Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Bill Bailey

Oh, the lapsed English major in me loves this one!

Cambridge Roundup

I'm well beyond the stage now of presenting any kind of coherent narrative of What Has Happened in Cambridge So Far, but it's about time I actually wrote something on the blog, however fun video clips are!

Now, what to write? Since I started this blog to talk around school, rather than to talk about it, I'll leave major commentary on the university for another time. I have met some cool people and am getting a lot of important research done, and that's enough about work for the moment. Most of y'all just want to hear what I'm cooking, anyway, or whether I've had any good tunes :-)

I reckon I'm nothing if not ornery, so what did I do within days of arriving in Cambridge, one of the most white-bread towns I've been in lately? I trekked out to the TK Maxx (yes, it's "TK," not "TJ" here) to get a towel, and happened upon a small non-stick wok for a fiver. I snapped it up, and it has been the inspiration for many a stir-fry since. I probably wouldn't have gotten the non-stick if I'd had a choice, but then again, it's nice not to have to fuss about the seasoning. I like the little thing (I think it's a 10-inch) so well I think I'm going to go to some trouble to get it back to Brooklyn.

As for what I'm cooking in it--I really have been living off stir-fry, especially since I came up with a sauce that masquerades as oyster sauce. The magic ingredient? Brown sugar! It's not rocket science, but I hadn't worked that one out before. So I've been making various versions of turkey (cheaper than chicken here, and sold in small breast portions) stir-fry, often with the big bean sprouts, which are cheap and plentiful here.

Last weekend, I also made a good mushroom/asparagus risotto; tonight I might make an arugula/lemon one, but we'll see.

Otherwise, I sheepishly admit, I have been eating a lot of Sainsbury's pre-prepared foods, some of which are quite good (although others are tasteless or downright vile). Still, even those are cheaper than eating out, and with the pound sterling clocking in at almost double the US dollar, eating out is not an option!

Sometime soon I'll blog about my ongoing art project, which involves the infamous Sainsbury's 'wheel of death'....

What else? As far as music goes, I've been listening obsessively to some old and new favorites:

1. Vivaldi's Concerto in B for Strings, RV 580, Op. 3, No.10, which I bought on iTunes the other night;

2. the as-yet unreleased Renminbi cd (they are Jenny's old band, and this album is going to be fantastic!);

3. Cat Power, various albums; and

4. Annie Lennox's new one.

And tunes: I haven't gone out to any sessions yet, as I hear the weekly one is crap, but I am now known to the crowd that organizes sessions somewhat surreptitiously, so I think I'll be fine....

Lots more to talk about, of course...including pithvier cake, recent episodes of the L Word, my run-in with the college cat, etc.--but I'll save that for another time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Name is Potato

Well, it's not, but after this I might just have to change it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Das ist die ganze Sage, indeed!

Too cool, man, too cool.

Thanks to Sophie (again) for sending this along!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

So Second-Wave...

...and so lesbionic!

Thanks to Cleek for sending this on!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Showtunes from Sliabh Luachra?

Something is very wrong here, or at least, was when I did a Google search for Julia Clifford this evening.

Or maybe there's something "they" haven't been telling "us"....

ADDENDUM: Rob says that site tried to download something onto his computer, so I took down the link. If you clicked on it, you might want to run a virus scan just in case. And since the wonderment of it is lost without the link, what it *was* was a site that listed Julia Clifford and Denis Murphy as the musicians in a music of Sondheim sampler! Bizarro!

Some Things You Just Can't Explain

A procrastinatory look at Sitemeter told me that I've had a whole slew of hits lately for "roasted red pepper soup," "giving cats amoxicillin" (which I didn't even write about--I was talking more about getting kitty meds on me!), and of course, the enduring favorite, poor dear P---y P--n. Gotta love Google--I'm on the first page of searches for all three.

Mysteries of the universe. Here's another: why, with so many things I could or should be doing, am I looking up where my blog falls in Google searches?

Right so. Time for a cup of tea, and if not some real work, then something a little more useful.

Rappin' Rufus

In the words of the rural South, I like to have died when I heard this! And it's not just any Jimmy Shand tune--it's one that Jackie plays all the time, which means that yes, I also play it (after a fashion), even though I can't fucking stand the thing!

Thanks, Sophie! And those of you who are also rabid readers of Rob's blog will just have to bear with the multiple postings. It's too, er, good not to post.

In other news, I'm now in Cambridge, and just today got set up with internet! Expect some blogging about that in the near future, and maybe even some photos once I remember to take the camera when I venture out.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


And yet another disturbing blow to all kinds of things: kids willing to sell their votes for iPods. The very same kids who walk into our classrooms in the NYU music department...I guess it's great they care that much about music????

Most at NYU say their vote has a price
By: Lily Quateman - Washington Square News
November 14, 2007 07:29 PM EST

Two-thirds say they'll do it for a year's tuition. And for a few, even an iPod touch will do.

That's what NYU students said they'd take in exchange for their right to vote in the next presidential election, a recent survey by an NYU journalism class found.

Only 20 percent said they'd exchange their vote for an iPod touch.

But 66 percent said they'd forfeit their vote for a free ride to NYU. And half said they'd give up the right to vote forever for $1 million.

But they also overwhelmingly lauded the importance of voting.

Ninety percent of the students who said they'd give up their vote for the money also said they consider voting "very important" or "somewhat important"; only 10 percent said it was "not important."

Also, 70.5 percent said they believe that one vote can make a difference — including 70 percent of the students who said they'd give up their vote for free tuition.

The class — "Foundations of Journalism," taught by journalism department chairwoman Brooke Kroeger — polled more than 3,000 undergraduates between Oct. 24 and 26 to assess student attitudes toward voting.

"The part that I find amazing is that so many folks think one vote can make a difference," Sociology Department Chairman Dalton Conley said. He added, "If we take them at their word, then perhaps they really think votes matter, and that's why someone might pay a year's tuition to buy theirs."

Sixty percent of the students who said they'd give up their vote for tuition also described their families' income as upper-middle or high.

Their reasons for giving up their votes varied.

"At the moment, no candidate who truly represents my political beliefs has a chance of winning a presidential election," one male junior studying film and television at the Tisch School of the Arts wrote on the survey.

"It is very easy to convince myself that my vote is not essential," wrote a female CAS sophomore. "After all, I'm from New York, which will always be a blue state."

Other students wrote that they were disgusted by the thought.

"I would be reversing history — a lot of people fought so that every citizen could be enfranchised," said a female in her second year at the Stern School of Business.

One CAS junior went even further, writing that "anyone who'd sell his lifelong right to vote should be deported."

Lily Quateman reports for New York University's Washington Square News. Washington Square News is partnering with Campus Politico for the 2008 elections.

Another blow to humanities research.

Just imagine: a biography of Julia Clifford in which she must remain nameless!

This from Inside Higher Ed:

Threat Seen to Oral History

In theory, those who face reviews of their work would like to have those processes expedited. But historians are protesting plans to specify that oral history is eligible for expedited reviews by institutional review boards because doing so would establish the principle that IRB’s have oversight of such scholarship.

In the last week, the American Historical Association, along with a number of individual historians, have weighed in with the Office for Human Research Protections, the Department of Health and Human Services agency that oversees IRB’s, arguing that the proposal to cover oral history would hinder many scholars’ work while not offering any important protections to those who give oral history interviews.

Citing a “long and unhappy experience” with IRB’s, the association called for oral history to be exempt from their oversight. In fact, the association said that some readings of current law already exempt oral history, but the language being proposed could have the impact of making such interpretations impossible.

IRB’s are institutionally based boards required by federal law to review experiments with human subjects. The boards were created out of the view that someone needs to be looking out for the subjects being studied in research to minimize risks and make sure that subjects are fully informed of those risks. While scholars in a range of disciplines criticize IRB’s for sometimes delaying work, there is a widespread consensus that they also protect people who need protecting. In medical research especially, ethics experts say that IRB’s have assured that experimental treatments have been tested to appropriate levels with non-human subjects before shifting to people and that those who undergo experimental treatments (or who may end up in a placebo group) understand the risks.

In the social sciences, criticism of IRB’s has been particularly intense, with scholars saying that boards dominated by biomedical scientists don’t understand the risks and rewards of the research projects they are reviewing in other fields. The historians’ criticism fits into this line of attack. For instance, the letter from the American Historical Association noted instances in which scholars proposing oral history interviews were told that they would be approved only if the subjects were anonymous — even though the very reason for the interviews was that the subjects were particular people whose individual stories merited attention.

“IRB’s are applying rigid research criteria that are fundamentally at odds with oral history practices,” said the AHA’s letter.

Many historians question whether IRB’s ever had any reason to be examining oral history. Zachary M. Schrag, an assistant professor of history at George Mason University, has been studying the history of IRB activity in the social sciences. The language in the current regulations that has encouraged some IRB’s to look at oral history was adopted in 1998, with the endorsement of major history groups. But as Schrag noted in his comments on the new proposal, those groups endorsed the idea only after “overzealous” IRB’s were applying their standards to oral history projects — which for decades had gone on without such reviews. The hope in 1998 was that by setting out a path for expedited review, the intense scrutiny and resulting delays would end. Schrag also noted that — unlike the biological sciences — oral history has not had scandals or any indications that its conduct poses a risk to subjects.

The idea in 1998 was to encourage some modest oversight to keep IRB’s from doing too much, but Schrag’s letter said that it had the “perverse effect of ratifying the behavior it sought to restrain.”

An official of the Office for Human Research Protections said that many individual historians had written in as well. It is not known when the office will issue a response to the historians who have requested a change.

— Scott Jaschik

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Whoa. Too Funny.

and another:

I'll post for real soon. I promise.