Em ơi! #323: Conspicuous Consumption, pt. 2

For those who didn’t get enough last week

So Freud was Austrian.  I mean, we all knew this, because he’s ALWAYS depicted with zis re-dik-u-lous achent, ja?  What I didn’t realize is that he died in 1939.  When the Nazis took over Germany, Freud’s books were among those they burned, and he famously quipped, “What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.”  He had four sisters who died in the camps, and he eventually escaped to London with the assistance of a Nazi who had studied his work and was a fan.

The more you know.

I do think that the change in conception of personality is very interesting, in part because of what it makes possible in terms of mental illnesses – think about it, unless you believe that personality is malleable and influenced by environment and that people can have different personalities for different situations, you cannot believe in Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder.  That is not to give a judgment on whether it exists or not (I have read too much on both sides of the issue to feel comfortable making a definitive statement here), but just to point out that if you lived in a culture that had a more static view of personality, you would probably see DID in a rather different light.

It seems as though today we’ve come to some sort of truce between all these conflicting ideas – we see personality as static but also see ourselves as presenting different facets of it in different situations; we see people as driven by instincts and ruled by chemicals, but still insist on the ability of the mind/ethics to govern it all.  And we are more nervous and depressed than ever (which might have more than a little to do with our old friend advertising).  Whee!

I love reading history because whenever I am convinced that the world is falling apart and we’re all going to fucking die (this happens frequently; I’m a pessimist), I just remember that society has been wrestling with these issues for more than a hundred years, and we ain’t dead yet.


This comic’s call number is HC79.C63 L86 2010a.

Em ơi! #322: Conspicuous Consumption

I spent most of the week a few weeks ago reading the prelim exams of a woman who was proposing to write her Ph. D. in consumer science — her interests were similar to those in this comic, but different in that I am about four hundred times more cynical than she is about consumerism in general, and I don’t believe in buying things if I can help it.

A lot of the info in this comic comes from a book I’ve been reading called No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 by T. J. Jackson Lears.  I am not really a history person per se, but I really enjoy the description of the ideas — it knocks me out that you can actually pinpoint the time and mechanism at and by which our society became what it is.  You can probably tell that I enjoyed this, because there are so many words.  As I told some friends who were hanging around while I was inking it, I meant to edit it…and accidentally added more words.  I’ll be back next week to talk about another fascinating consequence of consumer culture.

This comic was really fun to draw.  For some reason, I loved drawing Mr. Chomsky, and Ford also came out well.  I also enjoy the last two panels.

This comic is filed under HC79.C63 L86 2010, for Economic history and conditions — Special topics, A-Z — Consumer demand.  Consumers.  Consumption.  For other, somewhat related comics, click here.

This week in running: Week eight

It was a week: 16-22 August

Monday: biked 17.1 miles, lifted (chest)

Tuesday: AM – 3.3 mi (9.1 min/mi)

PM – 4.4 mi (11.2 min/mi)

Biked 17.1 mi

Wednesday: 3×2 mi at MP with 1/2 mi recovery (total 7.3 mi, avg. 8.4 min/mi); biked 17.1 mi; lifted (biceps)

Thursday: AM – 3.3 mi (9.4 min/mi)

PM – 3.3 mi (10.4 min/mi)

Biked 17.0 mi

Friday: Biked 31.3 mi

Saturday: half marathon – 13.1 mi in 1:46:02 (8.1 min/mi) – 19th in my division.

Sunday: AM – ~6 mi in 1:00:14

PM – 4 mi (11 min/mi)

Total running: 44.7 miles in 6:56:05 (9.3 min/mi, slightly faster than last week)

Total biking: 99.6 miles (This is the largest number of miles I have ever biked in a week.  Yikes.)

My goals for the half marathon were a) do it in the Vibrams, and b) try to do it at marathon pace or better, to see if doing my marathon at that pace is tenable.  MP is 8:25, so I was well within the “or better” part – 8.1 is about 8:05.  It is clear that I’ll have to pay careful attention to pacing myself so I don’t go out too fast.  I used to run very consistent splits, but as I’ve gotten faster that has faded somewhat.  For example, my splits on Saturday ranged from 7:54 to 9:00 (at least!).  So I will have to watch myself.  My feet and calves are sore from running in the VFFs, but though I was worried toward the end that my feet were bleeding or something, I only had one major blister, which is pretty good.

I’ll try to post the before/after pictures from the half tomorrow; they’re quite droll.

Em ơi! #321: Staff Infection

Bryan asked, when I wrote the script for this comic, if the Dean would recognize herself.  I told him no, because I’ve changed her name, so she can’t find this.  And also, I’ve been introduced to her two or three times now, and I don’t think she knows who I am.

I would totally get a Ph.D.  if I had a way of justifying it, just because I am totally in love with the intellectual exercise of being an intellectual and reading interesting stuff and writing about it.  This is maybe the problem with not being single, I don’t feel like I can just go on getting degrees because I think they would be fun or interesting.  There has to be a (pragmatic) reason to do things.

In other news, I received my first piece of fan mail from someone who I’m not related to today.  (Or, you know, someone I’m friends with on facebook – an email from a random stranger).  All of a sudden I feel like a WRITER.  I should get these novel revisions done tout de suite.  Bryan and I also passed a lovely weekend vacation in Chicago, where we went to the Art Institute, ate a lot of food, and saw some of my favorite relatives.

This is filed under LD6115 .L86 2010, for (deep breath): Individual institutions–United States–Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin System–Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin, Madison–Curriculum–Graduate work and courses.

Em ơi! #320: Bears, bears, bears

Finally another comic.  This one files under QL795.B4 L86 2010, for Zoology — Animal behavior — Stories and anecdotes — Special.  By common name of animal, A-Z — Bears.  You can read some articles about the bears here and here.  It turns out black bears are pretty harmless (they like to eat fruit, not runners), and there haven’t been any mentions of them in the paper since the beginning of the summer, so I’m probably safe.

My favorite new classification is officially HQ76.965.B42, for The Family. Marriage. Woman–Human sexuality. Sex–Sexual minorities–Homosexuality. Lesbianism–Gay and lesbian culture–Special topics, A-Z–Bears. I just found it while I was looking the QL795 one up.  I will have to come up with something to file under that.

Continue reading “Em ơi! #320: Bears, bears, bears”

First published short story: When I Ruled the World

You can find it here, if you’re so inclined.  Though I have another one that got picked up first, the folks at Wilde Oats got their issue out faster.  It was fun to work with them, and I’m so chuffed to be a part of their zine.  Do take a moment and look over the other pieces they’ve selected for your enjoyment and edification.

Bibliographic citation:

Lupton, E. H.  “When I Ruled the World.”  Wilde Oats.  5 (August 2010): Retrieved from the internet 9 August 2010.  http://www.wildeoats.com/When-I-Ruled-The-World-by-EH-Lupton.

Maybe a new comic tomorrow, too!  I’m excited.

Em ơi! #319: Greek Prefixes Forever

1. For those interested, more on polyphasic sleep here and here.  The idea is that you sleep 20 minutes every four hours (e.g.) instead of 8 hours every 16 hours.  This is quite useful for those of us without enough time to accomplish things, but sadly, it doesn’t seem like it would work well in conjunction with my major hobby (i.e., marathon running, which can require being on one’s feet for 4+ hours).  I was not interested in it sufficiently during the last period of my life in which I could have implemented it (undergrad), so I’ve never tried it.  I really could have used the extra time this summer, but with the two-three week adjustment period being so painful, I couldn’t afford to undergo that and trust that my grades would stay up.  And since having more study/writing time was the whole point of the exercise, well…  My current system of going to bed at 22:00 (which usually means 22:45 or 23:00) and getting up at 6:00 is pretty tenable, but I don’t know that I could do it long-term.

It turns out, believe it or not, that running 5-7 miles per day (up to 16 on the weekend, like yesterday) and biking 17-18 miles per day (my normal commute) takes a lot of sleep to sustain.  Who knew?

2. This site is now accessible via http://pretensesoup.com.  Please update your bookmarks so that if I move to a new server, the transition will be smooth.

3. This comic is filed under RA786.L86 2010, for Public aspects of medicine — Public health.  Hygiene.  Preventative medicine — Personal health and hygiene — Sleep — General Works

4.  This comic was funnier when I began work on it two weeks ago.  But it is based on an actual conversation.

Em ơi! #318: My Vietnamese Class (year 3)

There were actually a couple of errors I figured out in the Vietnamese between the time I inked the damn thing and scanned  it.

Um.  But I’m getting much better.  This is about how I felt during the first two weeks of my course.  Week three, I actually started to be much better at listening comprehension.  This coming week is week four – we have our first final, and I’m providing myself with some fun new challenges.  We’ll see how it goes.

This is classified as:

PL4371.L86 2010

For (deep breath):

Languages of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania–Austroasiatic languages–Mon-Khmer (Mon-Anam) languages–Individual languages–Vietnamese. Annamese–General works

Oh man, that was complicated.  And I should have been in bed an hour and a half ago.

Fun fact: Vietnamese has the most speakers of any Austroasiatic language.  I didn’t know this – until recently I thought Vietnamese was Sino-Tibetan.  This means I know one Austroasiatic language, one Sino-Tibetan, one Semitic (sort of), one Romance, and one Germanic.  Hm.  Perhaps I should have taken Italian and Spanish instead of Hebrew and Chinese…

Em ơi! #317: Highlights From My First Triathlon

Sorry about the sketchiness/relative badness of the art on this one.  I have not had what could be referred to as “free time” lately.

So, the triathlon.  When I first started running, I was kind of overweight and not really very good at it.  In my first 5k, which I ran with my brother Daniel, his then-girlfriend Claire (I may have mentioned them once or twice), and a couple friends of theirs, I finished almost last.  Not just last in my division, but last.  It was great in some ways, because it was a lot of fun to run with everyone, but coming in so close to the end was a bit humiliating.  I didn’t run another race for about two years.

I’ve since got to be a much better runner and recently I’ve been placing in the top 20 in my division and much nearer to the top overall.  People who have met me AFTER a lot of weight loss and hardcore training seem to have this idea of me as a natural athlete, and that just isn’t the case.  I always remember where I used to be…and sometimes, I get to revisit those times.

All in all, I didn’t have a terrible race (except for the swim portion, which was terrifying).  I inhaled about half the lake, and coughed for the rest of the day.  Despite this, I did finish.  Will I do another?  I don’t know.  I might.  I’m off swimming for a while and just relaxing before I have to throw myself into marathon training in earnest.  Of course, the purpose of a race is not to win, and how I placed is largely unimportant compared to how I felt during the race.  But this was definitely a challenge.  I still have somewhat mixed feelings about it.  Glad I tried it though.

I should add that in panel 3, that orange pyramid is the buoy I’m supposed to be swimming toward.  Panel 5 did actually happen.  And I did actually shout “REALLY?”  The guy holding the flags to direct us all around the turns didn’t seem to get it.

Here are two photographs Bryan took of me, one before the race, one after the swim portion.  For two more fun photos, click the “photos” link at the top of this page and put in my number (1354).

Continue reading “Em ơi! #317: Highlights From My First Triathlon”

Daniel and Claire Get Married

This is (a somewhat crappy scan of) a painting I did for Daniel and Claire in honor of their wedding (which was last weekend, the 12th of June 2010 – I am a bit late getting this up) – for those who are new to the comic, Daniel is my younger brother.  Both he and Claire used to be comic regulars before they moved to Baltimore, so I thought it would be nice to do something in comic form for them.  In reality the comic is four panels wide by two down, but I thought this way I could make it a bit bigger so you could see the details.  It took me a long time to scan.

I’m taking an intensive Vietnamese course which is eating up not only my brain but all my ability to think.  I’m in third year (fifth semester) which will look great on my resume if it doesn’t kill me.

Here’s some of my vocab from the past week (hopefully the text will come out correctly):

  1. thủ thư – librarian
  2. ngoài ra – besides
  3. kinh tế – economy
  4. kế hoạch – to plan
  5. nổi tiếng – famous
  6. di cư to emigrate
  7. ấm – warm
  8. kết hôn – to get married
  9. ly dị – to get divorced
  10. chỉch – to inject (e.g. drugs)
  11. thám tử – detective
  12. hiếp – rape
  13. đao phủ – execution
  14. địn ngục – hell
  15. buồn cươi – funny
  16. tra tấn – torture
  17. bảo hiẻm y tế – health insurance
  18. mìn – mine (e.g. a landmine – mìn nước is a sea mine.)
  19. dân ca – folksongs
  20. khủng hoảng – crisis

The actual topics that I have been studying are left as an exercise for the reader.

So in other news I’m doing my first triathlon tomorrow.  It’s only a sprint, and I know I can do the individual parts (a 1/3 mi swim, 11 mi bike, 5k run) with no particular training…it’s just the transitions that I’m worrying about.  We’ll see how it goes – wish me luck!

This comic is filed under:

ND1460.W44 L86 2010


Painting — Special subjects of painting — Other subjects — Miscellaneous, A-Z — Weddings.

Very appropriate.