Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bad News Keeps Coming

This just occurred to us -- CDM coffee is made in New Orleans. Only in New Orleans. We only have eight pounds left.

"Well," mr delagar says, "we'll just have to find some suitable substitute."

Which is just goofy.

There is no subtitute for CDM coffee.

More on Katrina

A mandatory evacuation of New Orleans has been ordered -- everyone is supposed to leave. The whole city is under water, the bridges into the city are, from what I understand, down, the place is wrecked. I've been looking at pictures all morning and trying to grasp all this -- my university, the University of New Orleans, on the lakefront, it's probably gone. The library out there, certainly. The zoo? The aquarium? The art museum? Surely they packed and stored all the paintings? Surely the art is safe?

Jackson Square? All those lovely houses in Old Metairie? The Central Grocery? The Cafe Du Monde?

Mr. delagar is upset about his used record store. We got a record from it two days ago. "The last record," he mourned. The store was down on Decatur Street. It was run by an ex-Brit, and full, oh, just full, of used vinyl. The owner never wanted to sell him anything. He would beg mr. delagar not to buy records. Now they're all drowned, no doubt.

The kid says: "What about Grandma's teddy bear collection? What about the Green and White Street?"

We're all in mourning here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Update on Katrina

I've heard about my brother -- not from him, exactly, but about him, via my mother, who got out of the city. He not only made it through the storm, and his dog* with him, but is back at work -- hah! -- moving computers from Tulane Medical Library computer lab to a higher floor, also books in the rare book room to higher ground.

This made me think, woefully, of the books at the NO Public library, down the street from the Tulane Medical Library. Ow. My brother says the water is rising about an inch an hour in New Orleans right now. All those lovely, lovely books.

*The dog, Jinx, is very cute, so this has made the kid very happy. She asked me, worriedly, if any dogs or cats died in Katrina. "None that we know," I said duplicitously, which, for once, worked. Likely because she wanted it to work.

This is Charming

Jonah thinks the victims of Katrina in New Orleans are savage barbarians.

http://www.first-draft.com/

I guess because they're poor? Or what? Not-white? Not Republican?

I wish I knew what these fuckwits were thinking, sometimes. What would have to be in your head to write something like that and think it was clever?

I'm also annoyed by the NYTimes photographs of "looters" hauling food out of the groceries. I mean, yes, I suppose it is, techinically, looting. Or -- hey -- it's people without food or water in a city five to twenty feet deep in flood waters trying to find supplies to stay alive on. I seriously doubt there are any corner groceries open those folks could buy the supplies from down there.

I'm just saying.

Katrina

I've been looking at the photos from Katrina. Most of my family got out well ahead of the storm -- they all live in and around New Orleans, as you might know -- but one of my brothers stayed. Last we heard from him was yesterday morning at 10.00 a.m. He was on the parking deck at Tulane Medical Library, which is where he works, Tulane Medical Library. He ws going to try to ride the storm out there. Haven't been able to get through to him since. When you try to call a New Orleans number now, you get all circuits busy. Well, they probably are.

Looking at the photopgraphs out of New Orleans, I'm a bit nervous.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Go read this

Seriously:

http://www.bopnews.com/archives/004609.html#4609
Amanda over at Pandagon makes a good point about class issues in the Iraqi war:

If any good comes out of this entire fiasco of the Iraq War, it will probably be that the class issues that allow war to happen are not being ignored anymore. Cindy Sheehan standing in the Texas heat outside of Bush's gorgeous, expensive and oh-so-comfortable ranch is a perfect symbol of this. War is not possible unless you have internal class warfare. War is not possible unless the rich and powerful feel free to demand the lives of the common people be sacrificed with the same ease you lose a pawn in a game of chess.

So of course Romney was irritated at being asked why his own children don't fight. It should be clear that war is something fought by the little people to benefit the big people--the question is naively irritating. It's like asking why rich people don't sleep in ditches. It's like asking why they don't get into the interesting new field of sewing garments in a sweatshop.

The class issues in the Iraq War aren't even well-concealed. At least in Vietnam, the people waging war sincerely believed in the stated cause of stopping communism. As far as I know, that goal never shifted. But with Iraq, the story changes every day in a desperate attempt to hide the shameful truth that BushCo got into this war to make money and control the world's oil supply. Period. The very lives of the working class are expendable in the search for greater profits for the rich.

http://www.pandagon.net/archives/iraq/

The rest of the post is good too -- it's the one called Fortunate Son -- but it's this growing gap between Bush's sort of folk, that hyper-wealthy, and those who aspire to be or think they can be or swear fealty to that hyperwealthy class, and the rest of us, hunkered down here in the ditch, getting more desperate by the paycheck -- or by the medical emergency -- that is preying on my mind.

Class envy, the Right likes to label this. Preaching class warfare.

Well, yes. All right then. It's what we might be heading to. Who's driving us to it, though? My electric bill -- the same one that was $120 this year last time -- was $300 this month. Gas is $2.60 a gallon here, and higher in other places. I'm paying appalling amounts for groceries. My health insurance eats a quarter of my paycheck, and it does not cover all my health care costs. My pay has not increased at a rate to keep up with these increased expenses. I took on an extra section, in an attempt to cover increased expenses. Taxes eat up most of the extra I make. Taxes to fund Bush's stupid war.

Meanwhile, I look at my students, who are going stunningly deep in debt -- both student loan and credit card debt -- in order to get the education the country promised them would make them middle class one day. (Not because they're profligate wastrels, either. It's not plasma TV and bling they are buying with their credit cards, as one Right Wing commenter suggested. It's food and health care and fuel and clothing.) My life is the one they have to look forward to. My life, only with a ton of debt on their backs to start out with.

I'm getting desperate, down here in the ditch.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Raising a Tiny Feminist

As you might have guessed, I'm a liberal. I'm raising my kid like a liberal. Since she was two, I've impressed upon her that it's her body -- no one has the right to do anything to her body that she doesn't want them to do to her body, no one can kiss her if she doesn't want them to, if she wants to pierce it, she can, if she doesn't want to, that's her business, yap yap yap.

And also, as a good liberal parent, I limit the amount of TV and refined sugar the kid has access to. One hour of TV per day and less if we can manage it, and she only gets candy on Saturday and not even then if we can manage it. (Except when she's with her grandmother, and then all bets are off.)

Well. She's seven now. I've decided the terrible twos are nothing, nothing, to the twisty sevens. She has become a cunning, vicious little lawyer, this seven year old feminist I have raised up. "Why can't I have candy whenever I want it?" she demands of me yesterday. "Isn't it my body? Can't I do whatever I want to with it?"

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday Night

End of the first week of classes. Fifteen weeks to go. Yikes, I say.

I love teaching, I love my job, but this semester daunts me. I'm so overwhelmed by the prep work, I haven't had a chance to look up and see the students yet -- one of them stopped me on my way to my car, this afternoon, to tell me how much she was enjoying my class, and I had not the slightest idea who she was, or what class she was in. Swear to God. Couldn't have picked her out of a lineup.

And she is, apparently, an English major. One of the students I'm advising.

This is not a good thing.

Diverse Cultures is going well. We're reading the Tao Te Ching, and it's whacking them out, which is, of course, my main aim, as a professor, to whack my students out. With the TTC, I don't actually have to do much. Wait'll we get to Kafka, I say.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

All About the Guilt

So I'm into the Fall Semester, Five Classes, Five Preps, one of them a new class, which I just got handed and am thus designing as I teach it, and you won't have forgotten that I am concurrently writing the third novel of my SF trilogy as well -- as you can imagine, this leaves little time on the ground for raising a seven year old.

In any case, as we're driving home from school (I picked her up, as Tuesday is mr. delagar's day up the hill in graduate school) she asks what we're going to do that evening. "Well," I said, "you're going to read your Hank books, Daddy's going to teach his engineers, and I thought I'd write."

She begins to wail. "Oh, please, Mama, oh, please, can't you spend just a little time with me?"

Ai, these kids and their guilt.

So I took last night off, and spent some time with her. We did some laundry together, we made a pizza, we ate dinner together and talked about her childhood (yes, that's how she put it, talking about her childhood, all those vast years ago when she was little) and mine, we made a pudding for dessert, we retired to the TV room to watch House together. It was a Girl's Night at Home.

I did have to stay up until midnight, after House, prepping for my classes, but c'est la vie, this parenthood, it's a bitch, you know.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Random Postings

Migraine again. I took the drugs -- Frova and two hits of Naproxam Sodium -- which more or less has worked, except I'm all woggy now and finding it hard to focus well enough to write, or (obviously) spell. So I'm listening to Billy Bragg and cruising the blogs and wishing the fall semester didn't start tomorrow.

Not that I'm not looking forward to my classes -- I am. I always do, and three of them, the Vic Lit, the Diverse Cultures, and the HEL class, look to be plenty of fun. Just that I'd like another week or six to keep slamming through the trilogy. (They have titles now: the first one: Where My Country Lies; the second: The Grail Sunset; the last, The Moonlit Knight. All named from that Genesis song. You know that Genesis song.) I'm about a third of a way into the last novel, which is the most complicated one, and I'd really like to do nothing but write it.

I'd also like to buy this Billy Bragg shirt:

Socialism Of The Heart100 per cent cotton ethical (non-sweatshop labour) T shirt.
Socialism Of The Heart logo in red black and white on front.
Billy Bragg and The Blokes in red lettering on the back.

http://www.billybragg.co.uk/shop/index.html#

And wear it around the Fort (as we locals call Fort Smith), except I get enough shit for my WWBD shirt.

Might buy it anyway though.

Today I was wearing my WWBD shirt while I bought gasoline for $2.59 a gallon at the pump and the guy at the facing pump was so annoyed at having to pay that (he was on his way to church in his giant bright yellow SUV) that he spoke to me anyway. "Can you believe this? Need a bankloan to fill up!"

"It's pretty bad," I agreed.

"What are you gone to do, though," he said dolefully, shaking his head. "Gotta have it if you gone to get anywhere!"

"Can't walk," I agreed, wickedly, in my birks and my cargo shorts and my WWBD teeshirt. He cast a suspiscious look upon me. But since I was, after all, engaged in the capitalist act of buying gasoline at the time, he decided I must be serious, so he nodded agreement.

Cost me $33 and change to fill up. Cost him over $70. What's it running y'all out there? And what are we planning to do if it gets much higher? Anyone actually thinking of walking?

The One True Religion Rules!

It's made Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Photos from The Sheehan Protest

Great Stuff:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/drublood/

Via Amanda at Pandagon, who has photos up too:

http://www.pandagon.net/

Goodman Speaks

Here, via DED Space (http://www.dedspace.blogspot.com/), is an Ellen Goodman column.

http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/opinion/89140.php

I first read Goodman way back, when I was first starting to think -- you remember starting to think, I'm guessing?

(I'm not sure -- it occurs to me I've never taken a poll on this one, and the other days when mr. delagar and I were talking about learning to read he said he didn't remember learning to read when that's one of my clearest memories, sitting there in the first row of the first grade classroom on a rainy morning in Louisiana reading the word TOY in yellow chalk on a green blackboard and saying to myself, "Shit, I can read." Yes, my exact words, I'm afraid. I was, in fact, born in a trailer.)

Anyway: starting to think: It happens around twelve or thirteen, somewhere in there. Probably around the time the forebrain starts developing, I'd guess. All of a sudden, you can manipulate arguments. You can fuck with your parents. You can say what about this? You never thought about that point, did you? You can cause trouble in class, raising difficult questions the teachers have not considered. (I'm guessing you can see what sort of kid I was.)

I loved arguments. I didn't care what they were about, either. I didn't even care who won them. I wanted to see questions hammered out, I wanted to see dross stripped away and logic followed to its bitter end and the truth chased down.

And I was living in Louisiana.

Man, was I fucked.

Luckily, books.

And newspapers, and magazines, and my mother had just gone back to the local university to get her B.A. (No internet yet. How I woudl have loved the internet.)

But another of my clearest memories is reading an Ellen Goodman column on why she had decided to stop spanking her kids. I can't remember her arguments, or even much about the column, except the precision of her logic, and how well she supported each point. I started the column being a firm believer in hitting kids -- everybody I knew hit kids, every kid I ever knew and had known had been beaten, I remember watching kids being whipped with switches made of straightened out wire coat hangers and thinking nothing of it, I had always assumed that of course I would whip my own kids, how else would they learn to act right? I read that Ellen Goodman column, which was only about seven paragraphs long, and it was so right, that by the end I said, well, yes. That's right. And since then I have been firmly in the camp that says it is insane to hit kids.

(I've done lots of research since then, by then, on the subject. All of it backs Goodman up. It is insane to hit your kids. Don't do it. Do your own research if you don't believe me. And you do not have to hit them to make them act right. Really not.)

Anyway, Goodman. Great columnist. Great writer. Here she is again:

This war was sold to the public as a matter of self-defense against weapons of mass destruction. But the WMDs never appeared. Next, we were told Iraq was the front line in the war against terrorists: "better there than here."

But evidence shows that the vast majority of the foreign fighters are not relocated terrorists but new recruits radicalized by the war itself.

More recently, we were told to "stay the course" to ensure democracy in Iraq. But as Iraqis wrangle over a constitution that may not look anything like ours, the list of rationales gets shorter and the support for the war gets weaker.

Taken altogether, the polls show a majority of Americans now believe that it was a mistake to send troops to war, that the results are not worth the loss of American life and that the war has not made us safer.

The most powerful argument left is the one the president repeats again and again: "And the best way to honor the lives that have been given in this struggle is to complete the mission."

The question is not whether the president will talk with her. He won't. It's not whether she speaks for her son. We'll never know. It's not whether she is "just a mom" or an anti-Bush agitator. She's both. It's whether nearly 1,900 Americans died in a war of choice and how painful that is to acknowledge. It's whether we go on quietly honoring those deaths with more deaths.

No wonder this "peace mom" has become a target of the war over the war. If she succeeds, the White House has lost perhaps the final and most powerful justification they offer a disheartened public. At that point, there's no way out of the Iraq muddle. Except out.

http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/opinion/89140.php

Greetings

I've been having the annual training days at our University -- the days where, since it's time to gear up for the fall semester, and we all have to start teaching in a week, administration, decides to lock us in workshops from eight in the morning until six at night, so that we can't get near a computer or a textbook or a student.

This is especially charming in my case, since I advise a pool of English majors that wobbles at around a hundred students (they crawl out of the pool, they leap back in, they crawl out, it's Arkansas, you know, they keep trying to escape, but how are they going to?) and many of them waited until the last minute to get desperate enough to decide they were, in fact, going to come back to school this fall -- so I had to keep sneaking out of the workshops for illegal advising meetings with students. It was very funny.

The workshops were on important topics like sexual harassment (don't date your students. If you're gone to date your students, make sure they want to be dated. But you know, who can tell whether a student wants to be dated, these days, lousy as everyone's communication skills have gotten, so just don't do it. And if you do do it, quit when the student says to quit. Right then, says I, checking my watch in stunned ox boredom. Frankly -- and I'll just break it to you gently -- I have never seen a student I wanted to date. Because, and here's why -- they're my students. That's like incest. Ick. ) and plagiarism, more interesting, and how to get promoted, and various topics that might have been interesting if we hadn't, all of us, had syllabi to write and classes to prep for.

But we did. So we were cranky and rebellious.

Teachers make bad students.

Anyway, now it's the weekend, and we get to spend the weekend prepping for classes, which start Monday. I've got five classes with five different preps: Comp I, Comp II, History of the English Language, Victorian Literature, and Literature of Diverse Cultures. That last one is one I haven't ever taught before. I'm looking forward to it -- I'm doing what my Chair (she's a great chair) suggested and turning it into a "drive-by" Diverse Cultures class -- four weeks of this culture, four weeks of that culture. I'm starting with Asian Lit, moving to Jewish, then Gay, then Feminist.

Notice I put Gay and Feminist after midterm. Heh.

And yes, I did just finish teaching Summer II.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Um...What?

Look. It didn't even happen in Arkansas.


Two diners on a date at a fancy Jersey Shore restaurant were furious when they saw the check, which listed their table as that of the "Jew Couple."

(Snip)

When the group started questioning the manager, Stein said she simply told them there was nothing derogatory about the statement. Stein said he was then asked to leave for making a fuss.

http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/2005/08/this-way-jew.html

Beetles

Yet another excellent post from Fred over on Slacktivist.

Here's a bit of it:

The scientist J.B.S. Haldane, when asked what his studies had taught him about God, famously replied, "I'm not sure, but he seems to be inordinately fond of beetles."

And from the end..

Bad theology is incompatible with science, but that's not the biggest problem facing it. The more immediate problem facing bad theology is that it is incompatible with good theology.

http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2005/08/a_fondness_for_.html#comments

Lots of crunchy goodness in between, and don't skip the comments, which are excellent.

Monday, August 15, 2005

My New Quotation

I'm hoping everyone saw Bush's new brilliant bon mot.

Here it is as cited on BlondeSense:

He took a 2 hour bikeride, was asked why he hadn't taken the time to talk to Cindy Sheehan and he replied that he had to go on with his life. What life?

http://blondesense.blogspot.com/2005/08/our-president-is-even-more-heinous.html

I just love that. Why can't you talk to Cindy Sheehan, Mr. Bush?

"Well, I just feel I need to move on with my life."

I just giggle every time I think of that one.

What a president we've got, folks.

Thanks, folks! He'll be here another two years!

I've started using the quotation for everything, btw. Gas is up to $2.50 a gallon at the cheapest pump in town? Hey, no biggie! Bush has to move on with his life. More bad news about global warming? Don't sweat it! Bush has to move on with his life! Our university having trouble hiring folk because of the health care situation? Not Bush's fault! He's moving on with his life!

It's tremendously cheering.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Writing

I'm almost finished the sequel to the book. About four pages from the end. And then I'm going to start the last book in the trilogy. Yep, it's a trilogy. An SF trilogy, that's what's here.

I know why the Greeks called it inspired-- these books have moved into me. They're living inside me, and all my living is connected to writing them. It really is like being possessed by some sort of Other being. I see why the Greeks thought it was a God. I feel like something's inside me. And man, it won't leave me alone, either. GET UP, it nags at four in the morning. GET UP AND WRITE ME.

And I do. You don't argue with a god-thing when it's moved in.

Also, may I add? I love it. There is nothing like being possessed by the writing demon. I hope he stays forever. (Well, I know he won't. But I'm doing everything I can, including getting up at four a.m. and drinking coffee and Snakebites and whatever else he wants, not to scare him away.)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Desire

So I'm explaining to the kid about desire -- she's all into this Buddhist path lately, as you know, and I'm telling her about all suffering arising from desire, and how Buddha teaches us that the way to stop suffering, thus, is not to seek to fill our desires, but to seek to cease desiring, and yar yar yar, and mr. delagar?

mr. delagar says, "Yes, well, that's only because Buddha never had an i-pod."

It's like a Zen koan, dude.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I'm Beyond Words

Over this one.

"They chased him right past me," said Portz, who followed the chase, then saw four or five employees hold Driver on the ground. Driver was pleading with them to let him up, Portz said. "The blacktop was just blistering," he said.
The high temperature at Bush Intercontinental Airport Sunday was 96 degrees.


Portz said one of the Wal-Mart employees had Driver in a choke hold as other employees pinned his body to the ground.

"He was begging, 'Please, I'm burning, let me up,' " Portz said of Driver. "He'd push himself up off the blacktop, like he was doing a push-up.

"About 30 people were saying, 'Let him up, it's too hot,' " Portz said. He said another employee brought a rug for Driver to lie on, but one of those holding Driver said he was fine where he was. "After about five minutes, (Driver) said, 'I'm dying, I can't breathe, call an ambulance,' " Portz said.

Employees struggled with Driver before he was handcuffed, Martin said.

"There was a struggle, and when they finally succeeded after getting him detained in handcuffs, he continued to struggle," Martin said.

After Driver was handcuffed, Portz said one employee had his knee on the man's neck and others were putting pressure on his back.

"Finally the guy stopped moving" and the employees got off him, Portz said. "They wouldn't call an ambulance.

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/3301862

What country is this we're living in?

They tortured this guy to death in the Wal-Mart parking lot over fucking diapers?

(Via Sisyphys Shrugged: http://www.livejournal.com/users/jmhm/)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Thinking About the Tao

This post from Dr. B

http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2005/08/open-letter-to-woman-working-at-k-mart.html

and teaching my students Monkey this semester and talking to the kid about Coyote and what a trickster is and how complex good and evil are, actually, in the real world, as opposed to in the minds of certain, ahem, thinkers who shall remain unnamed here, and then a fine and wonderful story from the Other Liberal Professer, all have me pondering the complex planet we have landed on, this one here.

See, the Other Liberal Professor drove down the state this past weekend, in her van, alone, to take her kids to visit the grandparents. You might recall that the Other Liberal Professor just had a new infant this summer. So she has a four year old, Miles, and a five month old, Mick.* And you may remember that it is hot as a bitch in Arkansas these days? Well, it is.

Anyway, she is on her way back home from the visit, going 75 on the interstate, when the tire on her van blows out -- KAPOW! -- while she is in the left-hand lane. Tire bits fly everywhere. Van rocketing like its about to fly apart. They're in Little Rock, so the traffic is insane and roaring around them -- people in Arkansas drive 90 and tailgate -- but they are not killed, they get to the side of the road.

"Let me see," Miles demands. "I need to see. What's wrong with the van? Let me see it!"

"No, really," the Other Liberal Professor says. "Interstate. Not safe."

"I need to see!"

She lets him have a look. "See? The tire is blown."

"Oh! If I only had my toolbox!"

And you would have to know Miles, who, though he is only four, does in fact have actual tools, and, if he did have his toolbox, well.

A van pulls up in front of the Other Liberal Professor, right then, and a woman hops out. "Now don't worry!" she says. "Don't be afraid. "My husband is getting out! But don't worry! He's just going to help you!"

He does, too. They're both about sixty, it's near a hundred degrees on the side of the highway, and -- get this -- they're in Little Rock because their son has been in a terrible car accident and might not live, so they have been up all night -- and yet: they stop and he changes the tire and they follow the Other Liberal Professor off the road and make sure she has someone she can call (because the tire had blown due to some malfunction of the underframe, so the spare and the other tire is like to blow soon too) to come to Little Rock and fetch her, and everyone is chatting and talking and the Other Liberal Professor is thinking, what a fine world this is, what beautiful people, to help a stranger this way, what would I have done, in blistering heat with two small children on the side of the road if they hadn't stopped, trying to change that tire on my own, and she's talking to them about where they are from, the way folks do if they're from the South, and they're from Florida, it transpires, and they have just moved to Arkansas, down the state, not Little Rock, that's why they had to drive all night, they live in some little podunk Arkansas town down in the Delta.

"Oh," says the Other Liberal Professor. "Why did you move there?"

"To get away from all the Mexicans," says her helpful hero. "Couldn't take all those Mexicans down there in Florida anymore. They were everywhere. Like bugs."

Now this had both me and the Other Liberal Professor staggering. And laughing.

But it ought not to have, really. It's what the Tao tells us -- we live with good and evil, we are all good and evil, everyone is Monkey, really. Everyone's Coyote. He does saves his people from the Spider demon, and he sleeps with his own sister. He farts, he sings like an angel. It's the same guy. So are we. We act nobly, then with the same heart, with the same set of lungs, with the same mind and soul, we speak evil.

What to do about this critter, this human?

Be it, says the Tao. It's what you are.

I keep looking for some sort of better answer, but.





*Not their real names. Those are their blogosphere names. But aren't they cool names? They're like rock star names. What lucky kids. The Other Liberal Professor and I picked them out together. They also have cool actual names, btw.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Hey!

Just saw Patriotboy's Operation Yellow Elephant drawn on a blackboard here in our building.

http://operationyellowelephant.blogspot.com/

Way cool.

Things Jabba Can't Do

This is very funny:

http://stevegilliard.blogspot.com/2005/08/125-things-you-cant-do-in-air-force.html

Monday, August 08, 2005

Good Question

From over on Crooked Timber:

...a few days ago that Senator Rick Santorum made a claim in an online interview about federal taxation. Senator Santorum said that the federal tax rate for the average family has gone up from 2% (in 1950) to 27% today. Furthermore, he claimed that income from a second worker simply replaces the money that the family pays in increased federal taxes. They would enjoy the same net income if taxes went back to 1950 levels and the second worker stayed at home.

I’m really rather sure that this isn’t true. I’m relying on the Tax Policy Center: They say that federal taxes on a family of four at the median income have gone up from about 7.4% to about 14.4%, and that the family would have saved $4436 if we could roll back tax rates. That doesn’t correspond to the Senator’s story.

I checked last night, and Santorum repeats this point in his book, It Takes a Family. It’s on page 123 and 124, and there’s no source. (There’s a bibliography of sorts, but it just lists a series of sources used in each section. There’s no way to connect any specific point to any source.) When I called his press office again to ask for a source, they referred me to the publisher, who couldn’t help me. Nonetheless, he’s repeated this claim at least two more times, on Hardball with Chris Matthews and on Fox News.

Shouldn’t the Senator care whether what he’s saying is right or wrong? Wouldn’t it be nice if a journalist asked him about it?

http://crookedtimber.org/2005/08/04/spreading-statistics-cont/#comments

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Heh

My perfect child?

The one that had me in paradise this afternoon?

Pitched a 20 minute fit because we wouldn't let her take THREE stuffed animals along in the car with her for a two minute ride to Wal-Mart. (We said one was plenty, Good God child, let's go, she had a major nuclear meltdown.)

Ai, parenthood.

Bush Won't Face What He's Done

Here's a woman whose son is one of the over 1,800 of our soldiers to die in Bush's war in Iraq. She wants to meet with Bush about it. Of course he's not up to that. He can send folks off to die, but he can't talk to their mamas. Because, you know, he's busy. Cutting brush and shit.

"I'm angry. I want the troops home," Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., who staged a protest that she vowed on Sunday to continue until she can personally ask Bush: "Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?"

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1016655

The article adds, later:

Sheehan was among grieving military families who met with Bush in June 2004 at Fort Lewis, near Seattle, Wash. That was just two months after her son, Casey, was killed in Sadr City, Iraq, on April 4, 2004.

Since then, she said, various government and independent commission reports have disputed the Bush administration's claims that Saddam Hussein had mass-killing chemical and biological weapons a main justification for the March 2003 invasion.

"I was still in shock then," Sheehan said in a telephone interview.

"All of those reports prove my son died needlessly," said Sheehan. "This proved that every reason George Bush gave us for going to war was wrong."

(Thanks to Zelda, who sent me the link: http://darcy12.blogspot.com/)

The Kid

The kid is reading D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, and another big fat kids' book of Greek myths, and a third book of World Mythology for Children, and also I Am a Buddhist, this last one because my WWBD cup came a few weeks ago, and I had to explain to her what Buddha would do, so that she has been going around telling me earnestly for the past few weeks that she is being here now and not desiring and practicing being still (she's not so good at the last two, but then neither am I) so when I was at the library yesterday fetching the myth books I couldn't resist the Buddha book.

Anyway, I just had to pass on the news. Because, despite the whole problem with desire? I have always wanted to have a kid who would sit all day in a big fat white chair in my living room, absorbed in reading books on Greek mythology while I drank cup after cup of coffee and worked on my current novel.

I'm like in paradise already.

Hot damn.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Star Trek World

And for Something Entirely Different...

Lance Mannion has a great post on the Star Trek universe, and why we love/d it, despite its obvious flaws.

http://lancemannion.typepad.com/lance_mannion/too_much_tv/index.html

I'm teaching SF this summer, charging ahead and teaching it as literature, which seems to shock my students, who aren't used to genre fiction -- stuff they enjoy reading -- being taken seriously. They aren't used to a professor knowing a lot about pop culture either. None of them know much about Star Trek. But this doesn't mean anything, as I discovered when we were reading a Connie Willis story last week--

( here http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0501/justliketheones.shtml)

none of them know who Alec Guinness is either. Or Richard Burton. Or Peter O'Toole.

And no, I'm not kidding.

Culture? What culture?

Our Fucked Culture

There's a post up over at DED Space that pretty much perfectly captures our bizarre culture -- you know, the Christian Nation that is currently using napalm on human beings? Ones that everyone knows had nothing to do with the terrorist attack we're claiming the war we started is over? Our culture of compassion that has more people in prison than any other nation in the world? Where we murder each other at a rate that would appall most folks in war zones? Where we lo-o-ove children, and that's why we beat them with sticks and belts and lengths of wood? Because Jesus wants us to? Where our freedom is the most important thing about us and that's why (with the Patriot Act and such) we have to destroy it wholly?

I could go on.


http://dedspace.blogspot.com/2005/08/culture-of-life-is-making-me-crazy.html

Friday, August 05, 2005

More on Bible As Literature

I've been reading the report of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, which I found via Amanda over there on Pandagon.

It's enough to make a Saint pissy, and as regular readers likely know, I ain't any sort of saint.

The TFNEF is reporting on the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools -- that's that group which is ever-so-innocently working to have the Bible taught, purely as literature, mind you, in our public schools, purely because the Bible is part of our history, you know, part of our culture, and not because anyone on the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools wants to spread JESUS in the public schools or nothing like that.

Laws no.

Here's a link to the pdf file of the whole report --

http://www.tfn.org/files/fck/BibleCirReportOnline.8.3.05.pdf


Among other things, it has a list of who is on the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools -- no major shock when we discover they're all Far Right Religious figures, including David Barton, founder of WallBuilders. (And, of course, James Dobson endorses it. Not to mention the Concerned Women for America: http://www.cwfa.org/main.asp.)

Among other things, the report notes that this curriculum teaches that "Jesus is presented as fulfilling “Old Testament”prophecy"; that the terms "Old Testament" and "New Testament" are used throughout the text; (as the report notes, the scholarly name for what Christians like to call the Old Testament is, in fact, the Hebrew Bible); the recommended use of Protestant texts (rather than scholarly texts such as the New Oxford Annotated Bible, my own personal favorite) and the total absence of any mention of any other sort of texts -- including Catholic and Jewish texts -- in the curriculum; and the repeated assertions that the Bible is, in fact, the Word of God; that the Bible is, in fact, historically true; that Biblical events happened, without any doubt, at historically verifiable times.

"It confidently dates the Exodus to 1446
BCE and presents no other scholarly views, such as
those that place the Exodus in the 1200s BCE. The
date of 1446 BCE is derived by a literalistic reading
of a passage in 1 Kings 6:1 — a method that
many scholars would greet with skepticism. The
curriculum also ignores theories that raise other
questions about the historicity of the Exodus.31
The curriculum also adopts a tone of assumed
historicity when it discusses miracles and divine
intervention. Its account of the Exodus is one
example; others include its handling of Noah’s
flood (p. 60), the giving of the Ten Commandments
at Mount Sinai (p. 99), the destruction of the
Tower of Babel (pp. 168-169)...."


This is teaching mythology as fact in the public schools. None of this stuff can be dated. Why? Because none of this stuff, in fact, happened. If Funavangelicals can't handle that, they need to huddle in their own masses somewhere. They don't need to corrupt our systems of education with their silliness.

Bible as Literature is one thing. I'm for it. I teach it. It's a great text. Further, it is indeed what the literature and the culture is based on, so we ought to be able to understand it.

But Bible as fact -- grow up.

Religion in the schools -- that's what these folk are actually after. Stop them now.

Iraqi War Dead

More than 1800 of ours soldiers dead -- that's just killed in action.

Because, as the Iraqi vet reminds us, soldiers die other ways.

Two Hood soldiers commit suicide
Associated Press
FORT HOOD, Texas


Two young Fort Hood soldiers who served in the Iraq war have killed themselves in separate incidents in Killeen since the weekend, post officials said Wednesday.

Sgt. Robert Decouteaux, 24, of Rosedale, N.Y., died Saturday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been airlifted from his home to a Temple hospital for emergency surgery, but he died while doctors tried to save his life.

And on Monday morning, Spc. Robert Hunt, 22, of Houston, was found dead in his apartment by Killeen police, who were alerted after members of his unit tried to contact him when he failed to report to work.

Carol Smith, a Killeen police spokeswoman, said Wednesday that Hunt's cause of death was listed as asphyxiation.
Decouteaux, a soldier for five years, was an M-1 tank mechanic assigned to the 4th Infantry Division.


Fort Hood spokesman Dan Hassett said Decouteaux served in Iraq from April 2003 to March 2004, and that he was scheduled to redeploy when the division returns to the war zone beginning this fall.

Hunt, a radio operator-maintainer, joined the Army as a teenager in 2001 and had been assigned to Fort Hood since August 2003.

He deployed to Iraq for a year-long tour in March 2004 as part of the 1st Cavalry Division.

(Sent to me by the Iraqi Vet)

And for what?


The war will be a major factor in the 2006 midterm congressional races and could be one in the 2008 presidential race, said Stephen Cimbala, a Pennsylvania State University political scientist who has studied the impact of wars on American politics.

“If you look at it from a Republican point of view, by the 2006 congressional elections, you’re going to want to have a timetable in place for withdrawal of U.S. forces and their replacement by Iraqis. And by the fall of 2008, you will want to have most U.S. forces out of there,” Cimbala said.

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8831425/

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bible as Literature

Uh-huh.

Here's a shocker:

http://www.pandagon.net/archives/2005/08/you_would_have.html#more

Oh My Lord

Granted, as stated below, I'm so tired I'm running into walls, but nevertheless, this site had me banging my head on my desk and howling, it was so funny.

http://ned.ucam.org/%7Esdh31/misc/destroy.html

It concerns methods for destroying the world.

Make sure you read to the very end, where Sam lists the methods that won't work, too.

(Via Infinite Stitch: http://stitch.blogs.com/the_infinite_stitch/)

All She Wants To Do is Write

And I'm getting no sleep.

Since this is mainly because I'm writing so much*, I don't actually mind, except for the part where I'm hallucinating from exhaustion and even that is sort of interesting, you know, like a really cheap high, not that I know anything about getting high, heavens no, I don't even like drugs. (Heh.)

It's hitting near a hundred here every day and has stopped raining. My lawn has also stopping growing. That's a silver lining, I suppose. The heat is daunting. Along with the not sleeping, and the fact that I don't actually care about anything but writing at the moment, it's making it hard to get anything else done. I get to school and get my classes met; I manage to keep up with prep work (barely); I very nearly keep up with the grading; I make (some) of my office hours. That's about it.

Poor mr delagar and the kid are living on yogurt and fish sticks and toast. (No, I actually don't feel sorry for mr. delagar, who is the same age I am and could, in fact, cook if he wanted to. I do feel a bit sorry for the kid. Not sorry enough to cut back on my writing time. Eee, what an evil mother I am.) The house looks like a slum. I'm hoping no one calls social services on us. When we are utterly out of clothing and towels, I do laundry. When we are utterly out of dishes, I howl at mr delagar until he runs the dishwasher. When we are utterly out of yogurt and toast, I find my keys and stagger to the Wal-Mart, which luckily is open 24 hours a day.

That's how things are going here.

And why blogging has been light, lately.

Fortunately, the kid's grandmother is coming next Monday, to stay for a week. I bet she'll cook something.







*I'm in the middle of the sequel to the SF novel I finished last month. Yes, apparently I have lost my mind. Thanks for asking. I don't actually know what's up. Don't care either. It's just brilliant to be writing again. If it means I'm writing nine hours a day and waking up at four in the morning every morning to get the writing done and not getting to sleep until midnight, hey, I'll take that.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Taking Numbers

As Mr. Pope said,

True Wit is Nature to advantage dress'd,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd --

Over there at Fables, Mithras has it down:

http://mithras.blogs.com/blog/2005/08/conservative_bl.html