Is This Really a Problem?

Is body part furniture the wave of the future? I can't wait for the release of the scrotum couch...

Yes, We're Actually Writing This Thing...

Cerus, Jason, and I recently started talking about a joint research paper. Amid much joking, we began to seriously discuss the possibility of doing a paper on -


Our initial search of journals turned up nothing on them - they seemed to be the last unsurveyed subculture in the world. With our combined academic skills and knowledge of the 'net, we seemed to be the perfect men for the job. I was clawing my way through my midterms so that I could get to work on our questionnaire when Jason sent me this:

"Furries From A to Z (Anthropomorphism to Zoomorphism)"

Of course someone has already studied this. How stupid of me. Now, the obvious thing to do is to read this article carefully and refute it with findings of our own. I haven't really dug into it yet, but on first glance I did find some of their questions to be odd. "Do you consider yourself to be less than 100% human?" "If you could become 0% human, would you?" These questions don't really contribute to a clear picture of who furries are, and generate useless answers like, "I'm about 68% human..." What does that even mean?

Ah, the bloodless cut and thrust of academia...

We'll be focusing our study on a larger population of furries, with an eye toward gathering more demographic information. If you are a furry, don't let the media stereotype you. Make your voice heard by participating in our study! I'll be posting a link to our questionnaire here soon, but feel free to contact me by email in the meantime.

For the Woman Who Has Every Damn Thing

20 mph = 8.9408 m/s

Last weekend, at 2:50 in the morning, I was struck by the need for a sandwich… a veggie one, with avocado. If you are nocturnal like me, you know that means I had just 10 minutes to get to Jimmy John’s. Making it from Malcontent Manor to Jimmy John’s in 10 minutes is possible… well, it used to be possible, before the speed limits around campus were lowered to 20mph.

Most people go more than 20mph in a parking lot. In most cars with automatic transmissions, if you just take your foot off the brake, you’re doing more than 20mph. 20mph is the speed reserved for one or two blocks around the front of an elementary school, and even then there is a light - it’s only for about an hour in the morning, and an hour in the afternoon. 20mph is slower than the standard speed limit for residential zones, where there are old people, and children on bikes and rollerblades, and folks playing catch, and walking family pets – if 25mph is safe enough for that population, why, then, is the speed limit all the way around UW’s campus 20mph, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

Is it because the leaders of tomorrow can’t successfully cross the street?
Did some trustee’s kid got mowed down on his way to Roofie Night on sorority row?
Is the city just trying to keep me from getting to Jimmy John’s in a timely fashion?!

It’s none of those reasons, as I helpfully explained to the officers who stopped me on 15th street. It’s just a revenue generation scheme. Just like doubling the cost of metered parking on campus, and extending the city permit parking areas, this too, is simply another way to squeeze the citizens of Laramie (Laramie-ans? Laramites? whatever) for a few bucks more.

As I told the officers – and yes, that’s plural, because I have been stopped twice on that downhill section of 15th – that speed limit is bullshit. As cops, they have discretion in how and when they enforce the laws, and as a former cop myself, I know this is one law that I would not enforce unless the offense was truly heinous. I wouldn’t stop someone at 2:50 in the morning on that stretch of road unless he was swerving from curb to curb with dead babies wedged in his wheel wells. Any cop that enforces that speed limit is either a ball-less automaton, or just trying to hang some paper to justify his existence.

When I politely explained that to them, one had the temerity to ask me if I’d been drinking. Seriously? Would a drunk person use the word "automaton" correctly in a sentence? Honestly! Not exactly detective material, are you Skippy?

In the end, that officer saw the logic of my argument – or he decided it wasn’t worth tazering me over. At any rate, I didn’t get a ticket, or an avocado sandwich that night, and frankly, I’m still pissed about it.

The moral of this story? Speak your mind. I questioned the genital soundness of a cop and lived to tell about it, and you can too! Also - plan ahead for the munchies…

A Glimpse of the Future

It's that time of the semester again. It's the time when you question why you're studying what you're studying. That leads to questioning why you're in school, then questioning what you want to do when you graduate, which leads to questioning your reason for living. Ah, good times, good times...

I have been through this many times before, of course. I have been enrolled in at least 6 credits for every semester since fall of 2001. I am coming to the close of my third degree now, so I suppose I have the right to be feeling a bit burned out. Usually, at this point in the semester I'm beginning to feel the pressure of a couple annotated bibliographies, perhaps a large presentation or two, and a big paper looming on the horizon. It makes you feel guilty every time you sit down without a book or article in your hands. Everything you do that isn't related to your work becomes a luxury - movies, games, friends, sex... for some real extremists, this comes to encompass food, sleep, and bathing as well. You reach a point where you can't enjoy anything until the semester is put to bed. Once that last assignment is turned in, you can breathe again. I love that feeling.

Now, I'm beginning to see, that feeling is gone forever. It's not long after you begin to think about being a lifer in the academy that you realize that means it is NEVER all done. My methods class has made it abundantly clear to me that there is always another paper, another article, another study. And it's not just your own work - there is the work of others in your field that you must keep up with, think about, and with which your work must ultimately compete. When I'm feeling upbeat and positive, I call it "job security." I'm not calling it that today.

It's not that my life is all that terrible; I am, in fact, quite privileged. It's not that my class load is all that onerous either; I have only two classes, both excellently taught by professors I respect. It's not even the fear of this all coming to an end (which it will, gods willing, in a few more years). It is the realization that so few other options are open to me. I am destined for a career in the academe because I am so unsuited to anything else.

-I am accustomed to speaking my mind- this disqualifies me for a great many vocations, ranging from sales to customer service to politics to religion.
-I do not suffer fools gladly, which makes untenable any position in which I must deal with non-academics - and a good many academics as well.
-I am both cynical and critical, which would make me a terrible manager.
-I talk far too much, which keeps me from fitting into most office settings.
-I often stumble onto a new topic that grabs my attention in a sudden fit of interest bordering on obsession, but the duration of these fits is generally not long enough to make any sort of profit from them. (Tonight's fit was on the viability of an in-depth survey of furries, but that's another post...)

In short, I am easily bored and mouthy about it when I get that way. I need the room to explore, colleagues to discuss my findings with, and students to pontificate at. Unfortunately, the price for that is continual publishing and wrangling over tenure. I knew that already - my mother is an academic - but there is a difference between knowing something intellectually, and suddenly feeling it in your bones. When I look to the future I see my thesis prospectus staring back at me. Just past it stands the thesis itself, and peeking over its shoulder is a dissertation. There are articles and chapters and a book or two as well, all standing in a line that stretches out of sight, waiting their turn under the hammer.

My fingers ache for the typing yet to come.

Comfort and Cameron "fix" Darwin's work

Charles Darwin’s work on natural selection has been with us for nearly 150 years now. In fact, the 150th anniversary of his classic, On the Origin of Species, is in November. It was earth-shaking stuff when it came out, but after nearly a century and a half of biology, paleontology, anthropology, zoology, and a host of other “-ologies” lending credence to his concepts, the most amazing thing about it may be that so many people still prefer the literal biblical interpretation, with the 7 days and the tree and the whole “it’s the woman’s fault” thing.

Some of them are so convinced of that version, in fact, that they are taking their little snake and apple show out to college campuses. One of these people is former sitcom star and now uber-Christian, Kirk Cameron. On November 21st, he’s going to be distributing a new version of the Origin of Species with a 50-page intro penned by his sidekick, Ray Comfort. You remember Ray – he’s also known as Bananaman. He got his 15 megs of fame on the Internet a few years back when he taught us all about how the banana was designed by God to fit the human hand – and then quietly apologized as it was pointed out that man hybridized the banana into the shape it has today. This, of course, qualifies him to write an introduction to one of the most defining scientific books of all time… an introduction which paints Darwin as a racist, misogynist, and heretic, then goes on to link evolution to the rise of the Nazis.

They’re going to be handing out this literary gem on the top 50 college campuses in America – which by the way, apparently does not include the University of Wyoming, a fine institution of which I am an alumnus, two and a half times over. It’s one thing to tamper with the most important theorist since Newton, but simultaneously diss my alma mater? Son of a bitch must pay.

I’m tired of this crap, so I’m just going to lay it out for you here. The Origin of Species is not the problem. Natural Selection is not the problem, nor is evolution. The problem is blind faith. Blind faith has caused many more problems than evolution ever will or could. You can decide what you choose to believe, but don’t tell me to not think for myself, and lastly – if your god tells you to tamper with the work of minds so clearly superior to your own, then screw him too.

(Thanks to Cerus for the heads up on this.)