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Stuck 04 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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As users of WordPress know, when you make a blog, it automatically sets up an “About” page for you.  So I put a throwaway line up there that very briefly describes my situation:

I’m a scientist stuck in the Bible Belt, with many opinions that don’t go over very well here.

A commenter, Duke Wankins (and I hope for his sake that’s a pseudonym), takes issue with my statement:

“I’m a scientist stuck in the Bible Belt…”

It’s interesting I think, how people are always “stuck” somwhere they don’t like. As if an invisible force makes them stay. I witnessed this a lot during my stay in the US Navy (at half a dozen duty stations; SC., TN., MISS. and CA.). Amazing as it was, there was always some one who would claim they were “stuck” at a particular base, and of course where they came from was a paradise. If you don’t like the “Bible Belt”, why don’t you leave? If your “opinions” don’t go over very well , why don’t you shut-up about it? Do you just feal [sic] some urge to let people know what you think? I also live in the Bible Belt, and I get a lot of flak for listening to classical mucic [sic], being a vegatarian [sic], and a non-smoker, hunter and drinker. BUT, I love it here and do so by my own free will. I am not stuck here and can leave anytime I wish. SO can you.

-Duke Wankins

Okay Duke, point made.  I am not stuck here in the literal sense of the word.  But the beauty of colloquial English is that certain words and phrases have shades of meaning that, while not adhering to the literal definition, allow one to convey certain information in a more economical way.  So when I use the word “stuck”, most people can figure out that what I’m really trying to say is “due to a number of factors, it is in my best interest to remain in my present situation, even if it is not optimal”.  That’s quite a mouthful, which is why it is often useful, especially in conversation, to just use the word “stuck” and be done with it.  I have a feeling that even you, Duke, knew what I was trying to convey by using the word “stuck”.

And “stuck” is not the only phrase we use as a shorthand.  Consider the phrase “have to”, as in “I have to go to work”, “I have to clean the house”, or “I have to do my homework”.  Strictly speaking, nobody has to do any of these things.  It’s just a way of saying “given the consequences, it is in my best interest to…”.  So would you shun the phrase “have to” as well, as people generally do not use the phrase literally?

As for my opinions, I generally keep them to myself in normal discourse, unless specifically asked about them.  So, in a sense, I usually do “shut-up” about them.  But this is my  blog, and I use it as an outlet to talk about things that are on my mind without fear of reprisal.  The only urge I feel is to get things off my chest, and this blog is an excellent venue to do so.  I’m not foisting my opinions on those around me – blog readers are not a captive audience.  They are free to click away if they’re not interested in what I have to say.

Have a happy Independence Day, and be sure to take some time to enjoy the fact that not only are you not truly “stuck”, you also live in a country with a wonderfully nuanced language.

Earth. It’s the Center of The Universe. 15 Jun 2008

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This Weekend’s To-Do List 14 Jun 2008

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Try Jiggling the Handle 27 May 2008

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Now this is a crappy development (sorry, couldn’t resist):

WASHINGTON (AP) — The international space station’s lone toilet is broken, leaving the crew with almost nowhere to go. So NASA may order an in-orbit plumbing service call when space shuttle Discovery visits next week.

Until then, the three-man crew will have to make do with a jury-rigged system when they need to urinate.

While one of the crew was using the Russian-made toilet last week, the toilet motor fan stopped working, according to NASA. Since then, the liquid waste gathering part of the toilet has been working on-and-off.

Fortunately, the solid waste collecting part is functioning normally.

Russian officials don’t know the cause of the problem, and the crew has been unable to fix it.

The crew has used the toilet on the Soyuz return capsule, but it has a limited capacity. They are now are using a backup bag-like collection system that can be connected to the broken toilet, according to NASA public affairs officials.

Expelled Exposed 14 Apr 2008

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Want to know the NCSE’s take on the movie Expelled? Want to find out more about the “martyrs” in Expelled?

Go to Expelled Exposed. They have all the dish.

My favorite part?

The Claim: Michael Egnor says in Expelled that he expected criticism, but was shocked by the “viciousness” and “baseness” of the response.

The Facts: Michael Egnor had apparently never been on the Internet before.

PZ-Away 31 Mar 2008

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Happy Valentine’s Day! 14 Feb 2008

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Looking for a way to embrace both your sweetie and your inner science geek?

Are You Smarter Than A Chimp? 13 Feb 2008

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Does This Make Me A Geek? 11 Feb 2008

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I would love to get this card for Valentine’s Day.

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What Would Jesus Wear? 07 Feb 2008

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