Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Organizing for Justice Everywhere

I saw this short thread on Twitter today by self-described preacher and moral activist Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

I spent about four hours of President’s Day driving through rural Virginia, which boasts more U.S. Presidents than any other state. But I saw more homes flying battle flag of the Confederacy than the U.S. flag. In Alabama a newspaper editor is calling for the Klan to ride again...

MAGA has no doubt emboldened white nationalism, but I keep thinking about how whiteness has always been a lie to keep poor people from working together for systemic justice.

I remember Ann Atwater teaching me that her friend C.P. Ellis joined the Klan because he didn’t believe anyone else wanted or cared about him. His Klan robe made him feel like somebody. But what he really needed was a better community.

Truth is, rural Virginia needs the same things poor folks in the city need—access to healthcare, living wages for decent work, high quality public education and sustainable use of land and resources.

We need a moral movement that offers marginalized communities a better identity than whiteness—the hope of a shared life where all of us do better when all of us do better. Yes, we need a new President. But that is not all. We also need a better imagination of greatness.
...and it made me think of the Chris Hayes podcast from back in January with George Goehl. If you haven't listened to it, I highly recommend it. Goehl not only has had an inspiring life; he's talking about the same thing as Wilson-Hartgrove (like the Klan recruiting in places hit by the opioid epidemic), and how to organize for justice in solidarity.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Flips of the Tongue, 2018

A few malapropisms, a few mixed metaphors, a few eggcorns... all heard or read by me except the last one.

Someone wrote about a car's center counsel instead of console. Maybe that car needs a lawyer?

"This sort of thing is best left to academia as it does not resignate with the public at large." (From Twitter)

Letter to an advice columnist: "I got a huge tattoo on my thigh behind my parents' back."

"Companies are leaving the country in drones." (Heard on radio, probably NPR.)

"Spilling my heart on my sleeve." (Said by George Takei's accuser.)

"Free us from the yolk of the Jew." (Seriously... I have a note this was in the Atlantic.)

"Married together at the hip" — said on a TV travel show.

"Rest on our lawyers." (Not sure what this was from, but it was said aloud, not in writing.)

A Move On spokesperson, speaking on MSNBC, said "The crust of this" instead of the crux.

"bare-buckled politicians" — on NPR.

A typo seen in a recent science fiction book: deep-friend chicken.

"We all will have to bow and courtesy when he passes by" (written by a New York Times commenter).

"Opened up a lot of eyebrows" (said by an MPR commentator on the Kerri Miller Show).

"A snag in the road" (said by an MSNBC legal commentator).

"They fly off like pancakes" (I didn't note where I heard this).

"Cracks at the apple" (an MSNBC commentator).

We need to have "more teeth in the game" (said at a meeting, talking about a policy that needed more teeth, or more skin, or something).

"Fear mongrels" (I love this one... it may define our age).


Past Flips of the Tongue:

December 2007
January 2008
March 2008
June 2008
December 2008
December 2010 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

That Child Is a Hero of the Future and the Present

Did you hear about the 11-year-old child who was arrested for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance?

I heard about it a few days ago, and the first thing I thought was, I wonder what state that was in. Florida, probably. No, even Florida isn't that stupid. But I couldn't think of a better answer.

Turns out that, yes, it was in Florida. Somehow, refusing to stand for the Pledge — which is allowed under school policy — was considered disruptive enough to require the substitute teacher to call in police (oh wait, they're called "school resource officers," the ones who are already on site to enforce the school-to-prison pipeline). And then refusing to stand when the cop tells you to is considered resisting a lawful order and then resisting arrest. 

When you're 11 years old. Who are the grownups here?

According to this story, the sub also told the child to go back to Africa if he didn't like it here.

You can't make this stuff up.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A Glimpse of Not-Winter

Well, it's past midnight (I've magically back dated) and I forgot to post for the day! So I'm reaching back into my photo archive for a glimpse of not-winter, and here it is:

This is a tray of hen and chicks, specifically Sempervivum Silver King. Not very silver looking, I know. Maybe it gets more silver in garden conditions or when it's older?

Who knows. But I do know it doesn't look like snow.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Gendered Language in College Teacher Reviews

I taught at the University of Minnesota for a few years while I was a graduate student. I mostly taught one particular class, which had a limit of 16 students. I got pretty good evaluations, but of course I tend to remember the not-as-great ones, which can be summed up as, "She knows her stuff, but she talks really fast." (This will not surprise people who know me.)

Anyway, I thought of this when checking out Ben Schmidt's interactive tool, Gendered Language in Teacher Reviews. You can plug in a word or phrase and the site graphs how often the word(s) are used per million words of text on RateMyProfesseor.com, organized by gender and academic field.

Big shock... men are much more brilliant and funny and just everything else good than women. (I did find one where some of the fields had women rated higher: angry.)

Here are two of my favorites, first, Charismatic:

Gee, who knew political science, psychology, business, sociology, and history are such cults of personality? Well, I guess I had some idea... there was a poli sci prof at my college who had a following, and all of those fields are ones known for pop culture authors and pundits.

Then there's Genius:

The Music gap is especially startling (and notice the change in scale on the x-axis between this and the Charismatic graph, too!). This result makes me extra-glad that orchestras have long been holding blinded auditions.

Have fun playing around with it, and don't get too depressed.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

News to Me: There's a Rotavirus Vaccine

Did you know there's a rotavirus vaccine? I did not. But now I do, thanks to Science-Based Medicine.

It prevents the most common form of gastroenteritis in children, maybe the kind I had in third grade that kept me out of school for weeks. And now there's evidence the vaccine decreases Type 1 diabetes in kids under 4 as well.

Another reason to vaccinate your babies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Learning About York

I almost never include anything here that came from Facebook, but this post... It was written by someone named Derek Mosley, a municipal court judge in Milwaukee:

Everyone knows Lewis and Clark, but did you know that there was a black man who was also part of the expedition? His name was York.

As William Clark's slave from boyhood, he participated as a full member of the expedition and was present when the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean. York was known for his skill in scouting, hunting, field medicine, and manual labor in extreme weather conditions.

Lewis had noted in his journal how York had saved him from certain death from a grizzly bear during the expedition. The Native Nations treated York with respect, and he played a key role in diplomatic relations, mainly due to his dark skin.

After the expedition returned, every member received money and land for their services, every member except York. York asked Clark for his freedom based upon his good service during the expedition, and Clark refused. York pleaded to be reunited with his wife, who was a slave in Louisville; he even offered to work in Louisville and send Clark all his earnings.

Clark still refused, and sold York to a brutal master in 1811, where he remained a slave at least until 1816. No reliable information has been published on York after that year. Today I honor York, a man history books, until recently, have forgotten.
I am ashamed to say that in reading Mosley's words, I expected something like a happy ending, rather than the complete opposite, as was the reality. That tells me that my indoctrination to storytelling tropes generally and "white people are good guys" specifically runs deep.

Statue of York (his imagined appearance, since there are no images of him) from Louisville, Kentucky.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Smile in the Snow

It turned out we got another six inches last night and it's a mess around here yet again. The good news is, we're not going to get any more for the next week or so, according to my weather app.

That makes me smile, and maybe it made someone else record this smile in the new snow:

As seen in the Seward neighborhood at the corner of 22nd and Franklin.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Snow Hat

We're having a real winter here in Minnesota. It started off cold in October and November, which is unusual in recent years if not decades. Then kind of moderate and snowless until mid-January and suddenly, whamo. Winter.

The polar vortex. The ice storm. Multiple back-to-back snow storms. Yesterday's six fluffy inches have left my back patio lights and gutters looking like this:

And there are another six or seven inches coming tonight and tomorrow morning. Yippee!

I'm not sure how much more snow (and weight) that light hat can hold. It will be fun to watch it and see.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

More on the Buzz-Kill

I haven't had any headaches since starting that carbonation-inhibiting, migraine-preventing drug, but yesterday I felt the familiar, if a bit duller than usual, throb on one side of my head as evening came on. I thought I'd sleep on it and see if went away, but at 6:30 a.m. it was still there.

So I got up to take an Imitrex. This was not as simple as you might think (see more below) and I was trying to take the pill in the dark. That was a no-go; I eventually had to turn on the lights.

Once I managed to get the infernal foil contraption open and took the pill, the headache died down after an hour or so and I went about my day. As I went to bed last night, I wondered if the headache would come back in the morning or not. This morning I felt it slightly murmuring on the same side and faced a familiar dilemma: should I take the Imitrex again or not? Knowing that the headache is always at its least in the morning, while I lie in bed, before time, exertion, and daylight encourage it. If I don't take a pill, will it get worse? I don't have any idea. Will it come back again tomorrow? I don't have any idea. Knowing that the whole point of taking the new daily medication is so that I won't take the Imitrex as often.

It's frustrating. And still the bubbles taste like nothing.


A note on Imitrex packaging:

Imitrex is sold in units of nine pills. I have always assumed this is because you're not supposed to take it very often and because it's fairly expensive, even as a generic, so you're limited to nine per month. But I'm not sure either of those things accounts for the specific way it's packaged:

One side of the packaging is heavy foil and the other is paper. To use it, you tear off one pill along the perforations and then a single corner can be peeled up to remove the paper backing, leaving just a thinner layer of foil in the center, which allows you to press the pill through:

It's a lot of waste for one little pill (less than a third of an inch wide) that I'm not sure needs to be controlled quite so much. And a lot of effort to put onto a person suffering from a possibly blinding headache. Or who's trying to open it in the dark, as I was.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Sad Puppy Ad

It's been about a year and a half since I wrote a Beyond Kitsch post about an advertised product. It's not that there haven't been bad ones, but rather that there are so many that fill the pages of Parade and magazines like Discover that it takes something special to stand out. Today I saw one in the latest Discover and thought I'd give it a go.

In this case, it's not actually the product so much that I object to — though the "Diamondeau®" stone makes me wonder — it's the ad.

Let's start with how the product is displayed. It's 5 inches tall as shown, and nowhere in the ad are the real dimensions given. Plus, it's glammed up with glints galor. Ooo shiny! Must buy!

The ad layout is just about unintelligible, with copy running flush left down the left and flush right down the right, using six different fonts, and with a really ugly logo to boot.

The copy has five exclamation points, initial caps where none are needed including "with" and "a", puffery like "magnificent presentation case" and "exquisitely set" used twice, and a misspelling of "complimentary."

Looking around on their website (which I will not link to), I found this image of the magnificent presentation case:

It's fine, but magnificent?

The images of the puppy necklace on the site (listed for $159, by the way, not $269 as the ad claims as the non-offer code price, with no mention of limited stock) don't give a much better idea of its scale, though it's not quite as over-sized looking.

I also noticed the site has something called a Loyalty Scheme in its main navigation, which seemed a rather honest to label that type of program.

All in all, not a company to send your money to, but one look at this ad any you probably already knew that.

Friday, February 8, 2019


As seen in Vancouver (and snarfed from Twitter):

My mood for the day (and week and year and...)