Archive for the 'Race Matters' category

The Parable of the Struggle

Jun 04 2015 Published by under Logos, Pathos, Ethos, Race Matters

Once upon a time, there was a digital garden eastward in Eden. There a group diverse in academic background, gender, and religion (though not so much in race or ethnicity or class) were put, to dress it and keep it. They gave names to all that had been previously unspoken, and were a helpmeet unto each other. And every one among them did speak, the tenured and the grad students, the men and the women, and they were not ashamed. Of the Tree of Life they ate and of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they did nosh, even of the humorous branches of both, without fear that they would be trolled.

But within this Garden of Eden grew a third tree, the Tree of Inciting the Spirit of Judgment and Fighting, which did harbor a serpent more subtle than any beast the rightwing nutjobs had made. And it came to pass one day that someone did mention yoga, and someone else offered up a transparent pun about downward dog, and others did virtually laugh. And the serpent saw its opportunity and didst strike. The serpent said unto the one most under siege IRL “eat thereof, and your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, judging all before ye.” And she did eat, and her eyes were opened, and she did judge that white privilege and cultural appropriation and disrespect for a thousands-year old religious practice were on display before her. And fighting did commence. And the Tree of Inciting the Spirit of Judgment and Fighting flourished and grew large, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil did succumb to blight and cankers, and the Tree of Life also sickened.

And lo, it came to pass many years later that on Fresh Air, Terry Gross did interview Michelle Goldberg about her recent book The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West. Wherein: a Russian woman reads a self-help book written by an American about Indian wisdom; travels to India to study yoga under a yogi sponsored by a progressive nationalist intent on uniting “the best of the East and the best of the West”; the yogi develops his own system incorporating elements that he felt captured the “animal” energy of 8 to 10 year old boys, which we today know as vinyasa; and this system is brought back to the West by the Russian woman with the new definition of “self” not to be obliterated, but to be developed to have greater efficacy in the world. The moral of the story being: your sun salutation has no connection to ancient texts; stop worrying about authenticity; embrace the modern mashup, and adapt it for your own needs. Maybe take your non-authentic yoga mat outdoors, for example to the Morris Arboretum for ten weeks of vinyasa this summer. Just stay away from the serpents in the trees.

A very wise woman of long acquaintance recently advised me that “part of being part of a professional community is the need to be extremely careful not to criticize anyone, which – to say the least – isn’t consistent with scholarly objectivity.” That plum came from the cultivar 'Life Knowledge'. Here's another: "If you don't open your mouth, no one will know you are wrong." The sagacious Dr. Richard Gallagher, now professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Kansas State University, fed me that one.

Members of oppressed groups are injured in many ways, including the silencing of their voices about those injuries. To break that silence one must open the mouth. And then comes the serpent to offer up the succulent, sweet, instant gratification fruit of Judgment and Fighting. There is a bliss in the certainty of the high, though it be short-lived and followed by a headache. And when our better natures call unto us and say, where art thou? Who told thee that thou art persecuted? we reply I heard their voices in the garden, and I was angry and ashamed, and I felt silenced, and the serpent beguiled me.

The flaming sword now turns every way. Eden is protected. Behold, we are become as one of them.

Comments are off for this post

Repost: Research Shows Private Schools Are Awesome

Everything "vintage" and "repurposed" is popular these days, so why not some vintage repurposed TSZ? Originally published 8/2/2006 and titled "More From the Journal of Exceedingly Obvious Results", this classic TSZ is, sadly, just as relevant today as it was eight years ago.


This just in from JEOR, as reported in the Chronicle's news blog:

Researchers at Harvard University say private high schools give their students an advantage over those who attend public schools.

I am shocked, shocked! to find that an advantage is going on at private schools! 

Who would have thought that our excellent system for adequately funding our public schools through the lottery of property taxes, and the generally large student-to-teacher ratios in public schools, would not be competitive with private institutions and their smaller student-to-teacher ratios?  Wouldn't you think that property values in southwestern PA would buy you just as good a public education as you could get at, say Phillips Exeter?  Or that a class size of 30 offers just as much opportunity for your child to get excellent individual attention from the teacher as, say, a class size of 10 at the local Roman Catholic high school? I would have too.  That's why we need JEOR to keep us informed. 

So what I say is, stop wasting your breath lobbying your senators and representatives to do a better job of funding a topnotch public education for every child.  Just grab your kid and scurry on over to the nearest private school as fast as you can.  And if you can't afford it or there aren't any in your county, well, that's just too bad, isn't it?  That will teach you to be born into the not-adequately-privileged class. 

There are some who say money isn't the answer.  I remember one Republican who once told me that he thought textbooks weren't necessary to truly teach a child well, that he could teach a child math without a textbook.  I asked him if he would prefer for his child to go to a school with teachers like him but absolutely no textbooks.  He got a sour look and refused to answer me.  Yeah, I thought so, is what I said.  Why is it that money is not the answer only for the poor kids?  

One response so far

Does Intention EVER Matter?

Via @KMBTweets, I came across this piece offering an analysis of Feminism's Toxic Twitter Wars in The Nation. I harbor the suspicion, and perhaps the hope, that neither side would claim me if we could sit down and have a long talk. And that, if we could have the long talk I dream of, the war would be over. Or at least the part that matters, for the people that care. I leave figuring out what matters and who cares as an exercise for the reader.

Let us begin: to be fair, "toxic feminism" is already at play on twitter, its definition and ownership contested. So I'll allow it in the title, as it is itself part of the wars. Have at it, Young Fresh Face of Feminism's Future and Old Faded Farts of Feminism's Failure! (Please, no discussion of ageism at this time. "We live in a youth culture that hates old people!" "They don't understand Twitter and what's really going on today!" "My joints ache!" "My ass tattoo is itching!" Judean Peoples' Front, piss off! Splinter!) (Yes, I made sweeping generalizations about how the old and young sort themselves. Deal with it.)

However: I am not going to stop calling my vagina a vagina. I am an old crone. A vagina is the name for a thing I have, of which the GOP would like majority ownership. I would like to use the word vagina when I am defending the right to a legal, safe abortion.  I am simply declaring this non-negotiable, at least in the world of this blog, and will score one for the Old FFofFF against the Young FFofFF for proper deployment of intersectionality in achieving one's goals.

Moreover: I can read between the lines.  Why was a "wave of coruscating anger and contempt", poured on the studiously earnest politically correct Femfuturites' heads? Such silly complaints: New York centric, unaddressed groups, neglect of the offline. There was no travel budget! They had nine black women! And really - the offline, at a discussion of the online world! I declare this a well-mixed Cosmopolitan of social class, geography, and race privilege. I refuse to drink and will score one for the Young FFofFF against the Old FFofFF for getting the a theory of intersectionality but not (all) the practice.

With the score tied, let us call a temporary truce and look at this part of the article:

...there’s a norm that intention doesn’t matter—indeed, if you offend someone and then try to explain that you were misunderstood, this is seen as compounding the original injury.

Hoo boy! I can't tell you how many times Mr. Z has gotten himself in hot water with that one! Honey, when I said nobody in their right mind would want to watch a documentary, I was not insulting you. I meant that nobody would voluntarily choose to watch them, unless they want to nap. They are boring. Continue, article:

Again, there’s a significant insight here: people often behave in bigoted ways without meaning to, and their benign intention doesn’t make the prejudice less painful for those subjected to it.

Yep. I don't understand why you are still upset. I said I didn't mean to make you feel bad, and I explained that it's just because documentaries are known to be boring. This is so not helpful. But neither is "it doesn't matter what you say now, the evening is RUINED!!" Back to the article:

However, “that became a rule where you say intentions never matter; there is no added value to understanding the intentions of the speaker,” Cross says...

Added value: I think there IS utility in talking about intentions and what drives them, sometime AFTER, of course, a real apology has been issued. Honey, I'm really, really sorry. I know I hurt your feelings. I don't know why, though, and I never meant to. I want to understand. I want us to have a nice time together and be entertained and not bored. How did I go wrong? What? Is that a copy of No Direction Home on my shelf? Why yes, yes it is. Why do you ask? THAT'S a documentary? And there's more stuff like that out there? Great! Let's look for it!

Oh, wouldn't it be awesome if the conversation went like that. But no. Sometimes, all you get is, I'm sorry, I know I hurt you, I didn't mean to make you feel bad. And the subtext is it makes me feel really bad about myself that I made you feel bad. If this is coming from some whatsisface on the internet, you can pretty much classify this as a nonpology. I didn't mean to make you feel bad so I don't have to do any thing more than say I'm sorry, that should be enough. Except we all know it isn't.

If this is coming from your significant other, depending upon how long you've been together and how much $$ you've thrown down the bottomless pit of couples counseling, this is the cue that it's time for the two of you to use your tools and avoid pushing buttons and if your buttons get pushed count to ten before responding. Even leave the room for awhile if you have to. But come back and talk it out, to make the relationship stronger and communication better going forward.

Maybe your partner says documentaries are boring because he thinks they are all educational stuff he may not understand and is intimidated. Or maybe he says documentaries are boring but he doesn't know what they are and conflates them with something that's "good for you". Or maybe he says they are boring because that film style usually doesn't capture and hold his attention, and he experiences it as boring. Or maybe your partner's a jerk.  First two cases, there's hope of change and seeing things a new way. Third way, there's hope you both can understand each other's point of view, agree to disagree, and enjoy the things you can share. The last one: time to move on and find a new partner.

If my neighbor across the street comes in my house and disses documentaries I'm going to shrug my shoulders. I'm going to say no, it's not my job to prove to you that documentaries are interesting. I'm going to walk away. Or tell the neighbor to leave, I've got documentaries to watch. But if it's my partner - then I'm going to engage. I'm going to go past my hurt and try to get us past our defenses and maybe some insights will occur and maybe it will even end with us watching a documentary together.

The tricky part is when it's someone else close, like a sister. Sisters have long histories and complicated mutual misunderstandings.  "Documentaries are boring! Nobody likes them! Give me a reality show any day." "Documentaries are enthralling! Everybody agrees! They are the real reality shows!" It would be nice if the two got along. But, well, documentaries. And the history. Beyond the history and the COMPLETE cluelessness about documentaries, one is hard of hearing and the other has bad eyesight. One raises her voice; the other points and says "see? see?" over and  over.  They live on different continents. They don't have to keep in touch. It's more peaceful when each sticks to her own circle of friends and leaves the other to her crazy toxic ideas about documentaries.  I mean, if you want to make a good documentary, what could you possibly learn from anybody working on a reality show, or vice versa? Keep that kinda toxic thought outta here!




12 responses so far

Who Else Would The Perpetrator Be?

I understand full well why some people pressure victims to keep quiet. It's not, despite what they say, for the sake of the perpetrator and his/her reputation/ability to earn a living/the poor family etc. Or not just that. It's to keep to keep us all from looking behind the curtain. We must all continue staring straight ahead at the big green scary head of the great and powerful Oz (where Oz is, variously, patriarchy, racism, heteronormativity, unfettered capitalism, ableism, or some heady stew of it all).



The shouting, the scary noise, the bellowing smoke and flames - the big green head cannot produce these effects on its own. Someone must pull the levers and speak into the microphone. It takes a village, if you will, to run Oz. In Oz, supplicants are given minor rewards and the right to prepare future supplicants to appear before Oz. If they work hard, they can one day pull some of the levers themselves. Indeed, one day they must, or Oz will collapse. Livelihoods and the very architecture of Oz depend upon Oz. It is best to strictly regulate who can get close to Oz, lest the curtain and thus Oz and thus everything be endangered.

All this is logical, and easy enough to understand.

What I don't get is this: Say someone yanks the curtain aside a little bit. Look, see, this person. This person is a perpetrator. And the good people of Oz are shocked and appalled. They are shocked that one of their own is involved in the lever-pulling.

Well, who else would the perpetrator be? It is the colleague who harasses, who casually flings racial insults. It is the brother who molests. It is the priest who rapes. These people do not come from Mars. They come from right here where we live and work, in Oz. They are our neighbors and friends, our co-workers and bosses, our lovers and relatives, our clergy and officers. They may be very good people, but they are very bad friends, bosses, priests. They are, indeed, humbugs. Just as we know that Ted Cruz is a humbug of a member of Congress, we know these people are humbugs of what they purport to be in our lives. Perhaps they are nice to their pets and give generously to good causes. Perhaps they have been good to other people at other times. But their acts behind the curtain have made of them a humbug of the role they would play before it.

When the curtain is pulled back, it is right to feel shock and sadness at what we see - but not at who we see. The levers are being pulled all day long, every day, and somebody you know is doing the pulling. It cannot be otherwise. To continue to think otherwise is to lay bricks in Oz.

Maybe it was you once. Maybe you had a minor lever, just a tiny puff of smoke. Maybe you had to learn how to let go of the lever, try to walk out of Oz, and build something new. Oz is so appealing, though. You know how things work there; the climate's always just right for you; you don't have to think about things so much. You thought you were walking out of Oz but you're right back where you started...will you sigh and once more grasp the lever? or try walking out of Oz again? There is no balloon, and there are no ruby slippers. Just a long, difficult walk, away from everything comfy and safe, with everyone in Oz yelling "come back! come back! you're crazy! we'll kill you!"


3 responses so far

Rethinking the Normality of Attrition

There are few things so beloved by the professoriate as the faculty retreat – amirite? And the highlight of every faculty retreat is surely that hour when we gather and form small groups to contemplate How Diversity Is Making Us Stronger!!1!! These are nearly always well-planned, adroitly led, and very effective. In my dreams.

At one such gathering, the first exercise our group was given consisted of a sheet of paper with four photos: a young white man in casual clothing; a middle-aged white woman in a suit; a young African-American woman in a suit; and an old, bespectacled, gray-haired, bearded eminence in tweed jacket and tie. Our task: which of these people did we think was a professor, and why? Nobody wanted to go anywhere near that booby-trap. Nobody, that is, except the old, bespectacled, gray-haired eminence in a jacket in our group. He promptly pointed to the bearded dude and said “oh, he’s the professor. He just looks like one. Don’t you think that’s how a professor is supposed to look?” The diversity workshop leader happened to be standing next to our group at the moment and the rest of us cringed. Now, this professor was a really nice guy, and he said this without any guile. In retrospect I applaud him for saying what we were all thinking but self-censoring ourselves from saying. Gray-haired bearded dude did look like what we thought a professor should look like. The question was why did we, committed as we were to diversity, still think that? How could we come to see the others – especially the women – as equally valid images of the professoriate?  And what did all this mean for our work at the university?

Well, it should be no surprise, and should not make anyone feel guilty or ashamed, to realize that we carry these internalized stereotypical images of what a professor or scientist or engineer looks like. We daily bathe in the sea of stereotypes.  We may also carry a picture in our heads of what a successful STEM student looks like, without realizing it, and may make advising decisions based on that image rather than on the student’s interests, desires, and real potential.

The first step in interrupting the circuit is to interrogate the term “successful student”. Is a successful student one who makes top grades? One who rallies after a failure? One who doesn’t have a lot of distractions to get in the way of focusing on the degree? One who learns how to manage the non-negotiable constraints of life and still continue with their studies? One who goes on to a satisfying and successful STEM career post-graduation? One who takes their STEM degree as a springboard into another career direction? Is a successful student one whom we help to succeed?

Of course, I can tell you my anecdata about getting a D in calculus and going on to a successful STEM career despite a frosh advisor who suggested I switch out of engineering, and you can counter with your scores of advisees and your, as we will see, oh-so-unfortunate example of George.  And then I’ll walk over to my bookshelf and peruse the research.

The classic reference text on students switching out of STEM majors is, of course, Seymour and Hewitt’s Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave The Sciences. If you are a STEM professor, make yourself familiar with this book if you are not so already.  The book is an exhaustive presentation of the results of a three-year study of 335 students at seven four-year institutions of different type and location. The authors question the assumption that leaving, or switching, is natural or normal.

The revolution did not swing by anytime in the last 15 years so you can pretty much go with what the book says. Here’s the

most important single generalization arising from [the] analysis…switchers and non-switchers [were not] two different kinds of people. That is to say, [they did not] differ by individual attributes of performance, attitude, or behavior, to any degree sufficient to explain why one group left , and the other group stayed…What distinguished the survivors from those who left was the development of particular attitudes or coping strategies – both legitimate and illegitimate. Serendipity also played a part in persistence, often in the form of intervention by faculty at a critical point in the student’s academic or personal life. [emphasis mine] [p. 30]

It turns out that STEM is bleeding students, male and female, white students and students of color. Only, the bleed rates for females and students of color are slightly higher than for white males, so the overall impact of culling the herd is to reduce diversity. After all that hard work to recruit the best and brightest to your uni, and to get all those women and students of color to your doorstep! Such a shame. Well, what can you do, eh?

Seymour & Hewitt note, by the way, that inappropriate choice, underpreparedness, and overconfidence, while present for many students of color, are not sufficient factors to explain the higher switching rate of this group compared to white students. So one thing you can’t do is lay the burden for the problem on the students.  The extra difficulties that students of color face include: differences in ethnic cultural values and socialization; internalization of stereotypes; ethnic isolation and perception of racism; and inadequate program support.  It’s true. Your unis are not doing a good job of supporting students of color.

Seymour & Hewitt speak in their conclusion of a desire to marginalize the issue of wastage of students, given the consequences of taking seriously the loss of 40 to 60 percent of a group of students with above average ability.

Switching is not defined as a problem when it is believed to be caused, on the one hand, by wrong choices, underpreparation, lack of sufficient interest, ability, or hard work, or on the other, by the discovery of a passion for another discipline. Either way, there is little that faculty feel they can, or should, do about people who leave for such reasons. The difficulty about our data is that they support neither type of explanation for switching. We find no support for the hypothesis that switchers and non-switchers can be sufficiently distinguished in terms of high school preparation, performance scores, or effort expended...Nor do switchers neatly divide into those who are pushed out (by inappropriate choice of major, lower ability, poorer preparation, lower levels of interest, or unwillingness to work), and those who are pulled out (because they discover a vocation elsewhere)...[W]e posit that problems which arise from the structure of the educational experience and the culture of the discipline (as reflected in the attitudes and practices of S.M.E. faculty) make a much greater contribution to S.M.E. attrition than the individual inadequacies of students or the appeal of other majors. [p. 392]

Ouch. That hurts.

Students who wash up on your advising shores performing poorly in their major classes may be doing so for any number of reasons. In my opinion, if you let them get to their junior year and flunk a major course three times without an intervention, your uni is failing that student, and not by giving them a failing grade, if you follow me. Read the conclusions chapter of Seymour and Hewitt if you read no other part of it. There's more in there about the groups of students that are being lost from STEM, groups that faculty members might very much want to retain. And rethink your notions of the successful student and beneficial advice to switch majors. Even if you think you're doing the student a favor, is it really a good thing for your uni to continue recruiting, but not retaining, STEM students?

22 responses so far

Easy-Peasy Reproduction of Gender & Race Norms!

Somewhere in the Twitterz a link popped up to this slideshow presentation:

Academia to Entrepreneur: How and Why to Leave Academia

It's a decent enough slide presentation and you'll learn a little about Mendeley along the way. Near the end there's a slide titled "Engineers" with 9 pictures variously titled "What my friends think I do", "What my parents think I do" etc.  You are supposed to enjoy the hilariosity of each group's total misconception of who engineers are and what they really do.

Let's ask who the "I" of the photo captions is.  Is this slide addressed to you at all? Depends upon who you are.  If you are a white male, the answer is yes! In the first photo, we see that what your friends think you are doing is sitting around on a couch gaming - you, a white male, and all your white male buddies. In the "What my parents think I do" photo at least there is one female, with three male figures, all white, looking at construction plans.

The fourth photo is of a young, slightly overweight white boy wearing glasses, non-fashionable clothing, and sitting in front of a computer.  The caption reads "What girls think I do."   Engineers are boys, and they're white boys, too. There is no corresponding picture for "What boys think I do".  There is, however, one for "What kids think I do."  So you can be a kid wondering what the grown-up (white male) engineer does, or you can be a girl wondering what the (white) boy does, but you can't be a boy wondering what the girl (of any color) does because that would be...

Well that would just upset our gender norms. And consequently wouldn't seem funny to most of us.  The "what girls think I do" is funny only if you accept the premise that the speaker is, indeed must be, a white male who can't get a girlfriend. The girls he cannot attract would, of course not be engineers.

In the last photo we see "What I really do":  a grown up white man, sitting in front of a computer.  This is so non-inclusive, and so non-representative of the multitude of things engineers do, that it makes me want to cry.  This one slide, with very few words but very strong images, hammers home the tired old gender and race stereotype of the engineer as a lonely white male in front of a computer.  It's not funny, it's sad and wrong. No one should ever use this visual again, except as an illustration of how easy-peasy it is to do gender and race norming without even trying.  I'm fairly certain that wasn't the intent of the person who put this slideshow together, but it is indeed the unfortunate outcome.

The only non-white person that appears in this slideshow is a floating head shot of Aretha Franklin in a slide making a point about respect. She is used more or less as an icon or signifier of the word respect, and has no relation to what engineers or scientists do. This use, combined with the total exclusion of people of color from the imagery of who engineers are, makes me unhappy.

It takes an effort to be inclusive, but it is an effort every speaker should make. If you aren't sure that your speech or presentation is free of unintentional bias, ask someone you trust to review it for you to be sure - especially when illustrations or pictures are included, but for language too.  Or I may have to come puke on your shoes.  I can understand that people may not see the bias themselves, but by now we all should be aware that it could be there. We all have a responsibility to try, to educate ourselves so we become more aware, and to ask for help before we send our words and chosen images out into the world. Don't be part of the (lazy-ass) easy-peasy bias reproduction machine!

5 responses so far

Things I Found Ponderable: #scio12 Report the Second

Gather round, Zuskateers, and you shall hear the tale of Clang!2 - White Privilege.

If you will recall, in Report the First, Zuska looked deep inside her own brain and found a squirming pile of sexist maggots gnawing away at her will to transform the world.  Report the second is just as unlovely!  So grab your popcorn and let's get started!

Many of you Zuskateers know that some years back I had a stroke caused by a migraine, and that the stroke made my migraines much, much worse - so severe and frequent that I had to quit working.  You may not also know that I lost nearly all my vision at the time of the stroke.  It gradually returned over a period of several months, but I did not get it all back.  I was left with a blind spot in the upper right quadrant of my visual field. It's not a black spot in my vision.  If I really pay attention, I can see that the area of the blind spot seems to have been rubbed or erased out.  But most of the time I don't even see the blind spot.  It's as if my brain takes everything it sees around the hole that is the blind spot, knits it together to patch up the whole, and tells the rest of me, "Okay, no problem here.  What you are seeing is all there is to see."  Oliver Sacks has written about this phenomenon in an essay titled "Scotoma: Forgetting and Neglect in Science".  (It's in a hard to find book called Hidden Histories of Science that is worth seeking out.)

My blind spot is a case of my brain not letting me know what I don't know, and I have to actively work around this to get the information I need, properly interpret the world, and keep myself safe.  Signs are sometimes hard for me to read because I don't get all the information at once, my brain can't make sense of it, and is too stupid to imagine that there might be something I'm missing.  Same thing when I'm reading the paper - I get to the end of a column and think "that story ended oddly".  Then I move my head and see there's an upper right part of the page - oh look! more story!  Finding things on the computer screen can be a nightmare.  I work hard to pay attention because I know I'm missing stuff, but it is exhausting, and sometimes I just quit.  I watch tv knowing I'm seeing about 3/4 of the picture but so what.  It'll do.

I tell you all this because my scotoma is the perfect metaphor for Clang!2.

Continue Reading »

23 responses so far

Adria Richards Asks "What If Your iPhone App Supports Hate Crimes?"

Adria Richards at the blog But You're A Girl writes

Last night I took a taxi home from the Tenderloin to the Mission District.  I had the pleasure of being driven by Mustafa, a relaxed, cheerful older man.  Mustafa shared with me how he no longer feels safe driving his cab after 16 years due to an iPhone app called TaxiMagic.  He’s had at least three bad experiences upon being dispatched to a call that originated from the TaxiMagic iPhone app.

Follow the link and watch the short video she recorded of her talk with Mustafa about his experiences.  It includes information about Adria's follow up with TaxiMagic.  Adria's interaction with Mustafa does indeed illustrate the unintended consequences of technology, as a commenter notes, but it also points out how those with more technological access can intervene and use what skill and power they have on behalf of those who are actually being oppressed by all our technological geekalicious wonder.  Adria tags her posts in, among other catgories, "need your help" and "you can help" and asks readers to send suggestions for how to help Mustafa to her at  Check out her post and view the video and see if you have some good ideas to pass along.

Comments are off for this post

Stereotyping the Stereotypes on "Big Bang Theory"

Aug 02 2010 Published by under Race Matters, Stereotypes We Know And Love

I am one of those folks who would like to get rid of all the t.v. sets in my house, but not for the usual reasons people give - "oh, I never watch t.v., there's nothing worth watching, I prefer to read, bla blah".  I just think t.v.'s are ugly and take up wall space that could be more profitably devoted to attractive shelving displaying my ever-expanding collection of books and pottery.  I am slowly learning to cope now that Lost is over.  I don't mind unwinding now and then in the late evenings with some house porn on the HGTV network - ZOMFG! a couple is in need of a new house! with a walk-in closet! and a nice playroom for the kids! and a really great kitchen for entertaining!  because everyone is always entertaining! even though no one ever cooks anymore!  because feminism killed cooking!

I have enjoyed watching Merlin on the SyFy network, in part for sheer escapism, and in part because I like the way it deals upfront with class issues and Othering.  In many ways, you could read the whole must-hide-my-true-magical-nature-or-be-killed-by-the-magic-haters as a metaphor for the persecution of homosexuals.

And then there is the Big Bang Theory.  Oh, BBT.  I have a love-hate relationship with you.  Continue Reading »

25 responses so far

How Not To Sell Me Your Fancy HVAC System

We have to replace our furnace/ac.  The  AC is dead as a doornail, both are over 20 or 25 yrs old and horribly inefficient. So we've been getting quotes. Got two that came in at $6500 and $6800 for 3 ton 100,000 BTU 95% efficient 14.5 SEER variable flow and all that jazz. Third dude came today and did a long presentation after having measured all sorts of shit and went on about importance of proper installation, bla bla, explained all sorts of bla-di-bla about the equipment, how their employees are carefully screened and drug tested and they don't allow any convicts to work for them because in prison they teach convicts plumbing and HVAC and here's a picture of brown dudes in prison uniforms studying to come rape and kill your wife in your own home under the guise of installing your new furnace and ac, and you can get a heat pump too to further reduce costs, and bla bla more tech stuff, and voila! four options for your consideration, good, better, best, wow, ranging from $11k to $16k.

And I said, "WTF?"

But wait, don't answer yet, there are rebates, and we can take this and that off, and discounts, and I can come down on price, and so on, and now the four options range from just under $9k to $11k or something like that.

And I said, "dude, you might want to rethink that one part of your sales pitch where you subtly scare me about the brown prison dudes coming into my house."

And he said, "well, yes, but Ashton Kutcher's ex-girlfriend was killed by an ex-con, and there are white guys in that photo too."

I do not think we will be buying the fancy expensive heat pump furnace from this dude with the laminated pictures of scary brown men in prison uniforms studying earnestly to come rape and kill me in my own home.

26 responses so far

Older posts »