Tuesday, June 23, 2009

To the Garden

I keep intending to do one large rant blog post, and then another video, and other things, but I never do them. Apologies for that. Instead, I've just been working on the conference paper that I'm still behind on.

However, I do have interesting news, which is that Paca and Pack are headed to Kauai on Thursday. One of the great virtues of living on Oahu is that you can hop a flight to Kauai for $45. The hotel room is far more than our tickets. So we will be gone to Kauai, the Garden Isle, from Thursday to Tuesday.

Catch people on the flip side.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Random 808

808 is just the hawaii area code; I'm running out of non-random random numbers.

1) I got an eye exam today and the conclusion was that I am borderline for reading glasses. She gave me some eye exercises and recommendations and said we could decide on the glasses in a month. I always appreciate it when a doctor-like person does not recommend purchasing one of their remedies, be it medicine, glasses, dental work, etc.

2) I am spending most of my days prepping the paper for the conference in July. That's pretty much where I've been this week.

3) It occurred to me for the first time that I will be giving my first ever talk in front of a bunch of profs not in my department, but so far it hasn't stressed me out. I think it's because I've never considered pragmatics/sociolinguistics (which is what this apology work is) my field. Also, I've given a talk in front of 250 clients of my former company before. I will probably freak out when the date gets closer.

4) If my dissertation experiments about language learning don't turn out, maybe pragmatics will accidentally turn into my area. Which would be ironic since I've never taken a single course in this. Not one.

5) One of my favorite past times is playing Guess that Language or Guess that Dialect. As such, I'm really stoked that my co-researcher in Seoul tells me that I was correct in realizing that Miss Korea 1961 was not speaking the standard Seoul dialect even though I myself can only say three words properly in Korean and one of them is the word "ah". She tells me Miss Korea starts off sounding almost North Korean, and then later sounds almost like someone from Pusan, which is the far south. No idea what to make of that, though the two Koreas hadn't been separate for that long in 1961, but as long as it wasn't Seoul dialect it means I win. One point: Paca. 5874 points: all the other languages I can't identify.

6) Speaking of which, the U.S. military is on alert in case North Korea decides to lob a missile at Hawaii. The good news is that they don't expect any such missile to reach here.

7) I've accepted a Facebook friend request from someone who graduated high school at the same time as me (um, same school, too), but I have no idea who she is. I sometimes decline those, but the whole name change thing that women get up to, a curse upon them, makes it so you can't always tell who's who.

8) Next year is my 20th high school reunion. Yes, I am 35 and next year is my 20th. Moreover, 2010 is the 200th anniversary of the school, and so I've always planned on attending this one. It's in central New Jersey. I have only attended one reunion, which was the 10th. Wonder if I will really go?

9) It's never occurred to me in a serious manner to attend my college reunion, even though I liked the school very much. I did go see it one time when I was on a business trip to Minneapolis. (College is about 40 minutes south.) My impression was that I had attended this place but left no mark at all. I don't know what I expected, a statue of a furry camelid in the student union?

10) Not only was there no statue in my honor, I was told that the Mongolian BBQ that existed near the U of Minnesota was no more. What is the world coming to?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I hereby voté for McDonald's new McCafé advertisement series as the most annoying ever.

Chore --choré
Rinse -- rinsé
sprinkle -- sprinklé
possible -- possiblé
terrible -- terriblé
must destroy -- must destroyé
rip my ears off -- rip my ears offé

Friday, June 12, 2009

Globalization of Beauty

At dinner tonight, N and I somehow got onto the great gossip wagon which is the now former Miss California, Carrie Prejean. I have no desire to pursue that matter further; in fact, I try to avoid conversations on that entirely. However, it reminded me of something I noticed a couple years ago when watching some part of the Miss Universe Pageant. Here is a video of the announcement of the semifinalists for Miss Universe 2007.

What's interesting to me about this is how dang similar everyone looks. Miss Tanzania actually looks somewhat different, but everyone else kind of blends together. The contestant can be from Southern Africa (Angola), Southern Asia (India), East Asia (Japan and Korea), South America (Nicaragua, Brazil, Venezuela, etc.), or North America (USA), and they still have a light brown skin, dark brown to black hair, slightly curly about to the shoulder blades, and of course that super skinny body that's popular now. It wasn't always like this. Here's the announcement of semi-finalists from 1984:

If you watch this one (with Bob Barker!), Miss Germany doesn't look much like Miss Thailand who doesn't look much like Miss Guatemala who doesn't look much like Miss Philippines. There's blonde hair there, brown hair, black hair.... You get the idea.

You can actually look at different years all on YouTube from the 50s to the 00s, and there does seem to be this change in the last couple decades, if not further. If you look at the mid 90s, such as this from 1994, the contestants look more like each other than they did in 1984, but not as similar as they do in 2007.

I don't really know what this means or if it's good or bad. You can see it in a negative way as there seems little interest in 2007 in different sorts of looks, different ideas of beauty, and instead you have a sort of single beauty standard that's taken over around the globe that all must conform to. Women of light skin tones use bronzers and tanning beds to darken, while women of darker skin tones use lightening creams; women with straight hair curl, while women with very curly hair straighten....

At the same time, if there is one dominant beauty standard today, it's surely because of increased communication and cross-cultural awareness, which is generally positive. Moreover, some of the older videos deal in serious stereotypes of people. I am reminded of Alexandre Dumas, one of my favorite authors, who loved to dwell on the exact nature of each race and nationality, as if it was set in stone and never the twain shall meet.

Here are some fascinating videos from Miss Universe 1961. Each of the contestants comes out and gives a little intro, thanking the host country, America here, for their hospitality and inviting everyone to visit their home country. And, boy, are the stereotypes rampant. In part 3, Miss Scotland comes out and explains that the Scots are a frugal race. Miss Wales walks in to the strains of Rule Britannia, and I almost spit lemonade all over my computer for the music they played for Miss Korea with the way they butchered her name. (By the way, I don't speak Korean at all, but her Korean sounds to my uneducated ear very different from what I think I hear from my friends and classmates in standard Seoul dialect. Anyone know if this is this some different dialect of Korean?)

Anyway, I look forward to your comments on any of this.

If you want to view some more Miss Universe pageants through the decades, here we go with:
And, wow, 1954, is really interesting in the way the whole thing is presented...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wise Koala

Today is King Kamehameha Day, which is a state holiday. So what am I doing to celebrate? I had my last wisdom tooth removed of course! Much pain. Much fever. Much narcotics that don't seem particularly effective.

So, to take my mind off things, does anyone have recommendations for what I should do in Australia next month? You don't have to have lived or visited. Anything you've heard of doing, I welcome hearing about.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Reading again

Robin has designated today and tomorrow reading time again. While my readings are always better when they involve material I didn't write and, of course, puppets, I have unfortunately followed instructions and read something I wrote a few years back. Not academic. And there's no puppets.

This is right in the middle of a short story, so if there were to be a reader of this, they would know more about the two characters than you do, but I think it pretty much stands up regardless.

It's just an mp3 file.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


In linguistics, we are supposed to be rigid descriptivists. We describe how language actually works, not how it's supposed to work according to the self-appointed language mavens. And so, when I come across comments like the following:

who cares about the finals stern is a fraud he made the lakers and magic go to the finals i could care less honestly

I should, as a linguist, describe what's going on here in neutral terms based upon established theories and providing evidence in support.

I'd like to take off my linguist hat for a moment, so that I can scream:


Really. It's not that difficult. Look:



That took so long. I mean, I don't want to ask too much, such as employing both commas AND periods in appropriate places so as to enhance communication. I understand apostrophes are right out. And I will never push you into amazing feats of dexterity like using the shift key periodically. So, we'll just take it one step at a time. A little period here, a little period there.



See, it's easy.

It's a button on your keyboard. Use it!

Lantern Floating again

2 or 3 posts down I posted my own videos of this year's Lantern Floating Festival on Memorial Day. Unfortunately, most of my video was of the projection screens. Here is the professional, probably televised version of the main portion. It's quite a piece of music especially with the choir at the end. A couple times the camera zooms over the water to see the crowds and lanterns, and you can see a couple white tents more to the left. We are in front of those!

And here's the Taiko drum session that was earlier

Monday, June 01, 2009

Posting of amusing song for you

Acapella number by Da Vinci's Notebook called "Title of the Song" described as "every boy band song ever". The comments on You Tube are often fairly clever as well.