February 2008

I just got sent this my an accountant friend of mine. It was meant as a joke, but actually was quite enlightening…

Only thing I still don’t quite understand, is how giving everyone $600 is going to be a solution. It seems a little, well, temporary given the scale of the problem. Its like retail therapy on a state level – “If everyone can go out an buy themselves a new outfit, maybe get their hair done, then we’ll all feel so much better!! Who cares about losing their house? Look at this cute new bag I brought?!” Then again, the The New York Times also has a tendeny to see retail therapy in the most unlikely of places.

Now there’s a good blog title. I got it from a problem page on Salon:

“I’m a nude dancer trying to finish my Ph.D.”

The student in question is concerned about whether her choice of going back to nude dancing as a way of funding graduate school will have unwelcome consequences on her academic career. The agony uncle wisely advises her to embrace the challenge head on, and to turn her choice of career into an object of study and a theoretical statement.

“So in your case, working as a nude dancer makes all the sense in the world. And I think the logical next step is to own the means of production, that is, create a combination strip club and cultural studies foundation, where the neon sign outside says, “XXX Cultural Studies — the XXX productive force of the XXX 21st century.” Tall enough to be seen from the interstate, it would alternately flash, “Naked Girls! Books! Naked Girls! Books!”

And the first study you need to fund, I think, is a careful look at the lap dance itself, specifically how the lap dance is, as I understand it, the very legal definition of not sex, and yet looks far more like sex than sex itself. How is that? I just find that rather peculiar and certainly worth whatever time a grad student could spend on it. “

He is right, of course. This is like manna from heaven for a social scientist looking to make her name in the field. I almost wish I’d had the idea first.

We were talking in my Spanish class on Wednesday, about the tornado that hit the States this week. The teacher, who is from Spain, asked why people weren’t safe in their basements. But apparently, according to a Texan classmate, there are no basements. Well what, I asked, do people do? The answer: they get in the bathtub and cover themselves with a mattress. No joke. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the best that the US has in the twenty first century, when it comes to protecting themselves from the elements. A bathtub, and a mattress.

My Spanish teacher wondered what happens if you have a large family. I thought back to a conversation I had had with a guy who works in Haiti, who said that the difference in hurricane preparation between Haiti and Cuba was perhaps the most salient sign of the devastation of that country and the complete break down of the state. “In Cuba everything is planned – down to tying down the chickens. But a hurricane in Haiti means utter destruction.”