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Scientific Research
Jun 28th, 2009 by Dr Karma

Are you one of those people who bristles when congresspeople and political talking heads tell you about “silly” scientific studies your tax dollars are being used for?

Like one study on truck-drivers’ homosexual encounters at truck stops?  The people who did the study actually had to appear before Congress after some politicos started in on them.  The Congress’s findings?  That the study was furthering our understanding of how AIDS is spread–one of the things it was designed to do.  The study continued.

Now, including winners of the Ignoble awards (those who actually do stupid research), most scientific inquiry looks odd to outsiders, although those outsiders should remember that many scientific discoveries were not even planned.  Viagra and microwaves are just two things discovered while scientists were doing their thing–running studies.

An article in a recent Mental Floss (May/June 2009) hits the point home with “10 Technologies We Stole From the Animal Kingdom.”  Why study shark skin, bat radar, or resurrection plants, to name the first three?  I’m not sure why they were originally studied (other than–cause we want to know!) or how the studies were funded (private or public), but now there’s a new coating to avoid germs in hospitals, canes for the blind that really let you know what’s out there, and how to keep vaccines viable for longer–the better for the vaccines to help children in inhospitable regions.

Science inquiry is cool and it’s time we reclaim it as an American value.

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The Hangover
Jun 27th, 2009 by Dr Karma

hangover21Just saw The Hangover.  Even if it hadn’t gotten a bunch of great reviews, I would have had to due to its starring Zach Galifianakis, one of my favorite stand-up comics.

The film does not disappoint.  Unlike lots of things this film could have been–a gross-out boy movie, an a bunch of shit happens but then I realize I really love her movie, et–this movie was consistently funny.

Now, I’m the kind of person who’s really glad never to have had a night or a next morning (or another night and another next morning) like these boys had.  But I will gladly laugh at their misfortune (for some reason, I was tickled most when animals and babies were hit on the head).

I was happy to see an erect penis.

Those of you who know me know that I think it’s a horrible double standard that you can see an aroused woman naked in a R-movie, but that you can’t see an aroused man.  Fair is fair.

Unfortunately, to avoid an NC-17 rating, they had to use a fake cock.

I can watch a maniac disembowel someone slowly in an R-rating . . .

But I’d rather watch The Hangover, fake cock and all.

hangover

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random thoughts
Jun 26th, 2009 by Dr Karma

1. Denise and I should be at least bi-sexual. Too bad we can’t choose that lifestyle.
2. I don’t like it when radio stations play songs that don’t match the day/time. So Manic Monday should only be played on Monday. And Friday I’m in Love should only be on Fridays. And In the Air Tonight shouldn’t be played in the morning. Yes, it’s anal of me–too bad.
3. There is not much good on television right now. Thank god for Netflix and the fact that I have to clean off two DVRs.
4. I was surprised at how surprised I was that this week’s Republican sex scandal was heterosexual. What does that say about the “Moral Majority”?
5. Things I am thankful for: friends, pie, hum 13 going forward, air conditioning, health insurance, beautiful northern california skies

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My Father’s Day Inspired Matchflick column is up!
Jun 20th, 2009 by Dr Karma

http://www.matchflick.com/column/1967

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Other Things To Be Happy About
Jun 17th, 2009 by Dr Karma

1. Losing weight (yea!)
2. Weird Al’s new single. Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R32aFmxL9HY
3. Spinal Tap has a new album–Back From the Dead!

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Other Things To Be Happy About
Jun 17th, 2009 by Dr Karma

1. Losing weight (yea!)
2. Weird Al’s new single. Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R32aFmxL9HY
3. Spinal Tap has a new album–Back From the Dead!

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Summer Break–woohoo?
Jun 17th, 2009 by Dr Karma

Well, it’s midway through my “week off” before summer session starts.  Funny how I’m working so much.  There are classes to plan and writing to put off . . .

Being a workaholic makes time off problematic, especially when you have the kind of job that means you can work all the time.

I did take a few hours off last night to watch Season 1 of Frisky Dingo.  Thanks, DJ, for the recommendation.  I have never loved a villain more!  I have also added Waiting for God, a British Sitcom recommended by Jenni to my Netflix list.

Cool things, though:  I have three Simpsons interns for the summer, so maybe some factchecking and website building will get done.  Woohoo!  I’ve never been a boss before (I know, being a teacher is very much like being a boss, but there is a difference between students and interns).

My grandparents are celebrating their 58th anniversary today.

I’m going to take at least a day off to attempt to show a friend around Oakland and Berkeley.  It would be better if I knew where things were, but we’ll manage.

And then classes begin.  Will my Humanities class begin?  That’s still up in the air.

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Press Release for a new anthology featuring me!
Jun 12th, 2009 by Dr Karma

If I could make it, I would so make it.  Tell your friends in Canada!

From www.pagesbooks.ca
 

 SHE’S SHAMELESS / SHE’S WRITING


What media event five years ago transformed the lives of teenaged girls across North America? Here’s a clue: it had nothing to do with a boy wizard or the misadventures of trust fund brats.  In June of 2004, Shameless, a magazine for “girls who get it”, first appeared on newsstands. Megan Griffith-Greene and Stacey May Fowles have assembled She’s Shameless: Women write about growing up, rocking out, and fighting back (Tightrope Books). To celebrate the launch of the inaugural Shameless collection, such contributors as Zoe Whittall and Shannon Gerard will perform short pieces. Five teenaged girls will join them on-stage and present monologues from a writing workshop conducted that afternoon by acclaimed writer Ibi Kaslik. The evening will conclude with an early ‘90s-themed, Sadie Hawkins prom, featuring a noted local DJ.

 

– A This is Not A Reading Series event presented by Pages Books & Magazines, Tightrope Books, Shameless, NOW Magazine, Gladstone Hotel and Take Five On CIUT.
Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St West, Toronto
Tues June 23; 8pm (doors 7:30pm) $5 (Free with Book Purchase) 

SHE’S SHAMELESS:  Co-editors Megan Griffith-Greene and Stacey May Fowles have compiled She’s Shameless: Women write about growing up, rocking out, and fighting back, an anthology of fearless and funny non-fiction about strong, smart and shameless young women. With wit and honesty, the writers share stories of their teen experiences (both positive and negative) on everything from pop culture to high school principals. The book is founded on Shameless magazine’s tradition of smart, sassy, honest and inclusive writing, and reaches out to young female readers who are often ignored by mainstream: freethinkers, queer youth, young women of colour, punk rockers, feminists, intellectuals, artists, and activists.

SHE’S WRITING: Acclaimed writer and educator Ibi Kaslik will conduct a late afternoon workshop at The Gladstone Hotel with five teenaged girls from across Toronto. Kaslik will guide the emerging writers through the process of creating a short piece. The girls will present their five monologues later that evening at the launch for She’s Shameless.  

STACEY MAY FOWLES is an author, journalist and editor. She has contributed to numerous online and print periodicals, Open Book Toronto and The Walrus Magazine. Her first novel, Be Good, was published to wide acclaim. Most recently, she collaborated with artist Marlena Zuber on the illustrated novel, Fear Of Fighting. She is the publisher of Shameless magazine. Fowles lives in Toronto.

SHANNON GERARD is an author and educator. Gerard’s recent installation Playing Doctor brought together various components of her multimedia projects, Boobs and Dinks: Early Detection Kits. She teaches a course at The Ontario College Of Art. For more info, visit:  www.shannongerard.org
 
MEGAN GRIFFITH-GREENE is a writer and editor. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Shameless magazine, a Contributing Editor at Chatelaine, and the Editor / Designer of The New Pollution. Her work has appeared in such publications as The Walrus and THIS Magazine. Griffith-Greene  has long been an active advocate of youth rights, social justice and education issues. She lives in Toronto.  

IBI KASLIK is a writer, journalist, and teacher. She graduated with her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Concordia University and her short stories and articles have appeared in literary magazines such as Matrix and Geist. Kaslik’s debut novel, Skinny, was shortlisted for Amazon’s Best First novel award and the CLA Best Young Adult book. Her second book, The Angel Riots, is her critically acclaimed follow-up, called “beautiful” by the Globe and Mail. Kaslik has taught creative writing in a variety of settings, notably high schools and The University Of Toronto. She lives in Toronto.

ZOE WHITTALL is a widely respected poet, novelist and performer. Her bestselling debut novel Bottle Rocket Hearts was on the Globe & Mail’s “Best Of Year” list. Whittall won the Dayne Ogilvie Award for Best Emerging Gay Writer in Canada, and was selected by NOW Magazine as emerging author of the year. Her poetry books include Precordial Thump.  Whittall lives in Toronto.

Visit: www.shamelessmag.com

Stay in touch with your culture: join the This Is Not A Reading Series facebook group

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Shameless: Stacey May Fowles, staceymayfowles@shameless.com
Ibi Kaslik / This Is Not A Reading Series: Chris Reed, tinars@pagesbooks.ca, (416) 598-1447 ext 221

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Jun 7th, 2009 by Dr Karma

As many of you know, my most common form of artistic expression is making lists.  Usually these free-form poems take the form of “to do” and “groceries,” but occasionally, something with more substance emerges.  For example, my book group is currently making a list of books we know we should have read, but haven’t.  We’ve also asked one of our members to compile a list of must-read graphic novels.

As it’s summer, I’m sure we’re all thinking about expanding our reading, our viewing, our cooking . . . something about summer makes us want new things.  So I want to make some lists, but I need your help.  Help me expand the following lists & help me think of new lists.

Shows you’re probably not watching, but should be (netflix them):

1.  Whitest Kids U’ Know–it’s the next generation of sketch comedy (currently on IFC)

2.  Breaking Bad–the dad from Malcolm in the Middle finds out he has cancer.  To provide for his family, he uses his chemistry teacher powers to make meth (currently on AMC).

3.  Slings and Arrows–this series ran for three seasons.  It’s a Canadian show about a repertory theatre troupe.  Their productions mirror the comic drama of their lives.  Very funny.  Mark McKinney, of The Kids in the Hall, is a writer, creator, and star.

breaking-bad

Websites you should be checking out:

1.  www.mentalfloss.com  This is the companion site to Mental Floss magazine, which I love.  It feeds all of my trivia needs, but with a wonderful dry humor.  The website not only features articles from the magazine, but also great work by bloggers–they have links to other cool pages, quizzes, and daily trivia articles on awesome topics (best libraries, strange but true ways of death, etc.)

2.  www.theonion.com  This amazing satire site now has video reports.  The satire is so good that some people think the news is real.  For example, years ago, they reported on the annual “gay agenda convention,” which made fun of the idea that there is a gay conspiracy/agenda.  Several preachers sent the article to their congregations, citing it as evidence of said gay agenda.

While you’re perusing The Onion, don’t forget to go to the AV Club, which features media reviews, interviews, and Dan Savage’s sex column.

3.  http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html  Each day, they feature a different astronomy picture.  Discover the cosmos!

whirlpool-galaxy

Nonfiction authors you should be reading:

1.  Sarah Vowell–she’s a favorite of NPR and Jon Stewart.  Her writing is clever & good for you history buffs.

2.  Mary Roach–she’s a science reporter with three great books.  Want to know how cadavers are used for research & health?  Want to know how people investigate the afterlife from a scientific point of view?  Want to know what sex researchers are up to in their labs?  Yes, you do.

3.  Terry Jones–yes, the Terry Jones of Monty Python, who got his degree in medieval studies.  Check out his editorials for The Guardian & his amazing Medieval Lives, where you can learn about the actual lives of knights, minstrels, and damsels.

terry-jones1

Okay, I have to get back to grading.  Add to the list and to the list of lists!

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I think I have this whole blogging thing backward
Jun 2nd, 2009 by Dr Karma

It occurs to me that the life blood of a blogger is bad news–all the better to bitch about.  I even advise my students to write about something that bothers them if they want to be able to write a good quantity of work.

Yet when I’m stressed out and tired, the last thing I want to do is blog.  I don’t want to whine & I don’t (always) want to rant.

So what’s the news that’s keeping me from writing?  Telling myself that I lived on next year’s wages in grad school, and then remembering that in grad school, I had student loans to supplement that income (and a decided lack of student loan payments).

Dealing with the panic of some of my students (you see, one class is worried because if they don’t pass, they get kicked out).  They really should have worried nine weeks ago.  And turned all the papers/homework in.  I mean, if failing a class gets you kicked out, don’t you attempt to do the work?

Finally, people shooting abortion doctors.  I have wanted to write about this because I have a lot to say.  I have not wanted to write about this because I’m afraid that once I get going, I won’t be able to stop.  Here’s a very short version of my thoughts.

They killed abortion doctors where I grew up (in Pensacola, FL).  It didn’t stop girls from getting pregnant and it didn’t stop people from getting abortions.  All it does is make it really difficult for a certain group of people to call themselves pro-life.  Oh, and kill someone, which that Bible thing sometimes says is wrong (not always, though–the people who shoot doctors are reading the Old Testament, but not the parts of the Old Testament where God kills babies, as he is wont to do).

Speaking of nomenclature, I would like to go on record as saying that we pro-choicers are not pro-abortion.

Even if someone is super-callous, they don’t want women having to have procedures that are potentially life-threatening (though not as dangerous as carrying to term) and usually cost more than they can manage.  No one wants more surgery.

I don’t know any super-callous people, though.  I simply know a bunch of people who know that you don’t reduce abortion by shooting doctors or by outlawing it.  Any medical historian can tell you that it was easier to find someone to perform an abortion when it was illegal (you didn’t have to find a doctor–women through the centuries have passed abortitives down with the family recipes (birth control and abortion are not just tools of single women–married women have used them to control their family planning for ages)).

What does reduce abortion?  Making sure that we reduce unintended pregnancy.  Remember that abstinence teaching doesn’t work, as studies show.  But comprehensive sex education does.  And so does providing people with affordable and effective birth control.  And so does making it easier to carry a child to term and to raise it–right now, the financial and social burden of an unwanted child can be galaxies greater than the burden of not carrying a child to term.

I have a PhD and a gifted child, but people still judge me because I had him young and alone.  Amazingly, it’s mostly the pro-life people who think they get to judge me, but only because I made the choice they preferred, carrying with me the evidence.  If I’d made a different decision, they wouldn’t get to have this attitude with me, because the last seventeen years of my life would have been very different.

We all want fewer abortions.  I just think that my way will actually work better than the “don’t have sex, but if you do, don’t use birth control” method currently so popular among “pro-lifers.”

If you actually want to save lives, take the guns away from the crazy fringe people and fight for sex ed and birth control.

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