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Comments

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My current stuffedness rating:

ParticleGirl Re:what the hell? (232 comments)

Can we at some point ditch the meme of American males talking about how they live in a basement etc. etc. just because they post on Slashdot?

Once upon a time the gender bias was real; now it's still perception, if nothing else. I would really love to see this poll re-administered.

That poll is from many years ago (don't remember exactly when, but at more than 1500 polls ago I'm pretty sure we're talking on the order of 10 years.) The internet has changed a lot since then.

more than 3 years ago
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Would You Take a One-Way Ticket To Mars?

ParticleGirl Re:Yes, even if it kills me (561 comments)

I always seriously thought that the day I see the earth from space is the day I could die a happy man.

I'm sick of the infantile hyperbole about human space travel.

Okay, so you're not a candidate for the Mars suicide mission. And probably not for the Lewis and Clark expedition, either. But that doesn't mean that this guy isn't, and that his comment was infantile hyperbole.

Without people who would die to blaze new trails, there would be no new countries to visit, or people like Jimi Hendrix to meet.

more than 3 years ago
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Would You Take a One-Way Ticket To Mars?

ParticleGirl Re:Yes, even if it kills me (561 comments)

evolution is surely turned upside-down nowadays.

Just because evolution has different values than you doesn't mean it's "turned upside-down." Evolution's "goal" has never been an intelligent, rich, well-educated society.

more than 3 years ago
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For taking notes by hand, I prefer ...

ParticleGirl Re:Computer/iPhone (373 comments)

In western medicine, we use things that work in randomized, double-blind studies. In non-western medicine, they follow tradition, and don't continually test to see whether things work.

Put another way: In western medicine, we use things that work in randomized, double-blind, short-term studies. In non-western medicine, we use things that have consistently worked in practice over the course of many, many generations, rather than continuously testing to see if things work in special cases, particular forms of administration, and particular contexts.

There are good reasons why traditional remedies so consistently prove to be effective. I do not dispute that

as a result [of modern medicine] we live a lot longer and can treat or cure people of conditions that would have killed them

once upon a time. But do not discount the longitudinal studies that comprise tradition.

more than 4 years ago
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For taking notes by hand, I prefer ...

ParticleGirl Notes on what? (373 comments)

It depends on whether my notes are likely to have any graphics-- and that depends on the context in which I'm taking notes. I like graph paper for graphics, college-ruled lined paper for text-only.

more than 4 years ago
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I usually fly...

ParticleGirl Re:Economy Class (365 comments)

Airlines loose an average of 90,000 pieces of luggage every day... and I've often wondered how many of these were actually stolen. I'm sure it's not an insignificant figure, and that this couple is not the only example of luggage stealing taken to the level of a business.

But airlines have very little incentive to take care of your luggage once you've paid to check it. Lost luggage is just accepted by so many travelers as part of the risk of air travel.

more than 4 years ago
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One Crime Solved Per 1,000 London CCTV Cameras

ParticleGirl Re:Sure, but... (404 comments)

Yeah CCTV catches every nose pick, every ass scratch, every groin adjustment and potentially offers these images to the world

I personally think that this is a great idea-- make it all public!

 

I think Warren Ellis had a pretty awesome vision in Transmetropolitan when whatever happens in public spaces becomes accessible to anyone, at any time-- truly publicly available, as many of us want "public" data to be.

 

I used to work for a government data archive in the burgeoning days of the internet, and they didn't want to make data downloadable-- even though it had to be legally available to the public!-- because they didn't it want to be THAT public. People who didn't understand it, or people who had malicious intentions would have access to it. But you know what? Public is public is public, and technology keeps on making it easier for more and more people to see those public things. CC:TV footage should stream online, and soon there'll be a brigade of human eyes looking out for criminals (and for ways to exploit other people, and to police the police) through those electronic eyes. When they start putting CCTV in your living room, I say THEN you worry.

about 5 years ago
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Neural Networks-Equipped Robots Evolve the Ability To Deceive

ParticleGirl Re:Deception is not always evil. (116 comments)

So yeah, the idea of "deception" is a human construct, as is the idea of "evil." And one could argue (as a previous poster did) that successive generations developing behaviors which are in their own self interest (so they get more food) but may (as a byproduct) be deleterious to others (since they get less food) is not a surprise. But extrapolate this to humans, and you get the kinds of behaviors that we call "deceptive" and, since we have ideas about the virtue of altruism, we call such behaviors "evil." This is experiment is definitely interesting in terms of group dynamics and behavior, and also because the novelty of the robots' solution to their problem is interesting-- two very different lines of thought. This kind of "deception" is one obvious and common solution to the problem of limited supply and competitive demand.

 

Deception is most interesting, I think, when you pair it with understanding of the "other" --that one is not merely making a strategy to get more food, but that in the process one is taking that food from others. So when humans and our closest relatives practice deceptive behaviors (which are surely-- and here demonstrably-- evolutionarily beneficial) it's complicated by our... moral sense? Altruistic tendencies? That's fascinating! When robots start to develop guilt complexes for their deceptive behaviors and guiltily hand over their food to others when caught in the act, I'll be impressed.

 

We are not using the term "deception" here in it's standard (moral) sense, which would indicate knowledge that another individual is being "fooled."

more than 5 years ago
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I Appreciate The Ergonomics Of My ___ The Most

ParticleGirl Re:Obligatory... (460 comments)

I'd rather give the medal to the process which shaped your brain such that it likes breasts the way they are.

[unless you think monkey butts are inherently sexy, rather than monkey brains finding monkey butts sexy...]

ergonomic != sexy

more than 5 years ago
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How To Send Email When You're Dead

ParticleGirl Re:Creepy... (165 comments)

A friend of mine's mother passed away a few years ago, and before she died she told her daughter that she had left a very important letter for her. She said that her daughter would find it after she passed away. Well, my friend spent months tearing apart her mother's house and belongings, and never found the letter. Did her mother change her mind at the last minute? Did she hide it too well? Had she never gotten around to writing it? One thing that an email service has going for it is that the message is delivered. There is no finding involved. My friend will agonize about that letter for the rest of her life.

more than 5 years ago
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Army Asks Its Personnel to Wikify Field Manuals

ParticleGirl Re:This is a good idea (143 comments)

I can say this with experience that most of the grunts I have worked with have a reading / writing level of less an 8th grade student. Their ability to translate experience into the written word is often very poor, and hard to translate. (...) I wouldnt trust them to write a document I'm going to hand to fresh recruits. Thats work best left for the.

I am sure you know what you are talking about, and I have no military experience... but it appears that the reports you were reading were required of the squad and patrol readers.

One thing that wikis in general have going for them (and I would assume that the same principle applies here) is that contributors are self-selected. People tend to write if/when they have something they feel needs to be said, and people who choose to write often (not always, of course!) tend to be better equipped to do so than those who would rather not. Sometimes they're even concise. Hopefully this applies here, to the benefit of the military. Maybe people with something useful to say will have an easy way to make it heard.

more than 5 years ago
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Mexico, Disconnect, Achievements

ParticleGirl Re:Bienvenida a Mexico (7 comments)

I'm an archaeologist, working in northern Chiapas (alrededor de Palenque) and while I'm interested in modern socio-cultural aspects of the Selva Lacandona, it's not my focus of study. So your work sounds interesting, though I'm afraid I'm useless to you!

more than 5 years ago
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Times Are Tough For Nigerian Scammers

ParticleGirl Re:Well, obviously... (232 comments)

I definitely don't think that they're robin hoods, nor do I doubt that such creative, motivated, successful people would have tons of other opportunities (where did you bring in opportunity and race?! That was NOWHERE in my post!) I simply point out that there are LOTS of different sets of "values" in the world, and that to call these guys unprincipled does not take into account the cultural context in which they are operating. Clearly, perpetrating one of these scams in this culture is NOT a deceitful act on par with our perception of Bernie Madoff in our culture-- there are popular pop songs about the practice for goodness sake! So before you call them "unprincipled," I simply say remember that there are other principles besides yours at work.

In other words: Try to have an open mind. That includes looking beyond your kneejerk reaction (racism?! What does that say about you?) and recognizing that not everyone thinks like you do, or values what you do.

more than 5 years ago
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The Outing of Pranknet

ParticleGirl Personal responsibility (543 comments)

I see a parallel here with the victims of Nigerian scammers, so recently discussed here. To what extent are the victims (perpetrators, in this case, of felonious acts; the mechanism by which they lose their own money in the other case) responsible for their own actions? To what extent is someone else responsible for bringing those actions about? A key difference here is that the Pranknet guys often rely on danger/panic scenarios: those situations when time wasted can be dangerous, and the guys at Pranknet were portraying themselves as helpers, whereas the scammers usually appeal to their victims for "help." I guess it's a difference of degree...

more than 5 years ago
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I Appreciate The Ergonomics Of My ___ The Most

ParticleGirl Obligatory... (460 comments)

...breasts.

Breasts are brilliant! So versatile and cleverly placed and shaped. Whoever designed them should get a medal.

more than 5 years ago
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Times Are Tough For Nigerian Scammers

ParticleGirl Re:Well, obviously... (232 comments)

If anything, I suspect that the Nigerian scammers are, on the whole, smart, motivated and fairly unprincipled, guys working in a tough competitive market.

Why "unprincipled"? I mean, Robin Hood was principled... Maybe you just mean that they don't value your values.

more than 5 years ago
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GM Gets To Dump Its Polluted Sites

ParticleGirl Re:Both GM and Chrysler were handle poorly (336 comments)

Please learn the differences among "their" and "there" and "they're" before you decide you're going to tell us a thing or two. It's your native fucking language so quit being so silly.

Not that it matters much, but I am a stickler for good grammar but a poor editor-- I, at the last minute before submitting, changed "ARE there exceptions?" to "What ARE the exceptions?" (because surely there must be some) ...except I failed to remove the "re" from the end of "there." I noticed it after I'd submitted, but figured I wouldn't trouble the overworked moderators with a dupe as well as a typo... so my apologies for having ruined your day.

On a side note, I was very tempted to change all of my "there"s to "their's" and "your" to "you're" just to provoke some more vitriol. ...and how do you know it's my native language? I spend more time speaking Spanish these days...

more than 5 years ago
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Ten Things We Still Don't Understand About Humans

ParticleGirl Re:I think we know more than this. (397 comments)

The currently popular theory of kissing's adaptive nature holds that kissing is a way to exchange (biochemical) information about hormone levels and immune system types, and also promotes emotional attachment towards pair bonding.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Rain on a thatched roof

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

ParticleGirl (197721) writes "I love the sound, I love the smell, of rain on a thatched roof. I love the way humidity here pervades everything. I even enjoy this kind of loneliness, once in a while."
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Single network scaled to the size of a data center

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "UCSD computer scientists have developed a scalable layer 2 network (original paper) (press release.) "PortLand is a fault-tolerant, layer 2 data center network fabric capable of scaling to 100,000 nodes and beyond. PortLand is fully compatible with existing hardware and routing protocols and holds promise for supporting large-scale, data center networks by increasing inherent scalability, providing baseline support for virtual machines and migration, and dramatically reducing administrative overhead." A prototype of PortLand is now running on a network in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering. This looks like a big advance in data center networking."
Link to Original Source
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Clearning Alan Turing's Name

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "We all know who Alan Turing was: The father of computer science, a brilliant mathematician and cryptanalysis, and originator of the Turing Test. If any of us have read the many books in which he figures, (or just know our history,) we might know that he was homosexual, and that he committed suicide after having been convicted of having sex with a man.

There is currently a campaign to clear his name, and a rapidly growing petition (you must be a British citizen to sign but not to spread the word about it!) on the 10 Downing Street website."

Link to Original Source
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Apple plans "abuse spy" for iPhones

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "Today Apple disclosed a patent filing for "consumer abuse detection and method." Apple will be adding systems to the iPhone to try and stem the flood of replacement phones they're currently giving away. "Apple's plan is to use sensors that can detect liquid exposure, high temperatures, high g-force shocks, and the opening of the sealed casing for the adding, removing, or altering of the internal components." More information here."
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GM gets to dump its polluted sites

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "GM emerged from bankruptcy and "was freed of obligations for polluted properties at discarded plant sites that will require millions of dollars to clean up." Industrial waste is no joke-- there are implications for the health of the local economy, individuals, communities and environment. Industry should be responsible for cleaning up their own messes, right? But it's such a double bind-- businesses don't always recognize the implications of their own policies, and they often would rather not find out. How do we make this happen? What ARE there exceptions-- like bankruptcy-- and can there be a backup plan in these cases?"
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DEET is really, really bad for you

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "DEET, a very common insect repellent, apparently "inhibits a key central nervous system enzyme." The original journal article was in BMC Biology. Scary! Nothing else keeps the mosquitoes away, so which is worse? Dengue fever or a neurotoxin?"
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Repairing class 3B lasers

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 6 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "A student sent me this email and I don't know the answer (or where to send her to find it.) Help an enthusiastic freshman-going-on-sophomore (and her prof!) out, and I will introduce her to Slashdot.

"I'm in the process of taking apart and fixing class 3B lasers.. certain wires are attached to various circuit boards and secured with a white putty type substance. For example the laser component is attached to the dmx circuit board with two prongs and around it was this white stuff.. of course to get it out and replace it i had to take the white putty off... now that it's replaced i need to secure the wire to the prongs on the dmx board. Do you know what this white putty stuff is and where I can get it?""
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ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "New Scientist reports on a paper to be presented this summer which essentially details all the myriad ways that the Zune, the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, and the SlingBox Pro "leak" personal information. From the article: The researchers show that the Zune's wireless sharing could let strangers push content onto your player, while the Nike+iPod kit could let others track your location (we've written about that before). Even SlingBox's encryption mode let's others work out what you're watching, the paper suggests."
Link to Original Source
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ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "China's list of "restricted" sites is growing longer by the day, and more and more individuals are expressing their discontent. From the article: Liu Bin, an IT consultant with Beijing-based consulting firm BDA, "believes it will take a long time before the government loosens control over Web content, especially because the Internet-savvy middle class is unlikely to take to the streets — like the farmers of Bobai county — over lack of Web access." Will they take to the blogs? Would that make a difference?"
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ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "China's list of "restricted" sites is growing longer by the day, and more and more individuals are expressing their discontent. From the article: Liu Bin, an IT consultant with Beijing-based consulting firm BDA, "believes it will take a long time before the government loosens control over Web content, especially because the Internet-savvy middle class is unlikely to take to the streets — like the farmers of Bobai county — over lack of Web access." Will they take to the blogs? Would that make a difference?"
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ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "Jack Valenti, former president of the MPAA, has suffered a stroke. He lobbied for the DMCA and against the VCR back in the day, and even in retirement has remained vocal and politically active... what do we think? Has he been rightfully vilified here? Is he all bad?"
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ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ParticleGirl writes "For the first time in its 40-year history, the $100,000 ACM Turing Award has been presented to a woman. Frances E. Allen, who worked for IBM from 1957 to 2002 and founded PTRAN in the 80s, won the Ada Lovelace award for women in computing in 2002. This week she was awarded the Turing for pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution. CNN is reporting. One small step for a woman, one giant leap for womankind!"

Journals

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Clouds like something out of Maxfield Parish

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

The sky and smell of the air after a thunderstorm always make me happy... and that those are, today, accompanied by a sky that looks painted by Maxfield Parish just makes joy well up in my belly until I can't help but laugh!

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Rain on a thatched roof

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I love the sound, I love the smell, of rain on a thatched roof. I love the way humidity here pervades everything. I even enjoy this kind of loneliness, once in a while.

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iPod, Kindle, Chol

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Is it really true that there is a Kindle app for iPhones/iPods, but that with an iPod and this app one cannot download books outside the country of purchase? I know that if you own a Kindle you can still download books while traveling internationally, but you have to download to a computer and transfer to the Kindle (no wireless downloading.) My understanding is that you cannot do this with iPod/Kindle app. Am I wrong?

I would really prefer to buy an iPod than a Kindle. I will be spending 12 of the next 16 months in Chiapas and would like to bring music, video and books. I would prefer one device that does all three (so iPod makes sense) but if I can't get books on the iPod I'll just get a Kindle and another external hard drive. And there do not seem to be as many choices of ebooks available (they're cheaper but more limited, is my impression) if you don't have a Kindle.

Also: Does anyone speak any Chol? Or know where I could get learning materials? I would like to brush up some (outside of finding a language partner) but I don't know of ANY books or other resources that exist. If you know it, where did you learn it?

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Mexico, Disconnect, Achievements

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 5 years ago

I will be spending 11 of the next 16 months in Mexico and am happy to report that I have a pretty good internet connection. So that means that I'm back to reading Slashdot regularly.

I have not read Slashdot regularly for years, and feel pretty out-of-the-loop.

I like some of the changes a lot, though. But don't really know much about them-- for example, this achievement thing; what's "the Maker" mean?

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demographics

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Way back in the day, a poll suggested an interesting breakdown by gender. I wonder how much the breakdown of /. readership has changed, and if that 'means' anything. Changed in terms of gender breakdown (I'll bet there are a lot more women now... though maybe I'm wrong. Hmm. I dunno.) and also things like age and geographical location and occupation (is tech a hobby? a job?) ...that kind of stuff.

I think that web usership in general has gotten more female, older, and less professional. Geographically? Maybe more Asian? I don't know, but I suspect that a lot of these ideas are actually founded on things I read somewhere and filed away in 'lost' but retained ideas about. (in other words, I think I'm right but can't give proof! What else is new.)

My neighborhood has changed a lot, demographically, in the last few years. It's younger and more sober, I think. It also seems to be populated by people who are on their way to somewhere else more then it used to be. When I first moved to Little Italy, it was all old retired couples who'd lived there for fifty years dammit, or young people who had grown up and moved out of the house and then inherited it from their parents and decided to come back to the old neighborhood to live in the family homestead. Now there are a lot of young professionals doing a stint somewhere for a few years before moving on, or artists who aren't sure how long they'll be staying, or people buying the old houses and flipping them to sell to the burgeoning hipster community.
 
All communities change.

I love neighborhoods. I love ones that seem to be very self-contained in the way that mine is: there's one or more grocery store, hardware store, church, school, barbershop (I mean, it's even got the swirly pole!), &c. all within walking distance. You don't have to leave the community for any of the basics or most of the luxuries. People know and look out for each other. Block parties happen.
 
It all seems so quaint!

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Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is the guy who does the ukulele rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. For some reason, I love, love, love this tune. Every time I hear it, it pulls at heartstrings. I really don't know why that is, what it is about this song, the guy's voice, the ukelele...

There are songs I'm attached to because they bring back memories, specific ones or of eras in my life, of people or places, ideas, smells, whatever... this one doesn't. This song brings back memories of someplace I've never been-- it's like that feeling of home that you have sometimes (especially in that teens/twenties phase when you sometimes just wanted to go home, but weren't sure where home was, or even if it was really a place instead of an idea)... that's the place that this song makes me think of. It's somehow wistful. It reminds me of a home I've never been, but that I'm nostalgic for. I hear it, and I'm transported. I love that.
 
No, I'm not from (nor have I ever been to) Hawaii, my dad doesn't play the ukulele, and I wasn't an obsessed Wizard of Oz fan when I was a child. I can't think of a single deep-seated psychological reason. It's just something about the song...

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I am a woman and innately different

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Because of the overwhelming amount of email I received in response to my "I am a woman and innately different" post, I thought I would write a journal entry to respond to some of it. I especially want to talk to the people who misunderstood me when I said something about "our society's inability to cope with a workforce that is actively involved in reproduction" and suggested that I was unconcerned about the fact that males don't get this consideration either. To the contrary: I specifically said "a workforce that is actively involved in reproduction" instead of "women having kids" because a workforce should be composed of men and women, and because I believe that both fathers and mothers should be actively involved in reproduction/childrearing; I am talking about more than one major change. "Society" would have to 1. realize that not only women should be actively involved in having kids and 2. find a way to cope with a workforce composed of parents. It should not be a workforce of men because women are doing the parenting. That's total bullshit.

I want to have kids someday. So do a lot of men I know. But I don't know any men who are worried that they will not get hired or tenured if they are wearing a wedding ring because their employers will think they are going to have a child soon and slack off. I want to have kids someday, and part of the reason I picked teaching is so I have a more flexible schedule. Not a shorter schedule: I fully expect to be putting in all the overtime a junior faculty member puts in and working my ass off. I also expect to have a partner who is just as flexible as I am and will be the one to pick the kid up from school a few days a week. I know a lot of pairs of professors who have kids, and put in equal work taking care of them, but the woman had a much harder time getting a tenure-track job than her husband because it was assumed that she would take more time off or have more kids. That's not fair.

Finally, as for the maternity leave deal, I am not suggesting that the university pay for me to take nine months of maternity leave for my pregnancy and then keep my job and benefits for me through my child's early years until I decide to come back to work. I am merely suggesting that some women have complications and cannot work right until a the day before the baby is due, and that if breastfeeding is chosen the woman is often discouraged from working because a nursing infant is unwelcome in a work environment. Unfortunately, consideration for this is not treated as a medical issue OR a personal issue, like a death in the family or an injury requiring hospitalization-- and the difference is that is was chosen. However, I think herein lies the innate difference: men and women both [often, sometimes, not enough?] choose when to have children, but this means choosing a period of time in which the woman may in some way be physically restricted. And for many employers, this is not an acceptable option until the employee has been working for decades. And this means it is not an option for some (reference: the ad reading "Egg donors needed. Waited too long for tenure.") That's not fair either. If it was some kind of elective surgery, most employers are more than willing to accept it, or even plan with you-- but when it comes to pregnancy, many employers treat it as disinterest in the job and a sign of poor quality of work to come.
 
I think that's everything I needed to respond to. I'll add more if something else springs to mind. In contrast to all of the defending and clarification above, I want to thank everybody who wrote messages of support or suggestions or "hang in there"s-- no, I'm not planning on getting married or having babies anytime soon, so it's not like I'm making any tough choices at the moment. But --well, I hope I do someday, and it would be nice to stick with the career, too. :) It was really nice to hear from (or about) so many women who are tenure-stream and have faced the same questions.

28 February-- Nature (the journal, not Mother Earth) seems to be on the same page as I am: http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v433/n7027/full/nj7027-780a_fs.html

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big birds stuffed w/ chestnuts & cranberries & other goodies

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I love thanksgiving food. Mostly because I love baking. I love baking things that take hours and hours and make the whole house smell yummy. Smells are awesome. It's amazing what smells can do.

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Wheat is a wonderous thing.

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I can't live for long without bagels. Or fresh bread. Cheese just isn't the same without it. And corn tortillas just aren't as tasty as wheat ones. Yes, wheat is a wonderous thing.

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A Failed Experiment in Sleep

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I thought that sleeping 8 hours a night and trying to wake up and be out the door in under half an hour would be good for me. Get that "much needed" sleep. Train myself to be more of a quick, up-and-out-the-door kind of person. But I am finding that if I get more than 6 or 7 hours of sleep I am sluggish all day, and if I don't relax and wake up slowly in bed and the shower I am still sleepwalking 5 hours later. Bah.

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San Cristobal and Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  about 11 years ago

Long time no talk! I got back about a month ago from Chiapas, Mexico, where I had been since May. Anyone been to Chiapas? Very large indigenous population (varieties of Maya) and lots of great archaeology. I spent a couple of months tramping through the jungle, and found sites with pyramids, temples, ball courts... all sorts of cool stuff that had never been registered, mapped, recorded-- so cool, to stand in a building you know no one has probably stood in for many hundreds of years! So cool to stand in a community so removed that no one speaks Spanish, so cool to stand on a hilltop you know no gringo has stood upon before, or is likely to again for a very, very long time.

There was a tarantula in my bed my third day in Palenque. After that, I slept in my hammock.

I made it out of the summer without getting a single bot fly.

I stood at the top of a Maya observatory on the solstice and watched the sun set exactly between two mountain peaks, shining through a series of doors and windows onto the easternmost mural in the palace.

I learned exactly how hard it is going to be to sustain friendships in Mexico or in the U.S. when I spend a third of my year there and two thirds of my year here. I decided that such incredible experiences are worth that difficulty.

I learned exactly how much you can't help standing out in southern Mexico when you're tall with blonde hair and blue eyes, and that it doesn't matter as long as you speak the language. (Chido gringas do exist!)

I learned to use the words guey and fresco correctly.

In learned that Maya words and thought heavily influence Spanish in southern Mexico-- cool things like using the same verb to mean "to lend" and "to borrow" --no differentiation between whose property you're talking about and who is using it on a temporary basis. Definitely derived from some different conceptions of "property."

I can't wait to get back to Mexico. :)

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IS "Wireless" a common term?

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 11 years ago

I'm staying at a Ramada in Milwaukee for a conference.

Ask the Business Center at the conference center (the place you're supposed to go to fix up your presentation, fax things, make phone calls... you know.) Ask, "is there wireless access anywhere in this building?" while holding my laptop. Response: "Wireless... what?"
"Wireless internet?"
"Oh, no, we have a couple of computers here you can use for internet access though."
"How much is that?"
"Ten dollars an hour, one hour minimum."
"Is there wireless access anywhere around here?"
"Oh, no, this is Milwaukee; we don't pretend to be a big city."
"Ok... is there a Starbucks around here?"
"Oh, yeah-- eight or ten blocks that way (pointing.)"
"Ok, thanks. Future reference, all Starbucks have wireless internet access."

Leave with a smile, figure I'll ask one of the hotels around the conference center, and somewhere will have to have wireless.

Go back to my room at the Ramada. Call guess services: "Hi, do you have wireless internet access anywhere at this hotel?"
"No, ma'am, but there's a Kinko's two blocks up the street."
"Ok, thanks!" I hang up, wondering why I had never heard that Kinkos did wireless. I call back. "Hi, I just called a minute ago-- did you send me to Kinkos because they have wireless access or because I asked for a computer thing?"
"We send most of our patrons there."
"Ok, thanks. Can I have Kinkos' number?"

I call Kinkos. "Do you have wireless access there?"
"Wireless..."
"Wireless internet access?"
"We have some computers that can get on the internet, but they've got wires attached to them..."
"Ok, thanks."

I'll try the Hyatt. I know they're across the street, but the only number in the phone book is an 800 reservations number. "Hi, can you tell me if the Hyatt in Milwaukee city center has wireless internet access?"
"I'm going to have to look that up, just a moment. ...It looks to me like they don't... in fact, it looks to me like they only have analog, miss."
"Ok, thanks very much." ...It seems that the Hilton has two computers that have internet access for free to people who are staying there, but you have to give your room number and then someone unlocks the door for you (damn.)

I'm sitting in the conference center; paid $10 but get as long as I want for teaching the people who work here what SSH and FTP are.

I don't think I'll be coming back to Milwaukee. My poor laptop is sitting lonely in my room at the Ramada. I miss Pittsburgh. I miss Telerama.

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SARS

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Poll(ish type thing):
Are you worried about SARS?
Do you know what SARS is?
Has it affected your life in any way?
Do you expect it to?

I keep being reminded of 12 monkeys.

My students have largely never heard of it. Then again, a good half of my students barely realize that we're in a country at war.

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Who doesn't like pasta?!

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Who doesn't like pasta?! It's a staple food. It's like not liking rice. How can you not like pasta?

Then again, I don't like ice cream.

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I love rogue and adventure

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 11 years ago

I have got to say that, after all these years, I can still sit down to adventure, the forerunner of zork, or rogue, the forerunner of dungeons of doom, and have a blast. They just don't make 'em like they used to. Now they're in java instead of DOS.

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Anti-war movements and why I won't become an ex-pat

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 11 years ago

I go to protests, write letters, and try to make sure the people I know are informed.

I have a student who emailed me that he had to go "to the base" yesterday at 5am, and would try to make it back in time for recitation. He did make it for the last 20 minutes of class, and after class he said he would be sent over shortly. He won't be able to finish out the semester. A shame. "So you think the war's a bad idea?" he said. Yes, I do. "You must hate me then..." No-- of course I don't hate him. I support and admire our troops. It's the administration that I have a problem with, that I think is jumping prematurely into conflict, is risking the lives of people like my student when other avenues have not, in my opinion and the opinion of much of the world, been fully explored.

I have a friend who was making offhand jokes about how Iceland or Switzerland is looking awfully nice right now. Low unemployment, good social services, no desire to police the world. I love my country; I think that the U.S. was founded on, and manages to adhere to much of the time, some incredible principles. I think that I would rather stay here and try to change the things that I feel are wrong, try to understand why so much of this country feels that it's our place to violate international agreements and invade a soverign nation (however volatile) against world opinion and without fully exploring other options. I would rather try to promote change from within than abandon a place that I love and think has so much potential.

I think it's a terrible thing that the media has twisted so many protests and statements to imply that you either support the troops OR feel that war is not yet appropriate. As I type this, we've bombed Baghdad and a long, drawn-out conflict which will certainly involve a bloody land war has begun. I have a student who will be there, and I hope he and all the other soldiers manage to make it back. And I hope people write letters ot their representatives, assist in movements like War Resisters, moveon.org, the Community Action Network, the Thomas Merton Center, Cities for Peace, Take Back the Media and Women of Vision and Action. A friend laments that he feels so hopeless. No one of us can change everything, but if everyone does a little, together we can do a lot.

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The way smells bring back vivid memories

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 11 years ago

I love the way smells bring back vivid memories-- more than anything else, a smell can remind me of someone or something or sometime or some feeling. Tonight it smells like springtime. That, in and of itself, doesn't remind me of anything in particular, but it did get me thinking about smell.

I remember being probably 11 or 12 years old-- old enough that some friends were starting to spend a lot of time thinking about boys but not old enough yet to know much about them. A friend of mine had borrowed her "boyfriend"s t-shirt and was saying that it smelled like him. She was saying that every guy (and girl, for that matter) had his own smell, and that this shirt smelled like nothing but Seth. I'd never thought about it before, and the other friend participating in the discussion thought that the idea was gross-- "eew, Seth smells?" But I knew it was true, and not gross at all. Familiar. Close. Good. Today I was walking down the street and I smelled something-- some aftershave or deodorant or shampoo or something-- that brought me back to the nights I spent in highschool with a boy I thought I loved; it almost stopped me cold. The guy wearing whatever-the-smell-was was feet away from me... I only noticed it because the smell was so familiar, so vivid in my memory. I was walking with a friend about a month ago in the rain and he said, "Oh, you smell good..." and stopped me to smell my hair and try to place it; apparently a girlfriend 15 years ago sometimes used the same shampoo.

Today it smells like spring, like a night with a comfortable smell of Bloomfield, Pittsburgh. I hadn't realized that I knew the smell of this place until I went out onto my porch and realized that it smelled like those days I was moving here, the nights I spent in my unpacked apartment, not knowing where anything was or what I would see when I walked out the front door of my apartment. Now I know the street outside without looking at it, can imagine how to get to a grocery store, a club, my office, the bus, a friend... but the smell of the air tonight makes me think of this place, unknown.

I love that smell is such a visceral reminder. I love that we pick up things that we wouldn't notice otherwise, like a hint of vivid color out of the corner of the eye, that we have such strong associations and can make such minute distinctions when they matter.

And what makes them matter? Familiarity, being so close to smells for so long that you don't smell them, and then when you come back to them they're inseparable from their remembered source. Emotion, having a memory so important stored up that everything about it is fixed, and smell takes the longest time to fade. I can imagine why it would be so evolutionarily important to have strong reactions to smell, to be able to distinguish so finely between smells, to remember smells so well. But it's incredible to me how much smell is tied to emotion, vague or general memory, ideas and feelings and people and places, instead of momentary things like so much of visual memory is, at least for me. I think of a person I see them in a moment or at several moments; I hear a song I remember incidents; I smell something I remember sweeping eras or long-felt emotional ties or general situations.

Noodle kugel makes me think of my mother and my kitchen when I was very small. Thunderstorms near saltwater make me elated. Connifers make me think of nights in northern Michigan. A certain shampoo makes me think of sleepovers with my best friend when we were small, no matter how often I've used it as an adult. The smell of an approaching rain makes me happy; the smell of snow on a really cold day makes me subdued.

What do smells remind you of?

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A diversity of friends

ParticleGirl ParticleGirl writes  |  more than 11 years ago

I just spent a couple of hours with a friend of a friend from Michigan; it was very nice to chat with someone about far-reaching topics. Expecially to chat with someone who likes hardware, video games and computers, and who knows what Slashdot is. I've spent the last six months with people who need help recovering their Microsoft Word files and know that I'm good with the "dread machines"-- and without people who can talk to me about that whole realm of my interests. I left my job as a programmer happily, and plan never to work in a cubicle again; I hope never to have a profession in the "computer industry" or the "information technology industry" again... but that doesn't mean that those interests have dropped totally out of my life. And while Slashdot and other electronic outlets are always available, I have found it hard to find real, live people to talk to who share some of these interests.

Where's a geek-gal-in-hiding to go? I'm not really in hiding-- I just spend my days teaching college kids about evolutionary biology and doing research in archaeology, so it seems like the computer geekiness is hidden. Where, oh where, do I go for an outlet?

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