Monthly Archives: June 2007

Woo-hoo!

Check this out! Lefties, unite!

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iPhone

Since I am a technology guru, it is only natural that I should chime in on the new iPhone. As I perused the online New York Tmes, I came across this review of the invention. As I read through the review, I began to think that perhaps I need one of these little devices — after all, I am very stylish. Sujal has been whining about getting one for awhile now, and I was thinking, maybe it is me who should have the iPhone. It has all of these lovely features of web browsing, expanding the viewing window, touch screen, intelli-typing, iPod, video iPod, a camera, organization programs, not to mention it’s a cell phone. Color me practical, but that is exaclty where the iPhone got into trouble with me:

Making a call, though, can take as many as six steps: wake the phone, unlock its buttons, summon the Home screen, open the Phone program, view the Recent Calls or speed-dial list, and select a name. Call quality is only average, and depends on the strength of your AT&T signal.

Once I got to the second page of the review, the review took a turn for the worse. AT&T apparently has pretty crappy coverage, and if ultimately the iPhone would be my phone, that’s just not all that practical. So I will wait to get one until they perefect some of these issues. Rather, I will have to wait to let Sujal get the phone. ūüėČ

The Bhagavad-Gita

I started reading The Bhagavad-Gita, a cheap copy I picked up at Borders, because I am about to begin preparing a new class for the fall. I’m teaching a class on the works of Bharati Mukerjee and I thought it might help to have a bit more cultural background knowledge. It may actually be fruitless for my purposes, but I have been interested in reading it for awhile.I’ve never been a huge fan of epic poems in general, but they do give one a better understanding of culture. I finished watching the movie Gandhi last night. I’d seen it in 9th or 10th grade, and I didn’t remember it at all. I watched it with some doubt, not sure of its accuracy, and so I looked up a lot of aspects of Gandhi’s life as I watched, and it’s pretty accurate.I was also amazed by how persevering Gandhi’s wife Kasturba Gandhi was. It’s sad that she does not get more recognition, as she was also an effective (wifely) leader with Gandhi.I seem to remember being taught at one point or other that Henry David Thoreau came up with this idea of civil disobedience, and then when I was reading the intro to the Gita, I read that Thoreau brought a copy of the Gita to Walden Pond. Gandhi’s autobiography is going on my reading list — what an inspiring human being. I often get into this early summer/post-teaching funk — but it doesn’t take long to get out of it when I see how challenging so many people have it. And I realize — Damn! I’m lucky. I’m going to Yoga class and eating well.As I prepare for this class on Mukherjee, I have a feeling I am going to be looking up a lot of references (and sadly missing a few), but I am very excited by the prospect of it. So even if my reading of the Gita isn’t particularly helpful (Because I suppose this is like reading The Odyssey before reading the body of work by a white westerner), it is at least getting me ready to undertake the work I am about to do.

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Voting — Democracy in Action in West Hartford

Yesterday the citizens of West Hartford voted¬†on accepting the proposed budget, and they voted a resounding, “No.”

I have not yet read any reaction to last night’s election, but I wanted to share my immediate thoughts. ¬†They may change as I later reflect (I’m a commit-ophobe), but right now I am pretty pleased with the fact that I live in a place that has referendums decent voter turnout in the middle of June. ¬†I guess when you come down to it, almost 30% isn’t great voter turnout, but considering what turnouts are often like, it’s not too bad.¬†I cannot say I am pleased with the outcome of the vote, as I believe the West Hartford Taxpayers Association has been less than up front — though more importantly — they have¬†vilified¬†teachers and unions, as well as anyone who opposes them. ¬†I am happy, however, that the town of West Hartford had the opportunity to raise a voice.¬†While I may not always be completely caught up on what is happening in my town, (my country, or my world, for that matter) I believe it is important to read up and know what you are voting for or against. ¬†I’d like to think that many people who voted no were wooed by the idea of lower taxes — a skewing of the actual WHTA’s issue with the budget. ¬†I’d like to think that — not because I want us to all be blind voters, but because I do not want to believe that people can think so harshly of teachers, unions, and education. ¬† Of course I don’t want to believe that people vote without a good understanding of an issue, but for some reason it seems worse to believe that citizens think teachers are greedy and self-serving.

The West hartford Blog has provided an invaluable place to discuss the issue, though I wish there had been a public debate forum.

All in all, while I may not agree with the outcome, I am glad that we had the election. ¬†I’m getting satisfaction out of being linked in to local politics — having a firm¬†understanding¬†of what is going on in my town. ¬†West Hartford does have a lot of great services, and I hope that those services don’t get cut.¬†

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Genealogy

Today I received Henry Louis Gates, Jr’s newest book, Finding Oprah’s Roots. While I’ve never been a huge Oprah fan, I have enormous respect for her, because I think she’s a great role model. The fact that she has her extremely successful book club got many people reading again. She’s enormously generous and intelligent. I’m sure you can find her praises much more passionately laid out in many other places, so let it suffice to say that she’s clearly influential, and mainly in a positive way.

That she has let herself be the centerpiece for this work of research is inspiring. I’ve never given a lot of thought to tracking down my genealogy — for a number of reasons, I’m sure — I’ve historically been young and therefore a little less sentimental in the family roots sort of way (though each year, I feel it creeping up on me more and more — as my Polish roots become more and more important to me), and I know a decent amount of my genealogy already, in that I’ve heard lots of stories from grandparents and parents. It’s pretty clear that all of my relative emigrated from Poland, most likely in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This white immigrant privilege is not something I though about much, either, until I began Gates’ book. While I was aware in the abstract that African Americans who are descendants of slaves do not know their ancestry in terms of what country (part of Africa) their ancestors were brought from nor would they necessarily know who their slave ancestors were because of lack of records, I never thought of it in contrast to my own experience. I was just teaching Toni Morrison’s Sula, and there’s a passage where the narrator describes not knowing who one is, not having a language, a history, etc. The narrator speaks of this in reference to a character who is shell-shocked, but there is an obvious connection to African American history. But to think that here is yet again another form of institutionalized (even is historical) racism. If I wanted to research my genealogy, I would doubtless have an easier time than, say, Oprah. Granted, she has a lot more money at her disposal. Gates says as much, so I’m not sharing anything new, just the fact that I hadn’t yet realized it. I agree that it is important for people to know where they came from. I’m not too far into the book yet, but in flipping through, it looks very interesting.

A coincidental intersection — Sujal was just exploring this website, Geni, and he signed up for it and began getting our relatives to fill it out. As I’ve said, I really hadn’t been into genealogy much, but I’m finding it a bit more interesting suddenly. I don’t think I’ll develop a great passion for it, but at least I’ll have a better understanding.

New Chair

Faithful reader, I am sure that you have been deeply disappointed by my absence, so I feel it is my duty to explain why I have not blogged in quite awhile.

My chair sucks.

That, and school has been keeping me a bit busy. As I was in the thick of writing 50 million comments, I stole my husband’s office chair, brought it into my office, and wrote comments in comfort.

And then Sujal and I went out to Office Depot and got me a new chair. While I really wanted this, my husband poo-poo’d it. So fear no longer, faithful reader. I am back. And my husband renewed by domain name registration for five years. Now that’s a lot of blogging.