Post Oscars disability blogging

Media dis&dat has some great posts on disability themes in oscar-nominated films, as well as excellent coverage of the protests against the humanitarian award for Jerry Lewis.   I haven’t found any substantive commentary on the Oscar-winning performance by Penelope Cruz in “Vicky, Christina, Barcelona,” so will say a little bit here.

First, I have to say that I was surprised that Cruz was nominated at all — it was not her best performance although it did stand out because the film as a whole was so dull.  By giving her the best supporting actress award, I think the Academy is validating a stereotypical view of persons with mental illness.  Then there’s the underlying current of misogyny that runs throughout this characterization — but that’s become pretty common for Woody Allen nowadays.

I thought Ann Hathaway’s character Kim in “Rachel Getting Married” was a much more nuanced view of a person struggling with addiction and emotional problems.  We get to see raw emotional pain and the family conflicts that ensue — but she’s not demonized either.

Anyway, I’d be interested in hearing other reactions to these performances and others I missed (e.g. “Revolutionary Road” and “The Changeling.”)  As to the Oscar ceremony — BORING!!!!  The only entertaining part was the bit with Tina Fey and Steve Martin (Ben Stiller’s impression of Joaquin Phoenix was entertaining for a bit but got old fast).  I think Fey and Martin should  host next year.

BBC Booklist

From Clio Bluestocking.

BBC Book List — the beeb came up with this thinking that the average Brit has only read six of these.  Let’s see how well this Yank does.


1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.

2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.

3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.

4) Put a minus (-) next to those you never plan to read because life’s too short  to waste time on stuff you don’t like.

1) Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen: *

2) Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien: –  Tried to, just couldn’t get into it.

3) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte:

4) Harry Potter series – JK Rowling: X (just the first one).

5) To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee: X+.

6) The Bible: X.

7) Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte:

8) Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell: X.

9) His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10) Great Expectations – Charles Dickens: X.

11) Little Women – Louisa M Alcott: X.

12) Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy: X

13) Catch 22 – Joseph Heller: X+

14) Complete Works of Shakespeare:

15) Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier: X.

16) The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien: -.

17) Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18) Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger – X:

19) The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger.

20) Middlemarch – George Eliot:

21) Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell: X.

22) The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald: X.

24) War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy: -.

25) The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams: X+.

26) Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh:*

27) Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

28) Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck: X.

29) Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll: X

30) The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31) Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy: X.

32) David Copperfield – Charles Dickens: X.

33) Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis:

34) Emma – Jane Austen: *

35) Persuasion – Jane Austen:*

36) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis:

37) The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini: X

38) Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere

39) Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden: X.

40) Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne: X. Of course!

41) Animal Farm – George Orwell: X

42) The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown: X.

43) One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez: X+.

44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving: X

45) The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins:

46) Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery:

47) Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy:

48) The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood: X+.

49) Lord of the Flies – William Golding: X.

50) Atonement – Ian McEwan: X+

52) Dune – Frank Herbert: X.

53) Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons. *

54) Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen: *

55) A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth* (actually started it, left it in the Dallas airport)

56) The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57) Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens: X.

58) Brave New World – Aldous Huxley: –

59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon: X.  Liked A Spot of Bother

60) Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez: X+.

61) Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck:

62) Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov: –

63) The Secret History – Donna Tartt: X.

64) The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold: X.

65) Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas:

66) On The Road – Jack Kerouac:

67) Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy:

68) Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding: X.

69) Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie: X

70) Moby Dick – Herman Melville.

71) Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens: X

72) Dracula – Bram Stoker: X.

73) The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett: X+.

Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson X

75) Ulysses – James Joyce:X+ — did the walking tour in Dublin too.

76) The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath: X.

77) Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78) Germinal- Emile Zola X

79) Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80) Possession – AS Byatt: X+.

81) A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens: X

82) Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83) The Color Purple – Alice Walker: X+.

84) The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro X+

85) Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert: X.

86) A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87) Charlotte’s Web – EB White: X

88) The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom. Gag! No.

89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: X.

91) Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad: X.

92) The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery: X.In French

93) The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94) Watership Down – Richard Adams:

95) A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole: *

96) A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute. X

97) The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas:

98) Hamlet – William Shakespeare: X

99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl: X.

100) Les Miserables – Victor Hugo:

Letter to the New York Post

Courtesy of Color of Change via Facebook:

Dear Friend,

Yesterday, the day after President Obama signed his stimulus bill into law, the NY Post ran a cartoon depicting the bill’s “author” as a dead monkey, covered in blood after being shot by police. You can see the image by clicking on the link below.

In the face of intense criticism, the Post’s editor is standing by the cartoon, claiming that it’s not about Obama, has no racial undertones, and that it was simply referencing a recent incident when police shot a pet chimpanzee. But it’s impossible to believe that any newspaper editor could be ignorant enough to not understand how this cartoon evokes a history of racist symbolism, or how frightening this image feels at a time when death threats against President Obama have been on the rise.

Please join me and other members in demanding that the Post apologize publicly and fire the editor who allowed this cartoon to go to print:

The Post would have us believe that the cartoon is not about Obama. But on the page just before the cartoon appears, there’s a big picture of Obama signing the stimulus bill. A reader paging through the Post would see Obama putting pen to paper, then turn the page to see this violent cartoon. The imagery is chilling.

There is a clear history in our country of racist symbolism that depicts Black people as apes or monkeys, and it came up multiple times during the presidential campaign.

We’re also in a time of increased race-based violence. In the months following President Obama’s election there has been a nationwide surge in hate crimes ranging from vandalism to assaults to arson on Black churches. There has been an unprecedented number of threats against President Obama since he was elected, with hate-based groups fantasizing about the killing of the president. Just a week ago, a man drove from Louisiana to the Capitol with a rifle, telling the police who stopped him that he had a “delivery” for the president.

There is no excuse for the Post to have allowed this cartoon to be printed, and even less for Editor Col Allan’s outright dismissal of Black concerns.

But let’s be clear who’s behind the Post: Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, the Post’s owner, is the man behind FOX News Channel. FOX has continually attacked and denigrated Black people, politicians, institutions at every opportunity, and ColorOfChange has run several campaigns to make clear how FOX poisons public debate.

I don’t expect much from Murdoch. However, with enough public pressure, we can set the stage for advertisers and subscribers to think long and hard before patronizing outlets like the Post that refuse to be held accountable.

You can help, by making clear that the Post’s behavior is unacceptable, and by asking your friends and family to do the same. Please join me:


In addition, I’ll just echo the following quote from the hit song of the same title by
the rap group Public Enemy:

“Here’s a letter to the New York Post
The worst piece of paper on the east coast
Matter of fact the whole state’s forty cents
in New York City fifty cents elsewhere
It makes no goddamn sense at all
America’s oldest continuously published daily piece of bullshit”

I seldom read LOL cats but . . .

Kittywampus tempted me to take this quiz, since I haven’t posted in awhile and don’t feel like coming up with anything that would strain my brain on a holiday.   The result:

Lion Warning Cat

81% Affectionate, 61% Excitable, 42% Hungry


“You are the good Samaritan of the lolcat world. Protecting others from danger by shouting observations and guidance in cases of imminent threat, you believe in the well-being of everyone.”

Well, I agree with the 42% hungry part — time for lunch!

Knitting Clio on TV

The CCSU BOOKSTORE  presents


CCSU’s cable television show featuring members of the Central family (faculty, staff, and alumni) talking about their books

and airing on some 20 cable outlets throughout Connecticut.  (Check your local listings!)

TODAY at NOON in the CCSU Bookstore

Student Bodies: the Influence of Student Health Services in American Society and Medicine

Heather Prescott (History)


Watch Central Authors daily on CCSU TV, channel 23, at 8:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 7:30 pm,


online at

Scientific Fraud in MMR/Autism study

Media dis&dat reports that  Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who published a study allegedly linking MMR vaccine and autism, has been accused of “cooking” the data to fit his theory.  Wakefield’s findings led to a sharp decline in the percentage of children receiving vaccinations for MMR and other childhood diseases, leading to a resurgence of these diseases in areas where herd immunity is lower than optimal.

I just received a copy of Paul Offit’s book, Autism’s False Prophets, which I hope to read soon (after the pile of papers I just received from my disability history class!)