Friday, December 06, 2002

Plug, Plug, Pluggity Plug

For FIRE, which is linked above. If you think campuses are hotbeds of political protest, you may want to think again. Read this press release about the rewriting of some "free speech codes"--isn't having a code for free speech an oxymoron?--or lack thereof on college campuses, and you'll discover that in some cases, all those anti-establishment types from the sixties decided to enact their own establishments when they got old enough to be in charge.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Ahhh, the 21st Century.

I live right outside of Raleigh, NC, and like everyone else in the area, we lost power due to the big ice storm on Wednesday. Fortunately, light and heat came back on last night at 11:00 p.m., just as I was weighing the odds of our perishing by Carbon Monoxide poisoning if we left the gas logs on all night. I can watch the news! I can read blogs! I can stay home with a slightly ill toddler because the Day Care has no electricity and is completely blocked in by fallen trees! Wooo!

I'm convinced that toddler is probably suffering the after-effects of the smelly candle light sources we had to resort to last evening. Bleh. Had to air the place out this morning, although in retrospect all those damn Party Lights candle parties I attended finally came in handy.

Will hopefully be back to blogging more interesting items soon.

Raleigh is still in some bad straits, though. I hope they get the lines back up by tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Did I Stutter, Susan? Because, really, just shut up.

Apparently the divine Ms. S and her paramour Tim (no, I have done movies since The Shawshank Redemption, honest!) Robbins are now being asked their opinions on political appointees. See their comments re: Kissinger here.

Perhaps I should address the following questions to reporters: Why do you keep asking celebrities about politics? Does it make you feel that your hack writing for the entertainment page is somehow more relevant if the overexposed photos are coupled with celebrity commentary on the issues of the day? Is it because you honestly think we read the celeb pages for their political ideas? Are you depressed and overmedicated? Closet sadists who laugh at the pain of the reader when confronted with such idiocy? Or are you just going straight for the kill by making my head explode?

Whatever the reasons, please stop. Celebrities don't need any more reason to feel self-important. You're just enabling their delusions of grandeur. And while I suppose you could argue that the entertainment value of these pieces approximates that of putting my eyes out with a knitting needle, it's not really a selling point for me. Just thought I'd point that out. Thanks.
Well, at Least He's Not an English Professor

But that's all I can say for Professor Farley, he of the brave revolutionary stance against the word "Confederate." Here's the essay he wrote that's adding to the furor over changing the name of a building. Good grief. Let me break a few things down for the kind prof, shall I?

Erasing a word will not erase history. Of course, as a math professor you may not realize that, so I'll type slowly. If you seriously believe that all confederates should have been executed, then you're just a sad, addle-pated little man. History is unpleasant, but we're supposed to learn from that and move on. You cannot eliminate hatred by advocating it yourself.

And one more thing--what is up with the Che Guevara poster? He helped bring about modern day Cuba, which is obviously such a paradise for modern day Cubans that they're dying trying to leave. You're ranting about a system in the US that oppressed, tortured and killed slaves, and yet you're celebrating a man who helped install an oppressive regime in Cuba. Cognitive dissonance, anyone? Ah well, what's a little intellectual dishonesty, particularly when the photo looks so nice on the web?

Here's a fun quote from an interview with Farley:
''If I had written this essay in 1952, I'd be dead right now,'' Farley said, adding that he did not abide by Martin Luther King Jr.'s doctrine of passive resistance.

And yet, Martin Luther King did more to make it possible for Farley to hold his current position and spout this nonsense than any other African-American leader, or Che Guevara, for that matter. It's called irony, Farley. Look it up on your way back to math class.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Oooooh! Shiny!

I've just gotta get this off my chest: I HEART Target. Why? Mainly because it's shiny. Rows upon rows of glorious consumer items, all arranged tastefully for your perusal. Bright lighting that reflects off of the polished shiny floor tiling, big bright signs adorned with smiling faces and colorful critters, and the aromatic scent of popcorn (unlike our local Wal-Mart or K-Mart, which always smell dishearteningly like fertilizer. I've gotta have a favorable nasal impression of a store, or I can't go there.). I can't even be ironic or sarcastic about this, except to say that Target's marketing department knows my demographic, and that I feel more than a little like a crow or a raven when I'm there, seduced and distracted by the shiny.

This time of year I find the siren song of the big red circle impossible to resist, because Target ratchets the shiny up about a million notches with the addition of: the Christmas section! Woo-hoo! The big corral of fake trees, all sparkly with their lights, whole kiosks devoted to baubles and doo-dads to clutter up the home, elegant gift bags, ribbons and matching tags and wrapping paper, for that coordinated under the tree look, and all conveniently located right next to the toy and electronics aisles. Wheee! I stand amongst the surfeit of shiny, inhaling the scent of popcorn and fantasizing about how this Christmas my home will be beautifully appointed, and the husband and I will smile and joke over our mulled wine whilst I effortlessly produce hand decorated gingerbread men for my darling rosy-cheeked toddler. The fantasy even includes my festive holiday apron--the one with the Shakespeare quote in gold (which I have never yet remembered to wear while making Christmas cookies).

Needless to say, my reality is somewhat different. The house is currently in that half-decorated, mostly filthy state, and I've given up trying to get EVERY SINGLE SURFACE disinfected for the guests before decorating--the rosy-cheeked toddler spends his time pulling stuff down, breaking other stuff, and crying when his father tries to stop/distract/remove him. Dinner is eaten in shifts because we cannot currently locate the kitchen table under the gifts that need wrapping and the cards that need mailing and the day's mail and paper and various other items we are trying to keep away from the small destructive one. The Great Shiny Shrubbery Project is in disarray because we only have about 15 minutes of daylight to work in when we get home and I discovered yesterday that a) I've hooked up the plugs backward and must now undo and redo them all and b) you can only run 4 shrubs per plug or the fuse blows. I'm tired and grumpy--and oh yeah, poor--and the only one really enjoying himself right now is the toddler.

Still, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. We've got lots of fun stuff planned, we've cut the travelling to the bare minimum to make it easier on ourselves, and if I can just get through this week, maybe the fantasy of mulled wine and gingerbread can be a reality. And in the meantime, there's always Target.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Staff By Numbers

Causing a mild hullaballoo 'round these parts is this article about diversity recruiting on NC campuses. I'll say this--if you're an African-American professor, you are sitting pretty right now. My concern is that pushing for a higher percentage of professors than currently exist in the general population may degrade the quality of education--both of and by the professors in question.

And an aside: it is generally agreed that Henry Louis (or "Skip" as we call him down here) Gates didn't leave Duke because of racism, unless you think his affinity for green constitutes a racial bias.
Apparently, Too Much Turkey Causes Hallucinations

I can think of no other explanation for this student's editorial. A couple of excerpts:

After recently seeing the documentary "Bowling for Columbine" by Michael Moore, I realize that the whole idea of "Happy Holidays" is a farce. I could probably stop here. But where's the fun in that? I did manage to restrain myself from putting sarcasm quotes around the word "documentary"--oops! Damn. Never mind.

I have a few reasons to believe this is true. As Moore brought out in his film, America is a nation consumed by fear. We are a nation consumed by money and guns as well. Aaaaah! I am afraid of everything, even money! I must therefore run out and buy a gun, to rid myself of the money! Which I fear! Did I mention that I am afraid? Maybe I shouldn't go out at all! Aaaahhh! Add these three together and it is seemingly impossible, even for a few weeks a year, for the country as a whole to be in good spirits, get along and spread the holiday cheer. And yet, somehow, we manage to perservere. Could it be because we, the sad, frightened masses, understand that Michael Moore is a paranoid egomaniac who wouldn't know a fact if it bit him on his ample ass? I'm just sayin'.

I am thankful for the country I live in, I appreciate the freedoms afforded to me and my family, and I am proud to say I am an American. However, it has become startlingly clear that our nation is in trouble. You may say that you do not live in fear, but you probably don't even know that you do. Do you lock your doors at night? Were you afraid to go to school during the school shootings? Did you worry a little about getting on a plane Sept. 13, 14 or 15 of 2001? Then you live in fear. Are you realistic enough to understand that there are people in the world who kinda suck and who have no problem taking your stuff or killing you? Then you're NORMAL. Being sensible about the real world is not the equivalent of quaking under the bed in fear. Of course, I can't be right, because according to Little Miss Brain Trust, I don't even know that I'm afraid. This fact would sort of negate the need for her essay because I cannot understand what living in fear is, but let's not quibble over details like facts. Lord knows she isn't.

Insert lots more "factual info" gleaned from that liberal Yoda, Michael Moore, add a dash of ignorant generalizing, and voila! You have the remainder of this essay. But in the holiday spirit, let me leave you with the writer's suggeston for facing fear:

I challenge the students and faculty on this campus, and the neighboring businesses, to take a minute to share the holiday cheer. Forget about the sensationalized crime on TV. Don't think about the fact that the kid down the street or two cities over could be thinking about taking a gun to school. Give him a Christmas card anyway. What I have begun to realize is that the more we ignore and avoid the problem, the worse it gets. Which begs the question--what exactly is refusing to think about a potential problem (like the kid down the street and his gun fetish) except avoidance? Pesky, spiteful logic! Fie on thee!

Maybe she's right, and I am afraid. Of her.