Tuesday, April 29, 2008


See now, you just thought we had free will.

According to this study, we are pwned by our environments:

Obesity rates were 20% higher in neighborhoods with five or more times as many fast-food outlets as produce vendors, compared with those with three or fewer, the study found. Diabetes rates were 23% higher.

So if you live near vendors of crappy junk food, you eat it -- whereas, conversely, if you live near a cool grocery that sells lovely fresh fruit and nice salads (as we now do, yay, hurray!) you find yourself buying that instead: which, yes, we do -- hmm! How is this possible? If the food is there, you will buy it? If it's not, you won't? What kind of crazy talk is that?

(Via Ezra)


It's the last week of teh semester and I'm worn out.

Things that are happening:

(1) mr. delagar has passed his comps and had his dissertation abstract accepted, so he is officially ABD -- yay, I reckon, except this means, you know, that he is going to write that dissertation. Then we'll have to decide about what to do next. He gets a job and I follow him, as I have always said I will? Give up my job to be a trailing spouse? Yikes. Or -- what better option?

(2) My writing class is wrapping up. It came together, toward the end, and actually worked. Also, our provost has decided we should have a creative writing minor here, which, with the help of several others in the department, we have built, over the past few weeks -- presenting it to the department in the faculty meeting this afternoon. I'm deeply pleased, on the one hand, since we've wanted a creative writing minor for about four years; OTOH, see (1) above.

(3) Time for P/T conferences at the kid's school. She's been moved to upper el this week, shadowing the kids up there, so she can learn what next year will be like, and is all excited about being a big kid (the divide between upper el and lower el is a big one at her school). Next week we go in to find out how she's been doing, but she keeps dropping little hints: apparently she's been doing fairly spectacularly.

(4) I'm writing, writing, writing. I wish I could stay home and write all day.

(5) I mowed the lawn for the first time this past weekend. Actual grass this year -- we had a drought for the past three years, so there wasn't any grass to speak off, but it has rained like crazy so far this year, and grass already a foot high. I almost enjoyed mowing real grass again. But -- pollen! I forgot how nasty pollen is.

(6) Plus! Wildflowers everywhere! I mowed around the ones in our yard, purple and pink sort I can't identify (I bet The Other Liberal Professor could) but that's not all -- all of Pork Smith is filled with wildflowers, red ones filling the field beyond our house, giant purple ones along the interstate, blues ones in the ditches, clover everywhere -- it's nice, a normal spring in Arkansas. And the trees! Redbud and dogwood and these yellow trees blooming everywhere -- what are those yellow blooming trees, TOLP? They're pretty too. Even if mr. delagar is wildly allergic to them.

(7) Papers! Exams! Committee meetings! No wonder I have no time to blog!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What's the P Word I'm Looking for?

Dude's already had it slapped out of him about 1300 times, apparently, so don't feel you have to set him straight, but in case you were wondering, yeah, the patriarchy really does exist, and here's the evidence:

"The Open Source Boob Project"


...By the end of the evening, women were coming up to us. "My breasts," they asked shyly, having heard about the project. "Are they... are they good enough to be touched?" And lo, we showed them how beautiful their bodies were without turning it into something tawdry.

We talked about this. It was an Open-Source Project, making breasts available to select folks. (Like any good project, you need access control, because there are loutish men and women who just Don't Get It.) And we wanted a signal to let people know that they were okay with being asked politely, so we turned it into a project:

At Penguicon, we had buttons to give away. There were two small buttons, one for each camp: A green button that said, "YES, you may" and a red button that said "NO, you may not." And anyone who had those buttons on, whether you knew them or not, was someone you could approach and ask: "Excuse me, but may I touch your breasts?"

And if you weren't a total lout - the women retained their right to say no, of course - they would push their chests out, and you would be allowed into the sanctity of it. That exchange of happiness where one person are told with gropes and touches that they are desirable and the other is someone who's allowed to desire.

For a moment, everything that was awkward about high school would fade away and you could just say what was on your mind. It was as though parts of me were being healed whenever I did it, and I touched at least fifteen sets of boobs at Penguicon. It never got old, surprisingly...




Monday, April 21, 2008

Book Review, Etc

Everyone was sick at my house this weekend, off and on, including me (a migraine Sunday, although the migraine meds worked for once -- yay! -- and it's gone now): which means everyone was grumpy, including me, and almost nothing got done.

Also the seder Saturday night, which I had to clean house for, and also the kid is off to Tulsa to visit the zoo with her school today, on a school trip which has me a bit edgy, since surely nine years old is too young to be crossing the country (okay, it's like 110 miles, but still!) very nearly on her own?

Anyway, all of which is to say that I spent all day yesterday prepping for class today, and, inbetween that (it was Chaucer's The Shipman's Tale, and going through nine papers for students who are meeting me for conferences, and reviewing my notes and the reading for HEL*, and my background for Hayao Miyazaki, whose film, Howl's MovingCastle, I am starting in WLIT II today). When I wasn't doing all that, and cleaning the horrible house, and trying to make the kid and mr. delagar feel better, I was reading One for Sorrow, an interesting book, though (as the kid would put it) odd.

Not that odd is bad.

It's Christopher Barzak's first novel, I believe, and he's got a nice voice; also, his main character, Adam, steps out of the normal modes -- not a Mary Sue by any means, and not a lost prince, and not a brilliant and misunderstood genius, blah-de-blah. True, he can see the dead and from time to time drifts into other dimensions, but that, in this book's worldview, is not precisely an advantage.

Also, he's a working class kid. That alone made me want to keep reading. His father builds houses; his mother, though she stays home with the kids, is not June Cleaver -- she's pissed at her fate, and takes the car out drinking when she and the old man fight. His brother does too much dope. His grandma dies on him. There's enough money, but not enough for fancy crap like trips to the nearby city to visit museums, and his visit to his girlfriend's house lets you know how tight his family's budget is -- though his family doesn't have it as rough as Jamie's.

Jamie is the ghost, the kid who visits him, moves in with him, more or less -- sleeps with him, sort of. This is an interesting move. Jamie is his shadow-figure, and his demon lover, and his Belle Dame Sans Merci, but also a scared kid. It's an intriguing mix.

Jamie was also, before he was murdered, in love with Adam -- and this I like a lot, since Adam, though he clearly loves the girl in the book, also loves Jamie. This rejection of sexual categories -- I'm gay, I'm straight -- for something else (I love these people) is one that doesn't often get made. One really good scene in the book is one where the gay bookstore owner attempts to reach out to Adam, to explain how all his problems stem from his trapped sexuality -- which the reader knows as well as Adam just is so wholly reductive, especially at that point in the book. (Although, nonetheless, the bookstore owner comes off well, and remains, at the end of the book, one of the few people Adam can trust.)

Anyway, it has some problems, this book, but it's intriguing and well-written, worth the time.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Money Money Money

If you're like the delagar household, you've noticed that things which used to cost, at your local Harps, two bucks or a two-fifty, like a box of Triscuits or a dozen eggs or a gallon of milk, now -- yikes, when did this happen? -- cost three-fifty, three-ninety-five. And let's not get into meat! We bought chickens for Passover last night. Remember when chicken was cheap? Nearly eight dollars each for the chickens we paid.

So what's up with the food prices? I've been blaming Bush, because, you know, I hate him.

Also he started that stupid war which has helped to make gas prices, what are they in your area now? Here they're 3.40 a gallon, and diesel even higher, and I reckoned that had to be doing something to the cost of food.

But maybe it's more complex.

See this post at Crooked Timber.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Oh, right...

You might have heard, if you've been anywhere near the Right-Wing 'sphere lately, of that "study" showing that single-mothers are responsible for our looming national debt.

Oh, yes, oh, right, it's those slutty women who think they're too good to submit to a man: they're the problem. Not, oh, a stupid useless war that some stupid useless git got us embroiled in.

Okay then.

Anyway, over at PAB, Lisa chews up this "study" (I call it so since, as it was sponsered by the Wingnut Welfare Machine, I don't reckon they actually studied much).

Lisa also points out another study, an actual one, showing that, why yes, single women with kids do tend to have a higher poverty level; and hey! Get this! Women with kids in general, married or not, tend to have a higher poverty level; and Wow! Who would have guessed it? There's a way to fix this!

And it's not marrying the sluts off so that some guy can support them (as if).

It's education. Who would have thought?

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Paid our taxes today. Aargh.

Afterwards, kid came asking us to take her to the art store to buy her some clay -- that kind that bakes in the oven.

"I feel like making something with my hands," she explained wistfully.

"Sorry," I said. "George Bush just took all our money. Call your grandma. Maybe she has some left."

Think this was wrong of me?

(Like I care, so long as she GROWS UP TO HATE REPUBLICANS!!!)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Big Time in Pork City

Big storms here all last night: the tornado siren went off, I don't know, six or seven times -- I started sleeping through it after the third or fourth time, and we didn't run for the shelter after the second. I decided I would rather die.

(The shelter is not in our house, or even near it: it is behind the Cook School, which is over a mile away. So, to get to the shelter, you must leave when you hear the siren. You get in the car, driver through the pelting rain and hail. When you get to the Cook School, you park out front. Then you run, through pelting rain and dark and hail, trying to stay on the path, generally in vain -- last night I went off the path, into the mud -- it has been raining since mid-March here -- grasping the hand of your terrified nine-year-old, around back behind the school to the shelter. You can find the shelter, if the power hasn't gone, by the bright light outside its door, and by the stench of smokers: no smoking is allowed in the shelter itself, so smokers congregate outside the door, in its covered foyer: to get inside, we must cross this fog of damp smoke, shouldering through about thirty edgy and very damp Arkies.

Once inside, the shelter, which doubles as a gym, is bright and full of muddy children, their sodden parents, elderly folk towing oxgyn tanks, barking dogs, and and squawling infants. A dozen or so children will be playing some sort of game all through the gym -- last night they had a balloon, and were doing that game where you don't let it hit the ground. Last time, I remember, it was soccer, only with a volleyball. We usually bring books, even though it is always too noisy to read them. And too wet.)

We did not die. The storms kept coming through, bangy and crashy. The tree across the street blew down. The backyard is a lake. Every school in town, except mine, cancelled classes today, so the kid has come to work with me. But other than that, and all the sleep I did not get, all's well here --

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Oh yes

This man should run our country:

At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c*nt."

Why I Just Love the Right

Over here, that fucking idiot Dr. Helen talks about the poor and why people are poor. Then her smart commenters chime in. Since all of them have known people who are poor -- or, at least, you know, their sister's cousin had a friend who worked with or used to try to hire poor people, back in the day -- you won't be surprised to find all of them have a perfect understanding of poverty in these United States, and know everything about why people are poor.

It's because they are (a) lazy and (b) like to cheat and (c) feel entitled to live off the rest of the good, hard-working people in America (which is to say Dr. Helen's commenters. Oh, and don't forget they're all fat too. That gets mentioned several times. And they have lots of fat, lazy, cheating children each.

She's responding to this book, which suggests that the poor, far from being idiots in not doing wise things like saving up their spare fifty cents every day to invest in the stock market, or trying to find enough coupons every week to save two dollars in grocery money so they can put that two dollars weekly toward buying health insurace (why can't they earn their way out of poverty? Lazy slobs!) are actually making the best choices within their purview when they invest that extra two bucks they have on ice cream or tequila or a lottery ticket.

Dr. Helen thinks it's a stupid book. Because she knew some poor people once, so she knows what poor people are like, and they aren't either making the best choices they can with what they know at the time -- they're out to get her! They're evil! If they weren't evil they wouldn't be poor! QED!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hey! Yay!

For years I've been hoping someone would remake True Grit and scrub Glen Campbell's hideous performance from our collective memory (I've never like John Wayne's either, frankly) and look! look! Here it comes!

The Coen brothers are going to do it! Who could ask for more!

Apparently they plan to use an actual 14 year old to play Mattie, our stone-killer lead. Maybe they'll use an actual 40 year old for Rooster, and someone that can act for LaBoeuf?

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I've been back from the conference for days now; just haven't had a chance to breathe. Catching up with teaching, with students' assignments, with prep, with my own paperwork, I have been back four days and I am still a week behind. How is this possible? I have not even caught up on the blogs yet.

The conference went well enough: my paper went well, as did mr. delagar's. On the way to and from the conference, we listened to True Grit, which was what I gave my paper on, and which both mr. delagar and I are teaching this semester in our freshman comp classes. Did you know you can download novels directly to your iPod Touch? It's very cool.

Anyway, in St. Louis, where I did not get a chance to visit Sugared Harpy (rats!), it rained and rained, and we drank and drank. No! Kidding! Worked and worked! Really!

But here's what I wanted to tell you about. One evening, mr. delagar and I were lying about in the hotel room, and I was trying to write my shitting paper, which I had to present the next day, and which I had not yet written (yep, that's the sort of scholar I am), and mr. delagar, helpful fella that he is, was channel surfing, and he stops on this bint on some news network, Faux News or CNN, who knows which, she's some famous bint, I could not tell you which, she had done something remarkable, sold a record or written a book or saved a baby from a dingo, who knows, anyway, what is she talking about?

You guessed it! Her weight!

How much she weighs! Her diet! How she regulates her daily intake of food so that she won't look like an utter cow! How she does this so that she will be healthy and FEEL GOOD ABOUT HERSELF and NOT because she is oppressed by the patriarchy!

No, she didn't say the last bit. The last bit never enters her sweet little radar.

"Will you turn this shit off?" I demanded of mr. delagar. "Now? Seriously?"

"I didn't book her," he said, changing the channel.

"That's all women are taught to do," I spat, "think about their bodies. That's all we are. Bodies. You want to know why we can't do science and math? That right there. Do you know how many calories are in an Oreo?"


"Do you?"


"Fifty-five. Do you know how many are in a carrot?"

He gaped at me.

"Twenty. How many are in a hot dog bun?"

"What in--"

"A hundred and fifty. How many in a pound of fat?"

"What's your--"

"Thirty-five hundred. I know all this and I couldn't do a quadratic equation with a gun to my head. Why is that? Why?" I snarled and turn over a page in my notebook. "I got one word for you, buddy."

He knew what it was, too.