26 September 2007

Semantics = Sick, Dead, Stoned

So, as you know, from my last blog, I'm a Master's student. I'm currently enrolled in a class called Semantics. What that is, doesn't really matter, what matters is that I've never had so much fun in a class! Whoever said that master's classes were hard, was lying! They're the best. You get to sit around with other nerds, like yourself and talk about really fun stuff. Trust me, it's fun stuff. :) One day while discussing signifiers and signfieds, my teacher started drawing little faces on the board to represent different emotions. He put up "angry," "sick," "dead," and so on. This exercise was a way to show that these emotions were linked in some way, but by minor differences they are completely different emotions. I don't quite remember how the "stoned" face got on the board, but it did. He then pointed out that the faces of "sick," "dead," and "stoned" were quite similar in depiction and the motto of "sick, dead, stoned" was born. We all decided we had to be one of these three things, to pick such a major as Linguistics and then subject ourselves to years more in school, just to beat our heads against a proverbial wall in order to get a thesis written. And, as Dr. Manning so kindly points out, there is no point...let me emphasize that...NO POINT to writing a thesis. Except to graduate. That's it. Period.

No one in the real world cares about this paper that we labor over with such diligence. We take abuse from our committees on the paper's flaws and we fix them, and then we just have to sit there and defend our work to them. If they don't like our thesis, we don't graduate. That's all there is to it. After our thesis is accepted and we get another piece of paper on our walls. And with any luck, we get the dream job, or another 3-5 years of research to add three little letters to the end of our names.

It's not all bad, I don't mind writing a "worthless" research paper. I really don't, not when I get to go to classes and learn about things that fascinate me. I love my Semantics class, and can't wait to go. The time flies when I'm there. It's great. In fact, Dr. Manning has even bought us all lunch. (Payback for our 20 minutes worth of tuition that he "stole" from us by being 20 minutes late to class one day.) And he's always willing to explain things to us. We've even discussed such shows as "M*A*S*H" and "Friends" in the pursuit of understanding the concepts. (Btw, analysis of the characters in such shows as "Friends" and "Will and Grace" will be the topic *hopefully* of an upcoming, publishable article by your's truly.)

24 September 2007

Flaming Liberal and Rabid Republicans

So here's the situation. I am a Liberal Idahoan (I know, it seems counterintuitive), and I'm currently attending Brigham Young University as a Master's student. From one Red state to the next...I know. Shoot me. It's not that bad really. I don't mind being in the minority, in fact, I can now play (and sing along to) Green Day's Minority with some appreciation for the reality of it. Down with the "moral" majority! But I digress.

As an under grad at BYU (you'd think they'd have learned and not let me back in...silly people!) I took a class that led to a discussion on Noam Chomsky and his linguistic beliefs. The TA asked us "What do you know about Chomsky?" At any other university the first response probably would have sounded something like, "he thought he knew what he was talking about, but new research shows that he was off the mark." Not at BYU. The first thing anyone said was "he's a flaming liberal" it was all down hill from there. Now, Chomsky's theories have all but been disproven, but what does his political affiliation have to do with anything? Nothing. Made me think....can other things be flaming? Or just liberals? Without be too un-politically correct, there are a few other things that can be. Most of them are more commonly associated with "left-wing" politics, but can conservatives be flaming conservatives?

For the rest of the year, my classmates and I set out to call everything we could "flaming." After recent events in my life, I've decided that Democrats are indeed "flaming liberals" and our dear friends on the right are simply "rabid Republicans." I won't go into the details of my past few run-ins with such types, because they're really great people and I love them anyway. Suffice it to say, that one against 3 (or more) is never a fun place to be....well, okay...maybe I enjoyed it. I can't help it. When I find people of the Rabid Republican type that actually know what they're talking about, this Flaming Liberal likes to argue. It doesn't happen often around here. Most people think they're Republican simply because that's what their parents are and what their grandparents were. No other reason. These last few encounters have been with well educated and informed RRs and I don't mind the discussions they brought up. I doubt we'll ever see eye to eye, but we can be friends, right?