Friday, October 28, 2016

Fire Up the Time Machine and Send Me to 1978

Put me at this Police concert at Beat Club. This crowd is WAY too reserved. Do you see Stewart Copeland playing the drums in tube socks? They deserve a wild crowd. Put me there so I can do my part. And then transport me back to 2016 in time to finish my office hours in respectable fashion.

Congratulations, Congress!

With the presidential election coming to a close, I figured I'd check in on approval ratings for Congress. Somebody has to work with Congress. Good news for our elected representatives. Their approval rating is up to 20%, the highest it's been in 2016.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

To Sit With My Own Thoughts, For a Moment

I haven't been sleeping well lately. That's nothing new. I've been a player on Team Insomnia for twenty years. There are stretches of time when my mind runs more than usual. This hot mess of a presidential election has occupied too much of my brain for too long a time. A happier part of my brain is excited about the World Series. There's the usual stuff of work and kids taking up normal amounts of my mental and physical energy. I find it so hard to sit with quiet. I'm always looking at or listening to something. I took a few minutes before class today to relax in my office, lights off, just to sit still for a moment. But it felt like something I scheduled.

*goes to class*

*two hours later*

Classes went well. I have a one hour break before another. I'm pleased with myself because I made a R.E.M. reference in one of my classes. It wasn't planned. I spontaneously worked in lyrics from Pop Song 89: "Should we talk about the weather? Should we talk about the government?" That sure is a great song. Honestly I'm hoping someone e-mails me to ask "Hey professor did you quote R.E.M. in class?" That would be cool.

Back to life I go.

See ya.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Big League!

Linguists have weighed in on the Big League or Bigly debate. In this New York Times article, we are told that Donald Trump has been saying Big League, not Bigly. With a few minutes on my hands during office hours this morning, I did this:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sociologist Googles "Hillary Clinton Post Gender Society" Out of Curiosity

I've been thinking about how there hasn't been much talk about Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman president. In contrast, there was a ton written about Barack Obama becoming the first black president and even talk about a post-racial society. Below is a quick sampling of article titles that appeared today when I googled "Obama post racial society." Click on article title if you want to see the article.

Obama: "My election did not create a post-racial society"

Obama's post-racial promise

There Is No Post-Racial America

A New, 'Post-Racial' Political Era in America

The fallacy of a ‘post-racial’ society

Half of America Thinks We Live in a Post-Racial Society — The Other Half, Not So Much

The Obama Era: A Post-racial Society?

Obama’s election was supposed to usher in a new post-racial era. Why has racist expression grown more vicious than any time since the 1960s?

Obama a marker on post-racial path

Youth and the Myth of a Post-Racial Society Under Barack Obama

There are many more results. Many a thinkpiece has been written about a so-called post-racial society. As you can tell by the article titles, many of the pieces bat away the idea of a post-racial society. Still, it's notable how many writers contemplated the idea of a post-racial society.

I also googled "Hillary Clinton post gender society" today, thinking I might not even come across the phrase post-gender in any articles. A few headlines do include the phrase. Other articles that come up in the search don't have the phrase in the article title. Some examples:

Could a Clinton presidency unleash a post-gender society? Not a chance.

Hillary's Big Moment: Are We Post-Gender? (Written in 2008)

No post-gender society

Can Hillary Clinton change gender roles in politics? (Interesting article. This sentence stands out: "Paradoxically, electing a woman president for the US will not advance women's rights around the globe.")

A  lot of young men seem to think we’re already living in a post-sexist America

In Hillary Clinton’s run, the ‘woman card’ works in surprising ways. Here’s how.

This isn't in-depth content analysis, as you can see. I'm just a staff of one over here. Just me, myself, and Google. Merely curious about whether people are seriously engaging with the idea of a post-gender society. It looks to me like people aren't going out of their way to predict a post-gender society. If people were once in a rush to declare a post-racial society (and now here we are with most observers rejecting the notion), perhaps we're in a more cautious era with people less willing to forecast a major transformation in society. Calling society post-race or post-gender or post-class may be little more than a contrarian viewpoint, at this point in time.

In Case You Missed It, Lauryn Hill Performed on the Charlie Rose Show

I drove past my exit on the way to work yesterday. I was listening to Breakfast in America, by Supertramp, and thinking it would be on my desert island list. You know that game you play when you have to select ten or so albums to bring to a desert. Why a desert, and not space, I thought to myself? I'm just as unlikely to land in space as I am a desert, but either way I'll need good tunes. Some of my favorite albums ran through my head, like Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life and Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Suddenly I realized I missed my exit and wondered how long my mind had wandered. That's not safe driving, my friends.

This morning I checked Pitchfork to catch up on music news, and I made a good decision in clicking on their item about Lauryn Hill. Here she is, with a talented group of musicians, performing "Rebel" on the Charlie Rose show yesterday.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My Preparation for a Talk about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Tomorrow I'm on a panel about the state of race in American politics. When it's my turn, I'll begin by showing them this tweet of Donald Trump calling Senator Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas."

Let that sink in a for a moment. We have a presidential candidate mocking a senator who, at times, has talked about her Native American heritage.

Being that this will probably go down as the Twitter election, I will show them another Trump tweet.

Trump spent much time and effort falsely claiming that Barack Obama is not an American citizen.  To Laura Ingraham, in 2011, he said: "He doesn't have a birth certificate, or if he does, there's something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me -- and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be -- that where it says 'religion,' it might have 'Muslim.' And if you're a Muslim, you don't change your religion, by the way."

I think any "outreach" he's done lately to African-Americans cannot be taken seriously given all he's done to discredit the first black president. As I've written before, he's already working to delegitimize Hillary Clinton's presidency even before the election is over.

Trump is in the news so much about so many things that many of his bizarre comments get overlooked. For example, at a rally last week Trump asked which crowd members aren't Christian conservatives and then "joked" by saying "I think we'll keep them, right? Should we keep 'em in the room? Yes. I think so." This statement by itself would be a major controversy and generate enormous coverage if any other candidate said it.

How about Trump's repeated claim that he saw people cheering when the Twin Towers came down on 9/11? In a November 2015 interview with George Stephanopoulos, he said: “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something." The Washington Post shows that Trump is lying about this.

I only have 7-10 minutes for my turn. It's hard to settle on what to choose and how to talk about the state of race in politics when Trump has ventured into so many controversial areas. How about when Trump called for a ban of Muslims entering the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on"?

I will point out Trump's constant references to "inner-cities" and how he supports stop and frisk policies, even though New York City's stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional. He speaks down to African-Americans, and on one occasion referred to a person as "my African-American."

All of Trump's shenanigans and attention-hogging has permitted, in my opinion, Hillary Clinton to avoid some media scrutiny. Voters deserve to have as much information as possible about candidates. There was a stretch of more than 200 days when she didn't have a formal press conference! Hillary has a record as a senator that voters can evaluate, and they can take into account the job she did as Secretary of State, but voters also should be able to hear her answer tough questions from the press on a regular basis. This has bothered me during her campaign. During the first debate with Trump, she directed viewers to her website--and yes, there is information about policy plans on the site--but a website offers voters different information than what we'd get from a back and forth with the press.

I sill want to see the transcripts of the speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs for a payment of $675,000. During a debate with Bernie Sanders, her answer to a question about those speeches understandably brought about boos from the crowd.

I'd like to hear more from Clinton about the access that Clinton Foundation donors had with her during her tenure as Secretary of State. This is, at least, an ethics challenge, as the Associated Press refers to it, if not actual corruption, as Ted Rall argues.

Hillary Clinton was on the Wal-Mart board of directors for six years (1986-1992). What is her view of a corporation that pays low-wages to its workers--so low that workers need government aid for food and healthcare. Economic justice and racial justice are intertwined. I am not confident that Hillary Clinton will remedy economic and racial inequalities. What say you, candidate Clinton?

I look at both Clinton and Trump as flawed and problematic candidates, but I view Trump as the one who has whipped up prejudice, hate, and fear. I happen to think Trump will lose. But he won't go away after losing, and all that he has wrought during his campaign will be with us for a long time to come.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Astrology (A Short Story)

You will get a prime parking spot at Panera. It will be the first of many successes you enjoy.

Stay active on social media. Soon you will have a viral tweet. Make all of your tweets count and be purposeful in your tweeting. A person of great influence will reach out to you because of your viral tweet. You may be presented with the opportunity of your lifetime.

Be honest--you have not always been kind, and you have even wished ill on your haters (more than once, as you know). It is important to channel any negative feelings you have in a way that doesn't send hate into the universe. You love gossip, and you'll continue to love gossip. See this as the challenge that it is.

One day you'll be stuck in a very long line, with a Coldplay song on repeat. It will make you uncomfortable and nervous. Then something will happen. Not terrible, nor life-threatening, but you'll be forced to ask someone for help, something you don't like to do. Embrace the moment. Be vulnerable. More importantly, just be.