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Archive for September, 2011

Ask! Tell!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

As of midnight, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has ended.

I genuinely have no idea how much this will change the lives of the  gay and lesbian members of the military. Partially because I’m not in the military, and partially because I’m not

I recently read an article in Marie Claire about Navy women on submarines. This fall, for the first time ever, women are going to deploy underwater. The article was an interview with a super high ranking navel officer who also happens to have lady bits. When asked about sexual harassment underwater, she said:

I would say the leadership needs to set the tone, and everybody needs to understand that you’re part of a professional organization and professionals don’t treat each other unprofessionally. There are always going to be men out there who are going to try you as a woman to see: How far can I push you before I break you? And if something happens to our women going on board and they don’t act or say something and stop it, then that’s when that cancer grows.

The thing about being a woman on a submarine is that, unless you’re in some 50s farce where you’re undercover as a fella, people know you’re a woman. Not only are you bunking in more private quarters, you also – you know – pee sitting down and stuff. It’s a big deal that you’re there, and you have to own it.

In the quote above, the officer implies that women have a responsibility to call out mistreatment and inequality when they see it. I don’t necessarily agree with that in a broad sense – it’s a simplification that doesn’t take circumstances into account. In the submarine sense, I have literally no idea. Trapped underwater seems like both an important and dangerous place to take a stand.

Is there a corollary to gays? If you’re in the  military and you’re not heterosexual,  you’re a lot harder to identify than a woman on a sub. Unless you want that part of your life to be apparent to your coworkers, they don’t necessary have to know. Are there people who feel that individuals in that position have a responsibility to speak out? Again, it doesn’t seem like the safest environment – but it does seem like an important one.

I’m glad that such a stupid rule was finally recognized as such, but I’m curious as to how much of a difference it’s going to make in the day-to-day life of those that it affects. Will they be skipping through the fields, holding hands with their loved ones for all to see? Or will they just keep living their lives?

Anyway. YAY. Goodbye stupid rule. (In the Army, anyway. Sigh. Baby steps?)


dieting while feminist

Monday, September 19th, 2011

I’m giving up sugar for a week. (It’s being documented on Mangled Baby Duck (by me) if you’re interested.)

The primary reason I’m giving up sugar is because all I’ve developed some crappy eating habits over the summer. Everything was vacation, so why pay attention to how many chips I was putting down?

Also, though?

I’m hoping to lose a couple of pounds.

Body acceptance (healthy at every size ftw) is sort hard to consolidate with dieting. Am I not applying the same acceptance to myself as I do to others, etc?

Here’s the thing, though.

My Joe’s Jeans don’t fit.

People, I have ONE PAIR of really nice jeans. Every other pair I own came from Gap, on sale. (That’s not to say that Gap jeans aren’t nice – they are. They’re just not nice nice.) My Joe’s Jeans make me look and feel awesome. And they don’t stretch. And since this summer, my waist and the jeans haven’t been as friendly as they once were. The jeans still button, but I can only wear them while standing up.

So – I’m trying to be healthier, yes. Tortilla chips and beer are really only probably part of a well balanced diet, and it’s good for me to make an effort to move away from mass consumption of those items. Also, though? I’m trying to get my damn jeans to fit.

Is it not feminist to care about my expensive clothes? I actually don’t know. I know that I feel sort of bad, but that it is important to me. I like having nice (and stylish) things, and I can’t afford to get a new pair right now. (There are probably other things in my closet that will benefit from a slight pound reduction too).

I feel … inconsistent.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t had any sugar in two days and my capacity for intellectual thought seems to be directly linked to my carbohydrate intake.

Or perhaps it’s because I’m not practicing what I preach.

I genuinely don’t know.

tears in Starbucks

Friday, September 16th, 2011

I’m not equating Starbucks with heaven, here.

Yesterday, I had a short day on campus (done at 11 due to a cancellation by my grader, who I am starting to think is never actually on campus yay!). I dragged my ass to the gym when I got back to Louisville, and then immediately headed over to Starbucks to meet the lovely Laura.

I beat her there.

I ordered some hot tea.

I found a table, set down my tea, set down my laptop, took off my jacket, and got ready to sit down. In the process of sitting down, I put my hand on the corner of the table, which, it turns out?, was not totally stable.

The tea that had been handed to me 25 seconds earlier spilled all over my forearm, and then my pants and school bag, and then the floor.

People immediately started handing me napkins and a very nice woman went up to the counter to ask for a towel. The barista told her they’d send someone out with a mop in a second.

I didn’t have more napkins, so I just stood there waiting – and I realized that my arm was burnt.

Like, burnt burnt.

I started to cry.

There was literally nothing I could do about it. It hurt like a motherfucker, my bag was wet, my pants were wet, and even my laptop had a few drops on it.

Everyone was looking at me, and I was crying. Like, tears streaming down my face crying, not like big whopping gasps of air snotty nose crying.

The thing is, it actually doesn’t sound that terrible. I mean, the burnt arm sucks. The barista gave me some burn cream as soon as she saw it, and I rinsed it under cold water and then slathered that on. Now it really only looks like a bad sunburn. The rest, though, what? It’s not like I know those people. It was like three Starbucks away from my home Starbucks (yes, a ‘Starbucks’ is a valid unit of measure). I won’t see any of them again, and they could all see that I was burnt, and probably they weren’t judging me anyway because people don’t really think that much about other people.

But still.

The rest of the day, I cried off and on. I said something sweet to Laura and got teary. Laura said something sweet to me and I got teary. Crockett ate something that I wanted to eat and I cried. I took a shower and it was hot and I cried. I scraped my arm with my jacket and I cried. We went to eat pizza with my mom and we got a table I didn’t like and I welled up.

I’m not actually sure what was going on. I don’t know if I felt dumb and that made me sensitive, or if my arm made me sensitive, or what.

All I know is that immediately following my tears in Starbucks, the whole rest of my day blew.

Starbucks is definitely not heaven.

Monty Hall

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

I think that Las Vegas is based entirely on the fact that people don’t understand probability.

“I have a feeling that I’ll get 7’s again!”

That’s not actually how it works.

Say you’re on a game show. You get to pick one door out of three. One door has money behind it, the other two have men with squirt guns.

You pick a door. The chance of you picking the door with the money is easy, right? It’s 1/3. Three doors, one guess.

The game show host decides to fuck with you. She says that one of the other doors definitely has a dude with a squirt gun, and asks him to come on out.

Then she asks you if you want to stick with your original choice, or if you want to switch to the other door.

You’re down to two doors now, right? One with money and one with a squirt gun dude. You’ve already selected one.

Do you switch?

Intuitively, I would say no. Why would you switch? You picked a door, stick with it, yo! Gut instinct and a desire not to get squirted won’t lead you wrong!

Mathematically, yes. You switch.

Why? Because you started with a 1/3 chance. That means that you had two chances to pick the wrong door. Even though you know, after the first squirt gun fella reveals himself, that you didn’t pick that wrong door, it’s still more likely that you chose wrong. If you switch, you end up with a 2/3 chance of winning. If you don’t, you’re stuck with your original 1/3 chance.

I hope that one day you’ll use this.

And then you’ll send me ten percent of your winnings.


it’s amazing

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Teachers assistant.


The first – the thing I am officially called (and paid to be, for that matter).

The second – the thing I am called in front of the Prob Stats class that I TA for.

There were quite a few reasons for the slightly elevated title (it was a decision made by my boss, not me). The most pressing was that I will be teaching a couple of lectures a month while she’s out of town, and they’re more likely to respect me if I’m not called a TA.

The first of those lectures is next week.

These students, who seemed so young the first week, now seem sort of … scary. They’re smart and stuff.

They ask hard questions.

If I were a TA, I could say ‘sorry, I’m just a TA’.

Obviously, calling me a teacher was a terrible idea.