Friday, May 30, 2008


Do you believe?

According to this poll, most Americans are atheists.

I'm guessing we've got some selection bias going on here, though...

Who cares! Go Votes!


Nothing wrong with the health care system in this country!

This guy, who runs RAM, Remote Area Charity, flies around the world bringing health care to impoverished nations. Guess who gets 60% of his time?

Why, that would be us! As in the U.S.!!

Not Africa, or some abandoned bit of India, nope, Tenneesee, the Ozarks, Georgia.

"You can just go to an emergency room," Bush asserted, speaking like a man who never had to do without healthcare in his fucking life. Stan Brock's RAM, on the other hand, provides vision care, dental care, all sorts of care, which, if Bush had a clue, he would realize you don't get from an emergency room, or any other health care facility unless you can pay up front -- and that's the definition of working poor: can't pay, up front or otherwise.

Why is this a crime? Because we ought to have universal health care in this country, that's why. Stan Brock's resources ought to go to actual poor countries, not to this one. We are not a poor country. Look around! Someone is getting rich as shit off the health care industry: off the misery of others. Is that the American way?

Like torture and wire-tapping, maybe it is.

(Via Unfogged)

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Here's a meme I keep hearing about Obama -- "But what do we knoo-oo-oow about him?" "But we don't really kn00-00w anything about him!!"

Like this guy just dropped in from planet Zorg, and, you know, there's no way to find out who he is. So therefore we can't possibily elect him President.

I saw it again over there on one of the Winger Blogs, Dr. Helen's, I think -- "We don't know anything about Obama, and all he ever says is Hope, so I don't see why..."

You know, anyone who doesn't know anything about Obama by now, he's had his head up your ass, or been watching Faux News for the past three years, which I guess is the same thing. But hey, I've got a solution. It's called Wikipedia. Go here: Obama. Links and everything.

Or, or our brethern on the right who think the NPOV on Wikipedia is "too liberal, here's the hate-filled screed they publish over on Conservapedia, which should make them feel more at home (It starts out with a picture of Obama refusing to salute the flag during the National Anthem, and goes downhill from there).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

So Tell Me Again...

This kind of made me laugh

But I predict it won't make you feel much better.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trying Hard Not to Violate Godwin's Law

If you read that sickening column by Kathleen Parker, noted Townhall whacktard, which was widely published, not just in the Washington Post, but in newspapers all over the nation, claiming that only (white) Americans who had anscestors who had been born in this country for the past two hundred years -- on both sides!! One side only doesn't count!! -- really count as Americans, because only *those* people can really *feel* what it means to be an American (not, in other words, some (dark guy) named Obama...if that made you as furious and as queasy as it did the rest of us, well, go on over here to Bitch Ph.D. where it gets ripped up one side and down the other:

Four dollar gas

Gasoline prices jumped twenty-five cents overnight here in Pork Smith -- it was 3.69/gallon when I went to bed, and it's 3.89/gallon now, 3.99/gallon at the pricier stations. Over at Pandagon, they've started a thread on WTF are y'all doing to handle the gas prices? Me, I'm having daily anxiety attacks.

Well, right now, we're sort of okay, given that mr. delagar is home writing his dissertation, and only has to leave to buy more film (he is taking B&W and pin-hole photos as a dissertation-delaying tactic) as well as ingredients for exoctic recipes (he also bakes and cooks, ditto -- last week he made a very nice lime tart); and I am on our tiny semester break; even next week when Summer I started I'll only have to drive the eight miles to school and back, all interstate, no stopping. We have a post office, a nice little library, a grocery, amd a liquor store all within walking distance of our house -- like 1/2 mile, the furthest of these, the liquor store, is. So we're doing pretty well.

But when fall comes -- well, mr. delagar has applied for a lectureship up the hill: if he gets that, he'll have a 110 mile commute 5 days a week. If gas prices are still this high...Yikes!

If he doesn't get it, he'll be teaching adjunct, here at my university, for diddly and squat. Which would be worse? It's hard to say.

(Look at me, borrowing trouble. Ai.)

Beyond the problem of driving, of course, there's the problem of eating: even at our handy little grocery, we have to pay for the food, which is getting pricey. We've about stopped eating meat. Fish, sometimes -- the kid likes tuna, which isn't so expensive, and now and then we still buy an organic free range chicken, because mr. delagar wants the protein and he does nice things with it. But mainly we are eating cheese and eggs and peas and rice and lots of vegetables and fruits. It helps that this Harps has a wonderful produce section. It doesn't help that my shit the produce prices are through the roof. Trucking costs, I'm sure.

I hear farmer's markets are cheaper, and I hear we have one in Pork Smith, but it's way the hell downtown, and only runs twice a week from dawn to zero. I'd have to drive down there and find it.

I could garden, I suppose. Maybe I should start.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Universal Pre-K

Over on Kathy G.'s blog, the G-Spot, you can read an excellent post on why Universal Pre-K would be good for us, no matter what the Family values crowd keeps claiming. She refutes the bloviations about how Head-Start is a waste of money and that myth you've heard about early intervention being useless; she also gives attention to the notion that vouchers are a better solution.

Here's one paragraph:

"...researchers began to look at other outcomes, such as the impact on school completion, crime, welfare dependency, teen pregnancy, employment, and earnings. And once those outcomes were factored in, and quantified, the early childhood education programs began to look a whole lot more successful. Certainly, they've been proven to have a much higher rate of return than later interventions such as "reduced pupil-teacher ratios, public job training, convict rehabilitation programs, tuition subsidies or expenditure on police."

Here's the link:

(Via Lizardbreath on Unfogged.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Battlestar G

So I've been catching up on my episodes, now that my own episode is winding down, and here is the question that occured to me, as the Final Five got revealed: how is it that all the Cylon Female Models (fives, and Sixes, and I forget the other shitting numbers) are HOT HOT HOT, and all the Cyclon Male Models are geeky and kind of ugly?

I mean, the only one who is even sort of hot is Sam, our guerilla fighter slash athlete model, who I'd keep around for fun and sports, mind you, but is only about a seven or so on any scale: whereas every single female Cylon is at least a 9 and likely a 10.

The fuck is up here?

O, I bet you can tell me the word I am looking for.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ain't My Fault, is it?

Over here at Pandagon, and over here at Strange Horizons we've got two posts on different subjects that kind of make me think the same thing.

The first is about bloggers at the DNCC -- the Democrats asked certain bloggers to come blog and LO! they turn out to be all white folk. Oops. Sorry. Not our fault, the Democrats say, we're not racists, you know. Just so happens we don't look at people and see color; we look at people and see talent, skill with writing, we see their blogs. We live in a post-racist world! Isn't that what you want?

Over there on Strange Horizons it's a whole article full of graphs and math, even, and sundry other chunky details, explaining why SF magazines and journals mainly publish men, and why SF awards mainly go to men, and why SF is mainly dominated by the penis-people and -- I bet this will surprise you -- it's nothing to do with the patriarchy at all. It turns out it is simply because women do not submit as many stories as men do, for whatever reason! Why, the editors would love to buy more stories from women, if only they existed. And they would love to give women more awards, and include more stories from women in those Best of Lists, too -- nothing to do with bias, mind you. They just look at the stories. Just happens the men's stories are better stories, that's not their fault.

The essay, if you read it, is careful to note that this pattern holds true -- more men being published than women -- even at magazines where women are editors. The writer seems to think this scores some point. Why, I'm not certain. Does she imagine that women don't live in the patriarchal world?

Here's my point: going around saying hey, I don't judge people by their sex, I don't judge people by their color, I don't care what class you are, it's nothing to me what accent you have or where you went to school, when you, in fact, are a member of the power structure, the dominant class, the patriarchy, the privileged class, is fucking stupid. You know why you can say you don't care what color some one is, or what sex they are? You don't have to care.

Also: in shit you don't. Let that woman or that person of color or that lower-class bint or that gay guy talk back one time, step out of line one time, then tell me how much you don't care.

And here's what I want to say: if we actually care about equality, and redressing the imbalances in the world, then we need to be more than blind to the differences, we need to address them. In a world where more white guys get hired than people of color, hire a person of color next time -- at least try to. Look for one among the applicants. In a classroom where you mainly let the women speak, ask the guy what he thinks -- try to. Find a guy, point to him. Say, "You. What's your opinion?" In a school that is mainly hiring only young eager men, hire some women -- don't tell me you can't find any women to hire. You start hiring them, they'll start applying. It's amazing how that happens.

It's called power for a reason. Use it.

I got your Utopian Vision Right Here

I finished grading my finals, and I put in my grades, and I have been having wandering the 'sphere and having me an episode.

Because what a bad semester this was, and what a rotten year the world is having, and what bad finals I had, and o o o o, I could go on.

Apparently I taught almost no one anything this semester. This is always so depressing. In one of my classes, where I swear I can remember explaining at length what feminism was and how to related to literature, and why it was so important to humanism and the Enlightenment experience in general, one of my smartest students, and yes, I swear, I swear to you this is an intelligent woman, she wrote in her final exam, the very first fucking line, well, she says, I am not a feminist myself, you know, because I don't hate men and I don't want them all to die....

I got another story rejected from yet another magazine, though this one sent me a really nice letter (we almost bought your bit of crap, see, but it was just not good enough, was it?), and mr. delagar is actually writing his dissertation, the bastard.

While brooding and sulking, I have been reading feminist blogs, because, you know, I don't feel quite bad enough; I came across this link where Dorothy Allison says interesting things about language and feminism -- go have a look, it's worth the read -- but one of the things she talks about is the first feminist work she read. It made me try to remember what my first feminist work was.

I wasn't always a feminist -- well, who is? No one is born a feminist, surely, so I should not get so blistering furious at those women in my classes because they haven't been enlightened yet. In fact, I clearly remember being fifteen or sixteen and reading that story by Robert Heinlein, Menace From Earth, where our heroine has her epiphany -- you remember: she is, like all the hero(ine)s in Heinlein's works, a brilliant young thing, able to blaze through every math course and knock through engineering problems with a flick of her little finger. Wants to design space ships when she grows up. But --alors! -- she's a girl!! Well, that won't stop her! She'll just be the bestest ever and they will have to hire her!

But she grows up and faces facts! No sense being the bestest ever if no one will hire her because she's a girl! She'll just, well, maybe she can be a stewardess instead! (Though in the end Heinlein has her marry her boyfriend and hints they will be designing spaceships together -- good thing he's there to be her daddy!) I remember reading this story and swallowing down its worldview whole. Yes, indeed. Them's the facts, ma'am.

My first feminist book was Joanna Russ's The Female Man. Do something for me, gentle readers: go from Menance from Earth to The Female Man sometime. Read the back to back. Just as a tiny exercise. Then look up cognative dissonance. Ai, I tell you. You will know what I felt at fifteen, with Russ's novel in my fist. Well, you probably remember it.

I was furious. What an evil book! Who could want women to be like that! That was -- that was-- that -- and not at all realistic!! Idiot, stupid, stupid book! Men weren't like that!

Then about six months I read it again.

Then I read it again.

Then I started reading other books -- not feminist books, mind you, because I don't think there were any other feminist books in my world yet: it would be another ten years before any of those showed up -- but I started reading other books through the lens of that book, and other books that were like that book, other books that kicked apart the world I had been living in: I started looking for that sort of book.

In a sense I still am.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Well, Cool!

Gay Marriage legal in CA!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fixing the Transgendered Child

Now, here's a sad story.

These parents have a three year old boy keeps telling them he wants to be a girl. He'll only play with girl toys. He puts towels on his head, pretending they're long hair. He plays with girls, not boys. Barbies are his favorite toys. Finally, when he's six, they take him to a shrink, who decides to make him a boy. First step? Take away all those girl toys. Kid won't play with boy toys, though. Won't play with anything. Just spends hours drawing:

"His drawings, however, also proved problematic. Bradley would populate his pictures with the toys and interests he no longer had access to — princesses with long flowing hair, fairies in elaborate dresses, rainbows of pink and purple and pale yellow. So, under Zucker's direction, Carol and her husband sought to change this as well.

"We would ask him, 'Can you draw a boy for us? Can you draw a boy in that picture?' ... And then he didn't really want us to see his drawings or watch him drawing because we would always say 'Can you draw a boy?'" Carol says. "And then finally after, I don't know, a month or two, he just said, 'Momma, I don't know how. ... I don't know how to draw a boy.'"

Carol says she finally sat down and showed him. From then on, Bradley drew boys as directed. Male figures with anemic caps of hair on their heads filled the pages of his sketchbook."

See the rest:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Over here

Katha Pollit tells us why it's truly worth getting torqued about that WU is giving Phyllis Schlafly an honorary degree, despite what got claimed over there at Crooked Timber in the comments (to wit: "Most people don't even know who this woman is anymore, so who cares?").

Yeah, and? Well, most of my students won't call themselves feminists; most of them believe, because of Schlafly, and yes, at her door I lay the blame, that feminists are evil. She didn't do the work on her own; but she began it.

Further, she, like those who came after her -- Ann Coulter and the like -- worked with lies and misrepresentation: and she knew it, just as they do. She did not think she was telling the truth about feminism when she worked to defeat the ERA. Not for a minute did she believe the charges she was putting forth, about unisex bathrooms and how widows would not get SS, were true: she had a law degree. She knew better. She knew she was telling lies that would play well with the ignorant that were her audience.

Now we're holding her up as a hero?

Oh, yay, America.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Grading Papers

So here is why you don't want to let students know that you're an atheist --

Which, unlike feminism, is not something I generally bring up. My feminism and the fact that I'm a liberal, those I make a point of getting on deck. Early on in the class each semester, I'll say something like, "Well, I'm a big old liberal, as you might have noticed," and "Given that I'm a giant feminist, this sort of deal gets on my last nerve."

But the atheism I only bring up when they ask, which, as this is Bible central, they tend to. Mr. Jesus keeps coming up in class, and How This Story Makes me Think of What Jesus Tells us, and all that, and eventually someone will say, well, what do you think, dr. delagar?

At which time I will usually tell them something about zen belief systems or Coyote or what Rabbi Hillel might say, and their eyes will go round and wrinkles will appear between them. (This is except for the other students, whose eyes have gone bright and are thinking, yo, cool.)

Then someone will say, "Excuse me? dr. delagar? What do you believe in?"

"Me?" I'll say. "I'm an atheist."

Because I'm not in the business of lying to students.

OTOH, I follow up with: "The writer here, though, she seems to be --" or "Chaucer, though, given that this is the 14th century--"

Well, here's the problem with this practice, combined with how I do live in Pork Smith, deep in the heart of Bible central: once my Rockin With Jesus students know I'm an atheist, they know that the Lord wants them to save me.

So they write their papers as missions: saving delagar's soul!

I got three of those this semester, all of them wretched.

It's as if they suspect that I'm an accidental atheist. If I only knew what they knew about Mr. Jesus, see, or the real truth about evil-lution, why then! They write me arguments for God, witnessing documents, tales about how they prayed for a sunny day before a softball game and LO! Sun came! (S-o-n, gittit?) They tell me that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics, and every scientist knows this! So Darwin was Wrong! How can I not be moved!

What am I to do with these papers? Give an F to Jesus?

Fail these tools, and they believe what their preachers and daddies have been telling them, that them liberal professors hate the Religious Right: pass them, and I am passing stupid work.

They make me ill, these papers.

On the plus side, the kid's standardize test scores came back yesterday, and she broke the test. Scored post-high school reading and on the 11th grade level in science; nearly that high in math. What a little whiz-bang. Guess we'll keep her. (We were going to sell her on e-bay, to buy gas with this summer.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Poem

Here's a Poem for Spring, which might be here at last

"April Inventory"
W.D. Snodgrass

The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.
In one whole year I haven't learned
A blessed thing they pay you for.
The blossoms snow down in my hair;
The trees and I will soon be bare.

The trees have more than I to spare.
The sleek, expensive girls I teach,
Younger and pinker every year,
Bloom gradually out of reach.
The pear tree lets its petals drop
Like dandruff on a tabletop.

The girls have grown so young by now
I have to nudge myself to stare.
This year they smile and mind me how
My teeth are falling with my hair.
In thirty years I may not get
Younger, shrewder, or out of debt.

The tenth time, just a year ago,
I made myself a little list
Of all the things I'd ought to know,
Then told my parents, analyst,
And everyone who's trusted me
I'd be substantial, presently.

I haven't read one book about
A book or memorized one plot.
Or found a mind I did not doubt.
I learned one date. And then forgot.
And one by one the solid scholars
Get the degrees, the jobs, the dollars.

And smile above their starchy collars.
I taught my classes Whitehead's notions;
One lovely girl, a song of Mahler's.
Lacking a source-book or promotions,
I showed one child the colors of
A luna moth and how to love.

I taught myself to name my name,
To bark back, loosen love and crying;
To ease my woman so she came,
To ease an old man who was dying.
I have not learned how often I
Can win, can love, but choose to die.

I have not learned there is a lie
Love shall be blonder, slimmer, younger;
That my equivocating eye
Loves only by my body's hunger;
That I have forces true to feel,
Or that the lovely world is real.

While scholars speak authority
And wear their ulcers on their sleeves,
My eyes in spectacles shall see
These trees procure and spend their leaves.
There is a value underneath
The gold and silver in my teeth.

Though trees turn bare and girls turn wives,
We shall afford our costly seasons;
There is a gentleness survives
That will outspeak and has its reasons.
There is a loveliness exists,
Preserves us, not for specialists.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Oh noes!

It had to happen sometimes, I reckon.

So the kid has turned ten, and yesterday, she dresses herself -- which she does frequently, that's not the shocking part, I often let her pick out her own clothing -- anyway, she puts on bright red trousers and a light blue shirt with bright blue flowers on it, white socks, and purple crocs.

As usual, I make no comment. I am not in the business of wincing at my child's (or mr. delagar's) taste in clothing. (Well, this is a lie: on occasional, when she has appeared in outfits even more outlandish than these, I have sent her back to try one more time. (No, you will not wear a bright yellow skirt with a bright green tank top and flipflops to school in the middle of winter. Because I say so, that's why.)

Why do I make no comment? Ho! You should see the way I dress. As my students said, observing the kid lying on the floor in Chaucer class one day in her purple shirt and vaguely lavender trousers under a gray sweater, "She's got your taste, dr. delagar."

ANYWAY: as I started to say: we were walking toward a wide glass door at the university, me in my jeans and very worn Buddha teeshirt, the kid in her red and blue and purple, and our reflections were ascending to meet us, and she gazed at herself and said, in a tone of utter dismay, "My outfit doesn't match!"

"Mmm," I said. "It doesn't, does it?"

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Eh," I said.

"I look -- GOOFY!"

"A bit," I conceded, and added, "They're only clothes. Do you think Buddha would care?"

She rolled her eyes.

Then? Today? As we're going into the orthodontists? I said, "Don't you want to take off that sweater? It's kind of hot."

"No," she informed me. "I like it. It makes my outfit snazzy."

Yikes. She's a GIRL!!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Stupid Ideas, Stupid Policy

You know, I'm not happy to be paying $3.50 a gallon for gas either -- I too can't afford to drive anywhere. The kid wanted to go to Tulsa for her birthday, my parents wanted us to come to New Orleans for their anniversary, we can't even afford to drive up to Fayetteville to visit the Target, frankly, not with gasoline eating away at our food budget.

But this is not the solution -- Clinton and McCain's Nifty plan to team up and rebate the gas tax. That's very nearly the worse plan ever. Cut the tax on the thing that's causing the problem?

Check Friedman out (I'm no Friedman fan, mind you, but he's right on:

Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

These credits are critical because they ensure that if oil prices slip back down again — which often happens — investments in wind and solar would still be profitable. That’s how you launch a new energy technology and help it achieve scale, so it can compete without subsidies.

So cut the gas tax, so we can buy more gas, so we can fill up more SUV tanks, so we can drive more miles, so we can -- what? End up with nothing.

Instead of doing what we ought to have been doing for the past 30 years, what we should start doing now: subsidizing alternative sources of travel and alternative fuel sources.

Say this to someone on the Right, and the answer you get is, oh, too bad, we don't have trolley cars, we don't have a system of light rail, live in the real world, can't you?

They'll keep saying that until we drive right off the end of the pier.

Stop funding the dying system so heavily, start building the alternative systems now, and by the time we get to the end of the pier, maybe we will have those systems in place.

(Same thing with health care, by the way: stop funding our dying system so heavily, start funding the alternative system, eh, voila.)

(All of which would work a deal better if we didn't have this albatross of a war around our necks, I admit. But whose fault is that?)

Friday, May 02, 2008

They Report, You Get Stupider

Fox can't tell Frederick Douglass from Stephen Douglas -- I kid you not.

Which isn't even the saddest bit -- the saddest bit is that no one at Fox can do two seconds research. As several commentors at Pandagon pointed out, if you put Lincoln/Douglass debate into Google, even if you can't spell Douglass, what comes up is images of Stephen Douglas and Lincoln, not Frederick and Abe.

(Via Edge of the American West)