Tuesday, June 30, 2009

That's Not Fair!

I've only got the one kid, and we still spend plenty of time on the tiny homiletic lessons: oh, well, do you really think that's how you should act when someone calls you a name? Okay, so Doug's been acting like a total tool all week, do you think it might be because everyone in class is picking on him? And like that.

As I think I've mentioned before, we use Rabbi Hillel as our main moral compass -- he was the Rabbi who was awakened in the middle of the night by some drunken students demanding that he teach them what the Torah was about while standing on one leg (with the implication that they would beat him up if he couldn't, yeah, because students were so much more civilized back in the old days): his reply: "Don't do anything to anyone else you wouldn't want done to you. That is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary."

(I paraphrase, obviously.)

This article here, on the other hand, suggests humans may have a need, an evolutionary reason, to harm one another.

A clue is provided by laboratory experiments known as public goods games. In a standard public goods game, each participant is given the same amount of money, some or all of which they can pay into a common pot. What's in the pot is then multiplied by the experimenters and divided equally between the players, so that even those who put in nothing get a share of its contents. The best outcome for all is if everyone puts their cash into the pot. But that does not naturally happen. In repeated rounds of the game, some individuals hold on to their own cash and hope to leech off other people.

Deterred by these freeloaders, the players who at first cooperate start to hold onto their cash. Cooperation breaks down entirely, and the whole group misses out on the bonus - society as a whole suffers (see diagram). But allow participants to pay for the privilege of punishing defectors, and it is a very different game. Cooperative players eagerly part with still more of their cash to punish cheats - who soon learn that cooperation is the cheaper option (Nature, vol 415, p 137).

This, of course, is interesting news. So we should smack Dougie in the head for being a twerp? I should teach my kid not to share?

But. as we read on we find things are not so simple:

...high-caste players were more likely to punish their fellow gamers spitefully than low-caste players, leading her to suggest that context is everything. It is not that people in Uttar Pradesh are nastier than elsewhere, but rather that the structure of their society makes them acutely conscious of status. The sensitivity of higher castes to their position makes them tend not to support any changes that threaten to level the social hierarchy, such as development projects. But higher castes can also put others down, safe in the knowledge that "untouchables" are unlikely to strike back. "If you're low caste it's dangerous to rise in status," says Hoff. "You'll get beaten up or worse."

The moral seems to be that, while spiteful behaviour can be a powerful force for keeping a society functioning smoothly, the structure of that society must be able to contain and channel those spiteful urges.

If we're wired for spite and damage, as maybe we are --- and this seems likely to me, I live inside this head, I know when I am harmed, I want to return the harm that's been done to me, that impulse is a strong one: it does feel natural --then what has to be done, if we're going to raise children who will create a just world, is to raise them to resist the tidal pull of that surge to harm.

That's what Rabbi Hillel was on about.

Friday, June 26, 2009

This is Interesting

Michael Jackson almost broke the Internet.

People searching for news of his death took down Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia, among others.

A monument of sorts.


This is a question for those of you who have successfully civilized small children:

How many times, exactly, do you have to say, "Shut that door behind you, please," before they actually do it without being told?

I'm just wondering.


This will crack those of you with kids up: the Right-Wing of SCOTUS is fretting that finding against the right of HS administrators to strip-search 13 year old girls to discover if they are hiding Advil in their panties will have a "chilling" effect on the ability of those school administrator's ability to conduct further drug searches.

Se, now every single 13 year old will know to hide the drugs in her panties, where teacher can't search.


I don't know about the other parents out there, but I don't want any teacher, principal, coach, any one at any school looking in my child's underwear.  I don't care what in shit they think she's got hidden there.  You want her panties checked, you pick up the phone.  I'll check.

And: and: and: they were checking for Advil?

My ass!

So: a chilling effect?  Good.  

Call me up, you're thinking about strip-searching another kid.  I'll chill your ass.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Too Hot Too Cook

I've got a summer recipe up.

Bad Kids

Jesse Taylor of Pandagon blogs about a real problem in America today: how it is that so many black kids, especially black males, end up in prison in our country; how it is that even among those who don't end up in prison, so many end up undereducated, underemployed, and poor.

I know pundits like to screech about their mothers, who breed too young, and the welfare state, bootstraps and like that.

But Zelda, who has been working on literacy in the Arkansas delta, and Jesse, an ACLU intern, both see the same thing: school systems that treat black children, especially black male children, like dangerous thugs from day one.

From Jesse's report:

The ACLU of Michigan prepared a report on this phenomenon, talking about the “school-to-prison pipeline” - the pattern of suspensions and punishment that lead to dropping out, and particularly to criminal activity. It’s uniquely dangerous for black males, because we’re so big and threatening from the age of nine onwards.

And this:

There’s a reason we don’t prescribe the death penalty for every crime. If you’re going to be put to death for stealing a loaf of bread, then you’re not going to be put to super death for mugging someone, or raping them, or killing them. It works the same way in schools - when almost every transgression is met with suspension or expulsion, teaching a kid that asking “Why?” when a teacher says stop is the same thing as bringing a gun to school is a great way to encourage a kid to bring a gun to school. Why would you have trust in a system that targets you for overwhelming punishment for almost anything you do, and lets others skate for the same actions?

I'll let Zelda post about her experiences down in the Delta; I'll just mention one thing she's told us in the writing group, how the black students, especially the young black males, get sent disporportionally to special education classes, not because they need to be in those classes, but because their (white) teachers decide that their black male students (at seven or eight years old) are too disruptive, too dangerous to have in a regular classroom.

They will also use the excuse that these students aren't reading and writing on-level, which many aren't, since they speak and write Black English. That the white student sitting next to them (who in the Arkansas Delta also generally speaks a version of Black English) also isn't reading writing on grade level doesn't get him put in Special Education classes, however.

After that, the black student stays in "the Resource Room," which usually, in Arkansas, is not actually funded, or badly funded, until he graduates, without having been taught much at all. But he's been kept out of the classroom: segregated.

(Correct me if I'm getting any of this wrong, Z. I'm working from memory!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Here's What Pro-Life Really Means


Hotness of Heat


100 degrees and above all week here, and our AC (as always at this point in the year, we live in a slum, the AC fails in the hottest part of the summer, the heat fails as soon as true winter hits) is acting out.

I do not do well with hot.

Yeah, I know: poor me.

No problem that can be solved with money is actually a problem, even if it does feel like one while you're sweating through it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

No Kudos From These People

Me: (Surveying Impossibly Messy Kitchen): I don't think a famous novelist ought to have to wash dishes.

The kid: (witheringly): You aren't famous, Ma.

Friday, June 19, 2009


The kid has a recipe up on cooking with delagar!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!

I just heard that Martin's War, the first book of my SF Trilogy er Quintology er series well whatever has been accepted by Verb Noire Press!

This is so cool.

This is the Big SF Trilogy (Yeah, no kidding, that's what I have it saved under in my Word File) I have been working on for the past three, um, four years? Obsessing over might be a better term for it. I have been living these books.  The kid thinks the characters in these books are real, I sometimes think.  She helped me invent the biology for Julian, the world the series is set on.  (Lots of venomous reptiles and insects.)  

Well, I'm babbling.  But I am just so pleased!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

But They're Not Racist!

More from our Right-Wing Not Racist Friends:

This is from a Comment over on Feministing, on that Michelle Obama/Gorilla story:

My FIL regularly spams my husband with inane rethuglican email forwards. About half of them are racist, and the other half are X-tian wet dreams about how God will eventually punish all those libruls and atheists. The rest are sexist jokes.... So the other day my husband is purging his inbox of another batch of his Dad's email forwards which uncharacteristically belong in the latter category, so he says "At least he didn't send anything horribly offensive this time". And then he opens the last one...

It contained something to the extent of "A little girl wrote to Sarah Palin and asked where humans came from. Palin wrote back saying that Gawd made Adam and Eve in his own image.

Then the little girl wrote to Michelle Obama and asked her the same question. Obama wrote back saying that there was a bunch of monkeys that eventually turned into humans. The little girl goes to her grandfather [I wonder why not her parents; they must have turned away from Jebus and embraced the evil librul ways] and asks to explain the discrepancy in the answers.

So Grandpa replies "Honey, Palin told her about her ancestors, and Obama told you about hers"" In closing, there was a picture of a chimp next to Michelle Obama's picture.

Even aside from the fact that any human with a single functioning braincell could not possibly be a creationist, and the fact that chimps are not monkeys, that email was something I would have thought only Klansmen would forward. And the sad thing is that my FIL is normally one of the nicest, most helpful people I've ever met (I guess only to white people, though). Just goes to show how ingrained and accepted racism is in our society: it's definitely not just the domain of kooky extremist Neo-Nazis.

Monday, June 15, 2009

But That's Not Racist

Here we see a GOP loon equate a gorilla to Michelle Obama -- and then try to claim he's not the racist one, that Michelle Obama is racist (or, I guess, all Leftists are racist?) since, this Right-Wing Toolbox claims she said she was descended from apes -- by which, I guess, he thinks Obama supports science eduction/evolutionary theory.

That doesn't make her racist, anymore than it makes her or any of us descended from apes (as anyone who isn't an ignorant GOP toolbox knows, evolutionary theory shows we share a common ancestor with other primates, which does not mean "descended from apes").  It makes this GOP loon an idiot, and a racist one.

(Also, just while we're here? How in shit could a modern ape be an ancestor to anyone?  He's a whole crate of toolboxes, this fella.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ack -- That Talk Already?

So, the kid and I are making brownies so I can see if I remember the recipe right bf I post it on delagar cooks when somehow (heh) the subject of pot comes up.

The kid says, "But you never did drugs, did you?"

Me: .....

The kid: "Did you?  You didn't, did you?"

Me: ....

The kid: "Mo-o-o-om!"

Me: "It was when  I was a lot younger. And --"  I try to think of something else.

The kid: "What kind of drugs?"

Me: "Well, mainly marijuana. But--"

The kid: "Did you like it?"

Me: "Well, yes.  But--"

The kid: "Mom!"

Me: "But you probably wouldn't.  So..."

The kid: "How do you know?"

Me: "Well, you're more like your daddy than me.  And pot always made him paranoid, so--"

The kid: "Dad smoked drugs too?"

Me: "Um, well, see, the point here --"

The kid: "Did you do any other drugs?"

Me: "The point here--"

The Kid: "You did, didn't you?  What other drugs?  Which?"

Me: "The point--"

The kid:  (severely) "You're a terrible role model, Mom."

Me: (laughing helplessly by this point): "I knew there was a point here somewhere."

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Stuff like this is really getting on my last nerve.

(Not the LGM response, but Megan's spew that prompted it.)

Anti-Choice Wingers love to compare the battle over the right to choice to slavery, which, you know, it sort of it, but not the way they think.  They've got some weird knot in their head where the fetuses are slaves in this analogy (how? What? whose selling those fetus down what river and exploiting them where, now?) and what they never do seem to see is the real exploitation and enslavement: the woman, whose body gets owned, if they have their way, not just for nine months, but often for the rest of her life.

Clearly, though, for that nine months: if the right-wing forced birthers have their way, the woman is enslaved, by them and the state: forced, by the state, to bear a child for the state.

I believe this is both immoral and illegal, under our laws.

I believe even a right-wing Christian could see that, if he or she could first see a woman as a human being: which, of course, he (and she) never actually can.

That's the root of the problem. I guess you know who I blame.

How Can I Phrase This?

You gotta love Texas, b/c it makes Arkansas look good.

(Actually, that's what we used to say about Mississippi, back home in Louisiana.  But never mind!)

This utter fucking idiot in Texas has decided it's eeeeevil to say -- no, not Happy Holidays!  No, not Bless You instead of GOD bless you! No --

"Hello!"  It's Eeeeeevil to say Hello!

Why?  Don't be an idiot, you heathen.  It's evil b/c the word hello has HELL in it!

Do you want to say H-E-Double-Hockey-sticks every time you greet someone?  That's just fallin into SATAN's TRAP!

Jeesh.  Do I have to explain everything?

They're not Haters...

...they're just Pro-Life, Pro-American, Good Christian, down-home Folks.

And two weeks ago, one of them shot George Tiller, and yesterday one of them (a known anti-Semite who posted on the Freeper site, among others) shot up the Holocaust Museum and killed a guard, and over the past month, their organizations have been racheting up the violence against women's clinics, and more and more they (not the Left, for all they like to believe) have been controlling the main-stream media, as well as the public discourse, and their wailing about how they're persecuted endangers our safety, and this is not terrorism?

And we're supposed to give them a pass because they say they believe in something they call Jesus? This Jesus who favors hate, and war, and torture, and forced pregancy?

Maybe it's time to just say no.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Remember Palin?

She's talking again, and making less sense than usual.

It's really sort of sad, watching what's left of the Republican party these days. They're like some broken machine that can't shut itself off, spinning and spinning and tearing itself apart:

Socialism! (Whirrr!) Reverse Racism! (Crunk!) Obamination! 
(drrrrrrVABANG!) Abortion Abortion Abortion 
WomenAreEeeeeeeeeevil! (WHACK!)Terrorism! 
(dugagugaguga) Rush is King! (chink)

More on Roberts

And the SCOTUS from LGM

The only way the facts in Capteron could be more egregious would be if the litigant had sent a certified letter to the judge telling him he'd give his campaign three million bucks if the judge cast the deciding vote the right way in the litigant's $50 million lawsuit.

More here.

And their original post on the issue.

Monday, June 08, 2009

New Recipes

New Recipes up from Tonks and others at Cooking With Delegar!

Roberts Sides With White Guy/Coal Company

But that's not biased!

The SCOTUS ruled against a WV judge who overturned a fifty million dollar judgment against a coal company, saying that the judge, who had accepted a very large indeed campaign contribution from the CEO of the coal company the year before, should have recused himself.

Judge I Always Side With The Patriarchy Roberts dissented from this decision, but that's not because he's biased.  Laws no.

That's just...well, what is that?  Roberts apparently is claiming it's just common sense.

If Judges can't be bought by the rich white guys among us, HTF do you expect us to run this here country?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Hack hack gag choke

This has been giving the Right-Wing Blogs orgasms all week.

I'm not, myself, a huge history geek, though I do read some history, and I follow a few history blogs (EOTW is my favorite).  How anyone, though, who does not have her head inserted an entire meter up her ass, can buy the revisionist history that the RW has been peddling about Reagan over the past years, I would like to know.

See, I lived through the Reagan years.  I remember how horrible they were.  Reagan unleashed the viciousness and the hate.  He made it cool to be racist, to be evil, to be selfish.  He made someone like Rush possible. I remember the transformation of America -- how previously sane sorts began to say racist, hateful, nasty things, and to say to me, this is what everyone believes, we're just honest enough to say it in public!

That shit is Reagan's legacy.  That.

That, and deregulation, and the destruction of America's safety net, and the damage to our environment, and the celebration of greed, and the celebration of racism, and the idea that being kind was somehow evil (oh, I hate this PC nonsense, my students still say to me, somehow thinking they're being brave and bold) -- that's what Reagan did to this country.

Hurt the decent things about us, and encouraged the worst bits of our nature.

This is what I like about Obama: he might be taking us in the other direction.  

America wants to be a good country, most of us.  Maybe it's not too late.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Read this.

That's the man Bill O'Reilly kept calling "Tiller the Killer," those are the women the Far-Right keeps claiming have abortions on a whim, those are the ones McCain mocked during his campaign (Oh, quote-quote health reasons, sure) -- this is what the so-called Pro-Life movement has done: murdered this man, made it harder for these women to find the medical help they have got to have.

These are very bad people.

Free Speech, Is it?

Over at Obsidian Wings, Sebastian raises a slightly strawish point*
 on the Tiller killing, or rather the reaction to that killing.  He wonders whether we on the Left are reacting too sharply in condemning the fellow-travelers of the terrorist who shot Tiller down as being complicit in the terrorist act.  

Maybe it's not fair to hold those in Operation Rescue and other earnest Pro-Life fellows complicit in the terrorism that is practiced on Tiller and the others who operate clinics for women?  Just  because they screech and yell and picket and teach their congregations and their children and everyone they know that it's not a choice it's a child and that abortion is murder and that abortion = the holocaust, well, that doesn't mean they think people should do things like shoot doctors and nurses who perform abortions, does it?

It doesn't mean they want these guys to commit terrorist acts.

What?  You think screeching and yelling and flinging pictures of bloody fetuses and calling doctors and nurses baby killers is a terrorist act?  Because it's meant to terrorize?

Don't be silly!  That's just free speech!*

Go read the comments.  These points get made better than I'm making them.

*On purpose, I suspect

**For the record, I am all for free speech.  I will note in passing that one uses free speech in its proper function not to terrorize one's fellow citizens, but to persuade them, with the use of evidence and truth, that your way of thinking and living is the better one.  Force, whether physical or verbal, is never an acceptable argument, though it seems to be the only one these tools have.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Tonks has sent me a recipe.

What's with the rest of you losers?

(drdelagar@gmail.com for submissions.)

Let's get cooking!

Far-Right Terrorists

I didn't want internment camps when Bushco was running the country, and I don't want them now.

Free Speech and the right to assembly, rah-rah-rah.

But I point you here.

"When people feel so disenfranchised, or an event has taken place that for an extremist is considered so pivotal, it makes sense that we look at what these extremists are saying, because someone is listening."

Somehow, patterns that get noticed about religions in other countries don't get noticed about religions in this one.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Moral Decisions

Yet another difference between them and us.

Christian Terrorists

In case you weren't aware of the acts of terrorism being committed in the US against women and those who stand with them, Ann Friedman has a post here.

And yes: I am aware that every Christian is not a terrorist, and that most Christians do not endorse this behavior.

But every one of you that calls him or herself Pro-Life: you share some responsibility for these acts. You are giving these terrorists the moral justification they need to carry on.