Thursday, July 29, 2010

my two cents

I'm watching President Obama on The View. He just said that yes, there are still differences in society, but the important thing is for us to treat each other right, and try to see life through other people's eyes.

The problem with that? That we can not think our ways into someone else's experience. We have to learn about the lives of others in order to understand them.

I tell my students over and over again that understanding is not an attitude, but that it has to be based in knowledge. Students may come into an Ethnic Studies class thinking that they have the right attitude, but when they leave they say that "never knew what it was like before".

We live in a society where one version of the world (predominantly white, heterosexual, and male) is held up as an all-encompassing truth. What we need to learn are three things:

1. White, heterosexual, and male people think that they know what the world is like, because their own image, and attitudes that support it, is reflected back at them wherever they turn.

2. There are pockets of knowledge among other groups that rarely rise to the surface of our collective culture. If they do, those images are often produced by the dominant culture, for dominant culture consumption.

3. We need to learn to be sensitive to the experiences of individuals in both dominant groups and underrepresented groups, through conversation.

Monday, July 26, 2010

what's a girl

In her new movie Salt Angelina Jolie is supposed to be a super athletic spy. But any time she runs you wonder what's wrong with her.

I think I've figured out Angelina Jolie's one weakness. I think she might run like a girl. And I think that doesn't go well with the industry's fantasy image of a female super spy.

I think it took a lot of movie making effort to take out the girlishness. The end result is that she looks awkward, and she doesn't look strong. But I bet if they had let her be, her natural athleticism would have come through.

I think they built the tower just for the pigeons

Kathy and I moved into a new office at work last week. This is our new view. Pretty.

it's time

Hard as it is I've decided to sell my 1972 Karmann Ghia convertible. I just bought another convertible, and I don't have the time or interest to give this one the attention it deserves. There are more photos here. If you want info, email me. Yeah, it has nose damage and needs a new top. But it runs great!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

the deal with the ä and the ö

Babs told me about this very funny bit in the current issue of The New Yorker. Nora Ephron makes fun of Stieg Larsson. Only problem? Ephron doesn't know that a Swedish keyboard contains the actual å, ä, and ö letters. The title of the piece is The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut, and Ephron, along with every other American, is stuck in the belief that the two dots above the o or a, to make the ä and ö, are umlauts. They are not. They are parts of the letter. Ä and ö aren't as and os gone wild, they are real stand-alone letters.


Well, umlauts indicate vowel shifts. Some uses of å, ä and ö in modern Swedish can be traced back to vowel shifts in the original German (from which lots of Swedish words were borrowed), but in some instances (and to the general public) å, ä and ö only represent sounds. (That was probably more than you wanted to know, but it's Saturday and you have the time.)

Here is a long complicated wikipedia article on the matter. And read Nora Ephron's piece. It's super funny.