It's funny because it's true! Plus some thoughts on mortification practices outside of graduate school.

Don't ask.

Wasn’t that an old Homer Simpson line or something, “it’s funny because it’s true?”  Anyway–here’s something I found pretty funny, although some of the commenters don’t seem to get the joke.  Actually, I think the author, Daniel J. Ennis, gets it right:  the oversupply of Ph.D.s is due to the satisfactions of smugness:

I don’t spend much time on The Outside, but I meet nondocs in the grocery, and at church, and at unavoidable family gatherings, and I see them struggle to achieve the smug. So much alcohol, so much philandering, so much striving for promotion to V.P., attachment to sports teams and political parties, time lavished on soup kitchens and animal shelters, on raising kids and caring for the aged, so much windsurfing and cross-training … so many airy castles designed to prove that there are good lives to be lived without that ne plus ultra of credentials. We were acquainted with those people before we went to graduate school. As Bob Dylan (honorary doctorate, Princeton) put it, “All those people we used to know /they’re an illusion to me now.” The nondoc trades thousands of dollars and hours for an uncertain shot at self-satisfaction. The person with a Ph.D. has a lifetime supply.

.       .       .       .      .       .      

While there is nothing more miserable and annoying than a doctorate-in-training, once that little sucker breaks out of the cocoon she can beat her wings like the butterfly she was meant to be. In mixed company (i.e. groups of doctorates and nondocs) she can let slip “when I was working on my doctorate” and the room becomes hers. In mixed marriages (distasteful, perhaps, but sometimes useful to pay for life’s little necessities, like health insurance), the Ph.D. can be the ultimate weapon in a decades-long struggle for emotional dominance. Nobody argued with The Professor (Ph.D., Botany, UCLA) on Gilligan’s Island. All those marooned nondocs depended on his serene intelligence when the chips were down. Continue reading

Holiday roundup: too lazy to post edition

No posts! (How am I still upright?)

Howdy, friends!  I’m still (mostly) on holiday break here, but I thought you might enjoy some thoughts from bloggers more energetic than I am right now.  I hope to be back later this week–I just don’t seem to have any original thoughts to share at the moment.  So, herewith are my recommendations for your bloggy perusals:

Trinidad hospital slays the goose that laid the golden egg

Marci Bowers, MD

After years of being an internationally-renowned place for sex reassignment surgery for forty years, Trinidad, Colorado no longer has a doc in town to do the work.  The Denver Post reports that Dr. Marci Bowers, herself a transgender surgery patient at one time, has moved to San Francisco because of what sounds like an extremely stupid business decision on the part of the local hospital:

Her work has been recorded in documentaries, magazine articles, TV shows — attention she has welcomed, even courted.

Mt. San Rafael Hospital, not so much.

Bowers views the publicity as part of her work.

“It’s important. It educates people,” Bowers said.

The hospital viewed it as an intrusion, an inconvenience and a royal pain. Crews dragging cameras, wires and microphones through the 24-bed hospital disrupt patient care and cost money, said chief executive Jim Robertson.

That prompted an unusual policy. Media must get hospital permission 60 days in advance before visiting and pay for access.

It was that policy, Bowers said, that drove her away.

“In September, I finally said, ‘Look, if I’m going to stay here, we’ve got to address this media policy,’ ” she said.

The hospital and its board weren’t about to do that.

“There are many residents of Trinidad who would like to have the city known for something other than gender-reassignment surgery,” said board member Dr. Jim Colt.

Uh, right:  let me guess.  I’m certainly no businesswoman, but does anyone really think that the one gynecologist the hospital has hired to replace Bowers and the new “cardiac diagnostic tests” are really going to bring patients from around the world to Mt. San Rafael Hospital?  Continue reading

"Science Cheerleaders": feminist FAIL

When I read Zuska’s comments about Science Cheerleader, I thought Science Cheerleader had to be a parody.  Apparently it’s not–but it is in fact a total joke, because (for example) it suggests that “What Everyone Needs To Know To Be A (sic) Science Literate” is the cheerleaders from the Philadelphia 76ers in spangly bras and short-shorts reading the words of an actual physicist.  The actual physicist does not don a bra-top and short-shorts and read the science concepts himself.  I wonder why not?  Maybe because he understands that it’s never a mark of status to appear publicly in a state of undress?  (In my period and field, for example, the only people portrayed as unclothed are enslaved people–and they’re almost never represented as wearing clothing at all, whereas 17th and 18th century portraits of white people are more portraits of clothing than of individuals.  Clothes make the man, indeed!)

Anyway, back to science.  Zuska writes:

Okay, let’s play what if. What if the Science Cheerleaders are responsible for making just one girl stick with her science & math classes – isn’t it all worthwhile then?

Let’s say the Science Cheerleaders do keep one girl in advanced science or math classes, but make three other girls feel like they have to pornulate themselves in order to be 21st Century Fembot Compliant While Doing Science, and make five d00ds feel like it is perfectly okay to hang up soft porn pictures of sexay hawt babes in the lab and harass some colleague because hawt science women WANT to be appreciated for being sexay and smart! – is it still worth it?

She then goes on to describe an effective outreach program she worked with to get more girls, especially girls who would be first-generation college students, into STEM fields.   Continue reading

Disney's Pocahontas reconsidered

Fifteen years ago when Walt Disney’s Pocahontas was released, it was the Princess movie everyone loved to hate:  feminists were appalled by the buxom babe makeover of the title protagonist, who was in fact only a little girl when John Smith was part of the Jamestowne settlement.  Conservatives saw a disturbing anti-growth environmental message with the simplistic contrast of ecologically harmonious Indian villages versus rapacious English despoilers of the North American environment.  Historians were appalled that John Smith’s self-serving fictions were spun once again into a historical romance with Pocahontas. 

I was in graduate school in 1995 when the movie was first released, and since I didn’t have any young children in my life, I never got around to watching it until about five years ago.  I like the movie a lot, and find a lot of the criticism of the movie at the time it was released too literal-minded.  I’ve even used clips of it to illustrate points I want to make in my undergraduate classes at both the introductory level and in upper-division classes.  The movie’s distortions are mostly in the service of fitting the Pocahontas legend into the Disney Princess mold–for example, the romance with Smith (we have to have a handsome prince, right?), the rebellion against her father (think about the wicked Queen or stepmothers, or King Triton in The Little Mermaid), the supernatural Mother Willow (fairy godmother, anyone?) and the adorably mischievous raccoon and hummingbird companions (Snow White’s forest friends, or the mice in Cinderella).  And although Pocahontas looks like she might have had breast implants, her costume is no more revealing than Ariel’s clamshell bra.  Continue reading

Valley of the Dolls, Stepford edition

This creepy doll by Hans Bellmer, 1935

I can’t let the coincidence of this pass me by, since we’re talking about dolls and the objectification of girls’ and women’s bodies againSquadratomagico has a great post up on the off-label hormonal engineering of baby girl fetuses who have tested positive for (gasp!) Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, which means that they frequently have ambiguous genitalia, may possess a strong interest in softball, and “as a group have a lower interest than controls in getting married and performing the traditional child-care/housewife role.” 

(Well, what thinking woman doesn’t agree with that last bit?  Seriously:  if you dig scrubbing crusty surfaces and wiping snotty noses and bums, that should be a symptom of clinical depression, not normative behavior in any adult, male or female.  Most of us do that junk because we don’t want the state condemning our houses and taking our kids away.)

Click immediately on this link to join the discussion.  I left a comment over there, so I’ll be following that thread.  Something else I didn’t mention in my comment is the odd equation of childhood behavior with adult predisposition for motherhood among these alleged sufferers of CAH:  “As children, they show an unusually low interest in engaging in maternal play with baby dolls, and their interest in caring for infants, the frequency of daydreams or fantasies of pregnancy and motherhood, or the expressed wish of experiencing pregnancy and having children of their own appear to be relatively low in all age groups.”  What a stupid way to think about children or the importance of play.  Continue reading

Sick day, the method medicine way.

Not me–it’s Fratguy who’s under the (rather cool and rainy) weather, and another family member is undergoing a surgery today!  It’s going around, apparently.

Fratguy has experienced malaria-like fevers for the past 36 hours or so, which is a little too much Stanislavski-like method medicine and/or method colonial American history for me, but there you go.  He says it’s just a virus, which I think is a ruse designed to get me off his back rather than take him to see a physician.  Back in 1991 when he was in medical school and broke, Fratguy enrolled in a medical experiment for a malaria vaccine funded by the U.S. Army.  It was just like that old OFF commercial:  after getting the vaccine, he had to stick his arm into a tank full of falciparum-infected mosquitoes and get bitten by them!  Well, guess what?  The vaccine didn’t work, so he got malaria.  (And when you’ve had malaria, that’s a lifetime get-out-of-jail-free card for blood donation!)  But, he also got a ski trip to Whistler out of the deal, and I get a great little anecdote to trot out whenever I’m lecturing on the horrors of Jamestown or on the early English settlements in the Chesapeake and Caribbean in general.  Score!  Continue reading