Monday, April 30th 2007

posted @ 9:55 pm in [ ]

I’ve been working on the final revisions to the diss, and it’s going along. In light of our recent conversations and my fellow nerdy hotties coming out of the woodwork, I thought you might find this entertaining (and perhaps all too familiar).

I went to one of my favorite local coffee shops today to punch up my South Africa dataset. It’s a wild and wooly dataset all right, and it had a big honkin’ flaw in it, so I basically had to recalculate the whole thing. I’ve been procrastinating for so long, though, that I forgot how some of the computations worked and I had to go back and reconstruct some stuff and remember/relearn other stuff. Feh! I brought my laptop, my calculations and notes, and my fancy-pants calculator down to the coffee shop so I could spread out and, you know, drink coffee, while I sorted it all out.

So I’m minding my own business, calculating and reworking and fixing up my dataset. I’m also an obvious electronics weenie, from the laptop to the fancy-pants calculator, to the iPod, to the horizontal-flip, second-screen, full-QWERTY-keyboard phone that gets video, music, Internet, and in a pinch, could maybe have made my latte. I could probably have taken over Switzerland with the hardware I had lying around, so I might also be some sort of dangerous megalomaniac.

Anyway, dude comes sidling up to me, begins preliminary cheesy chat-up, doesn’t flinch at the wedding band, but takes one look at the crazy, crazy math I’m doing and looks like he’s just eaten a bug. Taking a fortifying glance at my cleavage, he regroups and asks if I’m doing homework. Oh, but they don’t teach this stuff in school yet, and I don’t do homework anymore — I inflict it from the other side of the desk. The smell of fear begins to mingle with the pungent coffee scent. Run, Scooby, it’s the pirate ghost! Why no, I’m finishing the revisions on my [comes out in distorted-audio slow motion] diss… er… ta… tion. The word has barely passed my pouty, cupid’s-bow lips before his Hanna-Barbera bongo-accompanied retreat begins. Zoiks!

Elizabeth, I feel you, man.

Thursday, April 26th 2007

The Evil Dr. Hellspawn deigns to fill out a survey
posted @ 12:31 am in [ ]

Many folks have been wondering how it’s going with the evil lair. Here, this should give you an idea: an insipid email survey!

1. If you were to find out you were pregnant what would you do? I would find the alien bastard who knocked me up and blast his green guts all over the mothership.

2. Do you trust your friends? I only trust my minions–and only the truly evil ones.

3. Would you move to another state or country to be with the person you love? If he doesn’t want to come live in the evil lair, he’s obviously not cool enough to warrant even a second date. Or perhaps even to be allowed to pollute society with his lameness for another minute. I would have him pulled like taffy until he was only a molecule thick.

4. Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? That’s what I tell everyone before I throttle them. It seems to give them closure.

5. Name three things you would NOT tolerate in a relationship. Ice in my scotch. Pineapple dessert topping. Insolence.

6. Which one of your friends do you think would make the best roommate for you? If I believed in sharing, I would have selected an entirely different career path. None of my rooms needs a mate, mate.

7. Can you deal with people who are too concerned with status? I don’t deal with them so much as have them dispatched.

8. Are you afraid of falling in love? No, but I do hate it when it gets on my shoes.

9. Is there someone who pops into your mind at random times throughout the day? The next person who should get a Tazer to the neck just to amuse me. I’m thinking that obnoxious “gran’pa” in the peanut butter commercial that’s on all the time is about ripe for zapping.

10. Would you stop talking to your friends because you hooked up with a new guy/girl? Certainly not. I would just have the uncooperative party fed to the giant carniverous bats. Can’t we all just get along?

11. Name one person from your friends list that you could call to fix a flat tire…? Doesn’t human sacrifice fix flat tires? It doesn’t? Are you sure? After conducting some unnecessary empirical research about that, I would summon Evil Transport to retrieve the defective vehicle, have the person responsible for placing a non-teflon-lined tire on one of my vehicles diced into a fine powder and lovingly placed in his own car’s ashtray, and if I was feeling frisky, see if Evil R&D had some sort of evil vehicular prototype ready for testing. If they didn’t, I would make the insolent project director wear a sweater vest until there was something good (best to use only minor torture to motivate those delicate engineering types), summon the evil Harley with the sidecar full of surly venomous snakes, and Bob’s your uncle.

12. From your friends list, who can you call in the middle of the night if you need to talk? Someone with a lot of money, so I could extort it from them while we were talking. I like to multitask.

13. What PHYSICAL qualities do you find most attractive in the opposite sex? Being shark- and bulletproof. It comes in handy. Like that foxy Rasputin.

14. Fill in the blank. I will NEVER __ let Karl Rove into the evil lair. He keeps insisting he’s evil and trying to invite himself, but when it comes to true evil, he’s just a poseur.

15. What is your number one priority in life? Evil. No, puppies! Pah-ha-haaa! I’m just kidding. It’s evil.

16. What can you tell about a person by kissing them? What they might taste like if I had them killed slowly and gently and then roasted in a nice white wine shallot sauce.

17. When you get married, how would you envision your dream wedding to be? I’m married to my work. But if I did remarry: Vegas, baby.

18. If you could say just one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? I would select from my repertoire of blood-curdling evil laughs.

19. If you were to wake up from being in a coma for an extended period of time, name some people you would want to see around your bed? The lifeless bodies of my nemeses suspended festively about the room with mylar “get well” balloons. Evil Design, get on that, will you?

20. How many kids do you want to have? Oh, I’m not very hungry. Just one.

21. Would you make a good parent? I just don’t have the time for that sort of thing anymore. I would have Evil R&D make one if one were required.

22. When are the monkeys coming to town? I’m so glad you asked! The homicidal mandrils are already here and settling in. The flying robot monkeys with laser-guided missile launchers should be in next week.

23. What is your middle name? Evil.

24. Do you smoke cigarettes? No, cigarettes are really more impudent than evil.

25. Honestly, does your crush like you back? I think I’ve had a lot of people crushed who did secretly like me, yes.

26. What is your current mood? Bemused. And evil.

27. What do you love most? Evil. No, wait! Fanciful touches to an evil lair, like Dr. No’s “aquarium” or the rippled surface of the volcano “lake” in You Only Live Twice. Ah, evil really is in the details.

28. What makes you most happy? Evil. Duh!

29. Are you musically inclined? Why, yes! Down in the torture pit, I have assembled a fun pipe organ dealie composed of prisoners with really nicely-pitched screams. The dead keys do get annoying, though, if I haven’t played in a few days. I’ll have to have it tuned more often.

30. If you could go back in time, and change something, what would it be? I would have implemented more evil plots earlier on so I could have funded my evil doctorate more quickly, and thus have completed the evil lair sooner. Sigh. C’est la vie.

31. If you MUST be an animal for ONE day, what would you be? One of my perimiter jaguars. I would be rewarded with fresh meat for being irritable, and spend the rest of the day sleeping and possibly making it with other sleek, saucy, irritable jaguars. It’s really an ideal existence.

32. Ever have a near death experience? No, I only inflict those. They are then followed by the destinational death experience.

33. Something you do a lot? Tell nemeses I’m really just an instrument of instant karma, and laugh my ass off while they apologize for leaving the cap off the toothpaste and beg for their lives. Then I have them ironically smashed into the consistency of, well, toothpaste, and laugh my ass off all over again.

34. What’s the name of the song that’s stuck in your head right now? “Close to you.” I’m going to kill something with my bare hands immediately.

35. Who did you copy and paste this from? Some mortal.

36. Name someone with the same b-day as YOU?? Once again: Sharing is for pansies.

37. Do you own a car? I own multiple modes of transportation, all of them evil and bristling with firepower.

39. Have you ever sang in front of a large audience? I sing to the sharks sometimes. They’re all getting rather large.

40. What’s the first thing you notice about the same sex? Their general inferiority.

41. What do you usually order from Starbucks? The manager’s head. And a caramel macchiato.

42. Have you ever stolen something? Oh my, yes! Money, jewels, precious metals, weaponry, security, self-respect, souls, lives… and once I ate a whole handful of olives right out of the bin at Safeway. And you’d better believe I’m too evil to use those little plastic tongs.

44. Have you ever been arrested before? My operation is above petty police affairs.

45. Do you still watch kiddy movies or TV shows? No, but we have a special room in the torture pit that has a wall of high-definition TV screens that show nothing but Teletubbies. It’s truly amazing how quickly people who get locked in there are broken.

46. What is your favorite tv show? Well, now, it’s Teletubbies. You can’t argue with success.

47. Have you ever snuck out of your house to go to a party? No, but sometimes when people try to sneak in, we have some nice evil pastries, put their heads on pikes and make balloon animals with their entrails.

48. Name something funny that happened to you today? I found a stray human eyeball lying around and put it in the new guy’s potato salad. He screamed and screamed… It was hilarious. He didn’t work out, but I did save his eyeballs so I can assure his replacement will be much better.

49. Do you speak any other language? Yes, I can conduct business in several languages, and I also have Esperanto spoken in the torture pit.

50. What’s your favorite smell? Evil.

Tuesday, April 24th 2007

Another “Dear Blogger” letter…
posted @ 9:37 am in [ - ]

I’m on a fair few political mailing lists, many of whom send out occasional requests for me to post about various events and happenings. Sometimes I do it, as you know. At the bottom of this is a link to VideoVets, an organization composed largely of young veterans and their families, that is trying to put an end to the Iraq war. I support their efforts, and I’ll tell you why.

For one thing, invading Iraq was a bad, bad decision. In practical terms, the objectives are unclear, there’s no exit strategy, and the armed forces are spread far too thin to be effective. That’s how the Romans bought it: Trying to defend an overreaching empire with too thin an army. In moral terms, it was a clear violation of Just War Doctrine, which has guided political and military decision making for hundreds of years. It explicitly precludes preemptive attacks and wars that look a lot like bullying. This isn’t just to be nice or to adhere to some outdated notion of morality. If you check out the Correlates of War project or any number of other datasets or analyses, one thing that really stands out is that the aggressors lose nearly all the time. Often, doing the moral thing is also the easiest and best thing in the long run. It is my personal opinion that when the history books are written about the decline of the last superpower standing, the invasion of Iraq will be cited as the beginning of the end. It seems to me that the longer we hang out there, without objectives and racking up huge costs, morally, financially, and to the resources and humanity of our own country, the sooner that end will come, and the harder and faster the fall will be.

More importantly, though, the way the administration is treating the troops they claim to support is reprehensible. Extending tours of duty indefinitely, for example, is not okay. And it is really not okay to then claim that anyone who opposes the war opposes our troops. What an alarming load of crap that is. The best way to support our troops is to get them the hell out of harm’s way rather than leaving them to die on the other side of the world. With no clear objective for victory, there is no other possibility than defeat. Being sent to Iraq, our revered troops have two options: be killed or wait it out. There is no winning for them. Treating their lives, their families, their potential contributions to this country upon their uncertain return, so cheaply is nothing short of high treason. It is an attempted assassination of the state by the annihilation of its own finest resources. The goal of warfare, according to Clausewitz and others, is to destroy or substantially weaken the opponent’s warmaking powers. In this case, the opponent had no significant warmaking powers to begin with, and we are only destroying and substantially weakening ourselves.

Worst of all, a generation of Americans is being duped into enlisting. You know my position on that already: If a state can’t raise enough interest in its military projects to get citizens to go fight without coercion, it does not have enough support for them and those projects should be scrapped for practical as well as political reasons. Unpopular wars are recipes for disaster, both on the battlefield and at home.

I’ve had undergrads in my courses who served in Iraq, and they all tell me the same thing: The recruiter sold them a bill of goods, they say, told them they wouldn’t be put in harm’s way, they’d get to use some really cool weapons, make new and close friends for life, learn some in-demand skills, and get money for college. Once they enlisted, though, they got sent straight to Iraq, where they were shot at, and those friends for life were killed. They learned some new things, but did not find the weaponry cool and saw it being used on the wrong people. It was a horrible experience, they all report, they didn’t even get to come home when they were supposed to, it changed them forever, and they never would have enlisted if they knew what was really in store for them. “I was just coming out of high school,” they all say, “and I believed the recruiter.” Many blame themselves for being naive, but it’s not their fault the armed forces have to resort to gross dishonesty to get citizens to serve.

The part that just gives me a huge lump in my throat, though, is that most of them did it because of the promise of money for college. The cost of tuition at my university has nearly doubled in the last ten years. Education is becoming the provenance of the rich again, while at the same time, having degrees is becoming more important than ever. So what does a poor kid do to go to college, and have a future? He has to go be a target representing an unpopular regime thousands of miles from home, and hope he makes it back alive, ideally in one piece. Nobody should have to risk his life like that, especially at the beginning of it, for the opportunity at a decent job and a living wage. It’s outrageous, and it actually makes me feel physically ill. Can we sue Halliburton and make them set up a giant endowment for college scholarships?

So here’s the VideoVets project. Godspeed.


Saturday, April 21st 2007

Confession time
posted @ 10:17 pm in [ - ]

Suebob’s comment in the below reference to my new sideline deserves some response. I guess it was bound to come out sooner or later. Okay, I admit it: I’m not just an academically-trained wag. Sigh I’m attractive. Here, see for yourself.

I had a good time playing dress-up this week! I had an interview with one agency and a photoshoot with another. I think it would be a lot of fun to do some modeling to make money while I’m trying to make the diss into a book, for example. I really loved being a bike mechanic while I was starting this process. I’d still do that if I could afford it. It’s a nice balance to do something physical/not too mentally taxing while trying to do a lot of one’s own intellectual heavy lifting.

Okay, so back to the business about not telling you I’m foxy. Basically, it’s like this: Being a stone nerd trapped in the body of a 1940s pinup girl is the #1 thing that makes my life weird. In fact, it is so very, very nerdy in here that it often takes me a minute to realize when people are responding to the outer shell, even when they interact with me as if I am a member of a completely different species — maybe not even a eucaryote. (What the hell is this guy’s problem? Oh yeah: I’m hot.) I alluded to this a little bit when I talked about how I like poster sessions because I prefer to be judged on my ideas before an audience gets a good look at me. On the other hand, contrary to what I was led to believe in junior high school, Queen of the Nerds is a sweet, sweet, groovy position.

You gotta get past the initial “attractive women are idiots” reactions (and heaven forefend you are also a voluptuous mama with a sweet rack — it’s as if people assume that one’s ability to tie one’s own shoes disappears with the straight-shot view of one’s toes), though, to get the crown. It’s a pain in the ass. I guess I didn’t tell you because I didn’t think it was relevant to what you come by for, and I like being judged purely on what I think about and say and how I do it, and not on the basis of appearances, which, let’s face it, happens all too often in this culture.

So now you know.

Monday, April 16th 2007

Mrs. Butterworth: harbinger of doom
posted @ 12:05 pm in [ ]

You’ve probably seen the new Mrs. Butterworth’s commercial (well, those of you who do not eschew television out of loyalty to a self-professed lifestyle of hippie freakdom, anyway), where they show clips from the last four decades of children facilitating — or perhaps “enabling” is a more accurate term — a sales pitch from a talking bottle of syrup for her gooey, pancake-enchancing contents. In light of the growing awareness of the very, very dangerous world we live in, I find this extremely alarming. Clearly, our way of life and our children are in grave peril.

For one thing, not one child of the five shown (the first of whom is probably a liver-spotted member of the AARP by now) asks Mrs. Butterworth for any identification whatsoever. She introduces herself and they just buy into it without any verification. Not only that, but given that she’s introducing herself at all, she is clearly a stranger to these children, and she is right in their own kitchen. These kids are talking to strangers who have already invaded their homes in the guise of a sweet breakfasty treat.

Additionally, how do we know if this alleged “Mrs. Butterworth” is even in this country legally? With the great strain on our excellent health services in this country, which are the best in the world behind Canada, Japan, and the entire European continent including Luxembourg, how do we know that this home-invading criminal is not part of the problem? Where are her papers? If our children aren’t taught to help with our nation’s immigration enforcement efforts, how will we keep the United States of America profitable and ethnically pure?

Finally, without greater vigilance, how are we to protect ourselves and our children from identity theft, in our breakfast foods and elsewhere? Even with someone as well-recognized as the real Mrs. Butterworth, without properly requested and verified identification, anybody who looks vaguely like a foot-tall bottle of talking syrup could impersonate her and gain access to her credit history and other important documents. It could happen to you, too, so you should equip your children with CSI-style portable document readers and teach them how to use them so that they may request and verify identification from anybody who attempts to sell them buttery thick syrupy goodness.

And don’t even get me started about how fat our kids are. We’re all going to die.

Friday, April 13th 2007

Now what?: Amusing interlude
posted @ 9:10 am in [ ]

While I’m sorting out what exactly my dream job is and how to go about getting it, I still gotta eat. The program I’ve been teaching for is changing, making my summer schedule barely adequate to provide mac & cheese with a side of water. (Eh, such is the life of an adjunct.) In the meantime, a good friend from my dance classes works at a modeling agency and has been prodding me to come in and get some work. Apparently, they get really excited about hiring dancers, because they’re pretty sure those folks can walk and turn, and are therefore, you know, qualified. I talked to the talent guy on the phone, sent him a photo, and now I’m going in next week to get a headshot and do a little paperwork and stuff. What was your first job when you finished your Ph.D.? Oh, I stood / walked around and looked glamorous. Sure beat living on mac & cheese for months.

Thursday, April 12th 2007

Emails of DOOM!
posted @ 9:13 am in [ ]


This morning, I was reading my email, minding my own business, and someone had forwarded the following to me. Well, except I edited it for spelling, punctuation and grammar — apparently, the nice people at an excellent institution such as Johns Hopkins were unfamiliar with such usage. Including the fact that it’s not John Hopkins. John Hopkins is a Grand Prix motorcycle racer who apparently pierced both ears when excessive lift kept yanking him off his bike.

Cancer News from Johns Hopkins :

  1. No plastic containers in microwave.
  2. No water bottles in freezer.
  3. No plastic wrap in microwave.

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well. Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer. Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies. Don’t freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic.

Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital , was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This especially applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as frozen dinners, instant Ramen noodles and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else. Paper isn’t bad but you don’t know what is in the paper. It’s just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons. Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.

This is an article that should be sent to anyone important in your life!

Okay, first of all, this is not an article. Second: “Recently?” “on a TV program?” “Castle Hospital?” Are these things supposed to sound credible? I’ve seen better cancer hoaxes on The X Files. Also, “…you never know what is in the paper?” My guess: wood pulp! You know what that is dripping off Saran wrap in the microwave? That would be… [insert scary music swell here] Water! If your magical freezer is leeching chemicals out of still, frozen molecules and your microwave is actually melting plastic during a routine reheating exercise, you’ve got bigger problems than trying to figure out who the hell Dr. Edward Fujimoto is when he’s out.

Monday, April 9th 2007

Jury duty: The outcome
posted @ 9:45 am in [ ]

Well, I didn’t have to drive to Brighton today. I called in over the weekend, and the jury selection stopped short of my number, so no jury duty. It is both a relief and a letdown. Sigh.

Friday, April 6th 2007

Plug for online town meeting
posted @ 1:06 pm in [ ]

These days, I’m teaching a couple of online sections of a globalization course. One of the things I think is incredibly hopeful about globalizing forces is that regular folks have unprecedented access to each other, and to decision makers. It’s a very powerful vehicle for change that has barely begun to be tapped. MoveOn will be holding an online forum where regular folks all over the place can interact directly with some of the 2008 presidential candidates. I got the following request today and I’m honoring it because I think it’s a cool idea. The request itself, followed by the contact link to go check it out, is below.

“Can you help us spread the word about an unprecedented online event? Next Tuesday—April 10th—at 7:15pm Eastern, MoveOn is using the Internet to connect presidential candidates directly to the people. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, and Joe Biden will answer questions from’s 3.2 million members in the first of three unprecedented virtual town hall meetings. The topic: Iraq. MoveOn members are asking candidates the tough questions about their Iraq plans, and we’re gathering in living rooms from coast to coast to hear the answers directly. The mass media won’t be filtering our questions or filtering the answers—-MoveOn will be connecting candidates directly to the people. Right after the virtual town hall meeting, MoveOn will survey our members to see which candidate they believe will do the best job of leading us out of the war in Iraq. We will also let MoveOn members know how they can get involved with the candidate of their choice. Spreading the word about our virtual town hall on your blog will make this democratic experience that much more effective. We thank you in advance for your help—and as always, thanks for all you do.”

Join's Virtual Town Hall: Iraq

Thursday, April 5th 2007

The jury duty pool
posted @ 1:34 pm in [ ]

Well, my friends, it’s time again! I have been called yet again for jury duty. For those of you just joining us, the irony of the situation is that I would actually really like to serve on a jury, but they never, ever pick me. Basically, I get called, I go down there, I sit around for a long time, and if anyone gets around to asking me questions, they find out about my background and cut me loose immediately. I am apparently nobody’s idea of a good juror. Oh, your Ph.D. is in international relations? You have a background in political theory? The court thanks and excuses you. Laters! So basically, it not only wastes my time, but also crams me in with hoardes of pestiferous humanity for hours on end, incorporates a critical mass of small but potent inconveniences, and denigrates my value as a citizen.

Because of the funny little corner of Denver I live in, I’m also technically in Adams County rather than Denver County, so I’d have to drive to hell and gone, into the farmy wilderness of Colorado for this ritual of political rejection. At least there’s ample parking, and I am required to call in to find out if I even have to make the trip.

Let the pool begin, then! How many hours will the discharge of my duty require?

0: I call in and they don’t even want me to show up 2: Commute only: I get there, they send me right home 3 - 5: Some sitting around, kicked out of the selection process quickly 6 - 10: Full day 2 - 3 days: Actually empaneled, quick case 4 - 10 days: Actually empaneled, longish case 11 days +: Actually empaneled, case of the century… of the month

« Previous Posts