Thursday, October 30, 2008
I'm always telling students in Arkansas that the U.S. really has two major competing religions, Christianity and Capitalism, which wholly contradict each other, and that this is why we're a fucked country, which is when they start howling at me -- nuh-uh, nuh-uh, we don't worship money, we don't, and anyway, it's nothing WRONG with being rich, God wants us to improve ourselves (cause getting rich is improving yourself, dude) --
Here is a quotation from the charming woman who called for Christians to pray at at the golden bull, btw, and save all of America's fatted money:
On September 29 last month, the US stock market went down 777 points in one day. Cindy says it was no coincidence that this happened on the first day of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
“This is so severe in the economic area because we are facing judgment from the actions, not only for our stance towards Israel, but our blatant sin against Him in passing laws such as the one allowing homosexual marriages,” Cindy said.
Well, okay then. So long as it's also about hatin on the Jews and the Gays.
Monday, October 27, 2008
And everything has to be documented.
And put in a binder, which requires operating a three-hole punch.
And tidy. I could be better at tidy.
And it's due November 1.
So I've been occupied.
But here is some good news I have found for you: although it did not look like good news at first, since you'll see at the opening that it confirms more Right-Wing Religious Parents indoctrinating their kids against science/evolution (evil-ution, as my students often spell it); but look how the instructors are dealing with the problem: wisely!
A few years ago, Pratt started holding meetings – open to parents, students, church members and others – to address their questions about evolution. She holds the annual session a few weeks before she begins the unit and gets about 200 people.
“It used to be that the whole unit was a struggle, and we were butting heads,” Pratt said. “This meeting helps everyone understand that science teachers are not the enemy. Now, the kids are showing up ready to learn about evolution.”
Other teachers said they try to fix students’ misconceptions. They explain how humans and apes share a common ancestor that no longer exists, not that humans and apes evolved from one another. They say that while “theory” may describe a hunch in everyday language, in science it is defined as an explanation supported by factual evidence to describe events that occur in our world.
That's how our side wins: enlightenment.
Their side has fear and ignorance. Our side has education. We will always win in the end. (Well, that's my hope, at least.)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"Why?" I asked.
I always ask this. I want them to think about why surface errors matter. "Certainly it matters if you have an excellent thesis and excellent arguments and you support those arguments with lots of solid sources. But suppose you do all that, and then your paper is riddled with lousy spelling and you've got two misconstructed sentences in the first paragraph and you can't manage to use semi-colons correctly. What happens to your reader? What's he do, twenty words into your argument?"
"He decides you're an idiot and quits reading," says my football player from the back row.
"Absolutely," I agree. "It's like if you show up for the job interview in cut off jeans and a nose ring and your hair stick up all over your head -- well, does it matter how many degrees you have or how qualified you are?"
My very intelligent but home-schooled student in the front row raised his hand. "How you explain, then," he asked, "how well John McCain is doing? Considering he's not that articulate, and he doesn't speak nearly as well as Obama? Why is he doing so well in this election?"
I stared at him, bemused. Then I glanced around the classroom. Then I looked back at him. "Well," I said, gently, "he's not, is he? The latest polls have him down what, fourteen points? He's at 38%? That's not so good."
He gave me the bemused look I had just given him. That couldn't be right, could it?
"Anyway," I said, "that's not really the scope of this class..."
And I moved them on.
But apparently, in the world these folk live in, McCain is doing well -- even winning the election.
It's that Republican Alt.world again.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Over at Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog (I don't know if you've discovered that blog yet, but you should), an embedded video shows more horrible racists -- except this time, they're confronted by their fellow McCain voters, who shame them into backing down, shutting up, packing up, and going away.
Further, they get called unAmerican by the other McCain voters.
Now that's the America I can get behind.
And in school yesterday, as has frequently happened over the past weeks, my daughter had to hear about how Obama wasn't an acceptable candidate because he wasn't a Christian.
She's ten, you know, and she's tough, but she's being driven to the brink: she shouted at the punk who came up with this argument that first, yes, Obama is a Christian, and that second, dude, not everyone in America is a Christian -- for instance, hey, Jew here?
Her friends supported her. They got told not to gang up on the poor punk.
Yes, see, because that's mean. That's persecuting the poor Christians.
We can't have that.
Monday, October 20, 2008
This one, I must admit, is partly for my brother who used to send me snide emails about how Democrats were no different from Republicans -- our party being funded by really rich tools, just like his, etc:
Barack Obama raised $150 million in September, the largest monthly total any candidate has ever raised for any office in the history of the United States. The previous record was Obama's haul of $66 million in August. The money came from small donors averaging less than $100 each. This approach--many small donors--represents a revolution in fundraising, where previously the goal was to tap a small number of rich donors with many rich friends who could be hit up for money.It's not just for him, of course. It's also for us -- America. Fifteen days out. Can it be that we might actually pull it off this time?
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Where was I?
Kid had an abcessed tooth, abcess under one of her many fillings, so I took her to the dentist at 7:00 a.m. this morning. Like most of the dentists in Pork Smith, this one is an Evangelical Christian. We love her anyway, she's a great dentist, great with the kid, who, as I might have mentioned, is just the smallest bit neutrotic, especially when it comes to matters of medical care.
Anyway, dentist talked her down off the ceiling and got the tooth out, it was practically painless.
BUT: while we were waiting in the waiting room and I was threatening the kid with baby Xanax if she didn't stop spinning in circles, the Christian radio station that is played over the sound system at the office broke off their inspirational songs for a moment ("Je-esus wilsave you! Hee --has the pow=r!") to give the weather and chat about the news.
"Now I didn't watch the debates," said male dj. "Did you, Honey?"
Honey hadn't watched the debates, either.
"But I keep hearing about this Joe the plumber. Who's the Joe the Plumber?"
Honey very sweetly says she has no idea.
Neither DJ is familiar with the operation of the Google I guess. They turn to a third expert, who has consulted some outside source.
"Well," he says, with the fatherly voice of one Who Knows All, "Joe was a concerned small business owner at an Obama rally. He was worried because Obama's tax plan is going to raise his taxes. Obama told him that it was better for everyone if we spread the wealth around, and McCain used this comment during the debate."
"Ah," said male dj. "Well, that makes things a lot clearer! From what I was hearing on CNN last night, I was thinking Joe the Plumber was made up! Like a unicorn that McCain kept under his bunk in a magic box!"
"Yes!" chirped Honey. "That's much clearer!"
Then they went to another song about Jesus.
Why is the Christian Right so ignorant? There you go!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Go see Steve Benen's Post at the Washington Monthly for a more substantive rebuttal.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
I keep having to stop reading it -- seriously, I have to put it down every day or two, it upsets me so much: maybe you know the movie Cool Hand Luke? Fun and games on the chain-gang, white boys eat eggs and be tough on the chain-gang? This is the reality behind that silliness. This is what got done to whole generations of black men in America so certain white men could maintain their dominance, and Blackmon will not let us look away. He lays out the evidence, also, that everyone knew: the courts knew, the towns knew, the owners of the businesses and corporations that bought the enslaved prisoners knew, Teddy Roosevelt knew: just as in Nazi Germany, when the people in the towns knew what was happening in the camps, everyone knew what was happening: well, in Alabama and in Georgia and in Mississippi and In Florida, everyone knew how those roads and levees were getting built. Everyone knew how those mines were being staffed, where those farm workers were coming from. No one acted. Why? Because to act would be to support black guys over white guys: can't do that. Even when the courts followed the law, and agreed that what was being done was wrong -- violated U.S. law -- they did not enforce their own sentences: did not stop the white guys from enslaving the black guys: in 1905, in 1920, in 1930 and 1940.
Here we are in 2008, and what is happening?
What is getting done by white men in power in this country?
What always gets said?
McCain's crew wants to claim you can't trust Obama. Why in shit should we trust them?
As mr. delagar likes to tell his classes, he loves black people. None of them ever started any concentration camps. None of them ever ran a pogrom. You don't see many black folks starting crusades or holocausts.
Trust McCain? Tell me why.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
This will give me something to regret next year, I tell him.
"Feminists for Obama," I said.
She gives me a piercing look.
"Well, what did you expect it to say?" I ask reasonably. "My kid has one just like it," I add, and move on with the lecture.
After class, she comes up to me and says, "Obama, huh?"
"Of course Obama. Jeesh."
"Well." She shakes her head, like I'm an idiot, but what can one expect from professors. As she starts to leave, she turns back: "But what about Sarah Palin? She's a product of feminism. You have to support that."
I have sworn -- I have promised -- hold me back --
I cannot keep it in my teeth. "Palin," I say, as reasonably as I can, "is not a feminist."
"I didn't say she was a feminist, I said--"
"She's an enemy of feminism," I interrupt. "She's not pro-choice, she made rape-victims pay for their own rape-kits, her position on equal rights is ridiculous."
"I didn't like the rape-kit thing," the student agreed.
"Also, she dangles her participles," I said, since I was getting a bit too fierce, "so, well."
The student smirked. "I won't comment on what Obama dangles," she said.
"Not his participles," I said. "I promise you that."
Since, I'll bet you six bucks to a quarter, she didn't have a clue what a participle was, this student had to leave my challenge alone -- but you know, even though I said I was going to shut up about Palin, her appalling grammar and Obama's perfect command of it, this does matter: it does tell us something about the two of them, the difference between the two of them. Not just the difference between their intelligence levels (I do think Obama is smarter than Palin, though people keep assuring me Palin is clever: I don't see it: no one that incurious about the world is clever, and it is not just her background. My students come from the same background, and plenty of them have plenty of intellectual curiousity.) It tells us that one of them got educated -- actually educated -- and one of them did the least she could, skated by, and will continue to do the least she can. She's that flashy student who thinks if she puts the essay in a pretty binder it will disguise the fact that she spent exactly three hours of the past three weeks working on it, and none of those hours involved research or proof-reading.
I'm shutting up on Palin now. I swear.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Because, you know, it's not just that I disagree with her -- though I do, on every bit of every single political issue she has spoken on so far, except, well, let me think here, what now?
Title IX: she spoke highly of Title IX. I give her props for that.
And from what I hear she was nice to the woman who cut her hair. (But OTOH that woman was a nice white Christian just like her.)
Where was I?
Here's my point. I also disgree with McCain on every one of these issues and he has not sent me into a gibbering fury of sputtering posts. Why am I off my leash over Palin and not him?
It's because she's a woman, obviously, because she got fed to us feminists as a woman and we're supposed to embrace her as our champion: but certainly I should be angry at McCain for that, not her?
I suppose I'm angry at her for going along with it. (Collaborator! Weasel!)
Still doesn't make sense. She's only the tool. He's the patriarchy, and those like him.
So I'm going to step back and shut up and try to get some balance here.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
We've been working on evaluating sources, which, yikes. First, I discover that the students don't know what a Leftist is. They're not kidding. We're reading an essay by Mike Males, it's published in Mother Jones, I tell them that this venue is a bit leftist.
"Leftist," one of them says. "What is that?"
"Like...liberal." I study them. "Progressive? To the left side of the political spectrum?"
Their eyes are blank as empty fountains, except for my older student, the one who has come back to school on a TAA grant, who looks faintly amused at my shock and horror.
The essay by Males talks about the root of violence in America, how violence doesn't come from kids watching violent TV shows or listening to rap music; violence is caused by violence being done to and around children. They get violent things done to them and they see violent things done to their siblings and parents, they'll grow up to act violently.
Anyway, of course this they could get a grip on: I had not mentioned, not had Males, their own parents beating the shit out of them with belts and sticks through all their childhood years, but their minds leapt there. Hands went up around the room: If you don't hit kids, then --!
"Well, have you ever seen a kid that don't get beat?" One student asked me. "Have you ever seen how those kids behave--"
I usually put forth my own child here, but I didn't have to this time: one of the students in the class raised her hand. "Me," she said.
They stared at her like she was a viper.
"My parents never hit me," she said.
I let that sit a moment.
Then I said, "You can raise children without hitting them. Other methods of discipline exist."
"Yep," the girl in the middle row agreed. It didn't hurt none, BTW, that she was smart, charming, outspoken, goodlooking.
"That's not really what we're doing here, though," I added, "looking at content -- remember? We're evaluating this as a source."
They burned. They seethed. They stewed. They had to prove to me that it was vital that children get beaten, that it has to be that way, that GOD WANTS IT THAT WAY.
And it can't be changed!!