The Utility of the Familiar and the Strange

I assume you’ve heard the news of the two major hurricanes (and the damage they caused) that recently came ashore in the US — the first hitting the shores of southern Texas and then the other (this past weekend, just over a week after Texas was hit), going up the full length of Florida.

During the commentaries on these two events — whether by the media, politicians, or people who lived through them — I found it interesting how comparative analysis was deployed to make sense of the events.

Or, better put, to figure out what to do in the face of them. Continue reading “The Utility of the Familiar and the Strange”

Disorder Is In The Eye of the Orderer

squirrelofficeI went to lunch the other day and, unknowingly, locked a squirrel in my office.  Continue reading “Disorder Is In The Eye of the Orderer”

“Sorry Harry, We Thought You Know”

Picture 7So, have you seen “Dumb and Dumber To” — the sequel to the 1994 hit starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels? No? Well, you ought’a — it ain’t “Dr Zhivago,” sure, but there’s some little gems in there worth thinking about. Continue reading ““Sorry Harry, We Thought You Know””

Innumerable Shades of Grey

planned parenthood shootingYes — about a week ago there was yet another mass shooting in the US, this time at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, CO. (I won’t go into the even more recent mass shootings in Georgia or California yesterday.)

There’s not too many details in the public domain yet (at least when I wrote this post), but we know that a middle-aged, white male suspect was apprehended after a stand-off with police (pictured above), that three people (including a cop) were killed, and that several more wounded. Continue reading “Innumerable Shades of Grey”

Identifying Threats of Violence

5810753486_4142bc5cb7_bWith discourses surrounding terrorism and gun violence, which have become prominent again in the wake of Charleston and Chattanooga, people want to find patterns that illustrate the source of the threats of violence. Looking for these patterns, people engage in an act of comparison, which, as we have discussed on this blog previously, is more about the person constructing the comparison than some reality outside of him/her. For example, I have seen various social media posts recently that include lists of acts of violence, ranging from 9/11 and the storming of the US Embassy in Iran to the Chattanooga shootings, all attributed to people who identified as Muslims. While these posts appear to be direct descriptions of reality, they reflect the choices of the creator of the list as to which acts of violence to include and which identifications to include. Continue reading “Identifying Threats of Violence”

Denaturalizing the Natural

dinoAs a little kid in the early 1960s, I guess I decided that the hooded sweaters I sometimes wore made me look like Dino the dinosaur — you know, from “The Flintstones”? I don’t think we had a specific name for them yet — at least we didn’t call them “hoodies,” as people do now. Instead, opting for brutal descriptivism (which sounds like a 1960s architectural movement), I’m guessing that we just uncreatively called them “hooded sweaters.” Continue reading “Denaturalizing the Natural”

Expanding A Woman’s Touch

Picture 8Russell McCutcheon’s blogpost yesterday analyzed the viewer’s role in reading this image (above) juxtaposing the current leaders of Chile, Argentina and Brazil to the past dictators of those three nations three of the first members of the Chilean Junta: Leigh (Air Force), Pinochet (Army) and Merino (Navy), emphasizing the conservative notion of gender that appears to inform the reading of the image in ways that people often identify as progressive. That reading of the image that McCutcheon analyzed also overlooks the strategic production of such an image. Continue reading “Expanding A Woman’s Touch”

A Woman’s Touch


This pic was making the rounds of social media the other day — have you seen it? It depicts the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Argentina today, and, at bottom, during the 1970s.

It speaks for itself. Right? Continue reading “A Woman’s Touch”

Do This, Don’t Do That

no parkingTwo days ago, and then again yesterday, I wrote a couple of related posts on the way that, despite how cutting edge they may seem, many approaches to identity presuppose that classification systems merely manage pre-existing material. Given that I understand it rather differently — seeing, instead, contingent but authorized grids as the way that we create that sense of place and time that we call identity (also known as significance or relationships of similarity and difference) — most approaches strike me as conservative and problematic inasmuch as they fail to historicize the identity they purport to study, i.e., they fail to examine contingent identification practices (also known as those very same systems and grids that we create, authorize, contest, and otherwise just manage) and, in so doing, they merely naturalize their products, as if we all just know where we are on the globe without that fairly recent invention that we call longitude and latitude. Continue reading “Do This, Don’t Do That”