Sunday, June 29, 2008

Stupid Idiots and the Idiots Who Listen to Them

Or, you know, Ditto:

I don't know if you've heard the shit Rush is spreading about Katrina, and how what's happening in Iowa "proves" black folk in New Orleans were really scum and white folk in the Midwest are really the really true cool Americans, but the bits I've heard about is enough to make me ill (it's the same filthy racist crap Ms. Parker was spreading under the Real America guise back then when she said Obama wasn't a real American, essentally): anyway, here's a rebuttal, if you need one:

From the blog Red Room:

"Consider Limbaugh's formulation, where he says, "I don't see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters, I don't see a bunch of people running shooting cops. I don't see a bunch of people raping people on the street."

"Fair enough. Those things aren't happening in Iowa. Yet, according to multiple post-Katrina investigations, and stories written up by the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the New Orleans Times Picayune, the London Guardian, the New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Reason Magazine and the American Journalism Review, reports of shooting at helicopters or rapes or murders were almost entirely false. There were, in fact, no murders in the evacuation centers, few if any sexual assaults, no helicopters fired on, and no police officers shot by residents. Yes, there was looting, although by a distinct minority of persons trapped in the city, and overwhelmingly for necessities like food, medicine, water, and clothing to replace the rotting, soaked rags people were wearing after wading through waist-deep water. And according to persons on the ground in the flood zone, even the luxury items taken were typically used as barter chips, to get rides out of the city for oneself and one's family when it became obvious that large scale assistance wasn't going to arrive any time soon. In other words, reports of widespread thuggery in New Orleans during the flooding have been greatly exaggerated, if not entirely fabricated, and have only remained believable to millions because of the race and class biases which allow people to believe the worst about poor black folks even without a shred of actual evidence."

"And while Limbaugh and others praise Midwesterners for pulling together in a spirit of cooperation--as opposed to the animalistic chaos we are to envision when thinking of New Orleanians during Katrina--the fact is there were innumerable acts of kindness in the streets of New Orleans as well. Those who personally brought supplies to the thousands trapped downtown reported little if any fighting or anger amongst the assembled; rather, they saw persons trying to shade the elderly, and make sure that old folks and the very young had first dibs on what little relief supplies were dribbling in. But the media focused on none of that, choosing instead to highlight reports--false as it turned out--of mass violence."

"Then of course have been the suggestions, especially common in the e-blasts and blog postings to the effect that Iowans, unlike New Orleanians, have helped themselves, because while the latter had grown dependent on government to solve their problems, Midwesterners in the "heart of America" still value the importance of self-reliance. But the fact is, Iowans are no less likely to receive government assistance than those in New Orleans were prior to Hurricane Katrina, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Surveys, taken in 2006 (the most recent year available) and 2004 (the last data collected for New Orleans before the flooding of that city)."

"In hard-hit Linn County, Iowa, 2400 households receive cash public assistance, out of 85,000 total households, meaning that 2.8 percent of all households in the County receive cash welfare. In New Orleans, prior to Katrina, and contrary to popular belief, only 2.6 percent of households received cash welfare (4600 households out of 180,000). So in truth, a slightly higher percentage of Linn Countians were on the dole than New Orleanians! In Black Hawk County (also hard hit by the recent deluge), 2.5 percent of all households receive cash assistance: again, suggesting no real difference between the mostly white and rural folks there, and the mostly black and urban folks in Orleans Parish at the time of Katrina."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Reason #6010

Why McCain would suck --

In case you needed one, that is.

He thinks only Americans get rights.

Speaking on the recent decision of the Supreme Court to give the basic right of habeas corpus to those detained at Gitmo, McCain said (after, as many ave noted, the very evening before saying he had no problem with the decision):

“These are enemy combatants, these are people who are not citizens, they are not and never have been given the rights that the citizens of this country have,” he said. “Our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation and the men and women who defend it.”

Well, here's the problem with this bold stand, which I have heard not just from McCain, but from many of my rightie students (all those who listen to Rush and Hannity, as a matter of fact -- hmm, wonder why?): those aren't American rights the Supreme Court is refering to, granted only to American citizens: those are human rights. Remember that bit about inalienable there in that document we're meant to take seriously? What do you think that word means?

It means even if the fella is brown, and even if he worships some god you don't like (or no god at all), and even if his politics aren't your politics, and even if you define him as a terrorist, you fucking tool, that's what.

See the Anonymous Liberal, among others, for more.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Unequal America

This essay, "Unequal America," by Elizabeth Gudrais, published in the July-August 2008 Harvard Magazine, is -- yikes.

Well, you haven't been living in a cave over the past ten years, so you know about the growing income and standard-of-living disparity, which is where she starts; you know that despite this Americans seem to keep voting for representatives who pass laws that increase, rather than mend, that disparity; you know that most Americans, despite all evidence around them, still believe with all their wistful hearts, that we have the best system in the world, and are the best country in the world; you know some reason must exist why all this continues, when, good shit, why, why, why?

Gudrais's essay addresses all these questions. I can't start quoting, or I'd never stop -- oh, all right: here's one or two paragraphs:

An argument commonly made in inequality’s defense is that it serves to motivate. Here, Kawachi cites evidence from the sports world. A 1990 study of golfers found that they performed best in professional tournaments, where the spread in the size of the prize money is widest. Similarly, a study of professional auto racers found that performance improved as the spread in the size of the various prizes widened.

So inequality may act on the human psyche to elicit hard work and high achievement—but it also may make us more individualistic. In a study of baseball players, teams with wider pay dispersion performed more poorly—and so did individual players within those teams. “In a world in which each individual is looking out for themselves, players will tend to concentrate on improving their own performance to the exclusion of team goals, since their own performance is what matters for moving up the pay scale,” Kawachi and Bruce P. Kennedy (a former HSPH professor who passed away this year) wrote in The Health of Nations: Why Inequality Is Harmful to Your Health. “Concentrating on trying to hit more home runs or improving one’s own hitting average are not necessarily the tactics that lift team performance—as opposed to, say, practicing great defense.”

This gets at the ways inequality may affect the fabric of society. Perhaps motivated by inequality and the prospect of getting ahead, Americans work longer hours than their European counterparts—about 200 more hours per year, on average, than the British, and 400 more hours per year than the Swedes. Again, there are counter-examples (the Japanese work almost as much as Americans do, just 50 hours less a year), but in any case, time spent at work is time not spent with friends or family, and this has its own implications for health.

This reminds me of another bit of data I discovered, when I was research kibbutzim for the ethnographic essay I was having my 1203 class write -- I had read, long ago, Bettelheim's book on the kibbutzim, in which he had claimed no jet pilots or artists would ever come out of a kibbutz, because, you know, that way of rearing children, keeping them secure and safe, and letting their mothers as well as their fathers have a life, while it would make excellent committe members, would never create great individuals, blah blah blah. Well. You'll be pleased to learn Bettelheim was wrong, and that, in fact, %75 of the Israeli air force pilots come off the kibbutzim. Oddly, it seems, raising children without making them anxious and miserable creates good kids who can do well in life. Who would have thought?

As to why we keep getting politicians into office who keep voting for the policies that make the rich richer -- why would that be?

Previous research has shown that voter turnout is low, particularly at the low end of the income spectrum, in societies with high inequality. Again, this is counterintuitive: in unequal places, poor people unhappy with government policies might be expected to turn out en masse to vote, but instead they stay home. Campaign contributions may provide the missing link.

Candidates, naturally, target voters with money because they need funds for their campaigns. And since the poor gravitate toward parties that favor redistribution and the wealthy align themselves with parties that do not, campaign contributions end up benefiting primarily parties and candidates whose platforms do not include redistribution. By the time the election comes around, the only candidates left in the race are those who’ve shaped their platforms to maximize fundraising; poor voters, says Campante, have already been left out. In a study of campaign contributions in the 2000 U.S. presidential election, he found that higher income inequality at the county level was associated with fewer people contributing to campaigns, but contributing a larger amount on average—so the haves participated, and the have-nots did not.

I'll stop quoting; the essay is long, and by picking out bits of it, I'm doing it a disservice, since she's arguing in more detail than I'm showing here. (Also, graphs!) The data about how our declining life expectancy is being driven by our increasing disparity in wealth is especially good; also the bit about how the descrease in funding for education is helping to increase that disparity -- well, the entire thing! It's all good! Read it! You must!


Over on Language Log, in a another post about how popular science journals, in this case the New Scientist, can't ever get the science right (the journal is claiming that gayness is determined at birth and we can see this because gay guys' brains are wired like girl brains and lesbian brains are wired like boy brains, and Zwicky has his doubts.)

But the point I want to get to is a fella in the comments who suggests, as many of my earnest students have suggested, thinking they are scoring points with me, the liberal professor who obviously has swallowed that Darwinism stuff hook-line-and-sinker, that gayness can't be genetic, now, can it? Or it would have died out! Generations ago!

...if homosexuality is determined genetically, wouldn't it, according to the Mendelian theory of genetics, disappear after a single generation, since only heterosexual couples can reproduce? Even if we take cultural pressure into consideration, there's no way that homosexuality, being documented as early as (if not earlier than) the Old Testament references to Sodom and Gomorrah (the former being the root of "sodomy"), could have survived this long unless it's an experientially gained trait.

(His inclusion of Sodom and Gomorroh, here, for me, tips his hat -- boy is not arguing in good faith, in my opinion, or that would not be the historical reference that leapt to his mind.)

Anyway, another commenter replied thus:

1. Recessive genes.
2. Inclusive fitness.
3. The ability to have sex with a partner capable of producing offspring even if we don't enjoy it very much.
Developmental biology presents other possibilities.

Which leads us to PZ Meyers, which is so why I like the blogosphere.

I can think of quite a few hypothetical mechanisms that would drive the prevalence of homosexuality. They could every one be true, and just postulating or even providing conclusive evidence for a mechanism doesn't mean all the other mechanisms are false. I'll list a few ideas: none are contrary to evolutionary thinking.

Then he goes on to list them...well, I won't, since he does. But it's great.

And none of them have anything to do with wicked sinners and a vengeaful God.

Well, d'oh.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Miseducating American Drivers

This is not (exactly) more ranting on how the Fort Smith police force has been persecuting me lately; but it is in the same area.

John Staddon writes here about our bizarre method of policing traffic in America, and its inevitable bad outcomes.

Speed limits in the U.S. are perhaps a more severe safety hazard than stop signs. In many places, they change too frequently—sometimes every few hundred yards—once again training drivers to look for signs, not at the road. What’s more, many speed limits in the U.S. are set in arbitrary and irrational ways. An eight-lane interstate can have a limit of 50 to 70 mph or more. What makes the difference? A necessarily imperfect guess at probable traffic conditions. The road may sometimes be busy—so the limit is set low. But sometimes the road is not busy, and the safe speed is then much higher than the limit.

A particularly vexing aspect of the U.S. policy is that speed limits seem to be enforced more when speeding is safe. As a colleague once pointed out, “An empty highway on a sunny day? You’re dead meat!” A more systematic effort to train drivers to ignore road conditions can hardly be imagined. By training drivers to drive according to the signs rather than their judgment in great conditions, the American system also subtly encourages them to rely on the signs rather than judgment in poor conditions, when merely following the signs would be dangerous.

Some of what he says seems suspect to me; but other bits seem accurate. And, clearly, the American way of driving, and of regulating drivers, is just whack.

Here in Pork Smith, for instance, we no longer require driver's education for children; nor do we require cars to be inspected.

(This is not the only state I have lived in where this is the case, btw. The feeling seems to be if you want to drive about in a car with no brakes and no brake lights which is leaking antifreeze and has bald tires, why that's your bidness, in't it, and none of the gummits. Also, why shud the gummit be tellin you how to drive, slong as you kin pass the test?)

Anyway: then the arbitrators of driving justice, by which I mean the police, arrest folk for having their tags on wrong, or for having a crack in their windshield, but NOT for driving 95 in their SUVs or for tailgating in a thunderstorm, and what is the effect, I ask you? What does little Johnny learn?

Well, as Staddon points out, Johnny learns that Johnny should always drive as fast as the traffic sign says he can, or, in fact, fifteen miles over that limit, no matter what the weather conditions are at the time -- and, since the police do not ever stop him for tailgating, Johnny should tailgate if anyone in front of him is not going 15 miles over the limit in the driving rain or sleet -- Johnny learns it's okay to pass on a blind curve, since he doesn't get arrested for doing that -- Johnny's only education about driving is getting arrested, or the enforced traffic laws.

Until Johnny dies, of course.

And, as my students who write me essays about this very subject tell me, dying on the highway doesn't mean you got it wrong: it doesn't mean you were wrong to tailgate or drive too fast in the snow or rain: it just means Jesus wanted to call you home. It just means it was your time to go. (I remember the first student who explained this to me -- I remember sitting in the writing conference looking at her. After a moment, I said gently, So you have no control over your destiny? It's all in God's hands? She said, Of course it is! I said, And you don't wear your seatbelt, then, I guess. Or carry auto insurance? Or put kids in car seats? She sat staring back at me. Of course, as I realize now, the answer to all three of these was probably: No, I don't; I wouldn't if the law didn't make me, and I wouldn't if the law didn't make me. But she wasn't going to tell me that, was she?)

Given that this actually matters -- given the number of people who die on our highways, for no really good reason (why are we policing the highways in this particular way? Survival of the idiots?) -- and given how dangerous driving actually is, and given how little control we have over the idiots in the other vehicles, I'm frequently astounded by how little we think about this issue.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I'll have you know that McCain is not either an ignorant tool:

You don’t actually have to use a computer to understand how it shapes the country," [Soohoo, McCain's aide] says.

"You actually do," former Edwards blogger Tracy Russo responds, suggesting he try to explain Twitter to his grandmother and then ask her how that applies to governing.

"John McCain is aware of the Internet," says Soohoo.

Because, you know, being able to use the net and understand the information revolution that is transforming the modern world, those aren't in any way skills the leader of free world might need.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Teh Funny

Edge of the American West visits White Supremists, and it would be funny, if I didn't have these guys among my kin, you know.

As it is, I'm too busy wincing to laugh.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Oh boy!

Our economic stimulus check arrived!

Bread! Circuses! Books!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Nights

Unfogged's thread on the topic made me think about how the fireflies are out in Pork Smith these days -- starting at sunset, our yard is full of them. There weren't so many of these in New Orleans when I was a kid -- I'm not sure there were any, in fact; I think I only saw them in Indiana, when I went to visit my cousins -- but they're thick as pollen here, and very lovely in the dusk.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Voting Republican

You've probably seen this

Because women can't be trusted to decide what's best for their own bodies. Never, ever.

but it cracks me up.

Anecdotal Evidence Ahead

So from the time I started driving, which admittedly was really late (I was too poor to have a vehicle until I had nearly finished graduate school), with one exception, until just this past year, I never got stopped by a police officer.

This might be because I did not drive during those radical teen years when most kids get pulled over -- I didn't do the wild teen driving bit, I mean. I was an adult when I really started driving.

In any case, I got my first ticket with my two year old in the backseat, and it was a fair cop -- I was doing fifty-five in a thirty-five zone in Charlotte (never mind that in Charlotte that didn't actually count as speeding, since, as in Atlanta, everyone in Charlotte regularly went 20-30 miles over the limit).

Anyway, that was eight years ago, my one and only ticket, ever, until this year -- four times I have been pulled over this year alone. WTF?

The first time, because my tags were out of date. Okay, fine. That's fair. I dealt with it.

The second time, a month later, speeding -- nine miles above the limit. Right, okay, and again, never mind that in Pork Smith 10 miles over is, essentially, not speeding at all: I paid it.

The third time, because my windshield was cracked. (What?)

This time, yesterday, the police guy followed me nine miles down the interstate. I watched him in my rearview mirror, annoyed. I was going four miles over the speed limit. My tags were good. I had on my seatbelt, the windshield did have a tiny nick in it (how do you keep the fuckers uncracked in Pork Smith, that's what I'd like to know, with the fucking construction vehicles roaring down the highways at all hours) but it did not obscure my line of sight, which the previous police office had claimed was the problem -- so what could he possibly--

His lights came on.

"You are fucking kidding me," I muttered, and pulled over.

He let me sit for a good five minutes, in the baking fucking heat, and then came up to my window, introduced himself, asked for my license, and insurance, and registration, all of which I had, and then said, "Reason I stopped you, your tags are misplaced."

I gave him a blank look. "Misplaced."

"Yes, m'am. You've got your year tag where your month should be."

I kept gazing at him. I did not say, you fucking well stopped me for that? Nope. I said, "Well, rats. I must have put them on wrong."

"Yes. m'am."

"Do I need to swap'm, do you think?"

"Well, you probably aren't gone to be able to get'm off."

"Hmm," I agreed.

"You'll have to go get new ones. I'm going to write you a warning," he said, benevolently, "and you can gone down there and do that."

"Well, thank you," I said, sweetly.

Which he did, after running me, to make sure I was not a dangerous felon. Since I might have been a dangerous felon, you know, or a terrorist.

But here is my question: what is up with this? Why am I getting busted every 2.3 months like this? Is it DWP? Because my car is all ratty now that I am too penurious too get it repaired, so it might be that. Or is it that the economy is tanking, and so Pork Smith is busting more people, trying to fund its police department?

Whichever, this is on my last nerve. Tags on wrong, for fucks' sake!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Better a drought...

Better a drought than a flood, as they say.

It's been a drought here in the midwest for the past, I don't know, five years? Since I moved to Pork Smith, anyway. Lower than normal rainfalls, and some summers, little to no rain at all.

This spring and summer, yikes. Well, you've seen the news about the midwest -- you know what's happening there. We're getting the edge of that.

Last night, more of it: the second scariest storm of my life, with chain-lightning and banging thunder, pounding rain and high velocity wind. The tree in the back yard blew down into the roof, but not through it, luckily. It was very loud. Very dark, too, with the storm and all, and this is about 11:00 so there's not much we can do (including actually get out into the yard, since the tree has fallen so that it's mostly holding the back door shut) except point the big flashlight up at the roof through the rain and hail and say, well, what do you think we should do?

In the end I went to bed and mr. delagar watched more TV. (The kid was at her friend's for the night, for which I was grateful. She would have been having a major meltdown, since she sleeps right under where the tree landed.)

My university has cancelled classes today, so I suspect I'm not the only one with storm damage.

Waiting for the landlords now; mr. delagar is in the yard, cutting free the door with hand-clippers. He's so intrepid.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Totally Content Free Post

So the Kid is in the tub and I peel and hand her a bar of soap, which she peers at, with grave suspicion.

"This is not our usual brand of soap," she pronounces, as Nero Wolfe would declare, This is not the murder weapon I ordered you to retrieve, Archie!

"That's so," I agree. "Unfortunately, the Harps is out of that soap, and I am not going to Wal-Fart, not today. Not in this heat."

Not ever again, if I can help it.

She frowned, attempting to decide if she should stage a rebellion.

"It's Ivory," I said, winningly, "so pure it floats!"

She kept frowning. But then she said, "Does it actually float?"

Heh, thinks I. "Try it and see," I said, ever so craftily, and she tossed it at the water -- lo, it did float! -- and I drifted smugly down the hallway, leaving her singing made-up TV commercials to herself, about Ivory, the soap so pure it floats.

Oh, yes. I'll take my Trickster Mama award now.

Monday, June 09, 2008


I hesitate to admit this, being as I am Gen X, you know, and disaffected and that, and, well, as one of my colleagues once said, the very worst thing you can ever do (like a total faux pas) upon walking out of a movie is to say you liked it, but, you know, I've been looking around the sphere and watching his clips on YouTube and reading bits of his books in the local bookstore (too poor to buy books right now) and, uh, I'm starting to --

Okay, I admit it. I'm liking this Obama.

What is about him? You watch him, and you like him. (Anyway, I do.) I want this guy to be president. I admit it. I do.

I don't believe I ever wanted anyone to be president before. It was always, before, that guy was a better choice than that other evil fucker.

This one, I actually listen to his speeches. I want to hear what he says. I'm interested.

This is so odd.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Hey, Look!

Arkansas made Shakespeare's Sister:

McCain believes Bush's wiretaps without warrants were lawful.
Arkansas academic conference examines TV hit 'Buffy'.
China rushes to drain earthquake-formed lake.


Extreme Depression

So I about a year ago, I think it was, I sent an email to my brother, linking him to Pharyngula -- we were engaged in some dispute over some deal of scientific import, as I recall, and PZ had a post on it.

My brother fires back an email to the effect of, "Well, yes, if that's what you consider a scientist."

WTF, I recall thinking. I actually went over and reread the post, I was so confused. Then I reread PZ's homepage, trying to see what he could be objecting to. PZ, not a scientist? I mean, I know my brother is on the Right and all, but...

Well! Here's the problem! And yes, it is, as always, even more depressing that I had been expecting. (And you would think I would know by now, since I do make an effort to read Right-Wing blogs, and I do brace myself and scan an article or two over there at Conservapedia now and then. But no...)

Via Tim Lambert and Matt Nisbet a study in the journal Environmental Politics (here, but unfortunately paywalled) shows that, since 1972, at least 90 per cent of the books that have been published disputing mainstream environmental science have been produced by rightwing thinktanks or authors affiliated with such thinktanks.

It helps to explain the otherwise surprising fact that higher levels of education make Republicans more, not less, ignorant and deluded. With their beliefs on scientific, economic and political issues derived from the Great Library of Tlön, every book they read, talk show they listen to and blog they browse actively reduces their knowledge of the real world. [2].

I don't need to tell you how upsetting this is. If educating them makes them stupider, we are fucking doomed.

Who's On Top?

Here's a site you'll need over the next few months:

They promise it's updated daily.

Last election -- which I'm already getting flashbacks from -- I remember checking it, oh, two and three times an hour.

Not that I'm OCD or anything.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Feminist Indocrination Camps Are Succeeding!

A conversation from the next room:

The Kid's Best Friend: Do you like Barbie?
The Kid: Barbie is a tool of the patriarchy.
The Kid's Best Friend: I hate her too.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why, Look

It's the Leftist Media Again!

I don't know if you read Kristol --frankly, I avoid him -- but mr. delagar pointed this one out to me. Mr. Kristol writes about Obama's commencement speech, in which he exhorted recent graduates to give back to the country -- to consider public service.

In [his] speech, he goes on to detail — at some length — the “so many ways to serve” that are available “at this defining moment in our history.” There’s the Peace Corps, there’s renewable energy, there’s education, there’s poverty — there are all kinds of causes you can take up “should you take the path of service.”

Kristol admits:

[Obama's] speech was skillfully crafted and well delivered, the grace notes were graceful, and the exhortations to public service seemed heartfelt but not cloying.

So why, you ask, is Mr. Kristol not happy about Obama's call to action?

...[T]here’s one obvious path of service Obama doesn’t recommend — or even mention: military service. He does mention war twice: “At a time of war, we need you to work for peace.” And, we face “big challenges like war and recession.” But there’s nothing about serving your country in uniform.

OOO! Snap! Kristol gotcha, Barack Hussein Obama! You don't RESPECT them soldiers, you don't SUPPORT the troops, do you, huh, huh? Just like all them LEFTIES!!

What a fucking tool.

See here for more.


Well, I did want Edwards. And the Kid was so hoping for a woman president, and see Shakespeare's sister for more on that. But here's Obama: what I've heard, I like; what I've read, I like. People have told me reasons that they've got reservations about him, but none of them stack up to the reasons I had reservations about other candidates, frankly.

I think I can get behind Obama.

In any case, vote the Right out: how can anything else matter, at this point?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Class Evals

Thanks to a post by AWB, I remembered to check my own class evaluations today -- our university, which is striving to go paperless, to the extent that they don't even issue us paystubs anymore, just post our pay data online, has stopped issuing evaluations as well. We don't administer evaluations to our students, and we're not given copies of them, either. It's all done via the net: students log in to evaluate professors; professors log in to see what students have said.

Very nice, and its saves trees, except I keep forgetting mine are there. When I checked today I had a 3 semester backlog. (They're on a secret R-drive. Don't ask me what this means. I am a rat in a maze when it comes to negotiating these computers. I click the right magic place on the screen, I get my cheese, that's all I know.)

Anyway, here at our working class university, a great deal depends on these evaluations, so this paperless method has many worried -- it looks like it would cause selection problems, for instance: only students who were really angry with a given professor, or really happy with a given professor, are going to go to the trouble of finding a lab, logging into the university's system, fighting through the password system, etc, and filling out an evaluation, all of this on their own time, during the last few weeks of the semester, when time is already at a premium -- and you want to compare this to the previous system, when we had them captive in the classroom, using class time to complete evaluations: the entire class, doing evaluations at once. The switch seemed a problem, particularly, as I said, since up to 70% our performance review depends on our teaching ability at this particular university.

Anyway: mine were mainly fine. I did have one class with a few students who seemed to think I spent too much time talking about sex too much (What? Me?) and picking on Christianity (I honestly can't remember doing this -- I'm thinking this must refer to my lecture Yeats, which dealt with "The Second Coming" and "Leda and the Swan," where, among other things, I pointed out that Yeats was making a parallel between Zeus as a Swan raping Leda and God as a Dove having sex with Mary, but you know, I didn't say it, Yeats did, so, and anyway it was germane to the lecture, jeez, what babies) and assigning too much reading (what? in a literature class? Say it isn't so!).

But on the whole, they're fine, I reckon.


Kathleen Parker, that charming loon who said you weren't a real American unless both sides of your family were white folk all the back for 200 years (see here for the column, cause I know you want to read it again), whose abysmal "column," close-packed with her hateful version of American family values, is frequently featured in my local paper (feminists bad! men good! Democrats crazy! and so on) -- well, Parker has written a book, called, isn't this cute, Save the Males.

I heard about this a few weeks ago, and have been haunting the sphere, waiting for someone to review it so I wouldn't have to read the copy our library is certain to buy. (They buy all Ann Coulter's books, too.)

Well! I open Atrios this morning, and what do I find? A link to a review! And yes! Parker's book sucks just as much as I expected! Oh joy! Oh bliss!

I haven't been this happy since people FINALLY started waking up to the realization that Hoff-Sommers' piece of crap, War Against the Boys, was, in fact, an utterly dishonest bit of propaganda -- which took awhile, as I recall. Why did people take her seriously at first? Oh, wait, I remember now: because she said what they wanted to hear: girls bad, men good, (women) teachers are stupid and evil. Yeah, I remember.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

American Values

So I got asked by someone on the other side of the aisle about that whole Wright deal -- "Do you support what he said? Huh? Do you? Do you?" -- called to account over Obama's minister -- "He said God Damn America! Did you hear that? Did you? Do you AGREEEEEE with that?"

And, you know, I tried to be rational. I tried to make the point that the world this guy (white upper middle class 40-something Republican) had come from, and the one Wriight had come from were in no way the same world -- shit, not even the same universe; I made the point that, in fact, I did not come from Mr. White Guy's universe. I told him that sometimes when I looked at the things happening to, oh, women in this country, or what we've done to prisoners, or the Patriot Act, or the drug war, or the ID movement, that whole fucking mess in Iraq, yeah, I got so angry I could not focus, so, yeah, I could feel Wright.

"God DAMN America?" he insisted.

Here: have a look at this

I'm sorry.

A little patriotic flag-waving fields of amber grain just won't heal my grief.