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:: Monday, June 29 2009 ::

Over the weekend a group of us were discussing the question of religion (well, Christianity) as it permeates Southern culture. There's no question it does - people here seize on religion as an opening conversational gambit, and the question of whether one has found one's 'church home' is reportedly oft-asked.

Being a fairly serious cultural relativist, I took the position that the assumption of one's religious affiliation had to be viewed as a way of affirming your membership in the group - a virtual equivalent to 'sure is hot out today!' where the expectation is that we are both in the same boat, and opening with this topic will allow further conversation. The basic assumption is inclusive in nature.

Our friends did not seem to agree with this understanding of the question, and rather felt it was problematic and invasive. Upon further discussion, we wondered in part if that was because, if viewed by people who do not consider themselves part of the group (perhaps they are not Christian, or perhaps they prefer not to talk about religion), the topic seems exclusionary, rather than inclusive. And if you feel the topic excludes you, perhaps your assumption is that that was what it was designed to do.

It's a tough topic, as trying to see past both your own cultural assumptions and those of the folks you live amongst can lead to some very muddled chains of logic. I think the question is further complicated, here in the US, by the association of conservative Christians with the Republican party. Now we might have the added assumptions of, for example, militarism or intolerance.

When we moved down here, I commented to Sasha that even though we weren't moving to another country, we were certainly moving to another culture. Sometimes I forget how true that was. And sometimes I am reminded.
:: David (23:19 in Arkansas, 6:19 in Paris) - Comment

I bought a new cell phone today - a Palm Pre. It's very nice. As an added bonus (well, sorta), it required me to get the unlimited text message plan, which means I can now text to my heart's content. It will be interesting to see if it changes the way I communicate.
:: David (22:57 in Arkansas, 5:57 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, June 25 2009 ::

The supreme court clarified when and how a student may be searched at school today, in a ruling that produced the wonderful phrase "nondangerous school contraband does not raise the specter of stashes in intimate places". The short form of the ruling is that you better have a darned good reason for strip searching kids. Bonus points to Stevens for noting "It does not require a constitutional scholar to conclude that a nude search of a 13-year-old child is an invasion of constitutional rights of some magnitude." Clarence Thomas, of course, disagreed, noting that "Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments.... Nor will she be the last after today's decision, which announces the safest place to secrete contraband in school."
:: David (13:10 in Arkansas, 20:10 in Paris) - Comment

I hadn't heard about this until recently, but apparently the legislature, in a demonstration of why everyone thinks the government wastes our money, has voted that the possessive form of the state name, "Arkansas", should be written with an extra 's' - "Arkansas's". I have been asked a few times about the quality of education in the state, because the state has an image problem in that regard. I can't imagine how it developed this image problem, when the state government demonstrates such high regard for grammatical rules.
:: David (10:36 in Arkansas, 17:36 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Wednesday, June 24 2009 ::

You know, I'm really sad. When I first read the rather bizarre story about the governor of North Carolina, it sounded like he had popped out for a quick hike along the Appalachian trail. OK, fair enough, but people were quick to make it seem irresponsible, as though he had abandoned the state. I felt sorry for him - the guy can't even get away for a long weekend. Then it turned out he'd gotten away, not to Appalachia, but to Argentina. Sounds similar, but kind of different. Then it came out that, in fact, he'd been down there to see his mistress, which was apparently why his wife didn't know where he was. So we get everything - bizarre missing governors and a sex scandal! And, of course, just because I'm cruel, we also get yet another Republican falling out of favor. They really need to clean up their act in a big way if they intend to do something about the Obama threat.
:: David (17:46 in Arkansas, 0:46 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, June 22 2009 ::

Time has an excellent article pointing out some of the cultural aspects of the current uprisings in Iran:

[T]he cycles of mourning in Shiite Islam actually provide a schedule for political combat - a way to generate or revive momentum. Shiite Muslims mourn their dead on the third, seventh and 40th days after a death, and these commemorations are a pivotal part of Iran's rich history. During the revolution, the pattern of confrontations between the shah's security forces and the revolutionaries often played out in 40-day cycles.
The article discusses the woman being called 'Neda' ("Farsi for 'the voice' or 'the call'") who was caught on video being gunned down in the streets. It asserts that her martyrdom may be the spark that really causes the explosion, if there is one.
:: David (12:21 in Arkansas, 19:21 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, June 19 2009 ::

Sick like a dog. The trip to Memphis looks like it may be called, on account of the fact that I get exhausted walking across a room, let alone a city. The 100 degree heat predictions don't help.
:: David (22:59 in Arkansas, 5:59 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, June 18 2009 ::

It's been a crazy busy week since we got back from Oklahoma City. I've managed to arrange to head to London for a while in July (to see Sasha, who'll be doing the NEH Summer Seminar). Work has been crazy, helping out with a summer program for children has led to some interesting photos. And the sidewalk group here in Conway is ongoing - it appears we managed to get $113,000 for sidewalks, which is not enough, but is a great start!
:: David (22:38 in Arkansas, 5:38 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, June 14 2009 ::

As you may be aware, we went to Oklahoma City last week. Continuing in the 'playing with new photo software' tradition, I've posted the photos we took.
:: David (19:53 in Arkansas, 2:53 in Paris) - Comment

:: Saturday, June 13 2009 ::

I've posted a rough version of the pictures from Europe I had scanned, from 1996 and 1998. I'm trying a new program which creates albums from whole directories of photos, so this cut is a bit rough, but I figured since they were already up I might as well mention they were out there.
:: David (23:22 in Arkansas, 6:22 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, June 11 2009 ::

OKC, as Oklahoma City seems to style itself, is quite a lot of fun. This evening the art museum was open late, and had drinks and live music on the rooftop terrace, so we headed over there after the conference wrapped up. It seems like a younger city, with some really interesting directions being taken in architecture and the like. That said, after two full days playing tourist Sasha seemed to indicate she had about exhausted the 'things to see' list. It's a very driveable city (not so much with the walkable, at least where we are), and the Bricktown area is on its way to being a very nice district - very walkable and lots of restaurants, and a nice canal with a walking path running through the middle of it.
:: David (22:36 in Arkansas, 5:36 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, June 10 2009 ::

We're in Oklahoma City for three days for a professional development event for my work (a Moodle Moot, in fact). Sasha is out seeing the city while my colleague and I learn all about using and administering the Moodle system. I'm only slightly jealous.
:: David (12:35 in Arkansas, 19:35 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, June 7 2009 ::

The Pirate Party captured one of Sweden's seats in the European Parliament. Yarrr!
:: David (18:46 in Arkansas, 1:46 in Paris) - Comment

I'm really excited about a new media position happening locally, and I decided to rework my resume to make it fit the job. I applied for a similar position with the same organization a year ago and didn't get it, so I know the cover letter needs reworking as well. I remember when I worked for NITLE these great brainstorming session on marketing I would have with the person who produced those materials, and it was always a blast. It would be terrific to be back in that realm, with the brain cells constantly bouncing together to come up with exciting ways to present material I thought was exciting/important.
:: David (13:29 in Arkansas, 20:29 in Paris) - Comment

Apropos of nothing, if you use Nutro cat food (like we do), be aware there is a recall.
:: David (10:48 in Arkansas, 17:48 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, June 4 2009 ::

This rather interesting article in Time gets bonus points both for raising an interesting topic (the mainstreaming of pornography and/or sex in advertising) and for use of the term 'pornification'.
:: David (15:06 in Arkansas, 22:06 in Paris) - Comment

It appears 'Toad Suck Park' may contain a pun, as the Log Cabin Democrat reports a recent 'sting' has nabbed several people there looking for 'male companionship'.

The officer accepted the man's offer to go into a public bathroom for sex. The man dropped his trousers and the officer produced his badge.
The idea of our cute little riverside park being a hotbed of public 'indecency' amuses me to no end.
:: David (10:11 in Arkansas, 17:11 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]

:: Tuesday, June 2 2009 ::

Just in case you'd forgotten, China is now the big economic power. Geithner felt the need to reassure them, the Aussies are starting to get nervous about all the investing going on, "Nor is Australia alone. From the Philippines to Vietnam, China’s neighbors are recalculating the benefits — and potential deficits — of life in the shadow of a newly dominant nation." And, of course, there's Hummer: now a Chinese automobile. It's easy to claim that China will act as a stabilizing economic force, its growth driving imports which will help other exporting countries, but it's also worth remembering that the easy money provided by the Chinese (to keep the Yuan stable vs. the dollar) helped lead to the crash.
:: David (22:43 in Arkansas, 5:43 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]

Arkansas is apparently getting revenge on Michigan for sending me down here by sending their escaped prisoners to Kalamazoo. Here's my thoughts on the matter: if you make guard uniforms in the prison, you should probably have the guards at the prison wear uniforms that look different.
:: David (8:41 in Arkansas, 15:41 in Paris) - Comment

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