Success conditions for academic conferences?
How much rich intellectual goodness is required to make conference attendance worthwhile? As I noted, I had a small audience for my talk, and most of the Q&A focused on the largely speculative concluding remarks rather than the stuff I felt more confident about, so it wasn't so helpful in that way. And I didn't really go to any talks that knocked my socks off, though I learned a few interesting things. Plus I got to see a cool documentary about Motley Crue-- appropriate, since after a few days of hotel-induced sleep deprivation, I'm looking like the post-ankylosing spondylitis Mick Mars. So it's a draw, I think.
Fans of my posts about regional diversity will be happy to know that I will be stranded in the airport for at least several hours and possibly much longer. Expect random cranky musings.
Fans of regional diversity will be happy to hear that on my first foray into the AM dial, I heard ten minutes of Bill Clinton jokes. That's red state, baby.
On my drive from the airport to my current moderately rural location, I was a bit disappointed to hear that the radio here is like it is everywhere else, namely, lousy. And my hopes for amusing displays of whiteness have been unfulfilled: the guy running the hotel is (surprise!) Indian, and the guy at Burger King was the the largest, blackest, gayest man I've seen in a very long time. Better luck on Friday, perhaps.
Arms and the man
You guys have all probably already read this Salon article about Real Doll lovers, but if not, I recommend it. This loooong comments thread at pandagon is also well worth wading through, if only to better understand how utterly clueless some people are about what might constitute evidence of misogyny. (One of the men profiled in the article participates.) [N.B.: wanting to fuck a realistic sex toy is not necessarily misogynist. Constructing a whole pretend relationship with one, because you can be sure that "she" isn't lying to you, the way a real woman might: definitely misogyny. Playing videogames with your Real Doll: priceless.]
The makers of Real Dolls claim that they frequently turn down requests to make child Real Dolls. Granted that they're not making children per se, I have to say that this model [NSFW] doesn't exactly strike me as being above the age of consent. Must read moment: the dog breeder who asked the Real Doll creator if "I could make him a silicone dog, because he was a breeder, and he didn't want to hurt his dogs anymore, he said. He talked like right out of the movie 'Deliverance.'" McMullen's surfer-dude lilt plummets into a pungent drawl, "'Aw, I don't want to hurt ma dawgs, I like ma dawgs ... kin you make me one so ah kin still use it fer the sex?'..." Why not make the dogs, I wonder? Is it more squicky than making silicone love dolls? No dogs would be hurt, after all. I'm thinking, various purebreds, maybe giant chihuahuas for the fantasy market... Seriously, if you don't think there's anything creepy about screwing life-like poseable women, what's so bad about the dogs?
Finally, can we all agree that having to douche out the orifices afterwards can't be a big self-esteem booster?
UPDATE: don't you wonder if there wasn't a mistranscription, and the dog breeder really said "so ah kin still use it fer teh sex"?
I paid the cost to be the boss
As a follow up to the post on college* I thought it might be useful to distinguish the value of a college degree as (a) an marker for useful traits and (b) an indicator of particular skills.** My worry is that the traditional liberal arts education contributes to paychecks mostly because of (a) (in conjuction with its usefulness in connecting with the usual old-boy network). If there were other reliable indicators, the usefulness of the BA would decline, since there are cheaper ways to get the actual skills needed for employment. Given the expense of the BA, there's an opening here, no?
*This word almost always makes me think of that scene in Some kind of wonderful when Keith's father is looking at college brochures and repeating, in what's meant to be some kind of blue-collar Boston accent, "College-- co-ed phys ed. Sheesh. Co-ed phys ed." This psychological fact is unfortunate given my employment situation.
** I think Assssssymetrical Information had a post about the value of the GED vs. the high-school diploma-- the idea is that the GED might require as much intellectual rigor, but, since it's often taken to be an indicator of poor impulse control or some other problem, it does little good on the job market, where an ability to show up on time often trumps more sophisticated skills.
Also, nothing I say here should be taken as a criticism of the life of the mind.
This is my house!
Do you remember that old Eddie Murphy bit where he goes undercover as a white man only to discover that white people just go nuts once all the black people leave? Or any of roughly a million movies about what happens when the parents leave town for a weekend?
That's sort of the feeling I have now. I'll commence trying my best to drive this blog into oblivion.
Who would have guessed that bloggers want to write for a living? All the best to Moira as she heads downhill.
In other going away news--and I damn well mean it this time--I'm going to take some time off from the blog. I'll still be around for the reading group, and will answer email, but no posting or commenting for a while. May the co-bloggers provide you with many fine posts.
Erin O'Connor has an intriguing post up about the costs of college education. I tend to think the end is near, so you shouldn't take my pessimism too seriously, but I've wondered for a while just when a significant number of middle-class parents will look at the college & university scene and wonder whether they're getting their money's worth. Yes, I know that going to a tony college is better than attending virtual classes, but I'm not convinced that the difference is worth the difference in price, and, more significantly, I'm not convinced that our clientele will continue to believe it. Speculations for a time when I'm not knee-deep in grading, surely.
Have any of you read Scooter Libby's novel?
The Superficial, like it ought to be done.
Katie intends to become a stay-at-home mom. Because Tom and Katie are really traditional like that, and they need their child to grow up with a firm understanding of the proper gender roles: mommies stay home and take care of the house, and daddies are hypodermic needles with semen in them. And every two weeks, some guy named Tom shows up reeking of leather and cosmopolitans, and pays everyone to keep their mouths shut.
It's The Little Things
When the hack-ing is ideological, we can all pretend that it's a matter of sincere belief, and not simple water carrying. But when someone calls Karl Rove fat, and Wolf Blitzer immediately and seriously responds that Rove has lost weight, you have one great television moment.
The Engines Of Commerce
Me: What's your fax number?
She: XXX-XXX-XXXX. Send it to the attention of Y.
She: You have our fax number right?
Me: You just gave it to me.
She: I did? It's Monday.
More Wire Talk
If you're a Wire watcher, have you noticed how many of the actors have great voices? Sometimes I'm not sure how much of my fandom is due to the quality of the show, and how much to the joy of listening to all the rich, resonant voices. Someone in casting had a great ear.
I'm thinking specifically of McNulty, Kima, Daniels, Bunk, and Freamon.
Sue travels abroad, is held up at gunpoint, tells perp to bug off.
I hope her parents don't read her blog.
I think we should all cue up the Fountains of Wayne song "Prom Theme" as we read this article.
Here we are at last
We're running out of gas
The air is getting thick
The girls are feeling sick
We'll pass out on the beach
Our keys just out of reach
And soon we'll say goodbye
Then we'll work until we die
But tonight we feel like stars
We'll play our air guitars
Cause we're eighteen
It's a perfect night
To sing our prom theme
So, prom stories? My goal at my prom was to be wearing the skimpiest dress, and let me tell you, I totally suceeded. I went through a period when I regretted that, but after having two kids, all I can think is, "I should have worn even more revealing clothes, even more of the time! I looked fiiiine!" I wore my prom dress around afterward, because it was just a black minidress, and one day in NYC midtown I actually caused two business guys in suits to walk right into each other and both fall down on the street, where a hearty chorus of homeless dudes and me laughed at them. It was sublime.
UPDATE: there is a tragic triple-post on this item, due to an intial glitch uploading and a subsequent chariness on my part to "rebuild the site". Only this version can be commented on, and I hope that ogged will soon put the evanescent posts below to rest in google's cache of oblivion.
FURTHER UPDATE: oh, never mind.