Journal of the Virus Year, Entry 2

I went out today for curbside delivery at HEB. Civilized, though my assistant forgot to speak through the passenger window instead of the driver’s. He did sign for me, though. We’re not low on anything, though I’m making due with only the occasional Coke Zero.

My younger son needs a minor operation for his hearing. This was determined just prior to the lockdown. He’s not getting it anytime soon, obviously. H and I are upset about this, but he and L are happy as clams otherwise.

My graduate students are holding in there. Almost all of them in my stylistics class are sticking with it. I also have two students defending their master’s theses in the next two weeks.

UHD is also hanging in there. We’re going to try a Zoom version of Faculty Senate on Tuesday.

I have lost a lot of writing time. Both my conferences this year, in April and May, have been cancelled, which removes some drafting (alas, I had already written two of the three presentations), but even with that, completing the references in my book keeps getting pushed back. I need to hold the line at May 1 or my summer courses will obliterate my chances.

Our Fearless Leader is about to pass an important milestone. The virus is about to kill more Americans than 9/11. If only he were competent, or able to hire and retain competent subordinates, or even capable of communicating a clear plan by qualified experts about this mess two months ago… but he’s not. He never was. Still pleased with your choice, Trump voters? Are those Supreme Court picks and tax cuts still worth it?

Goodbye Google, Part II

It took awhile. But now, my Google account is kaput. No more Gmail, YouTube, Scholar, Search, any of it. Took what I needed and erased the rest.

Now that the tutorial level 1 boss (Facebook) and the level 2 boss (Google) have hit the dust, the remaining three culprits (Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft) will be much harder.

Amazon: Possible, but it’s going to be very, very painful to give up the convenience.

Apple: I can give up my iPhone with some soul-searching; I will have to finish paying for it first, of course… but then what about the iPads? My iTunes songs? All of this requires an Apple account. I think scaling back is ultimately all I’ll be able to do.

Microsoft: I suppose this isn’t technically impossible, I could transition to Linux, but I’m too much of a PC gamer to walk away from Windows. And frankly, of the five listed here, I consider MS the least problematic. Scary, right?

Goodbye Google

Last year – maybe two back – I purged Facebook.

Yesterday, I started purging Google. My decade-old Gmail account now is associated with nothing significant. Google Search, bye-bye. The next step is Youtube and then I’m done.

Unfortunately, the next two logical candidates for purging – Amazon and Microsoft – are currently impossible. Their benefits still far outweigh the negatives, though if they screw up as bad as Facebook and Google have, I’ll find a way.

A guitar

I have not bought a guitar since 2003, and not a new one since, oh, 1993. This summer I decided to change that, and bought a brand new 2018 Gibson J-15.

It is the most inexpensive acoustic Gibson makes, which in layman’s terms means ‘not very bloody cheap’ because like all Gibsons, it is USA-made and gorgeous. I got it at a very steep discount online that felt almost criminal. Its main competition was a gently used 2013 Gibson Songwriter, which was a very nice guitar in its own right, but it didn’t scream BUY ME in my ear as the right guitar tends to do.

I tried a lot of Martins and Taylors. The Martin 000-015 was a live wire, but its lack of electronics was a dealbreaker. The Mexican Martins were all duds. Most of the Taylors, even the higher-end ones, were ok, but felt like toys. I found a nicely discounted GS Mini-e, but I could have snapped it in half over my knee.

I used to have a ’77 Gibson Heritage that I bought in Boston in 2001 or so. I sold it at a reasonable profit several years ago and have regretted it since. Now I feel much better. Getting a different guitar usually triggers a long period of increased playing for me, and I have been needing that.

On Facial Hair

The NYT has an amusing article on Bolton’s mustache and the political history of the particular trim level.

I have a full beard and long hair past my shoulders, so I feel qualified to hold forth somewhat on this topic.

I hate shaving. Absolutely hate it. I started in middle school and it remained a painful, tedious process for over twenty-five years. I started with an electric razor, but moved to a blade as I got older. It never got comfortable, and I always cut myself and irritated my face. My neck was typically a series of open wounds. Stubble for me appears in 12 hours or so, so shaving every day was mandatory.

As I got older, I went longer and longer between shaves, and often stopped for a week or more during vacations. If I needed to go on a job interview, I would shave close, but typically went 3 days in between. Stubble became acceptable.

Then, around the time H was pregnant with L – when I was 39 or so – I grew a full beard during a vacation and simply neglected to shave it off. I had tried a beard in college once, but it itched so bad I gave up after a month. This time I persisted, and it paid off. After that first month, the itching stopped, and it was a revelation.

It helps, of course, that I have an occupation – professor – that has no special expectation on facial hair, or head hair, for that matter. Most men in my department maintain some facial hair (typically with some gray) like the chin beards that are fashionable lately, or advanced stubble, but I have the only full one.

So I come to the question – what does it mean to have facial hair or not? Well, for me, my long hair signifies – to me – that I’m not a suit. The beard is simply further evidence of this. Frankly, if you think about it, if a man has the genetics to grow facial hair, why fight it? Social expectations? Trends come and go. I wish I had not listened to every conforming male for decades that told me to trim that stubble.

Now I’m comfortable with my face. It expresses some of my personality. H says I look ‘blank’ without at least some facial hair, so there is that to consider as well. I have also noticed that people tend to take me more seriously now, even at work. I think it is more the gray than the beard, but I don’t think it hurts.

Ultimately, though, it is a personal decision. I couldn’t care less about fashion. Beards are a little more ‘in’ now, but so what?

If you are judging a person on appearance you are literally and figuratively engaging them at the shallowest level possible. Rather, examine if they are fair and compassionate. Little else matters, and I say that as an academic. Intelligence is common and easily bent to evil, and looks always deceive. A sense of justice and a care for decency, though, are rare and hard to replace.

So, moral: grow your hair any way you want that pleases you.

New name?

For now I have placed the ‘rhetoricalcritic’ and ‘badrhetoric’ domains so they both point to the blog. But this kind of avoids the issue – namely, should I change the name of the blog?

‘badrhetoric’ was kind of a lowest common denominator choice back in the day (2006) but now I am slightly less snarky, and I have carved out a small niche where I publish. I am tempted to just make the big switch in total. Any thoughts?

Goodbye to Facebook

You may be here because I pulled the plug on FB today. My reasons are simple.

One, after blocking all the Trump supporters and other assorted idiots from my feed, there was nothing left but pictures of dogs and cowering Democrats waiting on Mueller to save them. It was monotonous and depressing.

Two, I had seen too many targeted ads.

Three, I don’t like data mining. At all. I have serious ethical problems with it.

Most repair work done – further thoughts

I have restored most of the past content after the hack. I have also done a few more things under the hood, such as turning comments back on again. I feel a lot more talkative than I did last year, so I think I’ll be posting far more often! Registering is still required to keep spam at bay.

My About page is still missing, as are some minor associated pages. I will fix this in the comng days.

So, updates.

My son L is almost three. He’s great. Another, M, is on the way, due in May. So that is all wonderful. H is still very sick, but hanging in there.

In a post from last July I expressed a lot of depression about my career. Most of that problem is addressed, and I feel much better about the status of my research agenda now. It really helps to switch between projects when one stalls out.

Trump remains odious. If he fires Mueller, I wonder if the university would frown upon me joining a march on Washington. That would seem the only appropriate response.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a beautiful game. If you don’t have a PS4, it is worth the whole console for just that one game.

I have starting reading Greek again, this time boning up on Attic to prep for what should be a strong article. It is like visiting an old friend one hasn’t seen in awhile.

Some of my graduate students are starting to produce some impressive work that is headed toward publication. That has me excited and engaged.

I have some medical problems that are drastically improved after a long period of reduced productivity. Mostly fatigue and blood sugar stuff. As it turns out, if you get regular sleep and don’t eat tons of sugar, those problems largely resolve! It is incredible how dense I am.

That is all for now.