« November 2005 | Main | January 2006 »

December 31, 2005

"Hope comes back"

The Korean acupuncturists wanted me to come back for a second treatment so I did. An indulgence. "Your chi is depleted," said Mrs. Kim, "Your spirit is wandering. We need to help it come back."

I received more moxa in the same places, needles in the same and several more new sites, and an extravagant, custom blend of medicinal tea. I asked for the names of the "more than twenty" goodies placed in neat piles on a tissue paper before being bundled up for brewing. Instead, Mrs. Kim told me what each one is for:

large intestine
stomach - at least 3 different herbs in "combination - grow strong, help your stomach better"
blood clear, produce blood, strong blood
"memories coming back"
strong bone
"heart calm down"
your eye
chi coming back, chi circulate
dragon eye - which she squeezed open with a load crack - "for your concentration better" (Longan?)
menstruation (2), liver, together and for kidney
"control your water"
"face shiny"
"decoration for your altar"

I received detailed instructions for brewing and consumption for a ten day treatment. I'll start when I arrive back east.

Posted by Steph at 2:18 PM | Comments (1)


Well. I spent the evening (last night) with my father, who introduced me to his girlfriend and treated us to dinner at Mi Ranchito (it was yummy).

There were a number of reflective moments (!), a fair amount of joking, and basic information sharing. I learned more about the details of the automobile accident last year, that they thought dad's spleen had ruptured and almost took it out, they almost didn't let Shirley in to see him, etc.

It gave us the opportunity to talk about a health care proxy and end-of-life wishes. He wants to be cremated, but I pressed on details prior to that: what about heroic measures to extend your life? "I don't want to be in a vegetative state hooked up to a bunch of tubes." I asked him about that time in critical condition after the wreck...did he ever want it to end or feel it was over? "Oh no." He explained he was vaguely aware of things happening around him, and Shirley confirmed there was evidence he was 'still there'. Dad said at no time did he feel that it was time to go. I asked, so if there's any consciousness then you want to hang in? "Of course."

Dad doesn't seem to be at any imminent risk, he's 74, still gets out into the world just about every day. One has to grab these moments when one can, though, because who knows what might happen and then how do you decide? The legal paperwork is called Advance Directives, and the regulations vary by state.

While we were at dad's place I noticed an audiotape from my childhood, Nilsson's "The Point", which dad let me borrow for the ride back east. I remember listening to it on roadtrips when I was growing up, but don't think I ever understood it. "That is one of the highlights of my life," dad said. "It's a wonderful allegory set to music."

Then he dug up a CD of the Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra. "They're all Norwegian!" It's the first time I'm aware of dad celebrating his roots. He says it's of the same type as "The Point." The song, Sheik of Araby, "says it all."

Can I learn how to add sound?

Posted by Steph at 10:30 AM | Comments (1)

December 30, 2005


Got treated today for my shoulder, rib cage, and emotions. My tongue and eyes revealed me as "a lung person". Kidneys are also implicated, but they only got one mention. Lung people are prone to melancholy, apparently, and I was admonished: "Don't go to bed with cry. Your ch'i disappears."

In addition to the actual acupuncture, I also received moxabution. "Moxa is a Chinese herb (Mugwort) which is rolled into sticks and burned above the skin ..." (What is Oriental Medicine?)

In addition to salves, needles, and burning moxa in the vicinity of the physical ailments, I received a treatment in the middle of my back for "strong mind." I think it was a bonus. :-)

Posted by Steph at 11:22 PM | Comments (0)

DOA 4 Review

"Whoa! It demonstrates how to do it! That's new."

"That's cool."

"The graphics aren't as good, do you see that?"

"Can anybody hear me?"

"That's weird." What does that mean? It had Y button with like an arrow down. Just do the move. huh. Oh that was cool!

"Oh wow, what was it?!"

"That's new." "That's cool!"

You can teleport. "When I do this he goes nowhere."

"Does he [Hayabusa] do a backflip?" That's it! That's the cool one! hahaha. That's awesome!

"They went superfast." Oh! That was tight!

"But does it do that on a normal basis?"

"That was cool." What? "They automatically fall for ya."

Comments by SS4 Shinobi and Alec during the first play.

Tournament on January 7th. Speaking of clan: supposedly DOA4 was going to have a formal clan feature but there were problems and they ditched it. Players, however, already form their own clans. I'm not sure this is a good thing? So many (all?) of the social problems in the world today come down to clan: family vs family, ethnicity, religion, or nationality vs others. "Most of the clans [in DOA] are really friendly." I don't know what this means.

Posted by Steph at 2:40 PM | Comments (0)


Both of them are a trip. Separately and together. Austin took us on the scenic route to Waid's for breakfast that just happened to take us by GameStop where the new release of DOA 4 awaited. :-) I really enjoyed watching him play last night, shifting between female and male characters and winning every single game. He explained a lot to me. Very interesting discourse involved with gaming. I asked Alec last night about whether he felt himself thinking in the ways of the games during his real life. "It doesn't make me violent, if that's what you mean." No, that wasn't where I was going. (Obviously he's aware of that interpretation.) He's articulate and concise: you don't solve problems in real-life like you do in the game. I know. What I meant was, there are parts of the games - especially the commercial elements - that are quite optimistic. They point toward possibilities. Austin acknowledged this: some things are just cool, but part of what makes them cool is that they demonstrate potential.

Alec was playing Conker's Bad Fur Day this morning. There are squirrels and teddies. "The teddies are evil but they're better." What does that mean? "The teddies don't take fall damage. Squirrels do. Squirrels can run fast but I don't care about that cuz I'm a good sniper."

I haven't learned much about Runescape yet. "It's a mythical game. You know what runes are? They're not just used in that game."

I'm having a great time. :-)

Posted by Steph at 2:17 PM | Comments (0)


Jesus Evil Kachina tells me one ought to communicate only that which rises to the top.

I arrived in KC to surprise my nephews and sister-in-law. Dad had a few hours warning. :-) The youngest's eyes just about popped out of his head when I told him who I was. Yes, it's been that long. I'm getting lessons in PSP, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 (Alec scored a perfect 100 tonight on Captain Jack), Halo (Gamertag SS4 Shinobi), and Dead or Alive Ultimate (Austin is in the top 100 worldwide).

I'm planning on downloading Full Metal Alchemy once I've finished this trip; got a bit of an explanation from the Jamester as I peered over his shoulder yesterday and was intrigued.

Posted by Steph at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2005

Consent: A densely-textured life

Little Brother calls during bowling (affection flows back). Blood brother suffers. Parental pathology is passed on. I dream randomly.

SEMP subjected me to the most intensive grilling I’ve yet received over the Informed Consent form for Reflexivity. :-) The beginning point was this “favorite sentence”:

The guidelines used for selecting material have to do with intrasubjectively-perceived salience in the moment,…

The individual words make sense, but what do I mean by stringing them together in this way? Most simply, what I mean is, “I decide”. Yet the consent form puts limits on this power. The different choices people make concerning their own consent establish certain conditions that I commit to operate within – each individual’s decision contributes to a structure of accountability for me. Why do I need to be accountable to others in this way? Why not just rely on my own personal integrity? Because any kind of integrity requires a supporting structure and I’ve had no other. The academic language adds (hypothetically) a precision that seeks to specify the rationale justifying the choices I make.

I’m quizzed about “public” and “private”. “There’s no such thing as privacy,” says Jesus Evil Kachina. Intersubjectivity theorists (whoever these might be, smile) agree: we all mutually co-construct each other through acts of calling (instead of/in addition to "mission", also identity: interpellation). In commonsense terms, one could say we do this through culture (norms, values, etc).

“I don’t know if I want to be a blog! “ A log? A bog? “It sounds like a glob.!” A lob?

Why do I need a “weird computer” representation? Because I’m lonely and ambitious. Who does the representation invite? “Maybe the comments are just computer programs!” Understanding the blog as a representation means part of the selection criteria is the production of my own story – which moments lend themselves to the kind of person I want to be? Which anecdotes establish accountability? “The problem with writing stories is that the rough edges get rounded.” Maybe (just maybe), what I’m doing with this blog that is a wee bit different than other blogs is how hard I try not to round too much. I also deliberately intend to reflect the multiple aspects of my life experiences. I’m most invested in the long-term patterns – which I dearly hope (!) show development (growth, change). Ambition competes with pride. While the selfish ego wishes I could be (or appear) flawless; the trained social scientist grasps for objective description: how I understand life as I/we live it…

There was some tease about how communication majors communicate – or not (!) . . . something about thinking too much. Who? Me?! :-)

Posted by Steph at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

Spiritual Guidance

You can pick your nose.

You can pick your friends.

But you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

Put that in your blog and smoke it!


Jesus Evil Kachina tested me. Do you want world peace? I do. Are you at peace with yourself? Getting there. The last eight days, yes. Thank you.

While driving, I talked with Shemaya about gut feelings and the trick of learning to distinguish between the “gut” that’s reactive defensiveness and the “gut” that’s intuitive guidance. She explained “the enteric brain” to me (note especially the section on The Third Neurotransmitter: serotonin), which I hadn’t heard about before. We agreed it’s probably connected (somehow) to the biochemical pathways in the mind that channel consciousness.

I actually arrived a bit earlier than announced yesterday evening, so drove past the road to S.E.’s and on toward Wellington. Turned around when I made eye contact with a young Great Horned Owl perched on a road sign. She made eye contact with me again when I returned and slowed down to pull onto the shoulder, then launched herself lazily in front of me, flapping ponderously over to a less exposed branch in a nearby tree. Her gaze pierced me as I continued to watch. After a bit, she moved another ten feet and decidedly looked the other way.

I was reminded of the older owl I watched in the Reserve in Montana the last time I was there . . . the consensus was that poor girl hadn’t caught anything for awhile otherwise why would she be out in the middle of the day? I sat by myself and watched her for a good half-hour that long and lovely midday hike.

Last night, the sighting was just at dusk after a rosy sunset.

Almost finished listening to Prodigal Summer. Deanna offers up this childhood prayer in a moment of astonished gratitude:

Thank you for this day
For all the birds safe in their nests
For whatever this is
For life.

Posted by Steph at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2005

"It's a grand and glorious morning,

make the most of each and every moment!"

I was awaken by the Dan-ism via walkie-talkie this morning. Jamie was delighted with himself. :-)

Had a mellow evening after my quick drive to see Ruth - realized I was kinda in a hurry. :-) In fact, realized I'm often in a bit of a rush.

No comma. That's what caught my attention. I anticipate where it is I want to be in emotional/relational terms and express it verbally a wee bit prior to its actually being true. I suspect this tendency makes me appear inconsistent (?), and/or even flaky. :-( The worst aspect is that it means I miss the soft pleasures of the moment; the best (I guess?) is that it pulls me toward my own growth.

Posted by Steph at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2005


Yesterday was wonderful. My being sang. :-) Shall I be chronological?

The conservatory filled me with memories: "Those who dwell...among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life." ~ Rachel Carson. Among the biomes were a pair of blue and gold macaws and some lories. We tasted some fine old Chocolate, and learned quite a bit about the cultivation of cacao (40% produced in South Africa) and production of chocolate. Hershey's Kisses have been around since 1906! Tootsie Rolls were the first chocolate-type candy, 1896 (if I remember correctly). We watched electric trains circle the outside courtyard, admired a bizillion plants (I'm bad with names but one that stuck is the African Mask), and took in some art. Joyce Tenneson has some amazing photographs of flowers, doctored to appear suspended in black, velvety space. She's an author as well.

After the Conservatory we made a quick stop in the North Market then came back to hang out and chill. I'm reading The Sands of Time. When the BM gave it to me last year she said it was about the mystery of cats. I'm enjoying it. :-)

We intended to see Harry Potter but it was sold out, instead we watched Memoirs of a Geisha. I enjoyed it alright, but it's overcrafted. It's effective in drawing one into the bleak competition of a life that seems enviable and carries heavy emotional costs. But then, I wonder, what life doesn't? :-/

Afterwards, we checked out Blazer's Pub for a taste of a classic lesbian bar. Had a nice chat with Blazer herself, met Earl (who fished the cue ball out for us once), and suffered (!) two games of pool. Ila said she knew the rules. sigh Not that I've got any kind of consistency to make the rules matter so much. ;-) We then ducked into the Ugly Tuna Saloona for late night french fries because how could I know about such a funky-named place and not check it out?! I kept a couple of the logo-printed plastic cups as souvenirs.

Soon - Indianapolis. Just a short drive today.

Posted by Steph at 9:51 AM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2005

I-90 and The Prodigal Summer

It was an 11 hour drive from Brattleboro, VT to Columbus, OH, with the longest stretch across mid-state New York. Dry in the beginning and end, I encountered rain midway across NY which persisted until the Pennsylvania state line.

I spent most of the time listening to The Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. It is strangely suitable, with the preface mentioning something about this being a book for those with "wildness" inside. :-)

Ila kept me waiting (!) once I got to Columbus, which was fine as it gave me time to locate the Ugly Tuna Saloona. (We plan to check it out tonight as it was closed yesterday.) Now, we're off to the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (she's quite worried about being a proper host and taking me sightseeing). What a sweetie! :-)

Posted by Steph at 1:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2005

a happy delay

Sam's doing great this morning, although he says he can't talk. He has managed a few words. Was trying to tell me something about the painting of the woman in reddish-pink and orange with her head slumped heavily in her hand, elbow on her knee....she looks either exhausted or frustrated or both. Heavy. I'm guessing this is Sam's morning ritual, to peruse his paintings and contemplate whatever they inspire.

We fiddled around with the communication board a little bit. Added "bitchin" as per Larry (talk about a big grin from Sam!), and "channel" to the tv portion. There are many detail questions Sam gets asked in the course of the day; I need more exposure to them to gather the pattern and imagine what might work on the board. Right now its rudimentary and folks don't seem to be using it. Instead there is a yes=one blink no=two blinks system - but it has difficulties too. First, you have to ask a simple yes/no question (no options!), then you have to wait, then ask another one. Sam's a puzzle sometimes: is he not answering because the question is so far away from what he wants that it doesn't even seem worth it? Is he still thinking if yes/no will get him closer to what he wants? Or is he so tired that he forgets to answer? Or feels he has exerted the effort to answer but it's not detectable to us?

Anyway. There was BIG Romance in the room last night, as a boyfriend of one of the nurse's aides' came by during her workshift and proposed, right here in Sammy's room! It was before I arrived, but the story is she planned to propose to him today, but he beat her to it. He said, "I know Sammy wants to marry you but I've got the ring." :-) Sam has always been a positive influence on couples, at least, he always brought out my better parts. One of Sam's gifts is that he gives permission to love and cultivates an environment or atmosphere for it.

I'll be heading out soon for the roadtrip. Sam's recovered, more or less, and isn't having any premonitions of his impending demise. There's a chance that this problem with his speech - which also affects his ability to swallow - might be the thing that does him in, but if he goes while choking we agreed the only way anyone's going to get here is by Scotty beaming us in. Too bad transporter technology is still only in the experimental stages. :-/

Long and short, all's well here in Eden Park on Christmas morn. Sam sends his love and season's greetings to all. He also asks you to feel free to email him directly (please understand that he only reads his email with help, and that usually means only when Steph visits, which varies):

achziger at adelphia.net

Don't forget to replace "at" with @

Posted by Steph at 9:17 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2005


Hey all, only just got on the Mass Pike heading to Albany when I found out how ill Sam has been. He says he wasn't scared, but I don't think he was thrilled to be alone. Anyway, he's in good spirits tonight, was watching Twister when I arrived, after having been up and out listening to carols earlier. We watched it together for awhile, then turned off the tube and checked in. His voice is only at a whisper, but he was understandable, especially for the first few words. His enunciation fades then and sometimes i couldn't understand him. :-/ He's getting good care and attention from the staff; lots of affection. Connie says, "Sam's got some of the finest friends. Everybody loves Sam."

We did email for an hour or more....trying to get caught up on the backlog of jokes and news. He laughed really hard at some; I've pasted in a few that got the most response below.

Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.

It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.

Senior to Senior

Two elderly gentlemen from a retirement center were sitting on a bench under a tree when one turns to the other and says, "Sam, I'm 83 yearsold now and I'm just full of aches and pains. I know you're about my age. How do you feel?"
Sam says, "Well, I feel just like a new-born baby."
"Really!? Like a baby!?"
"Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet myself.

12 Days of Modern Christmas

Posted by Steph at 8:57 PM | Comments (0)


Shemaya sends genealogical information on a potential ancestor, Rockwell Kent (he's not). She marked a few passages in "The Voyaging life...", an article in the Jan/Feb issue of Ocean Navigator.

He engaged in vociferous political discourse in bars everywhere, often getting into fights; he was even tossed out of Newfoundland in 1915 - forcibly escorted to a ship by a government agent.

"Within an hour of the thought that I must go I had secured a clerk's berth on a freighter sailing for the farthest spot on the wild, far southern end of South America, of all lands that one hears or reads of, the most afflicted and desolate."

...Kent considered every adventure a success if it combined enough elements of disaster, companionship and physical exertions.

You don't think she was making any inferences about me, do you?

I leave in mere hours...

Posted by Steph at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2005

making momo's

We made momo's at Lava's for hours last night, sipping beverages and chatting up a storm. P.D. and I talked blogging, who does one write about, how? He knew of some scene in NY where people would attend parties and then check each other's blogs the next day to see what had been written. I would enjoy something like that ... but why? I've been thinking about a comment someone recently made to the effect that being written about feels dehumanizing. I can imagine that. :-(

Sometimes when I'm writing I think of myself as a collector. Collecting experience, memories, connections. I like the idea of being a node through whom others can also maintain connection. It's not clear that many people consider reflexivity as a blog in this way, but it has always been my dream that what gets generated here becomes a kind of a 'community resource'. In the past couple of weeks, another reason for the way I blog has clarified itself for me: as social infrastructure.

Writing on the blog makes me visible and accountable to others, and, to the extent folks let me know they read, it anchors me in a way I need. Most people (should I say, most normal people?!) get their anchoring (social/emotional support) from family and friends. I do too, and - segregation by context or purview somehow isn't enough. I desire more continuity. Hence, this construction project. :-)

Meanwhile, I had Too Much Fun last night and had to bolt out so I could crash in bed. I accidentally 'crashed' a couple trash cans en route. oops No comments! I woke up the wee-est bit woozy and have moved slowly all day. Nonetheless, everything that needed to get done got done and I'm thrilled to have been able to end the semester on such a high note with wonderful, warm, funny, and musical people. Imagine!

Posted by Steph at 5:36 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2005

Solstice Sunrise

I left at 6:35 to drive to the sunwheel. The sky was already lightening up but headlights were still in order. My mind drifted. When I got close, the stones hove into view, and a moment later, a tightly-gathered crowd of 50 people. The stones were gorgeous but the cluster of people took my breath away. I wasn't expecting that.

I pulled on my outer layers (17 degrees F, - 8 Celsius) and opened the car door to laughter. Forty-eight of the folks gathered were from a middle school in Springfield; great kids. :-)

Professor Young from the Astronomy Dept at UMass explained her brainchild, the perseverance it took to complete it over a decade (including two false starts), and then taught us five facts about the winter solstice and more.

1. Sunrise occurs at its most southerly point.
2. Sunset occurs at its most southerly point.
3. The nights before and after the moment of the solstice mark the longest nights of the year.
4. The day between these nights is the shortest day of the year.
(Interestingly, although technically true, the difference in length is so minute that solstice - the sun standing still - actually encompasses two entire weeks.)
5. The sun at noon is at it's lowest point above the horizon.

We also learned that if you're along the Tropic of Capricorn on the day of the winter solstice then the sun will be directly overhead. Likewise, for the summer solstice if you're along the Tropic of Cancer the sun will be directly overhead.

AND - I saw the earth's shadow reflected back by the atmosphere (learning when to look and what to look for), AND we saw - and named! - crepuscular rays as the morning sunlight from the east curved into the horizon in the west.

The rising itself was spectacular. Clear, crisp air. Just a few scattered clouds tinted with a lovely soft pink glow. The sun shone between trees as it eeked over the horizon, directly above its stone. :-) On the drive back, the sun was so bright you could feel its warmth through the car window. Blessed.

Posted by Steph at 10:15 AM | Comments (2)


“You can’t be mad at people if they don’t love you,
because if they could, they would.
If they can’t, they just can’t.

You can’t blame people for what they cannot do.”

~ Unhooked and Unhinged

Posted by Steph at 6:20 AM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2005

Winter Solstice

A slight curve in trajectory and day begins to lengthen.

Will happiness, too? I've eschewed therapy (a.k.a. grief counseling) since spring. A few stalwart friends and poetry have seen me through.

The sun is supposed to rise tomorrow at 7:16 AM.

Posted by Steph at 7:16 PM | Comments (0)

slow to get to Daddy Yankee

Yeseni commented a few weeks ago about Reggaeton and his favorite, Daddy Yankee. Neat site. And I do like the mix of percussion and vocals...party music for sure!

(Yeah, me slow. Did someone say, "end of the semester?")

Posted by Steph at 7:04 PM | Comments (0)

intelligent design goes down

Anuj collected several accounts already, including a link back to a rant on stupid people.

Seems he's been having a bad run-o-luck in the vehicular department. :-( Maybe it's because he reads while driving? What the heck is Mobile Eye? I bet that's what beat me out for company. Jeez. You know it's bad when Research beats Roadtrip.

Posted by Steph at 6:48 PM | Comments (0)

Little Brother Roars

Bring a camcorder ("The blog isn't enough?!) and Little Brother is unleashed! 181. Not quite a record; shy 6 pins from his all time high. "If not for those first two frames..."

I set just about an all time low, although I got a 'perfect' 100 in Game 2. Niru, by the way, had the magic touch on the slowest strikes I've ever seen. Zeynep beat me by 7.... then there were the usual erratic shenanigans from the spin dudes. No turkeys last night. :-(

Posted by Steph at 6:24 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2005

another mark against me? :-/

A friend sends another link to warn me off blogging: Bloggers Need Not Apply.

with friends like this ...!


Posted by Steph at 4:53 PM | Comments (0)


Here's a new documentary described as (imagine!) "a successful human rights movie. We'll have to see to it to believe it.

Posted by Steph at 4:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2005

"it figures"

Sam says, as he dozes off and I'm finally here for a visit! Poor guy - looks exhausted. He's been partying hard - Lee, Christine, Phil & Lorraine have all been here recently, and Jennifer and Edith were here a few weeks ago. But he's tired today because he missed his nap this morning. I'm gonna hang out for a bit see if he gets recharged/wakes up before I have to zoom on to the next thing.

He did tell me that he got to call Mangeca and Jess Smith; obviously he was thrilled to get to do that. :-)

Posted by Steph at 1:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2005

intolerance of ambiguity

is the subject of today's quote from the Word-A-Day site. Anuj has it updating daily on his blog (I'm jealous of all his tricks).

Intolerance of ambiguity is the mark of an authoritarian personality. -Theodor Adorno, philosopher and composer (1903-1969)

Adorno is big in theories of mass communication. Anyway, inability to deal with uncertainty can also be the mark of insecurity. Perhaps the two often go hand-in-hand? Or, one looks like the other...

I've been guilty of the latter, ain't no doubt about it (sing a song of regret). The former? Heck, I like leading and being followed but I've always been extraordinarily uncomfortable when it was without open contest.

Posted by Steph at 6:13 PM | Comments (0)

radical librarians

do exist - in quite organized fashion! Following this interview/declaration is an impressive list of links.

This December 11, 2005 NYTimes article refers to the Justice Department (distinct from the Dept of Homeland Security?):

"But the department has said that it had never used the provision to demand records from libraries or bookstores or to get information related to medical or gun records, areas that have prompted privacy concerns and protests from civil rights advocates, conservative libertarians and other critics of the law."

Wired put a story a few days ago (Dec 16) that leads with info on radical librarian Jessamyn West (from Vermont!), who wrote the declaration linked above. Her blog includes a link to today's Buffalo News story Bush intensifies rhetoric in battle over Patriot Act.

Posted by Steph at 5:36 PM | Comments (0)


Well, I have had fun the last couple of nights. Only got a wee bit confused when I called Broughton last night but dialed Cris instead... I did NOT have a hangover from those CAIPIRINHAS with the real CACHAÇA from Friday night's bash to celebrate Cris' acceptance into the Translation program. Nonetheless, it DID take about two minutes before I realized who I was talking with and why the conversation wasn't going the way I expected! Prior to going there I had dinner with some interpreters and Deaf friends I haven't seen in ages. That was cool. And last night I danced and chatted for hours with many of the bowling crew in an extended celebration of Anuj's birthday (I think he's going for a record...?)

The highlight, of course, was when I was dancing between two hot young Nepalese men. I won't tell you which one of them thinks I'm in my 60s. :-)

Posted by Steph at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

purple fingers

I enjoyed reading the excerpts from a collection of blogposts from Iraq about the recent elections.

Hassan An Average Iraqi includes pictures and more description.

The Kid Himself Eject: Iraqi Konfused Kollege Kid seems to have removed his original posting?

Riverbend Baghdad Burning includes "the lists" - party slates on his December 15th entry. Also can't locate the entry extracted by/for the NYTimes. Weird.

Finally, Najma A Star from Mosul indicates a competition between "list number 618 (Tawafuq Iraqi front) and list number 731 (National Iraqi list).

I guess it'll be a few weeks before the results are deemed official.

Posted by Steph at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2005

surveillance: interlibrary loans

Donna sends round a story by AARON NICODEMUS of the New Bedford (MA) Standard-Times, "Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior" about Homeland Security monitoring interlibrary loans.

Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior

By AARON NICODEMUS, New Bedford (MA) Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD -- A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

"I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book," Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it."

Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions should his name become public. He has not spoken to The Standard-Times.

The professors had been asked to comment on a report that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to spy on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country. The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants.

The Little Red Book, is a collection of quotations and speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung. In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural Revolution in China, it was required reading. Although there are abridged versions available, the student asked for a version translated directly from the original book.

The student told Professor Pontbriand and Dr. Williams that the Homeland Security agents told him the book was on a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but did not leave it with the student, the professors said.

Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, and suspects that some of his calls are monitored. "My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring tan we think," he said. Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk.

"I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."

Contact Aaron Nicodemus at anicodemus@s-t.com

Comm-grad mailing list

Posted by Steph at 7:38 PM | Comments (0)

a handshake and two hugs

My first ever public speaking class wrapped up yesterday with a paean to friendship, a 'devil's advocate' argument about the many ways in life people gamble, and eight extraordinary 'farewell' speeches. I wish I could put them all in here, indeed, speeches over the last couple of weeks improved vastly in quality, especially since Teresa's critique of my teaching and Elaine's declaration of faith in all of her peers. I hope Matt's exposition on friendship describes at least a few transcendent moments for members of our class. Not at the same level of consistency as with his best friends of course, but such peak moments are how one knows the public sphere has connected the individuals involved in the shared experience of living, of being alive.

Serendipitously, a good friend sent this mid-year commencement address to me this morning (thanks John!). It addresses many of the issues and concerns raised by soon-to-be-graduating seniors, and encourages you to grab and not let go of "YOUR ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE."

Student-generated awards for each other follow. Disclaimer: many refer to topics students spoke about, others refer to aspects of each other's lives of which I have no knowledge!

Sri - the funniest, happiest, most easily heard (a.k.a. loudest), most out-going, passionate, and energetic class gymnast, flashdancer, and class clown with the best use of props and a good - the best! - cause Award.

Liz - the most courageous, real, personal, powerful, honest, barrier-breaking best-dressed leader and convincing speaker with the most balls and most random speech topic (Betty Friedan Female of the Year) who gave the most speeches Award.

Seth - the most environmentally conscious, outdoorsy, smiley, friendliest, confused, random, green, "save our land," token public speaker jock, honorary Capt. Planet teammember, treehugging Mr. Chill "the Pitbull" lover of Christmas trees with the most sophisticated topics who read the most and always skipped part of his speech Award.

Burda - the most over-the-top, innovative, "out there", angriest, opinionated, wild child with devil wings, best use of props (the biggest pole), and best memorizer, MVP, Festivus speaker and Drama King with unique speeches who was the most fun to listen to and watch, with the most humor: The Gambler keeping it real Award.

Chris - the biggest sports fan, quietest, soft-spoken, nonchalant, most reserved and polite, tallest basketball star and Real American Beefcake with the best sweatshirts, who used the most ambiguous superlative, was most likely to skip class, and gave the best speech during non-class time Award.

Ben - the best ever, most into his hometown, risk-taking, most shy and most surprising, Baseball Ben, Hometown Believer and Hometown Hero, who saves trees by being the only one to have no script for a speech with the best memorization and eye contact, looking up the most, with the best soft-shoe routine Award.

Jesse - the most likely to succeed, most easy-going and laidback, most improved with new topics, "Fight the Power" sweetheart and class flirt who missed class the most (a.k.a. most absent and M.I.A.) Award.

Matt - the hippest, most articulate, honest, argumentative, creative, well-spoken, high, serious and responsible, smartest Intellectual, Question Man, and Marveltastic Intern of the Year with the best work ethic and best speeches who was most helpful with feedback Award.

Mickaela - the happiest, nicest, statistic-happy, most informative and relatable person to see out on the weekends with the best smile and (the most naturally) curliest hair who is most likely to have an honest outburst, smiles the most during her speeches and is most likely to be a good parent who won't ever hit her future kids Award.

Luke - the most edgey, brash, outspoken, craziest, offensive, profane, shocking, vulgar, out-there and over-the-top, outrageous (in a good way) Class Clown and Unequivocal King of the Spoken Word who is most likely to swear in class, only taking seven words to offend you Let's Cut the Crap Award.

Brett - the quietest (during class), nicest, most musical, soft-spoken and well-spoken cell-phone hater (carphone salesmen of the year[?]) and most creative Late Bloomer with relatable speeches, the most humor, strongest opinion, and the best fight/rebuttal to Kanye West who took a while but knocked it out of the park who is terrifying when he holds a gun to your head ("I'll get you the money!") Award.

Crystal - the happiest, cheeriest, most influential, spunky, outgoing and amusing Giggler, Procrastinator and UMass Valley Girl who talks the most in class, is nearest to Teresa, most likely to have a dance party in class, earns the consecutive speech streak and is most likely to rally people to volunteer Award.

Bobby - the best sportsmanship, biggest sports fan, most digital Boston Boy and Sports Guy (a.k.a. Sports Fanatic) with the quietest and most sound-conscious speech, who is most athletic (always talked about sports) and sports knowledgeable, early riser and #1 Son who is most likely to build a new Red Sox stadium with his dad Award.

Sotheavy - the biggest risk-taker, unpredictable, most entertaining, honest, injured, interesting, straightforward, nicest, "most into the class" best breakdancer with the best eye contact and best effort, most disgusting "TMI" and "Butt of No Jokes" Award.

Mark - the most original, funniest, apathetic, awesome all around, silly, most sick for a speech, gave the most effort and best use of theatrics, is most likely to fall asleep in class, is most likely to take you on a 'journey', and "What if...he never said 'What if'?" comedic value with the ability to make us cry Award.

Ryan - the most calm, dramatic, relaxed, interesting, animated, always on time, improvisational, all-around good speaker with the nicest eyes, best eye contact and memorization, Orator of the Year "King of Reason" who gave the best performance and saves the "No Fear" clothing brand Award.

Erin - the most approachable, interesting and good topics, who doesn't show what she's thinking (a.k.a. confidential), "face-to-face" Best Neighbor and Jersey Girl with the bluest eyes who is most likely to turn 30 first, Quiet Hero Award.

Sean - the best with reasoning ("Mr. Logical"), best speaker and most well-spoken male with the clearest voice, laidback and always in the back, oh so gentle with the best summation who is most likely to never waste his time, Mr. Honest Sammy Hagar "Right Now" with nice shoes Award.

Elaine - the most prepared, conservative, respectful, critical, outspoken, up to arguing, and happiest "Get out of Jail Free" Miss Logical/Structure with the best topics and best smile, Teacher's Pet and Best Sister Supporter/Sorority Girl with the best hair who was most offended by Luke Award.

Teresa - the most honest, most improved, best dressed silent warrior Steph-Killer and Giggler #2 who Dances with the Devil (a.k.a. Devil's Advocate), has the biggest balls, got the best audience reaction, bashed the teacher the most, and is most likely to lead a revolt Award.

Katie - the most effective, eager, funniest, musical, outgoing and most improved (from most nervous to calm) Facebook Goddess (a.k.a. Facebook Queen) and public sphere lover with the most enthusiasm and best tone of voice who is always smiling, most likely to be stalked on Facebook and is the only public speaker to have her own fanclub Award.

Steph - the Devil's deviation with the dramatic pause and different teaching style, most confident, unique, enthused, active and optimistic, "You Gotta Ask? Best Hair" (a.k.a. most likely to continue to sport the mullet) and most likely to retake the class (!) Award. :-)

Thanks again everyone. You know I think you're something! :-)

Posted by Steph at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2005

Dropping Anchor, Setting Sail

This ethnography, subtitled Geographies of Race in Black Liverpool, is amazing. In addition to superb analysis that grounds complicated theory with real day-to-day living, there are bits that might relate to my study on interpreters in the European Parliament. An obvious connection is with RP, Received Pronounciation, also known as posh (p. 14).

The author, Jacqueline Nassy Brown (who will give a talk at UMass in Feb), is interviewed (briefly) on the BBC radio program Thinking Allowed (interview starts about 8 1/2 minutes in). In the book, she provides a two-page summary of phenomenology that's quite useful (p. 9-10). Interestingly, she distances herself from it as representative of her own epistemology, stating "my point is not to endorse ... but to lay the groundwork for one of the arguments that follows..." (p. 11).

Her argument is fascinating, involving the ways "people make sense of place-as-matter, a practice that includes reading landscapes and acting on the view that place acts, that it shapes human consciousness" (p. 11).

Broadly, Brown's argument is situated to engage the question of "how we might theorize the local in view of increased scholarly attention to transnational processes of racial formation" (p. 5).

Posted by Steph at 9:19 AM | Comments (0)

if a snow day...

We're on! The University opens by 10 am, so we'll still have the Public Speaking final as scheduled at 10:30.

Snow day rescheduling for final exams.

Posted by Steph at 7:17 AM | Comments (2)

December 15, 2005


Cosette "just a finance person" mentioned this quote the other day and I couldn't quite recall it, but look! She posted it in her blog:

"I am "the overeducated in pursuit of the unknowable." - Solow (1997) paraphrasing Oscar Wilde. Why didn't they tell me that in the beginning?!"

Yet now we know, and we still don't stop!

Posted by Steph at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)


Dissertation ingredients assembled, are they to taste? Frosting comes last, and some day, a cake!

Posted by Steph at 4:47 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2005

birthdays and bowling

Anuj's 29th (!!) birthday dinner was fine until someone mentioned my birth in the 1940s. Actually, it remained delightful, espeically since we got to taste Romanian hospitality! And it was just as well someone's mom didn't speak English, as the spermatozoa comment just was not understood. (It would have been way too complicated to explain the semantic merger of "sinus" and its Nepalese counterpart.)

I received several directions regarding blogposts about bowling. They're a challenge to prioritize...there was DemonDon's sprint from the bar to a seated position at the foul line (resulting in a strike!), Lava's attempt to take out the competition by breaking Zeynep's hand after she scored a spare (and this after he let a backward throw nearly take out several people's toes), Chris' body english, and Little Brother's one point loss to yours truly again.

Cata (the Aafriday) graced us with his presence, impressing Luscious with his style. Maja returned and was def in the running all along. In the second game (Lane 9) everyone had at least one strike! The Lane 10 folk seemed to struggle a bit more, although Jed has a firey fastball and Zeynep got a strike in the 10th frame, Dan ruled with 56 pins and Niall (?) wowed folks with her precision shots.

Anuj was proud to claim, "My highest score is higher than Lava's lowest!" Not bad for the birthday boy (he shared well, too). Meanwhile, with complete ease Lava spun out an impressive 189, putting to shame my doubt that he'd once gotten close to a 200 game. (We won't say anything about the 96 (shhhh!) he got in the next game....) Luscious finally got warmed up and roared through the third game with 182. Not his high, but beat the 165 he'd set as a target! (Btw, he finished his MBA yesterday, just in case you didn't know.) The other competing 'holiday' was Cosette's birthday - just a day or two ago?

Sideline conversations included road trips and religious expressions.

I did not do left-handed bowling and it's hard to know whether that was a boon or a bane, since I've been bowling leftie for Game 1 for weeks and weeks. I did reach 134 in my second game, but there's pressure for me to start to spin. I dunno....impressive as it is to watch these guys, you know when I win with a mere 113 that they're really really off their game!

Posted by Steph at 1:13 AM | Comments (2)

social justice questioning

A discussion about Christian hegemony and the new Narnia movie is taking place on the social justice listserv. Barbara interjected these questions into a communication process that was bearing hints of polarization and othering:

What are the goals of this discussion on our list?
How have people experienced the discussion?
Do participants feel that their perspective has been extended, enlarged, stretched?
Have we been able to be inside other’s perspectives as a way of extending our own?
Obviously my questions reflect certain values?
Which brings me to another question: what values do we bring to the discussion?

Posted by Steph at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2005

"living chicken lives"

We were actually talking about the merits of vegetarianism at this point, or at least of eating meat from grass-fed, naturally-raised, free range types of critters... but it struck me as a parallel for the life of academics as we unwound from the culminating presentations for the European Field Studies program.

This was after I learned about snakebite, car bombs, the end of lock-ins, and curiosity about transmogrification to the ritual of last orders, a.k.a., the mad rush. Which was well after Elizabeth observed that it sucked to go first, was awful in the middle, and terrible to be last. Brougton showed us all up - predictably! I can hardly wait for the right professional moment to unveil certain camcorder documentation...although Billy Martin the tinker-gypsy isn't the best moment captured from yesterday.

Ioana wrapped us up neatly with her "linguistic tooth" and multiply-accented "Romanian with a difference." I've wondered a few times if there wasn't another kind of multiplicity occuring within our group as a whole but no substance evidence has yet materialized.

I managed to get off without another slam for an obvious faux paux (apparently one of the memorable events from last year's pre-fieldwork presentations), and our 4th colleague surprised us with a lucid account of how his feasbility study evolved over the course of his thousand-kilometer jaunt along the Sino-Russian border.

I won't record who described our erstwhile professor as "happy, or maybe crazed" but there's no doubt we would not have made it without her! The photo we presented in appreciation increased in value after we recounted the saga of its production.

We shared many memories (and made a few new ones): I have to say, it was the perfect way to end our three-semester collaboration. :-)

Posted by Steph at 9:59 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2005

winners! the antonym contest

"I can't love and live if I don't fight and die." (Ryan)

"You need to remember what used to be good to predict what will be bad." (Chris)

"You need to remember what used to be good and forget what has become bad." (Matt)

a few others are oh so close... :-)

Posted by Steph at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2005

democratic theorizing (and the EU)

I think Bahktin and Benjamin are going to get me from the act of interpretation to the practice of democracy. Some folks to follow up on and/or revisit include:

Derrida, "On Democracy to Come", here's a critique, suggested by Briankle along with Jacques Ranciere and Etienne Balibar, who I was introduced to in the class on transnational citizenship last year. Here's a 1999 lecture, At the Borders of Europe.

Stephen also mentioned Balibar, and had us reading Chantal Mouffe. I've got to back up and read her work with Ernesto Laclau too.

Posted by Steph at 5:35 PM | Comments (0)

suspicion is a deadly force

Tangent a.k.a. multi-tasking.

So much thinking recently on the necessity of (what I keep referring to as) an emotional/social infrastructure. Maybe there are folks in the world who've succeeded at living highly ethical lives without being embedded in such, but it remains a struggle for me. I imagine folks have, otherwise my self-judgment couldn't be so harsh, could it?

I've got this fairly simple equation going: neglect (neither censure nor encouragement) fosters anomie. In this void, 'self' (however conceived?) must be shielded by various forms of defensive/protective insularity. Joining an infrastructure requires certain skills not fostered in an environment of neglect. Some folks are undoubtedly much quicker studies than me!

One of those skills is trust.

Posted by Steph at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

DG on Education and Training Language Info

More information on official languages, educational efforts, percentages of the population "speaking a language other than mother tongue well enough to take part in a conversation", etc.

Posted by Steph at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

Council of Europe Language Policy

This Council is not one of the official institutions of the European Union, if I remember correctly, however it too has an extensive document on Posted by Steph at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2005

the extrovert appears!

and disappears after a few short hours of active socializing - but hey! This part of me has been scarce in recent years, so who's complaining?

but the introvert has definitely 'won out' because I just accidentally lost a lengthy blogpost about language, humor, crossing lines (ref. George Carlin), and interpreting/translating. I'd summarized much of the wisdom Arturo shared with me tonight, including the statement that to decouple the economic system and its coded language from 'the rest' (cultural systems?) one must be crude: as crude, he said, as people will take and still accept it/you.

I continue to experience acting on the basis of intuition (rather than calculation), and worry (not always, but when I do its after the fact) that my judgment still needs honing. A friend admonished me last week not to make things so hard on/for myself and within days, what do I do? Cross a line. Make things hard(er). Yet, accompanying the spurt of uncontainment is a rush of energy and engagement, not to mention a good laugh at its sheer incongruity. :-) The critique still weighs on me however: do I seek to instigate something that's "not there" or is there an intuitive basis/justification (?) that condones acting out in order to bring into view something "there" but denied?

At any rate, Elizabeth's party was great fun and I enjoyed the company tremendously. Maria especially - she kept reminding me how unspecial I am. :-) Arturo, being humbly brilliant. Duncan, another modest guy. (I could take lessons, eh?!) Baris (sp?) and Deniz - more contacts for a possible life trajectory that sometimes appears and hovers in the mists of potentiality before my consciousness, and Ashley, a great conversationalist. :-) And that fondue! Yum!

Posted by Steph at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 9, 2005

Honor and Modesty

Had to take a break from writing writing writing and do some reading. Jumped ahead to Lila Abu-Lughod, Veiled Sentiments, which I've been wanting to read for two years and finally it's been assigned.

"The sentiments of ordinary discourse are congruent with the ideology of honor and modesty. The sentiments generally expressed in poetry suggest a self that is vulnerable and weak, a self moved by deep feelings of love and longing. These are not at first glance the sentiments of proud and autonomous individuals, nor are they the sentiments of chaste individuals" (34).

"Being free (hurr) implies several qualities, including the strength to stand alone and freedom from domination. This freedom with regard to other people is won through self-assertiveness, fearlessness, and pride, whereas with regard to needs and passions, it is won through self-control. Failings or weaknesses in any of these areas disqualify one for positions of responsibility and respect and put one in a position of dependency or vulnerability to domination by others" (87).

"The stoic acceptance of emotional pain is another aspect of self-mastery. To weep is a sign of weakness...regardless of the intensity of their grief...Mastery of needs for and passions toward others - the true sources of that dependency so antithetical to honor - seems to be related to the development of 'agl, a complex concept, fundamental in most Muslim cultures, from Morocco to Afghanistan, that can be glossed as reason or social sense" (90).

Posted by Steph at 8:29 PM | Comments (0)

knives and candles

Here is an open letter from the poet Sharon Olds to Laura Bush declining the invitation to read and speak at the National Book Critics Circle Award in Washington, DC. Feel free to forward it along if you feel more people may want to read it.

Sharon Olds is one of most widely read and critically acclaimed poets living in America today. Read to the end of the letter to experience her restrained, chilling eloquence.

sent via email from my dad, who got it from Brian in France

Laura Bush
First Lady
The White House

Dear Mrs. Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentaton at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House.

In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers.

And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers. Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children.

Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students--long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.

When you have witnessed someone nonspeaking and almost non moving spell out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new poem, you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing.

When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is completely nonspeaking and non moving (except for the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation, self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit--and the importance of writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and song.

So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington , DC. I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country--with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism--the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war. But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.


Posted by Steph at 5:42 PM | Comments (1)

December 8, 2005

holiday spirit

politically incorrect glad tidings to all!

White Trash Xmas

The Fringe City promo after it is much better. Clever sequence. "...everything here is theoretical, every motive may be ulterior....this is the undefined medium between before and after, just as far from never as forever..."

shared via email from my favorite anonymous spiritual (!) guide. :-)

Posted by Steph at 8:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 7, 2005


Zeynep gets rowdy! She collected signatures to verify her score last night. Just think, if we double it, she almost beats Luscious! He only had one turkey last night. :-( But Anuj - the lucky guy - also broke the 110 point barrier, and Para-don? Well, the paradigmatic gringo is maintaining low standards in order to receive the adulation of stunned co-bowlers when he gets a strike. Lava's hard work and massive amounts of activity are getting to him... it's been awhile since his record-setting game of ... months ago? I'm still not sure it really happened... little brother got warmed up by the second game - 158, not too bad!

There were more newcomers, Joe, Magda... and the alley was absolutely packed. Busier than any other time I've been there.

Posted by Steph at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

December 6, 2005

"1 2 3 stroke 1 2 3 stroke"

The New York NPR affiliate had some fundraising spots while I was driving to UNH this morning. During one transition, the announcer seamlessly, rhythmically, made the preceding statement. I am sure one of his kids was in a swim meet! Sweet. :-)

Posted by Steph at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 5, 2005

Why are all those languages important?

"In many cases, the legal acts resulting from discussions will have an immediate and direct effect on people’s lives. There should be no obstacle to understanding and putting views in meetings. The citizens of Europe should not have to be represented in Brussels by their best linguists: they can send their best experts." from a pdf report released November

How much does interpreting cost? "The total annual cost of DG Interpretation in 2004, spread over the budgets of the institutions and bodies for which it provides interpretation, was 108 million euro, or € 0.23 per citizen of the enlarged Union. The separate interpreting services of the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice, in the Commission’s best estimate, cost approx. 76 million euro in 2004. In other words, the total cost of interpretation in the European Union was equivalent to € 0,40 per citizen in 2004 and may reach, in 2007-2010, € 0.50 per citizen per year (238 million euro) All translation and interpretation in the European Union institutions cost € 2 per citizen in 2004 – the cost of a cup of coffee."

pdf: Interpretation: where do we stand one year after Enlargement? From the DG on Interpretation (SCIC).

Posted by Steph at 9:32 AM | Comments (0)

Everything is Illuminated

a random appearance as I googled something else:

salon.com review

Posted by Steph at 7:25 AM | Comments (0)

Crisis/Media Workshop: Delhi

"The crises in the media are the crises of the media." Geert Lovink + Shuddhabrata Sengupta, in their preamble to a workshop on The Uncertain States of Reportage hosted by Sarai-Waag in March, 2003.

"If the spectacle of the crisis becomes quotidian, banal and commonplace, does it make sense to speak of a ‘crisis’ any more, as a temporally distinct phenomenon, a time apart from the rhythms of normal time? Or does this overproduction of crises give us an opportunity to reflect on the making and unmaking of crises, their announcement and forgetting? Does it allow us to ask questions about media in crisis with themselves, about their offerings of uncertain truths to shadowy audiences[?]"

"Crisis Media will, first of all, recognise that there is a crisis in and of the media, and this cannot be addressed simply by calling for less reportage and more analysis. Instead we will argue for analysis in the reportage, and a disruption of the apparatus of centralised and centralising information networks. We need to break down the same images that everyone sees, worldwide, in many different ways. And we need to find new ways to tell stories, and to distribute the untold story. The problem of critical media analysis of global crises so far has been to deconstruct the ownership of media and its ideological agenda, attempting to uncover a 'truth' of state and corporate control behind the news. The conference takes this for granted, and seeks instead to ask how we may go beyond it, and how alternative media too can stop looking and feeling like cheaply produced versions of mainstream media production."

The conference site was shared with me by Geert Lovink of institute of network cultures, and author of Dark Fiber (a cool term defined here, harshly reviewed here with an intriguing bit tucked in on language, specifically "discusses the pros and cons of using English") and Uncanny Networks.

Presentations from Media/Crisis: The Uncertain States of Reportage are available via sarai reader 04.

Posted by Steph at 6:39 AM | Comments (0)

history flow

If I am ever able to do the kinds of collaborative things I want to do online this tool, history flow, or something like it might be useful.

posted to the AoIR listserv in the midst of a debate about wikipedia's reliability. I agree that it's a good place to start and that multiple references are always best.

Posted by Steph at 12:50 AM | Comments (0)

"Can we strike?"

It was intended as a joke, but ... we wouldn't be the only ones. NYU grad students have been on strike since November 9. That's some serious collective action.

Posted by Steph at 12:13 AM | Comments (0)

December 4, 2005

Definition of Human

"Being bodies that learn language
thereby becoming wordlings
humans are
the symbol-making, symbol-using, symbol-misusing animal
inventor of the negative
separated from our natural condition
by instruments of our own making
goaded by the spirit of hierarchy
acquiring foreknowledge of death
and rotten with perfection"

Also by Kenneth Burke. Check out the cool plaques too.

Posted by Steph at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

Creation Myth

"In the beginning, there was universal Nothing.
Then Nothing said No to itself and thereby begat Something, which called itself Yes.
Then No and Yes, cohabiting, begat Maybe.
Next all three, in a menage a trois, begat Guilt.
And Guilt was of many names:
Mine, Thine, Yours, Ours, His, Hers, Its, Theirs--and Order.
In time things so came to pass that two of its names, Guilt and Order,
Honoring their great progenitors, Yes, No, and Maybe, begat History.
Finally, History fell a-dreaming and dreamed about Language--
(And that brings us to critics-who-write-critiques-of-critical-criticism.)"

by Kenneth Burke

Posted by Steph at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

theory of the spectacle

This piece by Guy Debord (1967) is wicked dense stuff, but it lays out its logic regarding "Society of the Spectacle" in a compelling and articulate way.

I find Baudrillard depressing, but his thought is useful, nonetheless. Here's a peek, "Spectacle, Currency, Bits -- Baudrillard, Postmodernism, and Power.

Posted by Steph at 2:28 PM | Comments (0)

dealing with MS

A friend is adjusting to the news of a MS diagnosis. Life's randomness, in the face. :-/ Seems to me there's been a lot of that going around, or maybe I've just become more sensitized? Less in my own bubble? Here's a "hero", one of those incomparable persons who becomes extraordinary in the face of something that scares most people quite a bit: David Krolich.

Posted by Steph at 12:41 AM | Comments (0)


Paul Rogat Loeb wrote this article, Precarious Lives as a response to a newspaper article by Tad Bartimus.

"The problems Bartimus describes can’t be solved by quietly accepting the global corporate mantra: “It’s here. It’s the future. Get used to it.” It’s not our individual decisions that are gutting our pensions, raising medical costs sky high, and making our lives on this rich and fruitful earth increasingly precarious. The economic squeeze faced by everyone except a handful of individuals at the top comes from thirty years of deliberate political choices--union-busting, regressive tax and trade policies, an eroding minimum wage, and a collapse of moral and political restraints on destructive greed. These pressures have been accelerated vastly since Bush took office. Think of the moral obscenity of funding the rebuilding of New Orleans by cutting food stamps, Medicaid, and low-income energy assistance. They’ll only be reversed by common effort.

I worry that by framing the solution totally in terms of individual adaptation, Bartimus steers her readers away from the major lesson of the stories she tells: that ordinary citizens must join together and speak out on the larger roots of these problems, on the choices we’re allowing to be made in our common name. If we simply buckle down and accept our fate, some of us will indeed find ways to adapt and survive, but many more will fall through the cracks. In a time when we’re taking The Apprentice as a national model, we need less silent adaptation, not more. Life should indeed be a banquet—for all of us. Whether we make it so is contingent on our common actions, not just how well we handle our individual challenges."

Posted by Steph at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)

December 3, 2005

Communication Strategy: Enlargement

Buried in this 2003 public planning statement might be something about interpretation. There is an attachment, "Funds Per Delegation".

Posted by Steph at 3:13 PM | Comments (0)

regional languages in EU

Spanish regional languages are used for the first time in EU institutions: “it's a historic day for Europe”, say Spanish regional Presidents.

Galician, Catalan - indigenously known as Valencian, and Basque - billed as the oldest language in Europe - were made official languages of the European Union on 16 November, 2005.

Posted by Steph at 3:00 PM | Comments (0)

my self-evaluation paragraphs

I received excellent critical & constructive feedback from my students on my last speech. :-) There are some areas of feedback in which they disagree – some felt my intended aim was clear (to motivate more expressiveness and risk-taking, are students “up to the task of pushing the envelope”) - however several were still confused as to what exactly I sought from them. It has me thinking about the role of ambiguity in teaching as well as in the exercise of authority. I’ve invited them to challenge me and each other more, but some still want me to tell them exactly “how” to make these challenges. This is where I become ambiguous, because I think everyone has their own style for accomplishing self-assertion and other-critique. As an authority, I feel the most I can do is try to create conditions in which experimentation can occur.

I was accused of having “too many weird random analogies”, “too many references” that made it “hard…to make sense of the big picture”, that folks “get lost in the fine details”, and these don’t always connect obviously to the thesis. A specific criticism is that I did not provide enough evidence why students ought to take more risks. That’s very useful because it shows my assumption that everyone already knows - and agrees with - the value of taking risks. Also, several students commented on my energy being “too enthusiastic … which translates to dramatics”, that I use “dramatic pauses … a little bit too much,” and so particular points of emphasis get lost because everything is emphasized.

At the same time, some felt that the slower pace of speaking and frequent pauses allowed the information to sink in: “I wish more teachers did it in [their] lectures so we could have time to think about what they just said.” My animation was received as too much and distracting by some, and as complementary and engaging by others: “I follow you around the room to see what you’re going to do next which ultimately makes you pay more attention.”

Finally, the area I’ve been most concerned about – do I come across as blaming or inspirational? Results are mixed. Some said I did “come across as frustrated and blaming”, and “I would completely agree with this statement,’I worry that I come across as blaming/frustrated rather than encouraging/excited…’”

Others said, “I don’t feel like you’re attacking us”; that I “didn’t seem to be blaming us for our lack of emotion, rather to get us excited about improving”, and that I did “not … [make] incorrect assumptions”. For some, I was “successful in inspiring” more emotion in delivery, and that my perceived weakness of “coming across as more critical than happy about our performance isn’t so much a weakness because she is trying to get us to do something”. Someone even wrote, “I didn’t notice the critical part of the speech…”

A couple of areas of bonus feedback – meaning above and beyond what I expected - was the suggestion of having a conversation early in the class about how people would feel about receiving critical feedback from their peers: “Yeah, we are being to[o] nice and saying everything is fine, but what happens if we do get too critical. I don’t know if the class is just afraid of saying so or what, maybe at the beginning of class we should have discussed whether or not we care what people told us about our speeches if they really did suck.”

Lastly, regarding the assumption of audience resistance, these thoughtful comments:

Is [the assumption of automatic resistance] really a weakness…? … I would hope that people would be resistant enough to an argument so that they can evaluate it, try to find its weaknesses and thereby discovering its strengths. I don’t believe that you can, even for the most part, assume open reception. If they are not openly receptive, your argument gets lost to the resistance. If you assume resistance and it turns out that the audience seems receptive and competition is no longer necessary, then it might be easier to tone it down than to beef it up. I’m thinking like this:

audience receptive: start off assuming resistance then move to open reception
all points made are received by audience

audience resistant: start off assuming resistance and maintain
all points made are received by audience

*audience resistant: start off assuming open reception and move to resistance
beginning points aren’t strong enough and are lost on the audience, but the rest is caught*

I find this thinking extraordinarily helpful. :-) It does require reading one’s audience as one goes and making adaptations as necessary – i.e. deviating from one’s own script! This is probably the highest skill, and it shows in some of the best impromptu moments we’ve witnessed: Mark speaking of his grandfather leaps to mind, and Martin Luther King Jr’s expansion that Elaine pointed out in the latter part of “I Have a Dream”. Are there others?

Posted by Steph at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2005

running from the devil, soaring with the saints

Burda(mania) asked me to post my speech here. It's the only one for which I've actually written a full text prior to the performance. gasp! I've altered it to respect the forms of consent given to me about posting in the blog: many of you chose anonymity.

If you're curious, I'm also posting draft two, which I whittled down to an outline and used to develop memory. Actually, I went back and forth between the full text and the outline as I worked on memorization.

You'll notice that I missed a few things from what I had planned. Most notably (bummer!) I forgot to mention the fiesta we're on route toward.... I was worried, when I wrote the speech originally (the day before thanksgiving) that we'd lost our momentum and there would be no party. :-( I'm optimistic that we're now back on track... even after our heavy talk today (those of you who missed class really missed out).

Posted by Steph at 7:42 PM | Comments (2)

Communication in Crisis

The conference that will be hosted by graduate students of the UMass Communication Department is going to be awesome. :-) The info and CFP are extraordinarily well-prepared and the confidence and conviction of the planners compelling. Everyone should come. Submit, if you've got something relevant and plan to come no matter what, because this is gonna be one of those you'll wish you were at once it's over...

Posted by Steph at 6:48 PM | Comments (0)

recommended text?

Laurie suggests I use this text, It Ain't Necessarily So : How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality for Intro to Mass Comm next semester. I'm not sure which googled "David Murray" is the author - there's a musician, a real estate agent, and an oncologist, among others! Looks more like a popular book than an academic text...?

in fact, check out this review by Salon.com. They critique this book as a front by industry - who says books are more trustworthy than traditional news media?

Posted by Steph at 9:38 AM | Comments (0)

December 1, 2005

public speaking strengths & weaknesses

What I think I do well (in no particular order):

- project presence (volume, tone, animation, confidence, ease, enthusiasm)
- invoke emotion in the audience (although not necessarily that which I intend?)
- clarity of goal and claims related to that goal (not necessarily clear in the thesis?)
- presentation of evidence in support of claims
- language use - proper diction, antithesis, and repetition used to advantage

What I perceive as weaknesses that could be improved (also in no order):

- establishing relationship and matching assumptions with the audience (it seems I lean toward competing rather than collaborating? An assumption of automatic resistance rather than open reception?)
- clarity of thesis in relation to desired action (do I inspire/evoke what I wish in the majority of the audience or do I miss the target?)
- language use and opposing arguments ... do I anticipate accurately or invent (!) false positions (by misreading the audience, for instance). I worry that I come across as blaming/frustrated rather than encouraging/excited...

Posted by Steph at 8:40 AM | Comments (0)