Friday, April 3, 2009


This makes me furious and very sad.

I've noticed an interesting shift toward the negative in my attitude toward science and scientists since I've been back in school. I say interesting I guess because if anything I would have expected a shift in the opposite direction.

Two reasons for the shift: 1) the incredible arrogance and narrow-mindedness of some professors/scientists/academics I've encountered, the complete confidence allowing for no doubt that the so-called scientific method is the only reliable way to find out anything true, and 2) the creeping awareness of the scale of cruelty inflicted on animals in science labs every single day.

Number one is what it is. People believe what they believe. Number two is the one that's most difficult for me.

For my science classes, I read paper after paper about animals studies and sometimes ... I have to stop and cry. I'm not talking about the kinds of examples anti-animal rights people always trot out, like finding a cure for cancer or diabetes, etc. I mean studies like the one above, where the scientist is looking for a correlation between stress during pregnancy and brain development of the child by blaring a horn at a pregnant monkey for 10 minutes a day. I guess what appalls me is that people just read right past that and don't even think about that pregnant monkey, about the ethics of that experiment. And even if you do find a correlation -- its relevance and usefulness for humans in tenuous. The scientist is presented -- presents herself -- as some kind of hero, a crusader for the poor. To find out whether or not stress fucks people up, she sets out to fuck up a few hundred monkeys. It's nauseating.

I really do believe that our descendants will look back at this period with horror and disgust, that our treatment of animals will loom large in history.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bus Stop Wake & Bake.

Every morning at the bus stop there is a man, and sometimes 2 or 3 men either together or not, smoking a thin cigar that is at least partly filled with marijuana. At first I thought it was just some very strong tobacco that reminded me of marijuana, but after days of smelling it, I'm sure it's pot. These guys look dressed for work, one of them, the one I see most frequently, wears a dress shirt and tie. I catch the bus at about 8:30 a.m. I'm very curious about this.

Once again I find myself in a neighborhood where I am treated with indifference or contempt. I have vowed to continue to say "good morning" to the people I pass on the street or see at the bus stop, whether or not -- and almost invariably it's not -- they reciprocate, but it's disheartening. Basically I live here for the same reason they do, which is because I'm poor and have few options. (I understand that I am poor because I chose to go back to college instead of working, and that I have always been poor because I chose a vocation I don't make money at, that my poverty is to some extent intentional, etc., but it's still poverty.)

Not that, if I suddenly had some money I would move across the interstate to a white neighborhood. (One of the things I love about this part of town is that it is ethnically mixed -- black and Mexican with a smattering of white folks -- but then I have to wonder why a mixed neighborhood is so great if people can't be neighborly to people who aren't like them.) Still, I might choose a slightly less bleak mixed neighborhood. The difference between most of my neighbors and me is that my family does not live here. And ethnically speaking I am in their neighborhood. It's not that I don't understand the hostility directed at my whiteness, but I always wonder where it leaves me personally. Just because I am white, am I the colonizer? And, if so, then what is my obligation? Does my whiteness and privilege obligate me to pursue a job that will pay enough for me to afford to live in a white middle-class neighborhood?

Anyway, all that to say that, though I am curious about the morning pot smoking, I don't know how I would find out more about it. The pot-smoking men are black.

There is a young black woman I frequently pass on the way to the bus. She's walking the other way with a baby and a toddler, and she always smiles when I greet her. I find myself hoping I'll see her, craving her smile.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I love this. I usually shy away from the word "queer," because I think it is used to describe so many things that don't evoke the frisson I associated with the word. But this does. It's like seeing the world through a lens that shifts everything slightly in one direction or another so that reference points don't exactly line up. Everything small detail is surprising.