Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko

Oroonoko is the story of an African prince tricked into slavery by an English captain and taken to the colony of Suriname. In the process, he is separated from his lady love, only to be (un)surprisingly reunited with her in the New World. Oroonoko, a proud, noble, and heroic man, must choose between life and slavery, or death and freedom.

This book is… interesting. I didn’t so much like the book as find it fascinating from a historical perspective. It is written by an English woman, Aphra Behn, for a popular English audience, about an African in America. The book interestingly combined European romance style of writing of the 17th Century with the “new” genre of the “Brief True Relation”, or the early, early novel. Behn made the descriptions of the New World as fantastical as any romance-reading audience could hope for, while managing to slip in a hint of censure on the idea of slavery. Her precise stance on slavery is wildly debated, but could be summed up as, at the very least, a strong desire for Europeans to critically reevaluate the institution.

I didn’t find this an enjoyable book while reading it–it rather felt like something to trudge through due to Behn’s writing style and language–but the historical significance of the novel is intriguing, and that is probably the most compelling reason to read the book. A word of warning, however: the novel was written in the Germanic style that includes capitalized nouns and seemingly-random adjectives, and precludes the standardization of the English language.

Oh, Yeah!

Some completely crazy nut sent me the complete set (Seasons 1, 2, and 3) of the Fox show Family Guy. I say “completely crazy nut” because he knows I’ll just take a weekend and watch the whole damn thing, and resume walking around “Oh, yeah“ing everyone to death. Tsk, tsk, Miguel.

In other news, I’m feeling sympathy and compassion for a fellow blogger with big toe issues. I want to sign up for anti-clumsiness classes, too. I sure as shit need ’em. My big toe has a huge lump just below the middle “knuckle”, and any attempts to bend it (without using my hand) causes excruciating pain all the way up my foot. I still don’t know what the lump is–could something be wrong with the little muscle that stretches between the joints?

And, a final note before I head off to lunch and my very first ever Chemistry lab at Rose, I’m having a bit of trouble with my e-mail, so mail sent to the e-mail address in the links at the end of my posts will probably not make it to its ultimate destination until I get that address unblocked. See, whathappenedwuz, um, I was working on this e-mail script yesterday instead of doing homework, and, um, I ended up sending about 350 e-mails to myself in short succession, and Fastmail said, “Ha, who do you think you are, a paying customer?” and locked my shit up. Thank goodness for my second account (which is paid for, actually) and the ability to migrate e-mails across IMAP accounts, so I am now consolidated into a single, larger account without the annoyances of free accounts. None of which is relevant to what folks care about if they should so desire to send me mail. However, that irrsinn.net e-mail address is still blocked from receiving mail on a Fastmail server. I am currently undergoing negotiations with the folk in charge, because that will get old hella quick.

[Listening to “Everlasting” [Remy Shand / The Way I Feel]]

So, whatchu bin searchin’ for?

I have been doing some mad Internet searching lately. Some of the questions to be answered:

Who is Noam Chomsky? This may seem like a trivial question for more educated folks, but I have never heard anything other than passing references to his name, often in a critical context. I have George to thank for renewing my curiosity regarding Chomsky.

Basic biographical and bibliographical information can be found at his MIT site. While this is nice for learning that (big surprise) he’s a famous linguist and involves himself in “intellectual history, comtemporary issues, international affairs, and U.S. foreign policy”, it didn’t cough up any information on why he’s so controversial (if, in fact, he is).

Wikipedia has a Noam Chomsky page that is quite helpful. In summary, Chomsky is a old-school Zionist, anti-capitalist, and a well-known leftie. That would be a reference to political affiliation, of course. He is apparently known for criticizing the foreign policies of the U.S., calling the U.S. the leading terrorist state of the world and criticizing the United States’ allies. Sounds like a fascinating guy, quite frankly. I think, when my reading load slows down (see below), I think I will pick up a book or two by him.

A a follow-up question, what is the pronounciation of “Chomsky”? Is it just chom-skee?

Who is Coetzee? Again, inspired by the post by George, I decided to hunt down information about John Michael Coetzee. Coetzee is a South African who became anti-imperialist during the apartheid; his writing on the topic (among others) and his experiences landed him Booker Prizes and the Nobel Literature Prize.

I have put The Life and Times of Michael K and Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life on hold for my own reading pleasure, along with a book that explains the sociopolitical background of Coetzee’s works.

How the hell do nurses get the numbers for blood pressure? I found the relevant information for my impromptu question here. Essentially, when the bladder of the cuff inflates, circulation is cut off, and the stethoscope “perceives no noise”. As the cuff is released, the number on the dial is noted when the stethoscope begins to register noise again (systolic blood pressure). The cuff continues to deflate, and another “whoosh” registers on the stethoscope. When the stethoscope stops registering noise (after the deflation of the cuff), the dial measurement is read again (diastolic blood pressure). These two numbers form the blood pressure.

I have too much free time, don’t I? Well, curiousity shan’t kill this kitty.

[Listening to “No Turning Back” [Kelis / Kaleidoscope]]

"Now served with a hint of mocha."

I wanted a change. Not a big one, but a change nonetheless. Thanks to the joys of ASP (and the fact that I can’t preview some of these pages on my own computer), I’ll be working kinks out of the layout for a while yet. Bear with me and some pages are inaccessible and some disappear completely. One or two new pages may even appear.

[Listening to “Safe House/Calling You” [Spooks / S.I.O.S.O.S., Vol. 1]]

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day

So… it’s World AIDS Day. And I have yet to post about it. I’ve been thinking about what I think about AIDS, about sex education, about prejudices surrounding AIDS, and what it all means to me. I haven’t come to any new conclusions, but thinking’s always good, right?

I don’t know anyone that has died of AIDS. I don’t know anyone that is (openly) HIV+ or has AIDS. I’ve never been at risk, having never had a blood transfusion or sex. AIDS itself is not something I think about frequently. I do think about sex education issues, given my own experiences and what I hear about various stances concerning the issue. I remember sitting in middle school and listening to some burly coach hem and haw for a few minutes on Sex-Ed Day with nothing intelligable coming out of his mouth, then finally saying, “Just don’t do it.” Sex education was left to my parents, who assumed I had learned it in school or elsewhere (which, by then I mostly had) and didn’t really tell me anything unless some odd occasion left me with a question none of my peers could answer. Sex education came from television and getting the guts to ask my peers really, really weird questions, all while trying not to seem too ignorant. Surely I’m not the only one with this dilemma.

I am concerned with the message by some religious parties that abstinence is the only choice, and that people shouldn’t be educated about sex because they shouldn’t be doing it. Putting questions of breeding ignorance aside (no pun intended), is factually educating people about sex and preventative methods the same as tell them to go out and have mad, passionate, monkey-sex with as many people as possible? Or is it factually educating people about sex and preventative methods and leaving the moral questions of “should” (not to mention the lifestyle questions of “will”) to them? It probably seems different from the other perspective…

I also think about prejudices concerning AIDS, as those are ideas I find myself hearing entirely too often: “AIDS is God’s punishment for the sin of homosexuality [or promiscuity]” or that, in general, it’s a “gay disease”. I can’t even address the first one, as it’s a moral stance I can’t even argue successfully with; I halt at the word god and question the Christian definition of such a being. But the idea that it’s a gay disease is something that so many seem to still believe, no matter the number of straight people that have AIDS. These are the same people that will sit and tell you that, “Uh-huh, I know I could get the disease if I’m not careful,” but that you later hear make snide remarks that there’s no way they could get that “fag’s disease”. How do you combat that type of ignorance? They have most likely spent their entire lives indoctrinated with that type of prejudice, despite the truthful information they have come across. Of course, it never hurts to try to combat it anyway, but I wonder (in, I suppose, my typical cynical way) whether anyone who has taken advantage of the wealth of information available about AIDS (particularly today) has changed their opinion from one of bigotry to… well, to anything else.

(Not terribly insightful, I know. Perhaps I should have just kept my mouth shut hands still. But if you want good reading, visit Karsh and follow his series and his links. I also found Aaron’s post about the responses to a poster titled “Kissing Doesn’t Kill. Greed and Indifference Do” interesting. Of course, thebrotherlove made me want to cry. I, for one, am glad he’s alive [and sorry his friends aren’t], and I don’t even know him. Not that that’s a condition for giving a damn about someone’s well-being or anything, it’s just… well, nevermind.)