropriate for submissions to this planned project on the mythological dimensions of Neil Gaiman['s work]), and Perdido Street Station, which I have have been wanting to read, and am also auditioning for my course in the Spring. Sounds like a great plan, yes?

But, despite the fact that the book showed as being on the shelf when I checked last night, the library did not, in fact have it. What to do?! Well, the bus wasn't coming for another 1/2 hour and it was unpleasant outside, and I was in a library, for crying out loud, so I decided to look around and see if there was anything else I wanted. As if there wouldn't be. Did you know there was a new Sookie Stackhouse book out? I didn't. It's guaranteed to piss me off, but I'm going to read it anyway. Unless it really begins to bore or anger me, in which case I'm just going to put it down and move on. No, really - after the last one, I'm ready to walk away if it isn't actually entertaining me. Now, I'd say I was going to read it on the plane, but it's in the house with me right now, so...

I also picked up Craig Ferguson's autobiography (it's got to be at least a little bit amusing, right?) and a book of poetry by Kay Ryan. She wrote this poem, which I love, and I suspect that I will find others in this collection that I also love. So, um...rather that just the one book (which I put in a hold request for), I came away with 3. And I will totally read those 3, plus the other 3 over the break. Right? These 3 are likely to be quick reads, so I think it's toatlly doable. And the last few times I traveled with books, I devoured them and then sat watching Barbecue play Gears of War, a nd played Soduku and Bejeweled on the plane, so I think it'll be ok.

Book review: "Fledgling" by Octavia Butler

FledglingFledgling by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Click through for review (slightly spoilery)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Well here's a can of worms

This was initially a reply to a comment that K. left on this post, but, go figure, a comment about religion and science got way too long for the comment section. So now it's a post. My apologies for the rambliness (yeah, it is too a word!). I'd say I'd work on it some more, but I probably won't :P

another random one on women

A few weeks ago, I was going to write a post on how much bull this New York Times piece on how OMG WOMEN WITH CAREERS AND MONEY CAN'T GET MEN BECAUSE THEY'RE SCA-RY! (which I found through this Feministe article on it) seemed full of, but someone who does this sort of thing for a living has already done an excellent job  of that.
But a small but growing number of feminist commentators—that's me—are increasingly annoyed by made-up trend pieces that are comfortable playing with more than our assumptions about elderly fitness and performance mouthpiece use. These stories make light of our most basic identities as women—they tell us how our civil rights are ruining our interpersonal relationships, how our wombs are interfering with our higher education, and whether our basic body types are currently socially acceptable. Let's conveniently gloss over the supporting figures: Even one inflated female trend piece in the NYT is one too many.

Monday, December 20, 2010

True Blood was bad about women last season, part π

A while back, a friend asked me why I'd given up on True Blood. We talked about misogyny and race and entertainment, but I felt like I wasn't really at the top of my game that day (I'd had a few other things going on), and I came away feeling that I hadn't done a good job of explaining why so much of what happened last season was problematic, or why so much of what happened last season shouldn't just be problematic to me, or to people who look like me.

Too late to change any of that, but I was looking at articles on Pop Matters this morning, trying to figure out their tone (long story), and came across one that takes a good, smart look at what I thought was one of the worst parts of last season, discussing why it seemed not just disturbing, but unacceptable (hooray!). He's talking about that Bill/Lorena scene at the end of the third episode. You know the one and, if you don't, I'm not telling you about it here. (A warning, by the way, that he describes it in some detail at the start of the article, so if you were hoping to start forgetting that image, maybe skip to third paragraph.) I think he does a good job, using examples of other instances of disturbing violence (drawn from films) of explaining what made this one problematic, and also of what why this seemed like only part of True Blood's problem this season:

The week after “It Hurts Me Too” aired I warily sat down to watch the following episode, “9 Crimes”, unsure of what to expect. I can’t tell whether I’ve been sensitised to the show’s violence or whether it has simply become worse, but none of the women fared particularly well. Over the course of the episode, True Blood’s women were held hostage by psychopaths, attacked in their homes, murdered in limousines, and in a particularly stressful scene, publicly branded.
I wouldn’t argue that acts of violence against women or marginalised groups depicted in popular culture are never OK, but here the context seems to speak for itself. One act of violence may be just that, but I’ve seen enough in True Blood to indicate a pattern, and now I find it hard to watch at all. For me, the show’s misogyny is pervasive and unjustified.
From "Vampire Misogyny: Violence in True Blood" 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ricky Gervais on why he's an atheist

“Do unto others…” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. Buts [sic] that’s exactly what it is -­‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”
You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

I was recently watching Ricky Gervais on The Graham Norton Show and thinking that I like him a little bit more every time I see an interview or a different side of his humor. My other favorite part of this is where he says that he always tries to give a sensitive, reasoned and honest answer, in an attempt not to be patronizing and impolite, only to find that the sensitive, reasoned and honest answer is taken as patronizing and impolite. Yeah, welcome to my world, Ricky. I'm actually not an atheist, but as an agnostic, a woman who doesn't want children, an academic who studies religion, and someone who spends a lot of time trying to  explain to people why their ideas are not as perfect as they think they are, I hear you on that dilemma.

One girl in all the world...

My friend J. was kind enough to give me a lift home from a holiday party tonight, and suggested that we watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've had Whedon on the brain lately, as I've been working on a couple of Whedon-related proposals, so - oh, who am I kidding - I'd have been psyched to watch an episode of Buffy regardless! She suggested something from season two (a great season), and we settled on "I Only Have Eyes for You." I don't think I'd seen that one since it aired (somehow, I have not rewatched most of the show) but, once it came back to me, it came back to me that it had been one of my my favorites. In context, when I was watching that traumatic arc unfold, that episode was heartbreaking (except for the shocker in the final scene). Watching it tonight, what stuck out to me most strongly was how unforgiving Buffy could be, especially of herself. This was really highlighted in the Angel/Angelus arc, but it was one of the central aspects of her character. I always liked the way her unwavering sense of rightness both defined her heroism and problematized her humanity, and the way her Scooby gang strengthened her by softening her.

God, I miss that show.

Speaking of which, I've been saying for a while that I should rewatch Buffy, especially since I'll be teaching it and trying to write on it. I came across this post recently, about a Great Buffy Rewatch that someone (Nikki Stafford, the author of Bite Me, an unofficial companion guide to BtVs) has organized, and I think I'm going to watch along with her. Well, sort of. I don't know if I'll keep to the 3 eps. a week schedule, but I'll use it as a rough guide. I might go more month to month. She'll be blogging about it and will have lots of interesting looking guest bloggers (scholars, sports writers, novelists, TV companion writers, poets, pop culture bloggers, etc) writing about episodes, so I look forward to reading that (info about contributors), and I'm sure you'll see some links to some of that, and some comments over here in the peanut gallery.

I also look forward to writing a bit about it myself - yes, you can expect to see a lot of Buffy posts over the next year as I participate in the rewatch and use the blog to record at least some of my thoughts on the show. Let me know if any of you decide to watch along as well, either all the way through or in parts. Let me know especially if you're local, and would like to get together for some Buffy watching! Unlike the site linked above, I will not be restricting myself to Tuesday nights.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Perhaps I was a horrible human being in a former life?

This morning, I woke up and decided that I would take a bath. There's been a lot going on lately (thus the silence on the blog), and I've been thinking that maybe a nice, relaxing bath would help. I heard my roommate moving around and decided to just chill in bed until I could take over the bathroom. Now, in addition to the normal sounds of my roommate moving around, there was a loud, crashy sound, not quite at the level of godawful racket, but close enough for 8am on a Saturday. I decided not to investigate. It sounded like something - probably something of mine, given that much of what occupies the apartment is mine - had been broken or knocked over, and I just didn't have the heart to find out what it was first thing in the morning. My assumption was that the towel rack had been ripped out of the wall, given the metallic clanginess of the sound.

A bit later, after I'd prepared a playlist of relaxing songs to listen to while in the bath, I went in to start running the water. Here's what I found:

What the fuck?!

Let me translate what you're seeing here: those are several of my towels, sticking out of the toilet. Closest to the back of the toilet bowl is my Superman towel. The light-colored towel with the pattern on it is my Winnie the Pooh towel. Then my purple towels, then my orange hand towel. Sticking out of the toilet bowl.

Not surprisingly, this did not lower my stress levels.

Once I was able to breathe evenly and think in actual words, I knocked -- firmly for a.m. Saturday, but not as aggressively as could be justified upon finding one's bath towels in the toilet -- to ask my roommate how my towels had ended up in the toilet, and why they were still there. He looked terrible, and not just in the "someone woke me up abruptly" way, which is probably why he's still alive. After some confusion about what I was asking him, he managed to explain to me that he's on an antibiotic that he's just started taking, that it's making him really dizzy, and that when he got up and went to the bathroom this morning, he fell and hit his head, and must have knocked the towels into the toilet at that point. He somehow didn't realize he'd done this, and got back into bed.

Now, I have to believe him. I have to believe that the crashing I heard was him falling, and probably trying to grab onto the metal rack that my towels are on. One of the screws that holds it against the wall is loose (it's always been loose), so it wouldn't have helped. And, sure enough, that screw has been pulled out of the wall in a way that suggests someone tried and failed to use the shelf to stabilize himself.

I have to believe that he was really out of it, which is why he fell, and why he didn't realize that he'd knocked my towels into the toilet. I have to believe that he knocked my towels into the toilet, despite the fact that there are just enough of them to fill the bowl, that there are none on the floor,  and that nothing else fell down.

Did I mention that the toilet hadn't been flushed, so my bath towels were knoecked into a toilet full of urine, then left there?

I hope that this antibiotic makes him fall down again. No - hear me out! I hope that this antibiotic makes him fall down again, because it will reinforce that he is not in control of himself right now, and that he obviously didn't intentionally place my bath towels in a toilet full of urine and leave them there to soak. Now, it's possible that falling down again would also mean hitting his head again, and maybe getting hurt worse than before, but I think that would be OK.

Because the fact that I have to believe him -- I am not yet capable of being the human being who does not believe him -- doesn't mean that I don't hate him. Oh, no, not the way I did before, which was really just me not wanting him to be my roommate anymore. No, now I hate him for real. I hate him the way you'd hate someone who left your towels soaking in urine. Just like that. And if that makes me a horrible human being in *this* life?

I hate him.

I'm ok with that this morning.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pleasure and excellence on the decline

An interesting article one of my students pointed me to. According to this piece, the use of the words "achievement" and "fun" have increased exponentially in the last 2 centuries, while the use of the words "excellence" and "pleasure" have declined. The writer suggests that
in the destinies of these two pairs of words is a suggestion of a turning in American culture, and one that has influenced the world. It is a turning away from an arguably aristocratic idea of the intrinsic worth of things: from pleasure, with its sense of an internal condition of mind, to fun, so closely affiliated with outward activities; from excellence, an inner trait whose attainment is its own reward, to achievement, which comes through slogging and recognition.
It's an interesting read - check it out here. I'm inclined to see a relevant correlation between the decline of the use of these words and a decline in the value of the concepts the words express. I'd suggest that this relates to the decline in the value placed on humanistic inquiry as well, though that's a case to make in a longer post than I can do right now. Having spent so much of the last few years being confronted by people who take it as a personal offense that I don't validate every effort they make with an A, I am not at all surprised to read this--old, sad news, in my case. Perhaps the more thought-provoking part of the article, for me, was the final paragraph:
The world in which “pleasure” and “excellence” roared was less equitable than our world today. It shut out vast categories of humankind. In the intervening years, those exclusions dwindled; the world opened up for so many, not least in the United States. But with that change has come another: what would seem to be a growing intolerance for merely being, and an anguished insistence on doing, doing, doing.
Excellence is not, at its core, an egalitarian principle. I'm not sure that I'd say the same thing about pleasure, though I haven't thought about it yet.

Friday, November 5, 2010

An open letter to racists, some of whose best friends are black

Republican state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver is facing criticism after posting a picture on the Internet that some are calling racially offensive.
Weaver said that a picture that she took with her pastor in blackface dressed as Aunt Jemima was just Halloween fun and doesn’t understand why the photo is offensive.

Representative Weaver says that this is all in fun, and "feels some Democrats are making something out of nothing." She is not a racist, she says, pointing out that "some of [her] greatest friends are black."

Oh, I see - some of her best friends are black. You know, I begin to wonder who all these people are whose tight relationships with people of color have not shown them that denigrating people of color (or laughing when someone else does, or thoughtlessly employing symbols of denigration) is not appropriate. Seems a bit strange, no? But, I'm all about solutions here at in medias res, so here's a handy form letter I've whipped up for black folks to send to their friends who are not black. Please feel free to modify with the ethnicity and common types of "funny" denigration most appropriate for you:

Dear non-black friend,

As your friend, I want to be sure there are no misunderstandings on this matter. Please know that your friendship with me will not excuse racism on your part. Our friendship will not make it ok for you to wear blackface, or to respond nonchalantly if someone else does. As a friend, I am telling you in advance that this is offensive, that people will justifiably be offended by it, that your feigned surprise will not make it less offensive, and that your assertion that it was "all in fun" will not make it funny.

And, for the record, pointing out that "some of your best friends are black" will simply make it worse, because what sort of person would do something that is so obviously denigrating of their best friends?

Yours in friendship,
Black Friend

I hope you find this a useful tool. And, remember: blackface is not cute.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grilled cheesus

A couple of people have asked me what I thought about the grilled cheesus episode of Glee. Too many thoughts for Facebook, but I also doubt, given all the work (stupid work) I've got going on right now, that I'll organize them well enough for a full-on blog on theodicy, religion in schools, and what a pale shadow of Aretha's magnificent cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" that was. Here are the highlights, though, and I welcome comments/discussion:

First of all, I just don't think Glee deals very well with more serious material. I think Kurt's a good character to do it with because Chris Colfer is pretty compelling, but I don't think it's their strong suit as a program. From the fake baby to teen pregnancy to the eating disorder to religious faith (or the lack thereof), I think there "big issue" episodes are always disappointing. Except the drug use one (with the "vitamins"). That was hilarious.

Narratively, I thought it was sloppily done, and I was severely underwhelmed by most of the music.

Theologically, I thought it was dismissive of the atheist's viewpoints. In addition to the fact that "I or a loved one have had a tough time" is not the only reason one might be an atheist, surely the complaints made by both Kurt and Sue deserve a better response than "Well, we believe, and you're a bad friend if you don't let us pray for you."

Also, while there must be churches where you can bring a friend, announce that he's an atheist and get nothing but smiles and nods from the rest of the congregation, I really thought that scene was disingenous. Like, a lot.

But I liked grilled cheesus, and Kurt's version of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."

PS - Aretha

Aretha Franklin - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Slowly easing back into this...

I feel like I've said here before that I find the "colorblind" approach to diversity harmful in that it attempts to ignore or erase difference, rather than actually accepting or -- grilled cheesus forbid -- valuing it. This study, which I ran across a while back (someone linked to it, but I don't remember who), suggests that "not seeing color" it makes it less likely for people to recognize and respond to racism.

In other news, we're reading Baldwin's The Fire Next Time in class right now and a student asked, legitimately, I think, how he should read the book if he's not Black, White, or American. This sparked an interesting discussion among the students about racism, power, and the stories we (human beings of all sorts) tell to elevate ourselves (often at the expense of others). All of which Baldwin would have been thrilled about, I think.

We hadn't started Baldwin in class yet when I read that piece above, but it put me in mind of one of Baldwin's central claims in that book: that people (individually and in groups of various sizes -- families, nations, religions, etc) cultivate blindness to the humanity of others to protect themselves from their own fears and insecurities. Baldwin's rather hopeful solution is that we must learn to love, which he describes as a ripping away of the masks behind which we hide (no touchy-feely "acceptance" or begrudging "tolerance" here). To love, we must learn to truly see ourselves and others.

I think there's something very compelling about this, and I think maybe it gets to the heart of why the colorblind rhetoric troubles me so much. I don't think you can actually love someone - and I might substitute here "respect them as fully human" - if the only way you can understand your shared humanity is by not seeing something that is a fundamental part of who they are. And I think that it is entirely possible (by which I mean absolutely necessary) for human beings to learn the difference between saying that some of the contingent factors of our personhood (race, gender, etc) determine us completely (as is the root claim of much racism, in my opinion) and acknowledging that they do, in fact, form some part of our being.

Monday, September 27, 2010

36 degrees

No, no - it's not that cold here. That's the difference between the high in Palo Alto (94) and the low (58). San Francisco's high is only marginally better, making its way up to (87), but its low is a little higher (61). Which means it'll be gorgeous in my neighborhood (probably about 80ish) while I'm gone today, I'll be boiling at work, and it will feel comparatively freezing (55ish) when I get home tonight. *sigh*

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 trailer

You knew it was coming.

I"m actually not terribly impressed by the trailer (I'm sure I'll watch it again a couple of times, so maybe that will change), though I am excited about the film...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Overheard in SF

"Dude, I totally got stabbed in that fucking bar fight because of you!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Blah blah blame Alan Ball blah."

Racialicious' Andrea, on the season finale of True Blood.

A couple of people have asked me what I thought of the finale. After this season, I don't think it's worth the energy it would take for me to talk about it, so I'll just say that the finale did exactly what I needed it to do. I feel absolutely no excitement or anticipation for next season, which means I can make a clean break. You remember when I compared watching True Blood to hanging out in a bad relationship because of the way things used to be? This is where I finally realize things are never going to change and pick me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Yorkers on 9/11

Also via Serwer, this piece in which 4 Muslim New Yorkers make me cry.

When I think of September 11, 2001, I know the horror that was visited on my city. But I know something that so many other do not. America made me a Muslim. It continues to make me a Muslim. I am not sure I would be the Muslim I am today without New York. So when people say you cannot be American and Muslim, I laugh and think “You’ve never met a Muslim and you’ve never been to America.” (Hussein Rashid_________)
As someone who loves my faith deeply, 9/11 shook me to the core. I feel an enormous level of personal responsibility to represent Muslim Americans and Islam, and to present them both in an objective and relevant light. This responsibility and focus on the Muslim American facet of my identity has taken priority over other facets of my identity for so long that sometimes I forget that they even exist. I see this in many friends too. (Zeba Iqbal________)
Sometimes the expectations on us weigh too heavily, but all the same, in the weeks and months that followed, American Muslims couldn’t and didn’t step up as we should have. And because we didn’t tell our stories, the far right has been able to make us their punching bag, bringing us into the company of those great threats to Western civilization, including gay marriage, Latinos and a President simultaneously godless and Muslim.
I still think back to that day, and wish I’d stood up and said: Those people are not us, and their beliefs are not Islam. But these are the kinds of moments we learn from. It may not be fair to American Muslims that we must prove we are not those who have tortured Islam into a hideous thing. In fact, it is not fair. But this is the reality of our time: We must direct our lives into fighting the capture of our religion by those who, claiming Islam, have nothing to offer the future but barbarity. (Haroon Moghul _____________)
I never felt like Muslim values – tolerance, compassion, generosity, honesty – were at odds with American ones. My elders often told us that the United States was the ONLY true Muslim country, the only place that really lived up the those values. I believed that. I still do.
.....There is no disconnect for me, I am a Muslim in the way only an American be. (Ameena Meer______________)

More from Obama and others on Park51

From today's press conference:

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I wonder if I can get you to weigh in on the wisdom of building a mosque a couple of blocks from Ground Zero.  We know that the organizers have the constitutional right.  What would it say about this country if they were somehow talked out of doing that?  And hasn’t the Florida minister’s threat to burn a couple hundred copies of the Koran, hasn’t the threat itself put American lives in danger, sir?
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, on the second -- on your second question, there’s no doubt that when someone goes out of their way to be provocative in ways that we know can inflame the passions of over a billion Muslims around the world, at a time when we’ve got our troops in a lot of Muslim countries, that's a problem.  And it has made life a lot more difficult for our men and women in uniform who already have a very difficult job.
With respect to the mosque in New York, I think I’ve been pretty clear on my position here, and that is, is that this country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal; that they have certain inalienable rights -- one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely. And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.
Now, I recognize the extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11.  I’ve met with families of 9/11 victims in the past.  I can only imagine the continuing pain and anguish and sense of loss that they may go through.  And tomorrow we as Americans are going to be joining them in prayer and remembrance.  But I go back to what I said earlier:  We are not at war against Islam.  We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts. 
And we’ve got to be clear about that.  We’ve got to be clear about that because if we’re going to deal with the problems that Ed Henry was talking about, if we’re going to successfully reduce the terrorist threat, then we need all the allies we can get.  The folks who are most interested in a war between the United States or the West and Islam are al Qaeda.  That’s what they’ve been banking on. 
And fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are peace-loving, are interested in the same things that you and I are interested in:  How do I make sure I can get a good job?  How can I make sure that my kids get a decent education?  How can I make sure I’m safe?  How can I improve my lot in life?  And so they have rejected this violent ideology for the most part -- overwhelmingly.
And so from a national security interest, we want to be clear about who the enemy is here.  It’s a handful, a tiny minority of people who are engaging in horrific acts, and have killed Muslims more than anybody else.
The other reason it’s important for us to remember that is because we’ve got millions of Muslim Americans, our fellow citizens, in this country.  They’re going to school with our kids.  They’re our neighbors.  They’re our friends.  They’re our coworkers.  And when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them? 
I’ve got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan in the uniform of the United States armed services. They’re out there putting their lives on the line for us.  And we’ve got to make sure that we are crystal-clear for our sakes and their sakes they are Americans and we honor their service.  And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that we don’t differentiate between them and us.  It’s just us. 
And that is a principle that I think is going to be very important for us to sustain.  And I think tomorrow is an excellent time for us to reflect on that. 
[Full text of press conference here.]

Jim Geraghty at The National Review suggests that we tell our fellow citizens "thanks for your service, but we don't want an Official Mosque of Ground Zero."
 Adam Serwer at The American Prospect points out that that's not what's being proposed, and closes with the following:
There is no conceivable way to describe to a Muslim American soldier facing death and danger in Afghanistan or Iraq in the name of their country that the freedoms they are fighting for simply do not apply to them. One cannot reconcile Muslims taking on among the most solemn responsibilities of citizenship with the kind of disparate treatment Park51 opponents are asking American Muslims to sustain. If there is no them, if there is just us, then the argument over Park51 is already settled. (Full post here)

Guess which one I'm inclined to agree with.

Tim Wise on race and sex and "illuminated individualism"

In other words, we are neither merely individuals, nor merely Americans. Race continues to matter. Only by being aware of that meaning and resolving to view individuals and communities as they really are—which requires acknowledging their languages, cultures, traditions, and racialized experiences—can we actually hope to build the kind of democracy that treats all persons fairly and equally.
--From Colorblind: The Rise of Post-racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity

Part two of Racialicious' Tim Wise interview.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Elsewhere online...

Tim Wise also explains it all, but he's talking about the problems with "post-racial" and "colorblind" -ness at Racialicious.

Via TNC, The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan responds to the bigotry of others with patience and eloquence.

Jay Smooth explains it all

Today's GIANTword is "gotnosensitive."

Today's other word is "love." You can watch Jay Smooth's vocabulary lesson here.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I don't even know what to say about this.
Touting the ways it can help students "be transformed by an experience that puts opportunity into action and gives purpose to your passion," the Des Moines, Iowa-based school has elected to dub its added pedagogic value the "D+ Advantage" campaign. The tagline for the promo campaign: "Your passion + our experience."

I didn't believe it, so, in the interest of research, I went to the page myself. It's true. I took a screenshot.


I love this guy

Jay Smooth promises new videos.
I'm excited for us to reunite depressed together, while the world goes to hell. It's gonna be great!

Friday, 9/3/2010

A couple of things I picked up via Racialicious:

At Mediaite, two clips from NBC's 5th year anniversary Katrina broadcast of Meet the Press. The first clip is Brian Williams talking with Wendell Pierce (actor, The Wire and Treme), Douglas Brinkley (historian), and Garland Robinette (journalist). After showing two brief clips from 2005, Williams asks, "Why didn't it matter to someone?" and "What happened to that national conversation that we were all supposed to have about what was exposed by Katrina?" The answers, from Pierce and Brinkley respectively, are worth listening to. In the second clip, Brian Williams talks with Brad Pitt about his Make it Right Foundation and the houses they're building in the Lower 9th Ward. Also worth watching. Interesting if Pitt is right about the energy consumption (or lack thereof) in the neighborhood - I'd love to see what people will do (or refuse to do) with this model of affordable, green housing.

In other news, this headline from AlterNet: Drunken Bigot Tries to Commit Anti-Muslim Hate Crime, Gets His Ass Kicked Instead. Here's the original story in the New Haven Register. I love it that the actual url for the story includes the phrase "hookah beatdown."

I might also love Brian Williams.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First, a friend sent me a link this article, which says that Warner Brothers/DC is trying to make a Sandman TV series. Then, Yahoo TV confirmed it. Let me share what I sent in reply to that friend.

I cannot express how very strongly I vote no on that. Wait, wait - let me try... OH, HELL NO! Unh-uh. No, no, no, no, no. I mean, no! Just, no. I DO NOT LIKE! Hm. Not quite right, but close. I just can't imagine that going well.
I stand by that response, and was glad to see this article, sent by another friend, which is a bit more detailed and articulate on why bringing Neil Gaiman's Sandman to TV is a bad idea. Ms. Ryan mentions one of my main objections, which is that making an appropriately awesome TV version of Sandman would take more resources (both money and talent) that I really expect the average network to come up with. I'd go further, and say that even if, by some miracle, that awesome version came to be, it wouldn't be popular enough (and certainly wouldn't get good enough ratings fast enough) to stay on the air.

Or, in the words of a fabulous postcard I recently received, "Nej, nej, og atter nej." (Danish for "No, no, and again no."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Get over it, part 2

Elon James White on racism being over. A couple of highlights:
White privilege, institutionalized racism all just disappeared, you know, just like the oil in the gulf. Actually, it's exactly like the oil in the gulf, you know, even though we can't see those huge plumes of racism - I mean oil - right beneath the surface, you know, we all know it's still clearly there.
Oh, how I love to be told to get over it, you know? It's like the smell of fresh-baked bread in the morning, ha ha. If that bread was being baked by an unpaid negro and then later on they were going to have to go pick cotton.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lack of access to fresh food in the lower 9th ward

My best friend posted this CNN video on FB (the woman the reporter speaks to at the beginning is her sister in law).

I'm glad to see someone paying attention to this problem. The problem is real - I saw it firsthand recently, on my trip home. There is not a grocery store in sight in the lower 9th ward. In fact, for those who own cars that they could drive to the grocery store, it's only recently that there's a gas station in the area. And the overgrown lots and abandoned houses the reporter mentions in passing are common. I've talked to some of you about how my grandmother's old neighborhood has open fields in it where houses should be. It's disturbing, but it is, in my opinion, better than the alternative, which is the state of things in my best friend's neighborhood. Every day, on the drive back to her house, we passed several still-abandoned houses, many still bearing the search teams' marks noting when it was searched, by whom, and how many corpses were found. Someone said to me recently that she was tired of hearing people complain about Katrina. "It's be five years - MOVE ON!" I found myself wanting to drive her past those houses, and ask her how she suggested people "move on."

But I digress.

This post is about life in the lower 9th ward, post Katrina, especially the lack of access to fresh food. Sounds bad, yes? It is.

But, while the open fields and disaster-graffitied houses are new, the basic problem addressed in this video is not. As the reporter mentions, the nearest grocery store PRE-Katrina was a 1/2 hour walk away. I'm sure the situation has worsened post-Katrina, but my memories of the lower 9th ward (most of my family lived there) do not include easy access to fresh food. In the immediate area, within easy reach of residents who may not have cars (which is what the article is talking about), I remember liquor stores (easy access to alcohol and cigarettes), corner stores (easy access to processed foods and a rare overpriced fresh fruit), and, much later (when I was in middle or high school, maybe) Wagner's Meat Market (their slogan was "You can't beat Wagner's Meat"). My understanding - though I never checked - was that this was a discount meat store. They also sold gas.

Sounds bad, yes? It was.

And, this lack of options is not just an issue for the lower 9th ward in New Orleans, though I suspect that the situation has been magnified there by the effects of hurricane Katrina. Regardless of whether or not 80% of your city has been flooded by a catastrophic levee failure in the face of a category 5 hurricane, access to grocery stores - which tend to carry the widest selection of healthy food at reasonable prices - is often worse in low income neighborhoods. A 2009 Reuters article, about analysis of data from 54 studies published between 1985 and 2008, says that people in low income neighborhoods like the lower 9th ward "are less likely to have easy access to supermarkets carrying a wide variety of fresh produce and other healthy food." Several of the studies compared also show that stores in low income neighborhoods and minority communities are likely to carry lower quality foods.  I'd love to see some data comparing the lower 9th ward's access to fresh food pre- and post-Katrina, then comparing those numbers to the norm in other low-income neighborhoods nationwide. I suspect the results would be depressing, not simply for the way things are now, but for the way things have been there for a long time.

As my best friend asked this morning, "Where was the activism before the storm?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Drinking the haterade: True Blood edition

My favorite part of this week's Racialicious roundtable on True Blood.
Latoya: She acts like a chickenhead, despite having superpowers, turned her back on her homegirl multiple times, and has thrown her entire family under the bus so she can have hot animal sex with Bill Compton. I’m firmly in the hate camp. I reiterate, fuck you Sookie!
Once again, lots of good points, though I actually disagree about the boringness of last week's episode. I was only bored when the drug trip/vision quest went on too long and when Sam's totally unnecessary and largely uncompelling backstory was going on. I was enraged when Bill and Sookie were onscreen, but I guess that's not quite the same as bored...

Reading comics in public

Found out this morning that there's something called International Read Comics in Public Day.  It's happening this coming Saturday, in fact. Glen Weldon at NPR's Monkey See blog sees it as a chance to make his love of brightly colored superhero comics as public as his interest in "dense, serious, black-and-white comics about war and art and history and social class and blah." DC Women Kicking Ass wants pictures for "Women Read Comics in Public." I see it as a sign that I should get out and enjoy the weather, as the idea of reading whatever I happen to be reading publicly doesn't seem like such a huge deal to me. Yes, I understand that it might if I'd had more experience of being publicly mocked for what I was reading, but I have very little shame about my entertainment choices, and I'm likely to read whatever I happen to be reading in public. Cormac McCarthy on the bus? Check. Entertainment Weekly on the BART? Check. Dante's Comedia on the Caltrain, Twilight while standing outside during a fire drill, or Pride and Prejudice at Starbucks? Check, check, and check. Today, in fact, I'll probably take advantage of the nice weather by finding someplace outside to read part of Justine Larbalestier's Liar. There might also be ice cream involved, but only because there are no snowball stands in San Francisco.

On Saturday, I'll probably read The Sandman, vol. 8: World's End in public, because I've been meaning to finally finish the series, and it's likely to be sunny outside. And I might send a picture in for WRCiP, because it does make sense to me that there's some profile raising to be done there. (I wonder if I get extra points for being a Black woman reading a comic in public.) But I guess I'm curious: is it really that big of a deal? I feel like people read all sorts of things in all sorts of places, and I guess it's never really occurred to me that something that wasn't somehow obscene would be something you'd hide to read (at least past high school).

Do any of you have things you love to read or watch that you don't admit to publicly? You know, besides porn and Twilight.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brain fatigue

Technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.
Paused the DVD I'd been watching to put together a shoe rack and do a quickie closet organization. Having already taken a break from finding out who killed Lily Kane, I thought I'd check voice and email, and take a quick peek at my google reader.  Came across this article in the NY Times (online, of course), which says that I should probably spend a little less time doing exactly what I'm doing, as the constant digital device use contributes to brain fatigue and steals valuable processing time from my brain. I could have told you that, but I was busy updating my Facebook status.

Hide yo' kids, hide yo' problematic internet meme

Racialicous has a good piece today on Antoine Dodson, of You Tube fame. Having gone through my own cycle of outrage and amusement on this one, I think it's worth a read. I was initially shown the "remix" of Antoine's interview, which I laughed at. But, I was horrified when I heard the actual news story that the "song" had come from and realized that we all seemed to be laughing about someone breaking in and trying to rape this guy's sister. Somehow, that didn't actually stop me from laughing, which I felt only marginally better about when Antoine started to play along... (Read the article here).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

True-ly hilarious

Go Fug Yourself has done a "Fug: The Cover" on the Rolling Stone issue featuring Alexander Skarsgard, Anna Paquin, and Stephen Moyer. It's hilarious to me - maybe my favorite thing to come out of True Blood this season. Here's the cover:

My favorite quote from the entry? "SMOY: Blue Steel. BLUE STEEL!"  You can check out the whole thing over at Go Fug Yourself.

In other True Blood news, Racialicious' roundtable for episode 9 is up. As is usually the case, it's full of excellence.

This is where I would usually put my own opinions about the last episode and the season so far, but I think I'll skip that this week, except to say that I think they finally did some things right with Tara in episode 9. It shouldn't have taken until episode 9, and it may still turn out to be too little too late for this season, but I'd love it if this were a turning point for the show.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The 20 worst-paying college degrees in 2010

This list from Yahoo finance/CBS moneywatch puts religious studies at #12 for the worst-paying majors in 2010. No surprise there, really. Check out the full list if you want to see just how little the average child and family studies major or social worker gets paid. Depressing. I'd like to see the list adjusted for graduate degrees, though I doubt it would really change much.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

True Blood. season 3: episodes 7 & 8 (I Think)

A friend wrote of True Blood:
I think what it comes down to in the end, is that it is so fantastically campy and over the top, that I can't wait to see what happens next. The eye candy doesn't hurt either. ;)
You can check out her post here (she writes regularly and interestingly about many amusing things). I was leaving her a reply, and it was way too long, so I put most of it in this post. Just so you have the context.

Now, I think that's definitely how I felt about TB in the beginning - it was *terrible* when it started, but in a really enjoyable way. Graphically sexual, sometimes graphically violent and gross, but also funny, and deliciously over the top. And, I actually felt like it was qualitatively better later in the first season - still campy and trashtastic, but not as empirically bad. (Take this with a grain of salt - I have a high tolerance for bad TV that I find enjoyable.) And, of course, there was the joy of Lafayette. Season two was a mixed bag: I mostly loved 1/2 of it (Texas was largely entertaining), while Bon Temps and the maenad drama wore thin with me pretty quickly. Even then, though, it was mostly enjoyable. When all else failed, there was always the increase in Eric and Pam goodness to keep me going. I mean, that crack about teacup humans alone almost made the whole season worthwhile!

Right now, though, I feel like the bad is outweighing the good. I've complained about a lot of things this season - storylines run amok, racial missteps, problematic gender representations... I'm not deluded enough to think that the show has only recently become bad. My problem is that the show isn't *enjoyable* anymore. I watched the last couple of episodes on Sunday night and thought they were particularly awful. On top of the problematic storylines (and too many of them to boot), the dialogue was awful, and the pacing was off. At the end of two episodes, I felt like I was glad it was over, instead of feeling like I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

There are 4 episodes left in this season., and I"ll probably still watch them. It's even possible that they'll pleasantly surprise me, but I doubt that will be the case. I'll watch them, but mostly because it's hard for me to leave a story-in-progress, especially one that used to be so much fun. And that still has so much eye candy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Laura Ingraham does Stephen Colbert's work for him

So, Stephen Colbert called Laurau Ingraham out on the "hideous, hackneyed racial stereotypes" (and terrible writing and "banal turns of phrase") in "The Obama Diaries." In response, Laura Ingraham name drops Dartmouth and calls Colbert out on his racism.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Laura Ingraham
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

"Banshee is racially...that is - that could be...I mean that is very controversial - a banshee? I think Native American, you know..."
I'm not sure who should be more upset about this one, Dartmouth  or Ireland.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No H8teration in this judgery

Marc Ambinder @ The Atlantic lays out the facts in Vaughn Walker's overturning of California's Prop 8. I suspect that the arc to this particular justice still has a long bend ahead, but it's nice to feel like it's moving in the right direction.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Still (batshit) crazy after all these years

Are we really surprised when Phylis Schlafly says something asinine? (Hint: no, we are not.) I'm really only linking to this out of scholarly habit (the link is my blog's version of a citation, except when I actually provide a citation, in which case it's more like an appendix), because I want to quote from TNC's response to Schlafly's insanity:
Fully, half of the life-span gap between African-Americans and whites is due to African-Americans having to endure punditry about "The Blacks." Whenever a studio anchor breathlessly comments on the "conversation over race," the heart-rate of some old black sanitation worker jumps. It's a conspiracy, son. But I'm wise. Motherfuckers ain't taking me out.

As for me, I'm obviously doing this wrong. Being one of those unmarried women who voted for Obama, I must have missed a memo somewhere, because I collect neither unemployment nor welfare nor children.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

True Blood. season 3 - the halfway point

Ok, a few quick thoughts after last week's episode (3.6).

I'm glad to see Tara getting it done, despite the fact that they've already opened the strong/survivor can of stereotypes, but I'm annoyed that she somehow doesn't know that "smashing in" is not the same as "cutting off." Or maybe we're supposed to believe that how to kill vampires is not common knowledge? And there aren't even myths about it? Despite the fact that everyone seems to know about garlic?

I feel like this junk about Lorena and her maker is going to annoy me. I was trying to think of it as making her more sympathetic, but I feel like it's too late for that (and I'm not sure why they would want to do that, given how much humiliation of and violence towards her we've been asked to endorse). They have done everything they can to make her both hateful and pathetic (but not in the sympathetic or pitiable sense). And, maybe because of my annoyance with the direction they've taken other female characters in, I feel like this is just another way of taking away a female character's agency. I mean...what the hell have they done to Sophie Anne?

And, yes - I foresee lots of pro-Bill mental acrobatics on the horizon. I'm sure there will be lots of Debbie hate, without any attempt to justify her actions, right alongside finding a way to ignore both the impending rape and the whole "I'm actually supposed to be studying you" thing.

Finally, I don't think they realized they've basically ruined Eric right now. As hot as I think Skarsgard is, I have no desire to see this version of Eric get with Sookie.

So I think TB is trying hard to get dumped, but we'll probably linger for a bit in that stage of the relationship where it's terrible, but I keep hanging in there because we used to be so great together.

Friday, July 30, 2010


So, I was never into the Thor comics - don't know anything about them, actually. In fact, the last time I really thought about Thor, Elisabeth Shue was having a hell of a time keeping up with the kids she was supposed to be watching, and somehow they ended up at some mechanic's place...

OK, and the interwebs just told me that that guy was Vincent D'Onofrio. Wow.

OK, but as we've discussed here, Thor now looks like this:

I wasn't sold, but I was intrigued.

So now there's this really long trailer:

Uh oh. Should I be worried about the fact that this Thor movie looks like a lot of fun to me? I mean, it looks cheesy, but also potentially awesome. And I feel like a guy whose superpower is being the god of thunder has potential, right? And, well...Hemsworth *is* looking pretty fine, in a super blond Norse god kind of way...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I want to see this movie right now. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist. (from Pajiba's Storytellers series)

Oooh, pretty music-making thing.

And, this horoscope from The Onion was for Pisces, but it's sort of perfect.
Remember: It's all a matter of perspective. See how your crippling finances look from atop that hill.


So much going on in this picture. I was on my way home from seeing Wicked, so maybe the post-show haze is what kept me from noticing sooner that we were surrounded on this Bart ride by a bunch of girls on their way from a Justin Beiber concert. It did not, however, keep me from noticing those horrendous shoes. But the best part was the guy with the name tag. You can't see it in this picture, but it said:

My name is:
Inigo Montoya. You killed my father - prepare to die.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

True Blood season 3: Trouble(d)

True Blood is highly problematic right now, but there are a few interesting things happening.

All kinds of spoilers if you're not caught up.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I had to try it.

Yeah, I've been playing with I Write Like.

Based on a sample of my dissertation:

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!
This post about a bunch of random stuff also got that result. I'm reminded that I have not read Infinite Jest, some some of his essays.

Based on this post about tasing old ladies:

I write like
William Gibson
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!
Which reminds me that I've only ever read a few pages of Neuromancer.

This thought for the day got:

I write like
Isaac Asimov
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!
(though it says you should enter at least a few paragraphs for "reliable" results). Which reminds me that I've never read the Foundation books (I've only read a few of his short stories).

And my rant about Dollhouse got:

I write like
Arthur C. Clarke
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!
Ah, 2001. Again, I am reminded that I have not read things it seems like I should have read (I've also never seen the film).

I'm just glad none of them came up Stephanie Meyer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Racialicious reads my mind

Once again, the folks at Racialicious do a much better job of saying what I'm thinking than I do.
Thea: I have to say I felt more out of breath and queasy at the end of this episode than I usually do…Season 3, while better on the storylines than Season 2, sure is heavy on the violence against women. First Lorena gets punched so hard in the face that she flies across the room (of course this follows having her head twisted around last ep, so that Bill wouldn’t have to see her face while he had sex with her…which in this ep, she tells us she thoroughly enjoyed) then Franklin imprisons, assaults and then ties Tara to a toilet. And we end with the gory, violent, sexualised murder of a stripper.
     The violence against Lorena puzzles me. It is plain and simple, extreme violence, but it is complicated by the fact that she is a vampire i.e. has superhuman strength. But just in terms of optics, it is shocking to see.
     And I have to say it was extremely disturbing to see Pam tortured…even tough bitches are ultimately vulnerable to male violence. (And I would argue that it was male violence – even if was by rule of vampire law.)
--From Tough Black Women & Women in Refrigerators: The Roundtable for True Blood S03E04

Given my own misgivings about the season so far (and the books in general), I'm glad to see that it's not just me. The racial ping is very much there with Tara and family, but I am, as I've mentioned before, much more disturbed right now by the fact that the show seems more and more to be using rape and graphic violence (often sexualized) against women as the primary narrative force (this is also my main complaint with the books). Not cool, True Blood. So very not cool. I keep hoping it'll get turned around, but I'm not really sure how they'd manage that.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book review: Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology

by Jennifer Stuller

Stuller traces the appearance of superwomen (a designation for which she gives criteria at the outset) in the modern mythologies of popular media (TV, film, and comics), starting with Wonder Woman's 1941 debut. Not just a trip down memory lane, Ink-Stained Amazons critiques as well as cataloging, using figures from Buffy to Pam Grier to Lois Lane and, of course, my favorite Amazon to tell a story of the ebb flow of feminist ideals in popular culture, suggesting (not always explicitly) an overarching understanding of the role of myth in self-making and the formation of ideals and calling for an evolution in our understanding and representation of heroism. A good, fun, read that gives lots to think about.

And, if you're anything like me, leaves you with the Wonder Woman theme stuck in your head for a long time.

Cops continue to misuse their power; citizens continue to make poor choices in dealing with people known to misuse their power.

2 officers out of jobs in wake of repeated tasering of woman

Ok, really, people? A woman calls to report a potential intruder. She also calls a nearby friend to come sit with her while she waits for the cops. The cops show up...well, here's where all hell breaks loose. The cops show up and, for unspecified reasons, assume this is a domestic violence case (because, obviously, all black folks sit around beating each other up at night). They ask the friend a few questions, but not his name, then let him go. Then they ask the woman who called them about an intruder for her friend's name and, not surprisingly, she doesn't think it's relevant to the matter at hand. So, of course, the cops try to arrest her and, in the process, Tase her. Repeatedly. Her friend was a) not the reason she called the police and b) not there anymore because the officers let him go. But suddenly it's crucial to get his name, and worth arresting her over? And they're surprised that, faced with getting arrested for calling the police because she thought there was an intruder, she doesn't seem on board with that plan? And they feel like repeated tasing of a 57 year old woman is a necessary response here?!

Now, as some of you have heard me say, I feel like it's just a good call to tell the cops what they want to know, largely because I think it's obvious by now that a lot of cops CANNOT WAIT to shoot you, tase you, or beat your ass. And I, for one, have no interest in any of those activities. I feel like you tell tell the cops the guy's name, because it reduces the chances of getting tased. In theory, I feel like you get in the squad car for the same reason, but I suspect that, in practice, I'd at least ask politely why I was being arrested, given the circumstances. And then I'd get my ass tased for "resisting arrest." And, even if the cop did get fired, he'd just get a job in a neighboring county within days.

But, hey, on the upside, at least this asshole knew his taser from his handgun, right?

What kind of pathetic fear-state do we live in where *that's* the good news? One where, as TNC points out, "citizens are forced to take on the onus of de-escalation--because the people trained and theoretically paid to understand de-escalation refuse to."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thought for the day

Instead of becoming a “clear” community with no indications of race, wouldn’t a more proper definition of post-racial be the acknowledgment of ethnic identity sans the bias behind those associations?
From The Race to “Post”: Can We Handle Current Business First? by Regina Bartlett

Some of you have heard me rant about the whole "I don't see color" thing. If you haven't, let me give you the short version:

1. That's bullshit.
2. If it weren't bullshit, that would not be a good thing. I don't want you to "not see" that I'm Black. I just don't want you to hate/fear/refuse to hire me based solely on that fact.

Bartlett's article touches on the post-ism craze sweeping America, focusing on post-racialism.

True Blood season 3: bad things all around

"Aw, hell - how am I supposed to deal with this fuckedupness?"

--Lafayette, after Eric first saves him from getting his ass beat by sketchy guys in Hotshot, then flies out of his car window with no preamble. (In Eric's defense, he was off to try to help Pam, who was getting tortured by The Magister, who had raided Fangtasia and found all the V.)

That does seem to be the question everyone on the show should be asking right now, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Woke up this morning with a head full of things that wanted to be written down. It's a jumbled mess of thoughts, but it's a whole page's worth of them. So there's got to be at least a sentence in there that'll lead to some other sentences  :)

Mostly, it was just nice to have things I wanted to write down. I was beginning to fear that I really wouldn't. And I apologize in advance to the folks who're going to have to hear me talk about this until I articulate what it is I'm trying to say. If it's any consolation, at least it'll be shorter than my dissertation.

Thought for the day

"What genre do I want to write in? What kind of words will let me say what I want to say? Lucid but elliptical, authoritative in a non-tyrannical way, interesting, to the point (but not dry). Since I'm not sold on the boundaries as they are (literature, philosophy, religion, ethics, etc.), I'd like to run roughshod over them and have it work. I want my work to be pointedly exploratory."

A long overdue, though perhaps ill-timed productivity surge

 Why, you might wonder, am I up at 3am? No, no - nothing that exciting. Quite the opposite, actually. I'm organizing. Yes, right now. Of course I should be sleeping. But I kind of have to go with the productivity when it's happening. And this was a seriously productive organizing binge! On Thursday, I went to the library empty-handed and left with a large bag of books (there might have been a hand truck involved). On Friday, I received a bunch of the books I've ordered online recently (more coming on Monday). To make room for all those books, I needed to do some cleaning and reorganizing. What started as a simple displaement soon became real, live sorting and, in the process, I uncovered several things to read that will be helpful for the research projects I've finally started thinking about, imposed order on various stacks of paper (getting rid of much of it in the process), and, perhaps most shockingly, found a whole bunch of things (notes, etc) written by yours truly that are not stupid and that totally relate to what I'm supposed to be thinking about. Who knew all those scraps of paper I'd been hoarding actually had thoughts on them, some of which I'm excited to think about some more?! I mean, besides me...because that's why I was hoarding them in the first place. But they weren't helping me. They were pretty just an overwhelming mass of paperandbooksandjumbledOMGICANNOTDEALWITHTHISRIGHTNOW! And now they're thoughts and lists and syllabi and poems and articles. They're categorized in useful ways, easily accessible, grouped with other relevant things of their kind, just begging to make themselves useful!
So, I should probably be sleeping, but I think it was worth it. I'm actually excited to do some of that thinking that needs doing, and am even beginning to think I might have something to write about (eventually). Lord knows I've got enough notes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Why are you walking around barefoot? You seem to have perfectly good shoes in your hands.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Adam Serwer on the Mehserle verdict

Times change, but the radioactive fear of black people, black men in particular, has proven to have a longer half-life than any science could have discerned. 
--Adam Serwer, "Oscar Grant, A Victim of American Fear."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lilith Fair

Went to Lilith Fair yesterday, thanks to K., who was sweet enough to treat me to lawn seats. It was so much fun! I love Sarah McLachlan, so know I'd enjoy her set. I was also excited to see who else was on the bill. I spent most of my time at the main stage, but did check out A Fine Frenzy's set on one of the side stages. I've actually just started listening to her (them?) recently. She was energetic, and I enjoyed most of what she did, which I presume was from her new album (except Almost Lover, which I know is on the older one that I've been listening to).

 Back at the main stage, Colbie Caillat, who I haven't been impressed with when I heard her on the radio, has a good voice (I'm still not terribly impressed with her songs, though). And then The Bangles performed, which was awesome. Even when they were a little off, they were still good. Miranda Lambert, who I have heard of but have not listened to, came next. She's got a good, really powerful voice, and I might check her stuff out, but I think it's a little too redneck-country for me. (And you know I like country sometimes.) And then Heart performed, and they were FANTASTIC. Ann Wilson is amazing. And then Sarah McLachlan closed out the night. She was great (though I noticed she avoided some of the high notes), and it was fun to see her again (I saw her once in concert and she was crazy good). I think Heart was really the highlight for me, though.