Thursday, October 21, 2010

Publication: Professional or not?

The Author questioned on her blog whether blogging is a publication credit for an author.
My answer: It depends.

If you head off to a different realm of publication, one finds scientific, peer-reviewed journals. There is a distinct quality issue here. One can't get 'published' unless one convinces the journal of the quality and value of one's work. This is no different superficially than publishing at Bantam or Vintage. One difference, as I understand it, is who does the 'approving'. These journals get reviewed by others who do the same type of research, who are therefore better able though not perfect to identify the scientific quality and value.

I am never going to "get published", to use the phrase as scientists do. My thesis research isn't really all that great, especially in the absence of about 1/2 of the data I wanted. Hypothetically my adviser could include me as a "secondary author" when he publishes the bigger research project which mine leads into, though I can't imagine him doing so.

This is an option I only notice on scientific journals: primary authors and secondary authors. The primary author's name is first, and if it's the first name, it's the primary author. Everyone else gets listed after that. I don't know if journals have a rule about the order. I did get included as a secondary author once, many years ago, and it wasn't alphabetical. Actually, the list was:
VP of R&D,
Worker with More Hours, and
Worker with Fewer Hours (me)

I see novels and non-fiction published with more than one author, but I have the impression that there are simply more names listed, and the first name is likely chosen for marketing value.

The key factor in my decision to include a blog under 'publications' on my resume would be the same as any other item: how relevant is it to the job requirements?
If I was applying for a job which required extensive writing of any kind ...? Yes I would include my blog.
If I was applying for a scientific job, and I thought my blog was scientifically fantastic, I would include it only if I thought it was make me look good.

The catch -for me as a professional looking at the healthygopher blog- would be how much profanity or socially unacceptable things I had made. I write my blog for purely personal enjoyment that might not always be appealing to all readers. While I don't go whole hog with obscenity, I do occasionally use it. This -again for me as a scientist- is really unacceptable. I really can't imagine mentioning it on a scientific job application because of this reason alone. Similarly, if it was a scientific blog, I would completely refrain from profanity and make an effort to be more objective in my writing. More professional, basically.

I guess at the end of the day - if you consider it a professional method to distribute your professional writing... it's a publication. Perhaps the question isn't the method (internet), per se, but how the method is used. Are you making and maintaining your blog as a professional tool? For you, the answer is yes. For me, the answer is no. Therefore you're publishing and I'm not.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Requiem of Doom

Riddle of Steel / Riders of Doom: if you remember Conan the Barbarian, you'll remember the tune (track 2). Lord only knows, but parts of it, esp. 3:50 make me think of the Requiem mass: Dona eis requiem aeternam to a pounding, driving over-the-top Williams-esque heroic tune. Rather appropriate, in this case: eternal rest grant unto them as Conan is killing everyone.

The tune is not exactly the version in the modern Gregorian tradition or even Mozart. Yes, yes, the picky adherents to the Church of Rome will point out that the 'official' order of the text is 'requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine'. However, given the glory of Latin declination of nouns, it shouldn't really matter in which order they are used.

Failing my current profession, perhaps I can turn to a life setting the Latin Mass to new settings.
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Parenting 202

Thank you for the kind words. I spent so much time (time = $) seeing a shrink; I want my children to avoid repeating the process. I learned so much from that experience that has made it easier to deal with the rest of the world. One part of which is respecting another's boundaries.

"What's wrong?" sounds nice and considerate, but it isn't. There's no simple way of refusing to answer without sounding like you're rejecting the person's care for you. "Can I help you?" or even better, "Do you need help?" are easily answered with yes or no. If someone is that distraught, they're probably already at the point of monosyllabic answers. Last night I was talking to someone, who I noticed is more stressed out than usual. I care about this person and want them to be less stressed. Will demanding "what's wrong?" reduce the stress? No. Better question: "Do you know what's bothering you?" My next sentence is going to vary dramatically depending on whether his answer is yes or no. I try to apply this to the Jr.Gophers, to respect their feelings.

Additionally, I try to get them to express their emotions, something others aren't very in-tune with. I've tried to find a way to tell them how I'm feeling when they really, really piss me off. But i want them to have some gradation in this. I don't want them to think there is an on/off switch - Mom's angry or she's not. I had to deal with this with my mom's boyfriend, who singlehandedly contributed to a large amount of stupid shit hanging like an albatross around my psyche. I try to let them have free rein to tell me that they're angry with me (or anything else). Or tell them "you're starting to aggravate me". So, don't be surprised if you hear Gregor use that word - I heard it last week. "mama, you're aggravating me". It took so much effort to keep a straight face while asking him why.

Rather than paint Life as right and wrong (which, yes, DO exist), I try to leave that to morality or ethics, and not apply that black & white polarity to things like table manners or other mundanity which are categorized as rude/polite or appropriate/inappropriate.

One of the things I heard which drives the point home about expectations we have of children: seriously, he's only 3 years old! Now, just keep adding a year to this as he grows up. We don't often stop and consider that our expectations of children shouldn't be the same. This approach should segue into assessing our expectations for adults as individuals, rather than en mass.

Man, it gets so frustrating hearing a child ask you the EXACT SAME QUESTION repeatedly. Not just a few times in one day, but without any other communication in between.
Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Norway. ... no we're not, Mom!

Right around the 3rd answer, I have to keep telling my self "does it really matter how many times I give him the same answer? Really, is it going to kill me to say "Michigan" 40 times?" The answer to *that* question is obviously, no. So, I might as well do it. It's just that after the 10th or 15th time, when I'm SOOOOO bored, I occasionally resort to changing the answer in a radically different way. Inevitably, he notices and laughs.

Keep asking yourself "Does this REALLY matter?" no matter what the situation is.

Ask yourself: Do I ABSOLUTELY NEED to say anything? Quite often the answer to this ought to be no. Hell, you're not even obliged to answer anthing to the police or the judicial system. Why feel that way socially? e.g.

Person #1: I hate your shirt.
I am likely to say nothing, and get on with my life. So she hates it? So what? What would I get by disagreeing with a personal opinion? Not to mention, this isn't a question and grammatically requires no response.

Person #1: Do you know your opinion is wrong/stupid/etc?
This is a question, but so what? You're not obliged to answer it, are you? If you're not obliged to, why give yourself the stress of interacting with this person at all? Ignore her completely. Are you obliged to interact with someone who's rude to you? No! We too often feel we must respond to someone just because the spoke to us. Boy, that took a long time to realize. Of course, the response to their question can always be your own:

Person #1: Do you know you look like a dyke with that hair cut?
You: Did you know you're a rude asshole who's interrupting my lunch? Go away.

I try to treat the boys the same way I want to be treated, or the way that I want them to treat other people. I lose my temper occasionally; no, I'm far from a saint. It's given me practice dealing with inveterate assholes in the Adult World, too.

"That Is Totally Inappropriate" can usually be substituted for "Go Fuck Your Self" without adversely effecting one's professional status. I have yet to experience an occupational situation where the latter was really called for, although I can imagine one or two where I might. And I actually contemplated it once.

Yes, I can look at my parents and think "what in the name of all that's holy were you thinking?" just as much as I know both of my children could say the same thing in 40 years, God willing I'm still alive to hear it.

My mission statement about parenting:
I want my children to grow up to be men who are capable of loving themselves and loving others.
Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Really, what else is truly necessary in life? Being self-sufficient? Self-sufficiency is an American Myth and doesn't exist. Why brainwash my children to seek something that doesn't exist? Literacy, monetary wealth, children of their own, their own home, ... ?? How will those make you a better human being?

If there is anything else that you can point at and say "You failed as a mother because your son can't _____", be prepared to be told your opinion is inappropriate.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I had to answer yes/no to the following question on a job application form. I split it up to parse, since I couldn't figure out what the answer was.

Are you or an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent, brother or sister) currently or ever have been employed by a U.S. Federal, State, Local or Foreign Government (either as a civilian or in the military), or in a Reserve or Guard component of the Armed Services, or in any other position that may either: (1) prevent you from being employed by [us] or (2) place restrictions on what work assignments [we] may give you, if hired, due to U.S. Federal, State, Local or Foreign Government "revolving door" or conflict of interest laws?

... huh?

Are you - ok, that's me, good so far

or an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent, brother or sister) - that's a lot of people

currently or ever - if they care if I've ever done it, why mention 'current'?

have been employed by a U.S. Federal, State, Local or Foreign Government, - that's a lot of work

(either as a civilian or in the military) - is there any other possible category?

or in a Reserve or Guard component of the Armed Services, - didn't they just already include the military?

or in any other position - so basically, in any job anywhere with anyone by anyone genetically related to me or with whom I've genetically created some of these others

that may either:

(1) prevent you from being employed by [us] - god, I hope not

or (2) place restrictions on what work assignments [we] may give you,
If I haven't seen the job description (which we all know is NOT the one posted to get me to apply), how can I possibly answer this?

if hired, due to U.S. Federal, State, Local or Foreign Government "revolving door" - is this the "don't let it hit you in the ass on the way out" door?

or conflict of interest laws?
-- right now I'm thinking that the entire government system within the USA is in conflict with my interests.

... huh?

You know a lawyer spent an entire month trying to come up with this. I'm more accustomed to simply being asked "have you ever been convicted of a felony?"

Friday, October 8, 2010

how accurate is good?

Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.
—John Tukey,
quoted on flowingdata

Thursday, October 7, 2010

succinctly put philosophy

Besides for a small group of the rich and powerful achiever/business tycoons, Rand, I believe, appeals to those who philosophically can’t move beyond their own feelings inadequacy. They see heros[sic] that society puts down and trashes their selfish desires. I think most Objectivists sit in their middle class suburban houses and think “Yeah, if society was like that, then I’d be a CEO making the big bucks too!” And there are also those who see these people, and use this selfishness and lack of self esteem and use it to manipulate them. Probably why it appeals to segment of the tea party folks. -- Richard Banet, #39.

This is it, people: the rich & powerful realize you, too, wish you could be rich & powerful just like them, so they convince you that you can be rich & powerful if you just act like them and let them run the country. After all, they're rich & powerful, so they know how to get into The Club, so if you put them in charge, they'll get you into The Club, too. So you buy their homes, and their vacations, and their life style. They suck in that money you're spending (because they're the ones who own the businesses selling this stuff), and you elect them to office. And, brother, are you fucked. Because chances are they got the money the good, old fashioned, guaranteed way: they inherited it. And you're sliding further into the hole because you're buying all that stuff from big companies owned by the already-rich, and not from your neighbor across town. And by now, the rich & powerful are elected and have enacted laws to only benefit the rich & powerful. But you still believe you can get into The Club, so you keep electing them. Because one of these days, you will be just like them and then you'll get what's coming to you, by God.

Only problem is, they're already in office, and you have already gotten what was coming to you. And now we're all fucked.

The above paragraph does not mention political party affiliation. Because it applies to all of them.

I've never met anyone from any party that thinks fiscal irresponsibility is a good idea. Every non-Republican (not to be confused with sane Conservatives like Mr.Gopher) I have ever met knows that everyone in the government is corrupted by the current fiscal system, regardless of their party membership.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

spongy white bread on the great buffet

An insanely funny review of Atlas Shrugged. I couldn't stop laughing.

I can't imagine it being that funny, if you haven't read the book, which the reviewer describes as "nerd revenge porn". Several of the reader comments (well the 1st few, I"m not going to read all 396 of them) are really amusing, as well. "Regardless, I may have to read it now, just so I can picture John Galt as a sentient cup of yogurt the whole time."

commenter #39 stated:
I think most Objectivists sit in their middle class suburban houses and think “Yeah, if society was like that, then I’d be a CEO making the big bucks too!” And there are also those who see these people, and use this selfishness and lack of self esteem and use it to manipulate them. Probably why it appeals to segment of the tea party folks.
-- nailed it in one. This explains my personal opinion of tannin-containing-idiots quite succinctly.

I read it in high school and it was the first significant piece of literature that really impressed me socio-politically. Sure, I'd read a bunch of Heinlein, Asimov, and I might even have read Dune, and quite a bit of Cherryh's more social-focused works. All of which came across as clearly SciFi. Atlas Shrugged was presented as more clearly 'it could be real', since it didn't have interstellar space traveling aliens wielding laser guns. I clearly disagree with the reviewer about how plausible the objectivist-world is. Just look around, man, and listen to the politicians today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

... I forgot

I need to start using that little notebook in my bag to remind myself of stupid things.
or things i think would be nice to share here.
or things i actually really need to remember.
or things i need to remember but really don't want to do.
or ...
i forget

When is it "safe" to be American?

When I heard the story on MPR this yesterday a.m., the "advice" from Sec.State was to avoid attracting undue attention as Americans. For example, don't wear American flags attached to clothes. My first thought: "fly the flag, but only at home?"

What's the message?

"You will be derided by certain tannin-containing groups as unpatriotic if you don't display stickers/signs/pins/etc of the American flag, but ... now you must show that you're patriotic, but only if you're inside the US."

What good are signs of patriotism here? Everyone knows I'm a rabid progressive who hates my homeland and refuses to conform to the desires of the Conservative One True Faith by ny embracing a socialist government. All those dipshits don't even know what socialism is. If they did, they wouldn't think I'm a socialist. Of course, I doubt they actually understand what communism or marxism or any other economic policy is either. If they did, they'd realize the "conservative" economic policy is actually stupid.

Now, seriously ... how can anyone fail to notice I'm American? I sound American when I speak, regardless of how I dress. I sound American, no matter what language I'm using. By the way, I have been assured my accent is 'cute' by one of my friends.


That's it! Speak some language other than English. No one will believe I'm American if I actually speak another language!

I am far more likely to be killed or maimed this afternoon at 15:00 (don't want to sound American when I tell time) en route (French!) to pick up my son at his foreign-language-(chic - more French)immersion school while driving my (German import) Volkswagen since my (foreign immigrant American-job displacing) Husband is at work than if I was in Europe somewhere (spending my American dollars supporting foreign businesses).

The State is always harping about being safe when abroad. Yes, stupid people need to be reminded that traveling in some places is a decision involving more risk than others. No, I don't particularly want to visit Nigeria or Cameroon or Palestine. That decision was reached without needing to consider my nationality. If it's a place where my nationality will be bad ... I assure you that I don't want to go there anyway. The Central African Republic has roaming gangs of rebel militia; Mauritania has terrorists kidnapping & killing French and Italian travelers. I don't know about you, but if I was a German citizen, I wouldn't be going there.

But now, as I review the State Department's travel warning website, apparently I shouldn't go anywhere. And, please take note, Europe is not on their travel warning website. Wouldn't want to piss off our mutually-euro-centric allies too much.

As observed by Mr. Ivey, he would be going to Europe: With a Teflon coated platinum walking sphere with radar and explosive sensors. I experience Europe through a small tube, but hey, no extremist is going to bag this American!

Safe is a relative, subjective word.

You're never safe.


I need to go find my car keys ...