orichalcum: (Obama)
posted by [personal profile] orichalcum at 01:36pm on 30/04/2009
From the Presidential press conference last night:

"The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is I would like to reduce the number of unwanted _presidencies_ that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again."

His best line:
"But I want to disabuse people of this notion that somehow we enjoy, you know, meddling in the private sector, if -- if you could tell me right now that, when I walked into this office that the banks were humming, that autos were selling, and that all you had to worry about was Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, getting health care passed, figuring out how to deal with energy independence, deal with Iran, and a pandemic flu, I would take that deal."

I just came from a lecture about how the identity of the Roman emperor didn't really matter, as opposed to the leaders of modern governments. This did cause the sudden realization that I would be Much More Scared about the swine flu if the Bush-Cheney administration was still in power, not particularly on policy grounds, but because by the end of 2008, I didn't trust that leadership to deal competently with running the Easter Egg Roll. Who knows what's going to happen with the swine flu - but apart from Biden's verbal gaffes, I at least trust that the governmental aspects will be handled competently.
Mood:: 'thoughtful' thoughtful
orichalcum: (Fumble bad)
posted by [personal profile] orichalcum at 10:47am on 26/04/2009
For folks who haven't been paying attention to the news lately:

There's a reasonable chance that the swine flu is going to turn into a global pandemic. For most people, it just results in mild flu symptoms. In Mexico, however, there has been so far a 6% fatality rate, entirely among young, healthy adults (which is not normal for the flu). If you're having flu symptoms and having any respiratory distress, going to the hospital and getting things checked out is not the world's worst idea.

We are planning on picking up a few emergency supplies and, if we can find them, some surgical masks later today, in case there's a "no congregating in public places" warning that goes out. I don't think this is time to push the panic button, but it may be time to press the caution button.

CP and I, fyi, have had 2nd-degree contact with a flu victim (the same archaeologist that President Obama met directly, oddly enough), but the point of contact was long enough ago that we would have already come down with symptoms were there any danger. (There's a 2-5 day incubation period; the disease appears to be airborne and highly infectious. We had lunch with my cousin 6 days ago, who 8 days before that had been at a conference with that archaeologist.)
Mood:: 'worried' worried
orichalcum: (Pompeii)
So, lots of my sources seem very distant from modern times and issues. But occasionally, you get glimpses into Roman life that could be memos written in any business today.

Pliny the Younger was sent by the Emperor Trajan (one of the more competent Roman Emperors) to govern the province of Bithynia, which is in northeastern modern Turkey, thousands of miles away from Rome, in the late 1st century CE. I've described Pliny to people before as "the guy who decided he'd rather stay home and do his homework than try and rescue people from the eruption of Vesuvius." In this case, he had a habit of writing Trajan for advice about every decision that he was called on to make as governor (even though this would delay by months any decision getting made.) In this case, he had written Trajan a letter saying that he thought a local theater was being badly built, as well as some other buildings, and he wanted Trajan to send out an architect from Rome to examine the foundations.

Trajan's response, slightly edited: )

Or, in other words, OMG, Pliny, do I have to do everything around here?

Given the success of the Facebook Aeneid, I'm mildly tempted to start a Pliny or Cicero IM or Twitter, except I have no Time.

EDIT: Things I don't love about doing research - finding that the last major study on Roman Decadence (before the one I plan to write) was written in 1939 by a German author who claimed that the Romans declined and became sexually profligate due to "the mixing of races." I probably need to read this for my research, unfortunately. I will, um, be taking a different approach.

Also, in honor of the recent babies born to [livejournal.com profile] stone_and_star, [livejournal.com profile] jendaviswilson, and [livejournal.com profile] redhound, I offer: Jack Jack Attack, for those of you who have not seen it.
Mood:: 'sore' sore
orichalcum: (teacher)
From yesterday's hearing in Safford v. Redding, on whether a school had the right to strip-search a 13-year-old girl on suspicion that she might have prescription-strength Ibuprofen on her person:

Justice Breyer: "In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day. We changed for gym, O.K.? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear.”

Justice Scalia: “You’ve searched everywhere else. By God, the drugs must be in her underpants.”

Sadly, it seems like the plaintiff may lose this case, because most of the justices appear to be taking the position, as Justice Souter put it, "that they'd rather have one kid embarassed than another kid dead."

It's not that I think drug abuse in schools isn't a problem. But I really do wonder if these (older, male) Justices have any real idea of how far beyond "embarrassing" it would be for a sensitive 13-year-old girl to have to pull open her underwear and bra in front of multiple strange adults, _especially_ when the evidence that she might be hiding non-illegal, minor drugs is extremely minimal and based on the accusation from an untrustworthy student. This is _not_ like changing in the gym - and I don't know about boys' locker rooms, but in the girls' locker room in my middle school, many girls either changed behind a bathroom stall or perfected the art of rapidly switching tops and shorts such that no substantial portion of skin was ever humiliatingly exposed, much less touched by a teacher.

Thanks to Dahlia Lithwick, I think that Justice Ginsburg (who turns out to be both brilliant _and_ funny) summed it up best in another recent school case on drug testing for students in all school activities, Pottawatomie School District vs. Earls, when wrote: )

OTOH, from yesterday's hearing, this is why Justice Alito terrifies me: )
Mood:: 'sad' sad
orichalcum: (teaching)
posted by [personal profile] orichalcum at 06:14pm on 21/04/2009
We gave our students cookies, which they liked muchly, while meanwhile I tried to figure out if my lecture (which, I should note, featured public hit lists, death by molten gold, love letters passed around the Senate, death by debauched orgy, and the assassination of five major political leaders) was boring them or they were just dying of heatstroke in an un-air-conditioned lecture hall. I _hate_ having to look professional while 7 months pregnant (pretty much exactly) in 92 degree weather.

If you wish to cool down, today is Ben & Jerry's free cone day, and 50 cent day at Dunkin' for iced coffee.
Mood:: 'amused' amused
orichalcum: (Pre-Rafe)
posted by [personal profile] orichalcum at 10:48am on 20/04/2009
An interesting discussion about what what UK YA and children's book editors want right now.

I'm not even sure what a "modern Anne of Green Gables" would mean, though. Part of the whole appeal of that story is the relative simplicity and limited scope of the characters' lives. I find it harder to imagine the life of a modern Anne who never travels more than 100 miles from her home, though maybe that's just my experience.

I really do think there must be a huge untapped market for YA classical-era novels, though. In my "copious free time," I may see if I can rework my novel idea this fall into something specifically YA.
Mood:: 'amused' amused
orichalcum: (Happy Mac)
posted by [personal profile] orichalcum at 10:33am on 20/04/2009
So, this is the Week of the Young Child, and there are a bunch of special activities going on at Mac's school. The two he's most excited about are today, when he gets to see a firetruck and meet real firefighters, and Friday, when the Stanford Junior University Marching Band is giving a performance for the kids.

Unfortunately, some confusion may have resulted as a consequence of some earlier conversations:

#1: Me: And on Friday, you get to see the Band!
Mac: I want to be in a band! Like the cows! (in Boynton's books)
Me: Oh, you want to be a drummer like the cows? You can be in a band when you're older. And maybe practice at someone else's house.
CP: (calling out) That's never the way it works. They always practice at the drummer's house.
Me: Maybe you can play the guitar in the band, Mac.

#2: Mac: I want to see the fire truck! And the ambulance!
Me: I'm not sure there will be an ambulance too, Mac. But there might be. And you can see the ambulances when we go by on the way to school.

#3: (This morning, as Mac wakes up) "I'm going to go to school and drive a guitar ambulance!"

I hope the firetruck satisfies his dreams...
Mood:: 'amused' amused
orichalcum: (dog)
This new close relationship between Eowyn and Mac is getting way out of hand. We were finishing off the homemade strawberry and blackberry pie from yesterday this evening. Mac had finished his slice, and asked me, very sweetly and pathetically, if he could have some of Mommy's pie. I decided to be generous and gave him about 1/3rd of my remaining piece.

The next thing we know, Mac has called Eowyn to his side and is happily feeding her _my pie_ off his fork. Adam manages to rescue the last strawberry before it gets to her mouth and return it to me.

This was _not_ what I thought the plan was.

He's also started trying to reverse-train us. Yesterday, he woke up from his nap and came out to the living room to find we had cleaned it, in prep for my dad arriving. "Mommy and Daddy have cleaned up the mess," he shouted. "You need to get stamps!" (The standard reward at daycare.) Once my dad had arrived, he kept telling him how Mommy and Daddy needed stamps and what a good job we had done. (My dad, I think, was less impressed; no, we _didn't_ mop the floors for him.)
Mood:: 'amused' amused
orichalcum: (cackling)
posted by [personal profile] orichalcum at 02:01pm on 17/04/2009
I'm looking up good examples of fraudulent websites to present to my students as examples of "why you should not blindly trust the Net for all your historical research, especially if it involves Cleopatra and/or gladiators."

Some of my favorites so far, useful for academics, librarians, and everyone else:

Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus!

The History of Boilerplate, a Victorian Mechanical Man

A Study of Feorran Grammar

The Emily Chesley Reading Circle
Mood:: 'amused' amused
orichalcum: (Maleficent)
posted by [personal profile] orichalcum at 01:44pm on 17/04/2009
Who knew that the political right had it in for late antique and medievalist manuscript commentators?

I mean, okay, scholiasts get really pedantic, and they write all over the margins, but I hadn't realized they were such a major political force. The one on the right is similarly difficult to comprehend.
Mood:: 'irritated' irritated


      1 2
3 4
6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14
16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23
24 25
26 27