Adventures in Public Transportation
Eye
3dollarwm

I caught the Atlanta Streetcar home from work this evening. The streetcar was already at the platform when I got to it, but I had to wait for Parkeon to give me a ticket before I could go on. While I was waiting for it to process one of its steps, the driver announced that the doors were about to close and that I should get on the streetcar. So I pocketed my dollar and got on.

We were on the verge of a thundershower as we traveled down Edgewood Avenue. Shortly after the Sweet Auburn Market stop, just under the I-85/75 overpass, I was disturbed from my reading by an unnerving screech as a car struck the side of the streetcar and then scraped down to the back, where I was sitting. The streetcar stopped, and the driver came to the back, opened the door with her special key, and leaned out to talk to the driver of the car.

The car driver was in a bit of shock, but she didn't appear to be injured. She said she was unfamiliar with the intersection. We (the three passengers) were told we couldn't exit the streetcar because we weren't at a platform. I sat back down and resumed my reading.

After a while, the streetcar driver distributed witness cards for us to fill out, and then she and another official escorted us across the street to the sidewalk. From there, I walked the rest of the way home, about 8 blocks. I had an umbrella to keep the light rain off me, but the frequent thunder and lightning didn't make me feel particularly comfortable.

As I passed by the platform where I would have got off the streetcar, I stopped to tell the people there that the streetcar had been hit and that it would probably be a while before another one made it all the way down. One of those people said he was homeless and asked if I could help him out, so I gave him the dollar that I hadn't spent on the streetcar.

Now, I think I need to soak my feet. I'm too old and large to do all this walking.


The Grating Debate
Eye
3dollarwm

When I was in high school, my friend, April, wanted to establish a debate club during what was her sophomore year and my senior year. She dragged me down to Mr. Anderson's class after school, where I learned exactly what debate club entailed: Our team would be assigned a topic and then a position on that topic, and we would have to provide evidence to support that position. I was immediately uninterested in participating, as I could think of no reason to put time and energy into arguing for something I did not desire or agree with. Where is the passion in such an activity? And what would be the point? Instead of a discussion in which people share their positions and opinions in an effort to inform and perhaps sway others, debate would be a rattling off of evidence citations, an awarding of points, and then nothing.

In my graduate courses at University, I twice engaged in debates in class. In both cases, I was responsible for the rebuttal because I'm good at that part. After one of the debates, one of the opponents complained (accurately) that I had demonized her. In response to my rebuttal in the other, one of the opponents claimed the rebuttal itself was unfair because I had delivered it. I realize how this sounds, but I assure you I'm not proud of some of the underhanded rhetorical devices I employed. (And if you think that's a lie, well, just remember this blog is called “Performativity” not “Truthiness.”)

A couple of years ago, I saw most of a documentary about the Urban Debate League, where students attempted to change the way debate was conducted by having discussions with their opponents about where they were and how they personally felt about their topic position. I'm always glad when others identify the same problems I have and even gladder when they have tried to find solutions that didn't occur to me. Sadly, it doesn't look like their efforts led to much change.

For my dissertation research, I looked at Congressional debate about abstinence-only sexuality education over a period of several years, 2001-2006 or thereabouts. What I found was a clumsy imitation of the standard approach to debate. The conservative Congressperson would stand and spout out random “facts” about abstinence-only sexuality education, and then a more progressive Congressperson would stand and spout out different “facts” about it (or other, more enlightened approaches to sexuality education). None of this debate was discussion. No one was listening to what others had to say: They were reading from prepared statements, which they would later embellish before publishing them in the Congressional Record. In a democracy, people communicate with each other, and dissent is heard and considered. But that's not what happens here in the United States. We don't have a communication practice that supports communication in our national political activity. We have the remnants of what used to be debate, where Congresspeople and government administrators perform public pontifications so the people will believe that the politicians are really doing something, even as we all know they are not.


waist watching woes
Power Nexus
3dollarwm

After seeing the 11 a.m. showing of Avengers: Age of Ultron without having had breakfast beforehand, I went by the Burger King to get some lunch. I ordered a small veggieburger meal with a diet Dr. Pepper because small portion sizes is the way to go. I suppose I could have just ordered the sandwich and some water, but I knew I was going to be in slow traffic for a while because Atlanta roads are not designed for efficiency. So I wanted a little extra to fill the time. And I was hungry.

When I pulled up to the window, there was a commotion in the drive-in booth, and an employee opened the window and said, "One second please." Not a problem, as I had brought a book with me, so I settled in to read a paragraph or two about schools and superstructure. Apparently, what had happened is that I had ordered at shift change, so one employee was getting his stuff and his cash drawer out of the booth, while another was getting her stuff in.

Eventually, my food was ready, so the window opened, and an employee handed me a bag with my meal in it and then a cup with my soda. I looked in the bag to see if there was a straw, but I noticed something else: It didn't look like my order. The employee explained that she'd added some chocolate chip cookies to my meal--to thank me for waiting, I'm guessing. Or maybe they just had some extra cookies.

I suppose with the proper will power, I could have kept myself from eating the cookies. But where the hell am I going to get proper will power?

Sometimes I think the world may be trying to kill me with kindness.

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Because I'm a frickin' genius
Eye
3dollarwm

When I moved several years ago, I damaged one of the drawers in my chest of drawers, which was from IKEA. I lamented having to buy a new chest of drawers to replace just the one drawer, but, last week, I got Vyse to drive me in his XTerra to IKEA to buy the replacement. I was hoping for an improvement on the one I have, but I ended up buying the same thing.

I got the new chest of drawers (in two boxes) home, and I decided to wait until the next weekend to put the thing together. I knew Vyse was heading to Texas for a while, and I could use the living room as storage space during the build. So, this morning, I started pulling out the shelves of the existing chest of drawers, and when I removed the damaged drawer, I realized it would take 2 minutes to fix it. And it did.

Now, I've got to figure out how to get the new chest of drawers (still in the boxes) back to IKEA before Vyse returns. Obviously, otherwise, I'll lose face. Plus, I need to come up with a good story to tell the people at the returns desk at IKEA. Should I mention that I have a Ph.D.? They probably won't believe me once I explain what happened.


Red Dragon (no spoilers)
Whiteout
3dollarwm

After enjoying another season of "Hannibal," I decided to read Red Dragon, the 1981 novel featuring the first appearance of Hannibal Lecter. Years ago, I had seen most of "Manhunter," an adaptation of the book, but I only remember a little of it (such as Atlanta's High Museum of Art playing the role of Hannibal's prison). The book started well, but after a fiery incident (which was mimicked in the TV series) in the middle of the book, the tension fell away and the book petered out, so I found it disappointing. I remember being engrossed when I read Silence of the Lambs years ago, but I felt little the same here. Ultimately, the killer is located by traditional investigative work, not the psychological profiling of Will Graham, so that aspect was disappointing as well. Perhaps the book would have affected me differently when I was younger, before I became so old and jaded.

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aging and learning
Eye
3dollarwm

I had resolved that this would be my last term taking courses. I'm just taking one, a rather depressing course on globalization and gender, but I'm also teaching an online class on research methods. Most of my stress this term has come from the online course, as using the University's online teaching software is a painful experience. But I find I'm having trouble in the course that I'm taking, a difficulty that has nagged at me before, but this term, when I'm learning about new things each week, I'm realizing that the traditional method of graduate coursework isn't working for me anymore. For instance, a few weeks back we read Paul Amar's book, The Security Archipelago, in which he used Brazil and Egypt as examples to show how Global South nations respond as security states to the imperialistic demands of globalization. After reading the book, I wanted to follow up on it by reading about the various examples he used, but I didn't have time. After that week's class, I had to switch to the following week's readings on human trafficking, and somewhen among all that I needed to be putting together information for a term paper.

I still have books that I bought during the Feminist Media Studies course I took last spring, books I would like to get to, but I don't have the time to follow up with. So it's making me frustrated, and I've come around to believing that I've grown too old for that type of learning.

But, as my first sentence spoiled, I have decided to take two more courses this coming spring. My department is offering a course called, "Popular Culture as Qualitative Text," and I can't resist that. I also discovered the Communication Department is offering a course on "Fantasy and Science Fiction Media," so how could I not enroll?! But I am certain spring 2014 will be my last enrollment (until I see summer's schedule).


Good luck, Charlie
Eye
3dollarwm

This past season on Disney's "Good Luck Charlie," Gabe wore a "girl's shirt" to middle school and was ridiculed for it. To get back at his father for buying him the shirt, Gabe tricked his father into wearing a "woman's shirt" to bowling night.


I realize this is a show targeted at young (female) adolescents and (as this was the secondary storyline of the episode), the writers went for the quick laugh, but I wish they'd taken the opportunity to explore the socially-constructed gender of clothing, with Gabe's instead taking a stand against the tyranny of those who want to force people into particular gender identities and, consequently, restricted shopping areas in department stores. It might have required additional talent to put some funny into that route, but it could have resulted in fewer negative messages about gender, particularly to young viewers who are not comfortable with the two choices society emphasizes as the only ones available.


Capital
Eye
3dollarwm

While preparing to write my research paper for my Political Science course this past term, I ordered a copy of Karl Marx's Capital from Amazon. After the transaction, I realized I had ordered Volume 3, having not known that there were multiple volumes. Additional research showed that Volume 1 was the one I needed, and I picked up a copy of it from the nearby Barnes & Noble. In fact, both volumes proved useful to my paper.

The problem was that I had Volume 1 and Volume 3, and I'm afraid I could only stand that for about a week. Now I also have Volume 2 (which would not have been helpful for my paper), and I can look across my desk at the complete set any time I choose.

Note. I authorize no part of this posting for use as evidence that I suffer from some type of mental disorder.

Real life horror story!
Whiteout
3dollarwm
Friday, I was watching something on TV, and when the commercials came on, I went to pee. I unzipped and then saw
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Hooray for Judaism!
Eye
3dollarwm

I went to class tonight knowing that when I got out at 7 p.m., I'd have to return to my office to finish my essay on John Stuart Mill so I could email it in on Wednesday. I expected to be there past midnight; however, my instructor announced at the beginning of class that she would have to leave at 5:30 to attend a Passover seder, so I was able to get back to my office earlier and to finish the essay by 10 p.m. Happy sigh.


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