So sue me

I lied. Today has just been a day of random blog crap, and here's another one:

I've arbitrarily declared the March Site of the Month to be...

Cute Overload.

Go, visit, vote for the absotively posolutely cutest liddle widdle picture ever!

[Ahem. Yes, sorry about this. Don't know what I was thinking. But now we're all stuck with it. Just think, it'll make next month's site seem that much better. It'll serve as a reminder that even the upcoming Big Name Meeting isn't the most horrific thing in the world. And hey, our little blog turns a year old soon, and we'll be unveiling an Exciting! New! Template!

So I'm not completely evil.]

C'mon, give it a chance. Read the comments. They're full of gems like this:

If you ever find yourself in this situation, here's a simple rule:
Two black dots = hamster
No black dots = cotton ball
One black dot + eye patch = tiny, fluffy pirate

See, and I've just been making scarves

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane

Klein Bottlecap Hat

Fibonacci Socks


Via b0ing b0ing, the Lorenz Manifold

Things I miss about the Midwest

Last goofy, useless post for the day, I promise. I'd just like to point out that there is a decided lack of Mardi Gras footstuffs foodstuffs around this town. Where are the paczki?* Where are the fastnachts?**

How's a girl supposed to face Lent when all she has to eat are pancakes?***

* No, a jelly doughnut is not the same thing.

** Those things they sell at the grocery store? Not fastnachts. All the syrup drips through the hole in the middle. They should just call a doughnut a doughnut.

*** And where, I ask you, are the pancake races? The only one I could find was at the National Cathedral, and although Canons with frying pans are fun, there just aren't enough of them to make a good pancake race.

There seems to be a pattern here


create your own visited states map

Like Mrs. Coulter, I left out anywhere I simply drove through or flew over. Hence the strange absence of New Jersey and South Carolina.

Even so, it's a bit of an odd looking map. Almost as if I'm afraid to cross the Mississippi. Funny, that.

[ETA: Never mind, it's fixed.]

Other? What other?

We don't usually quote The Weblog around here, but this was too good to pass up:

I hate the equivocal use of the term "the other." On the one hand, "the other" is good. Yeah! I love the Other! On the other hand, "the other" is BAD! Boo! "Othering" is bad! Marking someone as "other" is bad! But wait -- I thought that we were supposed to respect the other in the other's otherness. Perhaps Luther had it right: "Here I stand, I can do no other."

I hate how long I sat and thought about whether that last pun sucked too much. I was well aware that it sucked -- it's just the degree of it that I wasn't sure about.
And from another post, the heartwarming tale of elephants who paint for a living (read carefully for the ever-present connection to my hometown!)


From the mouth of "Jihad Jack"

PTSD doesn't often write about mainstream news (yaks herders with wireless, anyone?) but this was just too good to pass up.

I wonder who actually dared to kiss the bloke?

The news story also has a bit of a profile of a terrorist:

"As a child Thomas [Jihad Jack] was rejected as a ballet dancer for being too stocky and joined a punk band, The Lobotomy Scars."

Again, what more do I need to add?

ETA: My colleague, who just saw the story on BBC, was convinced I was reading the Onion and had to be shown the BBC logo on the top of the page before he changed his mind.


Fancy watching a bit of the Beatles? Or maybe the Clash?

or the Arctic Monkeys?

Or even just some bloke jumping the great wall of china on a skateboard? or a "wild german kid" (didn't know they were such rarities that they had to be filmed and put online) or Clive Owen "smouldering" (yes, well, Popgurls' month is nearly over)

Go here. Lots of fun as well as some absolutely mental stuff awaits.


To email or not, continued

I started this as a comment to Priya's original post, but it got too long, so I'm moving it to the main page:

There *has* been a lot of discussion about this, and the emerging consensus seems to be that

1) the emails talked about in the article aren't really that annoying / upsetting / inappropriate, but

2) there are emails out there that are much worse (these have been quoted in several blogs, to the great amusement of the academic blogging community), and

3) students do cross a boundary when they engage in extended email discussions of

a) things that don't concern the class,
b) things that are spelled out in the syllabus,
c) grading issues that have already been decided, or
d) class scheduling and special treatment.

All of the things in #3 seem to be the sort of issues that are best left to scheduled office hours, or not brought up at all. At the very least, students should expect to receive a reply that asks them to come to the office to discuss the issue, and should not respond with excuses or the argument that "it's not that important."

As someone who uses email extensively* I still can think of students who have seriously abused the privilege of greater access to their professors that email represents. Even listing in the syllabus the situations in which email is not appropriate doesn't seem to help, and I would hate to take class time to discuss something that seems to me to be fairly self-explanatory. I wonder when it was decided that email should work just like instant messaging, rather than as a form of communication based on letter writing?

Despite these problems, I always require that students submit their requests / questions / suggestions / complaints through email, blog comment, or message board note. This is an absolute for me--if I don't have it as a digital copy, students are not allowed to rely on me to get it done. I've been known to write this in the syllabus, place a note on Blackboard, and announce it in class, repeatedly, throughout the semester. This is for both my benefit, and their own.

I'm notoriously bad at recalling things that I agree to at the end of classes, my pieces of paper seem to transmogrify into lint and coffee receipts with alarming frequency, and my planner is in a constant state of "where the hell am I supposed to be now?" The only way that I can make sure that I've finished a task or answered a question is if I have an electronic copy of it stored somewhere, with a big digital check mark to indicate that it's been taken care of.

Duplicate copies on paper and in electronic format are even better. Literally the *only* way that I get things done is to routinely run across reminders that I have something to do. S has grown used to the notecards and post-its that litter the apartment. I think.

So I'm firmly in the "let students email their little hearts out" camp. I even put up with the occassional off-the-wall interaction, since it's partly my fault for being so strident about the importance of emails. But I can understand why professors, who are used to the bastion of the closed door, freak out when confronted with student questions at 2:00 am. It's one more reminder that academia is a profession that can't be left behind at the office, that it's a way of life.**

And if other people are anything like me, they are absolutely unable to ignore the little bouncing mail indicator. The thought of ignoring an email never crosses my mind (even though I've been known to forget that I wrote an email, and send it twice. Or write a reply, but forget to hit send. Or send a reply with no attachments.)

* Like Priya, talking on the phone isn't my thing. I either need to be in a room with someone (so that I can try to read their body language, and because I have a better memory for visual than aural cues) or using text (so that I have a chance to proofread my thoughts and keep a record of anything I've agreed to do.) Email is a huge part of how I keep in touch (or fail to, in many cases) with people, and so I've been tracking this discussion with more than my usual scattered efficiency.

** All of which sounds good, but doesn't express my utter annoyance when students send me emails full of chat abbreviations. Typing isn't that hard, people, and I don't appreciate translating "OMG, I totally forgot to send my assignment. ITA that it sux, but can u grade it anyway? TTYL! :)" into something resembling English.

Also, smileys? Not. Appropriate. When. Requesting. A. Recommendation.


To email or not to email, that is the question

To keep yous occupied, an issue that's been discussed quite a lot lately--about students emailing professors and "erasing boundaries that traditionally kept students at a healthy distance" (Notice that distance is supposed to be "healthy").

The NYT article, from which I took the quote, goes on to classify a lot of the emails as "too informal or downright inappropriate" without actually specifying what these mean.

As a regular emailer to professors (who email back, often in great and much-appreciated detail) and as one who had to be trained to see them as normal human beings (Undergrad communication classes used to be conducted in the Uni's student union, which served alcohol) and then re-trained to "establish boundaries" at TUWSNBN, I much prefer email to calling.

A Professor Ewick is quoted in the article saying that she received numerous drafts of students' papers, asking for corrections. I'd have thought an easy way to avoid that would have been to just tell students that the professor would not correct drafts but would only evaluate final papers. Oh, I'd also prefer a response (any response) to none. No response to a query would be even more scary than a politely-worded and firm negative response.

I'm not saying students are not dificult. WE all know we/they sometimes are. But, we/they are not often imbecilic either. We/they appreciate communication, we/they are willing to discuss availability of/with professors and, let's face it, we/they are usually aware that professors have lives apart from us students. The article, by positing that students are some sort of email-crazed loonies who don't understand boundaries while professors are raising the drawbridges of their castles (offices!) and hiding, is not helping foster student-teacher interactions.

In these days of rapid Internet-based communication--emails, chat, blogging, podcasting, and so on--I hardly think emailing is going to go out of style. We all need to find ways to deal with it that we're each comfortable with. I love being able to email my professors and colleagues. If they don't fancy writing back, I reckon they will just tell me. Or so I hope.

Sometimes, we do jump

Last evening, I was standing watching a group of people in front of me when this bloke came up and started talking. The conversation went like this:
Him: Hi, are you by yourself?
Me: yes
Him: all alone?
Me: (that's what "by myself" means, isn't it?) umm..yes
Him: You want to hang with us? (I'd actually not heard of "hang with" before. Hang out with, yes. Hang with, no. Rather like fruit bats, it seemed)
Me: No, thanks, I'm all right.
Him: But, it's awkward....by yourself
Me: No, I'm fine.
Him: Well, if you feel awkward...we're there (pointed to the side of the room)

Now, in case yous are wondering why some stranger would come up, voluntarily start a conversation and then ask some other person (me) to join his group, let me clarify by saying that I was at a concert. The Flogging Molly concert, to be precise, which was absolutely magnificent. Even then, it was rather odd that I'd been singled out. I've been to pubs (football-watching is usually a solitary exercise) by myself and even concerts by myself but hardly anyone comes up for a chat. Even if they do, people don't often point out that I may be "awkward" alone.

Turns out, I wasn't awkward at all. Instead, I jumped up and down like one of those yoyo things. Let me clarify why: I can't dance. Nepali folk are genetically programmed not to be able to dance and any time I try dancing, I look like I'm trying out for the Ministry of Silly Walks instead of actually dancing. I thoroughly enjoy jumping though on a semi-regular basis. Celtic-rock/punk is brilliant to jump to. So, I spent most of three hours jumping like someone on an automated pogo stick.

I'm planning on putting this concert-going experience in the category of research since the band was Celtic-rock/punk (though from Los Angeles. Well, the lead singer is from Dublin so that counts, right?). I had dressed the part in green trousers, a faded green t-shirt and a green and pink scarf that E gave me for Xmas. Btw, have yous noticed that the lead singers of most of these punk-style bands seem to look more like your stereotypical absent-minded professor than Johnny Rotten or Joe Strummer? This bloke (he had glasses on as well) would fit into bignamemeeting perfectly. Probably far more than (none suit-owning) I will.

On my walk home through the neighbourhood where I live (where not a single person was about, making it dark, foggy and rather perfect for a potential vampire/zombie encounter), I was thinking about things that make me feel awkward. It's not going to pubs/concerts alone but rather talking to people I don't know. I am starting to dread bignamemeeting already. An academic-in-training who doesn't fancy talking. Well, someone has to be it.


Dreaming of the dole

My first proper full-time job (not counting excursions into fruit-picking), at the raw age of 20, was for Centrelink. For those who don't know about Centrelink, it's the Australian government's social welfare contracting agency. In simpler words, it doles out the dole and the people there answer questions about why your dole money is (usually) not enough to fund trips to Bali (unless you get a really cheap flight over). Working in the section dealing with "Youth Allowance" (fancy name for the dole money for 16-24 year olds) meant I was in close contact with my fellow (recently graduated) students.

Ever since my stint in Oz, I've been in favour of the dole. I love the idea of the dole--something that is there to help me out in case I ever end up without a job. Usually (in those days anyway), students used to go on the dole after Uni and spend a few months on the dole while they looked for work, skipped off overseas, took a year off to travel, or figured out if they wanted to get into graduate school. For someone from the parts of Asia which don't have a dole (both Thailand and Nepal being more in favour of American-style "pick yourself up by your bootstraps" approach to life), the dole, to me, was a fantastic concept. It still is.

I was thinking about the dole recently as I had just quit my job. I think I've mentioned it to yous? IF not, a few weeks ago, I quit my LS job. After a couple of days of worrying about how to pay the rent, I actually started enjoying myself. Of course, as I met my friends I had to point out that I was seriously looking for work but, I wasn't. I was actually wallowing in not having to work and being able to get up when I wanted and read what I wanted. I was (sneakily) enjoying the time I had. It goes without saying (writing?) that most of that time I spent not in studying (though I did some of that) but indulging in my newfound goal of learning to play chess. I spent hours online trying to figure out why a nine-year old can easily beat me (I lack concentration, apparently). The rent issue was still there but I figured I could get a loan (kids, if you're reading this, I'm not advocating getting into debt to pay for lounging around at home. I'm just saying that, sometimes, it's a lot of fun to do so).

So, when someone actually offered me a job out of the blue today, I was rather worried. Necessity and the requirement of minimising loans (with next semester's fees and health insurance costs coming up) versus the joy of continuing the past few weeks spent in indulging in long hours of reading (mostly Victorian literature--not useful for Uni at all but hugely enjoyable nonetheless. Just finished Cranford and the second volume collection of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and playing chess (still getting beaten by kids and unable to remember names of openings). Of course, being a practical sort, I ended up going for the interview today. There're not many jobs on campus (and, as a foreigner, I'm prohibited from working anywhere outside of TUWSNBN) so I couldn't afford to be choosy. Cutting a long story short, I'm employed again. As what, you ask? Well, I am a "counsellor" to students whose first language is not English.

Do keep your thoughts about whether me, of all people, is qualified to be a counsellor of any sort to a minimum. As a (shining, even if I do say so myself) example of someone who learnt English as a third language and manages to use it in everyday life (and write in it), hopefully it'll work out. I'm replacing a counsellor who ran off to join the circus. Now there's a job I'd love to have (despite Mirrormask).

But, I'm still pining for the dole...Makes me wonder, though, if I'd ever actually work if I qualified for the dole. I would like to think I would, for jobs I enjoyed (like this one or something in the teaching field) but that it'd help me in deciding and allow me to avoid working as a flunkie. Unlike dole bludgers (presumably), flunkies have no fun.

Fat people shouldn't jump

At least, that was my argument today to my physical therapist. See, I'm meant to keep both feet firmly on the ground, to protect both myself (from, say, getting a searing pain in my leg and then falling over) and others (from, for instance, being in the way when I land.)

Riding a bicycle, sure. Standing on platform that drops out from beneath me and then drawing circles with my feet, okay. Standing on one foot and throwing a ball, well, that's not at all fun and requires rather a lot of windmilling of the arms and swearing. And the stupid machine that pushes my ankle back and forth willy nilly, well, that just sucks.

I have put up with them all in the interest of being able to walk down stairs without hearing a cracking sound and landing on my face. It seemed a small price to pay.

But nobody said anything about jumping. I'm not good at jumping. I never have been. I try to avoid, at all times, anything that even vaguely resembles jumping.

I failed skipping in first grade because I kept tripping on my own feet, and couldn't hop and count at the same time. I didn't even like hopscotch. Not only is there my usual total lack of coordination to be considered, but I'm also top heavy.

*I* wouldn't want to see me awkwardly jumping across a room, so I can't really fathom why he insists on this exercise. We didn't even get to the "jump on one foot, turn around, and then jump back on the same foot" bit of the process. Somebody must have taken pity on me. I doubt that it was the therapist.

And as if the jumping weren't enough, he finishes by asking me if I want to kick him yet. Of course I want to kick him. The problem is, I'd need to choose between kicking him with my left foot, which hurts like hell, or standing on my left foot and kicking with my right. Which usually results in my falling over. So it's not a very nice question at all.

Then again, he did say I could go curling, as long as I throw with my left.


Coolest moment of the day

Finding the quicktime file with the new West Wing promo online. There was actual shouting at the computer involved. Let's just say that I'm a very, very happy fan.

Very happy.

And it's about damn time.

[ETA: Further spoilers seem to indicate that John Wells is still evil. I hate him, I really do. But the promo is still kind of fun.]

Pulled up from the comments

With, well, no comment.
JulieW said...

We lost our Josh, an Iraqi War Vet, US Army Reserves to PTSD just 8 weeks ago. Please help us spread the word about this killer disease! Statistics are now showing that up to 50% of our Vets are returning from Iraq with some degree of PTSD. This is an epidemic the Government is trying to hide under the rug because the VA is not equipped to handle this huge number, nor do they have the funding to do so! HELP US, spread the word and send Josh's site (with his story, research/studies/etc) to EVERYONE you know, post it on the main page of your blogs, GET THE AMERICAN PUBLIC to take notice!

Here is Josh's site:

2/20/2006 11:49 AM

See? Ontology can be funny...

The Philosophy of Being...Ignorant

Guy: Do you know what the word "ontological" means?
Chick: Yeah...I have seen it before...
Guy: Yeah. Me too.
Chick: Is it like an orange?
Guy: Yeah...Well, it's something weird like that.
Chick: I know what you mean.

--Hungarian Pastry Shop, Amsterdam Avenue

Via Overheard in New York

Northwards, ho!

Since I live most of my life vicariously through the lives of others and have always been fond of "adventure" stories, I thought I'd point yous in the direction of this news story on the BBC (where else?) about an explorer who is about to travel to three of the four (Northern) poles. No, no jokes about Poles, please.

Following on from my previous (Wisconsin conference) post about "if I had one-tenth of this attitude, I'd have finished my PhD by now", this bloke suffered from Necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating disease) the last time he tried this and is still going ahead.

You can follow his route and what he's doing on the BBC Online website where it says he'll be "filing regular reports". Imagine that 100 years ago--the Amundsen-Scott journeys and their aftermaths would have been a fun, if often gruesome, read.


Hey Serena!

Thought you might be interested in this.

My questions, then, are these: In what ways does scrapbooking empower women as members of their families and of a larger community of women who scrapbook? And in what ways does it reinforce traditional women's roles or circumscribe opportunities for more creative expression? What is the role of the consultant? Is her influence a limiting or liberating one? And what does being a consultant for Creative Memories mean to the women who sign up? (Of course, as an academic, I'm tempted to sign on to get a sense of the experience, but the dissertation must come first.)

No, it isn't a link to a driving school. :)

Fight those...birds?

The weekend's been fairly busy what with Liverpool beating Man Utd for the first time in 85 years in the FA Cup, working on the introduction to a dissertation proposal which seems to be taking far longer than it should, and watching a brilliant, almost non-linear and quite amusing film (which was apparently "postmodern before there was any modern to be post about") but I did have time to read this.

Notice how Christian mentions "We are on a war footing now"...I'm sure those birds (well, one bird so far) are trembling with fear at the thought of the French being at war with them. But, wait, have the French actually ever won any war?

Readers will probably also appreciate the headline of the French newspaper, which said "No panic--yet"

E, you'd better write your dissertation faster!


I'd better start working faster

Because my dissertation topic is on the front cover of Vogue.* That must be some sort of sign.

Is it sad that the first thing I thought when I saw the article was "hey, I wonder if I could get her to be on my committee?" Or that I did, in fact, buy a copy just for that article, only later realizing that there are other things in the magazine?

Or is the sad part my phone message to Priya about how suddenly my research interests are cool?

*How do I know this? Because I went to the grocery store to buy toothpaste and plums and came home with $152 in groceries, including a $5 magazine and a box of hair dye. There's a *reason* that S. is almost always the one who does the shopping. I am congenitally unable to purchase only the things on the list.**

At least this time I remembered to buy the toothpaste.

**And yes, there was a list. I know that you should always make a list in order to only buy things you need.

Anybody got any other bright ideas?


The (other) cartoon row

Ah Germany...(and how many times in the past few centuries have people said this, I wonder?)

Bringing together my two interests of football and security, see here (the lettering is too small for me to make it out, even if I did understand German)

It's a cartoon of a group of German soldiers and the Iranian football team, standing side by side. The Iranian footy team is dressed as suicide bombers.

Note how the editor of the newspaper writes (in explanation),

"As a matter of fact the cartoon doesn't poke fun at the Iranian Football team but at German Minister of Defense Franz Josef Jung who announced the day before the cartoon has been printed that the German Army is going to help to secure the German stadiums at the World Championship of 2006. Mr. Stuttmann's cartoon thus criticizes what in his view is a huge exaggeration by the government of the threats that come along with the World Championship."

Ohhh...construction of threats! Mocking thereof! In cartoon forms. Why, this could almost be my PhD.

The German government is apparently making the World Cup out to be a site for potential danger. Okay, sounds fine so far...He adds,

"Everybody knows that the Iranian team won't enter the stadium equipped with suicide belts. The scene depicted, with the Bundeswehr lining up to play soccer against Iran, is so surreal that it raises the question of the German government's threat perception and the use of the German Army, which according to our constitution should be employed internally only in very few cases, are really appropriate."

So, "everyone" knows the Iranians won't do this? Well, that's fine but why were the Iranians chosen to depict this then? Wasn't the newspaper using common stereotypes of danger=Muslims (or at least danger=people with beards)?

In other words, why wasn't it David Beckam and Co. with bombs strapped around their waists? I wonder if either of the Irish teams--the Republic or Northern Ireland--had qualified, the newspaper would have chosen them to depict this "exaggerated perception of threats"?

ETA: It escaped my notice earlier but isn't Franz Josef Jung such a German name, especially for a defence minister? Almost MP-ian.


Influenza primer

At last, something topical. Even though I would really rather post some more video from Monday's BW speech, here's a link to a Flu Primer over at Stayin' Alive.

Some random West Wing love

Upon arriving back in DC from my favorite place to live, I ventured over to American University from TUWSNBN because they, as a good little place of higher education and liberal indoctrination of the youth of the nation, had invited Bradley Whitford to speak.

[Our loyal internet reader may be aware of my deep and abiding love for all things West Wing, and, in particular, the character of Josh Lyman. We do not answer the phone on Sunday nights, and the West Wing is one of only three television shows that we own on dvd at my house. I have even been known to join message boards and list-servs dedicated to the Sorkin Years. This event, in my small world of research, writing, watching television, and conferencing, is a Very Big Deal.]

It was a great speech, and a good reminder that not all things fabulous are in Chicago.* And I'm able to share a small piece of it with you, in the form of the answer he gave to a (quite sensible, in my opinion) question about the resolution of the Josh and Donna storyline.

This remark was prefaced by some stuff about how consummation, in television, ruins the tension between characters. The audience responded to this obviously ridiculous statement with boos, leading BW to remark something along the lines of "You're booing consummation?" and a brief story about visiting his mother recently, to whom he said:

AU video

[ETA: Never mind, I fixed the video. And now I can put up the rest of the clips tonight.]

This, in all honesty, was the coolest Valentine's Day gift ever.**

* Then again, BW is from Madison, Wisconsin--our last port-of-call before Chi-town.

** Not that I wasn't pleased with the gifts I got from S. this year.*** Audrey Hepburn dvds and Mr. Sketch markers are also a very cool present. They're like childhood memories in a box. Or, in this case, a gift bag stolen out of the top of my closet.

*** I think he liked his gifts, as well. One of them was a Guinness t-shirt I picked up in Oak Park, with all the writing in gaelic. The other is none of your business, loyal internet reader.

So, how can I get this?

Indulge me a bit once more, please, as I give a shout out to one of the best (okay, you had to have watched it) series on TV ever. They are making a new version of the show though I'm not sure about having a boy band-er as the hero.

I was thinking of Monkey during my train trip back to DC from last weekend's conference. I watched most of the original version of Monkey when younger and then later during undergrad in Northern Australia, where the series was highly popular among many students. During this past weekend's conference in Wisconsin, I realised that those of us who didn't grow up with US television shows (Star Trek, for example) don't have much to talk about and don't often get what the big deal about such shows were in terms of media history here in the US. Instead of folks on spacecrafts, we got people (well, a couple of them are monsters) going about on epic journeys. It would be interesting to compare how different national myths/imaginaries are evoked in the portrayal of the heroes and heroic acts in these two contexts (ooh! another extracurricular research interest! What's that you ask about finishing a PhD?).

Monkey (or Monkey Magic as it was sometimes called in Australia) seems a bit silly now--badly dubbed and with slow-moving action sequences--but the story was familiar (Tripitaka going from China to India to get Buddhist writings and encountering, as is usual in these cases, lots of obstacles along the way) and they wandered around in the Himalayas (not many shows do that, let me tell yous). Some other fun stuff: the voice of the Buddha was a woman and the story of Hsien-Tsang (Tripitaka) is mentioned in Nepalese history books.

I'm well pleased there's going to be a new version. So, again, how do I get it?


Midwest Meanderings

Before I immerse myself into re-writing my PhD proposal (once again) I thought I'd write about how that conference went. While E took to the air, I went up (and down) by train.

Some thoughts, in random order:

The train journey: Being on the train for about 2 days out of 4 was actually rather fun. I've noticed this trend in other countries (well, not Denmark and Germany but Britain, Thailand, Australia, India and now the USA) that passengers in train compartments are quite talkative over the course of travel. On the journey up to Chicago, I had a marvellously friendly woman next to me who insisted on repeatedly calling me "girl" (first time ever) and invited me over to stay with her if I ever visited her town (which is also E's hometown, btw).

On the way back, I tried explaining what my dissertation was about (and its methodology) to the bloke sitting next to me in a quest to see what "everyday" folk (i.e. non academics) would make of it. In case yous are wondering if this is a normal occurrence (me voluntarily making conversation to strangers on a train), let me assure yous that it only came about after he'd discussed his entire life to date (filmmaker, snowboarder, lover of "good food", wants to go to Southeast Asia, was totally keen on this girl who recently ditched him) in the space of the 3 hours between Chicago and his hometown (again, he was from E's hometown). I've come to the conclusion that people from E's hometown are inexplicably very friendly.

The scenery: beautiful. Since it snowed between my going up and returning to DC, on the way back, the landscape was brown and dry-looking one way and covered in snow on my way back. If I were poetic or had the least bit of creativity, I'd paint yous a picture of how it was but I'm not and so I can't. I don't have a camera either so no photographs.

Madison and Chicago were extremely pretty too--Madison in a charming, "little Uni town" sort of way (with a well-organised city centre and a capitol building and signs advertising $3 pitchers of beer) and Chicago (or what I saw of it) in a gritty, tough and yet quirky type of way.

Highlight 1: waking up from a half-sleep in the middle of the night to see myself staring at gigantic animals made from lights (almost as tall as houses) outside E's hometown and,

Highlight 2: walking on water. Yes, well, I'm almost god-like. Okay, it was frozen water on a lake but I'd never walked on a frozen lake before. The sight of people actually sitting on upturned buckets and fishing at 7am on Sunday made me realise that if I'd had one-tenth of that attitude, I'd probably have finished my dissertation by now. I wonder if I'm really really nice and don't piss her off, E will take me ice-fishing one day?

The people: While the conference was rather low-key and we were the only ones who seemed to have taken its title seriously (our paper was about merging methodologies while the other papers were pretty much standard discourse analysis stuff), getting to meet other PhDs was okay. I'm also grateful to E for dragging me to become "social". If left to myself, I'd have gone off and drunk by myself in a corner of the pub but this fate was avoided by E insisting I join the discussion on 28 days later getting epidemiology wrong and Jason Statham in the Transporter and that fight.

So, the lot of the PhD student is similar most places, it seems: long hours, comps to muddle through, undergrads to educate and inform, dissertations to write. Some of us though get to write on the differences between Japanese and American horror films or on the characterisations of females in the TV show the Apprentice. Now, doesn't that seem like a lot more fun than terrorists in Nepal and Northern Ireland?

Highlight: having the people at the conference talk about quant stuff ("numbers") as though it was easy to do and qual stuff difficult. If you'd been through the classes at TUWSNBN, you'd realise that's not the attitude here at all. The opposite, in fact.

There were other highlights: the free concert in Chicago (and the strange metal sculpture thing in the park), the castle on the road to Madison, the excellent food (the chicken pot pie was the best I've had in years) which makes me wonder how E could ever leave such droolworthy foods to live here (though one can say that same thing about Thailand, I suppose) and getting away from DC for a few days.

I did manage to (almost) mess up our presentation: fiddling around with the 'net while E was doing her thing, forgetting to take along the handout sheet and, generally, panicking to the point of hyperventilation. Also, the blasted hotel not having the 'net was not fun (though E took it quite well after the first annoyance was over. Note the part about her being patient on my previous post)

So, that was the midwest. A marvellous place full of friendly folk, well-organised conferencing, ice-fishing (with tents! and upturned buckets!), yummy foods, wide open spaces and cheap alcohol.

Oh, yes, and how could I forget the accent? The men up there had this marvellous accent, which sounded almost singsong-like but in a soothing way. Lots of "hullo", "ok" and an up and down tone. I always thought the southern accent was the best but I'm now a convert to the Midwestern version. I think I'm crushing on that accent :-)

More quotes...for Valentine's day

It's St Valentine's day in this part of the world (and, due to the wonders of Hallmark, in other parts of the world too, I gather) and I presume my fellow blogger, whom I nearly drove mad at times during this past weekend (more on that later) and who possesses nerves of steel and the patience of a whatever (something that's really really patient) is off doing useful stuff.

So, it behooves me to bring to you, loyal readers, the P.G. Wodehouse quote generator.

A few illustrations of what you may find:

Describing a bloke:
"He looked haggard and careworn, like a Borgia who has suddenly remembered that he has forgotten to shove cyanide in the consomme, and the dinner-gong due any moment."

On being in love (and being bad at golf):
"Reggie's was a troubled spirit these days. He was in love and he had developed a bad slice with his mid-iron. He was practically a soul in torment"

And, on Life:
" I spent the afternoon musing on Life. If you come to think of it, what a queer thing Life is! So unlike anything else, don't you know, if you see what I mean."

Some familiarity with the books and the people involved helps but, really, it's lovely and soothing to see how the man writes.

Quote at your significant other(s), those whom you want to be your SOs or just enjoy them while you're flitting about on PTSD.

Thanks to Crooked Timber for the link.


Chicago on $108 a day

Day pass for CTA, $5 (the elevators smell funny, but it's the easiest way to get around)

Blue Line to Clinton, free (much viewing of the recent revitalization of west-ish bits of Chicago)

Locker for giant overstuffed suitcase, $9 (surprised that these were still around, even with fingerprint scans) $3, because the locker wouldn't open at the end and eventually they had to call the police to come and give me back my stuff, and the cop didn't feel like figuring out how much I owed. Apparently this happens a couple of times a week, and the nice officer who got the locker to open didn't seem pleased at being called over to fix the lockers again.

#151 bus to Loop, free (the old standby)

Huge breakfast at tiny little restaurant / deli place, $6.07 (already forgot the name, unfortunately)

Gallery exhibit at Archicenter, free (public spaces and functional art, very cool, and they have a great gift shop)

Window shopping on Michigan Ave, free (no more than that, since I can't afford anything in the shops there, because I'm a poor starving grad student)

Wandering around Fine Arts Building, free (fabulous bits of stuff from the original building, plus a fountain)

Photos in Millennium Park, free (cloud sculpture thing is freaky, especially with the ice skating rink right below it)

Architecture exhibit in Chicago Cultural Center, free (one of my favorite permanent exhibits)

Map of Chicago Architecture and other touristy brochures, free (entertaining old people as tourist info persons--always a hoot. One old lady had to sprint through the Johannesburg airport because she was afraid she would miss her connecting flight to Nairobi. She acted out both her own part and that of her--much slower and apparently quite deaf--husband.)

Photos in CCC, free (used to be a library, Tiffany mosaics throughout of author names and quotes about books. Plus jazz music and a cafe.)

Chicago Chamber Orchestra practice for afternoon show, under Tiffany Dome, free (sure, there were a few stops and starts, but there wasn't a crowd like there is for the concerts themselves)

Blue Line to IU-C, free

Hull House Museum, free (I seriously got chills in the house. Creepy, sad, but worth it, even if the museum itself is small. Maybe because it's small?)

#8 bus to Green Line, free (much photo-taking as the bus went through Greektown, or what's left of it.)

Green Line to Garfield Park, free (more revitalization, with those ugly new buildings that are meant to look old but really don't. Blech.)

Exhibit on service workers at the Peace Museum, with audio commentary, $5 (something about Studs Terkel, I think. Cool, but odd, and I'm not totally clear on what it had to do with peace. But whatever.)

Chocolate Festival at Garfield Conservatory, $1 (didn't stay too long, as there was a line and it was absolutely mobbed with kids screaming and running around hopped up on sugar)

Chocolate samples, free (fabulous, for the most part, if small)

Green Line to Loop, free

Orange Line around loop, free

Brown Line around loop, free

Photos of Loop buildings, free (tried to get a photo of the Wabash Bldg sign, which looks like "Wabash Blog," but wasn't fast enough)

Tour of Library, free (my favorite place to work when I lived here, as well as a favorite second hand bookshop. DC needs a library like this.)

WiFi access in Winter Garden, free (lovely place to sit and watch the streets, plus quiet and also the WiFi thing)

Dinner at Panera, $9.00 (I know, it's a chain--but give me a break, I've been eating hotdogs and bratwurst all week. I needed some food that wasn't made entirely of grease and leftover animal parts.)

WiFi access, free (hence the blogging, and some IM chatting, but very little working, which was the reason for choosing Panera)

Coffee and pastry, $2.87 (that should give some indication of how long I've been sitting here)

Red Line ride and photos, free (next on the agenda--revisiting old haunts)

And the rest of today's schedule:

#126 bus to Union Station, free
#151 bus to Blue Line, free
Blue Line to O'Hare, free
Shuttle to hotel, free
Hotel room, $47.12

I may never come home. Seriously, I thought if I spent some time out here in the winter I would feel better about living in DC, but instead I just really, really want to get a job in Chicago. I'd trade my fab apartment in Maryland for a rat-trap in Edgewater in a heartbeat.

This may have been influenced by the ten inches of snow they got in DC this weekend.

Think I'm kidding? I spent an hour looking up possible places for S to transfer to out here. Then I spent another hours looking at post-docs in the Chicago area, despite my lack of a) a dissertation, and b) a reason to move before writing said dissertation.

More later...

But for now, this:

If there is someone on your blogroll who makes your world a better place just because that person exists and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the internet, then post this same sentence on your blog.


Something to keep you occupied

I had intended to post a long rant about this article, but Twisty Faster over at I Blame the Patriarchy beat me to it.

From the original article, in Prospect:
The young psychiatrist’s early optimism collapsed under the grinding reality of Nia’s dilemma. The first drug had worked. But the change in her appearance seemed intolerable—and potentially devastating for the self-esteem of a 17-year-old girl. The second drug hadn’t made her fat, but nor had it treated her illness. The consultant felt there was no option but to put her back on the Olanzapine. Again, it worked. The terrors of persecution vanished, the voices quietened down. Even her parents said that this was the old Nia. They cried over her.

The desire to experiment further with her medication left the consultant and the young psychiatrist. It was likely that the weight gain associated with Olanzapine would be very difficult to treat and that Nia would be fat, if not obese. But more disconcerting to the young psychiatrist was Nia’s apparent indifference to her predicament. While those around her worried about the beauty she had lost, she seemed unconcerned. Was she really as well as her family suggested? Had she really rejoined the image-conscious world of her peers?


The young psychiatrist wasn’t sure. The treatment had reversed a Faustian pact in which Nia had been beautiful and mad, and replaced it with another—in which she was fat and sane. But was it really a blessing that Nia seemed to have no conception of what she had lost?

So the moral of this story is that, if given the choice between being beautiful and being sane, women should choose beauty. If they don't, they must be insane.

I think I'll skip my rant about the assumption that only thin people can be beautiful. This is a PG-13 rated blog, after all.

Off to the great white...Midwest?

Things may be a little quiet around here over the next few days--I'm off to Chicago tomorrow for a couple of days, and then both Priya and I are presenting a paper* at a conference in Wisconsin, after which I'll be back to Chicago until Monday, arriving back in DC just in time for the Big Exciting Speaker at TUWSNBN.

I'm going to be back in time for the speech, even if I have to walk. Through the snow. Uphill both ways. Carrying my laptop on my back, and dragging my overstuffed suitcase behind me.**

But until then, it's anyone's guess about how often you'll hear from me. Do they even have the internet in Wisconsin?

* That's right, just one paper for both of us. On our new favorite topic. With no A/V equipment. This should be interesting.

** You know that cartoon trick of sitting on the suitcase and then quickly zipping it shut before the clothes have time to re-expand? Turns out it actually works. If they try to search my bags at the airport, though, we may have a serious problem. I'm not sure I can get everything in there twice.


Oh how we love paper drafts

Right. And if you believe that, there's this bridge for sale...

But at least it's done, and sent off to the appropriate conference organizers. Who knew that writing about blogging would involve so much actual research?

In celebration, I put together the following list of "Random Quotes From Tonight's Superbowl Viewing Experience, Which are Almost Entirely Unrelated to the Previous Comments."

Bonus points to any reader who can identify the speaker for any of them. Some are easier than others.

1. What the hell? Don’t they know that Superbowl commercials are supposed to be cool? Unless this guy suddenly bursts into flame, this is a waste of my time.

2. How can LibraryThing be down? This can’t be happening. I need LibraryThing to be working. Otherwise, I have to do something useful.

3. Is that Harrison Ford reading Dr. Seuss? I can’t decide if I’m impressed, or creeped out. Or both. Yeah, probably both.

4. We have cake! Who wants cake?

5. So you’re saying that was a new bottle of rum when we started? Wow.

6. I’m not drunk, but I could be. I think I might be drunk. Yup, I’m drunk.

7. Why are you calling our phone when you’re sitting in our living room?

8. I’m not calling you a pussy. I’m calling all of us together pussies.

9. I don’t know, there was something wrong with her fish.
She has a fish?

10. Run! Run, you moron!

11. It’s not his head, it’s the ball. [This led to a heated argument about official review and whether the ball needs to cross the goal plane or just touch it. I'm not sure why it mattered, but clearly it did.]

12. Stop being so aggramentative!
Is that a word?
It made sense at the time!

13. Did they *have* clowns in 19th century France?

14. I’m just going to interject cheese.

15. It’s a tight end pass.
You’re a what?

16. I’m not missing the halftime show for this crap, am I?

17. What difference does it make who drank the most?
The whole point is that you should be drinking more. Because I said so.
You’re at home, you should be drunk by now.

18. They’re dead, they just don’t know it yet. The alcohol is working as a preservative.
So you’re saying the Rolling Stones are pickled?

19. You’re right, I have no concept of being a stagehand. Dumbass.

20. Well, start wiggling your ass and maybe I’d pay more attention.
That seems unlikely.
I’m telling you, get one of those shiny belts and I’d be all over you.
Hey, I’ve got one of those!

21. Honey, you can’t control the people on the field.

22. He wants to be a Budweiser horse. It’s like Rudolph, but with ponies!
You mean Clydesdales?
No, ponies. I like ponies.

Influenced by our site of the month

Another totally random post.

It's been a decade since this came out, while I was still in high school. I saw it again last weekend. Yes, it's aged a bit since then (as have I) but Mr Darcy (and especially his lake scene) remains as watchable as ever.

As yous can see, I'm having a total Popgurl moment. It is PTSD's site of the month after all.


Stealing from the Jones's

Or, actually, the Ducks.

Ahem. Meme meme meme meme meme...

Bold the books you have read.* Italicise the books you might read. Cross out the books you probably won't read. Underline the books you have on your shelf to read or have started reading.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (I started this but couldn't make myself finish it.)
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
1984 - George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
Neuromancer - William Gibson
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Atonement - Ian McEwan
The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Dune - Frank Herbert

*I'm taking this to mean read, as in I have looked at most of the pages and read the beginning and the end--which is how I read most things. If it means "sitting down and reading from the beginning to the end" I don't get to check off any of them, and that's no fun.

Untitled random linkage

Go read this.

Perhaps the scent of my tuna sandwich from lunch hadn't completely vanished from my breath with the sugar-free gum I had chewed in the afternoon, and you mistook me for a sardine. Also still full from your lunch of various batter dipped and fried seafood, you may have been feeling very sardine-like when you squeezed your fat ass into the seat next to me deciding that that was the time, and I was your gal for conducting the penultimate experiment and proving reality wrong. Much to my dismay and to that of the two sitting perpendicular to us, your flawlessly executed although painfully unproductive maneuver proved your hypothesis that one could indeed fit two fatasses into the two seater nearest the door dreadfully wrong.

I'm not sure where it originally came from, but it's still funny. Even if it is on some sort of spam site.

Betty Friedan and Black Forest Cake

Betty Friedan died yesterday, which should prompt any number of bloggerific retrospectives on feminism, history, and the influence of individuals on the political landscape of America.

All of which are excellent topics for bloggers, especially women bloggers who are the beneficiaries of previous waves of feminism. Serious theoretical analysis isn't usually my thing, though, so I'm only going to note three things:

1) I first read The Feminine Mystique in middle school; at the time, I couldn't figure out the point of the book, as women in my family had never stayed home with the children, even if their jobs were usually referred to as "part-time" or "helping out" rather than as careers. I couldn't decide whether I liked the idea of having a stay-at-home mom, or preferred my budding career as a babysitter for my siblings.

By the time I read it again, I was in college and had figured out that there were other ways to view the world; I still wasn't sure how I felt about the book, since I thought I wouldn't really have to worry about much beyond accomplishing my own goals.

I think it's probably time to read it again.

2) In the case of balancing home and career, I've gotten lucky because S, although hopeless at cooking, is willing to do most other housework. As I rarely manage to clean an entire room before wandering away to do something else, he's the difference between our usual cluttered existence and utter chaos. I don't need to worry about meeting up with the creepy guy next door, because S does the laundry in exchange for my cleaning the bathroom.

He still refuses to properly fold the towels. But he moved halfway across the country so that I can work on my phd, so I sometimes let it slide.

This behavior on our parts is totally inexplicable to my parents. It would never occur to my brother that cleaning the house is a routine activity that he should be able to initiate without being asked. On the other hand, I doubt that my sister changes the oil in her car. I think this state of affairs is supposed to bother me.

3) I've just entered The Feminine Mystique into our new LibraryThing account; tonight we also made a black forest cake of sorts. I think Friedan might have appreciated the combination of feminist rant and semi-traditional homemaking, so the recipe is below.

One devil's food cake mix
One jar cherries in light syrup
One package instant vanilla pudding mix

Mix up cake mix, replacing 1/2 c. of the water with cherry juice. Stir in 12 oz. chocolate chips. Pour into 9x13" pan and bake. Remove from oven; cool five minutes and poke several holes in the cake with a fork. Pour remaining cherry juice over the top and let sit 20 minutes.

Mix pudding according to package directions; spread over cake. Add cherries to the top of the pudding. Chilll one hour and serve.

So there you go: a lovely hodgepodge of comments. I'm off to get some more research done so that I can watch the football game tomorrow.


Ooh, look, a pony!

No, not really. But with Priya's computer out of commission, and me finishing a paper and trying to get caught up on my research, there's been a distinct lack of excitement around here lately.

You can hear the chirping of digital crickets, can't you?

In the meantime, here's something for you to play around with. It's from a MB post by fadedambition.

My current favorite?

Eigen, Manfred (1927 - )

A theory has only the alternative of being right or wrong.
A model has a third possibility: it may be right, but irrelevant.

Jagdish Mehra (ed.) The Physicist's Conception of Nature, 1973.

Yes, this is something I have nightmares about. A model that is well done, accurate, and completely irrelevant.



Ta da! It's our first custom blog template.

I know, it doesn't look right in IE. Guess you'll all have to switch to Firefox. Or Safari.

Or you could help us fix it. Your choice.


What would Hobbes say? The February Edition

I'm sure you want to know things such as what Hobbes would say to the SOTU or to the second coming though I'm deeply disappointed at pubs in town for refusing to show the match at all. I think folks at TUWSNBN's PhD office are now convinced I'm a nutter or, as E puts it, "a bit insane" since I spent a large part of the afternoon calling places to ask if they were showing it but they were not.

Anyway, getting back to Hobbes. While we await the second part of the Zizek post which would have made many things alluded to in other posts clearer, I'm taking on E's question for Hobbes for February:

What would Hobbes say to Zizek's view that Love is Evil ?

Hobbes says:

"That which men desire they are said to love, and to hate those things for which they have aversion. So that desire and love are the same thing; save that by desire, we signify the absence of the object; by love, most commonly the presence of the same."

In 21st century-speak, love is one of the passions. Passions are expressed in specific ways in speech. But, the thing about passions is that people who may not feel them can still use speech expressing them so it's difficult to know what they are. So, we can't say Love is evil since who knows what love is?

Or, to let Hobbes speak:

"... because they [speech expressing passions] may be used arbitrarily, whether they that use them have such passions or not. The best signs of passions present are either in the countenance, motions of the body, actions, and ends, or aims, which we otherwise know the man to have"

Look at what the person is doing in addition to what they are saying (though I would like to point out Hobbes is not quite clear how "we otherwise know" things, if not through speech in addition to actions)

Hobbes goes on:

"And because in deliberation the appetites and aversions are raised by foresight of the good and evil consequences, and sequels of the action whereof we deliberate, the good or evil effect thereof dependeth on the foresight of a long chain of consequences, of which very seldom any man is able to see to the end. But for so far as a man seeth, if the good in those consequences be greater than the evil, the whole chain is that which writers call apparent or seeming good. And contrarily, when the evil exceedeth the good, the whole is apparent or seeming evil..."

I take this to mean that Hobbes would consider Love as Evil as something to be deliberated over. Zizek has to look at the "chain of consequences" and then decide what love is--good or evil.

Hobbes is talking about particulars while Zizek frames the issue in a more general way. How about "Don't generalise but contextualise!" as a new song in our musical?

More SOTU fun

Everybody's blogging about Cynthia Sheehan getting thrown out of the gallery. But why aren't we all talking about the pirate SOTU?

T' overcome dangers in our world, we must also take th' offensive by encouragin' economic progress, fightin' disease, an' spreadin' hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism wouldna only tie our hands in fightin' enemies, 't would keep us from helpin' our shipmates in desperate need. We show compassion abroad on accoun' o' Americans believe in th' God-gi'en dignity an' worth o' a villager wi' HIV/AIDS, or an infant wi' malaria, or a refugee fleein' genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad on accoun' o' regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, an' despair be sources o' terrorism, organized crime, crewmate traffickin', an' th' drug trade.

In recent voyages, ye an' I be havin' taken unprecedented action t' swashbuckle AIDS an' malaria, expand th' education o' lasses, an' reward developin' nations that be movin' fore wi' economic an' political reform. Fer swabbies everywhere, th' United States be a partner fer a better life. Short-changin' these efforts would increase th' sufferin' an' chaos o' our world, undercut our long-term security, an' dull th' conscience o' our country. I urge Members o' Congress t' serve th' interests o' America by showin' th' compassion o' America.

Our country must also remain on th' offensive against terrorism here at homeport. Th' enemy has nay lost th' desire or capability t' attack us. Fortunately, this Nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, th' military, an' homeland security. These men an' lasses be dedicatin' the'r lives t' protectin' us all, an' they deserve our support an' our thanks. They also deserve th' same tools they already use t' swashbuckle drug traffickin' an' organized crime, so I ask ye t' reauthorize th' Patriot Act.

'tis spake that prior t' th' attacks o' September 11th, our government failed t' connect th' dots o' th' conspiracy. We now know that two o' th' hijackers in th' United States placed telephone calls t' al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did nay know about the'r plans until 't be too late. So t' prevent another attack based on captainliness gi'en t' me by th' Constitution an' by statute I be havin' authorized a terrorist surveillance program t' aggressively pursue th' international communications o' suspected al-Qaida operatives an' affiliates t' an' from America. Previous presidents be havin' used th' same constitutional captainliness I be havin' an' Federal courts be havin' approved th' use o' that captainliness. Appropriate Members o' Congress ben kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. 't remains essential t' th' security o' America. If thar be swabbies inside our country who be talkin' wi' al-Qaida, we want t' know about 't on accoun' o' we will nay sit aft an' wait t' be hit again.

Somehow it's less depressing this way.

Via The Green Knight, who also offers such soon-to-be-classics as the SOTU by the Swedish Chef, Elmer Fudd, and a Hacker.