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False Equivalencies
Aug 16th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Today, the world is reeling at Trump’s statement in which he compared the alt-right with anti-fascists. (He tried to coin the phrase “alt-left,” but being anti-fascist has been a mainstream position on both the sides of the political spectrum for almost a hundred years.)
Fascists now think Trump was saying the anti-fascists were worse, even–that we are somehow the terrorists.
By the way, having the KKK praise your speech while no one else is might just be a sign that you’re racist.
This morning, though, I’m thinking about false equivalencies.
Trump’s is obvious.
But the problem of Trump was partially caused by another one–remember all those people who said Clinton and Trump were equally bad?
That seemed absurd to a lot of us during the election.
Now, the absurdity is terrifyingly clear.
First there are two issues we might concede they’re close on:
Clinton was supposed to be bad because she was too cozy with bankers. Trump has, of course, appointed all those people to high positions in his administration.
Clinton was supposed to be bad because she was careless with classified information. Trump has had some problems with this as well.
As for the “she’s a liar!” charge, studies show that she’s better than most politicians. And I doubt we’d have “alternate facts” as a phrase if she’d won.
As for the “she’s a war-monger!” charge, would she be having a penis fight with Kim right now, or would she be trying to de-escalate the threat of nuclear war?
The reason many of us supported her, imperfect as she is, is because she’s on our side. Trump isn’t.
If Clinton were in:
–we wouldn’t have Pence, the guy who wants to torture gay children and who can’t trust himself around girls, as VP
–we would have a much better new justice to the Supreme Court
–most government positions currently vacant would be filled
–qualified people would be in cabinet positions
–the President wouldn’t be attacking trans people in the military
–Planned Parenthood would be better protected (along with our right to choose and with actual sex education)
–we wouldn’t have a President who continually embarrassed us around the world by being ignorant about politics or by doing inappropriate things with female leaders and first wives
–science wouldn’t be considered debatable
I could go on, but let me point out the super-obvious here.
CLINTON WOULD NOT be on the side of the white terrorists, of the KKK, of the alt-right, of the anti-semitic, of the sexists, of the Nazis.

They are not–and have never been–“equally bad.”

Let’s remember that as we think through Trump’s statements about guilt on both sides.

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The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 69: Resolutions
Aug 13th, 2017 by Dr Karma

As I’m on an academic calendar, I’m nearing the start of a new year, and I find myself making resolutions–I want to take more walks, to see more movies, to experiment with document design for my students, etc.

I have a few dating resolutions as well. A recent “meh” first date and a recent awesome first date have brought them into clearer focus.

Nobody is perfect, but . . .
1. If I shy away from giving a guy my phone number when asked, then I don’t really want that next date. I should trust my gut instead of trying to justify another date because he’s nice.
2. If he can’t keep up with me, I’m gonna be so bored, so soon.
3. If I would not recommend him to my friends, because I know what they deserve, then I should pretend to be my own friend, and counsel myself with the same love.
4. Finally (with images from Allie Brosh):

 

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Notes toward a Eulogy
Aug 2nd, 2017 by Dr Karma

This weekend, we will put my Daddy’s ashes in the ground.

It will be the first time I’ve been home since we buried Grandma.

And I feel awful about that–and guilty. I know Daddy would have wanted me to come home more often, but it was logistically and financially difficult (and the onus to fly to see family has always been 100% on me).

I also didn’t get to say anything to him the day he died. I called, but he was asleep–I was going to call again, but before I got the chance, he was gone.

We hadn’t been able to have a good conversation for a while–his mind had gone so much that he couldn’t follow the thread.

But he did say goodbye to me, in his way, last year.

We were on the phone; when it was time to go, he said, “I love you. The way you are.”

I was stunned, and found myself quickly in a conversation with my therapist.

Therapist: He said that?!?

Me: Yes. It means he’s getting ready to die.

He’d said he loved me before, but I know that I was a disappointment in so many ways, so I wasn’t expecting the second part.

I wasn’t always a disappointment, of course. I went to live with him when I was two–his memoirs say he became a father again that year. He had just retired from the military–as a very decorated man–to take up his dream of being a gentleman farmer.

And that made him a different dad from the one he’d been before. I, the oldest granddaughter/youngest daughter, was treated differently than my mother and her siblings had been. I got to be with him 24/7. He was nurturing and patient–and didn’t physically discipline me as he had the others. He taught me how to milk goats, how to make concrete–because I followed him from task to task.

He taught me to rhyme and to find new ways to end the stories we read.

He threw marbles into the deep end of the pool to teach me to dive. And them built me a box–by hand–to keep my marbles in.

When my mother took me back several years later, it was awful–because I wasn’t with him. One day, I told her I felt like Heidi–despondent, taken from her loving, gruff grandfather and the mountain into the cold world of the city.

She slapped me.

Which, let’s admit, proved my point.

It was me growing up, and making choices and mistakes, that really messed things up between Daddy and me. I read the platforms of the two major parties–and discovered I was a Democrat. I spent my summers working instead of basking in his light. I got pregnant and had my child.

He wanted me to go to college so I could support myself, but he and the rest of the family put pressure on me to be an accountant. He didn’t want me to like “liberal arts.” When I showed him the recruitment letter from UCD, one that promised me healthcare, which I could not access in Florida, he said he was disappointed in me and went to his room for the rest of the night. When it became clear that I would be a teacher in higher education, he was disappointed again–he said college makes people communists and said I’d been brainwashed into being progressive.

And as I was getting more progressive, he was moving to the other side–toward racism, hysterical gun rights fears, thinking he needed a garden again for when Obama started that race war.

I wrote him a letter a long time ago, asking him to consider that my job–my beliefs–are my efforts to make this country better–that they are in fact acts of patriotism, not the intentional dismantling of the country. I tried to argue that we wanted the same thing–a better country–but that we went about trying to get it in a different way.

He wrote back and said he knew I’d come to my senses when I left academia.

(I pictured myself, leaving my packed up office several decades from now, having a flash of insight: oh, right! I do hate people who are different from me! And fuck the poor! They deserve it! Even if you’re an orphaned infant with severe health issues, my tax dollars shouldn’t be used for your benefit!)

So it’s been hard.

And I know I’m not alone–all of his children are afraid of disappointing him. And people kept parts of themselves and their pasts from him (like one person’s couple of weeks on public assistance forty years ago).

And now I am in the process of mourning–him and the closeness we once had.

I become an absolute puddle when I think of him being disappointed in me–it’s why he never had to spank me, I guess.

This man had a truly happy marriage.

This man used his words carefully.

This man was a decorated war hero–one who didn’t want a gun salute–because that’s not how he wants us to think about him this weekend.

This man had a wonderful sense of humor.

This man cut a flower from the garden every morning for his wife in the last years of her life.

This man tried to retire from the military after serving in Korea. Then his wife got pregnant–with triplets. And so, needing to provide for his family–he went back in for another two decades and another war.

This man worked hard to get my weight up when I was small–when a doctor said I wouldn’t make it to five feet.

This man pocketed cigars on the way to taking me to the ER when I couldn’t breathe. He told grandma, “If she has to stay, I’m staying with her.”

This man then gave up smoking. Cold turkey.

This man showed me what strength was–what dependability was.

This man is the only one who hasn’t abandoned me.

May we all have the romance, the humor, the wisdom, the devotion, the intelligence, the determination, and the sisu to honor his legacy.

 

My brother, Granddaddy, and Grandma

 

 

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The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 68
Jul 29th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Did you say, after sex (which you proclaimed “amazing”), when I was naked and vulnerable, “Are you pregnant?”

Why was my first thought “I would feel hard, not squishy, if I were”?

Why did you put us in the position to have this conversation?

Me: I’m not pregnant. I’m heavy.

You: You’re not heavy . . .

Me: Yes. I am. Obviously.

Was it a good idea to try to change the conversation, which made me have to change it back?

Me: That really hurt me. And I’m going to hear that in my head for the foreseeable future.

You: Well, I just say whatever comes into my head. So I’ll probably make you angry a lot–I do that.

Umm, why didn’t you apologize?

Did you know I’d managed to bite my tongue so many times?

Why hadn’t I said, upon seeing it, that your dick was not as big as you’d claimed?

Why, by the way, did you, unprompted, warn me about how big it was?

Was it hope that you could get better with training that made me refrain from saying I was disappointed with your first efforts at pleasing me?

Was is that it would have been cruel?

Was it that I know that hearing certain things can shake one’s confidence for years to come?

Would I ever have told you that you aren’t as smart as you think you are? That it’s not your personal “secret” that you “figured out on [your] own” that a key to the GRE is to look for Greek and Latin roots in unfamiliar words?

Had you not considered that I have a PhD in English?

Have you heard of mansplaining?

Do you know how hard I worked not to laugh at you right then?

Why did you keep texting me after I politely declined to see you again?

Why did you think I needed to reconsider breaking it off?

Why were you so convinced that we had a great connection?

Have you figured out the big mistake by now?

Why did it take me months to write about this?

 

How many more months and years will I spend dreading what comes next–when that question, those words, will come, unbidden, as I make myself vulnerable with a new person?

How will I live with its echo in my head?

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Our Month in Oxford
Jul 23rd, 2017 by Dr Karma

The Boy and I left Oxford today.

We are knackered.

In addition all the colleges we visited and the Harry Potter Studio Tour, we enjoyed the following pubs:

Bear Inn; Old Tom; The Trout; The Mitre; The Eagle and Child; The Cow and the Creek; The Head of the River; The Oxford Retreat; Turf Tavern; White Rabbit; The Crown; Chequers; The Oxford Democrats Club (where we played Aunt Sally) (I may be forgetting a few, but I got to try some nice gins and the boy got to try some nice ginger beers). 

We at at many cafes and restaurants, notably these: Oxford Grill (fresh Turkish food); Kazba (Spanish); Shanghai 30s (a Michelin rated Chinese place near where we were staying); Nandos (a longtime favorite, although the Oxford one we visited wasn’t great); The Opium Den; The Old Tom (really great Thai food); Shezan (wonderful Indian); Chutneys (they did our closing feast–and it was great); and Cafe Loco.

We spent a lot of time in book stores, including Waterstones, opened by Phillip Pullman, checked out The Oxford Museum, did a sunset river cruise, peeked around the Modern Art Gallery, were overwhelmed at the Pitts River Museum,

A small part of the Pitts River Museum

watched an orchestra rehearsal at Saint Mary’s Church (and had scones in the cafe there–in basically the oldest college building in all of Oxford),

St. Mary’s

had a Sunday Roast, toured Blenheim Palace (the ancestral home of Winston Churchill),

My favorite spot at Blenheim

Mr Churchill

part of the palace

found our way into the Picture Gallery at Christ Church, got a fun and informative guided tour of Oxford Castle, took the students on a guided literary tour of Oxford, including the walkway that influenced CS Lewis and the Divinity Room, where many Harry Potter scenes were filmed,

CS Lewis walked by this every day; there’s a lion on the door and a lamp post a few feet away.

The Divinity Room

spent an hour an a half at the Rollright Stones (though our bus driver anticipated we’d only need fifteen minutes),

The Whispering Knights

As featured in Doctor Who: Stones of Blood

Students & I in a piece of art in the woods by the Stones

The Rollright Stones

gaped at The Ashmolian,

Ashmolean

Athena at the Ashmolean

Ashmolean

adored The Botanical Gardens,

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens (or Wonderland)

took a bus up to the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock, saw scientific instruments galore at the History of Science Museum, failed repeatedly to stop a global pandemic in a board game cafe, experienced Alice Day

Getting ready for an Alice Day performance

The Story Museum

Alice Day!

. . .

Oh, and we read.

Lots and lots of books.

Each.

In London, I got to tour the Beefeater Gin factory, see The Philanthropist, Queen Anne, and Our Ladies of Perpetual Succor (meh–this is the first thing from The National Theatre of Scotland I haven’t loved), visit the Charles Dickens House, and check out the Gay Life in London exhibit at the British Library.

An amazing class–with wonderful, smart, invested students–got taught too.

at Jesus

Oxford: Portal to Fantasy 2017

The most dapper on-site coordinator

Oxford–we’ll miss you.

And we’ll be back.

 

 

 

 

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The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 67: When Cougar Bait Tries Too Hard
Jul 18th, 2017 by Dr Karma

A guy with a very young looking picture, but whose profile says “32” messaged me:

Him: I’m really 21 and …

I’m looking for a stunningly pretty (like you are) and sexperienced older woman like you to teach me everything and let me be please her in every way like going down on her for hours, does that interest you? :)​.

Me: Nope. I’m looking for more than a toy.
Have a great day.

Him: Damn that sucks, I thought we were a perfect match :/

Me: How could we be when you’re 21 and when I’m looking for something serious?
My son is turning 24 this month, for fuck’s sake.

Him: I am looking for something serious with a sexy older woman like you.

Me: You’re looking for sex tutoring, according to your message. That’s not the same thing.

Him: What if I wanted both?

Me: You’re 21. I’m twice your age.

Him: I like that. Do you like younger?

Me: No. I like men, not boys.
It would be super creepy if I were into boys younger than my son.

Him: Okay sorry to bother you.

 

I just can’t imagine dating someone who could be The Boy’s younger brother . . .

Ewww.

Also, I remember dating in my 20s; I don’t want anything to do with that again.

 

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Oxford: The Colleges
Jul 16th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Oxford University has 38 colleges. The different colleges, from my understanding, are mainly about accommodation–you take classes with everyone at the University, but your college is where you live and eat and play. You apply to a specific college within the larger umbrella of Oxford U–and they want you to be a good fit; in addition to high scores, you have to pass an interview at the college–and they interview three times the number of people they’ll take.

My students are staying at Jesus (this allows for much wordplay–“Jesus doesn’t want you bringing strangers back to your room,” etc.). I’d once stayed at Mansfield for a conference, and I’d toured Exeter before because an ex went there.

Me at Mansfield

Tolkien’s bust at Exeter

Each college has its own beauty, its own style. I was excited to sneak into All Souls because of the Deborah Harkness Triology (I just taught the first book). All Souls doesn’t have any undergraduate residents, and reportedly has the best wine cellar, but the grounds are not the most beautiful. My favorite thing was the view of the next door Camera.

The Radcliffe Camera (viewed from All Souls)

We toured Christ Church as a group–with a lovely guide, Felicity. Even though she’s not a Potter fan, she dutifully showed us the places they shot three Harry Potter scenes there. The hall at Christ Church is what the hall at Hogwarts is based on. They didn’t let the movie people film there–the hall is old, and the pictures are priceless.

One picture, of a man named Strange who had a fondness for Father Christmas clothes (he was likely going for a different look), has eyes that follow you all around the room.

Christ Church is built on the site of a nunnery. The nunnery of St. Frideswide was the first place to be recorded in writing about Oxford, though people had been there for at least a thousand years before. Cardinal Wolsey first started this church; Henry VIII finished it, after he finished Wolsey.

Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) was a tutor here (of maths and logic)–he was friends with the head of the college–John Liddell. Alice Liddell asked that a tale he made up for her on a river trip be written down–and thus we have Alice in Wonderland. Many people, places, and situations of the college are figured into the tale, including Dodgson the Dodo and Alice’s chronically late father.

Christ Church from the street

Christ Church

He sees you when you’re sleeping–or wherever you are in that room!

St. Frideswide

Balliol was a delightful surprise–lovely gardens and grotesques (they’re only gargoyles, apparently, if they have water drains).

I’m a dragon, disguised as a tree.

Shhh. I’m reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oriel (like many of the colleges) was a few minutes’ walk from our place. We went in one beautiful overcast day.

Seeing this view from the gate made me want to visit.

Closeup of the Oriel main view.

roses on the Oriel wall

This lion has very visible dick and balls. After I saw this at Oriel, I saw it everywhere.

University College is the oldest–the first with a land grant claim. It’s also the college with the Shelley monument. Shelley was actually kicked out of this college for refusing to answer questions about an atheist pamphlet he wrote.

University College Library

Shelley, worn out after exams. Or drowned. Or something.

We also went to Merton.

Me at Merton

This is one of the few pictures of me from this trip. The boy makes this face and sound when I ask him to take one:

Corpus Christi, according to the website, was open to visitors. Although the website was wrong, I talked our way in, with the help of a porter, who was eager to let me do so, even going so far as to say, “I’m trying to help you here,” when I started to back off the request.

We don’t know what this corner of Corpus Christi is, but we like it.

A few students and I went across the street to Lincoln, where we got to see its jaw-droppingly beautiful library. You can all see it in the new Transformers film, apparently.

My favorite college so far, however, has been Magdalen. We toured it as part of our exploration of CS Lewis, but its famous alumni are many, including Oscar Wilde, Dudley Moore, Cardinal Wolsey, and former UCD Campus Author Nick Kristof.

reminds me of home in Florida

We are convinced there are puzzles of this scene.

the duckery

magdalen

There were carved wooden thrones along all the paths.

magdalen

 

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Harry Potter Studios
Jul 15th, 2017 by Dr Karma

I’m sorry in advance for how awesome this is.

You see, most people can’t say that they’ve been able to take a group of university students to the Harry Potter Studio Tour as just another day on the job.

When you get there, you see this: 

And then you wander around and see so much more!

The Way to the Common Room!

Dumbledore’s staircase!

sleeping headmasters!

The Potions’ Room!

John Cleese’s head!

Size Technology!

An elusive Dante smile!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 66: When they threaten to “do masturbate.”
Jul 9th, 2017 by Dr Karma

If I’ve already told you I’m not interested, why would you message me a week or a month later asking for a hookup?

Guy 1: Hello I’m jesse you have amazing eyes!

Me: Hi, Jesse. Thanks for the compliment. Unfortunately, I don’t want to date someone as far away as Stockton. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Guy 1: Ty sexy

11 days later:

Guy 1: Hello I would love to give you a Australian kiss! 

[That’s a random offer to go down on me.]

Me: I’m not interested in hooking up with you.

 

In May, I had a frustrating conversation with Guy 2. His profile was pretty blank, he hadn’t answered many questions, etc. When I told him I wasn’t interested b/c of that, he wrote more and answered more questions, which was helpful in that it allowed me to see that we weren’t at all compatible. Took a while to shake him, though–he just kept hounding me. Then I finally thought he’d gone away.

A month later:

Him: Hi how you doing

Me: I’m still not interested in pursuing a relationship.

Him: I know I just asked how u doing

Me: I’m busy–I’m overseas at a conference. I’m not sure why you’re messaging me.

Him: Oh nice .. have fun

A little later:

Him: I was looking for hookups and I u r pics turn me on

Me: How strange. On May 12th, you wrote this to me: “I am also not looking for casual sex..”

So I guess you were lying.

Him: I’m not laying on that time .but I haven’t had sex for last 8 months and I was so much turn on last night

And your profile I always like and you pics turn me on so much

Me: I’m not interested in you.

Him: I know I was just trying my luck if you are ready for hookup with me but that’s fine I can watch porn and do masturbate

Me: I will never want to hook up with you.
Enjoy your porn.

And now he’s blocked.

 

 

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The Continuing Adventures of Karma’s OnLine Dating: Entry 65
Jul 7th, 2017 by Dr Karma

Remember the homophobe who admitted he was one and then denied it and said he wasn’t interested any more since I was being so tiring by maintaining the consistent position of being not at all interested in him (entries 61 and 62)?

He wrote. Again.

Him: Why are we sometimes 79% match and some other time different than 79% ? I thought about what you said and you were right. I was new on the site and did not answer your questions correctly. It has been very time consuming and no results 🙁 Probably i am not good in this internet thing.

Me: I haven’t looked at your profile lately, so I don’t know if the numbers are changing.
If you changed some of your answers or answered more questions, then that would shift the number.
OKC might also be running an test.

Him: Thanks for your kind explanation.

Are you on line and drinking wine?

Me: I’m teaching in Oxford, UK this month. I’m eating breakfast and prepping for class.

And I’m not interested in chatting; this isn’t going anywhere.

Him: My apologies. Here is 4 days holidays and late at night. My mom saw your profile and thought you are the best 🙂 Sorry. Enjoy your trip and good luck in your class. I always felt you are high caliber intelligent person but not to this extent. Forgive my ignorance and wrong assumptions.

Two days later:

Him: so how did your class go? Would you share what was the subject or do you have any scripts of your lecture?I am just curious nothing more. I have a very strong personality and i am very independent and do not expect anything just curious 🙂

Part of the problem thus far is that I tend to answer people if they say more than “hi.” There’s this sense of politeness. But, again, I’m reminded of a fact I’ve written about before. In online dating, women are more often than not punished for being polite.

This post talks about what one man serially does to women. In the example cited at length, he claims he’ll leave the uninterested woman alone–if she engages–and quickly turns abusive when she doesn’t.

And what’s up with the mom comment?

Maybe he should let her read what he wrote to me, and then she can tell him why he’s now blocked.

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