Here’s a completely random question to break the silence

Okay, so people, I'm wondering:

What do you call this hairstyle:


As opposed to this hairstyle:


See, I grew up calling the first style ponytails, and the second style pigtails. But I get the impression that many people call the first one pigtails? (So I guess Dorothy would just be wearing braids?)

Also, word to the wise: google "ponytail," and you get all kinds of elegant images (catwalks, starlets, etc.); google "braids" and you also get pretty stylish images; but google "pigtails" and it's boobs and pouts all the way. Eek. What is up with THAT?


What is a bigot?

Okay, I have a question for you:

Is it appropriate to call someone who disagrees with your political views a bigot?

Why I'm asking: fantasy author Jane Yolen – whose books I LOVED as a kid, I should note – criticized a Tea Partier for reading a children's story to kids at a library at the same time that the Tea Party is demanding cuts in spending that will eliminate those libraries. In response, some guy on the internet [linked to in the link I just provided] called her a "hateful bigot."

Now, I thought the use of that label was telling. Myself, I have always sort of understood bigotry to be directed against something more immutable than political belief. That is, it's an attitude directed toward a group of people who share some characteristic, frequently some quality that they cannot change, and largely based on ignorance about that group. I'm not saying this is necessarily the scientific definition – it's just how I understood it. So you can be bigoted against racial or ethnic or religious groups – for instance, someone who thinks that "them damn brown Mexican wetbacks are taking all our JERBS!!!" would be a bigot. But I've tended to think that you simply disagree with a political belief. So that someone who believes there should be stricter immigration controls isn't a bigot simply for believing that. 

Where it gets complicated is that of course, someone might support stricter immigration controls purely because they are a bigot – because they want to keep out all those nasty brown immigrants who have the temerity not to speak English, say. But wanting stricter controls need not, in and of itself, be evidence of bigotry. (Unless you believe that everyone who wants to clamp down on the border does so for bigoted reasons, but let's just assume that's not the case – I was just struggling for a hypothetical here!)

Of course, as I say, this is just my understanding of the word. So I looked it up in Merriam-Webster's (not having access to the OED at the moment – anyone else have access?), which defines a "bigot" as:

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

I think that kind of gets at how I understand the term.

The point is, I find it striking that the Tea Party (or, this one guy who seems to identify as such, at least) would call someone who disagrees with them a "hateful bigot" rather than an idiot or misguided or wrong or plain old liberal. As a rhetorical move, it analogizes being a Tea Partier to being a member of some other kind of minority group defined by an immutable characteristic – race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin (I'll throw in religion, too – it's maybe not as immutable as race; people leave and join churches all the time – but in modern society it seems to me that, especially, Jews and Muslims are frequently judged as such even if they leave those churches; plus you have the sort of ethnic/racial component of Judaism; all very complicated!).

In this respect, I think it's telling that the very first comment on the Merriam-Webster definition of "bigot" (M-W asks you to tell them why you looked up the word) reads:

I looked up "bigot" because I find it very ironic that so called "tolerant" people see nothing wrong in attacking, berating and making widespread assumptions about white, conservative Christians. 

And in response to a comment about anti-GLBT sentiment as bigotry, another commenter wrote:

Cameron, you and the GLBT minority would also be considered bigots for your relentless quest to torture and illegalize(sic) the Christian majority.

(Ah, yes – it's wrong to criticize Christians because they're the majority! Just what our constitution is about: Majority rule wins!) (Sorry, couldn't resist snarking at that one.)

I guess this isn't really new; for instance, I know that for a while now, Republican student groups on various campuses have sought to gain some kind of "protected class" status, on the grounds that in academia, they are the minority and need protection from the majority. (Sorry, no specific links/cites here; just based on vague memories. In fact, I think this was happening way back when I was in college!)

So. I find it odd to call Jane Yolen a bigot for believing that the spending cuts the Tea Party wants to make will force libraries to close and limit childrens' access to books and reading. But I don't find it odd to, say, call Michele Bachmann a bigot for opposing GLBT rights. Is that inconsistent or illogical? Should I rethink my definition of bigotry?

Happy blogiversary to me

Okay, I'm a little behind, because I actually began this blog back on August 1, 2004. Um, that was 7 years ago? How the hell did I get so old??

I started this blog when I moved to a new job in a new town, and NLLDH had moved away (temporarily) to go back to grad school, so I was kind of lonely and at loose ends. Now? I'm in yet another town, I went back to grad school, and I start a new job in September. Though a lot of my law school friends have moved/are moving to my city, this month I'm again at a bit of a loose end (as has been evidenced by posting more here and rampaging ALL over the internet in people's comments). But overall, probably happier than I was at that time, even if not where I envisioned myself being.

Anyway, thanks, folks, for reading along, and making this so rewarding. I have no idea where this blog is going from here, but it's been a fun endeavor so far.

Nothing to see here

So, I hoped now that my brief is filed (why, yes, I DO get an obnoxious sense of satisfaction from saying that) I would have time to blog. Or to get my classwork done. Or, at the very minimum, to get some SLEEP. And I did sleep about 10 hours last night, which was glorious.

But here I am at 1 am on a night when I have to get up at 6 tomorrow. And I haven’t read for any of my classes. And I doubt I will, because I have an assignment for another class yet to write (tomorrow – it’s due at the end of the day). I did take off a couple of hours to eat dinner and watch Monday’s The Event. But otherwise, I was in class, in a meeting, or working all day today, too.

Which means that all you’re getting around here for the foreseeable future us WHINE, WHINE, WHINE.

No wonder blogging is dying.

(Hey, I got quoted anonymously in a law news magazine today. And then when I read it, I realized that the details about me-anonymous described maybe me and one other person at my school. So let’s just say she said it, okay?)

Not dead yet

So, here you all go, writing me such fascinating and thoughtful comments on my last post. They were (are) great. I really wanted to take the time to respond to them properly – to write a second post, in fact, in response, because the comments deserved that. 

And instead I dropped off the face of the blogosphere.

Unfortunately, this is not that post, either; I ran out of an allergy medication this weekend (don't you always run out of prescriptions at the beginning of a long weekend, when your pharmacy is only open M-F? I always do, anyway!), and thought my allergies were just killing me. Then I got the medicine today and figured out that, no, in fact, my allergies aren't THAT bad–I have an actual COLD. 

One of those obnoxious summer colds where my nose is running like a tap and my throat is sore from post-nasal drip and from sleeping with my mouth open because I can't breathe through my nose. (It's really dry here, which is what gets the throat going.) And my head is full of gunk and I feel kind of hot and achy. And I basically can't come up with any good response to your wonderful comments because any mental energy I have has to go to figuring out Evidence and Labor Law and co-organizing our annual Moot Court competition. Or watching the U.S. Open. You know, priorities. 

But I promise I'll get back to it. At some point. Maybe this weekend?

In the meantime, hope everyone's Labor Day was wonderful (if you're in the U.S.). Now it's a countdown to Thanksgiving!

Haven’t done this in a while

(Mostly because I haven't looked at my stats in ages. But I'm procrastinating.)

Recent internet searches that found my blog:

  1. ways to enjoy teaching
  2. funny cat pictures with captions
  3. generalizations about Indian women
  4. specialist in education cannot wear a doctoral gown
  5. people are idiots look around you that is slowly becoming my favorite pedagogical principle
  6. hallway pedagogy
  7. why do you want to teach history
  8. would have done differently
  9. doing what you like is freedom

I especially love #4 (it sounds like an existential crisis), #5 (just cracks me up), #6 (I want to trademark that somehow), #8 (so wistful), and #9 (damn straight).

My searches still seem to be academic related; I wonder if I'll ever get law-school related searches here.

Of course, finding out would require me checking my stats more than once every six months, so I doubt I'll ever know.

The generosity of finding time to tell other people you think they’re idiots

Awww, I had a widdle troll!

I concluded my last post by saying that I would try to write
something more interesting/positive soon, and "shelly" took the time and
care to write in and say, "Why start now?"

Bless her little heart. Doesn’t it give you all a warm feeling to
know that someone who clearly thinks I’m a boring whiner actually takes
the time to read my boring whines so she can inform me of the error of
my ways? Where would the internet be without people willing to read
things they don’t enjoy that clearly don’t enlighten them in any way?
How else would we know that we offend them? Society would grind to a halt!

(In the interests of full disclosure, I do actually read a couple of
blogs that irritate me. I’m not talking about anything as concrete as having political
conflicts/differences; I just find these people annoying. Don’t worry,
they’re not any of you; if I’ve ever left a comment on your blog, it’s
not you. Because I have a rule that I am NOT allowed to comment on these [very few] blogs. What would be the point of commenting on opinions that are perfectly valid other than the fact that I don't share them? I read these blogs periodically because I find it
useful, sometimes, to be reminded that other people see the world in
very different ways than I do, and that they still have friends and
supporters and so on. But it’s not like there’s any point telling these people what I think of them. Do any of the rest of you
do this? Or am I just a glutton for punishment?)

Apropos of nothing, because I like it


November '63: eight months in London.
I pause on the low bridge to watch the pelicans:
they float swanlike, arching their white necks
over only slightly ruffled bundles of wings,
burying awkward beaks in the lake's water.

I clench cold fists in my Marks and Spencer's jacket
and secretly test my accent once again:
St. James Park; St. James Park; St. James Park.

— Fleur Adcock