Monday, February 26, 2007

Off to the Obscenity Conference

This week, without Jerome Around, Lola is really going to be by herself. I am going to a national conference on obscenity to participate in a panel on Mexican obscenities. Mexico and Japan are the only countries that got their own panels for this one. I tried to do a "google" image search for something to include with this post, but the results were disappointing. Among the things that come up early when you search google for images related to obscenity are:
  • A photo of a peace demonstration in which a protestor holds a sign saying "Definition of Obscenity, that 4000 National Guard Troops from Washington State are sent to fight the private war of a man who used the National Guard to avoid a war.
  • A photo of war protestors arrested on obscenity charges after demonstrating with a sign bearing a cartoon of a Bush supporter with his head in the sand and his other end ... shall we say, uh, serving as a base for a U.S. flag.
  • A conservative cartoon accusing the media of hypocricy for holding conseratives to a higher standard of "decency" than liberals.
And lots more of that sort of thing, including a version of Goya's "Kronos eating his children" with Bush's face. Further down you get the following:
  • Links to Danish and Polish death metal bands.
  • Articles about a scandal surrounding singer/actress Mallika Sherawat's shocking New Year's Eve performance at the Mumbai Mariott. She wore nothing but a "body hugging skin suit and a silver bikini to top it." The horror!
  • The symposium!
  • Darfur protestors saying the violence there is obscene.
  • Yet another Indian scandal, this one revolving around a scene between Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan in the movie Dhoom-2. Why don't people just protest temple carvings? Those puritanical Brits really got under people's skins, didn't they?
  • A story about controversy surrounding a sculpture by California artist Daniel Edwards of a nude Britney Spears giving birth on a bear rug. Finally the good old USA is fighting back! Edwards has also sculpted MLK and Bobby Kennedy but not like this.
In the above it's remarkable how much we in the states are using the word "obscenity" to talk about politics and violence rather than SEX! One of the themes of the conference is whether obscenity as a concept even makes sense in an age of widespread permissiveness.

For the last three years, conferences for me have been part job meat market part job meat grinder. Even when I've presented, I've spent most of my time preparing for interviews and pacing around the placement center, hoping I'm not sweating too much in my suit. This conference is going to feature prominent speakers in the social sciences and humanities and bring together researchers working on issues as diverse as pornography and censorship, comedy, torture, and the politics of the disposal of sewage sludge. I'll miss my Lola, but I'm psyched to be at a real academic gathering.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Me

Just in case anyone's counting, it's now been four years since I parted ways with Jerome. Wouldn't it be great if every break-up ended with horrid-removed-thing spending rest of eternity in a hospital freezer?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Thank You. Thank You. Very Useful. Very Useful.

Over the last four years I have become a connoiseur of search committee behavior. It has become clear to me that some people out there know how to do an academic hire and some people don't. One thing I have noticed in the last two years is the proliferation of on-line job application processes. Although some community colleges seem to have gone totally paperless, most universities that require electronic applications also make you send a paper letter, CV, etc. So the online stuff just doubles the work a job applicant has to do--not to mention multiplying the number of passwords to remember (this is for the bank, this is for the credit card, this is for email, this is for Podunk State, this is for University of Podunk...). In some cases, I have received requests for paper documents from search committees that were unable to access their own university's electronic system.

But a school we'll just call Hancock State University has figured out a new twist to this whole thing. About a week after my rejection letter from HSU came, I received the following electronic message (edited to protect the innocent):
Thank you for your interest in the position of [number] Assistant Professor in the [XXXX] department at [Hancock State.] Unfortunately, you were not selected for employment in this position. Please do not let this discourage you from applying for other positions that interest you. Your application will remain active for 12 months and can be updated during this period by logging on to [URL] and clicking Manage Application.

[Hancock State] appreciates that you want to become a member of our employee community and wishes you success with your job search.

[Hancock State] Personnel and Human Resources offices

This is an informational message only. This e-mail address is not monitored, please do not reply.
This is the first time I've received both a paper and an electronic rejection message from the same people. And you've gotta love the timing, right? Hit you once. Wait a week. Hit you again. Just wait till they see my groundbreaking article "Winter Skincare Do's and Don'ts!" Really, it's almost finished. I at least have my @#$%^ together!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day from the Man of Love

It's not quite our blogaversary yet, but the Man of Love is back for Valentine's Day to remind our dwindling readership that Diamonds are special, but love is more precious. Thanks once again to our ring "burier" Alex for this image and to our other ring "burier," Aaron for a drawing we never posted.

Before the wedding, I was looking for love poetry, and I decided to see what the Interwebs had to offer. Here is a shining example, a shout from the Global South. Hope you're sitting down, colonizer!

Gravity of Love

Submitted by Seyi Oshijirin Nigeria

Mathematicians build the world
Mathematicians rule the world
Nothing without mathematical _expression in the world,
My believe is in codes and numbers
My believe is in logic and equations
That leads to logical reasoning.

Many problems I ve solved by codes and equations
All equations I ve solved by logic, symbols and numbers
Yet I m not satisfied by my lifetime pursuits.
One day, one day I asked myself

What is the right number or symbol?
What is the perfect equation?
What truly is LOGIC?
And who decides right reasoning?

In cause of no answer to my quest,
I traveled through the physical and metaphysical,
I traveled through the delusional and mystical
And at last back to the physical.

I made most important invention of my life career
That it's only in the mysterious equation; logic of love
Any logical; mystical and psychological reasoning can be found.
It's you in me I only believe that s true and real

Your love is mysterious as an echo in my heart
Your love is natural as life in my heart
Forever will you be new as day in my life
You're the only reason why I live and continue
In my logic, equation, number, symbol and code.

Happy Valentine's Day, all! We miss you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

We are back from a weekend trip to a mountain getaway that the College owns southwest of here. Sorry, Virginia, but charming as the Llano Estacado may be, we’re stuck on the whole mountain sublime thing. Lo is planning to teach a class out there in April, so in some ways this trip could be seen as work … nice work if you can get it! The townhouse we stayed in was built in the 1970s in that cozy rustic style--you know, a couch with removable square cushions built into the wall, a wood stove, lots of rich, brown wood accents and pieces of earth-colored pottery sitting around. Our families decided they couldn’t afford the transportation to get to this spot for Thanksgiving this past November. This year, we’re going to twist some arms.

The place is nestled in a valley between two mountain ranges on an old Spanish land grant. In the nearby small towns, boutique-ish hippie craftspeople, various flavors of New Age spiritual seekers, and a few Tibetan refugees rub shoulders with real estate speculators and a dispossessed rural underclass. We got to mingle with a cross section of these crowds during a delightful afternoon at the local hot spring. Actually, there are two prominent hot springs in the valley--the $12.00/day one which offers yurt rentals, massage therapy, and private pools; and the $6.00/day one that looks like a swimming pool and sells chili dogs and cheese steaks, along with the odd vegetarian entrée. We went to the latter spot and spent the afternoon basking in the hot water, watching the clouds recede over the mountains, alongside local moms and dads with kids, a crowd of punkish teenagers, and a few corpulent German tourists.

In this community even the fire department playfully adopts Buddhist symbolism (left), but we were struck by the economic inequality evident amid all the mysticism. When Laura went to the hyper-expensive grocery store in the small town near the satellite campus, she stood in line behind a father buying food with food stamps. When the man’s daughter asked to buy a Valentine’s Day card for her teacher, he said, “No, honey, it’s too expensive.”

Yesterday was a beautiful day for the return drive, and we did it just in time. We arrived to find all the snow in our backyard melted and Mike-n-Ronda’s pansies still blooming after nearly two months on ice. We won’t see them long, however. Another three inches of snow are expected today, and it will probably be around until Friday at least. This is our last week of relative “freedom” until we both start teaching. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hi, Isa!

Hey! I've been tagged! By Isa!
It's a "Cinco Cosas" thing that all the elite Chican@ bloggers are doing. I'm partly giddy at the attention, since no one here knows me and I'm feeling a little forlorn. But also? I'm feeling a little worried about exposing my five horrible secrets. And also? A little worried that they're not as secret as I think.
Here goes!
1) I am a Battlestar Galactica freak. I often use the word "frak" to express displeasure.
2) I learned how to knit after graduating from college, mostly to distract my parents from noticing that I wasn't really looking for a job. Knitting helped me to look almost constantly busy. This tactic worked for almost a month and half, and my niece got a sweater.
3) Did you know that you can have arthritis in your sternum? I have found that my old war wound responds to cold in a frakkin' painful manner. When will I ever reach the bottom of the bucket of side effects?
4) I really like to eat tomato paste out of the can.
5) I just made a new pillowcase out of lime green flannel festooned with sock monkies. The beauty part of sewing is that you turn it inside out, and all the parts that you messed up are hidden.
um. I tag you. Ur it. Specially if yr. Olga.