Friday, October 30, 2009

Road Ready

Or, Thinking Woman Fastens Her Seatbelt

Not that she's expecting a bumpy ride or anything, but it is her first big highway adventure, so the Thinking Woman is all buckled up and ready to go. Dog will be Moose's co-pilot, of course, but TW will be in the passenger seat as the two of them head east bright and early tomorrow morning. Destination: Roxie's World! I know, people -- Can you stand the excitement? Will we recognize Moose, after her seven weeks of solitude, slow reading, hiking, hot tubbing, and generally clean living? Will she and Goose know how to talk to each other without staring at their computers and marveling at the miracle of Skype? Stay tuned, folks, as Moose on the Loose once again becomes Moose on the Leash!

Moose and TW will be spending All Hallows Eve in a highway hotel somewhere between there and here, so here's a little bit of Halloween eye candy, brought to you by an artistically inclined Niece of the Moosians (Carolina branch), who is more skilled with a knife than Sweeney Todd or Jack the Ripper:

Happy Halloween to each and all. I wonder if Goose will dress me up in my fabulous wizard costume, even though I'm no longer able to run to the door to greet the children who come begging for treats. Sigh. Growing old sucks, doesn't it?

Oh, well. Here's a little song to help guide Moose and her little bronze friend right back home where they belong. Yep, you guessed it, aging children: "Homeward Bound." Peace out. And don't worry, Moose. We'll leave the light on for you.

Postscript from Moose to the Friends Who Offered Her the Keys to the Kingdom: Neither words nor fine wine nor haute cuisine nor the most exquisite eye candy can ever express how grateful I am to the two of you, princes among women, for your extraordinary generosity in affording me this time in such a magnificent place for study, reflection, play, and exploration. I am forever in your debt. PAWS UP to you both, and in this rare case, we will even raise a cat paw or three to honor your feline inclinations. Many thanks and much love.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Questions of Travel

Or, Thinking Woman Plays in the Snow Rather Than Worrying About the Weather

(With apologies to Elizabeth Bishop)

Yes, readers, she bought her.

(Photo Credit: Moose on the Loose, undisclosed location, 10/28/09)

Moose is thinking of the long trip home. She is not worrying about it, because worrying is something she is trying to do less of after six intoxicating weeks in the kingdom of mellow. If she wanted to worry about something right now, she might worry about Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton being in Pakistan when all hell is breaking loose in that part of the world. She might worry about the fact that people seem surprised that Senator Joe Lieberman is being a self-righteous, self-serving gas bag about the "public option," when he has been precisely that on practically every issue of importance since, um, let's see, he decided to play nice in a vice-presidential debate against Darth Cheney back in the fall, 2000 campaign. She might worry about the fact that the left, rather than focusing seriously on any of these serious issues, is getting its knickers in a wad over the president playing basketball with non-lady persons -- while simultaneously launching a no-holds-barred misogynistic attack on former Governor Sarah Palin. (Blog pal Historiann has a good discussion of the latter issue here.)

(Photo Credit: Moose on the Loose, here, 10/25/09)

But she is not worrying about those things. Much. Instead, she is savoring her last moments in the kingdom of mellow and happily anticipating a joyous reunion with the denizens of Roxie's World. She is sorting and cleaning and folding and packing and making her way through the last hundred pages of a book that is knocking her socks off. (More on that subject later, I imagine.) She has concluded that, yes, we ought to "dream our dreams / and have them, too," to the extent that it is possible. And wherever we go, we should take snapshots, lots and lots of snapshots, because later, when we are back at home, we can think of here, wherever that may be, and know that some little part of it is right there with us, as sharp and clear as a field of snow or mica glittering like diamonds beneath a desert sun.

Take pictures, darlings, lots and lots of pictures. And pass them on. Peace out.

(Photo Credits: Moose on the Loose, near here, 10/26/09)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Morning Has Broken

Because somehow or another it has turned out to be Cat Stevens Week around here. (I don't know why, people. It's not as if we plan this stuff. Things just have a way of snowballing.)

And because for some strange reason my typist bolted awake this morning before 7 Mountain time, grabbed her camera, and ran outside in her nightgown before the coffee was even done brewing. Lucky for you, eh?

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning . . . .

And because you are such incredibly good girls and boys, here is a bonus shot of last night's sunset, which Moose is pleased to pass along because she thinks her sky photos are getting closer to that "Blazing in gold and quenching in Purple" thing she's been trying to capture for the past six weeks:

Peace out, darlings. May your day be full of elation, wherever on dog's sweet earth you happen to be.

(Photo Credits: Moose on the Loose, undisclosed location, 10/24 and 10/23/09.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

(Re)Thinking Woman

Moose will hit the road to begin wending her way back to Roxie's World one week from tomorrow. How happy are we about that here at the home office? Let's just say the reaction is a little something along these lines:


That means, of course, that it's time for Moose to get serious about, um, souvenir-shopping. She found a picture online of the sculpture she came across last weekend while touring artists' studios in a little town south of her undisclosed location. We're putting the photo in without attribution or a link because we have a question about the sculpture that we'd like to put to you, our loyal, sophisticated, and unflinchingly honest readers, but we wouldn't want the artist to stumble across it and think we were being irreverent or disrespectful of her work, which we greatly admire. We are already concerned that we alienated the entire state of Illinois with our post the other day on the purge of administrators tainted by the big admissions brouhaha at the state's flagship university, so we want to tread lightly in order to avoiding offending the great Southwest. It's a big country, people, and we are desperate for readers. We don't want to pi$$ everybody off.

Anyway, here's the photo:

And here is the question:
In your opinion, does she look like "Woman Thinking" -- or, um, well, frankly speaking, and we're terribly sorry to put this so crudely, but do you think she might be more accurately described as "Woman Working Up a Poop?"
Now, mind you, the latter would not necessarily be an argument against Moose's purchasing her and bringing her home to Roxie's World. Indeed, some dear friends who have already been privately consulted on this important matter have suggested she would fit perfectly in one of the, um, salles de bain, as a kind of inspirational fetish, you know? Moose is still quite taken with her and was especially fond of the way she felt in her hands. Of the many lovely pieces on display in the studio, this was the one Moose felt compelled -- after asking permission, of course -- to pick up, to hold, to touch, to rub. To her, somehow, she wasn't so much an object as an invitation. Perhaps that is why the Thinking Woman -- whatever she might be thinking about -- keeps returning to Moose's thoughts. Especially now that the heater here at home has been fixed for a reasonable price.

So, weigh in, all ye connoisseurs of art and scatological jokes. What would you call this pretty hunk of bronze, and do you think Moose should bring her back to Roxie's World? The clock is ticking, darlings, so answer soon. Art is timeless, but sooner or later a girl's got to answer the call of the road home.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Clean Sweep at U of Illinois?

It all started with the mascot, of course, who was booted out of Urbane-Champagne two years ago less for being racially offensive than for having been the cause of NCAA sanctions against hosting postseason sports events at the great big school on the edge of the prairie. There is no evidence so far that the mascot was in any way involved in the admissions scandal that has now engulfed the entire upper level of the UIUC administration as well as the university's board of trustees, but we're taking a wait-and-see position on whether poor old mothballed Chief Illiniwek will eventually be sucked into the maelstrom of this Category I storm. This is Illinois, after all -- Land of Blago and Burris and Ryan and Rosti.

We pause at this point to express our sympathies to our loyal band of Illinois lurkers, all of whom are fine, upstanding individuals whom, we wish to emphasize, have nothing whatsoever to do with admissions. We don't make the news, kids. We just snark it. Don't take it personal.

Anyway, with word yesterday that UIUC Chancellor (and former QTU dean) Richard Herman is stepping down (but staying on campus as a well-compensated "special assistant" to the interim president -- sweet!), the purge of administrators associated with what the Chicago Tribune describes as "a shadow admissions system that allowed subpar but well-connected students to get into the state's premier public school" appears to be complete. Illinois' President, B. Joseph White, resigned last month, and six members of the board of trustees have been replaced in the wake of the scandal. Former UIUC Provost Linda Katehi left Shampoo-Banana this past spring to become chancellor at UC Davis, but a faint whiff of the scandal accompanied her to the Left Coast, prompting UC system funeral director Mark Yudof to issue a statement expressing full confidence in the new hire in June. Hmmm. As we have said before, with friends like Yudof, higher ed needs no enemies.

Herman seems to have been the architect of the admissions system, known internally as Category I. According to the Trib, the end run began when Herman was provost and continued through his tenure as chancellor, with him personally overruling admissions staff in order "to admit students connected to university trustees, lawmakers, and other powerful people." Tricky Dick had his hands in every layer of the admissions cake, as more than 800 undergraduates received special consideration under the program but dozens of grad school applicants and a number of law school aspirants also benefited more from their connections than from their test scores. Herman even conspired with then-Gov. Blago and then-trustee Lawrence Eppley to guarantee jobs for 5 subpar graduates of the law school (who had been admitted over the dean's objections) in an effort to protect the school's ranking.

And there it is, comrades: That stench you smell is the odor arising from the ugly stew/poo of public institutions desperate to ingratiate themselves to the parsimonious keepers of the purse strings while battling to stay competitive in the morally bankrupt yet all-important game of rankings, ranking, rankings. With or without a series of incriminating e-mails, we are all more or less stuck in this same hard, stinky place. Today, as the denizens of Urbana-Champaign raise their noses in the air hoping to catch the sweet smell of a refreshing new breeze blowing across the prairie, the rest of us in public higher ed should have the guts to take a good, long sniff of our own campuses and see what's brewing in the pressure cooker. It's easy to stand in solidarity with our besieged colleagues on the West Coast and declare that, "We are all Californians." It's more difficult but just as necessary to take a look in the mirror and acknowledge that in many painful respects we are all Illini as well.

Pick up your brooms and start sweeping, kids. Even a dog can't stand the smell in this place. Peace out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm Being Followed by a Moose Shadow

(Photo Credit: Moose on the Loose, on her iPhone, 10/19/09)


Go on. Push that play button. Encourage my typist to exploit the extraordinary techno-wizardry of the Internets to indulge in excruciating multimedia puns that really don't even make sense on account of, technically, this image shows her being not followed but preceded by a "Moose shadow." But, hey, why let a little thing like the truth stand in the way of a good pun, right? Just close your office door before you click on that button or the one below, which will complete today's episode of Cringe-Inducing Pun-ditry with an homage to one of the few decent musicians Moose actually listened to in the early 1970s. RW Enterprises, LLC is not responsible for the fact that you won't get any papers graded this afternoon because you will spend the next four hours humming the highly addictive chorus to this song. You have been warned, people. Click at your own risk. We sincerely hope that if you lose your mouth all your teeth will not dance out. Carry on. Please.

This post goes out with love to Mel, who probably still knows all the lyrics to every song on this album and joins Moose today in being over the hill. Happy birthday, old friend -- and I do mean old. ;-)

Monday, October 19, 2009

World News Roundup

(Image Credit: An artist's rendering of what some of the 32 planets recently discovered outside our solar system might look like. From European South Observatory, via AP and Wa Po, 10/19/09)

Contrary to what my typist seems to think, there is a lot more going on in the world than hikes, hot tubs, and the moral/economic puzzle of the value of art in the age of academic furloughs. Just to let you know we've been paying attention back here at the global headquarters of RW Enterprises, LLC, we've compiled a list of highlights and lowlights we've noted in recent news coverage and commentary. As always, we welcome your thoughts, snarky or otherwise.

Quote of the (Yester)Day:
It’s hard to see how any public official can challenge a culture that he is marinating in, night and day.
(Frank Rich, explaining why Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner has done such an underwhelming job of regulating the financial industry.)

Specious Analogy of the Week (and it's only Monday!):
[W]e should view the privilege of a higher education much as we did the privileges that we enjoyed as children. We knew we couldn't get ice cream if we didn't help wash the dishes — we worked for the privileges that we enjoyed, and we shared in the responsibility of earning them. Those special activities were available to us, but we did not enjoy them as a "right." We were expected to contribute.
(Cal State Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani in The Chronicle [access by sub only] calling for an end to what he sees as a culture of entitlement in higher ed. Why do we get the feeling that diversity programs and the humanities would be considered ice cream in the outcomes-obsessed, low-fat diet Shirvani advocates? Go over to engineering, kids, and get your spinach!)

A Vastly More Fun and Promising Idea for Saving Higher Ed: Female profs as bodybuilders! C'mon, Historiann, flex those muscles! I will let you use my laptop if you will let me use your self-tanner, 'kay?

Understatement of the Millennium:
(From Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, who has drawn just a wee bit of criticism for the constitutionally questionable move of denying a marriage license to an interracial couple due to his selfless and obviously devoid of prejudice concern for the offspring of such unions. You know, offspring like this guy. And, oh yeah, this guy. By the way, Justice Bardwell, you are right on that point at least. Everybody does hate you!)

Grotesque Misstatement of the Millennium, Brought to You by the Department of We Are All Post-Racial Now:
(The same Keith Bardwell, responding to a hypothetical question about whether or not he is a racist. Bardwell goes on to explain that his definition of a racist is "to hate black people, or treat black people different" than anybody else, which, in his judgment, he does not do. Oh, no, sorry, Justice Bardwell, you are wrong on that one, which means you only scored 50% on our cultural literacy and sensitivity quiz. That's a big F, sir. Bye-bye! You might spend your retirement reading up on recent -- as in, you know, within the past 40 or so years -- developments in marriage law in the United States. Start here, and call us if you have any questions, all righty?)

Best News We've Heard All Day: 32 new planets discovered. (See artist's rendering above.) Beam me up, Scotty! I need a new world to conquer. Or some quiet, unsullied alternative to the mess we've made of this one.

Thoughtful Piece on Marriage Equality You Should Read Unless the Idea of Reading One More Piece on Marriage Equality Takes You Right to the Edge of Vomiting or Violence: by Princeton's Melissa Harris-Lacewell in The Nation. She's smart, and we dig her support for the cause, though we also think this piece, which glances at a forthcoming book by Frances Smith Foster on the history of African-American marriage, is just a little bit starry-eyed on the emotional and spiritual benefits of marriage.

Best Book Moose Has Read in Her Undisclosed Location: Marilynne Robinson's Home. It kept her up late. It made her weep. It brought back the beautiful, brutal, laconic Midwest of her misspent youth with a clarity and truthfulness that took her breath away. It almost made her want to go back to teaching so she could put together a seminar on Robinson, Toni Morrison, and the Whole, Hot, Tangled Mess of American Culture.

Almost, darlings. You know Sabbatical Girl is going to put many more miles on her hiking boots before she trades them in for her black Naots and returns to the classroom. Hope to run into you out on the trail. Meantime, let us know what's happening in your neck of the woods. Peace out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thinking Women

My typist swears she is not trying to torture us by insisting on posting these photographs of her foray yesterday to a town just south of her undisclosed location, a town of artists and other groovy types spread out across the basin of a beautiful river whose banks are lined with cottonwood trees that sway in the desert breezes. No, she insists, her intention is not to rub in how transcendently gorgeous the weather is in her little corner of paradise while those of us in the east suffer through days of cold, dreary, unremitting rain. She's out traipsing around in short sleeves, while here in Roxie's World one of the heaters is on the fritz. And the busiest day of Goose's week is just around the corner.

"Honey," Moose says, "would it be irresponsible of me to buy a bronze sculpture of a woman thinking to bring home to remind me of this time and place?"

"Of course not, dear. Art is an investment and an inspiration. We are all about women thinking, after all."

"But, you know -- the furloughs, the heater."

"It doesn't matter. Remember our first trip out there together, when we were just out of grad school, dirt poor, and fell in love with a hand-painted floor lamp we didn't think we could afford? A teacher friend who was out there with us insisted that we buy it. She told us if we didn't we would never stop thinking about that lamp and we'd always regret having passed it up, so we bought it, shipped it home, and have loved it every day for nearly a quarter of a century. If this sculpture has that kind of pull on you, then don't let it get away from you."

"You have a point," Moose replied. "I will think about it on today's hike. If I have a lampy sort of feeling about it, maybe I will give the artist a call. I had a lovely chat with her yesterday. She was very friendly. Had a beautiful studio. Nice accent, too. British."

"You're distracted. You're thinking about your thinking woman, aren't you?"

"Maybe. A bit."

"Where are you hiking today?"

"Not sure. Someplace nearby. Safe. Well-marked. Girl Scout-type trail. Don't worry. What are you doing today?"

"Grading, getting ready for classes."

"Is it still raining?"


"I'm sorry. Here are some pretty pictures to remind you of what dry land looks like."

"Thanks. I will think of you walking out there today, thinking of your thinking woman."

"And I will think of you there, being my thinking woman, snuggled up with an old dog, thinking of me."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Photo of the Day

(Photo Credit: Getty Images, 10/11/09, via Shakesville)

Environmentally responsible bloggers recycle, so we will happily pass along a nice tidbit of news, also picked up at Shakesville, about a new Gallup poll showing that Hillary Clinton's favorable ratings now exceed those of her boss and former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama. Her rating stands at 62%, basically where it was when Gallup polled on this question in January. His is at 56%, a drop of 22 percentage points from January. The decline in Obama's rating is the result of a steep drop in the level of love among Republicans. According to Gallup, only 19% of Repubs now have a favorable view of the president, whereas 60% of the flat-earth party looked kindly on the new prez back in January. So much for that whole strategy of reaching across the aisle, eh, Mr. Unificator? Meanwhile, the most polarizing bitch in the history of American politics has a 35% approval rating from the opposition party, exactly what it was in January.

He gets the prize, but she's making the peace, and you know what, kids? That's just fine with us, as long as the peace gets made. PAWS UP to you, Secretary Clinton. The old bitches of Roxie's World have got your back.

And the picture? That gorgeous picture of a woman smiling and serene and comfortable in her skin? Well, it puts us in mind of an old song that we send out to all the beautiful creatures, near and far, old and young, lady and non-lady, in our beloved pack. Sing it, Joe:

Peace out, darlings, and remember: Your favorable ratings are always off the charts with us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interim Report

Sorry for the light posting, kids. We've had the darndest time even finding my typist lately, much less getting her to sit down and do a bit of work for America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball. When finally we caught up with her yesterday, she was buck naked in a hot tub on the outskirts of her undisclosed location, gazing up at an azure sky and humming the refrain from a favorite old Nanci Griffith song:
It's funny how my world goes 'round without you --
You're the one thing I never thought I could live without.
Moose is inordinately fond of being buck naked in the great outdoors, and the idea of being in such a state on a Monday morning, when Goose was busy preparing for her busiest teaching day and big meetings of potentially significant import were being held on the campus of Queer the Turtle U, seems to have unhinged her a little. She swears the song came to her unbidden and had nothing to do with the beloved people and animals in her life, whom she would miss desperately were it not for the twice or thrice daily miracle of Skype. No, she insisted, Griffith's poignant meditation on time, distance, and letting go resonates for her right now in connection with the beatific state of detachment she has achieved vis-à-vis the professional stresses she talked about in this post a few weeks back. You're the one thing I never thought I could live without nicely captures the sense of surprise she has at feeling so utterly released from preoccupations and responsibilities that for seven years were all-consuming. It isn't that she no longer cares or worries. It's not as if she's abandoned her office or stopped answering phone calls from her dean. She took one such call yesterday morning, in fact, and weighed in on a matter of vital importance to her happy little program and her beloved, resource-starved university.

And one hour later, she was buck naked in a hot tub, her mind as free of care as her body was of clothing, with two pretty lines of song playing over and over and over again in her head.

"Fine," I said, when I was finally able to get her attention. "You are having a wonderful time. You are replenishing depleted energies and rearranging priorities. That's great, but I would like to point out that you are now more than halfway through your interlude in your undisclosed location. I think it's time for an accountability moment, Moose. My readers want to know what the heck you've been up to, other than spending an inordinate amount of time in your birthday suit. You are, after all, on sabbatical. You owe the taxpayers of Maryland an accounting of how you are spending your hard-earned, state-funded, furlough-reduced salary."

"Sure, Rox," she said languidly and with a certain lack of conviction. "But, you know, I'm working on several different projects out here. It might be hard to give an accounting of my progress on each one."

"Do your best, Moose. The taxpayers just want to know that you are conducting serious research."

Below are Moose's extremely brief reports on the state of her research so far. I dunno, kids, but I'm thinking we might need Goose or the Department of Scholarly and Creative Activity here in Roxie's World to do some editing before we pass these along to the salary committee for review. They seem a little, how shall we say, undercooked? Let us know what you think.

* * *
Interim Report on Sabbatical Activity,
by Moose on the Loose

The Sky Project: I think my sky pictures are showing definite signs of improvement. Heck, even my mistakes are weirdly beautiful! Plus, my careful observation of the evening sky from the ridiculously beautiful back yard of my undisclosed location offers compelling evidence that the sun and the earth may be in motion in relation to one another. Yes, it's true! When I first got here, the sun set well to the right of the four mountains I gaze out upon for approximately 45 minutes each evening. Now, the sun sets directly behind those mountains. Further study will have to be done to confirm my hunch, but I feel confident that these results will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the earth moves around the sun -- or vice versa!

The Body Project:
This work of autoethnography has yielded several tantalizing insights to date. As with any qualitative analysis, one must be careful about generalizing on the basis of the results, but I am tremendously excited by the nature and trend of the evidence so far. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • You can live in a body for fifty years, but until it's been covered in hot oil, liberally sprinkled with salt, and vigorously rubbed by a highly trained specialist, you cannot be sure that you have discovered all your ticklish spots.
  • You can eat eggs fried in butter, chiles en ahogada, and huevos motulenos and still lose weight if you are willing to get up off your spreading a$$ and briskly walk three miles a day. Throw in a little yoga and an actual hike on the weekend, and you can even indulge in the occasional green chile cheeseburger and still wake up one happy morning to discover that your fat shorts are so baggy that you may need to invest in a belt in order to avoid public embarrassment.
  • You (assuming you are a woman of a certain age) will sweat less if you drink less alcohol. Period. No further study necessary, though we think it would be swell if the male-dominated scientific establishment would look into this fun fact of female physiology. Still, sisters in hormonal imbalance, I am here to tell you that if you cut back to a couple of drinks a week, you will significantly reduce (perhaps to zero!) the number of hot flashes you experience. Also, sleep disruptions and that fuzzy feeling in your brain that makes you think you've got Alzheimer's. Further, it pains me to break it to you, but eliminating red wine altogether may be the key to keeping you cool and restoring your powers of concentration. Have a beer or a margarita, girls, and see how the rest of your evening goes.

The Nature v. Nurture as a Determinant of Musical Taste Project:
This is a small, recently undertaken project, but the research so far strongly indicates a genetic role in the formation of musical taste. The evidence? Last weekend, at the end of a splendid hike, a long lost cousin of the Moosians who moved to the Southwest a decade or so ago began whistling "Top of the World" by, of course, the Carpenters as he was driving us out of the canyon. Now, he and I had just spent several companionable hours together taking in the beauties of autumn in the high desert and catching up on family news. There had been no talk of music, taste, or our respective positions on the exceedingly bad popular music of the early 1970s, but here was my long lost cousin spontaneously bursting into a song I probably couldn't get out of my head unless I chopped it off. "Wow," I said, "we must be related." So there you have it: Nature predisposed me to absorb "Top of the World" and "Billy Don't Be a Hero" and all the other crap that got lodged in my brain before I knew what was happening.

* * *

Geez, guys, what do you think? Is it curtains on Moose's academic career, or do you think we can whip this into something that will please the Turtle? I mean, some of this stuff actually does sound interesting and important, you know, but, I mean, she's an English prof. I'm not sure even the most forceful claims for interdisciplinarity will convince the powers-that-be that she should be holding forth on astronomy, endocrinology, and genetics -- but, really, it's high time someone tried to explain the wholly baffling allure of the Carpenters, don't you think? Wish us luck, kids. It's going to be a fascinating reporting season!

(Photo Credits: Moose on the Loose, here, 10/11/09)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Signs Taken for Wonders

A Note on Prizes, Marches, and Other Amazing Things

(With apologies to Homi K. Bhabha)

I know you are all dying to hear the official reaction from Roxie's World to the news this morning that President Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. We give a hearty PAWS UP to presidential daughter Malia Obama (shown at right in the lovely tee-shirt she wore in Rome this past summer), who burst into the First Boudoir and said, "Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is [First Dog] Bo's birthday." Which was quickly followed by this helpful reminder from younger sister Sasha: "Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up." To his credit, the president offered this charming episode of Kids Say the Darndest Things in the context of a statement acknowledging the award that was appropriately humble and focused on it as "a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century." We are also inclined to agree with the president's assertion that, "I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize, men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace," but that might sound snarky, so we'll just offer the most sincere statement we can about today's stunning news, which is, of course:


Speaking of signs, here is the one the moms won't be carrying in the (possibly not so) Big Gay March on Washington this weekend:

Y'all know the moms love nothing better than having a chance to march through the streets of the nation's capital with a bunch of clever, ornery rabble-rousers in support of one worthy cause or another. They have two perfectly valid excuses for missing this weekend's festivities: Moose is, as you know, 1877 miles away from home at the moment, and Goose, poor girl, has managed to come down with one of her horrible colds. She has been ordered to bed for the weekend, except for one swelegant, pressing social engagement our beloved Candy Man will be hosting Saturday evening. (Moose will be there in spirit and perhaps in Skype, though she regrets that virtual hors d'oeuvres are not nearly as tasty as actual ones.)

The truth, though, is that even if they didn't have two perfectly valid excuses for missing this weekend's march, the moms would in all likelihood opt out of the festivities. If you are going, we applaud your commitment and hope you have a wonderful time. If you see Lady Gaga, please give her our regards. We are grateful for the hoopla surrounding the march for finally inspiring us to click around and figure out exactly who the hell this Lady Gaga person is, so there is one small if unintended victory to celebrate. (We never claimed to be cool, kids.) As for the rest of it, well, we are inclined to agree with those who think that this march, planned in the wake of the devastating loss on California's Prop 8, is at best fuzzy in its aims and at worst a deflection of energy and resources from local battles desperately in need of both right now. Organizer Cleve Jones is calling for an end to the strategy of seeking incremental change on LGBT rights -- but the night before the march, the king of saying much and doing almost nothing in support of advancing those rights, President Barack Obama, will speak at the HRC's big-ticket annual dinner. No matter what happens in the streets on Sunday, the weekend's big gay story will be that the president stood before (a well-heeled segment of) the LGBT community and (yet again) expressed his (unrealized) commitment to equality. (Roxie's World will have a couple of well-dressed pals in the swanky hall Saturday night. We are counting on Julie and Kim for some inside scoop!)

As political actions go, for all their logistical challenges, marches are easy. They afford a certain amount of visibility, and they make the marchers feel good. The opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with a large, enthusiastic group of fellow travelers on the road to justice is energizing and inspiring. We don't discount the value of such outcomes, but our greater concern right now is with those who are feeling left out of the parade and with deeper issues of goals, strategies, and leadership that won't be solved by a march or a rally or a rubber-chicken banquet.

We love us some well-painted signs, kids, and we are suckers for a pretty speech, but don't get fooled into taking them for political wonders. Peace out, and enjoy your weekend, however you choose to spend it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Today in Gender

Item One

Wa Po has a pretty good story today by Dana Hedgpeth on the tireless efforts of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) to bring jobs to the state with the nation's highest unemployment rate (15.2%). We totally heart this sharp-as-a-tack power chick and will probably quit our day jobs and go to law school if she ever ends up on the Supreme Court just so we can vie to be one of her love slaves/law clerks. We are trying to make up our minds, though, about the photo and caption Wa Po used to illustrate the story. Study them carefully, kids. There will be a quiz:

The photo is great, of course, and highly flattering to the gov, whom both supporters and detractors call "Jenny the cheerleader," "because of her relentless optimism," according to the story. (Do you really think she got that moniker just because of her optimism, kids? Nah, us neither.) (Granholm prefers to call herself a "zealot.") And Granholm obviously spoke the words used to caption the photo, offering up a pithy compliment to her state's "great bones" and its ability to "build stuff."

Here's what has us scratching our noggins: Is the caption good or bad? Is it a net positive in that it shows a woman leader with the confidence to draw unselfconsciously from two highly gendered image repositories -- i.e., the "female" world of beauty and bone structure and the "male" world of building and other hard "stuff"? Or does it subtly undermine Granholm's credibility as leader of a state reeling from the collapse of the auto industry? Will "good bones" make Michigan competitive in a new economy of high-skilled, environmentally friendly jobs? Or does the beauty-pageant language suggest that the girl gov, who tears up in her office when recalling her failed efforts to convince appliance maker Electrolux to stay in the state, isn't up to the job of bringing jobs to Michigan? Read the story, and tell us what you think.

Item Two

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a brief piece today on a study published by the Wellesley Centers for Women on the disparity in the price of tickets for women's basketball games in comparison to men's games, even on campuses, like the University of Connecticut, where the women's team has a rock 'em, sock 'em record of success (6 NCAA championships, according to the bitter QTU fans of Roxie's World). The study, "Ticket Office Sexism: The Gender Gap in Pricing for NCAA Division I Basketball" by Laura Pappano and Allison J. Tracy (available for purchase on the Wellesley Centers for Women Web site), argues, as its title suggests, that the pricing disparity is a form of discrimination, a sign that women are still de-valued in the traditionally male world of sport. The study argues that the claim that lower ticket prices for women's games are necessary to boost attendance doesn't hold up, because the disparity persists even at schools like Connecticut that have a strong fan base for their women's team.

As you can imagine, this is a story that captured the attention of the feminazi b'ball freaks of Roxie's World, but, surprisingly, our knees didn't reflexively kick out in anger over clear evidence of institutional sexism. As season ticket holders for both men's and women's basketball at QTU, we can tell you there is a significant -- indeed, astronomical -- disparity in pricing right here in our own backyard, although the women's team has a much greater record of accomplishment over the past several seasons as well as some mighty impressive attendance records (which my typist cannot lay her fingers on at the moment, alas). Still, the women don't consistently pack the Comcast Center in the way that the men's team does, even when the non-Lady Terps manage to lose, as they did last season, to the likes of Morgan State. Moreover, sensitive as we are to any sign of gender inequity, we have to admit that we enjoy seeing the Comcast Center filled with screaming kids cheering on the women as they school their opponents in lightning-fast offense. The more affordable pricing structure makes the women's game accessible to those younger fans, who giddily celebrate their birthdays up in suites occupied by corporate fat-cats during the men's games. We don't want to deny revenue to the women's team, but we don't want to deny them crucial opportunities to build their fan base either. And, frankly, we just love the vibe the Comcast Center has during the women's games. Even when the dreaded Dukies are in the house, it's a fun, friendly, happy place to be, and that is by no means always the case when the non-Ladies take the court. Jack up ticket prices, and you run the risk of turning the women's game into what the men's game has become: a grim, money-grubbing diva dance in which every player has his eye on the best deal he can get for himself in the NBA rather than on what's best for the team. It ain't pretty, and a lot of the time it's damn near excruciating to watch.

Wait a minute, kids -- Did Roxie's World just say that sometimes gender inequity is good? WTF? Jump in here and tell us how wrong we are, folks. I think perhaps the high altitude has gone to my typist's head! Peace out and remember: the Lady Terps kick off their 2009-10 season at home against Bowie State at 7 PM on Nov. 4. Moose will be (barely) back from her undisclosed location by then. Where will you be, sports fans? It's the most affordable game in town -- and one of the most exciting!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sabbath Snaps

Sabbatical Thought for the Day from Moose on the Loose: How lovely that the words "sabbatical" and "sabbath" are drawn from the same root, from the Latin sabbatum, meaning "to rest." Which means, of course, that a girl on sabbatical is permitted to spend a Sunday afternoon roaming the streets of a historically Catholic town taking pictures of churches and briefly joining in a religious parade (accompanied by the Brother and Sister-in-Law of the Goosians, who happened to be visiting and are inordinately fond of parades).

It was a lovely day. Just remember to keep your hands off the links below if you don't want to know exactly where Moose spent it. ;-)

(All photos by Moose on the Loose. Top two are from here. Middle two from here. The dapper fellow in the snazzy scarf is here. And the bottom one is from this secular church of culture. 10/4/09.)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Saturday Night Snaps

Our cowgirl Annie Leibovitz has been at it again. Apparently, she'd rather shoot than type, so here are a few pics from this week in Moose's undisclosed location. Don't look too closely, or it's possible you'll figure out where she is, and then all our fun would be spoiled. Again, darlings, you have been warned.

Last Sunday's Hike

To Market, to Market, to Buy Peppers and Cheese

The Sky Project Yields a Weirdly Beautiful Mistake

Am I the Only One Who Thinks Moose Has Gone Overboard With the Whole Trees Silhouetted Against the Setting Sun Theme?

Moonrise, Or, Finally the Sky Project Looks Elsewhere

(Photo Credits: Moose on the Loose, undisclosed location, 9/27-10/3/09)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

CA Dreamin' -- And Doin'

A few days ago in this space, we asked,
Today, in that way we have of answering our own questions, we offer some examples, all from the great, troubled state of California. We gather the material, which has been bouncing around the internets, for the convenience of readers and also for the sheer political pleasure and relief of hearing a full-throated, proactive, sustained critique of and alternative to the soulless, gutless, accommodationist rhetoric that has for too long dominated higher ed's efforts to speak on behalf of itself. (You know, like the kind of stuff we hear from this guy.)

Our first example comes from our new political heartthrob, UC Santa Barbara English prof Chris Newfield, whose blog we've been flacking throughout walkout season. Newfield and UC president Mark Yudof had a commentary smackdown in The Chronicle of Higher Ed the other day. We think the blogging prof won hands down over the funeral director, on the strength of his challenge to universities "to articulate a great social mission . . . that would justify the support they have needed all along." Newfield does a wonderful job of explaining how academic leaders have failed to articulate such a mission in recent decades and how they might begin to do so more effectively. The full commentary is accessible by sub only, but here is one paragraph that made our hearts go pitty-pat:
University officials must explain the humble yet extraordinary activities for which at public universities only public money pays. Everyone says knowledge economies require unprecedented powers of invention, vision, communication, and an understanding of other cultures and complex natural systems. Those capacities arise from the details of directed learning: math problems corrected, errors pains takingly explained, novel but unformed ideas elaborated through one-on-one conversation, intellectual goals and personal destinies developed class after class, office hour after office hour—with the kind of nurturing attentiveness that makes no one any money, but without which society doesn't move forward. The public needs to learn that government cuts fall the hardest on those unsung activities, all of which are crucial for fixing our underperforming states.
Here, here, kids! Sign me up! Raise my taxes! I want to get on board the Good Ship Higher Ed (gargantuan public model)! Let's hear it for directed learning!

Also in The Chronicle but x-posted on his more accessible blog, Marc Bousquet snags an interview with the unnamed spokesperson for the group of students still occupying the Graduate Student Commons at UC Santa Cruz. We're awfully curious to know who these folks are, but we are happy to quote them as an example of student speech, analysis, and activism on behalf of higher ed. The spokesperson speaks eloquently of the "deep critique" of a political economy "in which things are accorded value by nothing more than the bottom-line" that informs and inspires the occupation:

We’re tired of hearing UC President Mark Yudof talk about making the UC more “efficient,” more “competitive,” about “human capital,” not because we are against some notion of what it means to be efficient, to not be wasteful, but because his speech demonstrates he needs a more complex analytic of the dynamics over-taking the UC system in this crisis. A broad-based social movement that has the capacity to articulate an alternative collective vision to the narrow, corporatist special-interests that control our budgets and strategic planning will be necessary. Nobody is sure what this will look like yet.

For now, we believe one of the first steps to building such a movement is to show that escalation and occupation is necessary and possible. We hope that groups of students, faculty, and everyday Californians can begin to see themselves, too, as people who can organize, occupy, and escalate to fight back.

Damn, I wish these kids had a donate button on their Web site!

Finally, we'll end with a couple of vids from the Save the University teach-in held at Berkeley the day before last week's walkouts. You can access the whole collection here, but below are the speeches by Robert Reich, former Clinton labor secretary and public policy prof, and Wendy Brown, political science prof. We offer these two examples in order to highlight the significantly different styles of two very effective presentations. Reich grabs the mic from the lectern and stands before the speakers' table to deliver an impassioned speech that seems off the cuff but is really quite polished. Brown stands behind the lectern and reads a carefully prepared list of ten effects or forces that "privatization generates as it brings market principles into the very heart of the university." Brown's much cooler presentation has its own stirring effect, as she shifts in her last couple of minutes to delineating all that a privatized model of education as an "efficient instructional delivery system generating human capital" cannot do in terms of developing, deepening, and broadening minds.

Take a look at both Reich and Brown. Listen to their language, with its concerted emphasis on public goods and public values. Then go stand before your mirror and practice the speech you'll make at your next meeting, in your next class, or at the next reception where you find yourself standing next to some dyspeptic administrator in a slippery suit. C'mon, kids. It's a group project, and we've all got plenty to do. Get crackin'.