Tuesday, October 31, 2006

OKCupid Does it Again!

Behsdids! They're totally e-skeered of me, that's what all this unpleasantness is about.

33% Extroversion, 100% Intuition, 100% Emotiveness, 42% Perceptiveness
You are a normally quiet person with very strong convictions and a marked activist streak. You have a clearly defined sense of right and wrong, and you like seeing people punished for their transgressions. You are Nemesis, goddess of punishment. You are a champion for the defenseless, you love poetic justice and, if karmic retribution doesn't have its say, then you'll have yours. You are astute, rarely fooled, and idealistic.

Your defining characteristic is your internal and inflexible system of morals. Because of your highly intuitive nature, you possess the theoretical nature required to define those morals, but you sometimes lack the ability to verbalize and expound on them, especially on the more nuanced parts of your worldview. Regardless, you have strong instincts which often prove to be correct, and rather than preaching, you act on them. You don't compromise -- ever.

You can sometimes be a person of great internal stress. You don't have double standards, and so you expect the same of yourself as you expect of others. You might find, sometimes, that you have just as hard of a time in living up to those expectations as the people around you. As a result, you are rarely at peace with yourself, but you're also likely to think of this in a positive light -- you're always forcing yourself to improve, and you avoid making mistakes.

You tend to be a private person, and don't like to talk much about those staunch morals of yours until, that is, they become violated. Once that happens, everyone is going to know exactly where you stand. You have a distaste of nihilism and intellectual relativism that will make you naturally compatible with scientists and certain kinds of philosophers, even if they don't share your activist streak.

Famous People like you: Goethe, Voltaire, Susan B. Anthony, Robert Burns
Similar Personality Types: Prometheus, The Oracle, Hermes, Orpheus
Avoid: Icarus, Dionysus, Agamemnon, Atlas
You may or may not be able to get along with an Odysseus -- it will depend on his/her upbringing.

Happy Samhain! Now with Shakespeare

I'm fully prepared for the chocolate beggars, finally. Although several of the lines in this bit of Billy's verse are problematic, I really do love this scene. If nothing else, the line "by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes" is extremely useful in announcing the arrival of certain folks to a group. The realization that I passed maid quite a bit ago, and am now firmly in mother territory is not pleasant but then neither is the dark season of winter following the harvest that Samhain welcomes. At least I have a minute before crone sets in.

MACBETH: ACT IV, SCENE I. A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.

Thunder. Enter the three Witches
First Witch
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

Second Witch
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

Third Witch
Harpier cries 'Tis time, 'tis time.

First Witch
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.


Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Third Witch
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Enter HECATE to the other three Witches

O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i' the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

Music and a song: 'Black spirits,' & c

HECATE retires

Second Witch
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Farewell, Good King!

Well, hell, as long as I'm pillaging About.com for post ideas, King Alfred -- later styled 'the Great' -- died on 26 October, 899. He fought off some rather persistent feral blondes, built some great defensive systems, and united much of Great Britain under one rule. All that is quite impressive, but I owe him a more personal debt. Without his commitment to scholarship in the native English language, I'd be quite without paper topics.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

October 25th, A Medieval Date Which Will Live in Infamy.

Bardiac was absolutely right. I may have forgotten to blog the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, but I must not forget to blog this anniversary. Even if King Harold Godwineson isn't involved, and I kinda wub him. ( I have got to stop crushing on the very dead! Do they have pills for this?)And even if I'm unconscionably late doing it.

If I can trust the post-structuralists to give me a break on this construction, I give you -- in chronological order -- the stuff we're commemorating today:

The Death of Stephen of Blois, Last Norman King of England (1154)

Stephen was the son of William II, Rufus (A redhead and a hothead) and the Grandson of William the Bastard, aka "the Conqueror." After the 'hunting accident' (wink, wink) that killed William II, Stephen was brought into the household of his Uncle Henry I, Beauclerc and raised as a favorite among Henry's children. Henry, however, did not consider Stephen the heir to the British throne, and in fact demanded oaths of loyalty from his barons (including Stephen) in favor of his daughter Matilda (aka Maud -- British people talk funny) in 1127, and again when she produced a male heir in 1133.

Then Henry went and died while both Matilda and Stephen were in Normandy. Stephen enlisted the help of his brother Henry of Blois, the Bishop of Winchester, to get papal support for his ascension to the throne, and easily convinced the Norman barons that a man's claim to the throne was better than a woman's any day. (Because the kids these days, they don't consider a man's word an honorable contract. Cretins!) Plus, Stephen got back to London first. He was crowned King in London on 22 December, 1135.

Stephen was a big softy, and people knew it. Matilda and her followers came to British soil to fight for her rights, and those of her son. These battles went on for years, until eventually Stephen and Matilda signed an agreement whereby Stephen could remain king until his death, after which Henry of Anjou would rule. Stephen had no intention of honoring that contract, but his son up and died on him, and he didn't have another. So, the crown went to the Angevin brat by default anyway. (This is a very interesting story, unpardonably misrepresented through simplification here. I recommend you read up on it.)

The Death of Geoffrey Chaucer (1400)

A well-connected beaurocrat, diplomat and world travelling bean-counter, this guy also wrote a bit in his spare time. Most critics believe he showed some promise as a writer, and would have accomplished great things had that nasty mid-1380's Parliament not been determined to impoverish him. His last work, though unfinished, is still taught in many English literature programs even now. Imagine if he'd had the time he needed to finish it. Faith, Geoffrey we hardly knew ye! (In addition to being quite a promising little poet, Geoffrey was related by marriage to John of Gaunt. HAWT!)

The Battle of Agincourt (1415)

Yet another King Henry managed to defeat the French forces at Agincourt, and secured a marriage arrangement with Catherine of Valois,i.e., the King of France's daughter. Part of this marriage arrangement should have made Henry VI king of France on his grandfather's death, and ended the Hundred Year's War for good. But Henry V died while the boy was just a wee bairn, and you can't trust a contract with royalty nohow. So, more aggression, and Henry VI had to settle for the crown of Britain alone, poor thing.

Shakespeare reported Henry V's words on the field at Agincourt a few years later, and you'll be happy to know that old Henry was quite gifted with the blank verse.

I quote:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hey! What's With the Pseudonym?

Hugo Schwyzer has invited pseudonymous bloggers to explain their choice to write under a Nom de Blog on a thread at his site. I've commented at Hugo's site occasionally, but this time I thought I'd answer the question over here. Seems like you guys would like to know my reasons more than Hugo's readers would. Besides, there's been a whole anonymous/pseudonymous brouhaha on the internet that I'd like to address a little, too.

So, here are Hugo's questions: If you blog or comment under your full name, why? First name only? If you use a pseudonym, how did you choose it? What impression do you imagine your "handle" gives to others?

Choice of Pseudonym:
1) I am an Old English dork. I thoroughly embrace my dorkishness, as many of you have already ascertained from reading my posts. There was never a question that I'd want my pseudonym to be in Old English.

2) I've never been a huge fan of post-modern fiction, but I really found Joyce Carol Oates' short story "& Answers" quite powerful. I knew that if I ever were to write something public yet informal I'd want to do what Oates did. I'd want an interlocutor implied even if not present (though I've been lucky enough to have great interlocutors), and I'd want the words to be the means of transmitting personality. I'm not a generative writer, and so the only personality I have to convey with these words is mine.

3) There's an awful lot of 'he said' going on in the world. There's certainly a lot of 'he said' in the literature I read. I am not a 'he.' Ergo, 'She Said' translated into Old English. I am she.

Impression my Pseudonym Gives:
I really don't know. I've explained the meaning in the blurb at the top there, so I know that anyone who drops by knows what the words mean. I've also given basic ideas of who I am. People could be thinking "what an obnoxious woman, to pick a name in a dead form of the language" or "hey, cool" or any number of things in between. Eh, somebody else will have to answer this for me.

Why a Pseudonym at All?:
1) I'm a grad student. That means that my professors can basically end my career if they don't like my shoes.
2) My story is not exclusively mine. There are many other people (family, friends, professors, colleagues, lady who sells me coffee in the morning)involved in almost all my stories, and they'd probably prefer not to have their business on the interwebs.
3) I'm a teacher. I need to be able to be impartial in the classroom, and even though I do that, open partiality on the interwebs that is attached to my name would be a pain. I'll bet you $20 my students would immediately start writing to either agree with or oppose my views, rather than considering their own. That would make grading papers deadly dull for me.
4) I do not want to invite stalkers and other unsavory types into my life.

The Honesty Question (Raised elsewhere):
In the aforementioned brouhaha, it was suggested that pseudonymous bloggers could be dishonest. Well, sure. We could be. I could be. You have only my word that I am a woman and a graduate student. You have only my word that I'm a feminist and an American. I could be a 15 year-old boy from a patriarchy-first cult in Eastern Timor for all you know. You'll have to use your judgement.

My experience is that I'm at least as honest on the blog as I am in person. Part of that is my total lack of the patience required to be dishonest. I generally remain silent when I know I can't say what I think without shooting myself in the foot. Or else, I go ahead and shoot that foot. Depends on the day. (Extra bit of information: Today, I shot my foot. Badly. Tomorrow, I'll be trying to do damage control.) The other part is my ability to say what I think is true about my life as I write. That opinion could change, it often has in the past. There may be serious inconsistencies in my blog, because there are serious inconsistencies in me. Very often my take on certain things will change with the mood I'm in, the kind of week I've had, whether I have chocolate in the house... ad infinitum. You may choose to see that as evidence of my dishonesty if you please, I don't mind. You'd find the same evidence if you knew me personally.

Walt Whitman had some thoughts on just that, I think.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
"Song of Myself"

Hey, free poetry bits in a general blogging post. I'm pretty good to you, after all.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Heo Abealg

I know, I know. Some of you read that title and said, “How is THAT news? I thought that vexed was your default emotion.” There’s no need for the guilty start; I’m glad you said that. Now I have the opportunity to respond to you in the time-honored tradition of those who have had a comment intended to be charming – and possibly self-deprecating – agreed with a little too enthusiastically by their (admittedly imaginary) interlocutor. To wit: “Don’t be a wiseass!”

That was fun, wasn’t it?

And now I give you our regularly scheduled rant:

In conversation with me last week, a man who isn’t more than 25 years old said in explanation of a literary reference he was making: “This was back in the 70’s, before you had to be all PC with women.”

I really hate it when people who weren’t yet born in the 70’s describe the ethos of the decade to me, but that’s not the largest issue here. To be frank, I’m not exactly sure what the largest issue is with this statement. There are so very many issues to choose from.

Let’s start with the fact that he was speaking in a group that included me. I am a feminist. People who are not my students know this for a fact, because I tell them.* In fact, I know I told this guy, because he made a crack about the ‘insanity’ of 70’s feminism to me when I did. I actually ended up teaching Feminism 101 in that conversation. Apparently, I’m a very bad Feminism 101 teacher. I also know that the comment was made with at least minor hostility to my opinion about it because I got the sideways-glance/eye-roll thing as he said it. At minimum, we’re talking about rudely injecting deliberately inflammatory commentary that had approximately fuck-all to do with the piece he was talking about. That’s a manners issue, not a political one.

And that look says much that underscores the whole problem with his construction. (I’m hostile because I may have to defend what I’m saying here, because you’re a bitch.) To paraphrase Chris of Mixing Memory, the translation of that mindset is, “It’s not because it’s wrong, it’s because it’s not PC.”

Let’s make what I consider to be the fair assumption that he thinks the behavior he was describing is not wrong at all. There are still some problems with his framing of his problem.

The nostalgia this man was experiencing for a time that pre-dates his life was based on the idea that one** could – in some magical past that has since gone – treat an entire group of people contemptuously, with impunity, when they had not earned one’s contempt. As it stands, there really is no law against being a braying ass unless you’re using public funds to buy your megaphone. Hell, if you’re an elected official, you can be a braying ass with a publicly-funded megaphone. So, the impunity he wants is social impunity, not freedom from the interference of the police state. What he laments is the lost ability to be a braying ass in social interactions without the threat of hearing a voice of dissent. Especially not dissent that comes from the group he is attacking, and is therefore a sort of verbal self-defense. And somehow, I’m supposed to feel bad for the terribly oppressed situation he finds himself in. Sadly, though, the first amendment doesn’t grant Americans the right to universal approval. So, the whole woe-is-me-I’m-being-picked-upon thing doesn’t really work here.

Someone will now think about labor laws. That someone might be thinking, “Hey, he could maybe get fired for saying or doing certain things that aren’t ‘PC.’” Right, he could. So, Someone, are you suggesting that he should be able to fight for the right to behave unprofessionally at work? May I do that, too? ‘Cause this whole 8:30 in the morning, showered and fed and ready to deal with people in a professional manner thing is not really working for me, either. I would love to demand the right to stroll in 2 hours late, disgruntled, munching on a bagel, wearing wrinkly clothes, and sporting bed-head and possible underarm funk. (Depending on my desire to shower, and/or the anti-perspirant I wore the day before.) You wouldn’t like that, Someone, now would you? At work, one behaves professionally if one would like to keep one’s job. Save the keg-stands and questionable personality traits for evenings and weekends, and we can all get our work done efficiently and go home to the people we like.

The next issue is one of emotional development. He doesn’t think certain behavior is wrong, but he (erroneously) thinks he eschews this behavior. And he thinks he does this to avoid getting shit from other people. If I do X, it will be unpleasant for me. Better not do X. This is a child’s ethical reasoning coming from an adult. Adults say things like “I don’t do X because I think it’s wrong,” or “…because it’s not the image I want to present to the world.” Now look, there’s plenty of stuff I do because doing the work is easier than dealing with the shit that comes of not doing the work. We all do that stuff. We don’t all advertise it as we do it. Like, I can’t go to Academic Stah’s event and introduce myself to her with, “Yeah, I really hate all your work, and I’m pretty sure you’re a bad person, but Herr Professor Doktor Department Chair would kick my ass if I weren’t here. That would be an even bigger drag than having to be in your demonic and intellectually challenged presence for a few hours. Sucks to be me.” And the reason for my choice not to do that is not that HPD D. Chair would get mad at me for it, but rather that I’m a fucking adult. I made a choice between unpleasant options, chose what I considered to be the lesser of the two evils, and that’s my business.

To summarize: If you have a problem with being asked to behave like a damned professional adult at work, start your own non-service industry business or marry rich or something. If you find dissent that oppressive, start a dictatorship or hang out with mutes. Just genug schon mit dem Manners-are-the-debbil whining. And quit sassing your elders, too. We get cranky.

*With students, I adopt the devil’s advocate position. I found that I learned more and argued better when I had no idea what my instructors thought about issue X, and so I just don’t say what I believe in class. Unless the students are uniformly on the level of holocaust-deniers with false arguments, I just argue whichever position isn’t being covered.

** ‘one’ = a straight, white, man of at least middling economic status.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Poetry: Really a Song Lyric

Yeah, I'm a cheater. But Insta-Winter is currently slapping the hell out of Microburg. Wintry weather makes me cranky, and possibly evil. Especially when it comes during the autumn, ya know? Interestingly, dark and dreary poems/songs/thoughts cheer me up during such times. Plus, I have weaknesses for goofy blondes, breathy tenors, and bibliophiles. The duo responsible for today's offering contains a personage that hits the heo-perv trifecta. (Is it wrong to crush on antique hippies?)

I Am a Rock

A winter's day
In a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window
To the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow

I am a rock
I am an island

I've built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need for friendship
Friendship causes pain
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.

I am a rock
I am an island

Don't talk of love
Well, I've heard the word before
It's sleeping in my memory
I won't disturb the slumber
Of feelings that have died
If I'd never loved,
I never would have cried

I am a rock
I am an island

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no-one and no-one touches me

I am a rock
I am an island
And the rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

And, for those of you who care, a YouTube offering of the same -- now with music.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sometimes Copycatting is Dangerous

So, I decided to try the OKCupid test that Medieval Woman posted. I fugured I had to be a peach, too, right? I'm peachy. Except OKCupid thinks I'm something else entirely. Bastards.

The Priss
Deliberate Brutal Love Dreamer (DBLDf)

Mature. Responsible. Aristocratic. Excuse me. The Priss.

Prisses are the smartest of all female types. You're highly perceptive, and confident in your judgements. You'd take brutal honesty over superficiality any time--your friends always know where they stand with you. You're completely unfake. Don't tell me that's not a word. You're also excellent at redirecting internal negative energy.

These facts indicate people are often intimidated by you. They also fall for you, hard. You have a distant, composed allure that many find irresistible. If only more of them lived up to your standards.

Your exact opposite:
The Playstation

Random Gentle Sex Master
You were probably the last among your friends to have sex. And the first to pretend that you're pregnant. LOL. Though you're inclined to use sex as weapon, at least it's not as one of mass destruction. You're choosier than most about your partners. A supportive relationship is what you're really after. Whether you know it or not, you need something steady & long-term. And soothing.

ALWAYS AVOID: The Playboy, The Loverboy

CONSIDER: The Manchild

Link: The 32-Type Dating Test by OkCupid - Free Online Dating.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Has it Really Been 1060 Years and Two Days?

In other words, D'oh!

October 14th was the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, and I didn't blog about it. I mean, really! How many occasions does one have to blog about William the Bastard?

I humbly apologize for dereliction of blogular duties!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Has It Really Been 617 Years?

Via About.com, although they identify this date as the election of Urban, rather than his death.

[Update: About did in fact list it as the death of Urban. I managed to miss the giant read, bolded "who died" above the explanation. ]

15 October, 1389: The death of Pope Urban VI. This is the guy who was the impetus behind the Western Schism. (Two popes, Clement VII and successors in Avignon and Urban VI and successors in Rome. Ended at the Council of Constance in 1417.)

By all accounts, both Clement and Urban sucked at the whole "Christ's spokesman" aspect of the job. They were both power-mad and vicious men, although Clement seems to have been the more personally charming of the two. How charming one can be while being power-mad and vicious is up for debate, of course. You can click on the links here to read New Advent's accounts of Clement VII and Urban VI, always keeping in mind that a Catholic source takes a Catholic view on things. ( I was raised Catholic, and am now an avowed heretic. Unless there's a snotty Protestant in the room, then I'm Catholic again.)

This late 14th century schism is outside of my time-period, so other people would have more and better things to say about it, I'm sure. I'm more interested in the earlier developments that brought power over the Christian Church to the Bishop of Rome. Early Christianity was not a centralized religion. For the first few centuries, some guy could plant a Church in a city, 'convert' the natives, and then be "called by the people" to be their Bishop. Yes, there are scare quotes in that. The first set, around 'convert,' mean that conversion was not necessarily from paganism to Christianity, but rather from Arianism, or Gnosticism, or Pelagianism, or Donatism, or Celtic Christianity, etc. to the Christianity the converting guy wanted to see. Pick your heresy and refute it at will, then kill anybody who doesn't publicly declare your version of Christianity the best one. (**cough** Colonialism **cough**) The second set, around "called by the people" means that I'm convinced that early bishops were more often called by family wealth and influence, and personal ambition than they were called by the people. Anyway, the official story is that the people -- through God's will -- could recognize sanctity in a man, and called for his elevation to Bishop just as they could demand his recognition as a Saint on his death. (**cough** Tourism, Money, Prestige **cough**)

Each Bishopric was independent of the others, although they often worked together. Most sources credit the seeds of the Papacy as we know it to Gregory I (Bishop of Rome from 590-604), and his sending Augustine of Canterbury to convert Aethelberht of Kent in 597. By the ninth century, Aethelberht is listed in the ASC as 'bretwalda,' or 'ruler of Britain.' Now, seriously, we all know that the King of Kent was hardly the ruler of Britain in the late sixth century. That was a rather convenient bit of anachronism on the part of the monk in charge of that entry. But between the sixth century and the ninth the supremacy of the Roman See was pretty much accepted by most clerics in the West, and especially by British clerics, who'd had a 2-3 century tradition of British bishops reporting directly to Rome. Abbots, however, took some time to get in the Roman groove. It was at the Synod of Whitby (664)that England finally accepted one universal (Roman) date for Easter, and decided that Roman tonsure was better than Celtic tonsure. In short, Augustine the Lesser made Kent Roman Catholic, and Whitby expanded that Roman observance to all of England, at least on paper. [Full disclosure: I hate the smell of incense, I love old books, and I can't see the spiritual benefit of shaving one's head one way rather than another. So, If I had to pick a side, I'd go with Celtic Christianity.]

Now, because England was such a little bishop factory in the early Middle Ages, the view that Rome was the Holy See expanded to (most of) the rest of Europe through Britain.

Frankly, I think both sytems of development were deeply flawed, and I have yet to find any current religious tradition that is less flawed. Hence, heretical me. But, for me, the interesting thing about the Western Schism is its position in history as the "last gasp" of some kind of independence from Rome shown by the college of cardinals.

Best/Funniest Advice I've Gotten as a Graduate Student

Sorry about the delay in posting, folks. Between classwork as student and teacher, volunteer stuff, and "my own work," I've been hopping.

I really have two bits of advice received to share. Each came from a current professor, in somewhat casual conversation. (To the extent that conversation can be casual with a person you work for and/or are assessed by.)

"The danger of the academy is not that it might inspire you to become a caricature of an academic, but rather that it encourages you to become a caricature of yourself."

"It seems that you are experiencing all the neuroses that we expect of graduate students. Good. That means you're doing well. If you were emotionally healthy at this stage of your education, I'd worry about you."

This is kind of conflicting advice for me, but each one made me laugh.

Have I said yet that I really like my professors this semester?

Thursday, October 05, 2006


My department is hosting one of them there academic celebrity speakers this month. Not really news, 'tis the way of the university, I guess. This event comes complete with a reception that is "open to all faculty and graduate students in my department" in a completely command performance sort of way. Fine, wouldn't want the celebrity to be without a fan base.

Here's the dilemma: I find this person thoroughly odious. And I don't use that term lightly at all. Academic Celebrity of the Month is not delightfully challenging, or mildly vexing, or even deeply unpleasant. We're talking odious, here, folks. Think of what would result from a baby-eating troll mating with Satan, then classify the resulting being as deeply unpleasant and you start to get an idea of the level of ick factor I'm dealing with. I'm afraid I'll be engaged against my will in a conversation with the Stah, darling, and feel a sudden urge to commit felonious assault. Now, I've felt that urge before, and suppressed it enough to transfer my rage to a mere verbal smackdown. I know I have the power to be merely sardonic when I see blood. However, stars of the odious variety tend to dislike being thought of as less than stellar. Also, my superiors in the department have no sense of humor when they're busy being charming hosts. So I'm compelled to attend, but I know no good will come of attending.

Anybody know of a nice, 24-48 hour malady I can claim to have?

[Update: OK. I've decided to be an adult and go to the scheduled event with an open mind. I may hate everything Academic Stah stands for, but I may also learn something from her talk. Even if it's just "avoid logical leaps like these," it's worth it. I can't guarantee that I'll ignore egregious factual misrepresentations, but then as far as I'm concerned it's the job of even the most junior academics to say "I'm not convinced of your argument because..." or even "what do you make of X's article, wherein she proves you completely wrong?"]