Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Y'all remember life before the net.
Well, maybe you don't.
I do -- when I wrote my dissertation, pre-net, I didn't own my own computer. mr. delagar schlepped his into the duplex up in Fayetteville we were not exactly sharing (we had just gotten married and still weren't living together, a long story) and forced me to learn to write on it: up to that point, I was still writing on an IBM Selectric. It was 1994.
Research? You went to a building called a library, looked up sources in huge tomes known as indices (b/c I was doing classics, mines were often in French -- though just the titles, not the actual index itself) and then -- oh, this was rich -- you had to send away for the actual sources, though this deal called Interlibrary Loan. It took weeks, sometimes, and that was if the source could even be found.
My first computer, one I owned myself, was a second-hand laptop which my father-in-law, of blessed memory, gave me. Family upgrade, we call this. This was in 1996. It did not have internet capability. I am pretty sure we still did not know what an internet was then. I used that laptop for years.
I began hearing rumors about something called e-mail and something called the net -- or a web, was it? -- around 1997. My students in Idaho kept telling me they had sent me something called links, or that they could do searches and find things "like that." Un-huh, I would say. Whatevcr.
In 1998, I got a tenure-track job in North Carolina, and was given an office with a computer in my office which had internet capability -- also, because I was the sole faculty member under fifty, I got assigned to become the internet expert. (Remember, I didn't even known what a fucking internet was. Net? Web? Intertubes? What are these things you speak of?) But I hopped on and built me a webpage and started messing about with chat-lines (remember chatlines?) and never looked back.
Now? Someone asks me a question about the bird's nest soup, or wonders what I think of Obama as a candidate, do I think about libraries or pulling a book off a shelf? Shit no. I open my hotlink to Wikipedia and say, well, let's see.
What was life like before we linked up? I barely remember. And, at home? When my net goes down? Yikes. You don't want to be around me then. I'll do without AC, I'll do without coffee, food is an option, but don't be taking away my highpeed internet connection, and I ain't messing, either.
Monday, November 26, 2007
(1) This weekend I watched three movies:
- Home For the Holidays
- Just An American Boy, a documentary about Steve Earle
- Les Miserables, the five-hour French version directed by Raymond Bernard
(2) I am currently reading five books at once: Wasn't That a Time: Growing Up Radical and Red In America, by Robert Schrank; Chasing Che, by Patrick Symmes; Ease, by Patrick Gale; For Whom the Bell Tolls, by our pal Hemingway; and Bridge of Sighs, by Richard Russo. I got all of these except the last from Paperback Swap
Wasn't That a Time: Growing up Radical by Schrank is enormously readable and highly educational -- it's Schrank's life on the socialist side of America from the 1920's on: being sent to socialist summer camps and day camps as a kid, singing the Red Flag and learning about the evils of capitalism; the onslaught of the depression; life in working class schools; organizing labor unions in the early thirties. It's great.
I'm also enjoying Chasing Che, and Russo's book, though I'm not far into either. Hemingway I am making myself re-read (I haven't read it since I was about fifteen) and it is heavy going I must say. Don't I wish I could go back in time and smack Hemingway in the ear. When he is not taking himself so fucking seriously he is not a bad writer at all. Dude! I want to say. It is just a fucking novel. Calm down!
(3) Cool Links: What folks eat , What Folks Play With, What to Look At AND this link, which you have to go see: all about germs! Guess what! Your bathtub is filthier than your trashcan! Your laundry (yes, after you wash it!) is full of poo! Washing it spreads the poo through your entire laundry! That's right! Won't this link cheer you up! Go see!
The What Folks Eat is also worth a visit, both for a look at the differences in class and consumption and to read the comments stacking up at the sight. (It's interesting that most of the initial comments are on the order of "gee if only Americans were like refugees from Chad maybe we could lose some weight." )
(4) Random event -- The kid came home from school yesterday and told me, her small face furious, "Superman is a pillar of the patriarchy!"
"Ah," I said. "Well, yes."
"We had to listen watch a musical video about him in music today! It was totally patriarchy-oppressed!"
"Ah. And did you make that clear to your music teacher?"
"Yes! And Justin said for me to be quiet, because Superman was real! And he rescues women in trouble! And that's good!" The kid flung her arms out, her entire body outraged.
"Which you said what?" I inquired.
"Woman can carry mace and rescue themselves!" she shouted.
"Excellent," I agreed. "Also? The idea that women are in all this danger and need rescuing all the time? Myth of the patriarchy. Why would the patriarchy tell us that story? That if we go outside, if we walk around by ourselves, we'll get attacked by evil men and need other men to save us? Why would they tell us that story?"
"To scare us," she said. "To keep us from going outside."
"Because Superman isn't real," I agreed, "so if we believe that story, we'll lock ourselves up."
(5) Random Event #2 -- the kid has recently been fined $30.00 by mr. delagar, for telling Miles what the f-word was (a bit of justice I find extreme, given she was only doing what we have always done for her: when a question is asked, we answer it: Miles asked what the f-word was, and she answered; plus, she didn't say it, she only spelled it, so what's the deal, I ask, but I am not interfering) -- anyway, she asked me, "Why can't kids say bad words? That doesn't seem fair. Adults can say them. Why not kids?"
"I have explained this before," I said, because I had.
"Again!" she insisted.
I went through the class issues spiel. I went through the inappropriate/appropriate/code-switching spiel. She was unconvinced.
"But what do they mean?" she asked. "What does the f-word mean? Why do you say it? Why can't I?"
"Well," I said. "Well. The f word means...it means, technically it means sex...but it doesn't mean that, in context...it context, it means you're angry, and you want to hurt the person you're saying it to."
She frowned at me. "What's the b-word mean?"
"That's why I don't want you saying that one," I said, feeling on safer ground. "That one's misogynistic. People use that one to call people women, or to say women are stupid. That one is used to either attack women or to use women as tools to attack people."
She was frowning more. "What about the other b-word? B-I-N-T? What's that one mean?"
"Um..." I could see where this was going. "It's just Arabic for girl. But it's used the same way as bitch. To attack women, to use the idea of being a woman to attck people."
"But...you use that word. If it's misogynistic, why are you always calling people that word?"
"Excellent point," I agreed. She scowled at me. Moving right along, I said, "And other words, like tool, you know, and scmuck, those are words that attack men -- because tool means penis, right? And so does schmuck -- so when I call people tool (which I am also always doing) then I'm saying those people are acting like men, or I'm using the idea of being like a man to attack that person...see," I said, "that's why you shouldn't use bad words. Not because the words themselves are bad, because they aren't, exactly; but because you're using the words to attack people. Which do we want to do that?"
"So why do you do it?"
"Right," I said. "I shouldn't." Fuck, I thought, because how I am supposed to stop? I only just recently managed to stop saying fuckwit and fucktard and Rethuglican, afterall. Now I'm going to try to stop cussing entirely? Oh, that sounds likely.
She rubbed her face against my shoulder. "Thank you," she said.
"What?" I said.
"I like how you explain things to me," she said.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
ThisTNX, maybe better. Uncle Charger, the kid's adopted uncle, is coming to visit, with his parents, and I only had a bit of rum in coffee last night, and -- look at this -- something like winter has finally arrived here in AR (37 degrees right now, though the weather guys say it's going to be hitting the 70s again next week) which is making me happier at the moment. mr. delagar is smoking a whole turkey and a turkey breast; he spent all day yesterday cooking -- a pumpkin pie, a banana cream pie, two crusty loaves of bread, one of them rye and one white; corn bread stuffing; turkey neck gravy; I'm making the sweet potato thing with the marshmallows on top today (mr. delagar refuses, b/c it's too low-class), also the grilled asparagus; there will be crudites at the last moment. Uncle Charger is bringing the wine. Uncle Charger is famous for his interesting beers and wines.
Happy TNX, y'all.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Given that we are stony-broke, due to the hefty acceleration of gasoline prices, the increase in tuition at the kid's school, and what's been going on with our gas and electic and water bills lately, not to mention the water bills (40% increase in the water bill! The Water Board increased what they're charging by 40% My water bill was $98 last month!), I am not as thrilled by this as I might have been; however, it is a very nice penis.
You can download movies onto it! And music! And surf the net! And get email! Also, download audiobooks, and then later link up to your car stereo and listen while you drive to Tulsa. Is this not so cool? And worth the 300 dollars he claimed it cost? (Which is see from the receipt I found in his jeans pocket while doing the laundry is not precisely true, but oh well. What a penis!)
Monday, November 19, 2007
Which (the above) got said to me by (a) my father (b) my first serious boyfriend (c) more friends in high school than I can count, about things ranging from bowls of cereal, hamburgers, oatmeal cookies, ice-cream sandwiches, bags of Doritos, boxes of raisins -- and here's the deal: I never was fat. Mind you, I wasn't skinny.
Girls are meant to be skinny: five-feet six, one-hundred and ten pounds, winsome and sweet, that's the goal, if you aren't that in America, well! Does it matter what else you are? I will give you the answer: no, it does not. Brains do not matter. Wit does not matter. Talent? Fuck talent. Slender, sweet, chicletness. That is all.
How clear was this made to me?
Which is why this matters so much to me.
It's yet another study, this one published in JAMA, reporting that being overweight is not, in fact, so bad for you -- and in some circumstances protects you.
The most surprising finding was that being overweight but not obese was associated only with excess mortality from diabetes and kidney disease -- not from cancer or heart disease. Moreover, the researchers found an apparent protective effect against all other causes of death, such as tuberculosis, emphysema, pneumonia, Alzheimer's disease and injuries. An association between excess weight and nearly 16,000 deaths from diabetes and kidney disease was overshadowed by a reduction of as many as 133,000 deaths from all other deaths unrelated to cancer or heart disease. Even moderately obese people appeared less likely to die of those causes.
Why does this matter to me?
Well, because all those folks who are always ragging on young girls, and not so young girls, about how they need to lose that weight, like to pretend it's the girls' health they care about - you're fat! It's a health issue! -- but this is shit, and anyone who listens to the discourse of these folk can see that. It's a class issue, it's a moral issue, it's the patriarchy, it's some form of oppression (which was why that ex-boyfriend of mine was using it to keep me in line) but whatever it is, it is not the girls' health they care about.
Which is why, when these studies showing that it is, in fact, actually healthy to be a bit overweight started showing up, these groups react so rabidly:
It's just rubbish," said Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. "It's just ludicrous to say there is no increased risk of mortality from being overweight. . . . From a health standpoint, it's definitely undesirable to be overweight."
Or see this: (From our side, I weep to say):
I'm sorry, being fat does NOT make you a minority or victim of discrimination. I'm not saying people don't discriminate against overweight people, but they also discriminate against blondes, bald guys, etc. - calling yourself a minority because you're fat is taking it too far. Unlike your racial status or sexual orientation, you actually CAN control your weight to a very large extent. Yes, genetics plays a part, but most people who are overweight eat too much or exercise too little...it's just a fact. Comparing being fat to being a racial minority demeans the meaning of what it is to be a minority.
How do I know I'm gonna get flamed for saying that?
Posted by: raginfem November 8, 2007 03:43 PM
I'm not really a pro-weight person (I accept that past a certain level health is affected, and I really think anyone past that point should focus on their health for their own good) but...
children with medical disorders and...parents who overfed their children to the point of diabetes or making them bedridden. I've often thought that continuing to feed someone unhealthy food when they were bedridden from obesity and aren't even able to feed themselves should be considered a crime, a bit like bringing razors to a known cutter just because they asked for them, or inducing vomiting in a bulimic. But any such legislation would have to only apply where there is an obvious, overwhelming issue.
Posted by: Basiorana November 8, 2007 03:45 PM
Basiorana, show me one incidence of a child being bedridden from obesity, and unable to feed themselves, and their parents continue to stuff them full of junk food. Just one.
Raginfem, if it was possible to change your race or sexual orientation, would that make discriminating against racial minorities and homosexuals suddenly okay? I hate that line of argument, because it totally comes across as: "Well obviously everyone would choose to be a straight white male if they could, but since they can't, it's wrong to insult them."
Posted by: under_zenith November 8, 2007 03:49 PM
"Is that supposed to be some kind of eugenics program to discourage people who are genetically prone to being overweight from reproducing (or at least living in that state)?"
I'm sorry, but that's an absolutely ridiculous thing to say. In the '70s there were not nearly as many obese children and guess what - those people probably had similar genes to what people today have, even in the same families. Most kids I know who are obese stuff their faces all day with absolute crap and don't exercise. When obesity "runs" in families they've found that shared eating habits contribute just as much if not more to the weight than genetics. I'm guessing if you fed these kids who are "genetically prone to being overweight" healthy food for several weeks and had them play outside for a few hours every day, their excess weight would somehow magically disappear...
Posted by: raginfem
(Others on the thread do go on to settle these two! Yay for us!)
So: diets don't work (there are a billion studies out on that one); and if diets did work, skinny isn't healthy; and if skinny was healthy (which it ain't), being a little overweight ain't so bad and might actually be better (my dad, who is underweight, got pneumonia and lost 12 pounds this winter, hah, how good is that at 69? Ask his doctor!); and what is dangerous, by the way? What? Guess what the studies have shown is really bad for you?
Does that crack you up or what?
Also? Guess what makes kids fatter? Telling them they're fat. That makes them feel bad about their bodies, so they hate their bodies, and have bad body images, apparently, and -- hey, get this, start dieting, and get into that binge-eating cycle, and end up fat! Kids who have been told by parents or coaches or doctors that they're fat tend to end up five pounds fatter than kids who get left alone. (Don't ask me where they find kids in America who get left alone on this issue, b/c where those kids would be I would like to know.)
My kid started coming home from school when she was seven asking me if she was fat. (We made a concerted effort never to discuss her weight around her, mr. delagar and I both having had the weight issue visited upon us by our parents.) Apparently, all the girls in her first-grade class were on diets. At six and seven years old!
We don't keep a scale in the house. We don't talk about what anyone weighs. When the kid starts on about whether she's fat, I give the fat is a feminist issue rant, and tell her how diets are used to oppress women, and how she needs to eat to keep her brain working, and how dieting will actually harm her and causes the problems it is meant to solve and how she had better never ever ever diet, did she hear me? Did she?
Also no TV and a deal of hiking and other exercise.
They have hour-long recesses at the Montessori school.
She still starts up with the Am I Fat? questions, though*. It's in the rotten culture. It makes me ill.
*And no, she isn't.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
From another bumper sticker, I can see he belongs to that fundamentalist mega church I mentioned in the previous post, but this is not my point.
Here is my point: I pray: get used to it?
This is some sort of rebel stance?
I know this is what Christians want to believe, that they are being persecuted in America these days, that they are the victims. That's what this War on Christmas meme of theirs is about, and the revisionist history about the founding fathers, and the fight to get ID taught in the public schools, and all the rest of it.
But please. When someone announces he is a Christian, do we kick the shit out of him in a bar? Do we refuse to employ him at our law firm? Is he not allowed to teach our fifth graders? Coach football?
My point is, the idea that we persecute people for being Christians in this country is a wetdream of the religious right, and one I frankly wish they would confine to the privacy of their own forums.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Which is good, b/c she keeps getting witnessed to, and it is making me itchy. Her old best friend, who went to the local fundamentalist church, moved to Texas a few years ago; and her best friend after that was not religious (yay!), which is hard to find in these here parts; but that best friend had a mother in Iraq, and when, a few months ago, her mama finally got to come home, the new best friend and the best friend's dad moved, too, to where her mama got stationed, which wasn't here.
So now the kid has another new best friend, and this best friend I like a lot -- she and the kid are very nearly a perfect fit -- except for this religious bit.
The new best friend also goes to the fundamentalist church. (Half of Pork Smith does, it seems to me sometimes.) The new best friend witnesses to the other students, including my kid and the Muslim kids, at recess. My kid knows to get the teachers to tell the best friend to stop, but other students won't, always. And I think sometimes my kid won't, either, because this is her best friend and she won't pick fights.
Now the church is having a membership drive, or whatever the shit it is called, and the new best friend brought invitations to school -- Jesus Invites You to His Party!!1! Food, Fun, Games, Prizes!!
"Do I have to go?" the Kid asked me.
"Shit, no, you don't have to go." I paused. "Do you want to go?"
"Well, good, because I don't want you to go. What did you tell her?"
"I said my mother was an atheist and my father was Jewish and I'm Jewish and we're not interested in Jesus."
"Good," I said. "Good for you."
"She said that her church said to invite people like me."
"Yes, well, that's their issue. Not ours."
The kid looked doleful.
I sighed. "Look. It's not your friend's fault. Her church is making her do this, they're telling her this stuff. They're allowed to believe what they want. They're not allowed to try to make you believe things. And they certainly shouldn't be making her do it at school. That's wrong."
"I'm sorry," the kid said, even more doleful.
I pulled her in for a hug. "You didn't do anything wrong. You did everything exactly right."
"But I like Caitlin," she said sadly.
"I do, too," I said. "Just let her believe what she wants about religion, and keep telling her you don't want to talk about it. Okay?"
Which -- ai -- if only that worked.
Also, if only we lived somewhere where she wasn't getting slammed over the head by this ten hours a day.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
At the ceremony, tears streamed down my face for most of it. One justice of the Illinois supreme court mentioned that in the morning, all around the country, in criminal courts attorneys are presenting and defending against motions to suppress evidence, trying to get the 4th and 5th amendments right. I had to choke back a sob, because getting it right is what I want to try and do.
So kids joined up, and the Army paid for your university -- well, it was a good enough deal, if a war didn't get you. You took your chances.
All over Fort Smith -- all over the country, after Iraq began, I kept hearing, they knew they were taking that chance when they signed up. Did they think they were getting that college for free?
I kept trying to think how to argue with that, which seemed to me such an obscene thing to say -- that a kid should have to buy his future with his life, or hers, that one kid should, because he happened to be born to poor parents, while another, a block away, because his parents are rich, why, he gets a trip to Yale, and a BMW Hummer, of course he gets his college for free, what do you think this is, socialism? -- I kept thinking, this ain't right.
Well, this ain't right.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
All of them? Nothing! With my middle brother, a love of books bordering on mania and a certain contentiousness; with my older brother, a love of rum and a deep paranoia; with my youngest, a fondness for goofy accents and movies – but all of them? We have no characteristic that we all share. Er. We all hate stewed tomatoes – I think.
2. What is the greatest amount of physical pain you have ever endured?
Either the migraines or the time my gall bladder imploded. It’s a toss-up.
3. What number of drinks constitutes your limit?
There’s a limit?
4. Do you fold your underwear?
5. Have you fired a gun before?
Yep – shotguns, handguns, rifles. (Hey, this is Arkansas.)
6. What was your favorite childhood toy?
Jimmy. My doll. Shut up.
7. Name a sound that disturbs you?
Birds in the yard, especially crows, but any birds at all, really. God, I hate birds.
8. Name something random that you would never do.
Go on a fucking cruise. Ever. Unless it was around the islands in Greece, and only then because I would get to get off and explore the ruins.
9. Name a person whose diary you would love to read.
Um…Socrates, maybe? OOO, no! Xenophon. He’d be lots more fun.
10. Have you ever had the same dream more than once?
11. Name a song that makes you happy.
“Steve’s Hammer,” by Steve Earle.
13. If you were in an emergency situation and you had to deliver a baby, could you do it?
14. What do you like about being in a committed relationship?
Not having to look for a date every again. God, that’s nice.
15. What do you dislike about being in a committed relationship?
Nothing. The whole deal rocks. Why would anyone ever not want to do this? I’m serious.
16. Name something you have to do tomorrow:
Tomorrow…Friday…we’re going to the bookstore. Yay bookstore!
Oh. Have to do. I have to hold office hours, I guess.
17. Name a movie you are looking forward to watching:
The Wind That Shakes the Barley. It’s on its way from Netflix. I love movies about revolutionaries.
18. Name something you've heard about women that tends to be true:
19. Do you own an iPod?
Yep. It’s blue. I love it.
21. Do any of your friends have children?
Nearly all of my friends have children, I think. No, that’s not true…
22. What CD is currently in your CD player?
What’s a CD player?
23. Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?
I only drink milk if there’s lots of coffee in it.
29. What movie do you know every line to?
30. Where was your last vacation?
What’s a vacation?
32. Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?
I want to pierce my eyebrow. (No, not really!)
35. When was the last time you slept on the floor?
When I visited my parents last.
39. Do you watch the news?
What’s the news? Is that something non-bloggers do?
40. Do you feel alone?
I like alone.
I tag Tonks, Mouse, and Sugared Harpy
This is Heifer International, which maybe you have heard of, only if you haven't, it's my favorite right now. The kid and I are buying bees and rabbits and chickens and goats. We can't buy pigs because they aren't kosher and other animals she is afraid would get eaten. (I'm not telling her about the chickens and you don't either.) Here's the actual gift page. I found this through a blog a long time ago when I was a brand-new blogger, but once you send someone anything, they'll send you catalogs forever.
Here is Poetry 180, which I just discovered yesterday, via Language Log -- it's a site built by Billy Collins, meant to introduce hS kids to poetry, but I've been having fun with it myself.
And here, you have to visit. I found it looking for links for my HEL class -- it's a site that has recorded 671 sound samples of various British dialects. (Paul the Rat Catcher in London is my hands-down favorite so far.)
And, just for fun: comics! Here, here, here!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
(2) That point in the semester. Much grading, many drafts coming in.
(3) My computer had ailments -- well, not my computer per se. My mouse. I have me an Apple at home, you see, and the mouse went wonky, and in Pork Smith, where I abide, a mouse for an Apple is not a thing one can stroll out and buy. Nope. You either have to drive fifty miles to Fayetteville, which I was not in the mood to do, or order the pup online and have it shipped in, waiting a week for it, or paying a ton for next-day or second-day shipping. Yikes. (I picked door number three, and waited three days.)
(4) Family in town and a couple of parties have eaten up any spare time I might have had.
Result: I have missed everything. I didn't know about the writers' strike. Missed the gender/Clinton issue. Missed about six goofy things Huckabee said. I'm totally behind. But I did do a lot of reading -- I finished Kage Baker's new book, ripped through The Last Days of Summer, and started Rough Music, not to mention rereading Middlemarch and Dracula for the Vic Lit class;also, I've got Richard Russo's new book in the stack (yay!).