Sunday, August 31, 2008
First, I should probably start by saying that I thought that it was a good choice by McCain. She's young, charismatic, and she has an interesting personal narrative. Not to mention that she's a woman. I think it was classy of her (or do I mean cagey?) to acknowledge Ferraro and HRC during her acceptance speech. And since I was a Clinton supporter initially, I think I'm the target audience for this pick.
My news sources (and that's NPR, the NY Times, CNN International, and a variety of feminist bloggers for those of you who wondered - I don't care what Fox News says about this or any other issue) are divided about whether it's a good pick. Good because of the reasons I mentioned earlier but bad because it's harder to criticize Obama for not having experience, when the country would only be a heart attack away from having someone similarly inexperienced as president.
But I think I'm going to stay away from that here, and talk about identity politics a little. My understanding of the term (perhaps based on a Fresh Air interview I heard one time, but maybe not) is that it basically means that people support candidates "just because" of their race/gender/religion etc. rather than their actual qualifications/positions on issues. This isn't an issue for Protestant white men, just for the handful of candidates who don't fit that description. WASPy men are always elected because they're the best qualified for the job (note: this sentence is ironic).
But identity politics can work in another way. I might vote for someone who has the same race/gender/sexual orientation as me because I believe that an African American/woman/lesbian would have similar values as me, and might govern in such a way as to make life better for African Americans, women, and lesbians (note: I'm only marginalized in one way. I use these other ways as examples).
I should confess here that I'm sort of and old skool feminist - believing that sisterhood is powerful and that women should get equal pay for equal work - that sort of thing. And so I was totally with HRC - I wanted a woman to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling. I thought that the symbolism would be meaningful. And I guess that I also thought that as a woman, she'd govern in a way that respected women and tried to make their lives better. I'm sure that was idealistic, but there you have it.
I don't feel the same way about Sarah Palin. She hasn't defined her position in many cases, but Ms. Palin and I disagree on many issues that are important to me. She supports the death penalty and wants marriage to be only between a man and a woman. She supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She believes in "personal responsibility" to improve health care. And she doesn't trust women to control their own bodies and choose when to have a child. I don't know exactly what women's issues are - but these are some of mine.
And before I end this little diatribe, can we please stop talking about how pretty she is? I realize that she was a contestant in a beauty pageant. I won't hold it against her, but I fail to see how it's relevant in this election. "Sure," I imagine the pundits saying "Obama gave up a job in a big law firm to work as a community activist on the south side of Chicago, McCain was a POW in Vietnam, and the tragic death of Biden's wife and child inspired him in his senate career, but did you know that Sarah* was once a contestant in the Miss Alaska pageant?" The other one will say "Yes, she's a real firecracker!" and then they'll chuckle in a patronizing manner. Lets all remember that she's not the host of an MTV reality show. She's a candidate for VP, people. Is it too much to ask that we treat her as such?
*Because we call female candidates by their first names. Makes them less threatening.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Right now he's saying "Thank you so much" a lot of times.
People are waving signs that say "change" and chanting "yes, we can."
Oh man, I bet it would be awesome to be there. He just accepted the nomination and people went crazy. The spectacle of this whole thing is something I've been talking about here alot.
He thanked Hillary Clinton. Classy. I wonder what his daughters really think of her. And also Bill - I heard that his speech was excellent, maybe I'll watch that later.
His children are so cute. It makes me remember how mean everyone was to Chelsea.
Now it's his personal story again. Wait - is he wearing a flag lapel pin? I thought that was a thing! That he refused to wear it...
Thoughts of the economy. Living in Germany makes me appreciate how little safety net American's have.
We are a better country than the past 8 years would suggests! So true. I think there's a lot of good things about the US. Good job, Obama. I want to believe that things will be better - and that we're better.
More chanting. I like the chanting.
George Bush is a punching bag here. Clearly he deserves it. Health care and education and the economy. I think that Obama has to be doing well on domestic issues. I hope that the idea that McCain as elitist catches on. He does have 7 or 8 homes....
He's hitting domestic issues hard. I think that's good. The economy is clearly not McCain's strong suite. I wish that he'd talk a bit more about health care or the environment.
Obama's daughter is falling asleep. So cute.
He's talking about the role of government. This is really different than messages I've heard in previous years. No more "the era of big government is over," but "government has a responsibility to the people."
He'll cut taxes on 95% of working families. Really? No more dependence of foreign oil in 10 years? These are impressive goals...
Good, talking about energy efficiency. Yes! Drilling is not a long term solution. Hmm, calls for "clean coal," and nuclear. I wonder how that's going to be taken. He also calls for renewable energy - wind and solar.
He calls for improvement in education. Always good.
Health care. As someone who can't buy it on my own, I really hope that he does something. This is clearly a crisis. For me, anyway.
Equal pay for equal work. It's amazing that we still have to talk about it. Hopefully it pulls in the 2nd wave feminist Clinton supporters.
He also calls for personal responsibility. I agree, but how does the president do that?
He's talking about what a bad idea the war in Iraq was... That's getting good reaction from the crowd. Good thoughts - "ending the war in Iraq responsibly," "restoring our moral standing," something about direct diplomacy.
Not a red America or a blue America, but the United States of America! Disagreements are patriotic. This causes more chanting "yes, we can!" He's talking about our common purpose as Americans. I really like this part of the talk. He talked about gay American leading lives free from discrimination, abortion, and immigration and the things that we can agree about on all of these issues.
I wonder if Obama (and everyone else) practice these speeches in the bathroom mirror beforehand.
I also really like this part. The promise of America, and the anniversary of the "I have a dream" speech. I think this speech ended in a powerful and inspirational way.
And now his family comes out. I wonder if it's hard for these little girls to get so much attention. They seem to be dealing with it well. Here come the Bidens. Hugging, patriotism, streamers, flag waving, fireworks. Now comes the soaring music. Damn, that's a lot of confetti.
Even sitting in my lab at 9:30 in the morning I found that pretty inspirational. Hopefully it'll be reflected in the poll numbers.
Meanwhile, if you want to see something really cute, check out the video on Katy's website (right under the haircut pictures). Nell is such a quick learner!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Anyway, Kristina was nice enough to direct me to a yarn store, where I purchased materials for leg warmers. Right, you're thinking that in order to wear something so very, um, distinctive, a person must have at least some level of sass (and we've already established that I don't). But I've heard that it's cold here in the winter, and my other option is to purchase some long underwear. I'll probably do that too, but in the meantime check out the beginning of my very functional leg warmers.
The fulfill all my requirements - knitted on size 10.5 needles, no pattern, and only a minimum amount of counting (every 6 rows for a new cable twist).
Anyway, I think that they're going to be as cute as can be expected of legwarmers (and sassy, too!), but I'm a little concerned that I'm not going to be able to pull them off. My thought it that I'll wear them under my jeans. Wide legs are in now, right? What do you think? I was perusing the internet for pictures of leg warmers, and I doubt I have enough sass to pull these looks off.
On the other hand, maybe I can convince people that it's very stylish in the U.S. Being an alien has it's advantages.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I was thinking that I might comment on Obama's choice of running mate, but it turns out that I don't have that much to say about it. Biden. David Brooks of the NY Times likes him, and I'm with him on most of the issues (you know, after about 15 minutes of internet research). I also appreciate that he talks too much and says stupid things. It reminds me of, um, this friend of mine. So we'll have to wait 'till the convention speech to see what he says there.
Alright, so after thoroughly researching Joseph R. Biden Jr., I continued my internet browsing and decided that if my friends are all making mangas I would too.
Whadda ya think? The problem is that these things have sort of round faces and big eyes, and I don't have either. Still, I think she can hang out with Sara and Melissa's avatars.
Also, I enjoy the "Indexed" site that I've linked to over there on the left. When I was looking at it the other day, I found a card that might sum up my problems.
I think that a similar graph might be drawn for the relationship between "how happy people are for you" and "how often you remind them of your accomplishments." I couldn't think of single words for those ideas. But I suspect that if the axes were labeled in German there would be a single word for each. It would be long and consist of five word stuck together, but it would very precisely convey a single complex idea.
I also found this list of online personality tests. Since one of my favorite subjects is me, I took a couple. I found that I should never be told to shoot the people holding guns (because I panic and shoot guys with cell phones), that I associate white men with weapons, and that based on my personality it's likely that I've experimented with drugs.
And I decided that I'd try to make polenta.
I found some at the organic shop that Kristina recommended, and I thought it might be an interesting undertaking. I looked around for some recipes online and found a few I might try. I also have some jalapeños that I might try to use...
And that's all for today's post. I'm off to round up some food and do my grocery shopping. I also went to the yarn shop today, so I'm going to get a movie and watch it while I knit tonight. Clearly my life is a thrill a minute.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The point is that when my last paper was accepted, it was announced on the white board in the lab here in three languages. But since then it's been announced in a much bigger way.
That's right - Tracey and I have had our recent papers profiled in Nature News. I expect the calls for interviews will be coming in soon. I'm sure that I'll be very much in demand. You know, despite the fact that neither my name nor Tracey's appear in the article. Julia insists that she tried, but Nature kept editing out her attempts to blame us for the research.
Our names are actually mentioned on the Georgia Tech website news story. I've actually always wanted to be on the Georgia Tech website. I made it in the alumni magazine once (holding a stone crab and talking to Mark), but this is for something I've actually done.
I should probably wrap this post up now... I'm going to have to deal with the press and paparazzi at my door. I wish I'd worn something other than my "biologists do it on the bench" t-shirt today.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Here's the citation (it's available through GT), since it's quite likely that the link won't work:
Grim, T. 2008. A possible role of social activity to explain differences in publication output among ecologists. Oikos 117: 484-487.
I'll include the major figure from the paper as well.
I think that my major criticism of this study is it's scale. It's quite likely that the forces that influence publication rates in the Czech Republic are different than the forces that influence publication rates in other countries. Also, Grim considered only evolutionary biology and behavioral ecology. My hunch (and I have no data for this) is that scientists who work in these fields might consume more alcohol on average than scientists in other fields. Might there be some sort of intermediate consumption hypothesis? Also, perhaps someone can take a closer look at the statistics and comment on that. Finally, there's always the issue that correlation does not equal causation. Does beer consumption lead to low publication rates? Or do low publication rates lead to beer drinking? Or maybe there's some third factor (I think he tried to control for age, but it could be something like depression or marital status) that relates to both. I'll leave it to you to discuss.
Monday, August 18, 2008
It seems like I meant to have a point with this post... Oh yeah - Katy requested earlier that I report the results of the women's semi-final soccer matches. I'm sorry to say that Germany lost to Brazil, but the U.S. beat Japan 4-2. So hopefully the U.S. will beat Brazil in the final and we can stay ahead of China in the medal count. I say "we" because I've contributed so much to the team effort. I think it's all the time I spent training with Michael Phelps that really pushed him to be so impressive in the Olympics.
Now I've titled the post, because I see a theme developing - the round things so far include soccer balls and cherry pits (don't say fat kids! That's not funny.) So the next thing on the list (I can't help it, I like to organize my thoughts in this format) is also round.
Saturday night Jenny and I invited ourselves over to Kristina's house. She's a good sport, so she made us dinner. We were hanging out when Charles called and told us to check out the partial lunar eclipse. So we got some beers and a blanket and set on a hill by the planetarium looking at the moon. I didn't take pictures, but it looked like this:
You get the idea. It was all very nice. The problem with eclipses is that anytime I think of them I end up singing the song. You know...
"Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I'm only falling apart
There's nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart"
I'll leave you with that for today.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
1) So Paris Hilton kicked ass. She's got 58% of the vote. She's not physically the strongest (Brett Favre) or the fastest (Liu Xiang), but you gotta hand it to her - that girl has something going for her. Anyway, Sarah once told me that Paris and I wear the same size shoes. If that's true and you're reading this, Paris, do you think that I could have the ones that you don't wear anymore? Just a thought.
2) I went to power yoga last night. It turns out that I'm neither strong nor flexible. Consequently, I'm very bad at it. I'm mostly okay with that. Last time I was sore for about four days. I'm fine today, but I suspect that tomorrow I won't be able to lift my arms to brush my hair. I'm going to persist because it's good for me and because the instructor is hot.
3) Yesterday was Katy's birthday. She requested a birthday Haiku, so here it is. And even though it isn't very good it took a surprisingly long time to compose.
und meine FreundinSo that "and my friend, today is your birthday and you are old now." I wanted to work in achtundzwanzig Jahre alt, but I couldn't make it work out. Anyway, Happy Birthday, Katy!
Heute ist dein Gerburstag
und du bist jetzt alt
4) Are you guys watching the Olympics? That Michael Phelps. I can't decide if he's impressive or if it's kind of annoying. That's probably how I feel about all talented people. Anyway, I'm glad for him this year, since otherwise China would be farther ahead with the gold. I'll put up a new, olympic themed poll tomorrow.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I'm not really being fair. For the most part I like the bike. I think of it as sort of a friend. It's not in that good of shape, and neither am I. And yet, together we manage to get around Jena pretty well, thank-you-very-much. There was the tire incident, and the fact that it sometimes refuses to change gears (or changes gears without being asked), but all in all we had managed to get around largely without incident.
Here it is - this is at my apartment, where it sleeps at night with the other bikes.
Anyway, you can perhaps understand why I felt so surprised on Thursday when I was betrayed by the bike. And physics. We were going to the public swimming pool down the dirt road driveway. I tried to stop suddenly, and the bike skidded out from under me and to the side. I hit the ground dramatically (according to Kristina - it's hard for me to imagine how it looked from the outside). I was wearing my bike helmet because my head is precious to me, but I didn't actually hit my head. I'm not hurt very much at all, actually, but I was a little bruised and bloody. Fortunately, I took pictures. First, my arm. It's totally underwhelming, but it did kinda hurt.
But the really dramatic thing was my knee. Knowing me you can probably imagine that I've showed it to every single person I've spoken to since Thursday afternoon. Here's a picture from Thursday evening (taken with the laptop computer).
But the nice thing about bruises is that they can get more impressive with time. So now it hurts less, but my knee currently looks like this:
Pretty impressive, huh? The only disappointing thing is that it's been too cold to wear shorts recently, so I have to keep pulling up my jeans leg to show people.
Anyway, I also have an excuse not to go back to power yoga for a couple more days, since it hurts to kneel. My bike and I are speaking again, but it's with the exaggerated politeness that usually follows a fight. "Oh" I say "let's go around this corner slowly. I don't want to put too much pressure on you." I'm sure that eventually things will get back to normal, and I'll be swearing at it for refusing to switch to an easier gear so that I don't start rolling backwards down the hill to work. But for now, the bike and I are sort of tentative around each other, feeling out the new conditions of our relationship.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
And then today, Bitch Ph.D. posted a link to a website that can determine your gender based on your browsing history. Fascinating huh?
Here's how it breaks down for me:
Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 55%
Likelihood of you being MALE is 45%
So the fact that I blog means I'm slightly more likely to be a man. And as a NY Times and Onion reader I'm pretty manly. But checking my bank account online and looking around for recipes allows them to correctly identify me as a woman.
And since I do actually work at work, I should point out that the Georgia Tech website was used to access web of science. FSU has much more limited choices.
If you use google give it a try. I'm interested to know how well it works.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
1. What time did you get up this morning? 7:45. Give me a break. It's the weekend.
2. Diamonds or Pearls? Pearls. Not that I own diamonds or pearls. Or even really want to.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Charlie Bartlett - in Berlin. We wanted to see "Sex in the City" but we would have missed our train.
4. What is your favorite TV show? Weeds.
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? An English muffin with peanut butter. And the good thing is that Kristina introduced me to an organic store that sells really good peanut butter.
6. What is your middle name? Katherine
7. What food do you dislike? Things that are gelatinous. And with tentacles.
8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Still "Heretic Pride" from The Mountain Goats
9. What kind of car do you drive? Back home it's a Chevy S10 pickup, but here it's a bike.
10. Favorite sandwich? I'm not sure this is my favorite, but I've been thinking about pimento cheese recently.
11 What characteristic do you despise? Negativity. Is that a word? Finding the worst aspects of everything.
12. Favorite item of clothing? Right now it's my brown t-shirt with a tree on the side.
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? I'm gonna be lame and say someplace easy - where I can lay in the sun and have people bring me drinks - and a not try to figure out which train I'm supposed to take/how to order food/which forms I'm supposed to fill out.
14. Are you an organized person? Not really. But I'm more organized temporally than spatially.
15. Where would you like to retire to? I'm not sure. I'd like to be close to my family - but realistically I'll probably never stop working.
16. What was your most recent memorable birthday? This year was strange but nice. I taught a somewhat uninspired class on IR, ate some cake and muffins, and had drinks at the American Bar.
17. What are you going to do when you finish this? Read a paper for tomorrow's journal club.
18. Furthest place you are sending this to? I imagine the farthest is to the folks back home in GA.
19. Person you expect to send it back first? No one, probably. But as this is the first one I've ever done I don't think I can judge.
20. When is your next birthday? May 23 - but that's a silly question. They're always the same. My previous birthday was May 23, and my birthday in 10 years will be May 23. So maybe the question should be "When is your birthday?"
21. Morning person or night person? Morning, I guess.
22. What is your shoe size? This is the question I hated most in middle school. It's a 12 okay? I have big feet. Back off. You're going to get pregnant in 9th grade and drop out of high school and I'll go on to get a Ph.D. and move to Germany. So who is really the looser in this group?
23. Pets? Is Sammy still part mine? He's living in GA, but I like to think that he still loves me. I also have thousands and thousands of plankton that I nurture, but they aren't any good at playing fetch. Neither is Sammy, come to think of it.
24. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? I'm pregnant. Ha! Hilarious. Um, I can't really keep quiet, so if there were new and exciting news you'd already know.
25. What did you want to be when you were little? An astronaut, duh.
26. How are you today? Good. Although I realized that my shorts are kinda tight. Too much German food or too little exercise?
27. What is your favorite flower? daffodils
28. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? The end of October when my sister comes to visit.
29. What are you listening to right now? Hem, the gentle humming of the lab machinery, and the wind in the trees outside.
30. What was the last thing you ate? I made a bunch of guacamole and ate it for lunch. Delicious. Then I ate a cookie that was left downstairs.
31. Do you wish on stars? No, because I'm a scientist. I don't believe in those sorts of things. I believe in facts and logic. Like a cold, emotionless metal cube.
32. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Olive green.
33. How is the weather right now? Really pleasant. Sunny, but not too warm. Hopefully it doesn't rain, because I left my laundry drying on my balcony.
34. Last person I spoke to on the phone? my Mom. And before that it was Sarah.
35. Favorite soft drink? Diet Coke. Other people may like fancy things, but I'm a traditionalist.
36. Favorite restaurant? My favorite place in Jena might be the Indian restaurant.
37. Hair color? Brown. Not really dark or light brown. Medium brown.
38. What was your favorite toy as a child? I don't remember. Does my yellow blanket count?
39. Summer or Winter? Summer. A thousand times summer.
40. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate. A thousand times chocolate.
41. Coffee or tea? Coffee. A thousand times coffee.
42. Do you want your friends to email you back? Yes, or post on their respective blogs.
43. When was the last time you cried? I was cutting up an onion this morning...
44. What is under your bed? There isn't really an under my bed. Because the bed folds in half to make a couch.
45. What did you do last night? Nothing exciting. Tried to make some hummus recipes (they turned out okay), and read a new book.
46. What are you afraid of? Talking to strangers in German and doing a bad job at this post-doc.
47. Salty or sweet? Salty
48. How many keys on your key ring? 7 - three related to my house, three for the lab, and one for the bike.
49. How many years at your current job? Four months. I think I should have accomplished more.
50. Favorite day of the week? Thursdays.
51. Do you make friends easily? I think so. I'm generally friendly. It helps if we speak the same language (I mean, literally - not some sort of metaphorical language)
52. How many people will you send this to? How many people read this blog? Somewhere between 5 and 10.
53. How many will respond? I would say Katy, but she's already done it. One? Sara maybe?
54. Do you like finding out all this stuff about your friends? Yes, but I like finding out stuff about people who aren't my friends also. I'm sort of a gossip. I just like knowing stuff about people.