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A Groin-Grabbingly Good Week
May 29th, 2010 by Dr Karma

This week started well–Alexander’s finale concert of the year was amazing. His chamber orchestra played beautifully and their guest conductor was quite impressive.

On Tuesday, I got to pick up my very best friend in the world from the airport. That’s right–Denise Du Vernay had arrived so that we could do our book launch! We spent Wednesday afternoon putting together our power point and then, after my third class of the day, we headed over to the venue. Luckily, Ken was there to help set up the a/v system.

We drew 50 people, including a woman who was buying a book for her son–he had a Simpsons-themed wedding. Our presentation went incredibly–all the more incredibly because we didn’t rehearse–we prefer to riff. The audience was engaged and laughing and the bookstore sold out of the copies they brought to sell. For some reason, our fans decided that book launch event require flowers, so we signed books surrounded by roses and assorted beautiful bouquets. We ended up staying in the room with a few close friends drinking margaritas until way after the staff was ready for us to go. (Then I couldn’t get to sleep cause I was so happy.)

Thursday was more restful, though we decided to invite friends for dinner. Dinner led to ice cream, but then the boy said we had to go home so he could do homework. Naturally, that meant we ended up with ten people in the living room drinking and eating my famous ginger-chip cookies until a bit after midnight.

Yesterday was full–I had three classes (including the one I subbed for) and two department meetings. Then we were off to Berkeley to see Flight of the Conchords. I’d never been to the Greek Theatre before–it’s an open air ampitheatre that seats 8000 people and all 8000 were there. Many people showed up late (knowing that the actual concert would start significantly later than it was supposed to), and managed to be surprised that they couldn’t find seats on the stone concrete steppes. (The women in heels must have had a really hard time.) Arj and Eugene (two comics who appear on the show) opened. Eugene is hilarious.

The Conchords made us smile and laugh so much that our faces still hurt. In addition to all the old favorites, they played three new songs, including a lovely medieval number about wooing a lady that I desperately need a copy of now.

Denise then came up with the fantastic idea of pancakes, so we hit the local IHOP before hitting the sheets.

Today we’re about to have Thai Chicken Soup before we go gather jelly beans. Then we’re off to sushi with Matt, Melissa, and Jo.

Of course, it hasn’t all been a joy–we haven’t managed to sleep enough, my new can opener doesn’t work, not all of our loved ones could be with us, and I feel incredibly guilty that I said Brian To in the acknowledgments of the book when I meant to say Brian Wu (incredibly–I would say excessively, except that this guilt is too justified to be called excessive).

It’s been an interesting year–book group decided that this year needed to be better than the last one back in January, but it hasn’t exactly been going that way for most of us. I hit a really low spot a few months ago. Thank you to everyone who put up with me and who supported me. And thank you to the universe for friends and food and teacher award nominations and kind write ups and book events and best friends and brilliant children.

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“Private” business rights
May 22nd, 2010 by Dr Karma

I recently watched Rachel Maddow’s interview with Rand Paul (available all over the web, so I won’t post a link). Paul, as I’m sure you know, has gotten a lot of press recently because his brand of libertarianism means that he thinks private businesses should be able to discriminate.

As Paul keeps saying, this does not mean that he thinks they SHOULD discriminate, but that the government shouldn’t be able to tell a private business owner how “he” should be able to run “his” business.

Much of the debate has centered on the racist implications of the remarks–but let’s give Paul the benefit of the doubt for the sake of my particular argument. Assuming he’s not actually supporting discrimination, what’s the problem with his argument? Or, what are the two that immediately leap to mind?

1. The government already gets to tell the business owner how to run his/her business in many ways. It gets to tell you about having safe exits in case of fire and that you have to operate within certain health codes and that you have to not abuse your staff in certain ways. Owners are also not supposed to cheat their customers. These regulations are accepted by everyone except those who want to violate the rights of their customers and employees for profit.

2. Paul’s main point is that the government should be regulated, but private businesses should not. That would be fine if the private businesses did not benefit at all from taxpayer funds, but they do. The taxes I pay provide the fire department, the police department, etc. My taxes mean that governmental agencies have to serve me and have to serve private businesses, even if the individuals who serve are racist. Additionally, it means that those members of the fire and police department who would not be allowed into a bigot’s business would have to respond, which is why overt bigotry in business just isn’t allowed.

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Everything’s coming up Karma!
May 21st, 2010 by Dr Karma

(well, not everything, but many things)
The Insight interview went well–I managed to make the host laugh and when I unexpectedly sang, I was on key!
There’s an article coming out about the book in The Sacramento Bee on Monday. It will probably contain the worst joke I’ve ever written, but I think I’ll survive.
My best friend is flying in in a few days–I haven’t seen her since December 2008, when we signed a book contract with McFarland–now we’ll be doing a book talk and signing together.
This afternoon, I’m giving a short presentation on Teaching with The Simpsons for the faculty mentoring program.
I got to ask Maxine Hong Kingston questions last Tuesday when I led a discussion of The Woman
Warrior for the Roseville Public Library.
However, the best news is that I will be staying in Davis next year & I WILL have a job!

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Karma’s Simpsons news
May 15th, 2010 by Dr Karma

I’m sure you’re all aware that The Simpsons in the Classroom: Embiggening the Wisdom of Springfield has been out for a month now. Denise has had a few write ups, a radio interview, and an “evening”! I’ll be on “Insight” on our local NPR station on Tuesday (you can listen live or stream it later). I may also get a write up in the Sacramento Bee. My beloved co-author will be flying out to join me for a book launch at Bistro 33 in Davis, May 26, 7-8:30. I hope you’ll come join us!

I also learned that the UC Davis bookstore has a copy of the book, so I’ll be off to see myself on the shelf sometime this week.

How does it all feel? Surreal . . .

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New Matchflick Column!
May 12th, 2010 by Dr Karma

is here: http://www.matchflick.com/column/2165

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Protecting the Children from the a-word
May 9th, 2010 by Dr Karma

Today, as we were standing in line to see Iron Man 2, Courtney noticed that the box office sign had crossed out two letters on the name of another film.

That’s right–they were showing KICK A**.

We sent the boy over to check out the large poster hanging on the side of the building. The solution there? The name of the film didn’t appear anywhere on the poster.

If your kids can’t see the word “ass,” you haven’t done a very good job preparing them for the world.

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Thoughts on Montreal
May 3rd, 2010 by Dr Karma

A few weeks ago, I was in Montreal for a conference. Montreal, even in Spring, is very cold and the wind whips through the city the way it does in Chicago. Like most of Canada (the Canada I’ve seen anyway), it was clean. However, it was more empty than other cities I’ve seen. Except for two shopping streets, the place was eerily quiet.

I was very lucky to have Melissa with me, as she speaks French. Montreal is a very French city. Luckily, most places had English menus (upon discovery of my ignorance). There was only place we went in which a waitress spoke no English.

Some of the cathedrals were quite lovely. As I grew up a Protestant in the South, where churches are often converted warehouses, I am always in awe of old churches and their beauty. However, in the churches and on some streets were depictions of the white man bringing Jesus to the Natives. (I don’t believe we encountered any Natives in the city, however). Never before have stained glass windows seemed so imperialistic.

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