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Category Archives: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Hiatuses, Part 2

It seems like June is a bad month for blogging. I’ve been busy with conference travel, and an office move that brought me into this shiny white new building:

Weill Hall, Ithaca

(artist’s rendition).

Now that things are settling in, I’m hoping to resume my occasional posting sometime soon.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out

 

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Terror Alerts, Too

Things that Do Not Matter:

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out

 

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Blogs, Too

Things that Matter:

  • People
  • Friends, especially if they are Family
  • Trying
  • Coffee
  • The People who you Run into after many years, for whom it seems like no Time has passed Read the rest of this entry »
 
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Posted by on May 27, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out

 

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My Feminist Identity

Jessica Valenti opened her talk tonight by asking the feminists in the audience to raise their hands, and I froze.  I take the classes, I read the books, I try to monitor the research, and I obsess over the blogs.  I know what a feminist looks like.  I’m a feminist.

But I didn’t raise my hand. 

Initially I figured that her question had caught me off guard, and I just hadn’t reacted quickly enough.  That seemed like a proper excuse.  But I don’t think Jessica, the Executive Editor of Feministing.com, and author of Full Frontal Feminism, would let me get away with that.  I don’t think I should let myself get away with it. 

I kept my hand down because I was embarassed.  It’s the same reason that I’m careful not to talk about Feminist Studies courses with most people.   I get sick of hearing “Why are you taking that ?”, or of pretending to ignore the wisecracks about how I must be trying to get laid.  When I get that response, my stomach shrinks, my neck goes frigid, and I find myself backpedalling, and explaining why I find value in learning about giving everyone equal rights, opportunities, and control of their bodies.  I’ve conditioned myself into avoiding talking about a large part of my interests, just to avoid the haters and the stereotypes.

FUNK THAT.  I’m sitting at my computer, raising my hand right now.  And I’m not going to back down next time someone asks me if I’m a feminist.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out

 

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No Cussing Week

A couple weeks after I wrote a post about my lack of swearing, South Passadena became the first city to sponsor a no-cussing week (no causation implied there). The initiative, conceived by a local 14 y.o. boy, has temporarily derailed my plans to start swearing more. Interestingly, the photo accompanying the story is of someone flipping the reader off.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out

 

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Projection and the Will of the Electorate

“… voters are finally focused on who they think will be the best commander-in-chief…

… Now that senator McCain is clearly the nominee, democratic voters are taking their decision very seriously…”

– Hillary Clinton on Today, this morning

It’s a bit tiring to hear everyone (McCain, Clinton, Obama, the media, everyone) constantly explain why people voted for who they voted for. I believe many people have unpredictable reasons for voting the way they do, and to say that they voted for the candidate they did for a particular reason trivializes the complex set of issues underlying these elections. Furthermore, statements like this seem to imply that before, voters were not focused on who will be the best C.I.C., or taking their decision seriously. This isn’t directed in particular at Senator Clinton, rather I’m just bored of seeing this filter constantly applied to election results.

I know that candidates have to do this – it’s to their advantage to interpret their success as a portent of something larger, and then to project that interpretation onto our monitors and our brains.

But the media doesn’t have to do it (do they?). They don’t have to interpret every single voting block’s majority as a swing for a particular reason. When CNN tells me that voters chose experience over change yesterday in Texas and Ohio, I don’t want to believe them. It may be true that Clinton is correlated with experience, and Obama is correlated with change, but that doesn’t mean that votes for one or the other correlate the same way; and if they do correlate that way, there’s no way to deconvolute that from the affect of the media. Does this make sense?

Anyways, I’m often a big fan of controversy, so I’m not unhappy to see the nomination process carry on a bit longer.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out

 

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This Post May Contain Strong Language (But it Probably Does Not)

The conversation usually goes like this:

Friend: Wow. Did you hear the way so-and-so cursed me out back there? That was pretty bad.

Me: Yeah he sounded pissed.

Friend: Nobody’s ever spoken to me like that in my life, and I think I’m sort of sensitive to it since I don’t like to curse.

Me: I know what you mean – I don’t ever swear.

Friend: Yeah, I never swear either.

Me: No, I mean, I can count the number of swears I’ve said out loud in my entire life on one hand.

Friend: Yeah me… Wait what? Oh… What…? wow.

A post Dan put up about swearing has been on my mind for several months now. I was recently reminded of it when the topic of swearing on blogs came up here. I like learning about why swears are considered swears, because I don’t swear, but I don’t know why.

Huh?

It feels awkward that I know this about myself, or that I have such an internal track record. I recognize that the words I have grown to count as swears are somewhat arbitrary (the ones I can think of start with f, a, s, h, b, and sometimes d). Avoiding these words can be hard; I remember dreading English classes where we read books out loud, because there was always a possibility that I would have to either break my streak or feign a coma. Somehow I manage to avoid typing these words explicitly (though copy/pasting them feels OK), but I admit that it feels strange when I type words like assist, as if I have to type them really quickly without pausing in the middle.

The silly part is that, like the children and teens we’re ostensibly trying to protect by censoring these words, I think swears all the time. Beyond that, I have no problem hearing them! They can often be best way to express yourself, and I sometimes find myself wishing I could use them (I can use them of course, but I’ve built up a mental hurdle about it). In the past few years I’ve resorted to using the cheat-words that often serve as swear replacements (e.g. “That’s freaking awesome”).

I’m not sure when I created this rule for myself. Obviously swearing was always discouraged at home and school. I do have one memory from my childhood of my younger brother telling my mother that I had said a swear (when I had not actually done so) and getting punished for it. The injustice of the situation was so infuriating, because not only had I not committed the crime in question — I had never sworn at all!

Occasionally I think I should just go into a room an swear my lungs out, just to get over the hurdle. I honestly don’t know why I haven’t done that.

[For completeness, most of the situations where I swore came at times when I was inadvertently (as in, without thinking) parroting something that someone near me said.]

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2008 in Garbage In, Garbage Out

 

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