Archive for May, 2014


But why is there even a “market” CORRECTION

I wrote a few days ago about the  uproar in the last weeks over the kidnapped Nigerian girls, whether they can be found, whether the military can rescue them without risking their lives.

Questioning how it is that nobody is talking about the people who enslave girls, force them into marriage, etc.

I had it wrong, though, for which I vehemently apologize.

These girls weren’t being kidnapped to be enslaved; they were kidnapped as an act of “rescue” — to convert them from their errant ways as Christians to the correct religion, Islam.

That’s so much better.

Or maybe a different form of enslavement, but enslavement nonetheless.

I’ve deleted the rest of the post — it asked some tough questions, but questions that should be asked in a more relevant context.

I also recently deleted a post on my other blog, expressing my dismay at a woman driving down the road with a “God not Government” bumper sticker. I wonder whose God she meant. Presumably not the Muslim one, as she was driving a car, and was out without an adult male relative escort.


I should have done better research before ranting. (My new motto: Research Before Ranting.)

I will try to do better.



this week’s ridiculousness

“Toni Braxton Says God Gave Her Son Autism Because She Got an Abortion”

Yeah, that seems fair.


“Teacher Fired For Getting Dating Advice From Her Fourth Grade Class”

Best comment ever: OMG She was just crowdsourcing.





First: Which one of these is supposedly “ugly”?

Second: Stop. Just, stop.


screaming out the window ’til my face is hoarse

Yesterday I started Robert Bly’s Sibling Society — a book I bought a long time ago and just rediscovered in a pile of dusty, unread books. He’s writing about what’s happened since the 50s to change us from a slightly paranoid while still seemingly optimistic society to one where children grow up expecting their parents to solve all of their problems for them and teachers struggle to get students to even CARE about learning.

I haven’t gotten very far, but it makes a lot of sense to me, based on what I’ve observed in the past dozen years or so of teaching-while-raising-children (a notable subgroup if ever there was one).

One of the things he addresses, albeit briefly, is our need to share, to speak, to rant (this was written, I think, before Twitter was Twitter or blogging was popular). As I recall he’s talking about how misguided this is; how, if we were striving to know ourselves rather than to feel that we were known by others, we would spend a great deal more time “talking” to ourselves in terms of self-reflection, self-improvement, self-awareness, etc. (And notable, at the risk of repeating myself, because this was written before Twitter was Twitter &c &c)

And I find myself wondering why I’m blogging.

Do I “find” myself by talking to you? Or am I (somewhat deliberately albeit subconsciously) missing the point?

I’m SO tired of and frustrated with the media’s portrayal of women; with the lack of support for equality in every respect in society and our government; in the ridiculousness that provides 9 year olds with smartphones and Only Daughter (in SEVENTH GRADE) coming home with stories about her “colleagues” talking about participating in various sexual acts that none under the age of 17 should even know the name of. Of course, we don’t know if any of them are ACTUALLY participating, or if it’s just a bunch of bravado — but shouldn’t the BRAVADO be something none under the age of 17 even think of? The government is being run by who can raise the most money, which means it’s not representing any of us without it, our roads are falling apart, schools spend too much money on unnecessary technology and fancy buildings and too little attention on whether my child is actually learning to think creatively, to problem solve.

But does my getting upset about any of these things, and ranting  writing about it, actually change anything?

Even when I decide that I’m tired of the sound of my own voice, and I go looking for other things to read, I’m just reminded about two things: how much blather there is out there (blogs with followers in the tens of thousands if not millions that are writing about how to organize your purse or the best recipe for lemon curd) and how much ridiculousness. Even Upworthy makes me feel sad/mad/angry/frustrated. I love Jessica Valenti, but she’s screaming out the window until her face is hoarse about the same things I am, but nothing changes.

I’m also becoming less and less comfortable with the “Me! Me! Pay attention to me!” nature of blogging. Maybe it’s my age, but I think maybe I need to spend more time listening, wearing muted colors, and practice speaking in a softer voice.

Maybe I should experiment with turning the blog over to you, my few but faithful readers. Introduce a topic, invite a conversation (civilized discourse only, of course). I know that might be asking for trouble. Internet/blog commenters are not known for their tactfulness or restraint. But you all aren’t the average internet readers/commenters, are you.

Hmmm.  Where should I start.

Suggestions anyone?




Grrrr. + a little from Jessica Valenti

Jill Abramson fired.

Yes, it’s personal.

I was told once, by a man (big surprise), that I would not be considered for a full-time professor position because my “demeanor” at that institution as an adjunct was more suitable to that of a tenured professor; in other words, I didn’t know my place.

I was told another time, by a different man (big surprise) that I would not be interviewed for a full-time position (at another institution where I had been working quite collegially for 6 or 7 years) because, while I seemed to have all of the requisite qualifications, he had concerns about my “collegiality” — despite the fact that I got along perfectly well with every single other person on the faculty except one, who everyone there knew was probably crazy.  A few days later, another (man) on the faculty told me not to take it personally, even though it was, quite clearly, personal.

In case you didn’t click on the 2nd link above, here’s Nora Ephron:“Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn’t serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you — whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you.”

I recently tried to hire a woman I knew as a student at a much earlier job, and then a friend-of-a-friend, both very accomplished violinists who perform with my local city’s symphony orchestra, to be involved in a chamber music group a trumpeter (male, but not in a  bad way) and I are trying to put together. The first is taking a year of reduced work to take care of her “babies” (3 and 1 1/2); the second demurred, too busy driving her children to soccer practice and piano lessons. I wonder why the women always demure, defer, (I did, too, for a while);  why the men rarely do. I know the husbands of these two women. There is no deferring involved.

It’s not just others turning the clock back; we turn it back on ourselves. I wonder if I’d had different role models — not even my mother necessarily, but women my age “going for it” when I should have been — if I would have made different choices. It’s definitely too late, in that there’s no turning back time (If I could. . . Cher?), and my son scoffed at my suggestion once that, if we took the right advice we could live a life free of regret, but I can’t help but wonder.

“One of the strangest anti-feminist stereotypes to me – among the Birkenstock-wearing and bra-burning – is the idea that we’re unhappy. Angry. Bitter. Both because the foundation of the insult is the assumption that women should be perpetually happy, and because the truth is that the culture doesn’t actually mind if women are unhappy – so long as we keep it to ourselves. Women’s distress directed inward – from eating disorders to feelings of inadequacy – keeps the status quo moving along, with diet pills selling through the roof and women asking for promotions far less often than their male counterparts. But when our dissatisfaction takes an outward turn, people get uncomfortable. Then, women’s emotions are ‘hysterical’ or over-the-top. Anything less than a bubbly disposition means that we’re ‘bitches.’ Hell hath no fury like a man who finds a woman displeasing.” (Jessica Valenti)





Caw caw.



Hard to take it seriously when it’s mostly about crows.


reply vs. reply all

A brief tutorial, for those of you living at the bottom of a mineshaft, or too busy re-alphatizing your rolodex to pay attention, for the past 15 years:

Clicking on this button:
replyknown as the “Reply” button, sends an email message in response to a previous message, but sends this message only to the person from whom the original message, well, originates.

Clicking on this, one, in comparison:



These buttons should be used judiciously; with consideration and forethought.

For example, it is important for the person administering the training session to know whether you have taken it previously. The rest of us don’t actually need to know that you have taken it previously, and despite being, as a whole, reasonably sympathetic people, about this particular issue I think it’s safe to say that we probably don’t care. It’s not personal, it’s just that, well, we don’t care. It doesn’t affect whether we need to take it or not, it doesn’t affect how we feel about you as a person that you have managed to take the course before we did, and we’re not bringing the doughnuts, so we don’t need a headcount.

If not sure, click Reply. While we won’t actually thank you for it, because we won’t actually know, we are all nonetheless grateful.

You know who you are.

Feel free to quote me.




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