a recent survey looked into why fewer women than men go into surgery, particularly interesting as fewer m.d.s are entering into surgerical residencies.

there are a few things that stand out to me:

men are apparently more concerned than women about family and workload concerns. i found this result surprising and in thinking about why this would be so (since it doesn’t seem to me that women in general have stopped being concerned about a work/life balance) i can only surmise that this would be because women may see all fields as equally difficult in balancing family and work?

and, then of course, there are the not suprising findings that women are more likely to see sex discrimination in surgery, and percieve surgeons to comprise an “old boys’ club” (not to mention women tend to be more disturbed about the “surgical personality”, which i think fits into this).

but these results indicate something which really bothers me. it is one thing for women to feel like they can’t do something because of the practicalities of the situation: they want to have children and don’t see time for it, for example. but it is an entirely different thing for women to feel like they can’t do something because of a perception that they just don’t belong there doing it. i’m sure this is true in other situations too, but it just makes me sad.

i feel like i have a lot more thoughts to add to this (like how this is or is not reflected in popular culture in shows like ER, or Grey’s Anatomy), but no time right now.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

~langston hughes

totally misguided

April 21, 2006

so, if you’ve been following the news you know that the president of china, hu jintao, is visiting the US. you probably also know that at his arrivial ceremony a protestor started shouting against him.

she apparently started out with:

“President Bush, stop him from killing,” the woman shouted, to the surprise of hundreds of guests spread across the lawn on a sunny, warm day.

now, i would be suprised too: she is asking BUSH to STOP someone from killing. this just seems totally misguided to me. i mean, bush is the “war president”, and wars involve death, as we all know.

in response:

Bush leaned over and whispered to Hu, “You’re OK,”

yeah, don’t worry hu–i’m down with the killing, and we can still be good buddies. good thing we’ve got such a friendly president.

the article goes on to say:

Chinese leaders place high importance on protocol and symbolism, and Bush moved promptly to deal with the protest on the lawn. Once they reached the Oval Office, Bush apologized to his guest.

“He just said, ‘This was unfortunate’ and ‘I’m sorry it happened,'” said Dennis Wilder, acting senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff.

phew, you wouldn’t want the president of china thinking people actually have a right to protest! or that we’re not all down with state sanctioned murder.

“It’s hugely embarrassing,” said Derek Mitchell, a former Asia adviser at the Pentagon and now an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China “must know that this Bush administration is good at controlling crowds for themselves, and the fact that they couldn’t control this is going to play to their worst fears and suspicions about the United States, into mistrust about American intentions toward China.”

that’s right–they might think we’re a democracy, that we’ll use those constitutional rights. and then we probably couldn’t be such good buddies.


April 19, 2006

maybe i don’t belong in science.

it seems lately, from what i’ve been reading and talking about, that if you are in science, getting your phd, or past that (into postdoc, academia, industry) you must want greatness.

but i don’t. i used to. i used to have all those dreams about being the Next Big Thing, making some big discovery that lead to the Nobel or some other worthy prize.

but i realize that, even if i do stay in science, i don’t want to be on the edge. just an interesting problem will suffice (and what problem isn’t interesting?). me at my bench and/or computer working it out and enjoying myself.

i don’t want the stress, the fear, the paranoia, the responsibility of being “great”. i want life, fun, time, fresh air, good food, and a furry pooka monster on my lap.

i am a little church

April 18, 2006

i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)


last week before easter

April 10, 2006

so last haiku posting. and i won’t do a poem post next monday as i’ll just be coming back home from easter weekend with family.

as a christian, this is a mournful week for me. it is a time to remember the ever-present death of Jesus Christ to atone for my sins. it is a time to remember that i am a murderer, thief and liar. that my own heart contains every manner of evil. it is often hard to acknowledge how much i need jesus.

“Chrysanthemum growers-
you are the slaves
of chrysanthemums!”

“before the white chrysanthemum
the scissors hesitate
a moment.”


class effect

April 5, 2006

in hugo schwyzer’s blog, he writes about white privilege:

“It wasn’t arrogance, but rather a kind of confidence that came from always being seen as someone who “belonged”. My friends of color could not report the same set of experiences! In countless ways, my white skin (as well as my sex and my class background) have opened doors for me.”

which inspired me in thinking about how i grew up feeling as tho i didn’t belong, despite being white, and how class has impacted that feeling. i feel like one of the connotations of “white” is “middle class”. because i wasn’t middle class i didnt feel as tho i always belonged, or was always safe.

I grew up poor. welfare poor for many years of my young life. Because we were poor, we lived in a poor neighborhood, with many other poor white people and people of color. so my experience of the world is a bit different, i guess. our sins were on the outside. police constantly harassed folks, and it was a tossup between whether taking another one from your abusive husband was better than calling the cops. In that neighborhood, in that setting, my white skin did not mean much. and later on, this made me keenly aware of the fact that my white skin let me “pass”. pass under their radar as long as i was in the right neighborhood, or was wearing the right clothes, or was not in the company of folks of color.

but at least i felt i belonged among the people in that neighborhood, at that school. we were all in it together, we had to be for each other, because the rest of the world was not looking out for us.

when our apartment building was condemned as too dangerous to live in, we moved to a middle class neighboorhood, albeit in the more rundown area and in the lone apartment building in the area (something we struggled to afford even now that my mom was off of welfare and working a full time job). whereas before, i was one poor kid among many, i was now one poor kid among many wealthy ones. and i was made to feel it. feel as though i didn’t belong. feel as though i were dirty. maybe (?) particularly because there were almost no people of color at this new school, my white skin did not automatically include me in the party.

so, in high school and especially college, i always felt i was on the outside. i couldn’t afford high end clothes; my speech defects were constantly pointed out to me; i had no financial safety net to fall back on. i couldn’t party every night because i needed to keep my grades up for my scholarship; i always had to keep a job in addition to class work just to pay for the essentials like a meal plan and books; and i couldn’t fly away to an exotic locale for spring break every year. not all of these things bother me (and neither does growing up poor, as i appreciate the life view it has given me). but all of them were reminders that i was “different”–and in a capitalistic culture, different financially is definitely “less than.”

not to mention

April 5, 2006

i have been incredibly stressed out lately.

this is not good for many reasons, but most of all my sanity, by which i mean my faith. it means i’m not remembering how relatively easy and blessed my life is.

i’m trying to do data analysis at work, which means learning matlab. i’m so not a computer programmer but it is good to learn and i have an EXCELLENT teacher, thank God. it is also harried because my advisor wants data to give in her talk and to send in an abstract for a conference in june. which i don’t have. data, or time to do it in. i already spent three more hours on it this morning than i was supposedly allowing myself.

i’ve also been very busy with social obligations. normally i try to be very strict about limiting myself in this category because of the overwhelming-ness of lab, but i have a couple of good friends moving away in the next month, and a friend coming into town, and easter coming up so my schedule there is packed also.

not to mention the class i’m taking this semester.
not to mention personal issues going on in my life.

so, all of this is stress.

and i forgot my winter hat on the train today. again. and it’s snowing.

but i finally get to see brokeback mountain this week, so yay that.

“No talent
and so no sin,
a winter day.”

“moon, plum blossoms,
this, that,
and the day goes.”

~issa (for both)