Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Let's just pause for a moment to consider the kind of person thought would be a good match for me:

"White hetrosexual [sic] male seeking nice female to spend my life with. I was born on July 22 1967. I am about 5'10" and live by myself in a Condo in Falls Church, Virginia. I work for a government contractor onsite at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing as a Materials Handler. Before that, I was a bank teller for BB&T for six and a half years. I have a bachelor's degree Communications from George Mason University, where I took some journalism related courses and wrote for the college newspaper. I also lended [sic] my vocal talents to the GMU radio station. In my spare time I like to read, spend time with friends at social gatherings, go to church services, go to movies or watch them either at home or at a friend's house, and I exercise at Bally Total Fitness. I also like bowling and miniature golf. I am seeking a woman who is professional, preferably someone with a full time job. However, If she is taking time off from work to go back to school, I can accept that, too. I would prefer a woman who is still able to have babies. I'd like someone who is reasonalbly [sic] attractive. I'm not really concerned with her height, And if she has a few extra pounds, that's allright[sic], too. My ideal mate doesn't have to be perfect, but reasonalbly [sic] physically attactive[sic], as well as understanding, someone I can see things eye to eye with."

CWAATPP!!! (cackling with astonishment, about to pee pants) I just made up an email emotronym!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Remarks culled from Facebook about Gates-gate


I agree with Terry's analysis and it is appalling (though sadly not so unusual) that this happened. I wonder, however, if there might not be another element going on here that I have not seen mentioned: the town/gown factor. The officer might have been more likely to overreact not only because of racism, but because of class resentment. Cambridge is chock full of highly renowned, cultured, and privileged academics, some of whom have, like Gates, also become celebrities. And, compared to most other residents of Cambridge (and to most academics, who are not lucky enough to teach at Harvard or MIT) they are wealthy as well. So I wonder if perhaps some of the things Gates said to the officer touched a class nerve as well as a racial one. It seems at least possible that the cop saw him not as just an "uppity black" but as "another elitist asshole from the college." Now, I have no idea if Gates IS an elitist asshole (doesn't come across as one on TV), but you know how when provoked, one tends to reach for the best insult one can conjure, which for us intellectual types is often one that berates someone's intelligence. Again, I have no idea what was said, but the tangle of resentments on both sides could be more complex that we thought. Yes, this is an incident that brings up the question "who belongs in Cambridge?" But the cop might have been conditioned by his own history to think that people like Gates believe HE doesn't belong in Cambridge. I'm not excusing anything the cop did AT ALL, just observing (from my own town/gown impressions living in another rarified college town) that class exclusion may mix with racism in a complex way in that kind of town.

July 22

a friend:

I think that's a potentially apt read of the sitch: or at least one likely ingredient in the soup-- even if Gates wasn't snotty to the officer, the officer could be hearing it anyway. Very smart you be.


Agreed. Must've been surreal to be jetlagged and getting arrested in your own home. Not sure what I would have reached for...

July 22 at 3:46pm


I guess one question is, is it actually *reasonable* for Gates to overreact, if in fact he did, given the reality of racial profiling. I can see how one could be *so* angry, especially if one had given the issue much thought and analysis in the past (esp. if one were also majorly jetlagged). And a person of Gates' stature isn't used to being told what to do by anyone.

I still find it disturbing that the neighbor didn't recognize him (was she a next-door neighbor?). Did either of them just move in? Does this say something about him or about her? Or about how no one pays attention to neighbors generally?.

And, as a follow-up to yesterday's inquiry about class issues (which I still haven't seen mentioned-- maybe it is too complicating): my immediate thought upon seeing that the cop lived in Natick was, oh, of course there was a class element here. And that is classist of me, I know. But it also says that he works in Cambridge but can't afford to live there. or wanted to move further out for some other reason.... race and class mingling together so closely as to defy separation. Just some more conjecture... i don't know anything about it really.

yet another friend:

what do you think about this article?

It's much more acceptable in America to talk about racism than classism. Are you familiar with the documentary People Like Us?

friend #2

I don't have a transcript, but I think HLG's reaction was pretty proportional. When I first heard the story, I thought, huh? They have to be making this up. The most likely scenario: cop arrives, he soon discerns from proferred ID that this is the man's own house, he realizes the call was in error, he happens to be a white cop, the guy happens to be black, and of some stature in the community, and he immediately apologizes profusely all the way back to his squad car. The guy TAUGHT racial profiling classes. He had to have known what was going on. He was in the wrong, so best thing is to defuse the situation immediately, if only to cover his own ass, knowing his boss would not have his back when she learned of it. HLG's surprise that it did not go down this way seems perfectly reasonable.


To me, saying "you don't know who you're messing with" screams assumed CLASS exemption from being confronted by authority. It says "celebrity pique." And then he is now resting comfortably at his summer home on the Vineyard. I mean, the class red buttons are just glaring to me. And I think the President did pronounce judgment on the cop too soon (that is, before some info was known). Yes, I know that I have no clue what it means to be black in America, but Gates' identity as a very privileged member of an already privileged group (Ivy League profs) has surely shaped his sense of proportion just as his black identity has (not as much, but somewhat at least).
And yes, I do think it's more acceptable to talk about racism than of classism in the U.S. At least in a thoughtful way. Demagogues like to use phony kinds of classist accusations to stir up resentment, but I mean a real, nuanced discussion of it is lacking. It's too hard, and it undermines the "core" of Am. identity. But in the interest of full disclosure, the reason this gets my hackles up is that I've experienced a lot of snobbery and hierarchical behavior in the academic world, and a lot of people from underrepresented groups who go very far in that world, and sometimes undeservedly so (not that they have a monopoly on this-- many people of all colors get for crappy reasons in the academic world). of course Gates is not one of these undeserving people, but I am acutely sensitive to the particular class dynamics within that world, and how they ARE a more accurate measure of who has power than race is. In that world, class privilege is determined by publishing, grant-getting, tooting one's own horn at the right place and the right time, following the fashionable intellectual trends. Slightly different from the corporate world, but sometimes just as vapid.

Friend #2:

I'll admit, resting comfortably at his summer home on the vineyard was a bit much.

July 24

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cliche Day

I've heard people talking about taking a "mental health day" off from work. I guess that's what I'm doing, except it's because right now I actually feel insane. This is what happens when you are trying to wean off Cymbalta (you know, the anti-depressant with the commercials that try to convince you to take their drug because your depression is hurting...everyone else in your life [including the family dog]). Need I mention that this drug did nothing for me? Well, until now: I feel like crying and curling up in a ball one day, like kicking people and yelling at strangers on the subway the next. Last night I was so angry about too many things to even remember, my mind moving liquid fast, draining away every rational thought as they moved rapidly downstream. So even though I should have been tired, I could not sleep without the help of clonazepam (50s housewife drugs to the rescue!). So this is my "mental health" day.

Another cliche that has seemed appropriate for my situation for a while is the one about being at a crossroads. I was driving, though very slowly, and in a car that needed frequent repairs, until I reached said crossroads. Mine has always been a slow, ill-kempt vehicle. I stop, for there is a complete lack of helpful signage. In fact there is no signage at all (thus, this crossroads must be in Massachusetts; in which case it is probably a rotary). So I am driving around in circles, except that my car has now run out of gas.

At this point, I've been out of gas for more than a year, still sitting on the shoulder (as if there would be one in Mass!) of the rotary with no signs.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Welcome to my blog

Perhaps you would like to know what my blog name means. Not much, really. My favorite number is 19. "Plunkett" may cause more confusion. I refer here not to the nineteenth-century Tammany Hall politico, George Washington Plunkitt:

I do appreciate that he was named this, but I'm not really into the nineteenth century. Truly wacky times.

No, I refer to "plunketts" (note different spelling), a name I came up with as a kid to describe the individual teardrops of pulp within citrus fruits. I liked to eat grapefruit one plunkett at a time.

Where the diagram above says "juice sac," substitute "plunkett."