Tag Archives: postaday2011

American Wussy

While cleaning up the library, I saw a banner on the top of the Wall Street Journal advertising an article called “Are American Wusses or Just Fond of Trash Talk?” and it obviously got me excited. The banner depicted what we would normally consider the geekier end of the spectrum of masculinity. Right there,  I knew this was going to be an amazing article. By showing these stereotypical depiction of what many would consider loser males (who are the main heroes in many films/books), the article is calling into question the very nature of masculinity that is depicted in American culture.

It’s interesting to see that in the article, the author finds many instances that seem to show that America is a county built on idealized masculinity. We had a pioneering spirit. We venerated men like Daniel Boone, frontiersmen who went out and explored a continent. Gov. Rendell of Pennsylvania is quoted as saying that “our country was founded by incredible risk-takers…We seem to have lost our boldness.”

The traditional view of masculinity is something to be admired – however, can’t we argue that it was a product of the times? Men had to act a certain way, and perform certain functions, because society and culture asked them to. We have transitioned into a new society in which these actions that were once necessary are no longer important or even purposeful.

The author of the article also mentions a book called “Sissy Nation” by John Strausbaugh. Strausbaugh brings up World War II as a turning point for American masculinity – having witnessed the horrors of war, men return home and seek civility and normalcy. A very interesting argument and to me, it makes sense. The population reacts to what they see going on around them – if they see something horrible, they will react in a different way to make sure they do not have to experience something so horrific again. However, as I mentioned before, why does this reaction have to be colored in a negative light? It seems easy to say that certain actions are ruining masculinity, but we have to be conscious of the context and the history of the change.

One final note: the origin of the word “wuss”, as well as emasculating terms.

There are different origins for the word “wuss”. As mentioned in the article, it became popularized by the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, in which they explain the derivation as “part wimp and part p____”. (I won’t put in the word, but I’m sure you can figure it out)

It seems ridiculous that using a female body part as a derogatory term for a man can be so disrespectful. I guess that it makes some sense. By identifying the male as somehow female (or less of a male), they are being emasculated – their virility, strength, masculinity is called into question. This can be seen in the way men react to being called a “fag” or “queer” – their manhood is being questioned, so they react negatively.

There’s something to be said about men’s reactions – why is this such an emasculating act for them? Why do they take such offense at being questioned? I can’t really answer that question myself. Perhaps in a later post we can discuss this. Personally, I take offense at people who take offense.

Source: Are Americans Wusses or Just Fond of Trash Talk? – WSJ.com.

Pareidolialy Yours

While looking for something cool to post about regarding cartography and urban planning (another one of my interests), I came across this recent blog post about pareidolia – finding meaning in seemingly random patterns.

We’re all familiar with the concept of pareidolia. There was even a recent episode of Glee that discusses it. I can’t think of specific instances that I can find an article about (mainly cause I’m being lazy), but here is a Wikipedia page discusses various religious icons showing up in the world.

The examples they present in this post are great. While at first glance I wouldn’t think of these objects as necessarily resembling any one place, I can see the desire to do so.

It’s similar in concept to the uncanny valley. When you come across something that FEELS familiar, we want to attach something to it. Something that we know. For some people, the most comforting image to attach is something religious. For them, the thought of seeing religious imagery out and about reinforces their beliefs.

When I see a pattern in something, I don’t associate it with anything. I just acknowledge that there is a pattern there. I find comfort in recognizing patterns, because it makes it seem that there is some order in my world.

Source: 494 – It’s a Dog-nosed World: Accidental Cartography Revisited | Strange Maps | Big Think.

2010: Conferences in Review

Now seems like a good a time as any to write a review post of the past year. Things have been up and down for me professionally, but I think overall the year has been kind to me.

Let’s talk about the conferences I attended.

I started the year off working on a presentation for a graduate seminar in Milwaukee. It
went alright. I played the stereotypical Californian – managed to sleep past my presentation time. Oops? The session itself was less theoretical than other sessions – I think this has to do with the topic of educational tools.

I also presented at a teacher academy at my work. The session was very well attended and we got some great feedback from people about our topic. It was a topic near and dear to my heart: pathfinders. I oddly like looking for new sources of information for people so that was great to teach teachers new tools they can use for their students.

The two biggies of the year were this past fall: Internet Librarian and CLA.

At Internet Librarian, a friend and I presented on Digital Etiquette and communication tools. Essentially, we talked about what people should do and how they should act when they are online and communicating with students. It was a very stressful presentation, until I was in it and I just relaxed and went with it. It was also my first experience with a conference. As in, really attending and participating in all conference activities. It was great and I got to meet a ton of interesting people.

CLA was a bit more laid back than Internet Librarian. I didn’t have a presentation, just a poster session to prepare for. However, it was attending this conference that encouraged me to become more involved with the librarian community. Very few of the sessions presented felt fresh or innovative. Topics were rehashed and very little new information was presented. The contrast between CLA and Internet Librarian was so strange – Internet Librarian looked to the future, CLA felt stuck in the present.

I look forward to attending more conferences this year, and hope I can make it to ALA Annual in New Orleans.

Resolved: Be more productive!

Recently, a friend of mine reminded me that I’m a hoarder. Not of physical objects (despite what the look of my room might suggest), but of ideas.

Despite my addiction to my iPhone, I still carry around a moleskine notebook and a pen – allowing me to write our ideas for new projects, sketch pages that I want to create, outline papers/presentations, etc. I’ve always loved the physicality of writing something down on pen and paper.

Looking through my notebook, I’ve noticed how so few of my ideas are followed through. It kind of depresses me that I have all of these ideas, but I never get around to doing them. So, in this new year, I will make a resolution.

In addition to the WordPress challenge of a daily blog post, I will aim to accomplish one of my projects/goals a month. The first project will be planning out and starting the research on a paper for the LITA Student Writing Award. I don’t want to talk about what topic I want to write about (not that I’m worried about people stealing it), but I just don’t want to jinx it.

The paper itself is due on the 28th of February, giving me plenty of time to work on it. Maybe I’ll get lucky and win the award and/or get it published somewhere and/or present it at another conference somewhere. I’d love to make up for my bad paper presentation in Milwaukee last year.

So for now, this is the beginning. 2011 will be a productive year for me. I can feel it. I’ll be done with my MLIS in May, hopefully start applying for jobs, getting offers, or even applying for PhD programs. Who knows! All I know is that I don’t want to let this year go by without doing anything.

If I’m going to do anything, I’ll do it with my whole heart. All in, All the time.