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The Growlery
In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

Once again, the students in my senior / graduate linguistic anthropology course, Language and Societies, have written abstracts of their research papers, which I have now posted on the course blog of the same name.    As always, I am casting a wide net, looking for comments from anyone interested in these subjects.     If you have a few spare minutes, I'd really appreciate if you could take a few moments to post a comment on one or a few abstracts that interest you.  I am extremely pleased in general with the quality of insight and analysis, and I am confident that several of these papers will eventually end up as conference presentations.  Thanks!

Siobhan Gregory: “Detroit is a Blank Slate”: Metaphors in the Journalistic Discourse of Art and Entrepreneurship in the City of Detroit

Stephanie Nava: Language Loss and Maintenance in the United States: An Examination of Mexican and Japanese Immigrants and their Kin

Scott Shell: The Conversion of Scandinavia by Means of Script Transition

Sean Shadaia: Analyzing medical discourse through the lens of the non-English-speaking patient / interpreter / physician interaction

Lauren Powers: Hip-Hop Lyrics and the Defaming of Women in Hip-Hop Culture

Wendy D. Bartlo: Elderspeak: an examination of language directed at older adults

Alex Beaudin: 140 Characters

Amelia Baumgarten: “Okay, at this point you’re abusing sarcasm”: Figurative language and negative emotion in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Sophocles Sapounas: A contemporary cross-cultural study of politeness: The universal necessity of politeness in human interaction

Nadia Maraachli: Death-related discourse in assisted living facilities

Jennifer Schechter: Grammar Nazis, prescriptivism, and snobs, oh my! Social standards and spoken language

Colleen Face: Queer Russian intersectionality

Robert A. Johnson: “Frugal or spendy?”:  public accountability in an online debt support group

Junguk Spurrier: American indifference to foreign language learning

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Dang, it's been a while since I posted here.  Life is busy, as always. 

As I mentioned a few months ago, I joined the NDP back in September.  All of the general points of agreement, and the occasional divergences, remain as they were - not that my politics are set in stone.   I voted today online for the federal leadership.     Honestly, having lived in Quebec for a decade, all the sucking up to Quebec is vaguely patronizing.  "Oh, we need to make sure that our fragile hold on the province doesn't fade away!  Oh, the Quebecois electorate is so fickle!"  Blah blah blah.  You elect a charismatic, competent leader who speaks French, and beyond that you don't have to kiss anyone's ass.    Everyone with an ounce of sense knows that the NDP didn't win in Quebec last year, as much as all the other parties lost, especially the Bloc.    Layton wasn't radically different in 2011 than he was in 2004 or 2006 or 2008.     And of course, the rhetoric when there are Quebec losses in 2015 - and there will be losses, almost inevitably, because there's virtually nowhere to go but down! - will be that it was because whoever we picked in 2012 wasn't Jack.  And that's crap, and everyone knows it, but the rhetoric is inevitable.     Ah well, ultimately the next three years will matter a whole lot more than the next week.

Anyway, I was thinking of doing the online voting round by round on the day of the convention but I decided instead to just do my preferential vote online today.  So that's done.  I do expect to get multiple robocalls over the next week, of course.    For the record, I ranked three candidates, two of whom have a chance of winning.   We'll see.

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In 2006, when my dissertation supervisor Bruce Trigger passed away, I was assigned the task of supervising the distribution of his books, offprints, etc. to various individuals and institutions.  Mostly that didn't give me any real power but it did have some perks, like getting to read all his old correspondence that was tucked away inside his books.  But perhaps the most awesome thing about it were the offprints.  For, you see, Bruce had a massive collection of offprints, some of which dated to the 1930s and 1940s, and others of which were signed by super-famous folks in the world of anthropology and archaeology.    Which was all cool. 

But then there was the weird stuff, like old copies of mimeographed working papers by people whose relationship to data was tenuous at best.  Or the photocopied version of a manuscript entitled 'Proto-Indo-European-Beothuk: Beothuk as an Indo-European Language with Proto-Celtic Loans', which, the title page informs me, can be obtained from the author at $10 per copy but which Bruce received for free.     There's more like that.  It's awesome.

But my very favourite of all is the following manuscript:
Read more...Collapse )

I have to stop now.  I'm laughing too hard at the 'Neolithic Regulators'  and the 'Cul-de-Sac' and the 'Sociocultural Exoskeleton' and 'Racial Memory' all tucked away down there.   You'll either have to read it yourself, or just trust me that the 'Wild Composite Ancestor with Earliest Patrilineal Food' is a thing of beauty, or that there is a thing called the 'Zone of Multidimensional Balls of All Sorts.'  No, wait.  Don't trust me.  Go and read it. 

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At long last we are returned from our two-week journey to the Far East (of Canada) and back.  I am planning on collapsing out of utter exhaustion very shortly, leaving piles of presents and garbage strewn  all about.  But I felt I should mark today as the first time Arthur got to make a D&D character, which he'd been asking us to do for months now, but most vigorously over the past few weeks while we'd been away, and we promised him that once we got back to Windsor in January he could play.  Well, we hadn't been back for three hours before he was ready to go, making his first character, Roy, who is, essentially, Roy from Order of the Stick, except that he looks like an older version of Arthur, apparently.  The setting, such as it is, will be Julia's Aveyrone Empire and it looks like I'm the GM for the two of them.  After making the character (with help of course) he insisted on playing a 'demo', for which he pulled out one of the dungeon tiles that balthcat gave us and insisted that I run it for them.   A hobgoblin was defeated and there was much rejoicing.  Arthur hasn't quite figured out that he doesn't just get to say what is going to happen next, but seemed to have a good time and insisted on telling the enemy, just as he was dying, that he'd be back in the real game, since this was just a demo. 

So I present to you: Roy!Collapse )

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Arthur has taken an interest in chemistry lately - well, not *actual* chemistry, but he has discovered that when you put elements together, you get molecules, and so he spends a lot of time asking me things like, "What happens when you put six titaniums with one hydrogen?" and so on.    So this evening we were at the pool, and so of course he asked about chlorine, and happened to ask:

A: What happens when you put one chlorine with one hydrogen?
S: Oooh, then you can get hydrochloric acid!
A: Did you say ACID?
S: Yup!  And if you stuck your hand in it, it would burn and burn!  We might even have to amputate!
A: You mean like Terry Fox?
S: Yes, but Terry Fox didn't dip his leg in hydrochloric acid.  He got cancer.
A: It was very sad.

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I'm looking at the official description of the boundary of my provincial riding (electoral district) just now, where I learn that it is "that part of the City of Windsor lying westerly and southerly of a line described as follows: commencing at the intersection of the international boundary between Canada and the United States of America with the northwesterly production of Langlois Avenue; thence southeasterly along said production and Langlois Avenue to Tecumseh Road East; thence easterly along said road to Pillette Road; thence southeasterly along Pillette Road and its intermittent productions to the southerly limit of said city."

I was curious about the use of the noun production and in particular the phrase intermittent productions.  I wasn't familiar with this usage, so I presumed it must be some sort of legalese.  When I Googled "intermittent productions" it seems to be the name of a film production company which drowns out a handful of results that lead to descriptions of Canadian electoral districts, including mine.  You see it more clearly on the Image Search where five of the first-page results are electoral district maps.   So what's going on?

The OED helps a little; it tells me that one of the senses of production is "6. Extension or lengthening in space or time" and one of the quotations seems relevant:
1984    Victoria Govt Gaz. 8 Aug. 2831/1   All that land bounded by the southern alignment of Arden Street, the western alignment of Laurens Street, the production of the southern alignment of Miller Street and a line 6 metres east of the Coburg railway line.

So from this, along with some basic knowledge of my city, I figured out that a production is what you get when you project a street along a straight line beyond its actual extent (in this case, into the Detroit River).  This makes sense of 'the northwesterly production of Langlois Avenue', since that's exactly where the electoral boundary meets the international boundary (in the middle of the river right along the line followed by Langlois).   And this, then, is the explanation for 'intermittent productions', because Pillette Road is not a single road (any longer) but is divided up into several segments separated by rail lines, a freeway, an airport, etc.  The electoral boundary thus follows Pilette's various segments, and where there is no street, follows the intermittent productions that result from extending the street along an imaginary line.  Mystery solved.

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Arthur was in fine form today. 

First, at dinner, he asked us about the word 'centurally'.  I asked him, "Do you mean centrally?" to which he replied, "No, like Thirtieth Century Fox.  You know ... daily, weekly, monthly, yearly ... centurally."

Later during dinner, the following conversation ensued:
Julia: "That's weak sauce."
Arthur: "No, it's awesome sauce."
Julia: "That's lame sauce."
Arthur: "No, it's fame sauce."
Steve: "No, it's blame sauce."
Arthur: "Will-you-stop-saying-the-word-sauce sauce?"
So he developed a game where you had to end every sentence with the word 'sauce' or else you were out.

Then, on the way home from swimming lessons, he commented that there were a lot of signs for our local NDP candidate (which there are), and mentioned how there were some signs with his picture and others with just his name.  I told him that when we go to vote, the ballots will only have the candidates' names and parties, like, for instance, Helmi Charif, New Democratic Party.  To which he replied thoughtfully, "What happened to the old party?"  I said, "What party?" and he said, "You know, the Old D.P.  The ODP and the NDP."  Good question, little dude.   So being a good dad, I gave him a brief history of the CCF. 

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Every year for the past several years I've been tracking the number of jobs listed on the American Anthropological Association job postings as of September 26. That date is somewhat arbitrary and I chose it for historical reasons, but a slightly different date wouldn't really change much with the overall trends. As a proxy for the health of the job market in anthropology, though, the AAA listings are ideal, since virtually every tenure-stream position in the discipline gets listed there. So here we have it, including the 2011 figure:

2006: 190
2007: 186
2008: 168
2009: 78
2010: 112
2011: 117

So, basically flat from last year with possibly a very slight improvement from last year.  But five jobs could easily be random fluctuation since you never know when the new postings will go up.  Certainly we are still well below the 2006-2008 period which are generally reckoned in the field as having been quite good years.

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Last night, Arthur and I were reading a poem about Charlie the chattering chipmunk that his teacher sent home. I asked him, "Can you think of any other words that start with the 'ch' sound?" to which he replied with a twinkle in his eye, "Charisma!"

Then, this morning, he came into our bedroom and instructed us, without any introduction, "Get me to Wikipedia and find the history of Windows loading screens." I found him a site, and then crawled back into bed. Fifteen minutes later he came in and announced, "Actually, I found a better site." Which he had, and proceeded to look at for the next half hour.

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In general, I am not now a joiner of causes.  It's not that I don't have social and political opinions - you better know that I do - but I generally find most organizations to be so ridiculously managed or so full of annoying people that I find myself expressing strong opinions about how they are run, and then taking on positions of leadership, because (as you will know if you know me) I am one of those "if it has to be done right, I'll have to do it myself" sort of people, coupled with the fact that I am constitutionally incapable of keeping my mouth shut. Which is, among so many other things, one of the great things about curtana in that I actually trust her to do things right, which is why, though we may certainly disagree, we work very well together organizing things.  

In high school, I packed my days full of extracurricularity; I think the year I was in four bands, bridge club, science club, Reach for the Top, Venturers, and ... something else that I'm forgetting, was probably the worst it got, but in none of these cases was I forced to join anything by parents or teachers or anyone else.  I just ... did.   And in most of these groups, I took on lots of responsibility, because that was the thing to do. And certainly my parents were models for this; both of them had very active social lives when it came to serving in various organizations.    But basically, over the past 20 years (as it is now coming up on my 20 year HS reunion ... sigh), I haven't joined much of anything.  I was on the executive of my undergrad anthropology club for a year ... I remember nothing else about that group other than that I was on the executive, not even what position I held.   I served on various committees as a grad student, but that was more in the line of professional training.     The one major exception was the McGill Gamers' Guild where I was a member pretty much the whole time we were in Montreal, even though it, like all the other institutions and organizations I've been involved in, was full of incompetence and ridiculous drama (sorry, all you old Guild people ... but you know I'm right!) and was perpetually in need of someone to kick everyone else in the pants.  But there, because I was barred from serving as an executive, cruelly, because I was a grad student, I got to be the eminence grise or the First Lady of the Guild by virtue of curtana's steady leadership.   But basically the only reason I was in the Guild was that that was where all my friends were.  Since that time ... nothing new.

So the upshot is that in general, I don't join nearly as many things as I believe in, and don't fill my days with volunteering, serving on boards of things, etc.   I do end up serving on a lot of committees at work, which has some of the same characteristics as joining a group (I do seem to speak up a lot, surprise surprise), but I do get paid for this, after all, and even then, the most rewarding service I do is as the graduate director, which rarely involves me negotiating a large group of people, a handful at most.   

Last week I joined both the federal and provincial NDP.  I've never been a member of a specific political party, but it's the only obvious one that fits, although my disagreements with certain planks of NDP policy is, I suppose, a matter of record if one should choose to go wading into my older posts.  I suppose the impetus for doing so was our trip to Toronto for Jack Layton's funeral, although it was something I'd thought about before.    Partly it's because as an international commuter I've got to keep ties to my home and native land and have been feeling more disengaged from our politics since we moved to Windsor.  Partly it's that Canadian social democrats are so damned polite that they often forget to mention the fact in public, so they remain invisible.  I don't know what I'll do with or about my new memberships - I mean, I will be 'card-carrying' as soon as they get around to sending me a card, but who cares about a damn card anyway?   The things that keep me interested in politics - civil liberties, electoral reform, education, and economic justice - all desperately need attention.  So I suppose I'll have to see what needs to be done right. 

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