Category Archives: Culture

Finding the so-called needle in the haystack

I would like to repond to people claiming that hispanics are taking jobs that other Americans want by quoting a study I heard about last year. According to that study, something like 30,000 people responded to an advertisement for an actual job but when they found out what the conditions actually were, only the hispanics would accept the work. I have searched but can’t find this study… Can you help me?

I can indeed! First, let me applaud you for trying to raise the level of discourse by bringing in data rather than succumbing to the emotional. Second, let me point you to Duke University Libraries’ tremendous reference staff, who are more than happy (and much more qualified than I am) to assist you in searching databases to find this needle in the haystack. Go to the Libraries web site, click on the AskUsNOW! button in the upper right corner, and ask your question. They’ll have excellent ideas on how to tailor your search to track down the article or study and, more importantly, others like it.

Barkeep, give me a juice box, neat!

I’ve done a little research and haven’t found the answer to my question, so please help. Where do all the bar/alcohol terms we use come from (like straight, neat, on the rocks…)? And more importantly, are you a rube if you still use them or a rube if you don’t?

Neat?!  Who are you, Sinatra?  While some descriptive is necessary to let the bartender know what you want, I’d only use terms like “neat” ironically.

A good place to learn about the etymology of such words is the Oxford English Dictionary.  Also, Duke Libraries has several excellent slang dictionaries, including Barron’s American slang dictionary and thesaurus and Chambers slang dictionary.

If you liked school, you'll love work

Dear Answer Person,

I’ve decided to quit the Duke library system – but not the AP site – cold turkey. I have a little money saved, and I’m going to just take a few years off from “working” and instead learn an instrument. Why not retire when I’m young, and work when I’m old? My entire life has been one waste after another so far, sitting in classrooms and learning next to nothing because someone else hopes that I’ll use that sitting to get a job that involves MORE sitting, which will validate their life. Forget it! I’m done! I’m not asking anyone else to support me and if someone doesn’t like it, they can go explore the depths of the PQ4315s. [AP’s comment: the call number belongs to Dante’s Inferno.]

My question to you is, although the above makes perfect sense – a lot MORE sense than killing yourself at a miserable non-job in hopes of retiring in time to take handfuls of NSAIDs and sit around (not that I’m saying that’s the only other choice, but it’s what’s pushed on me) – why will no one else admit that it makes sense?

Your loyal questioner since the 1990s,

First of all, JN, you can’t “quit the Duke Library system cold turkey,” because we’ve got the good stuff! 

Second, you have to know you’re not the only person who’s frustrated and dissatisfied with their work life (hilarious title related to your comments and a pretty decent collection of short stories: Irving Welsh’s If you liked school, you’ll love work.”)  If you can get by without working, more power to you.  If you have to keep working like most of us, try to brighten your work environment by doing something extra nice for your boss.  Just the other day, I went into The Perk and bought for my boss a shortbread cookie with light blue frosting that said “Eat Me!”  It sure made me feel good to do something nice for my boss.  Give it a try.

Not cool at all

How come popular culture (especially, but not only “political”) stuff gives this sense that any minute now, the world will be either fixed or destroyed? Elect whoever and the world will end – or be saved. Watch the liberal or conservative “show” and contribute to the imminent…what? All these things make you think the world is JUST on the edge of some kind of climax, but then they just go on and on making money! Is this really cool?

Eliminate your exposure to the news (Internet, newspapers, but especially television) for one month and let me know if you feel the same way.  I’m guessing you’ll realize it’s all only aggressive and self-serving foreplay, which is not cool at all!

What are these kids listening to today?!

What are you going to do with all that junk, all that junk inside that trunk? [3574A]

[written in answer space:  ima get get get get get you drunk]

Thanks for your assistance, Scribbler.  But don’t forget work; She’s gonna make make make you work.  OK, I was going to launch into a vituperation on the sad state of musical lyrics today, when these lyrics from Led Zeppelin’s The Lemon Song popped into my head:

Squeeze me, babe, ’till the juice runs down my leg
The way you squeeze my lemon
I’m gonna fall right outta bed

Followed by the incredibly enlightened chorus:

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
Juice, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby
Hey, babe, babe, babe, babe, oh, no

Well, you get the picture.