"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Sunday, April 29, 2007

ground control to major tom

commencing countdown, engine's oooooooon...

introducing the newly up n runnin SFS reading group forum! (on the impossibly frustrating and user-unfriendly WordPress!)


blam, baby!

Saturday, April 28, 2007


"In botany, the radicle is the first part of a seedling (a growing plant embryo) to emerge from the seed..." [wikipedia]


hello dear friends,

so these past two weeks have been downright hellish. but, i can say i survived, despite expectations to the contrary. and if i do say so myself, i'm a little stronger for it.

but alas, finals week has just begun. (yes, that other stuff was just the first circle of hell)

i realized i have not one, but THREE finals on Monday, including 2 papers and 2 presentations/ projects. + much other fretting to be done b4 the summer can begin (including summer research project planning, the US Social Forum planning for SFS, and deciding whether i am brave enuf to shave my head or not...)

also, i am starting up a reading group for Students for Staff, so we may all become more informed and conscientious practitioners and agents of social change. planning a reading list is kinda like drafting a syllabus, and it's been fun to play teacher, but designing a web platform for the group has been a little less than fun, even tho i am usually one to take kindly to web design and blogging.

what i have so far:
(on Blogger)

(on WordPress)

i preferred the Blogger one until this afternoon, when i discovered that i can post pdf's and doc's on Wordpress = chapters from my senior thesis and research articles!!

what do others think?


in other news, i took a much-needed break from the grindstone and spent some time outside at Western's annual Spring Fling. it's always been my favorite week of events, and i especially love the Western Games.

this year, i ran the 3-legged race with the interim assistant dean (we came in 3rd this time. last year, my prof and i totally smoked the competition!), then partook of a drum circle!

that was my favorite part of the whole day. i've always wanted to play the drums, but have never had the chance until now. i love percussion. i always tap my feet or create crazy rhythms on my legs when i'm nervous and need something to do with my hands.

(that is the look of some intense concentration...)

one of the drum guys, Pete, is a German prof at Miami and invited me to join their multi-generational drum troupe. i'm quite excited! i think i'm going to buy some bongos over the summer...


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

and it's only monday...

--->this is how the penultimate week of school makes me feel...

i've been busy. the last few weeks have borne upon me a ridiculous amount of work, and i didn't sleep more than a total of 8 hours all of last week. as you can imagine, i was hardly a person by week's end, merely a doughy shell.

i also ran out of money on my meal plan, so lately have been occupying myself with foraging for little snackies to keep alive with. i had a lunch of baby carrots before i passed out on a bench and slept until the storms came in. i woke up and the land had turned dark and i didn't know where i was any more. and i found the tiniest little bird hopping around in front of my bench, whistling and just having a hell of a time despite my utter confusion. he sure was whistling the hell out of himself. it was kinda a magical moment i wish i had on Kodak film or something.

so this post took place over the course of 3 hours because i kept getting called down to the writing center. it's finals week at last, and the signs are everywhere.

stay well friends, and don't eat more than eight pieces of cold pizza a day. cold leftover pizza is hardly nutritious enough to subsist on, and i'm pretty sure it does permanent damage to your digestive organs.

love and all,

Saturday, April 21, 2007

living rage

for immediate release:

Miami University Students for Staff take the campus by storm! Give our staff fair wages! Information Blackout! Blam! Confrontation with Hodge! Hodge puts a hand up to silence and ignore community concerns at Miami University!

What do we want? I don't know, maybe A LIVING WAGE. when? how 'bout NOW!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

living wage meow

some things are better when roared.


SFS Rally! video

my favorite part: when President Hodge says "the problem is you can't tell us what a living wage is. when you tell me what a living wage is..."

and then my friend Dylan says "it's right on here, Dr. Hodge" and then he points to the letter and reads "A LIVING WAGE IS A DECENT WAGE"


p.s. i've been up for nearly a whole week straight. i've slept a total of 7 hours in the last 4 nights. but there's good news: i think my body is learning to take it, and i'm getting closer to getting my work done...? i did waste a lot of time editing video for fun, but at least it was thrilling at the time...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

he gives us the hand

does this look like someone willing to engage in conversation?

not likely...

(from the Living Wage Rally video. link forthcoming...)


Saturday, April 14, 2007

civic duties

today, i spent the morning devoting time to a variety of (neglected) civic duties.

first, there was a peace rally in uptown Oxford today, which i missed b/c of the cold n wet weather, so that was a bust.

then, i realized i had forgotten to file my taxes. which is ironic, considering that i've spent every Saturday morning for the past 2.5 months helping other people with their's. so, after rummaging thru stacks n stacks of various papers and forms tucked away in the drawers of my desk, i finally salvaged the 1040EZ instructions i'd gotten from my library at home many months ago (ha – i must've thot i'd get an early start on this...)

only to discover i'd failed to get the actual form.

i was close to giving up at this point, but thinking i should probly do at least one civically responsible thing today, i pushed on and am now typing out my tax forms on Adobe (the whole situation was considerably improved by listening to French poetry podcasts. "Le pont Mirabeau, qui coule la Seine...")

anyway, the point of writing all this: i found it quite an absurd juxtaposition of civic duties: protesting (to exercise freedom of speech, to be critical of the government, thus to be a responsible citizine) & taxes (to pay give some hard-earned $ back to the state so they can spend it on the war i'm protesting and not put it into educational reform or healthcare or ...)

it's also raining cold wind this morning, with no sign of sunny warmth in the near future. is this really April?


Friday, April 13, 2007

Living Wage Rally!

Students for Staff organized a successful rally and protest outside the Miami University student center yesterday. Despite the unusual cold, there was a crowd of about 50-70 students and staff gathered together on the patio, eating snacks and hanging out.

This is a rare occasion on our campus, when people come together and engage in meaningful dialog with one another, and even more rare is the opportunity to apply our shared concerns into ACTION.

But, that is exactly what we saw yesterday, as the event kicked off with speeches and testimonials from students AND staff, in support of a mutual fight for just wages at Miami University.

We then took to the streets in collective action, carrying signs and this letter to President Hodge,

snaking through campus, hitting a campus landmark, the Upham Arch,

where traditionally most Miami mergers begin with a kiss (the image of students and staff charging thru in peaceful protest is thus particularly poignant),

to end on the steps of Roudebush, the administrative building.

We extended hands and ascended the stairs, a chain of students in solidarity, from the President's door, where we delivered the letter, down to the door.

It was beautiful to see so many people out there doing something political together, and standing strong even in the face of the police, who came expecting to break up a student protest. It made me swell with hope, realizing that maybe we'd finally woken people up.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

on cue

and of course, this happened again.

what's so splendid about this, though, is that this little tart is the fiancee of jackass Ben Alexander, whose simian antics in passive-aggressively attacking SFS have been laughable at best.

--- Katie Klug wrote:

What do you want? And when would you like it?
Take me off your listserv -- wealth redistribution is not one of my key interests...

--- Stephanie Lee wrote:

How delightful of you to ask, Katie.

>>What do you want? A LIVING WAGE.
> > And when would you like it? NOW.

And you're not on any Students for Staff listserv. I got your email from Miami's website. I'd remove you if I knew how.

Take care,


anyway, they deserve each other. rumor has it Ben Alexander used to be a punk (without a capital P) before he met her, and then he went conservative on our asses like no one's biznass.

if love turns u into a conservative, count me out.

in other news, it's 6:20 in the AM and i just finished a final paper! it's that Foucauldian/Derridean analysis of Fight Club i've been talkin about. excerpts later...


[in other other news, i stayed up all night working on the aforementioned paper, only to catch the Kurt Vonnegut news right as it was breaking. it was a strange feeling, the sudden news and the early hour of the day making me feel suddenly so alone and weary.]

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

listen up!

oh, this level of prolificness simply will not do. this is the third day in a row i've published something here! u're going to get spoiled and upset with me when, in a few days, i write nothing at all for days and days at a time.

but alas, that is a future unconscionable at the present time, b/c here again i have something for you:

the LIVING WAGE FORUM was a HUGE success! and my introductory speech, so i hear, was a knock-out, flat-out flash-out, drag-out hit!

so, to share my elation with those of you who could not be there, the intro, which i slaved and fretted over in between writing Foucauldian and Derridean analyses of Fight Club...



It is so easy to forget about poverty, when we are so comfortably surrounded by wealth. Most Miami University students come from families with an average household income of over $200,000. Miami University is fairly well off as well, with a total of $47 million in net assets. Yet, there are innumerable staff at Miami who are living at or below the poverty line.

As our administration has acknowledged, many University employees are struggling to make end's meet because they do not earn a sufficient income. Students for Staff values the work they do and believe that valuable work demands valuable compensation. It is Students for Staff's stance that no one working full time for a public institution should require government assistance to sustain a basic style of living.

As the largest employer in the area and a public trust, Miami University has a responsibility to address the rising poverty rate in Butler Co.

Students for Staff has been working for over 3 years toward a more just wage policy for the workers of Miami. We join other universities such as Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown, as well as UVA in seeking economic justice for our workers.

Students for Staff are undergrads, graduate students and alumni who believe in living the values of liberal education by putting research and knowledge into ACTION. Students for Staff sees itself as the voice of the workers on campus, as they have been silenced and ignored by the administration. We have been collaborating with workers to understand the working conditions at Miami University, and believe President Hodge and the administration have a responsibility to listen to the staff and the community and address the inequities they face.

Students for Staff has reached out to other student groups, has worked with the local AFSCME union, has met with staff committees and administration, including President Hodge, Carol Hauser the head of human resources, and Richard Norman from the Board of Trustees. And now we are reaching out to you. Students for Staff believes that through engaging in meaningful dialog, and through community building, we can achieve the strength to empower students AND staff to affect change, and work toward our collective interest of making Miami a better, a more inclusive, and more respectful community.

We see the effects of disempowerment everyday, and Students For Staff strives to counter the disengagement we see in our community, by building strong relationships and connections between groups.

Monday, April 09, 2007

i just bring out the best in people...

is it me, or do the denizens of Miami University just seem particularly starved for attn, so much so that they'll lash out at anyone hopeful enough to make compassionate appeals to them?

well, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. and boy, do i got lots o it!

but first, the call to arms:

Please join Students for Staff and economists, Dr.'s Stephanie Luce and Christian Weller, for a Living Wage Forum.


Fisk Lounge, Ogden Hall, above Bell Tower Dining Hall
4:30 PM

- talks by living wage expert Dr. Stephanie Luce and economist Dr. Christian Weller
- discussion with students and staff to follow



Students for Staff


The Bishop Debate Society (Miami University)
The Center for American Progress ( http://www.americanprogress.org/)


and now, the pudding
[*notice that i am no longer removing emails to protect non-innocents. use this info to your discretion. but do not let them know who told you... ;-) ]:

--- JT <hatfiejt@muohio.edu> wrote:
How the hell did you get this email address? Take me off your stupid hippy listserve, or I swear to god I will see to it that every single MU staff member will die cold, hungry, and alone. And naked. Make it happen.

--- Dave Sorrell <sorrelldave@hotmail.com> wrote:
Please do not pollute my inbox with your socialist drivel. I did not ask to be put on your mailing list, so please remove me immediately and do not send me any further messages. Thank you.

to which i replied:

You're not on any listserv or mailing list. I got your email from Miami.

You should know Miami also sells your email to spammers. Ironic, considering they also pollute your mailbox with Barracuda Spam Quarantine Summaries.

Have a good day,

and i didn't even mention how Mother Miami also sells our phone numbers to telemarketers. i thot too much truth in one day might just kill them.


p.s. interestingly, i remember JT from high school. he was the mopey lanky kid with a muffin cut who sat in the back of math class and never talked to anyone. now i like to think of him as the self-aggrandizing shmuck who was in my Media Aesthetics class who had to drop b/c he couldn't pull his lazy ass out of bed at 9 am 3 days a week, who saunters around campus in a camel hair overcoat, looking much too full of himself for his own good. i'd love to punch him in the neck. kids with parents with that much money and no heart really don't deserve to speak of hard-working honest people in that way. sorry. it wasn't worth holding all that in...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

in good faith

in my research on social change organizations, i came across a book called Dry Bones Rattling, about faith-based activism in the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF).

i was skeptical at first when i read about how the IAF relies heavily on religious organizations and religious community leaders for building its power base and affecting broad social change. it seemed to me that incorporating people of strong faith could potentially alienate non-religious people, and even repel many progressive individuals, who (in my experience) often repudiate organized religion.

but after attending my second Passover Seder at the house of a kind friend, and taking part in the reading of the Haggadah, i soon saw that religion may share many of the same ideals and goals of social change movements. or, rather, that activism draws its inspiration from many religious teachings.

for example, from the Four Children section of the seder (at Passover, the family confronts the stories of their ancestors' pursuit of liberation from oppression. this section gives suggestions for ways in which to answer the children when they ask the elders how to pursue justice in our time):

"[The Indifferent Child may say:] 'It is not my responsibility.'
Persuade him that responsibility cannot be shirked. As Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, 'The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.'"

i liked that part very much.

and i found Passover Seder to be quite delightful. it was so nice to be amongst friends and gentle strangers, and to feel so welcome in a home not my own. it made it very difficult to remember that there are others suffering from hunger, disease, war, injustice, when the world seemed so filled with light.

let us take care of each other,

Thursday, April 05, 2007

the hits they keep on coming

as is my usual practice, whenever my favorite student activist group (Students for Staff) has events on campus, i plug it like hell in all my classes and daily conversations. i send mass emails to everyone i can think of, and make (perhaps) excessive use of all the BlackBoard class email banks, where i've discovered i can easily send one announcement to something like 400+ honors kids at a time.

after doing this for the last 2 events, i've gotten to expect maybe one or two angry responses to my spamming. most are wondering who i am, and how i got their email, not realizing that Miami has a history of favoring spammers over the privacy of its students (in fact, Mother Miami sells our information to spammers and telemarketers. ironic since one of the frequent complaints of the Miami student specious is the excessive barrage of Barracuda Spam Quarantine Summary emails.)

well this most recent spam session resulted in the quickest deluge of responses yet. those clever honors kids! they're so sun-starved and attention-hungry, just chomping at the bit to engage in meaningful interaction with any fellow human being, that their anger pours forth like effervescent steaming magma, spewing in my face.

but no matter. little do they realize that i'm more than willing to bite back. mine is a rhetorical fight, and i am ruthless.

below, a sampling of the rantings i found pleasantly awaiting me in my inbox, a mere 5 minutes after the first wave of emails. [angry Honors kid's response, followed by mine]

but first, the context:

The campus org Students for Staff, in conjunction with the Center for American Progress and the Bishop Debate Society, has organized a week of events for discussing and taking action for a living wage in our community. We invite you to attend the following events on April 10 & April 12 as we explore the intersections of work, wages, class, and economic disparity at Miami University.

- talks by living wage expert Dr. Stephanie Luce and economist Dr.
Christian Weller
- discussion with students and staff to follow
Fisk Lounge, Ogden Hall, above Bell Tower Dining Hall
4:30 PM


come show your support for a living wage!
4:30 PM, the patio behind Shriver


chomp chomp,

--- Matt Kern [email removed] wrote:


You realize this is two days, and not a week's worth
of events, yes?

Can I also ask how you got my email address?

and who is the Bishop Debate Society? I've never heard of them
before. Do they have meetings?

thanks for your response...whenever it comes.
-matt kern

--- Stephanie Lee wrote:


The Bishop Debate Society is, in my most basic
understanding, a funding source that provides
assistance to student groups who bring speakers
to campus. It was
created, I assume, in the spirit
of dialog and community-engagement.

I probably got your email address from one of the
many BlackBoard sites. Miami makes it easy for all
student groups to advertise for their events this way,
and it is no form of trickery on my part.

And you are correct, 2 days does fall short of a week.
Thank you for pointing that out to me.



---Tim Nordquist wrote:

The more we pay them the more they will charge us to
go there. [sic]

---Stephanie Lee wrote:

That is definitely not true. Tuition has been rising the maximum amount every year, regardless of increases in wages.

As someone concerned about rising tuition, you should be wondering where all your money is going, and asking why your money is being used to pay sub-poverty wages.


--- Preston Parry wrote:

Have you done any research into the economics of
living wage laws? There's a lot of factual research out
there, available widely on the internet, or through the
library's databases. It would be wise of you as the leader of
this movement to know any and all arguments you will
come up against.

Also, how much work have you done with the actual
staff members themselves? Have you tried hard to
understand their position, to get to know them as
human beings, or just as a single entity that serves
as an outlet for you and your group? I'm just curious,
because not once have I ever heard a staff member
mention to me that they weren't getting paid enough,
or that they in any way disliked their job. Maybe my
sample's just too small, but I was curious how much
research you had into this area as well.

---Stephanie Lee wrote:


I have indeed been speaking to workers, as have other members of Students for Staff. It is our invested conversations and relationships with workers that drive many of us to continue working toward a living wage. While we could not possibly speak with all 1,600 of the Classified staff (hourly employees) at Miami, we have made an effort to get to know as many as possible, and have been working diligently in conjunction with many staff liaisons, and have met with staff advisory committees such as CPAC, in order to better understand the staff as a whole.

As someone working diligently on writing and researching my thesis, I can assure you that we do not do this for our own amusement, but because we care very much for the health of our community, and the individuals therein.

I'm glad to hear you've been talking to staff on your own, and that you've been "getting to know them as human beings." I encourage you to continue doing so.

I also encourage you to attend the Forum on Tuesday April 10th for the economics research on living wages. There will be two prominent economists from Washington DC and U Mass-Amherst who will speak to the very concerns you mentioned.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mother!

it's my mom's birthday today!

if you see this lovely lady, please wish her all the best for me, and thank her for everything she is and does.

with love,

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

field notes: observing the college student specious in its (un)natural habitat

i wrote this passing thought in a notebook as i people-watched in the halls of Upham, waiting for a sociology prof to sign my force-add slip for Social Stratification next year.

it suddenly seemed very clear to me how the college specious works...

"no wonder ppl drink themselves into oblivion on the wkends – they need release! release from the dull, painful monotony of the rest of their week, time spent wasting in classrooms, the dead, boring material washing over them as they sit staring, hoping to catch glimmers of a future promised them, a future they desperately await, while the present passes them by"

waiting out the monotonous present, living in a zombie state, hoping for something better down the road, while making a mockery of the present and the life you could be living.

this is what Paulo Freire termed the "necrophilic" nature of traditional education. = "driven not by a love of life, but a love of death."

is it sad i can quote all this stuff from memory now?