lolaraincoat: (feminist)
So much going on, so little of it anything I got around to talking about here. And right now I am in Mexico City, where I haven't spent significant time in years, and there's so much to talk about with that, and I have all these new projects and all these students whose work is so interesting and and and.

But that's not what finally got me to post. What I wanted to say was that, you know, finally and at last today the Obama administration announced that it will stop defending the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

When I put my absentee ballot in the mail, back in September 2008, I said a prayer. I'm not usually a praying person, but I asked for three things from an Obama government, in case he got elected:

- an end to torture and the indefinite detainment of non-combatants and complete respect for the Geneva Convention on the part of the US and all our allies,

- universal access to complete, excellent health care, and

- full human and civil rights for everyone in the US, regardless of ability, race, class, sexuality, gender, or citizenship status. Starting with repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

What can I say, I don't pray much but when I do there are a lot of details to cover. Anyway, as you all know so well, we're not getting anywhere on the first, we're making slow progress (but progress! but slow progress!) on the second, but on the third - well, we just took a big step forward. I just wanted to stop for a second and mark that moment.

You know, historians mostly suck at predicting the future. Predicting the past is hard enough. So when I say that I thought this day would never come, that is the literal truth. Anyway whether or not it was predictable that this would happen, it is a surprise to me, and I am full of gratitude.
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
Me: Hey, [profile] fishwhistle! Look at this! The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is back in fashion again!

Fishwhistle, skeptically: ...

Me: No, look! It's right here in the Times! Man, you wait long enough, any old idea comes around again.

Fishwhistle, speedily: The flat earth theory?

Me, after an awkward pause: Just wait. I bet sooner or later some bit of string theory or fancy programing language will require a flat-earth frame of reference.

Fishwhistle, grumpily: ...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In other news, today is Getting Ready for Grape-Juice-Making-Day Day, and sheep poop was involved. Tomorrow is the Great Day of Grape Juice itself, and if you can get here in the next week or so - because the juice only lasts about three weeks - we would be delighted to give you some. It's usually pretty good and we always have way more than we can drink. And this year, because we have hired ourselves a Hired Hand, we will have more than usual - in previous years we've gotten too tired to go on before we've juiced even half the ridiculously large amount of otherwise-inedible grapes from the back yard.

It's been a good year for the grapes, too. Also beets (last week I made myself quite ill by eating a couple of pounds of beet tzatziki and pretty much nothing else over the course of 36 hours or so, but it was so good! Not quite as good as the beet tzatziki that [personal profile] idlerat makes, but pretty close) and onions, most herbs except cilantro, garlic, cape gooseberries, chard, raspberries, arugala, rhubarb and chiles. Not so good for tomatoes, lettuce, and apricots, but no summer is perfect, right? And since I was too crippled to do much besides stick everything in the ground and hope for the best, it's amazing we got anything at all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In other other news, my ex-girlfriend (some people referred to her at the time as the Spawn of Satan, which was possibly a slander on some of Satan's other children, but never mind that now) has been for some time the chief drama critic for a high-circulation tabloid newspaper in a Major Metropolitan Area, which is kind of hilarious as long as you have no connection to whatever it is she's reviewing. But now, sources tell me, she is also contributing criticism to NPR. I've been listening and listening - even going so far as to Google - but so far nothing. I will keep you posted.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And finally, a little further away, a way-too-brief visit to the New York Area reminded me that the best thing about New York is not the art or the walking around or the shopping or the brilliant acupuncture (check out People's Acupuncture of Brooklyn, the beauty and helpfulness of which I cannot even describe in words) or the fabulous music of many descriptions, much of it made by friends, or even the astonishing food (and there was some truly astonishing food, the best of which came from the gardens and/or kitchens of friends) but the chance to just hang out with the people I love. I miss you all already! Thank you so much for the wonderful acupuncture treatment and music and food and letting me stay in your apartments and most of all your company!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And now to rinse off the sheep poop and boil some more jars. Hey look! I posted!




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
So last month I posted something about how I would be away for a while, don't break the internet while I'm gone, the usual. My old friend [personal profile] laughingrat responded as follows:

This is just to say
I burned down the intertubes during your vacation
I know you were planning on reading
your Network page
But the intertubes were so annoying
and so flammable.

Flammable! Well, yeah! [personal profile] laughingrat is right again! I just thought you should know.





...
lolaraincoat: (leap!)
I am supposed to be getting a replacement computer from Spork very soon. I have been in the state of supposed to be getting a replacement computer for some months now. There has already been the ritual grovel at the IT office, and a lengthy discussion of voice recognition software. There has been no communication from the IT office at all, though, for about six weeks. Time for more grovelling, probably.

Meanwhile, this computer on which I am now typing, which is my own and not Spork's, and is elderly but has a newish hard drive, is not getting any younger. It has taken to crashing, but only the screen crashes; sounds continue to come out. Today this happened in the middle of a YouTube video of Chumbawumba playing Tubthumping at Glastonbury, which I had clicked on by mistake. Tubthumping continued to play from the speakers for some minutes even after I had closed the computer, and when I turned the computer back on, it had deleted four Word files I had been working on. I blame the anarchists. Seriously, I had better go grovel some more at the IT office.

Also on YouTube today I learned that at some point in the last presidential administration, Billy Bragg had rewritten most of "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward" in ways that I found unfortunate. Not much rhymes with Rumsfeld, it turns out. So.

Yesterday in the parking lot of the Staples where I park when I am going to the acupuncturist, I found a couple of cds - a compilation of music from New Orleans, and some random Christian rock. I was going to play them, but now I'm wondering if they were put there by anarchists, to crash my computer. What? It could happen!

I am very gradually getting better from my shoulder injury (a combination of bursitis, tendonitis, torn muscle, frayed muscle, and arthritis in both shoulder joints and the elbow, aren't you sorry you asked? martial artists, don't spend too much time with the punching bag, the end) but still taking a lot of drugs, which make me loopy and unable to work well some of the time, so I am on sick leave, which leaves me lots of time for random poking around on YouTube for Billy Bragg videos. But also! I have been reading. And so I say:

Everybody should go read The City & the City right away. And then tell me what you think! I loved it immoderately, much more even than I loved the Perdido Street trilogy, which I loved, but maybe that's just the drugs talking?

Also, [personal profile] twotoedsloth sent me a link to an article from this journal, which looks pretty interesting for you fan studies people out there - http://www.participations.org/index.htm -
in that it seems to position its contents as empirically based in opposition to the overly abstract cinema studies and fan studies schools. Which is to say that there's a whole scholarly wank out there of which I have been unaware up to now. But they seem to agree with me that there are no spectators, as in flesh and blood people watching a movie, in the spectatorship literature and that this is a bad thing, so ... well, anyway, potentially interesting journal, is all.

I've been too crippled to do much gardening this year, but the tomatoes are doing all right anyway. I put them in pots instead of in the ground, so far fewer problems with blight, but we are getting fewer of them so far and they're smaller. Tigerella tomatoes are my new favorite, though.

Hey! I updated my LJ/DW! Whoo!
lolaraincoat: (feminist)
Futbol and/or human rights fans, check this out!:

http://www.harpyness.com/2010/06/21/activism-at-the-world-cup/

We're about to leave town for a wedding (well, sort of wedding - they can't legally wed in the state where they live, but they're celebrating there anyway) and road trip, so I may be even less visible around here for a week or so than I've been in recent months, but maybe not. But please forgive failure to respond to comments for a bit, if such failure ensues, as seems likely. And take good care of the internet while I'm gone.
lolaraincoat: (Default)
I haven't been posting much - a torn rotator cuff is keeping me away from the keyboard for a while longer, as it has for months. But I had to note the passing of Carlos Monsivais, the greatest Mexican intellectual of his generation, the scholar in whose footsteps I have been bumbling along since I began working as a historian, a writer of such wit and deep erudition as to be untranslatable, a political thinker of such humanity and compassion that he made the messiest realities of Mexican governance not only comprehensible but funny, a great force for democratic change, justice, tolerance and hilarity, and the biggest fanboy imaginable.

I was in such awe of him that I had to be dragged - literally, pulled by the wrist - to go meet him for tea, by a mutual friend, the one time I did meet him. He had read my first book, in English, and he was willing to help get it published in Mexico. He pronounced it "divertido" and that was that. After that we chatted about Marx Brothers movies for a bit. I should have told him ... I wish I had been brave enough to tell him how much his work mattered to me - how every time I thought of a good topic, I could tell that it would be good because he had already gotten to it; how his newspaper column (front page of La Jornada every Thursday morning for years and years) had been my education in the way that gossip, rumor, and political history intertwine in Mexico; how his writing had taught me how to love Mexico City, Mexican literature and Mexican cinema in a completely new way.

We were lucky to have him with us for as long as we did, and losing him now - he was only 72! - is a sadness I can't put properly into words.
lolaraincoat: (leap!)
So, it's all over but the grading for this semester at my weird but beloved university, and I'm sad about it, because although my graduate class (Modern Cultural History, theory and method) was wretched and the second-year undergraduate class (Latin American History, 1450 to the present) was just so-so, the fourth-year undergraduate class - a seminar on Gender, Sex, and Family in Latin American History - was amazing. Definitely, by far, the best class of my entire teaching career. I was considering flunking them all just so I could see them again next year, but that turns out to be impractical - there would be a lot of paperwork involved. Instead I'm going to write down some of what made the class work so well this time, in case some of it is reproducible:

What made this seminar turn out so well? )

Mostly it was luck. It was just the right combination of students at the right time. I won't have that kind of luck again. All the rest of this is just what helped that luck along. Here's hoping that the next time I teach the class it turns out half as well.
lolaraincoat: (feminist)
New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who lately has replaced Paul Krugman in my heart as The Pundit Who Secretly Is My Hot Girlfriend/Boyfriend, has revealed something very important about herself, something that makes me love her even more: she's a Buffy fan. Look, here's the link, see for yourself!

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/what-tiger-woods-could-do-for-women/
lolaraincoat: (snowshoe hare)
So late last summer [personal profile] currer, who is evil, introduced me to Bookmooch and I have wasted a lot of time there ever since. It's a bookswap website which, unlike most, functions reasonably well outside the US. But "reasonably well" has its limits: there are upwards of 250 books on my wishlist, and none of them are currently available to be sent to Canada. On the other hand, if I needed five thousand free copies of The DaVinci Code, Bookmooch would be there for me.

Anyway, I accumulated a lot of Bookmooch points sending books to Finland and Ireland and Israel and (mostly) the U.S., and I scrounged around on the Bookmooch site for books to get in exchange, and that's how I ended up with all five of C.J. Cherryh's Chanur books, which I read one and a half of, and then gave up on as repetitive and predictable. They're often mentioned as a good example of SF told entirely from an alien point of view, which is true, and the aliens are basically intelligent matriarchal cats, which is entertaining for about one short book as far as I'm concerned.

But so then I passed them on to [profile] fishwhistle. And Fishwhistle, as I've probably mentioned here a time or two already, really, really likes cats. He likes me well enough, and he likes cheesy science fiction too, but cats ... well, cats are special to him. So he loved those books. Loved them. He stayed up late for weeks at a time, reading about cats in space. And now he is sad because he has read them all. And so, my beloved interwebs, I turn to you: what other Cats In Space fiction can you think of? I've already thought of that Heinlein novel, but isn't it late-period Heinlein, which is to say horrible sludge? And then, speaking of horrible sludge, there are the Larry Niven novels with the Kzin in them, but I think Fishwhistle has read all of those, even the short-story collections by other authors, and they just make him sad because the humans and the intelligent space-cats are fighting all the time. But surely there is more Cats In Space science fiction out there somewhere?

Meanwhile it has recently occurred to me that the novel I most want to read, of all the novels in the world, is one that has not yet been written (as far as I can discover, anyway): the thinly veiled roman a clef about Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg in New York in the late 1950s. Wouldn't that make a great book? And then later, a brilliant movie?

Poetry meme

Mar. 1st, 2010 11:37 pm
lolaraincoat: (snowshoe hare)
I've been revising my lecture notes on Central America during the Cold War, and that brought Carolyn Forché to mind. So this is her poem, which I will put behind a cut-tag. You are warned: it's gory and upsetting. Like Central American history, actually.

The Colonel )
lolaraincoat: (leap!)
So, okay, my back is really, really bad.

The medical details, which are dull: )Anyway, moderate pain sustained over a long period, plus forced reduction in exercise, plus occasional days of complete immobility or severely curtailed immobility, are making me insane. It doesn't help that it is winter and hard to move around anyway, and also dark. My massage therapist recommends - and by recommends I mean that she is actually yelling, with the waving-around arms and everything - that I try an Aquafit class, which they offer at my gym. I am aquafit-averse for several reasons, including that it looks so dorky. But the main thing is, I can't figure out how I could take a class in the pool without wearing my glasses, and I can't wear my glasses in the pool, can I? On the other hand, so far the RMT has been totally, completely right about everything else, so maybe she's right about this?

So, okay, internets, tell me - how do people who need glasses in order to walk from one end of the room to the other manage around swimming pools? And if any of you have any experience of aquafit, in particular, good or bad, I would be glad to hear it. Because otherwise I am going to say fuck it and just get back on the elliptical trainer, hip flexors be damned. And then my RMT will yell at me some more, and I'd prefer to avoid that, thanks.
lolaraincoat: (snowshoe hare)
So [profile] fishwhistle and I have been watching Season One of Dollhouse, in fact we just finished watching it, and it has inspired us to write haiku:

Oh, Joss Whedon, why?
Why why why why why why why?
Dollhouse is no good!

Eliza Dushku,
your bony body's a bore.
Please eat a sandwich.

and

Doleful reunions:
Actors from much better shows
wasted on Dollhouse.

The Eliza Dushku one would work as well for every other actress in series, but her name has the requisite number of syllables. I know the one who's playing the neighbor of the FBI guy is supposed to be normalish-shaped, but actually she's nearly as tiny as the rest of them, only bigger-breasted. I don't watch enough TV to know if this is the way women on TV are, or if it's just in Whedon shows that this happens. Don't answer that question, please: it's depressing either way.

But also Dollhouse made me think cut here in case of spoilers, though surely we were the last people ever to watch Dollhouse since everyone else has been warned off by now? )

It did, in fact, get slightly better as it went along. We'll probably watch S2 when it comes out on DVD. But we'll hate ourselves a little when we do.





.....
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
So I have had a migraine on and off for about a week now. It has stubbornly resisted the usual drugs, but last night it went away after I had three bowls of tomato soup for dinner. I don't know if any warm salty liquid would have done the job, or if maybe the migraine just decided to go away temporarily anyhow, or if it was this soup, but just in case ...

here is a recipe for excellent tomato soup if I do say so myself )
lolaraincoat: (yes!)
Hey! Hey you! Anonymous person who bought me paid time! Thank you very much! I really appreciate it! You are very thoughtful and kind! And I wish I knew who you were! But that's okay! THANK YOU! is what I meant to say!
lolaraincoat: (snowshoe hare)
The Canadian health care system is a bit like our car, which is beat-up and leaks onto the driver a bit when it rains, and also is noisier than it used to be, but gets us where we're going safely and conveniently. Whereas the US health care system is like a shiny new truck that's on fire. Shiny! but not going to get you anywhere, and not safe for anyone.

People from the US are writing down their healthcare stories (what the Maoists used to call Speaking Bitterness, I think) over on one post at [personal profile] liz_marcs LJ, and people not from the US are recounting their experiences, good and bad, and responding to questions over on another post at the same journal. All this is well worth reading, but can be horribly upsetting. Still, go! talk! and spread the word! One way to counteract the lies is just to say our piece, over and over, until we're heard.






~
lolaraincoat: (leap!)
~

Look! It's SCIENCE!

~
lolaraincoat: (leap!)
Most of you know I am a US citizen living in Canada, right? Well, I am. I moved here eight years ago, when I was 38 years old. Before that I lived most of my life in the US, sometimes with health insurance, sometimes without. So I am in a good position to answer questions comparing the US and Canadian health-care systems. Actually, I was going to post a whole long thing here making that comparison, but ... well, as some of you know, there's kind of a lot of other stuff going on in my life right now. But! Since I know there is an ad on TV right now going on, untruthfully, about how awful health care is in Canada, it seemed timely and important to say that you shouldn't believe that ad, and also, if you have any questions, please ask.

eta The discussion has magically aggregated itself on my lj, so if you want to talk about this, go here: lolaraincoat.livejournal.com .
lolaraincoat: (pic#244247)
Okay, so, I hate to complain but - oh wait, never mind, I love to complain. You knew that, right? But I don't have much time so I will just omit the complaining for now. Let's just say that the nice guys at the computer store where the computer goes for fixing have taken to calling me "ipod girl," as in "hey look, ipod girl is back again!" Because I have been there a lot with my stupid computer and its stupid file-eating itunes library. A lot.

Anyway, so, the good news is that the lovely guys at the computer store appear to have solved the problem and restored all my stray music files to my itunes library. The bad news is that this, apparently, led to the duplication of all three thousand music files that the itunes library had previously eaten up. So where I used to have no copies of, say, AC Newman's "Homemade Bombs in the Afternoon," now I have two copies in the library. Which is a big improvement and I am grateful. But this will also make it a big pain in the ass to sync up my ipod, among other things. So I would like to remove all the duplicates from my itunes library - all three thousand of them.

Now here is my question for you, my wise and knowledgeable friends: is there any way to remove duplicate files from an itunes library other than deleting them one at a time? Because wow, that seems like a pointless waste of time even by the standards of computer-related pointless wastes of time. I mean, there must be a program out there somewhere that would solve this particular problem - right?

Thanking you in advance, I remain,

Your friend,

iPod Girl
lolaraincoat: (feminist)
So of course I am greatly enjoying the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court. But I was also, unkindly, entertained by the NY Times retraction of the wording of a May 19 article about her: they had called her Puerto Rican parents "immigrants." Although it is true that PR remains a colony, not a state, Puerto Ricans are still US citizens (duh.) So calling people who were born there but live in the Bronx "immigrants" makes just precisely as much sense as referring to my Connecticut-dwelling parents as "immigrants" from Michigan, in case you didn't know. I am kind of shocked it took the Times a full week to print the retraction - unless they did it earlier and I missed it?

Well, anyhow, it was entertaining until I noticed that the 6:00 newscast on CBC radio also referred to Sotomayor as the "daughter of immigrant Puerto Ricans." Argh! CBC people, I know they just fired like 800 of you, but could the rest of you please buy a map? It wouldn't have to be a map of the whole world, mind you. Just North America would do.
lolaraincoat: (feminist)
The Center for Anti-Violence Education (under whose umbrella is Brooklyn Women's Martial Arts, where I trained for many years) is having a fund-raiser. This is the organization that saved my life. That's not a metaphor, not an exaggeration. They taught me how to connect my spirit to my mind to my body. They taught me what "anti-racism" means. They taught me to yell. They taught me I have a self worth defending. Lately I've been leaning extra hard on what I learned there, for reasons some of you will understand. I'll send them what I can. Could you? Thanks.

Here's the link.

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