Sunday, July 31, 2005

Respecting our Troops

Can I get an Ai?

Over in Arizona, we have a soldier being punished for blogging:

Could be because he’s “released classified information,” but could be, as he says, because he “has a big mouth about politics” and believes “American soldiers (my brothers and sisters) are being killed needlessy [sic] over here in this lie we call the Occupation of Iraq."

From the Army Times:

Ariz. Guard blogger punished
By Joseph R. Chenelly
Times staff writer

An Arizona National Guardsmen who had been openly critical of the war in Iraq on his Web log, has been punished for violating operational security and for 11 counts of disobeying orders, according to Multinational Corps Iraq.
Spc. Leonard A. Clark was busted down one rank to private first class, fined $820 per month for two months, and sentenced to 45 days restriction and 45 days of extra duty. The restriction and extra duty were suspended for five months.

In an unusual move, MCF-Iraq released the details of Clark's Article 15, which is nonjudicial punishment.

In response to a query by a reporter with National Public Radio, MCF-Iraq public affairs released a written statement saying that Clark had been found guilty of 11 specifications of Article 92, failure to obey an order, and two counts of Article 134, reckless endangerment.

Clark violated Article 92 by "releasing classified information regarding unit soldiers and convoys being attacked or hit by an improvised explosive devices on various dates, discussing troop movements on various dates, according to the statement. He also was found to have released tactics, techniques, procedures and rules of engagement, MCF-Iraq said.


It is unclear what information was actual put online. Clark's blog has been purged of all past posts. An entry claiming not to be on behalf of Clark and offering links to articles about Clark remains on the site.

In other news respecting our soldiers:

Down in Georgia, an Army mechanic has refused to return to Iraq. He was sentenced to 15 months, because if he refuses to go, well, everyone might refuse to go! Then what sort of war would we have?

Also from the Army Times:

Objecting soldier gets 15 months in prison

By Russ Bynum
Associated Press


Before being sentenced to 15 months for refusing to return to Iraq with his Army unit, an Army mechanic told a military judge that he acted with his conscience, not out of a disregard for duty.

"I am not against soldiers,” Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 40, said at his court-martial Thursday. “Though some might take my actions as being against soldiers, I want everyone to be home and safe and raising their families. I don’t want anyone to be hurt in a combat zone.”


Anti-war advocates embraced Benderman when he refused to go on a second combat tour in January, saying the destruction and misery he witnessed during the 2003 Iraq invasion had turned him against war.

Defense attorneys argued that the Army wanted to punish Benderman for seeking a discharge as a conscientious objector and speaking out publicly about his anti-war views. Prosecutors said he had an obligation to deploy while the Army considered his conscientious objector application, which Benderman filed 10 days before his 3rd Infantry Division unit deployed.

Then there’s the charming new marketing ploy attached to the movie Wedding Busters.

Have you heard this one? Two of the characters pretend they have Purple Hearts in order to crash a wedding. Very funny. So -- as away to market the movie --

...New Line Cinema's movie Web site includes a fake, paper Purple Heart to cut out, with the spoof: "Carrying a Purple Heart in your jacket guarantees you attention, admiration and plenty of free booze." "I challenge the producer of that movie to go to Walter Reed Hospital and walk through the ward and see if he still wants to print out a fake Purple Heart," said Thomas Cottone, Jr., a special agent with the FBI who enforces a federal law that prohibits wearing, manufacturing, buying, selling or trading a Medal of Honor. "Talk to some of these people who don't have legs anymore and see how funny they think that movie is."

This, frankly, is very nearly as funny as the Purple Heart bandaids the Republicans were sporting at their convention. It cracks me up.

Ha ha ha.

Do these people have no shame at all?

Here’s a petition you can sign if you think this is as appalling as I do:

(All written with material from submitted by the Iraqi Vet.)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

What Krugman Said

Over here in America, we work sixty hour weeks -- both parents, often -- and are going bankrupt at record rates. What a deal, huh?

Meanwhile? Those French we sneer at?

But there are compensations for this lower level of consumption. Because French schools are good across the country, the French family doesn't have to worry as much about getting its children into a good school district. Nor does the French family, with guaranteed access to excellent health care, have to worry about losing health insurance or being driven into bankruptcy by medical bills.

Perhaps even more important, however, the members of that French family are compensated for their lower income with much more time together. Fully employed French workers average about seven weeks of paid vacation a year. In America, that figure is less than four.

So which society has made the better choice?

I know, I know. It's just whacky to think America can learn anything from Europe. Or learn anything at all -- cause we're already doing everything right.

Forget it.

Conflict Counseling From the Kid

So mr delagar & I were having one of our rare, ah, disagreements.

Over Bush and his stupid war.

It was on the way back from Wal-Mart*.

I hate going to Wal-Mart anyway -- Wal-Mart seems designed, these days, to drive its patrons into insanely evil moods, what with the immense parking lots, the over-crowded stores, the lack of decent choices among their stock -- you can have any kind of thing you want, as long as its crap -- and their "associates," who are always depressed and unhelpful, and who can blame them?

Then mr delagar bought this war movie, I refuse to say which one, but it came with one of those stupid Support the Troop magnets. Free! And he wanted to stick it on the car.

Not only no but hell no, I say.

Why not? he says. I support the troops. You support the troops. Why not put the sticker on the car?

Because it will make people think you're a right-wing, the kid told him. It'll make people think you like George Bush!

See? I said. Even the kid understands that one.

This touched off the fight, because then mr delagar had to start arguing about whether the Iraqi war was actually a bad war or not, a position I don't believe he actually holds, by the way, for one minute, arguing that if we were fighting to secure the oil that this was a good thing, or at least a necessary thing, and yap yap yap, and I'm arguing Kant and Rabbi Hillel back at him, and if someone invaded our country to get our resources because they needed to secure them and killed a sizeable percentage of our citizens doing it, would you say it was all right so long it was a necessary thing they were doing, would you think it was a moral act for lots of them to slap pretty stickers on the ass-end of their SUVs celebrating that act? Even if they did get those stickers free with a war movie? Huh? Would you?

In the back seat the kid begins having a nervous breakdown. "Stop arguing!" she shouts. "Stop!"

"We're not arguing, sweetie," mr delagar tries to claim. "We're having a political debate."

"Well, stop it! Don't talk about George Bush anymore! Change the subject!"

"Sweetie, we're not mad," he insisted.

"Talk about -- talk about --" She hunted desperately. "Talk about little fuzzy ducks!"

*Can't avoid going to Wal-Mart in our town, btw. Wish we could. We avoid it whenever we can, shopping alternative small merchants, but the Wall, as we call it, has driven most of the small merchants out of the town, and so we have to go there occasionally.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Want to Work For George?

One of my students told me she wanted to be president last semester. I told her if I was her mama I'd smack her one. Find a better ambition than that, I told her. What are you thinking, I said.

Heh. Tells you what I think of the president, I guess.

Anyway: for those of you who want to work at the White House: here's the application form:

Via the incomparable Fafblog, of course.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hot Date!

TBogg shows us one of the hot tickets waiting for us up north --

if we're willing to move to the right, that is.

Hot and Wearing

It's been like astoundingly hot here in NW Arkansas for the past few weeks, the kind of heat that has the TV guys saying, "Yikes, this is some heat, huh?" and warning folks not to stay outside for more than twenty minutes or so. All our grass is dying, and when I drive home in the afternoon (have I mentioned that the piece of junk I drive does not have air conditioning?) I feel as though I am driving a convection oven. (Which is sort of nice, actually, since my office is kept at the perfect temperature at which to hang meat, but that is another complaint.)

Anyway: I'm worn out, that's what this post is here to tell you. I've been getting up every damn day all summer long at four in the morning to work on the book -- halfway through the revision now, and it's still going very well, and I'm still having tons of fun doing the research -- but I am also, meanwhile, teaching two summer classes, SF and WLIT II, that's two five week summer classes, four hours in class for each class, and about six hours prep work outside of class, plus the kid, who has been ill, plus mr. delagar, who has been, ah, a bit high maintenance, lately, plus, well, have you noticed what Bushco is doing to our once fine country?

I'm just worn out.

(1) This thing with Roberts. I'm in despair. It won't stop with Roe. They're not just going over Roe. The drum beats for Griswold too. And after that, divorce laws. And after that?

Because, frankly, it's not abortion they care about, no matter what squeaky noises they make trying to convince you it is. It's the control of women they care about.

Amanda over there at Pandagon has a link for you:

(2) And Iraq. Taking 42 year olds now, they are. Rush with his very funny indeed Camp Gitmo teeshirts. U.S. soldiers torturing and raping children. Our soldiers doing that. Americans doing that. In a war that is being fought for no good reason -- that Bush and his fellow liars lied us into, and knew at the time they were lying us into. Children being tortured over a war that is a lie. And our soldiers being made into torturers our that war. And our country being made into an evil empire over that war. That's what Bush has done to us.

(3) And the climate. And the environment. There's a reason it's so unbearably hot and dry in Arkansas this summer. There's a reason my seven year old daughter would die if she stayed out in her backyard more than 45 minutes at two in the afternoon. It ain't sunspots, Mr. Bush.

(4) Rove. Why is he not yet in prison?

(5) The economy. I realize we're supposed to believe it's all getting better. Down here in Arkansas, though, I'm just going to point out to you, things could be nicer. Yes, there are some jobs. But they're McJobs*. Thirty hours a week at seven bucks an hour, no benefits, nowhere to go. (And yes, this is for people with degrees.) Even those who are lucky enough to land slightly better jobs -- and I do have students who have been lucky -- those jobs usually only pay a little better than that, and health insurance costs eat up what little extra they make.

(6) Speaking of which: health insurance. When, when, when is this going to get fixed? I am now paying six hundred a month for mine. I'm also paying a two thousand dollar deductible, every year, that's medical and drugs and dental deductible bundled together. Then, after that, I have co-pays on everything. And, after the co-pays? The insurance only covers 80%. And it doesn't cover many things, such as mr. delagar's sleep apnea.

And this is good health insurance. No, really, it is. We used to have lousy health insurance, so I know.

Altogether, health costs are costing me about forty percent of my income. (I know this because I had to figure it when we declared bankruptcy.) And no one in my family is particularly ill at the moment -- I did have thyroid cancer several years ago, and mr. delagar does have the sleep apnea, but both of those are low-cost, basically just problems that have to be maintained. No, the huge expense comes from paying for the insurance. Maintaining the insurance. In case someone gets ill.

And then paying, on top of the huge insurance bill, for things the inurance won't cover -- like dental bills, and eye glasses, and my half of my thyroid medication, and mr. delagar's new sleep mask, and his box of filters -- well. It adds up.

And every family in America is going through this. Except for the ones who are working at McJobs and can't afford it. Those families are getting their medical care from the state. And so I'm paying for their medical care too -- and so are you -- and that's where another forty percent of my money is going, via taxes, to pay for their medical insurance, via Medicare.

So explain to me again, someone, why we don't have socialized medicine in this country and how that's a really really really good thing?

*My students hate it when I call these McJobs. But what else are they?

Life in the Red States

Where evolution doesn't make sense, but marrying off your 13 year old to her rapist does.

Let's say your 13 year old daughter is seduced -- raped, in fact -- by a 22 year old man. She gets pregnant.

What to do?

Well, in Nebraska, where it's not legal for a 13 year old to get married, what you do is you take her across the state line to Kansas, wher 12 year old girls can legally marry, and marry her to the dude. Because, after all, the problem is not, in fact, that she has been sexually abused by this guy. The problem is that she's an unmarried slut. Once she's married, everything's gone to be cool.

Dr. Laura says so.

Nebraska D.A., though, disagrees, and is charging the 22 year old with sexual asault.

(via atrios:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Here's a cool blog

A real doctor for you:

Taking a history:

“I once ate a battery”
“Why did you do that? Were you trying to commit suicide?”
“No. There were just all these batteries on the floor”

Yes, I know you’re expecting more of the answer but that was it. He stopped talking after that. There were just all these batteries, on the floor

Found him via P.Z.

I love that P.Z.

I know, I know. I keep saying that.



Here's Steven Leavitt saying he's got a study that says it's actually safer to put your kid over two in a seatbelt than it is to keep him in a car seat.

We just moved our kid (seven now) out of the car seat, because she finally got tall enough, according to the obsessively rigid criteria I had been following (given to me by one of my students who had done obsessive research for a second-semester paper on child-restraint systems, which is where I get most of my data on most things, obsessive students doing research), plus she has learned to buckle herself, by the way, so yay, so the point is all moot in our case, but still.

Lots of parents have lots of kids out there.

I'd really sort of like it if someone would do some actual research into this -- good research -- because it would be good to know, frankly, what we ought to be doing, seatbelts or booster seats. Instead of just guessing.

I'm thinking of that whole butter/marg thing. Remember?

Doctors telling us margarine was really, really better for us? So quit eating butter? So we all did? For years & years?

Then it turns out margarine is made with trans fatty-acids, nigh on the worst thing we could be putting into our mouths, and we ought to have been eating butter all along, and why didn't anyone know that?

Didn't do any research, that's why.

I want RESEARCH, damn it.

(Someone told me recently that I seem to have some anger issues. What do y'all think?)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Greatest Philosopher? Ever?

So one day mr. delegar was hanging out in London and he saw that guy from Monty Python -- I forget which one, I'm not up on my Monty Python figures, though I know I ought to be, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, in any case, he goes up to the guy and says, I love your work, you're the funniest guy ever, and the guy says, Evah? In the history of the universe?

Which brings me to this post on Crooked Timber, from back in June, which I somehow missed the first time round, linked to a BBC site, voting for the Greatest Philosopher Evah, in the history of the Universe. Since it cheered me up, I thought I'd pass it on to you.

As with the World Magazine Christians, the comments are the best part -- but in a good way, this time.

Can Someone Make This Clearer?

Clinton lied about a blowjob.

Bush lied us into a war in which children are being raped and tortured.

Why is he still in office?

Why is Rove still in office?

Why are we still fighting in Iraq?

What has to happen before America wakes up?

I mean it.

What exactly has to happen before people in this country will say it's enough?

More on Zach

Over there on World Magazine Blog, they’ve discovered Zach – because the NYTimes did a story on him, it looks like. Anyway, of course the good Christians know exactly what the right answers is! Zach is a whiny teen who needs a good session at that boot camp to straighten him out (pun intended!) and we should just ignore his rebellious nonsense.

As Christian ministries to homosexuals achieve greater prominence (see WORLD, July 30), gay activists and their press allies are stepping up their criticism. The New York Times is using the story of a blogging gay teenager known only as "Zach" to question the legitimacy of Love in Action International, a Christian ministry designed to prevent or remediate homosexual behavior. When Zach told his parents he was gay, they enrolled him in Refuge, the Love in Action youth program based in Memphis. "It's like boot camp," Zach wrote in his web journal before entering program. "If I do come out straight, I'll be so mentally unstable and depressed it won't matter."

The comments are probably the best part of the post. Some gay Christians try to explain things to the righteous Christians, to very little avail. (The Christians who read World Magazine already know everything, as I’m reckoning you can guess.)

Here’s some sample comments:

* if a human has XY they will like girls, if the human has XX, they will like boys. It is hard-wired into every cell in the body. I -always- liked girls, it just wasn't socially aceptable among the other boys until high school.

* have you ever heard what the Creator has said about homosexuality? That it is a sinful choice? That that choice is only manifested in those who have repeatedly rejected the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit and refused to have gratitude towards God?
Let's see, believe the criminal's excuse, or believe the all-knowing, all-present, all-wise, eternal Creator. Hmmm. Not a real tought (sic) choice.

*have a cousin who chose to be lesbian because her sister was and it was a show of support, not to mention "cool" in their circle

*Most homosexuals that I have known- and that is quite a few- had no relationship with their father. Furthermore, most had been molested as children.Rampant abuse, fatherless homes, and a very sexual society is leading to lots of sex in various forms, but no intimacy. Hey, didn't I read last week about a guy dying after he had sex with a horse? Why would he choose that?

*If all it takes to stop people from hating you is to choose not to be gay, then why wouldn't you?"
Because it's addictive. There are many people who know that their alcoholism is wrong, want to, and even try to stop, and they can't. That does not deviate from the fact that their alcoholism was a result of choices they made. A lot of homosexuals want out. They can. But it's hard. It's always easier to jump into the pit, than to crawl out.

There are plenty more! Even more charming! And some sane ones, too. Go have fun.

She Shoots, She Scores!

Amanda over there on Pandagon hits it again.

My students, every semester, want to write about how teen pregnancy rates are surging, how the violent crime rate is going through the roof, how Our Streets Aren't Safe!, how the abortion rate is up and the rate at which unwed girls are having sex is getting higher and higher and all that crap and of course none of this is, in fact, the truth, which when I send them to do actual research they are deeply offended to discover.

Because they just know all those things are true.

Why? Well, Jerry Springer has told them so. Or their preacher has. Same thing.

From Amanda's story:

"Truly, the real news story of the last 10 years has been the astonishing decline in crime," says Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, a New York City child psychologist. "But we are assaulted by a media that is more interested in scaring people, so it is almost impossible for parents to assess the real level of risk.


In fact, the first thing that passed my mind is that while parents are encouraged to fret about the possibility that their teenaged daughters are going to be kidnapped and raped by strangers, the sad truth is that the real danger is that their teenage daughters are going to be raped by boys or men that they know and trust.


The truth is that the real danger for the kids of the middle class is that a couple of decades of conservative social policy is shrinking that middle class and many of these kids are in real danger of growing up and not finding a way to build a middle class life for themselves.
But no one wants to talk about that--so it's just easier for people to blather on about non-existent kidnapping dangers.


And -- for my students -- it's also that they're pointing outward. "Teens" are getting pregant. "Those people" are doing meth. "Mexicans" are stealing. "The media" is making "kids" (certainly not my kids -- someone else's kids) violent. Someone else is causing all the problems in the world. None of it is us. So -- wow, isn't this lucky -- we don't need to change.

That there last sentence is the important one, for Americans.

We don't need to change.

God, do American like that sentence.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

They Are Liars

They are traitors and they are liars.

They are traitors and liars and they are shaping the course of our nation.

But somehow we are not supposed to think this is a big deal.

Someone remind me why?

Only in Arkansas

By the way,

does your dentist give you extra tomatoes from her garden before you leave.

They're really good too.

Death of Whales

Coulter and others on the right think the earth is ours, to take and to rape.

That sort of mind can't grasp why this matters --

why it makes a difference that there are only a small number of these whales left.

or why we should care that we're ripping a hole in part of the ecosystem.

The world is a web, though. It's part of a whole. Destroy part, we risk destroying it all.

I know that's something lots of humans don't believe -- they think they're separate and apart from the rest of the world, created special, or different; that they have some sort of special deal and aren't going to have to suffer the consequence of an ecosystem crash. I wish I didn't have to live on the same planet, in the same ecosystem, with folks like that. Then I could just be amused by that sort of willfulness, that magical thinking, instead of terrified by it.

Kate Fox

I've been reading Kate Fox's Watching the English, along with a lot of geology, this weekend, research for the book I'm working on, which has class issues and geology in it. (Hee. What a funny sentence. I crack myself up. Class issues and geology.)

Anyway, the Kate Fox book I learned about over there on Crooked Timber, recommended by Chris Bertram,

and it's as good as he said.

mr. delagar objected when I ordered it*, esp. since I had to order it from England (American did not have it) and pay for it at the very unsatisfactory exchange rate (I can't do transoceanic math, but the nine pounds the book cost over there cost some hideous amount over here, not to mention what it cost to fly it across the ocean.) Also, mr. delagar claimed Paul Fussell, his hero, had written some very much better book about class which I could read instead.

Bah, sez I. Because I don't like Mr. Fussell. And I'm glad I did. Kate Fox is full of interesting bits about jam (it's jam if you're upper class, and preserves if you're middle class, and so there, also, the chunkier and darker it is? The higher class you are) and how the lower-middles wear less clothing and the upper class wear lots; and how the lower-middle has tea and the upper class has supper (pronounced "suppah," mind you) and besides all this she has funny footnotes.

I love a book with funny footnotes.

I'm also reading Wodehouse's Wooster books. They go remarkably well with Kate Fox. Not so well with geology, though. Anyone know a good novel with lots of geology in it?

Meanwhile, the kid is in bed. She's on antibiotics, which are making her ill. I'm giving her yogurt with live cultures and applying a heating pad, and letting her listen to all the booktapes she wants. Anyone have any other ideas? Aside from taking her off the antibiotics, which I don't think I want to do.

Also: thunderstorms, lots of them, so that our power keeps going off.

It's been a lively weekend.

*Not very loudly. He hasn't a leg to stand on, not with all the records and cds and books he is constantly ordering from England and Germany.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

It has pictures!

This one you gotta go read --

This morning I got a question in e-mail, asking if I'd heard of a particular paper. Of course I had, it's a very fun bit of research...and then I realized I'd never mentioned it on the weblog before. I guess it's because it's focused entirely on the phylum Chordata, specifically one rather peculiar species—Homo sapiens. I probably just assumed nobody would be interested, because there aren't any arthropods or molluscs in it.

The paper is all about visualizing the arrangement of organs during coitus. People have tried to figure out how the pieces all fit together internally using cadavers and their imagination, by using a speculum and poking around with their fingers, and by clever tools, like hollow glass tubes shaped like a penis. This paper tries something different: the investigators had people have sex in an MRI tube, and snapped a few pictures while they were at it.

(Via BlogBites

Friday, July 22, 2005

It's that Evil TV! Yes, that's the Ticket!

Jesse rags on H. Clinton, and justifiably, I might add, but she's just saying what every shallow yap has been saying for about the past fifty years: it's the evil videogames that's making American kids violent.

Or it's evil rap music making American kids violent.

Or it's violent TV/movies making American kids violent.

Or its guns around the house making kids violent (yes, those mysterious gun vibes that guns emit, very toxic).

Or it's reading the wrong books/comic books/manga makes kids... well,you get the point.

This is all just so much yap, though. Mike Males has done the best work on this -- and been widely ignored -- but others have done research on it too.

No studies are showing any significant causal connection between what kids watch or what video games they play or what porn they view or any of that and what behavior they manifest.

That's right: None. Zippo.

You know what does show a causal connection?

Whether the parents of the kids, or the adults that are raising the kids, assault the kids. Whether the adults/parents the kid live with act regularly in a violent manner, either toward the kids themselves or toward other adults while the kids are around. Whether the kids witness the adults in their lives modeling violence as a tenable, workaday solution to the problems that arise in everyday life.

Hmm. Imagine that.

Kids who are taught by the adults in their world that violence is a valid reaction to a problem tend to react with violence when confront with a problem.

Who would have thought?

Those of you who still think it's a really good idea to smack your kid for misbehaving? I'm thinking you might want to think about that.

(Here's another question we want to ask ourselves: why don't we want to believes Mike Males' theory? Why won't we believe that it is our violence toward our children, and toward each other, that is making our children violent?)

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Anyone know cars?

The piece of junk I drive quit running a few weeks ago.

Had it towed. The repair shop said it was a dead battery, said it was due to someone (hhmm) leaving the lights on. Said they had recharged the battery, I'd be fine.

So I've been driving it a few weeks, and it starts acting weird again -- trying to die on the interstate, and the windshield wipers not working when I turn the headlights on, and such like that.

Now it's dead out there in the damn parking lot again.

The woman at AAA says this is a bad battery. Not an alternator. That if I just replace the battery, everything be fine.

Anyone know whether she's right?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bumper Sticker

Saw this bumper sticker on the way into work today, another of the red-white-and-blue in the shape of the Support-Our-Troops magnets, except instead of SUPPORT OUR TROOPS? It said this: GOD BLESS GOD.

And can I just say this for the record?

Y'all Christians are whacked.

Oh, and BTW?

Karl Rove is still a traitor.

His ass should be in prison.

Bush should be impeached.

Just in case anyone thinks any of that is slipping our minds.

Supreme Court Nominee

So I've been trying to figure out how I should feel about Roberts since last night.

How I do feel is obvious -- worn out.

I am just worn out with this President and these Right-Wing folk and this country.

I'm sitting there last night listening to Bush natter on and all I'm thinking is, liar.

You're a liar, I'm thinking.

What a liar.

He can't say sentence that's not a lie. It just kills me.

And then this guy, with his record on women's reproductive rights, but we're not supposed to care, because that isn't supposed to be an issue, because, well, why again?

Because it's not like women's reproductive rights matter? Compared to other stuff that matters a whole lot more?

Or because he was just doing his job?

And both of those are good reasons?

I mean it.

I'm exhausted with this shit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Facts About Abortion

Although I know it's contrary to how we like to run the debate here in Amurkia --

New analysis of the most recent abortion data shows that the number of U.S. women having the procedure is continuing its decade-long drop and stands at its lowest level since 1976.
In the year 2002, about 1.29 million women in the U.S. had abortions. In 1990, that number was 1.61 million.

· Six in 10 women who had abortions in 2002 were mothers. "Despite the common belief, women who have abortions and those who have children are not two separate groups," said Finer.

· A quarter of abortions occur among unmarried women who live with a male partner, putting this group at elevated risk of unintended pregnancy and abortion.

· The majority -- 56 percent -- of women who terminate their pregnancies are in their twenties. Teenagers between 15 and 19 make up 19 percent of abortions, although this percentage has dropped substantially in recent years.

This drop may be due to use of longer-acting hormonal contraceptives and lower rates of sexual activity, said Joyce Abma, a social scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

From an article in the Washington Post

Via Jesse at Pandagon

Polar Bear

A beautiful post from the Polar Bear.

Here's an excerpt:

A is pretty healthy, and comes from one of the more dire home environments. She’s pudgy and has skin so black it’s blueish. Her smile is stunning. After a dinner of ribs, which she devoured in high style, she led me to the dance floor. I twirled her around and around. The light came in from the high windows at just the right angle, with dappled splashes of hope and light hitting her face just so. Her brilliant smile and merry eyes flashed in the spotted light as we spun and spun.

“I think I like dancing best of all,” she said.

Earlier it was swimming. The next day it would be boating.

Oh for all of us to live forever in contentment lit by splashes of sun

I love that bear.

The Poor?

Fred over there on Slacktivist has another fine post up, quoting both Sarah Vowell and Pat Robertson, not to mention Jesus. You can't beat that.

Here's my favorite bit:

Anybody who quotes that phrase without quoting the rest of Jesus' sentence should not be trusted. Here's the full sentence: "The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want." Interesting how the first part of that sentence so often gets quoted as though it refuted the second part.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Draft Done

I finished the first draft of the novel this weekend.

My, that was fun. I haven't actively enjoyed writing like this since I was about twenty-six. Haven't written anything so furiously either -- I was writing thirty pages a day there toward the end. I'd get up at four to write, I'd come home from work and write. Poor mr. delagar and the kid got wholly neglected. (I did manage to convince them not to interrupt me when I had the i-pod on. How, you wonder? By ripping the i-pod earphones off 7,500 times and roaring, "Did I or did I not say do not interrupt me when I am working?") Also the house and meals got wholly neglected. We've been living on mac and cheese and frozen pizza, fish sticks and buttered toast. The cupboard, I might add, is bare. Laundry is piled high. You do not want to venture into my back bathroom. (I kept the front one almost clean.) Also, I cut an inordinate number of office hours. (I formally apologize to any students reading this. I am not, however, actually sorry.)

As for the book itself, well, who knows. It is a science fiction novel about explotive class issues, laced with lots of gay sex, with a guy who has a passionate interest in geology at its center. I can't imagine there are many people out there who want to read such a thing. Well, me, obviously, or I wouldn't have written it. But I never know how good the book itself is at this stage. I did love writing the rock bits. Rocks are very cool.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Oh, yes. Clinton.

This would be appalling if it weren't so obviously desperate clutching at straws:

ABC News' Ann Compton has been covering the White House longer than just about any of the Press Corpse stenos in the pool (other than maybe Helen Thomas and a handful of other reporters). She's seen plenty of scandals and Presidential Press Secretaries roasting on the barby.

This morning on NPR, Compton opined that blowjobs still trump treason:
Renee Montagne: Do any of these grillings that you’ve covered over three decades in the White House stand out to you?

Ann Compton: The most difficult moments are when we’re dealing not with policy, but with human failings, and I think the darkest months that I covered at the White House was at the beginning of the second term of Bill Clinton. President Clinton was accused of engaging in...“behavior”...with an intern, and how offensive many people found it, and the fact that it later turned out the president lied to the country, and lied to federal prosecutors, made that the darkest and most unhappy time I’ve ever covered here.

(Note - my transcription - word for word and I tried to capture the pauses and inflection. Link is to NPR page with audio file of the interview.)

(Via Atrios:

Right. Lying about his sexual misconduct -- even under oath -- that is worse than committing treason. Which is what Rove did. Committed treason. You know -- you remember -- that crime Coulter keeps claiming liberals are guilty of? Because we secretly in our most secret hearts want America to lose (and she knows this with her secret mind reading properties)?

Rove actually committed that crime.

So what's this woman talking about?

Well, what Republicans always start talking about when they get desperate: Clinton, of course.

Can I get a break over here on aisle 12?

Surrounded in the Red State

Took the kid to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory yesterday -- it was all right, worth seeing, with some nice bits, though flawed -- well, right, I'll come clean: any movie with Johnny Depp is, for me, a movie worth seeing, so there you are. And this has that kid in it as well. He's a great kid. A few weird and boggy scenes don't terminally damage the movie.

Anyway, previous to the movie, we're hanging with the audience, me and mr. delagar and the kid, and the auditorium is packed, so I'm forced to sit next to Mrs. Red State and her sister-in-law and their kid. She knows the minute I sit down that she doesn't want her kid sitting next to me. I don't know how she can tell I'm a flaming liberal but she can. Can't be the jeans, b/c she's in jeans. Maybe it's the Birks. Maybe it's my undyed hair. Most Red State women in the Fort, as Fort Smith is called, dye -- or tint, they don't call it dying, since only sluts dye their hair, they call it tinting or coloring -- their hair, and the fact that mine is still its original sort of sandy/woody brown, that might be what tipped her off.

Who knows. Anyway, she gives me several unfriendly looks, and then, in a high, artifical voice, asks her child if he "can see" in that seat -- the one next to me. Wouldn't he like to switch with her. To her seat. Since it has a much better view.

Yeah. Whatever.

I'm amused. I pretend not to notice her elaborate arrangement. If she thinks I'm going to infect her kid with liberal genes -- or I don't know, maybe she thinks I'm going to kidnap him during the movie? I don't know what she's thinking -- then whatever. But me? Scary? Where are these people from?

Oh, yes. Scott County. Never mind.

Anyway, she moves her kid. She gets her sister-in-law to move down an extra seat, so that she's got a seat between me and her. She calms down -- a little.

Then the kid -- my kid -- starts asking questions. I've forgotten, by this point, about the Red State woman and her panic, so I'm just answering the questions -- about books, about Hank the Cowdog, about what my students did that day. "Tell me something scary," the kid instructs at one point. "Tell me the scariest thing you can think of."

"Karl Rove," I say, which I still think was a pretty funny answer.

The Red State woman shoots upright in her seat, gasping in outrage.

I look over, making eye contact, and grin.

This pissed her off even more. Apparently she's free to treat me like I'm a demon, but I'm supposed to keep pretending I don't notice.

Anyway, finally, the movie starts, the previews come up, and, among other things, Tim Burton's new movie gets previews, Corpse Bride. It looks brilliant, I have to say, and mr. delagar and I are laughing at all the great bits -- like when the corpse bride's eyeball pops out and she giggles and pops it back in again, saying, "Ooo -- maggots!" and the skeleton dog and Johnny Depp saying, "You should have known him when he had fur," and, of course, the pirate, and all around us, mostly, the theater is appalled, aghast, wonder, I can hear it so clearly, now what movie have we come to see? and when the preview is over there is this dead silence.

I say, "I can't wait."

Red-state woman says, "We'll be giving that one a pass."

It's our country, writ small.

Friday, July 15, 2005

What the PA Legis. is Trying to Screw up

A comment from over on Unfogged:

Heisenberg said that if he went to Heaven he'd hope for an answer about quantum theory from God, but that an answer about turbulence in fluids would probably be too much to ask for.

Posted by: John Emerson Link to this comment 07- 8-05 01:59 PM

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Update on Zach

His dad says all y'all need to shut up, LIA is perfectly exactly the right thing to do to Zach.

In an exclusive interview with CBN News, Joe talked about his decision to enroll Zach in the “Love in Action” program, and the controversy that has followed.

“We felt very good about Zach coming here because… to let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him some options that society doesn't give him today,” Stark said. “Knowing that your son... statistics say that by the age of 30 he could either have AIDS or be dead.”


“Zack has got a mind of his own, and that's a God-given gift,” Joe said. “And Zack will have to make those choices when he is an adult as to what exactly he is going to do with his life. But until he turns 18 and he's an adult in the state of Tennessee, I'm responsible for him. And I’m going to see to it that he has all options available to him.”

(Via Ol Cranky over at DF, who has more:

More Persecution of Christians

Jesse over at Pandagon posts about another Christian who has been abused and persecuted in our public schools. The poor child just wanted to write about Jesus for her term paper, and her eeee-eee-eevil secular humanist teacher wouldn't let her.

Pure persecution. Someone page David Limbaugh!

Or, you know, not.

Military Blogger Gets Smacked

You'll recall the new rule about military bloggers having to register their blogs -- for security reasons only, of course! Just to watch out for possible problems with security leaks! And maybe revealing names of injured or KIA soldiers!


Guardsman faces probe
over blog comments

By Billy HouseThe Arizona Republic

An Arizona Army National Guardsman whose Web log comments have criticized the Iraq war and who has filed papers to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jon Kyl, is the subject of a military investigation in Iraq, the Army said Tuesday.

What exactly Leonard A. Clark is being investigated for is unclear. Clark, 40, of Glendale, is a kindergarten teacher, activist and perennial candidate for public office, and holds the rank of specialist in Arizona's 86th Military Police Company.

Specialist Clark is under investigation, but not under arrest, confirmed Army Capt. Patricia Brewer, a spokeswoman with the military's combined press information office in Baghdad. She said no other details were available regarding Clark from the 42nd Military Police Brigade's Judge Advocate General's office.

Campaigning for public office without permission from the secretary of defense while on active duty in the Armed Forces is a violation of Defense Department regulations.

Clark and others in the 860th MP Company have been deployed in Iraq since March, and are not expected to return to the state until next March.

Even so, on April 7, the Federal Election Commission officially received Clark's statement of candidacy to run next year for the Senate seat now held by Republican Kyl. In that filing by mail, Clark designates his principal campaign committee as Arizonans for Leonard Clark.

Clark's case also illustrates how the military is wrestling with an explosion of opinionated soldier Web logs or blogs, and their content at a time when polls show rising public opposition to the war.

A blog is a Web page maintained as a journal for personal comments. The military recently has adopted a rule requiring soldiers to register their blogs with their chain of command, and subject these sites to regular review. Clark has been critical in his posted blog comments of the Bush administration, saying he believes U.S. soldiers are being killed needlessly.

Fight non-violently for the just and righteous cause of Not One More American Soldier's Life Being Lost. N.O. M.A.S.! he urged in a June 30 e-mail posting.

Maj. Eileen Bienz, a spokeswoman with the state Army National Guard, said guard officials in Arizona have been advised that Clark is under investigation, but that no formal charges have been filed.

However, Bienz noted that about one week ago she received inquiries from outside of Arizona about Clark's blog postings critical of the war.

"His blogging activities were brought to my attention. So I made some inquiries asking, so what is the policy?" Bienz said. "I was told then that it (Clark's blogging) had been brought to the attention of his commander (in Iraq)."

Bienz said she could not say whether the investigation in Iraq focuses on Clark's blogging or issues related to running for political office.

Whatever the specific focus of the Army's investigation and regardless of whether Clark intentionally may have instigated this controversy to gain more attention for himself, the intensity of the Internet chatter about his situation is giving him some national notice.

For instance, the online magazine Daily Kos has been providing updates.

Clark previously has run for the Arizona House of Representatives in 1998, 2002 and 2004, and for the state Senate in 2000.

Clark, who since March has twice telephoned The Arizona Republic from Iraq to talk about his plans to run as a Democrat for U.S. Senate, could not be reached through his e-mail address this week. District 12 Democrats in Arizona, on their way into a meeting in Litchfield Park on Monday evening, declined to discuss Clark.

Clark's wife, Marisela, said her husband called her Tuesday morning to say he "was not arrested anymore" and told her not to worry about him.
"He sounded very different and very sad, but he said, "I'm OK,"" she said. "But I am really afraid for him."

She said he told her he was arrested for "having a big mouth about his politics."

Kevin Spidel of Litchfield Park, who says he is Clark's friend and who also is the national political director for Progressive Democrats of America, said he was abruptly advised by Clark in an e-mail on Monday that he'd been ordered by his commander not to publish any more comments on the Web.

Spidel said Clark's blog never revealed information that would jeopardize himself or his fellow soldiers.

Sent to me by the Iraqi Vet.

More on Meth Kids

Zelda has a powerful post about the effects of meth addiction here in NW Arkansas -- her daughter is dealing with it, and so, perforce, is she.

Here's a bit, but the whole thing is worth reading:

[Children] carry cell phones that have no connection because they can at least get 911. Children as young as four will call and say their parents won’t wake up and they are scared. You see, Meth. users tweak for days at a time, when they finally run out of dope, they crash and sleep so soundly that they don’t hear their children crying. [My son] told me just the other night, a little boy called and said he was hungry. The cops got there and found a newborn in the crib with a diaper filled with maggots, the newborn was so malnourished they flew it to a hospital where he could get specialized care.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Well OKAY Then

I'm sure our troops in Iraq will be relieved hear this:

The dangers faced by American troops in Iraq have been exaggerated, adding to the difficulty of recruiting soldiers at home, the Army general in charge of National Guard forces said Tuesday.

The casualty rate for Guardsmen is low compared with any previous armed conflict, said Lt. Gen. Steven Blum.

He said he recognizes that every death is a tragedy for that person's family. "But I lose, unfortunately, more people through private automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents over the same period of time," he added.

"It is dangerous, but it is I shouldn't say it to this group but I'm going to [say] it is misrepresented, how dangerous it really is," Blum said during a breakfast with defense reporters.

So just shut up your whining, you vets. You'd be in a hell of a lot more danger if you'd stayed home, hear?

(Now what was Prager saying about who holding the troops in contempt again? Cause you know, I just keep losing track.)

(Thanks to Zelda for the link!)


Here's my riddle for the day:

How is Rove not like a traitor?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bush the Classical Scholar


One of my students sends me this:

Prager Lies Again

I might be speaking strongly here. It might be that Prager isn't actively lying -- he might just be so used to not thinking clearly that he doesn't realize he's thinking dishonestly. It's really hard to tell from this perfidious bit of scribble.

It's not a new thesis he has: Prager is claiming that we on the Left cannot actually "support the troops" unless we support the war.

If we think the Iraqi war is a bad war, a bad idea, that it ought never to have been entered into, that we ought not to be fighting it, that the wholesale slaughter of Iraqi citizens who never had a thing to do with 9/11 is, in fact, counter-productive to finding a solution to terrorism -- if we believe any of that stuff, well, says Prager, that means we must, by fiat, also think the troops who have been sent to fight the Iraqi war are bad guys.

How does he support this leap of logic?

He says it must be so. That's how.

Well, he also inserts a stupid paragraph about how it would be impossible to oppose the Nazis and still support the storm troopers -- yes, that's exactly the same thing, Prager. Because our soldiers are, in fact, exactly like Nazi Storm Troopers. That's exactly what we on the left are claiming -- in your wet dreams.

Honest people on the Left need to understand that the two positions are not reconcilable. A German citizen during World War II could not have argued: "The Nazi regime's army is engaged in an evil war of aggression and is slaughtering millions of innocent people, and I therefore completely oppose this war, but I sure do support the Nazi troops."

One example is the claim made by Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and almost all other Democrats and liberals that the war in Iraq is "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." How does one support troops that are fighting a wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Hmm. Let me see. How do we do that, Dennis? Like this, maybe? "Bush got us into the wrong war. We shouldn't be there. It is not, however, the fault of the troops who are fighting the war -- they did not send themselves to fight this stupid, destructive, useless, counterproductive war. How about we impeach Bush and do something about ending this very bad war?"

Prager goes on to say:

A third example is the Left's opposition to military recruitment on most of the elite and many other college campuses. So deep is leftist disdain for troops that most on the Left regard the mere presence of military personnel on a university campus as a form of contamination. Yet, the Left claims to "support the troops."

I love this "most" nonsense. Do you have a source for that, Dennis? Or are you talking out of your hat?

Dennis lives on Planet Dennis, as we all know from reading his columns. On Planet Dennis, Leftist screech and wail at the sight of a guy in uniform. In actual fact, of course, here on actual campuses, we see military recruiters every day, and, guess what, no big deal. (That's down here in Fucked Over Land. No doubt in Dennis's part of the country, where Folks Are Rich, things are a bit different. Here, students still join up from time to time, not so much because they want to serve, though sometimes, yes, for that reason too, but because they need the money: that's how desperate we are, Dennis. Can you feature that, son?)

Many on the Left express far more contempt than support for the troops.

Yes, right.

No, we don't, you liar.

We actually care enough about the troops -- because we know them, Dennis, unlike you, I'm betting. I'm betting Dennis hasn't got anyone closer than a member of his call-in radio show serving in the Iraq, how much you want to bet? -- we care enough about the troops to not want them dying in a useless war, Dennis, and killing in a useless war, and getting maimed, actually and psychologically, in a useless war, Dennis, see, we actually support the troops, Dennis, instead of just spouting some mendacious cheerleading crap about supporting the troops, gah, Dennis, you're making me ill here.

A Democratic senator compares our interrogators to the Nazis and Communist torturers; the head of Amnesty International in America defends likening Guantanamo Bay to the Gulag; and liberals routinely speak of troops as coming from the lowest socio-economic rungs of society (maybe that's one reason they oppose recruiters on campuses, lest the best educated actually join the military). But, hey, the Left supports the troops.

Yes, Dennis. Yes. We should never criticize our country. When our guys torture people, we should pretend it never happened. That's why we've got that first amendment -- so we can not talk about what our country is doing wrong. That way everything will be perfect in this country. The way it used to be. In 1950. When guys like you ruled the land.

And "liberals speaking routinely of troops" blah blah blah"? Gee. Wonder why?

Must be because so many rich kids from Yale and Stanford are actually joining up. Sorry, Dennis. I missed the Rich Kid Recruitment Drive. Post me a link, bud. I'll be glad to change my notions.

Dennis may or may not know he's lying and obfuscating all through this column. The Right may or may not know what they're doing when they claim that we on the left "aren't patriotic" if we criticise this war, if we say Bush is the worst president ever. But it's all part of the same thing -- dissent is not okay.

Can you conceive of any statement more unAmerican than that?

Update: For more Prager fun!

Jesse over on Pandagon smacks him down:

Monday, July 11, 2005

A lovely post from Fred over on Slacktivist:

There we were, in Jericho. As in Joshua fit the battle of. At 260 meters below sea level, it is the lowest city on earth. It is probably also the oldest. Humans have been living in Jericho more or less continuously for more than 10,000 years. In touring the excavations at Jericho, we saw one unearthed stone structure that the archaeology student guiding us around the dig said was probably about 8,000 years old.

This was mind-boggling for all of us. We were all Americans -- people who think of places like Independence Hall or the chapels of Santa Fe as "ancient" because they have stood for centuries. We had a tough enough time with the Roman sites we had visited earlier, yet there we were, staring at this Neolithic wall that had already stood for millennia when Caesar was born.
So, you know, impressive.

But for one fellow student it was horrifying. He had been raised in a fundamentalist church to believe in a six-day creation and a young earth. How young? They embraced the skewed arithmetic of the infamous Bishop Usher, the Irish churchman who, in the 17th century, added up all the genealogies of the Old Testament and concluded that God created the earth in 4004 B.C.E. So there my friend stood, in 1990, in Jericho, believing that the universe was 5,994* years old and staring at a man-made wall that was 8,000 years old.

Something had to give.

The most dangerous thing about fundamentalism is not that it sometimes teaches wacky ideas, like that the world is barely 6,000 years old or that dancing is sinful. The most dangerous thing is that it insists that such ideas are all inviolably necessary components of the faith. Each such idea, every aspect of their faith, is regarded as a keystone without which everything else they believe -- the existence of a loving God, the assurance of pardon, the possibility of a moral or meaningful life -- crumbles into meaninglessness....

There's more, of course -- go finish it. But that paragraph there nails what is wrong with the Fundavangelical mind: the utter refusal to see that the text must be a metaphor: the insistance on seeing the text as literal.

Well, whoa, doggy, son.

(1) The text can't be literal. Why? Because it's written in words. Words, by their nature, are metaphors. That is, words communicate by saying this is like that. (By which I mean: the word dog is not an actual dog. So when I say dog to you I am using a metaphor to carry across an idea into your head.)

With me so far?

(2) The text was written in Hebrew, among other languages. Mostly, Fundavangelicals are reading it in English. Think about reading, oh, say, Shakespeare -- an easy Shakespeare sonnet -- in English. Think about trying to translate that into another language. ("When my love swears that she is made of truth / I do believe her though I know she lies") -- think about trying to get the layers of meaning, the puns, the connotations, into the other language. Could it be done? Do you think the translators have been able to get the multiple layers of Hebrew into English? (I'll help you out: no. They got a meaning into the English. They did not get all the meaning: they lost the connotation and the subtext and much of the metaphor.)

(3) Suppose there is, in fact, a giant sky being. I mean, suppose, for the purposes of this argument, that one exists. Suppose that sky critter decided to communicate, for reasons of its own, with humans, through human langauge. How much meaning do you think this omniscient sky critter, who exists on some other plane of existence entirely, outside of mortal time, apparently, and clearly outside of mortal reality, is going to be able to pack into mortal words? (I'll help you out again: not much.)

(4) Besides that, the text that Christians have is just the lecture notes. Why no one ever explains that I don't know. They need to be reading the Midrash. It's like reading the lecture notes and never going to class. They're missing all the important stuff.

So, yes: it's a metaphor. The text is a metaphor. Do you get it? It's words on a page, meant to say not the world is this, but the world is like this, watch, do you see how this can work?

It's a tool, in other words. One of many. A useful tool, bits of it. The problem arises when you insist on it being the only tool we can use, or the only real tool in the world, or the only tool that isn't eee-eee-eeevil, and you get my point.

More on Meth


Docecahedron gives me more reason to hate the war on drugs:

Bushco's War is cutting money that was used to deal with meth, and instead? Going after crack.

So what is the Bush administration's response? Deny there's a problem and cut funding for prevention, treatment of addicts, and enforcement of existing laws.The cuts were justified by Administration officials as a reflection of their effectiveness.

Horton, who works for Burns, defended the administration's proposal to cut $804 million from local drug enforcement grants in the 2006 federal budget, saying the programs the grants support have failed to prove their effectiveness. "The administration has to make sure the money goes where it can be more effective, that it is performing," he said.

Fair enough. I guess that philosophy explains this wise use of resources.

"Baird said the administration continues to pump billions of dollars into eradication of coca plants in South America while efforts to control international trade in the precursor drugs used to manufacture methamphetamine get short shrift."

Not For the Weak Bellied

This obsession Fundavangelicals have with submission, frankly, makes me queasy.

Where they get off thinking God wants submission -- when that's obviously a creation of their own sick dominance issues -- is one of my questions.

(In Jewish tradition -- at least the Jewish tradition I favor -- I realize Dennis Prager and his conservative ilk are pushing a different meme -- God created man to fight back: we were put here to argue with him, not submit to him. In Jewish tradition, that, among other things, is the lesson of Sodom. Not kill the gays, as the Fundavangelicals like to read it, but argue with God when he's about to do something you think is wrong.)

Why they must attempt to impose it on our society -- you know, the one that has as its central tenet the bit about all of us being created equal? So why would some of us need to be submitting to others of us? Huh? -- is the other.

Anyway: here's a sickening essay from Dobson's folk: all about how it's really not true submission if you verbally or physically force your wife to submit to you. No, you should psych the bitch into submitting to you. Drag her to church and pray over her ass. Tell her Jesus wants her on her knees. That's the right way to do it.

By golly.

Meth Babies

Also from Atrios today: Duncan directs us to a NYTimes piece on kids dumped into foster care because their parents are meth addicts:

TULSA, Okla., July 8 - The Laura Dester Shelter here is licensed for 38 children, but at times in the past months it has housed 90, forcing siblings to double up in cots. It is supposed to be a 24-hour stopping point between troubled homes and foster care, but with foster homes backed up, children are staying weeks and sometimes months, making it more orphanage than shelter, a cacophony of need.

In a rocking chair, a volunteer uses one arm to feed a 5-day-old boy taken from his mother at birth, the other to placate a toddler who is wandering from adult to adult begging, "Bottle?" A 3-year-old who arrived at dawn shrieks as salve is rubbed on her to kill the lice.

This is a problem methamphetamine has made, a scene increasingly familiar across the country as the number of foster children rises rapidly in states hit hard by the drug, the overwhelming number of them, officials say, taken from parents who were using or making methamphetamine.

Oklahoma last year became the first state to ban over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the crucial ingredient needed to make methamphetamine. Even so, the number of foster children in the state is up 16 percent from a year ago. In Kentucky, the numbers are up 12 percent, or 753 children, with only seven new homes.In Oregon, 5,515 children entered the system in 2004, up from 4,946 the year before, and officials there say the caseload would be half what it is now if the methamphetamine problem suddenly went away. In Tennessee, state officials recently began tracking the number of children brought in because of methamphetamine, and it rose to 700 in 2004 from 400 in 2003.

This is one we're dealing with here in NW AR, too, where recently we too banned the sale of cold medicine in the Wal-Mart. (You can still buy it -- you just have to go up to the pharmacist and show your license and sign for it, as though it were Xanax or Lorcet you were buying, and he keeps track of how much you buy a week, too.)

Not to downplay the whole crack baby epidemic of the 1990s, or how much damage crack did, but I'm wondering if it did near the damage this stuff does. And I'm wondering why no one seems to be causing near the fuss about this problem. Cause it's white folk doing it and not black?

They're mostly poor white, of course -- from the same pool my students come from, though they aren't my students, because you don't come to the university if you're cooking meth or doing meth, obviously -- and that could be it. It's conservative pundits who got all righteous about crack babies and crack hos and what "they" were going to do to "our" country, and conservative pundits, in general, aren't that interested in what happens to poor white folk from the midwest. Or their poor white kids.

No matter what they claim.

But man. What's going on with these folks and their kids.

(And the War on Drugs, btw? Yeah, right. It's helping these people a WHOLE bunch.)

(Oh, that's right -- I forgot. We don't want to help them. They're criminals. We just want to lock'em up and make'em suffer. Cause they ain't suffering enough. I get confused, sometimes. That whole do-unto-others thing, and help-the-sick, you know, it muddles me.)

Miss Ann Speaks Out

See, but she's just an entertainer. No one takes her seriously.

(Via Atrios

Sunday, July 10, 2005


All right. Too much. I've overloaded.

From Pharyngula:

A couple driving along are pulled over for no apparent reason (the driver is subsequently found to have an invalid license). The couple are asked questions about their bumper stickers, which, as it turns out, are probably the actual reason they were stopped—they are bumper stickers promoting paganism. The police stop turns into an attempt to convert them to Christianity.

(Via P.Z.:

American Fries Indeed

Indiana again.

What's up with this state?

Y'all are giving us Arkies a run for our money.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Someone tried to set fire to a mosque early Saturday and the FBI was investigating it as a hate crime, officials said.

No one was inside the Islamic Center of Bloomington when the fire occurred at about 2 a.m. and damage was confined to the kitchen area, said Nathan Ainslie, president of the Islamic Center.

A burned Quran was found outside, he said.

A Bit of Good News

Over there in Nebraska, the courts aren't listening to the bays of activists who insist that late-term abortions are just eee-eee-eevil ways for sluts to murder their babies so they can fit into their prom dresses. This is, no matter what the Far-Right Extremists might want the country to believe, good news.

LINCOLN, Neb. - A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a ruling that the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is unconstitutional.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis agreed that the ban, while containing an exception to save the life of the mother, is unconstitutional because it makes no such exception for the health of the woman. The court upheld an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf of Lincoln, who heard one of three cases brought over the issue last year.

No one actually does a D&X procedure, or the far more common D&E procedure, which this act was also in danger of banning, because the woman involved wants to fit into her prom dress. No one does this sort of procedure lightly at all. This sort of procedure is medically dangerous, for the woman, and thus for the doctor. (And yes, before anyone starts hopping up and down, I do understand that it kills 100% of the fetuses involved, but guess what? It's generally only used with fetuses that are already dead or so badly deformed that they are going to die anyway.) It is thus only done when the alternative -- carrying the fetus to term, or allowing it to abort on its own -- is more dangerous.

So what's the point of banning this procedure?

Aside from hysteria, and I think a lot of it was hysteria and misunderstanding on the part of the activists, it's a simple wedge issue -- a tool, a foot in the door. Ban this sort of abortion, then we have a precedent, and a way to argue other sorts of abortion can be banned.

So it's good this one has been overturned.

(Via Ded Space & Ol Cranky

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Friday, July 08, 2005

Supporting the Troops?

Hey, just get a couple more ribbons and stick'em on your damn SUV.

No need to actually put any money into paying for what Bush has created with his war -- huh?

Senate Republicans have repeatedly voted down funding increases for vets to keep pace with inflation and meet rising needs.

The Bush Administration tried to add an enrollment fee and double the prescription co-payment for VA health care.

And now the VA admits it is $1 billion short on health care funding for this year alone.
After months of dodging Congressional questioning, VA undersecretary for health Jonathan Perlin finally gave the House VA Committee an unexpectedly
honest answer last week. It turns out the $1.6 billion spending increase promised last year has been a matter of accounting
trickery, achieved by shifting money from one account to another, and cutting almost $1 billion for medical administration, facilities and prosthetic research.


At a time when VA funding is 25 percent lower than it was 5 years ago, Murray's amendment would've provided badly needed funds for mental health treatment, new veterans and local clinics. Instead, the $80 billion supplemental for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the $2.6 trillion Senate Budget Resolution for 2006 denies full quality treatment to returning and current vets. The 13,000 soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since March 2003, 30 percent of whom return with post traumatic stress disorder or other psychological problems, can't even get a little help from their Republican friends.

Mike, Mike, Mike

If the we're looking for a reason why Far-Right Folk don't exactly outnumber liberals on university campuses, we could have a like at Dr. Adams' latest effort on for a hint.

He's just gotten his latest eval back, he tells us, and he's shocked, shocked, he tells us, to find that he got some negative comments, "for the first time ever."

Adams claims that among "those was the criticism that during the last year I did not take part in the “ongoing life” of my department. " He then deduces that this means he didn't go to parties held at his fellow professers' houses.

He cites one specific party, spitefully held on September 11 -- no doubt an eee-eee-eevil party at which liberals mocked the heroic dead, though Adams charitably refrains from saying so.

He does say this:

Last September 11, I was invited to such a party at the home of my supervisor – the same one who wrote my annual evaluation. When I told her I was unable to attend the party due to a conflict with an NRA banquet, my supervisor called it a “fascist pig” banquet.

I'm wondering why Adams won't attend the parties his colleqgues throw. Considering that he has, over the past year, been telling us non-stop how he has been harassing his peers, could it be he's afraid to attend these parties?

Or could it simply be that he's a pathetic twit, who, if he goes to parties, ends up saying asshat things that reveal him as the giant loser he is? (I'm betting on Option B!)

Interesting that his peers continue to invite him to parties, BTW.

Nevertheless, not taking part in the "ongoing life of the department" probably has nothing to do with these parties, depsite Adams' fantasies.

It is much more likely to mean that he does not talk to his peers in the hallway, does not attend faculty meetings, is not available outside office hours, does not mentor new faculty members, does not volunteer to serve as club sponsers, does not design new courses, does not, in other words, step up and do the 110 things that have to be done to keep a department going. This is the problem with having conservatives on campus. They're all Very Important Folk, you see. They have Real Work to do. Not like the rest of us. So they can't be bothered to step up to the plate and do any of the actual work of running the place -- especially since the actual work of running the place often doesn't translate into any more actual money in the pay check, or at least not directly. (It does indirectly, in the form of better evals, and not getting fired, and having a better university in the long run, but you know conservatives, they don't seem to be able to think in long-term, nuanced ways like this.)

Anyway, I suspect Mike is too busy pissing and moaning about how picked upon he is, as a poor victimized conservative, how everyone hates him, and how he's the only one bold and brave enough to take a stand about evil feminists and vaginas on campus and queer guys running wild and how guns are better than condoms and blah blah blah.

And, by the way, even if it is the party thing -- so what? Going to parties is, frankly, ALSO part of the job.

Ask any lawyer if you don't get that, Dr. Adams.

Ask any real estate agent. Ask any politician, any reporter, any teacher, anyone at all who knows anything about actually working in the actual world.

And your paragraphs here?

Or imagine that alcohol is served at departmental parties (they usually are), making a professor unable to attend for religious reasons. Would he not prevail in a suit charging religious discrimination if his absence was later recorded in his performance evaluation? You should immediately consult your attorneys on this one, President Broad.

Similarly, some professors might not want to attend parties at the homes of other professors who are cohabitating outside of marriage, or involved in homosexual relationships. They may have young children they do not want exposed to such lifestyles at an early age. Perhaps they should not have to spend money for a baby sitter just to keep from getting a negative performance evaluation.

Find a quarter and buy a clue.

No one's making you drink. Other folks drinking is none of your concern. Teach at a religious school if you're that touchy. Yes, you should have to spend money on a baby-sitter to attend a party that's part of your job. (I paid daycare expenses every day for three years, so cry me a river, dude.)

And finally: you know what? Pay attention to this review, bud.

Someone's trying to tell you something.


Here's my depressing post of the day.

I was over there at the World Magazine Blog,

where I go to see what our Far-Right Christian Friends are thinking (Red State.Org

is the other place I hang, also Conservative Christian

but he's been less interesting lately, saying the same yap over and over, dee-ee-eeply insightful postings about how men should rule and women should be sweet and liberals can't get anything right because they don't believe in shooting the bad guys in the head, no, they believe in reading a bunch of books and thinking about stuff -- which how stupid is that, for God's sake? I mean, actually trying to figure out the right answer? Instead of just blowing the fuck out of what is OBVIOUSLY the bad guy? Which is OBVIOUSLY anyone who isn't a nice Christian who believes exactly what our nice Conservative Christian Boy believes? I mean, how hard can this be to figure out? How many books do we really need to read to understand this? (I'll give you a hint: Just one and it does not start with the initial Plato. Or Sartre. Or Freud. Or -- Well, you get the picture, I bet. ) Psssh! Silly rabbit! Frankly, the Conservative Christian is gettig tedious, and I've about stopped dropping by.

Where was I?


World Magazine Blog posts on Eeeevolution.

The comments are the post depressing bit.

Go read P.Z. when you're done to get the taste out of your mouth:

Summer II

I'm about to start the second summer session, here in NW Arkansas -- teaching World Lit, the second half, and a Special Topics class in Science Fiction. Have just finished teaching Chaucer and Second Semester Composition. In five weeks I will begin teaching Victorian Literature, History of the English Language, and first semester composition -- two sections. I'm also going to pitch a Special Topics: Mythology through Literature Class, to my chair, to teach in the Spring, which I'll have to design over the fall, but which will, at least, be in my area.

All this and I've been putting on nine and ten pages a day on the book.

All this by way of saying: Yikes. I'm kind of worn out.

I'm looking forward to starting the SF class. Haven't taught that for a while. It's not exactly in my area (heh, I haven't taught anything exactly in my area in about six years), but hey. (A) I know a lot about it and (B) at this point, I can teach anything.

Well, not math. Or Geology. Or any sort of hard science. Or economics. Or...

But you know. Anything to do with WORDS.

Speaking of which: I got my evals back recently. Which is always charming. And I got another one of my favorite comments. "Doc makes us read too much." (Actually spelled "makes us read to much.")

Which brings me to this point: these are English majors.

This was a class for majors. All of them are majoring in English. Yet I'd say about a third of them don't like to read books.

What the hell.

This is like being a geology major and not liking rocks.

Good lord. Why do it then?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Cost of Bush's War

The Iraqi Vet sends me this, via email:

Just to keep you updated 15,291 Purple Hearts have been awarded as of "close of business" today. Another 521 have been injured or killed NOT AS A RESULT OF HOSTILE ACTION.

Terrorist Attacks in London

The Guardianblog has updates:

This is on the BBC Website:

Two people have been killed and scores have been injured after three blasts on the Underground network and another on a double-decker bus in London.

[Blair] said it was "particularly barbaric" that [the attacks were] was timed to coincide with the G8 summit. He is returning to London.

An Islamist website has posted a statement - purportedly from al-Qaeda - claiming it was behind the attacks.

London's police chief Sir Ian Blair said there had been "many casualties" but it was too early to put a figure to those killed or injured.

More than 100 casualties and one of the dead were taken to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.

And St Mary's Hospital said it was dealing with 26 injured people, including four with critical injuries and eight in a serious condition.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bush's Speech

It inspired so many of our friends on the right so deeply.

Here's how it sounded to those in Iraq:

Bush said:“The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror. The war reached our shores on September 11, 2001.”

Do people really still believe this? In spite of that fact that no WMD were found in Iraq, in spite of the fact that prior to the war, no American was ever killed in Iraq and now almost 2000 are dead on Iraqi soil? It’s difficult to comprehend that rational people, after all of this, still actually accept the claims of a link between 9/11 and Iraq.

Or that they could actually believe Iraq is less of a threat today than it was in 2003.We did not have Al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to the war. We didn’t know that sort of extremism. We didn’t have beheadings or the abduction of foreigners or religious intolerance. We actually pitied America and Americans when the Twin Towers went down and when news began leaking out about it being Muslim fundamentalists- possibly Arabs- we were outraged.

Now 9/11 is getting old. Now, 100,000+ Iraqi lives and 1700+ American lives later, it’s becoming difficult to summon up the same sort of sympathy as before. How does the death of 3,000 Americans and the fall of two towers somehow justify the horrors in Iraq when not one of the people involved with the attack was Iraqi?

Bush said:“Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. … The commander in charge of coalition operations in Iraq, who is also senior commander at this base, General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said, "We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us."

He speaks of ‘abroad’ as if it is a vague desert-land filled with heavily-bearded men and possibly camels. ‘Abroad’ in his speech seems to indicate a land of inferior people- less deserving of peace, prosperity and even life.

From Riverbend:

And she's got a lot more to say.

(Hey -- too bad Bushco can't ban her, huh? Oh, well. I'm sure it's only a matter of time.)

Yay. Honestly.

mr. delagar heard this morning at dawn (thanks to the wonders of the internet) that he has passed his language qualifiers.

This is good news, of course, even if it did set off the tiniest little panic attack in me.

See, we have a deal, mr. delagar and I.

He's working on his doctorate. Once he gets it, he gets to look for a "real" job, as the kid keeps putting it. (Right now, I guess, he's doing unreal jobs -- teaching adjunct, teaching online, being a TA.) And, when he gets this real job, I'm going to surrender my real job and be the trailing spouse for awhile, doing, I guess, unreal jobs myself.

That's the deal we have had. I swore to it, three years ago, when he started work on the Ph.D.

It seemed like a really fine idea when the doctorate was four or five years away from ever being finished.

Now that it's, what, maybe a year or a year and a half away from being finished, I find myself just the smallest bit nervous.

See, I sort of like being a university professor. I like teaching Chaucer and History of the English language and Vic Lit and even Bible as Lit, so long as I don't have to do it more than once every third or fourth semester. I like advising students. I like having an office with my name on the door. I like it when students come to me saying what should I do, and I like being able to figure out how to fix their problems and I even like serving on committees because I like that moment when I can lean forward over the table and say, damn it, all right, let's do this, and feel the committee's momentum shift because I said it.

And yes, I like earning the giant paycheck in the family.

I grew up in a family where the woman was powerless. I watched her wheedle and cry and get knocked around -- verbally, just verbally, but Christ, that was enough -- because she had no economic power, no power of any kind. I know mr. delagar would not do that. It's why I married him, a big part of why I married him, that he's not that guy. But on the other hand, ai, do I not want to be that woman.

So even though I told mr. delagar I would be extremely happy to take my turn at being the one to work part-time for a while, while he got the full-time academic job, as the actual prospect of the chance of this actually happening approaches?

I'm wishing I had a lot more Xanax.

That's all.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


So I took the kid to the fireworks last night, even though I personally hate fireworks.

(I hate anything bangy. Or outside. Except hiking and camping. I like hiking and camping. Otherwise I want to be inside where there is air conditioning and a roof and pillows.)

I took her because she's a kid and she loves fireworks and it was the 4th and I figured I would be a eee-eeee-eevil parent if I didn't and because the other liberal professor invited us over for a cookout at their house, which is like the coolest house ever, out in the woods (as the kid puts it), so it's almost like hiking and camping, being at their house, so I thought, okay, I can take that.

Also, there would be beer.

We went. I drank beer. The fireworks were nice. Kind of bangy. The kid and her fiance, Miles, climbed on the coal hill which is a monument to all the coal miners who helped build the town. The new kid the other liberal professors has recently produced, whom we have decided shall be Mick for the purposes of the blog, who is five months old now, was very entertaining.

But then, after the fireworks? On the way home?

The kid had a major meltdown. Screamed and howled and shrieked and held me personally responsible for all the evils of the world.


Because the fireworks were over and there would be no more fireworks until next July 4th.

And this was my fault.

And mr. delagar wouldn't let me smack her one time either.

Claimed it wouldn't help. Claimed she was just over-tired and had low-blood sugar and if I smacked her she would just cry louder.

Reasonable troll.

So my migraine is back, and I'm in a testy mood, and I didn't get to sleep until two in the morning, and I'm finding it really hard to get anything useful done here.

Do you think if I hung a sign on my door, WENT HOME PISSY, anyone would care?