Many people, even some people who are affiliated with them, think of universities as centers of intellectual life. However, in fact, they are riddled with idiocy. The link is to a series of tweets mostly by first-call session sociology maven Kieran Healy about "tone of voice" guidelines for writing about/for a university, written apparently by people who haven't thought a lot about what the purpose of much of that writing is or how much one can, or even should try to, convey one's vision for the university as a whole in writing about an undergrad's research project or whatever. This one in particular is remarkable because the "before" examples seem apt to be informative and useful, whereas the "after" examples make one want to punch the face of the handiest smarmy person.
Lw writes: Indian politics is pretty interesting. The new PM's party is fundamentalist-curious. One state has just banned beef.
There are three states that have state welfare boards responsible for transgender people, and West Bengal has just created one that covers development as well. West Bengal had been communist for decades, they were replaced there a few years ago.
Heebie's take: I know nothing!
There's not much reason for any of you to care about Illinois' horrible tax system, but this op-ed is such a model of clear and informed newspaper writing that I wanted to share it.
There was a local story on NPR this morning about zebra mussels in Lake
Austin Waco. They're horribly invasive and cause a lot of problems. Last year they instituted strict inspection rules before boats were to be allowed in central Texas lakes. According to the story*, one single private dock wouldn't participate, and sure enough, that's where the mussels got into Lake Waco. They are currently involved in an expensive attempt to eradicate the population before it explodes, without using chemicals - smothering them with tarps for five months, etc, and they were hopeful that it's working.
Let's talk about that one guy who wouldn't cooperate. Does he feel like a jack-ass now? Is he sorry, at the very least because I'm sure all these treatments and interventions interfere with his dock access? How does he resolve the cognitive dissonance of "Goddamn right I don't have to cooperate" and "Oh gee, look at the giant fucking mess I caused." I hate him.
I wish that the God of PSAs would take up "cooperation" the way they (successfully) took up anti-bullying. Whether or not bullying has decreased, there is now a language and widespread norm that it is bad, and that schools are responsible for dealing with it and trying to eliminate it. I'd like some widespread normative language that we should all be cooperative, goddamn it, when it comes to public goods. Not when it comes to things I disagree with, of course. Don't cooperate with those.
which I can't find an online version of Thanks, potchkeh!
The job to which I'm perhaps least suited is travel writer. Hate to fly, not spontaneous, only mildly curious about other cultures, eat about three things. But surely this sentence brought everyone up short.
I flew from New York to Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, for $493 on Ukrainian International Airlines
Was he the only person on the plane?
I get that his whole motivation as a character is to be a complete and utter conservative ass-buffoon, but jesus christ, Ted Cruz on music:
"You know, music is interesting. I grew up listening to classic rock and I'll tell you sort of an odd story. My music tastes changed on 9/11. And it's a very strange--I actually, intellectually, find this very curious, but on 9/11, I didn't like how rock music responded. And country music collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me and I have to say, it--just as a gut level, I had an emotional reaction that says, "These are my people." And so ever since 2001 I listen to country music, but I'm an odd country music fan because I didn't listen to it prior to 2001."
Also Liberty U students were fined $10 if they skipped his presidential announcement.
So, DejaNews. If it were started today, there'd likely be a huge backlash, no? (Maybe we have to imagine that it's archiving all of, I don't know, wordpress or tumblr or something rather than Usenet.) Though there was one at the time as well, I suppose.
Also: remember how Google's purchase of the DejaNews archive seemed, at the time, like evidence of their old-skool internet dork cred? That was pretty short-lived, huh?
(I have no point here, I was just thinking about Usenet and archives and whatnot. Remember how—or this is the impression I had, anyway—it was formerly considered just plainly obvious that one didn't use one's real name in online interactions? When did that change? September?)
This remodel project has been an opportunity to go nuts on researching various things, which, like most people of my class and education, I'm good at and enjoy. It seems like the standard career paths for people who are like this--good at school--are lawyer and academic, but there's another one I wish I'd known about when I was making "life choices" because it seems like (relatively) more fun and (big firm law partners excepted) pays better: equity analyst. Learn every damn thing about various businesses, write a report, the end. You don't have to run the company or manage anyone: you just research and write up your results. Most of us would have killed at a job like that.
My parents met my mom's new cousin, E, the one that had resulted from uncovering her father M's secret identity. E and his wife are lovely. Two observations:
1. E and his wife are in their mid-60s, very recently retired. Healthy, active, lots of kids and grandkids. They don't email or really use computers. He was a doctor, so he was in a decently technical profession, but nope, gonna sit out this "computer" fad. I'm super amused by this. I think that is probably the very youngest of the UMC you could be, and decide to sit out on technology. (Without the financial resources, it includes all ages, I assume.)
2. E and his wife both attribute the split and secrecy to how awful my great-grandmother was - a vicious, malevolent person, and to a lesser degree how strong-minded and difficult E's mother was. (In other words, M's mother and sister.) Elsewhere in the family, there is lots of lore about difficult, critical women and kind gentle men. (Notably, this lore skips my mother's generation - women who would have come of age in the late 1950s/early 60s, and then picks up again in my own generation.)
I'm having trouble teasing apart how much of this is sexism, how much of it is accurate, and how much of it is due to cultural-historical forces like the Depression and WWII.
I'm coming to this from a position of total ignorance, so maybe this isn't news to anyone, but we're renovating a basement that will be the boys' playroom and I am amazed at how toxic the ingredients of building materials are. Plywood, insulation, flooring, paint...you name it, it has something in it that makes you think "Really? In my house?" And even if you spend weeks reading and identify the least troublesome stuff, it turns out to be very difficult to procure, particularly in one-project quantities, and even then if you manage to get ahold of someone who has it and will sell it to you, it's more expensive, sometimes by several times, than the regular stuff.
Now, it might be that the baseline risk of this stuff is so low that it's not worth worrying about, but it's very hard to see an ingredient like formaldehyde and feel sanguine about putting it in your house.
Assorted links from the past month that haven't quite justified a post on their own:
3. We've talked this topic to death, but this is specific enough to be enjoyable: on a checklist of school readiness from 1979: "Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend's home?"
4. Is the timing of Monica Lewinsky's TED talk significant in any way? I see a few possibilities:1. Someone is cackling that this will harm HRC, to remind people about Lewinsky, 2. Someone is figuring that this is early enough not to harm HRC - repackage Lewinsky and make it old news again. 3. Lewinsky has been perennially trying to re-invent herself for the past 20 years, and the media only noticed this because they are thinking generally about Clintons, but there's no over-thinking it going on. 4. I'm the only one over-thinking it. I just thought the timing was questionable. It popped up on NPR and the NYT in quick succession, but maybe that's because they basically drink from the same well.
I don't think everything in this op-ed about raising teenagers is as universal as she claims, but I thought this bit was wise:
Adolescence, it strikes me, shares some of the generic qualities of divorce. The central shock of divorce lies in its bifurcation of the agreed-upon version of life: There are now two versions, mutually hostile, each of whose narrative aim is to discredit the other. Until adolescence, parents by and large control the family story. The children are the subject of this story, sure enough, the generators of its interest or charm, but they remain, as it were, characters, creatures derived from life who nonetheless have their being in the author's head. A large part of parental authority is invested in the maintenance and upkeep of this story, its repetition, its continued iterations and adaptations. And it feels right to tell it, for what we are offering our children is a story of life in which they have been given a role... The shock of critique is the first, faint sign of the coming conflict, though I wonder how much of what we call conflict is in fact our own deserved punishment for telling the story wrong, for twisting it with our own vanity or wishful thinking, for failing to honor the truth.
I like talking about our self-narratives and how it shapes our lives.