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Raya D. Sunshine, PhD.

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Friends only..... [19 Dec 2010|02:46pm]
....not because my life is super scandalous and fascinating (quite the reverse), but because I dislike getting comments from spambots. Please comment here if you want to be friended!

ETA: I'm not cutting any friends! Sorry for giving that impression! Everyone who is currently friended will stay friended (unless they ask not to be, for some reason). I'm just all about hiding from the 'bots!
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[22 Sep 2010|03:17pm]
Oh, gross.
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Update on the hate crime against NYC taxi driver Ahmed Sharif [25 Aug 2010|04:50pm]
[ mood | distressed ]

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance union is holding a press conference with Mr. Sharif tomorrow. TPM has the most complete coverage of the story that I've seen, but I think this quote from the director of the union just about sums it up:

"While a minority of has-been politicians spew ignorance and fear, it's the working person on the street who has to face the consequences," said NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai. "This kind of bigotry only breeds more violence and makes taxi drivers all the more vulnerable on the streets where there are no bully pulpits or podiums to hide behind."

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Yoga and cuteness/patriotism overload! [25 Jul 2010|12:07pm]
Hah, I am super sore from yoga yesterday. Well, not SUPER sore, I mean I can still walk, but I can also feel every single muscle in my back. This is why it's important to do yoga with a teacher --- she pushes me so much harder than I push myself, and also helps me get into (or sort-of into) poses that I can't possibly contort myself into without help. Anyway, feels good.

I did not also do cardio because I was late getting to the gym and only really had time to set up my mat and get started doing sun salutations before my teacher showed up. However, I did meet up with Mr Raya and some friends afterwards and three of us walked home through the park -- a gentle 2-mile saunter, because it was stupidly hot outside. The last two nights we have broken down and put on the A/C in the bedroom, because even I with my hardcore "NO WE MUST ADAPT TO THE CLIMATE IN WHICH WE LIVE" attitude (and desire to save electricity) cannot quite handle trying to sleep in a room that's airless *and* hovering around 100 degrees F (or 35 degrees C for the metric crowd). Maybe if it weren't so humid....but it is.

Patriotism/cute overload: those who know me know that I think patriotism is not a virtue but a sentimental indulgence, one to be disciplined and kept in perspective rather than cultivated. That said, I do really really love New Zealand and love it even more when outsiders dig it too. So naturally I was completely charmed to find this video of Imran and Sonam (the stars of "I Hate Luv Storys") being tourists in NZ and loving it!

video behind the cutCollapse )

I also love the way NZ scenery is used in this song:

Sonam Kapoor reminds me a great deal of Emma Watson -- or perhaps it's that her character in this film is quite similar to Hermione's in the later HP films (Goblet of Fire and on). Hard-working, serious, detail-oriented, annoyed by her lovable but immature and bumbling suitor-to-be (who has yet to figure out that he's supposed to step up to the plate as romantic hero). But she has the same kind of delicacy, elegance, and infectious smile -- with the offscreen persona to match -- that EW has. And, of course, they're both of that very thin, frail-shouldered body type -- but who in the movies isn't, these days. Sigh.

Imran is just adorable.

Man, I need to go back to New Zealand soon. I wonder if I can swing the time and money over Xmas break. Probably not, sadly.
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the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was 'Oh no, not again' [15 Jun 2010|06:39pm]
I see we are once again in RaceFail territory thanks to some writer in SPN fandom (is it just me or does that fandom generate more drama than the rest of TV fandom put together?).

Protip: ALWAYS ASSUME that members of any group of human beings you might be talking or writing about are in your audience. Not because you should be censoring yourself in public while giving free rein to bigotry in private, but because the same reification of "difference" that leads you to assume that your audience is composed entirely of people just like you is what prompts your weird portrayals of people not like you as "rapidly jabbering" in their unintelligible language or resembling large pet animals or whatever. Most of these failed apologies seem to boil down to "Oh no, I didn't realize you would read this." Well, why didn't you?

Not that there aren't plenty of white people who can see for themselves how shocking it is to exploit a Haitian tragedy as the backdrop for a white-on-white romance, or call out racist language when they see it. Just like there are plenty of men who can see and call out sexism and misogyny without needing to be prompting. Etc. But I'm struck by the relationship between fandom racefail and this:
Ms. [Katherine] Mangu-Ward had an extra cup of Stumptown and revisited that online university education Wal-Mart is offering its drones, which had earlier excited her so much that she expressed a desire to live at Wal-Mart. She is delighted to hear that diploma vendor American Public University was willing to "go the extra mile" by customizing programs for Wal-Mart -- which "includes giving course credit for on-the-job time and training."

Mangu-Ward shows some awareness that there's a "question of whether there will be more than one employer interested in those Wal-Mart degrees." But it seems not to have crossed her mind that Wal-Mart's arrangement is designed to push workers who may, once upon a time, have expected free job training into spending thousands of dollars to improve their chances at promotion (or even at keeping their jobs). They might as well call it Company Store University.

So Mangu-Ward is bullish: "The company brings dramatic change to every industry that they touch," she says, "and higher ed will be no exception." And that's good, because colleges have gotten too arty-farty for her tastes anyway:
If we're going to push every 18-year-old in the country into some kind of higher education, most people will likely be better off in a programs that involves logistics and linoleum, rather than ivy and the Iliad. And, in contrast to an associate's degree in Japanese studies from Northern Virginia Community College, we know there is at least one employer interested in a Wal-Mart-subsidized logistics sheepskin: Wal-Mart.
Mangu-Ward knows whereof she speaks, having attended Yale, where she no doubt majored in Food Handling.
Roy Edroso's beautifully dry last line sums it all up: Mangu-Ward sees no problem in arguing that Wal-Mart workers have no business reading the Iliad, or in getting a liberal arts education, while blithely claiming the benefits of just such an education herself. (Does anyone seriously think that she would ever have chosen to major in linoleum rather than the political science and philosophy she now derides?) If she had any inkling that her audience at the Atlantic might include Wal-Mart workers, she might have thought more carefully about the elitism of that position. But, of course, she's an Ivy League graduate writing for other Ivy League graduates, so it's terribly clever and subversive to dis Homer and Japan (dude, who would major in Japanese Studies? It's not like Japan is real, or important in any way!) and talk up linoleum, the mopping of which (for college credit, provided you pay the $24,000 discount price for a bachelor's degree) is, presumably, all those Wal-Mart workers (whoever they are!) are good for. Don't aspire to read Great Books, you plebes. We wouldn't want the labor market for stupid inconsequential blogging to be flooded with poor people and immigrants.

Needless to say, Ms. Mangu-Ward is a libertarian.

ETA: I didn't do a very good job of articulating the connection I'm trying to draw above, but I think I maybe did a better job of it in the reply i just posted to schemingreader's comment?:
...So the reason I posted is not to be yet another person condemning the story, or self-righteously staking out my anti-racist ground, but because I'd just read the other post about Wal-Mart and the similarity between the two situations struck me. I don't think I did a good job of articulating it in my post, but there's something about the cluelessness, the privileged obliviousness, of both writers as they high-handedly dispose of some less fortunate group of people (devastated Haitians, indentured Wal-Mart workers) to suit the story they want to tell (handsome white men fucking, libertarian dreams of siccing unscrupulous corporations on higher ed. -- a well-known refuge of Jews [or radical Islamists, depending on who's critiquing -- ed.] and Communists).

I maintain that the solipsism that enabled whatsername to write a story without it ever occurring to her that some of her readers would likely be Haitian is the same solipsism that enabled her to write THAT story without noticing the myriad things that were wrong with it. Same with whatsername at the Atlantic: Wal-Mart workers aren't really people, they're just a theory. It's like Roman Polanski saying "Everyone wants to fuck young girls!". . . no, Roman Polanski, not EVERYONE wants to fuck young girls. Some people, for example, ARE young girls. It's about having a definition of "everyone" that mysteriously overlooks everyone who isn't exactly like oneself.
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Welcome Home [20 May 2010|01:31pm]

I'd like to think that Dave Dobbyn speaks for all New Zealanders in this song; I know he speaks for many of us (and the song is universally beloved, although I think a lot of its fans, especially expats, think it's about them rather than realizing that it's about refugees and immigrants in New Zealand. Lyrics here). The video features New Zealanders from a variety of backgrounds; mild controversy was stirred by his inclusion of Ahmed Zaoui, the man in the video who appears flanked by Dominican friars, with whom he was still under house arrest when the video was made (happily, his "security risk" status was later removed and he is now happily settled with his family in NZ). Zaoui appeared on stage with Dobbyn when he performed this song live at the 2005 NZ Music Awards.

I love that that Dobbyn acknowledges the homesickness that migrants from other lands feel, no matter how necessary or desired their immigration to New Zealand may be. And I think the message "Welcome home" should be one that ALL countries extend to ALL immigrants, as well as to their own citizens of whatever origin. New Zealand lives up to Dobbyn's vision of it only patchily, but at least we haven't sunk quite as low as this yet (and note that the only surprise in that story is that she wasn't treated much, much worse; this is the story of a person with white privilege, English-speaking privilege, and plenty of money, who hadn't done anything illegal and was entering the country on a legal and appropriate visa with no false pretences. To understand how this country treats actual "illegal immigrants," multiply by 10 for each of the above privileges that the individual in question lacks. The brutality -- and secrecy, the tendency of detainees to "disappear" so that no one from their family or legal representation can find them -- increases exponentially. As Jacqueline Stevens points out in that article, "ICE under the Obama administration was holding people charged with a civil infraction in conditions approaching those no longer authorized for accused terrorists." 1000 people are deported daily without regard for the family, including dependant children, who get left behind).

This girl can remember no other home than the US, having grown up here and been educated here; English is her first language, Spanish a poor second. By any commonsense definition, she is American; she belongs here; this is her home. She faces deportation because she had the bravery to speak up, to offer herself as a human face against Arizona's inhuman, racist new immigration law. I hope whatever judge hears her case has the good sense and human feeling to stay the deportation. But it will take a lot more than that to make her "legal," because there simply isn't any way she can become "legal" under current law. And as long as that law is on the books, she will be at constant, hair's-breadth risk of being handed over to ICE, "disappeared," and deported to God knows where.

It is time to stop disappearing people and start saying "Welcome home."
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[22 Apr 2010|04:32pm]
School lent me a laptop, yay! Now I can go home.
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[30 Mar 2010|06:51am]
It is still raining. I think it is going to rain FOR EVER.
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All the news that's fit to print [28 Feb 2010|02:40pm]
"Mr. Mayakovsky too died in the gulag."

I await the correction with bated breath.....
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OFFS [23 Feb 2010|09:42pm]
This effing bullshit is why My Name Is Khan is a necessary movie.

God bless Kate Dailey and Ben Adler, though.
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Posting this for rahael [07 Feb 2010|09:32pm]
[ mood | geeky ]

....from Aamir Khan's blog.

Creating Bhuvan

Creating Bhuvan was tricky because he is such an all round good guy. No weaknesses. Characters like this have a tendency to get boring. I began at his core. What is his strongest quality? What is the quality about him that stands out the most? Based on the script I felt it was his inner strength. He''s got tremendous courage, inner strength and resolve. How do I project that physically? I went for two imp body signals for this. One I kept my back ramrod straight at all times. I conciously avoided stooping or slumping my back. Two, I divided my body weight equally on both legs. Meaning, I avoided standing with my weight on one leg. So, feet shoulder lenght apart, weight evenly distributed on both legs, back straight and head held high, not too high (makes you look proud). Thats the clasic Bhuvan posture. Then his eyes are very steady. They hold your look if he is looking at you. He is not in a hurry to look away from your eyes. And when they do move they move very steadily. (Unlike Aakash from DCH whose eyes are constantly darting around. Akash is slouchy, neck jutting forward and twinkling eyes, always up to some mischief). Okay, I''m not getting into basic stuff like his economic background and his cultural background etc. He is a villager in 1893 so he should sit, stand, walk, eat like a villager etc. Right now I am more concerned with his personality. The other extremely imp quality about Bhuvan is his innocense. Its not something we associate immediatly with Bhuvan but if you consider that he agrees to such a absurd bet, a bet that he is sure to lose, it pretty much means that unless he has some ammount of innocence in him he would never agree to a bet like this. He genuinely believes that they can succeed in whatever this Captain is asking of them. But we need just a touch of innocence. Not too much otherwise it will dilute his strength. Now one of the basic ways to project innocence is having a wide eyed look on your face. Open your eyelids a bit, wide eyed innocent look. But thats too much innocence, kills the strength. I racked my brains for this one. I did not want to act innocent, I wanted just a touch. I called Micky Contractor (one of the best make-up artists in India),' Micky is there any way to add innocence to my face through make up?' His answer was pat... 'Curl your eyelashes.' !!! As simple!!! So thats what I did through the film!!! When you curl your eyelashes it makes your eyes look slightly bigger without you having to actually open them wider. Touch of innocence! Exactly what I was looking for. The one other physical aspect that Ahsu and I argued for very long was a moustache. Not a fake one. But a real one that I would grow. Ashu did not want it so I finally went with clean shaven, but consider this; it hasn''t rained for a year, last year it hardly rained, this year 2 months of the monsoon have passed and no signs of clouds. Water is a big issue and is potentially a VERY BIG issue... and Bhuvan shaves every day!!! The rest of the villagers should beat the shit out of him. Pani ke vaande hain aur tu sala roz shave kar raha hai. I felt Bhuvan first off all should have a moustache as any villager in a small village in 1983 in India would, then, because of lack of rain he should have a stubble at most times. Maybe he''ll shave on Janmmashthami or a few other imp occasions but by and large he''ll have a stubble.

Is all this interesting to you guys? Or am I boring you''ll to death?
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Just Turn Around ~ Dil Chahta Hai [24 Jan 2010|08:28pm]

This scene made me really happy, despite the unfortunate choice of facial hair.
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Grammar rant (non-pedants pls disregard) [02 Jan 2010|12:13pm]
I keep hearing people say, about for example the full-body scanners that The Netherlands is now employing to scan passengers on US-bound flights, that "this technology may have prevented the undie-bomber from ever boarding the plane," etc etc. Every time I hear this, I have to take a minute to go "Bzuh?" and then figure out what they really mean, because this is a totally incorrect (but sadly dominant, which means that yet again, English is losing an elegant way of conveying meaning through well-articulated verb forms) characterization of reality. Whatever you think about full-body scanners (I'm against them), to say that they may have prevented the undie-bomber from boarding" means that the undie-bomber WAS prevented from boarding, and the uncertainty resides in the question of what precisely prevented him. In other words, you are speculating about the causes of an actual condition. If you mean (as here) that the undie-bomber WAS NOT prevented from boarding, but that the scanners could have changed that outcome -- i.e., if you are speculating about the causes of a contrary-to-fact condition -- then you have to use "might," not "may": "This technology might have prevented the undie-bomber from ever boarding the plane."

To recap:

"This technology may have prevented the undie-bomber from ever boarding the plane."
The undie-bomber was prevented from boarding, possibly by the scanners.

"This technology might have prevented the undie-bomber from ever boarding the plane."
The undie-bomber was not prevented from boarding, possibly because scanners were not used.


ETA: I really like this comment, which I found on the NY Times's grammar blog when Googling for American opinions on the subject:
Said Whittier,
"For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, 'It might have been'."
(No way "It may have been"!)

May have been = it's possible that it was (I don't know or the results aren’t in yet)
Might have been = it wasn’t (that's final)

Often "might" is used informally to mean "may" in the first example above, but "may" cannot be use to replace "might" in the second.

So, responding to George: my idiolect would not accept "If he had kept going he may have scored," because the "had" tells you that he did not keep going (and therefore he didn't score), ruling out the openness implied by "may."

For me, the possibilities are,
  • "If he had kept going he might have scored." ( =But he didn’t keep going and therefore he didn’t score.) and
  • "If he kept going, he may have scored." (=It’s possible that he kept going and therefore it’s possible that he scored, i.e. I don’t know whether he did or not.)
I wish I may and I wish I might…
— Judy
Nice and clear!
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Someone on the internets is right! [16 Aug 2009|06:30pm]
I just found this on this post and thought it was really smart -- a subtle analysis of the often-subtle difference between sympathizing and derailing.
Whiner said...

It's quite obvious that "being mistaken for the help" happens more often to POC than white folk.

It's also clear that a lot of times when people jump in with a "But that happens to me too!" they're often trying to say "Therefore what happens to you isn't really about race and you're just deluded". And that's obviously bad.

OTOH, "That happens to me too!" is a pretty normal method of expression and bonding between people... if one person describes something happening to them, others will naturally chime in with similar experiences, not because they want to make the situation All About Them, but because they want to both give and feel the happy sharing you-are-not-alone feeling. Sympathy.

Really, it's the "but" that's key. The "but" is denying the first experience's validity. The other is just potentially a bit clueless.
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rage [02 Jun 2009|04:45pm]
Since Megan McArdle's stupid blog won't accept my comment, I paste it here for my own satisfaction:
Megan, the slavery debate was not "the last time" we had a debate about personhood. What about woman suffrage (mid 19th-early 20th century)? What about civil rights and desegregation? What about the ERA debates? What about gay rights (which are still hotly contested)? Almost every group of Americans who are not straight white males are still fighting for the right to be considered as fully human as, say, Justice Roberts. It's simply preposterous to pretend otherwise.

As for the putative personhood of the fetus, in cases where this comes into direct conflict with the indubitable personhood of the mother, the latter will always and categorically win as far as I'm concerned.
I hate Megan McArdle and find her smug conviction incredibly irritating. She is, IMO, a fucking moron and should have the grace to realize it. But in the wake of Dr Tiller's murder, what remains infuriating (as it always is) is the ongoing claim of self-nominated "reasonable people" to be occupying some sort of "middle ground." The truth is that on this issue there is no "middle ground." Either you believe that women are autonomous human beings, with all the same intrinsic rights to bodily self-determination as men, or you do not. If you do, then there is simply no ground on which you can justify LEGISLATING what goes on inside a woman's body. Period. You can teach and encourage and cajole and bully all you want. But you cannot LEGISLATE what goes on in there.

If anyone on my flist is anti-choice, please go ahead and defriend me now because I'm not interested.
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BSG finale [08 Apr 2009|10:22am]
Finally watched it. Agree with jennyo. That's pretty much it.
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PSA [24 Mar 2009|06:18pm]
Obama-Mania: Critical Essays on Representations of President Barack Obama in Popular Culture

Editors: Derrais Carter & Nicholas Yanes
Publisher: McFarland

Website/Blog: http://obamainpopularculture.blogspot.com/

Deadline for Abstracts: May 25th, 2009

Description of the Book:
The 2008 Presidential Elections has been one of the most intensely debated and commented on race in modern history. The passionate standpoints expressed in this election not only stems from ideological conflicts, but from Barack Obama’s uniqueness as a Presidential candidate. This book collects specific examinations of President Obama in popular culture with the hope of creating a scholarly record of Obama’s presence in popular media free of historical revisionism. With this in mind, Obama-Mania will bring together essays that examine how Barack Obama’s image has been used in comic books, music, television shows, movies, and how talk shows and radio programs have commented on Obama’s campaign and election. In short, the specific focus of this book is not specifically on Obama and the politics surrounding the 2008 Presidential election, but on the conversation between popular culture and President Obama.

Expectations for Proposals and Essays:
Ideal proposals will contain a clear thesis, an abstract which is two to three paragraphs long and a list of potential sources. Additionally, we want a clear thesis, not an overview of a medium. For instance, if one is to talk about Obama in comic books, we will not accept a paper discussing every Obama comic book appearance. Additionally, if a person wants to write about the President’s influence on music, we will not accept an essay simply documenting every song which was used in the campaign or that makes reference to the new Obama.
We are not looking for political propaganda. Submitted essays must not be an “I love Obama” or “I hate Obama” paper. We are looking for papers of academic quality.
We are looking for 10 to 12 essays between 6250 and 7500 words - this includes each work’s bibliography. Essays need to be MLA formatted – parenthetical citations, not footnotes. And it is up to the author(s) to get permission to reprint copyrighted material.
Though this should go without saying, we will not accept work that is plagiarized or that has been published elsewhere.

Proposed Topics:
1)Comic Books & Science Fiction: Depictions of Obama as Superhuman
2)Music: How have musicians addressed Obama and the 2008 Election
3)Television and Film
a.Movies: The Cinematography of Change
b.Scripted Fictional Television: How Escapist Television Predicted and Has Been Influenced by Political Reality
4)Non-Fiction Political Programs: News Shows and Radio Programs
5)Internet: To Obama Girl and Beyond

For more specific information for proposed topics please contact the editors at: ObamaInPopularCulture@gmail.com
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[21 Mar 2009|06:57pm]
Dear Roger Scrotum Scruton,

Bite me.

No love,

I find it particularly telling that, in his supposed "nostalgia" for "the old humanism" (i.e. the "humanism" of the good old days when people who didn't believe in God knew their place and didn't go so far as to mention it or deviate from the behaviour of their Christian neighbours in any way), he says this:
But the bus adverts [paid for by the British Humanist Association, reading "There probably is no God; so stop worrying and enjoy life"] fit the spirit of modern Britain, and not even the Muslims complain about them.
"The Muslims." Nice. By the way, Scruton's problem with the ads is not that they deny the existence of God (which of course they actually don't, because apparently the Ad Council refused to permit them until they added the word "probably"), but that they condone "enjoyment" (a "hedonistic message" to which Scruton reckons those Good Old Humanists of yesteryear would have respeonded with "disgust.") This goes against Scruton's view, which he assumes to be universal among right-thinking (i.e. Christian and "Old Humanist") people, that life is about "restraint" and "sacrifice," and pleasure is by definition sinful and wrong. According to Scruton, the pleasure one derives from art or music is only acceptable insofar as one thinks of these things "not simply as pleasures, but as sources of spiritual strength." If you don't happen to feel that you need spiritual strengthening from Chaucer or Bach or Picasso or whoever, but derive pleasure from their works anyway, YOR DOIN IT WRONG. You can, I suppose, have ice cream for dessert, but only if (1) you believe in God, or (2) you compensate for your lack of belief in God by evincing disgust at every bite.

The comments are, as ever, even more depressing. Commenter ccd fights the good fight, but is swamped with Christian dittobots straw-manning him with Paris Hilton (has anyone actually asked Paris whether she believes in God? Because if I were a betting man I'd wager that in fact she does), triumphantly quoting Scripture at him (really only a winning strategy if you're arguing with someone who shares your belief that the Bible is inerrant), and generally engaging in all the sorts of behaviour that radicalized Richard Dawkins to the point of buying ads on buses in the first place. Not helpful.

For the Christians on my flist, I make haste to specify that "Christian dittobots" refers narrowly to the kind of person who refuses to believe that it is possible for a non-adherent of Christianity to live a moral life or have values. I am more than happy to live (as I have all my life) alongside believing Christians and respect the practice of their religion. However, I do demand that a similar respect be accorded to those of all faiths, including those with no faith at all, and I don't think anyone has the right to go through life without hearing any dissent around their beliefs.

Bah, this has already wasted too much of my time and attention.

In happier news, HURRAY Ireland won the Grand Slam in the Six Nations rugby! I am particularly pleased about this (despite not, as it were, actually having a horse in the race) inasmuch as I watched the match with an Irish friend at an Irish pub. So it would have been rather a sad occasion had Wales won (as it looked for about 70% of the match like they would!). Two nice things about the experience of watching it, in the "sporting event as great unifier of humanity" vein: first of all, the girl standing next to me who was Indian-American, thus neither genetically nor environmentally conditioned to give a crap about rugby, but was cheering for Ireland with all her might (her boyfriend, from his accent, was Irish) -- sort of a "today, we are all Irish" moment. I like the way that cheering for a team can bring together people from a lot of different backgrounds under one umbrella, even when it's an ethnic umbrella -- if that makes any sense. And secondly, there were actually a couple of guys in red Wales jerseys at the bar, and whenever someone shouted "Come on, Ireland!" they would shout "Come on, Wales!!" and someone else would shout back "Screw Wales!" -- a totally good-natured exchange, and the fact that the two Welsh supporters felt perfectly safe wearing their red gear and openly cheering for Wales, in a bar full of increasingly sozzled and very emotionally-invested Irishmen, well, it speaks well of rugby as a sport and of that sports rivalry in particular, I think. (Though I remember being far too petrified to do anything that would've identified me as a New Zealander when my brother and I went to Cafe Oz one year to watch the Bledisloe Cup match [against Australia, for those not in the know].) Hard to imagine a similar atmosphere of good-natured ribbing (as opposed to murderous violence) in the event of a couple of Man City supporters walking into a United bar....

And now it is on to the final of the Women's World Cup (cricket) in Sydney. I'm supporting New Zealand, of course, though I expect England to win it without too much trouble -- they just seem very in form.
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oh yeah, and [20 Mar 2009|12:59pm]
WTF -- Baltar's father is Worzel Gummidge??

I will miss Adama and Roslin and the rest so much, and I continue to admire the acting from almost everyone, but this series has seriously gone off the rails and is dealing in the most laughable emo clichés.
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Random thoughts [20 Mar 2009|12:11pm]
The Facebook layout sucks so much that it might even drive me back here! But it sucks, because LJ to me is chiefly an anonymous blogging tool/community (most of my LJ friends are not people I know or see in RL), whereas FB had enormous value to me as a way of keeping up with all my RL friends -- a very geographically far-flung group -- and a significant portion of my family as well, for a relative low time cost. Sort of keeping a lot of relationships on the simmer (ready to be brought back to the front burner at any time) that would otherwise die of neglect. Now they've abandoned that in favour of copying Twitter and, as ever when popular web applications misunderstand their user base and try to "get" someone else's users by fundamentally diluting/destroying their own brand, they are doing a crappy job. Heigh-ho.

So what else? I was tickled to see Admiral Adama weighing in on RaceFail '09:
When one of the UN's representatives talked about how part of their mandate was to safeguard the human rights of everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and station, Olmos got a little heated. "You never should've invited me here," he said, before blasting the UN for continuing to use race as a term of separation, of division among peoples. His voice rose, steadily, as if years of social activism was coming to a head on this night. Then, directing his attention to the high schoolers: "Adults will never be able to stop using the word 'race' as a cultural determinant....There is only one race: the human race. SO SAY WE ALL!"
Awesome. And I love that everyone in the room shouted "SO SAY WE ALL!" back at him.

I have been thinking a lot about the fact that nothing anyone ever says in the pubic sphere is reliable -- almost by definition, but especially in any society where public truth-telling has severe consequences (so that, for example, the problem in America is that some people DO tell the truth but can't get anyone to pay attention, whereas in the USSR it was more than your life was worth to tell the truth. You could do it pseudonymously, at great risk; or in a non-literal form (music), which is why so many people were and are deeply invested in Shostakovich's politics (as if the truth about them could ever be known, or indeed could be a singular "truth"); or in private, in low tones, around the kitchen table. I think the only person in Soviet history who ever stood up and told the truth -- AS HE SAW IT -- in public, regardless of cost, was Pavlik Morozov. And we all know how that turned out.

Delicious and simple recipe: I have been eating my way through Spring Break with the following very quick, simple and gratifying healthy dish. In a pot, boil up some whole-grain pasta (I used bow-ties today: yum). Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat a little bit of olive oil, lightly fry some diced onion, add a couple of handfuls of washed, chopped greens (preferably something sturdy and not too wilty: turnip greens are PERFECT), stir, chop up a couple of sun-dried tomatoes (and/or a small quantity of diced fresh tomatoes) and add, stir, remove from heat. When pasta is done, mix it in with the greens and season with grated Asiago cheese, fresh papper, and anything else you like. Obviously, anything else you feel like (e.g. diced bell peppers) can be added to the pan of veges. It makes a lovely warm pasta salad which I am totally going to make in VAST quantities next time I have a party.

Am trying to resurrect the Daily Five, which fell by the wayside as soon as the semester started. But it's hard because there is ALWAYS something more urgent to do than any of the five things on the list: at the moment I have a letter of recommendation to write that is due, like, NOW, and a huge stack of papers to grade, and a smaller paile of midterm exams, plus a HUGE amount of material to prep. for my graduate seminar on Monday (I got ambitious, to put it mildly -- but now I owe it to my students, who are fab and will have dutifully ploughed through all this material, to distil two-hours' worth of really useful, structured discussion out of it).

On the agenda for today: write rec letter, prep guest room to receive next week's houseguest, grade at least 10 papers, do a guided Ashtanga yoga practice (I have that booked for 2:30pm), read at least part of the novel for Monday and watch the film. Also study Georgian for an hour or so (I had to drop Ukrainian because I didn't have the time or funding to continue it this term). I really need to get at least twice as much as that done in order not to get SLAMMED next week, but the day is so horribly short...
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