Friday, May 29, 2009

Words I Hate

I realize that English is not the most beautiful language in the world. I also realize that it's constantly evolving, and that, unlike other languages, we have no official set of rules to tell us what is and is not a word. Still, I find some words especially irritating.

I mean, I found the term "staycation" annoying, but then I saw this thing on NPR about a "nocation" which isn't really a thing. It's working. Which we already have a word for.

And then I was watching "Larry King Live" after the whole American Idol thing finished for the season, and the term "bromance" came up repeatedly. Turns out that a bromance can end in a "dudevorce" which makes my skin crawl.

Research on this topic led me here and here. And, realizing that "Brangelina" is also a frankenword (okay, I kind of like that term) made me feel more justified in my annoyance.

Of course, I eventually realized that I use a lot of these words too: Informercial, workaholic, spyware, and even (I'm sorry to say) blog.

But I still think "bromance" is stupid.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Four mini-posts

I kinda couldn't decide what to write about today. Plus, I only have about 4 sentences worth of material for any one topic, and text is easier to read if it's broken up with bullet points. Jenny's mom said I should write a book. I wonder how many have been written in list format? 'Cause paragraphs are sort of exhausting.

  • The Germans seem to have no solid grasp on summer food. Which is odd, because strawberries and asparagus are in season now, and you can only get them during this time. Still, if I go to the mensa (student dining hall) for lunch it's stuff like beef roulade with roasted potatoes and red cabbage. Delicious, to be sure, but sort of over the top for 80 degree weather. I'm looking for something like a chicken salad sandwich with a side of fruit. And possibly an ice tea or lemonade. Anyone who wants to open a restaurant - I really think that Jena could do with a sandwich shop. Subway is the only competition.

  • The birds have started building a nest on my balcony. Clearly, I'm a crappy nature writer since I have nothing more specific than "bird." Still, I was watching today and they're bringing little bits of mud and sticking them to the side of the house. About half the time the mud stays on the wall. Other times it falls immediately onto the balcony. But they're persistent and I try not to discourage them, even though they wake me up when the sun comes out (something like 5) with manic chirping.

  • Larry King Live sometimes get on my nerves. Today's show revealed that women have problems with self worth. I was shocked (shocked!) by this revelation. I also appreciated that Lucy Liu could explain it to me. I always enjoy it when beautiful actresses can tell me that in order to overcome my self esteem problems, I should love myself more. Very helpful.

  • Yesterday was my 29th birthday. Although I know I'm only a day older than I was the day before, something about birthdays causes a person to want to take stock of their lives. I try to avoid introspection as much as possible - it makes me melancholly - but I'm afraid that I'm turning into a character in a Lorrie Moore story. I think maybe the main charachter in "Anagrams," who, among other things has an imaginary child that she talks to. I've recently gotten my own imaginary child (I call him Aslo - story for some other time), but until recently I hadn't made the connection. This is a bad path for me to go down, I'm sure, since almost all of her characters are women in academics who are misunderstood and alienated from the world around them. On the other hand, they usually have sharp wits and enjoy word games. Plus, I could reread her short story "You're Ugly Too" a hundred times and not get tired of it. So, you know, it could be worse.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It comes in a pink wrapper? I'm in!

It's been a while since I posted about something that isn't Star Trek (and let me tell you, I've been holding back) but Katy sent me this link today. It's a candy bar marketed toward women.

You can tell because of the pink rapper and the cursive writing. That's how women write, you know. The thing that pisses me off, isn't, as NPR points out, the fact that the candy bars are called "fingers" and the promotional slogan is "pleasure yourself." That's creepy, to be sure, but whatever. The problem is that gender specific candy bars are being marketed at all.

It's not just candy bars. Apparently, diet soda has been traditionally sort of, ya know, feminine and Pepsi is making a bid to change that.

Men are opposed to girly things, but like, if it's made out of a nukular submarine it's worth giving it a shot.

So here's the question I have about these ads. Do they reinforce ridiculous gender stereotypes (i.e. women are dainty and frilly while men are tough and stupid)? Or are they somehow subversive - portraying those same stereotypes ironically?

If you're interested in one of my favorite feminist blogger's opinions on the subject, check out her posts here and here. I think I may have linked to one before but I never get tired of reading about what a big load of crap femininity is. One of the best things about Germany is that the pink marketing campaigns are blessedly few and far between.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Live long and prosper

I mean, I know I should be embarrassed about this, but I'm not. Well, except that it's not an especially flattering picture. Also, I think jeans have fallen out of fashion in the future. Which is a shame, really.

Do you know what hasn't fallen out of fashion? Miniskirts and knee high boots. Only for the women of course. Men still get to wear pants.

So while I liked the movie (and get that they were trying to be true to the original series), I'm disappointed that the future is going to be a lot like the present. We'll have token females chosen in large part because of how good they look in the outfit (Sarah Palin, anyone?).

Sunday, May 10, 2009


What would happen if you took two of my favorite things, and merged them into one? This:

I'm going to see the new Star Trek movie tonight - it's in English! (As an aside - I was willing to go to Berlin for this, but it's happening here in Jena). Charles said that he'll let me wear his science officer uniform. He's not enough of a dork to wear it to the movie premier, it seems. I definitely am.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Haircut, take II

This is another post about the minutia of my life. I'm never sure if I should focus on bigger issues, but I think that it's probably best to tell you about what I'm actually thinking about. So those of you who talk to me frequently might know that I didn't like the haircut I got in January. I thought that if I just gave it some time I might come around. Alas, four months later and I still hated it. The problem was that it was puffy at the bottom and flat at the top, giving my head sort of a triangle effect. I have a picture somewhere.

See! Definitely a triangle quality. Anyway, when I tried to explain it to the German hairdresser (Tanja) it went sort of like this:

Emily: "My hair is a triangle"
Tanja: tilts head to side and looks knowingly at my head "Yes"
Emily: "So I want it not so short, but not so triangle"

It turns out that was enough. I like my haircut. Although it was odd because Tanja didn't try to make small talk with me at all. I guess it could be because small talk is less necessary in Germany, or she was convinced that my supply of German was exhausted after the triangle conversation.

Anyway, here's the final result. My face looks weird, but you can see the haircut. If you're in Jena, I suggest Tanja.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Leisure Time

How much do I love reports like this? The answer: a lot. Something about all the statistics and the figures. It's very satisfying. It's very hard for me to break it down and show you the graphs that are the most interesting. That's why I posted the link. Enjoy.

Basically, this is a report comparing the lives of people in 18 different countries. I have no idea how rigorous the scholoarship is here (Katy?), but since I like comparing the US and Europe and I like having data portrayed in graphical form, here goes. I'm focusing on leisure time here.

First, the percent leisure time per country.

Perhaps we should all move to Belgium. Or out of Mexico, at any rate.

I was shocked (shocked!) by this graph. Men, it turns out, have more leisure time than women in all of the countries measured. But good effort, Norway. And Italy! You should be ashamed of yourself.

Next: Holidays. Guess which country has the least? That's right, the good ol' U.S. of A. It turns out that we're the only country that doesn't legally require any paid holidays. I included the legend with this one, 'cause I thought it was hard to interpret.

Despite the fact that Americans don't have a lot of leisure time, it turns out that people living in the U.S. are still pretty happy. In fact, we're kind of an outlier in the lovely linear regression done here. Although, frankly, I'd like to know that the slope of this line is significantly non-zero before I move to Denmark.

Okay, that's it for today guys. Check out the link for more fascinating social trends.

Friday, May 1, 2009

So cute it hurts

Matt sent me these pictures. Really, I can't even talk about it without having to express myself through a series of high pitched squeals.

Everyone was amazed by the cuteness (he had dirt on his little feet!) except Jan. He's cold.

Also, check out this blog. This guy is a genius. I wish Germany would get some delis. I miss sandwiches.