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Guest Post: This Appalachian Life

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.17.13

Thorn writes: If you're looking for some sad content, a really depressing Mother Jones article about meth production and the lobbying efforts by pharma companies to keep pseudoephedrine available OTC. And I got to it from this article about the photos that accompany the first piece. I don't have anything much to say about it except that I'm glad it's not the most prevalent drug where we are, not that I love heroin or anything.

Heebie's take: Not that meth is limited to Appalachia, just that the link has "kentucky" in it. Anyway, here's a West Virginia town where any wireless signal is illegal. No cell phones, internet, not even radios and electric blankets.

The town is home to the Green Bank Telescope, the largest steerable radio telescope in the world -- and arguably our most powerful link to the cosmos. Scientists there listen to radio energy that has journeyed light years, unlocking secrets about how the stars and galaxies formed.

Who could stand such a communication desert?

Surprisingly, a ban on all things wireless hasn't driven residents away. It's actually drawn people from all across the United States to settle down. Sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity -- a disease supposedly caused by wireless signals, but dismissed by the scientific community -- have moved into the electronic dead space.

 

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Guest Post - Musicians

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.16.13

Nick S. writes: Sasha Frere-Jones hosts an interesting discussion about making a living as a working musician:

There's a number of good observations and/or arguments and, appropriately, they don't settle on any specific conclusions.

Dave Allen: At music conferences over the years, I have heard the refrain that musicians should be able to make a middle-class income and should be provided with health insurance. But really? I mean, so should migrant workers toiling in Oregon's fruit farms. When one starts out, as did I with Gang of Four, the last thing on your mind is getting a decent salary or enough to pay the rent. That comes later, when you enter the "business of making music for sale." I feel like music has come full circle--it was always hard to make a dime, income very rarely came from record sales, and touring was the holy grail. So now, with the level playing field called the Internet, there is an added dimension to the possibility of making a buck, by using the platforms to extend awareness of your music, to sell directly to fans, to make fans aware of your gigs, etc, etc.

.....

Frere-Jones: People seem to be comfortable with [concert] tickets commonly going way above $100; it's like the CD insanity, where people simply accepted a ridiculous price point, against the model of the rational actor. (Business schools now often use the CD as an example of why the "rational actor" model needed to be abandoned.) But live is where their bottom lives, too, and in so many ways.

...

Krukowski: Whenever we make more from T-shirt sales than our actual show, I always get depressed. Like I've turned into a logo. But yes, Dave's point is well taken, in that whatever "business" we are now in as musicians, it's going to be dictated by the audience.
Which brings up another point about the live situation--I've been hearing from venues that their old way of doing business has been falling by the wayside, too, because they used to be able to count on a certain number of regulars in the clubs each night, which helped even out their income and staffing needs. Now the place is either sold out in advance or hurting for customers--it's boom or bust, cause the regulars are gone, and tickets go in clumps. (That means if you're a band that's not clumping, live work is not going so well, either.)
I'm guessing that pattern is another influence of the online market, cause chatter can escalate exponentially now for a given band or gig. But the local club-goers--the ones who hung to make the scene, regardless of how buzzy a given night's entertainment might have been--they might be going the way of the CD. Maxwell's closing speaks to this, I think.

 

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Grumpy Old Man Shops on Craigslist; Let's Watch!

Posted by Stanley
on 08.16.13

I'm currently in the market for a small futon, which would neatly solve two problems: (1) shortage of places to sit and (2) shortage of places to crash in event of out-of-town guests. And so I've turned to Craigslist, where the ensuing email exchanges really are delightful. For instance:

Me: I'm interested in this item, but I want to know how wide it is first. Could you tell me how wide it is? If it's a suitable width, I could likely come get it tomorrow.

Seller: I have a window of availability tomorrow afternoon. Let me know when you want to come by.

I guess from his perspective, I'm an annoying person asking questions and I'll probably never show up as promised anyway. But I really do want to know how wide it is before I bother borrowing a truck and driving over there, goddammit.

Also, why are there so many new, unopened mattresses for sale on Craigslist? I do not understand the mattress economy.


 

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Game Shows

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.16.13

We've been watching a lot of GSN here at the in-laws (that's the Gameshow Network to you eggheads.) (Did you know that Apollo Ono is now the host of a game show?) It's actually a good choice for a group on vacation because it's easy to tune out and check the internet, and then tune back in and make jokes about the contestants or the right answers. We've watched a lot of Family Feud in particular.

Anyway, what happens when you win The Price Is Right?

AVC: Do you think most people that win on The Price Is Right just turn around and sell their prizes?
AS: I wonder. I think that I got really lucky to get a car and things that are more sought after. Sometimes you get a trip, which you still have to pay the taxes on.
AVC: Exactly. What was the guy from New Orleans going to do with a trip to New Orleans?
AS: He's going to have to pay all the taxes to get it, and he can't sell it. But he didn't win it anyway. I think a lot of people don't understand what they're getting themselves into. They're just like, "Oh my God, I'm going to win a bunch of stuff," and then they're going to have to forfeit their prizes because they can't afford to pay the taxes on them.
AVC: Can you pre-sell a prize before you even get it?
AS: They can't do that. How do you pre-sell a car you don't even own? If anything, you'd go to a family member and borrow some money to get the prizes. I always considered it an investment because I knew I'd get the money back. It was more money than I had before I got there. Still, it was a pain. You're supposed to get your prizes within 90 days of the airdate, but I didn't get my pool table and shuffleboard table until, I think, five or six months later.
AVC: Then it took you four months to sell?
AS: Something like that. I think I sold them in December. It wasn't too bad. I just put them on Craigslist and tried to get the $10,000 that they were worth. I was waiting for the right rich, young, single guy who really wanted a Price Is Right pool table.

 

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ATM: She's just so funny!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.15.13

Hawaii is especially sensitive to being laughed at, but she's so goddamned funny. Also I got laughed at excessively, growing up, and if I'd been a sensitive flower I'd have been even more raked over the coals for that, and plus I never would have developed my incisive, delightful wit.

Anyway, the type of thing I laugh at is this:
Hawaiian Punch, sobbing on the way out of gymnastics: my finger hur-ur-urrrrts.
Me: I think you have a hangnail.
Hawaii: I have to hold my other hand around my finger like this, so that the wind doesn't get it.

(Just assume she's sobbing or whining for the entire conversation.) We got in the minivan.

Hawaii: Turn off the air conditioning!
Me: No way. (Because it's 100° out.) Just keep holding your finger with the other hand.
Hawaii: But the wind gets through the cracks in my fingers and hur-ur-urrrrrrts.

(Whatever.) We get to a bridge.

Hokey Pokey: AIRPLANE BRIDGE!
Me: WHEEEEEEE!! (I threw up my hands, mock-roller-coaster-style.)
Hawaii (don't forget to picture the sobbing): Mamaaaaa. When you say WHEEEEE the wind from your mouth hurts my fiiiiiiiinger.

[End scene]

Of course I laughed. Or just now when she said she could not wipe her wet hands on Mimi's shorts, because Mimi's shorts are dirty and then her hands would be wet and dirty.

Anyway, I think I'm basically fine - I'll rein it in if she seems particularly fragile, or apologize, or read the context and respond appropriately. More importantly, I thought that some of you might harbor childhood resentment and take umbrage and we could vicariously fight out our childhood wounds. Who amongst us will be well-trolled and call me cruel?


 

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Higher ed tuition

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.15.13

Where is all the money going? To be honest, I don't find this graph particularly damning. President salaries have increased by 50% (and presumably other top admins) but I suspect those are examples of greediness that are negligible with respect to the overall budget.

The real portion of where tuition is going is the total employee compensation, and what this graph doesn't address is how much of that is defensible. Based on Heebie U, some is and some isn't. We've added quite a bit of support in the way of tutoring centers and supplementary support, and infrastructure to support students most likely to drop out. There's more support going to study abroad programs (and to subsidize students so that they can go abroad). There are new hires to the volunteer center, managing student outreach in the community and elsewhere. We've also added admin to support the assessment process, which has ballooned in ten years from nonexistent to a giant clusterfuck, due to the accreditation agencies taking cues from the geniuses in the business world. Also we have more people in recruitment, which is maybe annoying but otherwise we'd fold. (There is a small bit of dreamy-facilities-itis, but I think those tend to be funded by donors.)

So yes, there is an arms race driving up tuition at schools, but it's not necessarily stomach-turning excess. My n=1 institution does not have an affluent student body, but neither do the vast bulk of higher ed institutions, and yet I suspect most horror stories of luxury dorms are coming from schools with giant endowments and rich students. (so what should we do, the need for well-funded public universities blah blah blah ability to fully support all students etc blah blah end crippling debt.)


 

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99% Perspiration

Posted by Stanley
on 08.14.13

My recently ended summer internship featured a lot of walking around outside, often times with other people. Three observations:

  1. Boy, I sure do sweat a lot. And easily! Just a quick jaunt over to XYZ office and back and I'm glowing, wiping my forehead, and wishing I had a change of shirt .

  2. I seem to be a fast walker. Any time I was walking with someone, I had to really slow down my stride.

  3. When I walk more slowly, I sweat less.

You'd think this information would lead me to walk more slowly even when by myself, but no, it doesn't seem to. I'll probably start stocking extra shirts in my office, though, if and when I eventually have an office.


 

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Anti-intellectualism

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.14.13

So are other countries really less anti-intellectual than the US? What does that look like, in practice? We pay a lot of lip service to the value of curiosity when it comes to small children, but I'm not clear how exactly it dies in the US, in practice, and how it doesn't, elsewhere. I'm curious about actual examples from a classroom or family life. There have got to be other anti-intellectual countries - does it just go hand in hand with religious fundamentalism?


 

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ATM: Hey, that was a little bit racist edition

Posted by Tia
on 08.13.13

I tried to put this up at the other place but no one helped me.

My classmate wrote a mass email, and I was on it:

I ask you to please put this article on your Facebook and send to your friends. People need to know what is happening to gay people in Jamaica. And (not that is a top destination for any of you) boycott the hell out of everything Jamaican. I'm utterly disgusted. These people clearly don't have a whip of democratic spirit. I'm ashamed that such pathetic, small-minded, diseased and righteous beliefs are a people!

B----

http://news.yahoo.com/jamaica-transgender-teen-murdered-mob-070446416.html

I wrote a draft of a response. I'm trying to say something constructive that won't inspire defensiveness. I want feedback.

hey B----,

that's really horrible. I understand being shocked and disgusted. I am too.

I wonder, though, if it's fair to generalize to all Jamaican people, even if it does sound from the article that Jamaica is a particularly dangerous place to be queer/trans. I'm sure there are Jamaicans who would also be horrified by what happened, even straight-identified Jamaicans. For instance, Jamaica's most recent prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller (a woman head of government! something the U.S. has not yet accomplished. :-p ) recently made remarks in favor of gay rights: http://dailyxtra.com/canada/news/gay-activist-jamaica-disappoints-and-surprises?market=210

I was really interested in the observation in the article that queerness is seen as especially threatening in Jamaica because men raped other men as punishment when there was still slavery. It reminds me that some of the most brutal behavior is really a consequence of brutality the perpetrator experienced -- I'm sure even today a lot of Jamaicans grow up very poor and surrounded by a lot of violence, and maybe learn aggression and violence by example. It doesn't excuse them of responsibility or make them nice people, but for me, I feel like thinking about what causes brutality and violence helps me put horrific events in context, and then I can try to think about how to make things better so that children don't grow up to be gay-bashers. I'm not much of an activist, but I'm pre-med in part because I want to do my residency in psychiatry and be a therapist, and I hope in a small way, someday many years from now I'll be someone who can help people find more constructive ways to respond to their own suffering.

-[Tia's Real Name]


 

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Wish Me Luck?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.13.13

Because man, I'm going to need it. (Work stuff, nothing life-altering, but the next couple of days are going to be interesting.)


 

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The proof is trivial!

Posted by Ben
on 08.11.13

On math threads.


 

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