Friday, July 22, 2011

Transfer to Tumblr!

I'm officially going to start blogging on Tumblr. This will go dormant, so...yeah.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Maybe I'll start blogging again. We shall see.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change!

JOHN MC CAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road...

SARAH PALIN: Because by golly, I was gonna shoot his sorry liberal but for blocking my view of Russia!

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of crossing?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the otherside of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmers Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it the other side. Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay, too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like the other side. That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough. (In my day we didn't care why he crossed the road, we wondered if he was crossing to our side so we could eat him!//charrlie)

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never crash.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

(Credit to Theresa Hague for "sharing" this with me.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Great deals!

Yes, the title looks like a spam post. It's not. This is just a list of great deals I've found around the web that you might be interested in.

Open to everyone:

Dell Outlet (
Refurbished Dell computers, monitors, etc. Almost always free shipping, good warranties, and great prices. I just ordered a 17" LCD monitor on there for $84.18, including shipping and taxes.

Open to Minnesota residents:

MnKnows (

A website full of library resources, including "Ask a Librarian" (open 24/7 for research questions, with a special option for college research papers), MnLINK (the statewide libraries collection), and Electronic Library of Minnesota (magazine and newspaper articles.) You may be asked for a Minnesota library card number if it doesn't detect that you're from Minnesota.

Open to college students:

The Ultimate Steal (
This is a Microsoft site selling Office 2007 Ultimate for $59.95. It's a really good deal if you have a valid college email address (*@*.edu).

This list is nowhere near comphrehensive, and as I find more stuff, I'll add to this list. If you have any other good deals, put them on here and I'll verify them and probably add them to thiis list.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Intelligence in the 21st Century

Today, I was talking with someone on AIM, who, instead of trying to prove what he knew by actually coming off as smart from the getgo, decided to first "play dumb" (for quite some time) and then say, "I wasn't coming off as my true self" and promptly goes into "playing smart" by utilizing confusion and circular thinking.

I finally gave up on trying to understand him. I hope he's actually smart and just doesn't know communication. Somehow I doubt that.

But this post isn't about that, really. It's what I discovered when I thought about all of that.

What good is being smart if you cannot convey it to the average person? Granted, I'm probably smarter than the average American, and I do have test scores that state that I am. But even I know that there are more questions than answers in this world, and I have way more of the questions than the answers. However, I hope that I know some of the answers, and that those questions that I do know the answers to can be conveyed to others in a way that anyone that asks me for the answer can understand my answer.

My AIM contact stated that communication was impossible between us. I seriously doubt that communication is truly impossible between any two people. Instead, it seems to be impossible because a common language (and/or level) cannot be reached because of resistance by one or both parties. Granted, there are barriers that are very difficult to reach over (such as language barriers), but communication is never truly impossible. I'm not going to try to leap over language barriers, but I do hope that I come off as trying to communicate at a level that people can understand. If I'm not clear (or if I sound dumb (because, you know, I never sound dumb (yeah right!)), please tell me, and I'll try to find a way to make it clearer (or sound less dumb.)

In all actuality, in the 21st century, actual intelligence is not as necessary as it used to be. Yes, we all need to know basic information, and intelligence should be valued, but is it really necessary? Especially in the age of the Internet, where answers to almost any question can be found, do we really all need to know it all? (Granted, no one on this earth really does know it all, but many claim to.) What is needed in this new world is to be able to know enough to have a job that you are satisfied with and to get through this world without looking dumb, have the wisdom to get through this world, and have ways to find the answers for anything that you may not know.

This is my hope for you: that you know enough to find a job you love, can get through the world with enough intelligence and wisdom to come off as respectable (and knowing how to spell!), and have the contacts to find answers to anything you may not know.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

White Privilege?

I found this an interesting read. My thoughts about this are below the essay.

(start essay)


Robert Jensen
School of Journalism
University of Texas
Austin, TX 78712
work: (512) 471-1990

copyright Robert Jensen 1998
first appeared in the Baltimore Sun, July 19, 1998

[This essay builds on the discussion of white privilege from Peggy McIntosh's essay "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies."]

by Robert Jensen

Here's what white privilege sounds like:

I am sitting in my University of Texas office, talking to a very bright and very conservative white student about affirmative action in college admissions, which he opposes and I support.

The student says he wants a level playing field with no unearned advantages for anyone. I ask him whether he thinks that in the United States being white has advantages. Have either of us, I ask, ever benefited from being white in a world run mostly by white people? Yes, he concedes, there is something real and tangible we could call white privilege.

So, if we live in a world of white privilege--unearned white privilege--how does that affect your notion of a level playing field? I ask.

He paused for a moment and said, "That really doesn't matter."

That statement, I suggested to him, reveals the ultimate white privilege: the privilege to acknowledge you have unearned privilege but ignore what it means.

That exchange led me to rethink the way I talk about race and racism with students. It drove home to me the importance of confronting the dirty secret that we white people carry around with us everyday: In a world of white privilege, some of what we have is unearned. I think much of both the fear and anger that comes up around discussions of affirmative action has its roots in that secret. So these days, my goal is to talk openly and honestly about white supremacy and white privilege.

White privilege, like any social phenomenon, is complex. In a white supremacist culture, all white people have privilege, whether or not they are overtly racist themselves. There are general patterns, but such privilege plays out differently depending on context and other aspects of one's identity (in my case, being male gives me other kinds of privilege). Rather than try to tell others how white privilege has played out in their lives, I talk about how it has affected me.

I am as white as white gets in this country. I am of northern European heritage and I was raised in North Dakota, one of the whitest states in the country. I grew up in a virtually all-white world surrounded by racism, both personal and institutional. Because I didn't live near a reservation, I didn't even have exposure to the state's only numerically significant non-white population, American Indians.

I have struggled to resist that racist training and the ongoing racism of my culture. I like to think I have changed, even though I routinely trip over the lingering effects of that internalized racism and the institutional racism around me. But no matter how much I "fix" myself, one thing never changes--I walk through the world with white privilege.

What does that mean? Perhaps most importantly, when I seek admission to a university, apply for a job, or hunt for an apartment, I don't look threatening. Almost all of the people evaluating me for those things look like me--they are white. They see in me a reflection of themselves, and in a racist world that is an advantage. I smile. I am white. I am one of them. I am not dangerous. Even when I voice critical opinions, I am cut some slack. After all, I'm white.

My flaws also are more easily forgiven because I am white. Some complain that affirmative action has meant the university is saddled with mediocre minority professors. I have no doubt there are minority faculty who are mediocre, though I don't know very many. As Henry Louis Gates Jr. once pointed out, if affirmative action policies were in place for the next hundred years, it's possible that at the end of that time the university could have as many mediocre minority professors as it has mediocre white professors. That isn't meant as an insult to anyone, but is a simple observation that white privilege has meant that scores of second-rate white professors have slid through the system because their flaws were overlooked out of solidarity based on race, as well as on gender, class and ideology.

Some people resist the assertions that the United States is still a bitterly racist society and that the racism has real effects on real people. But white folks have long cut other white folks a break. I know, because I am one of them.

I am not a genius--as I like to say, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I have been teaching full-time for six years, and I've published a reasonable amount of scholarship. Some of it is the unexceptional stuff one churns out to get tenure, and some of it, I would argue, actually is worth reading. I work hard, and I like to think that I'm a fairly decent teacher. Every once in awhile, I leave my office at the end of the day feeling like I really accomplished something. When I cash my paycheck, I don't feel guilty.

But, all that said, I know I did not get where I am by merit alone. I benefited from, among other things, white privilege. That doesn't mean that I don't deserve my job, or that if I weren't white I would never have gotten the job. It means simply that all through my life, I have soaked up benefits for being white. I grew up in fertile farm country taken by force from non-white indigenous people. I was educated in a well-funded, virtually all-white public school system in which I learned that white people like me made this country great. There I also was taught a variety of skills, including how to take standardized tests written by and for white people.

All my life I have been hired for jobs by white people. I was accepted for graduate school by white people. And I was hired for a teaching position at the predominantly white University of Texas, which had a white president, in a college headed by a white dean and in a department with a white chairman that at the time had one non-white tenured professor.

There certainly is individual variation in experience. Some white people have had it easier than me, probably because they came from wealthy families that gave them even more privilege. Some white people have had it tougher than me because they came from poorer families. White women face discrimination I will never know. But, in the end, white people all have drawn on white privilege somewhere in their lives.

Like anyone, I have overcome certain hardships in my life. I have worked hard to get where I am, and I work hard to stay there. But to feel good about myself and my work, I do not have to believe that "merit," as defined by white people in a white country, alone got me here. I can acknowledge that in addition to all that hard work, I got a significant boost from white privilege, which continues to protect me every day of my life from certain hardships.

At one time in my life, I would not have been able to say that, because I needed to believe that my success in life was due solely to my individual talent and effort. I saw myself as the heroic American, the rugged individualist. I was so deeply seduced by the culture's mythology that I couldn't see the fear that was binding me to those myths. Like all white Americans, I was living with the fear that maybe I didn't really deserve my success, that maybe luck and privilege had more to do with it than brains and hard work. I was afraid I wasn't heroic or rugged, that I wasn't special.

I let go of some of that fear when I realized that, indeed, I wasn't special, but that I was still me. What I do well, I still can take pride in, even when I know that the rules under which I work in are stacked in my benefit. I believe that until we let go of the fiction that people have complete control over their fate--that we can will ourselves to be anything we choose--then we will live with that fear. Yes, we should all dream big and pursue our dreams and not let anyone or anything stop us. But we all are the product both of what we will ourselves to be and what the society in which we live lets us be.

White privilege is not something I get to decide whether or not I want to keep. Every time I walk into a store at the same time as a black man and the security guard follows him and leaves me alone to shop, I am benefiting from white privilege. There is not space here to list all the ways in which white privilege plays out in our daily lives, but it is clear that I will carry this privilege with me until the day white supremacy is erased from this society.

Frankly, I don't think I will live to see that day; I am realistic about the scope of the task. However, I continue to have hope, to believe in the creative power of human beings to engage the world honestly and act morally. A first step for white people, I think, is to not be afraid to admit that we have benefited from white privilege. It doesn't mean we are frauds who have no claim to our success. It means we face a choice about what we do with our success.

Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism in the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at

Retrieved: 19 October 2007.

(end essay)

I found this to be quite interesting. However, in today's world, I wonder how much of this rings true. I also wonder if blacks can, in some way, claim "black privilege".

What I mean by "black privilege" is the advantage that they may receive because of their own race. Sometimes I think that people may actually think, "Oh, I should support/hire/give priority to a black person to combat the racism that I may subconsciously have." I wonder how much of this influenced the 2008 elections and gave support to Obama.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Questioning Your Faith

I found this on one of my friend's Facebook profiles (Megan Fritts, to be exact) and found it quite interesting. She does have a blog (

As most of you know, a couple topics that completely fascinate me are theology and philosophy of religion. One particular subject within these fields that I’m very passionate about is the importance of thinking logically and reasonably about your faith. Now, be honest . . . how many of you, when you read the title of this note, thought that I was going to make a point against questioning your faith, or, at least, tout it as a negative thing? Read on and see if you change your mind . . .

Although I’ve been a Christian all my life, I didn’t understand the importance of intense logical perusal of my faith until this past year, and what I’ve noticed may or may not resonate with you. I’ve learned that the Christian community, in general, seems to be much more interested in helping you experience positive emotions about your faith than they are in exposing the grandeur and all-encompassing truth of it to you. They are more interested in signing you up to volunteer at a pot-luck then they are in showing you why you should believe Christianity in the first place. They seem much more interested in almost anything else than they are in assuring you that you aren’t, essentially, taking an eternal gamble with your soul. And that’s what it is, isn’t it? When you choose your faith the way you would choose a bunch of bananas at the supermarket, you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Your entire eternity is at risk, completely dependent upon whether or not your religion, rites, and rituals are the correct ones. Clearly such a bet is foolhardy, to say the least. Should we not desire to seek out the Truth, if out of nothing but the basic instinct of self-preservation?

C.S. Lewis, when writing about those who look to Jesus as a great moral teacher, but nothing else, said this,

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he’s a poached egg--or else He would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”

I’m fairly certain that the majority of people who will read this note are Christians, or, at least, claim to be. I charge to you consider the fact that Christianity is not the only religion to have devout followers. Our God is not the only god that people say they can feel. What makes your faith different? Why, out all the bunches of bananas in the supermarket, did you choose this one? Is it because you grew up with family members who believed it? Is it because it’s what everyone else at your school believes? C.S. Lewis, in the above quote, reminds us that apathy is not an option, as far as our faith goes. Jesus was either the greatest being in all of reality, or He was a horribly evil person. Either way, doesn’t it call us to action? We should be willing to jump into action to either show the world brilliant reality, or save them from an enticing lie. Don’t be apathetic about what you believe . . . the bet is far too risky, and the stakes are far too high.

(Now, as a side-note, although I believe it important to question your faith, you must have the right motives for doing so. There’s nothing sillier than a person with a serious case of intellectual wanderlust; in other words, someone who questions things for the amusement of skepticism, and not for the sake of actually finding answers. The rampant post-modern mindset that our culture is soaking up helps to feed this dismal affliction. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, kids. In another hundred years or so, having a destination will be cool again . . . I promise.)