Wednesday, November 30, 2005

War on Christmas

Our university has just put up its holiday decorations -- immense they are, and very shiny, lots of lights and very festive.

So I'm leaving my office with the kid, who had a day off and spent it with me. She's trying to read the giant decorative light outside my building from the reverse. "S-E-A-- What does that say?" she demands.

"That one says Season's Greetings," I said.

She frowned. "Why does it say that?"

"Well," I explain, "if it said Merry Christmas, it would just be talking to the Christians, right? But if it says Season's Greetings, then it's talking to Christians, and Jews, and Muslims, and anyone who celebrates a holiday around this time."

I swear to you, her face absolutely lit with delight. "It's talking to me!" she said. "It's talking to us!"

Then yesterday? I pick her up from school and we're driving to Aikido and she's singing one of the two existing Hannukah songs (O Hannukah O Hannukah) and I say, "Did you sing that in music class today?"

"No," she says. "If we sang songs in music, they would be Christmas carols."

Like, duh, you idiot.

And? In Wal-Mart? We're looking at all the bake-your-own Christmas crap? She asks me why there aren't any Hannukah cookies or Hannukah candies (we can't even get Hannukah candles in the Fort). I tried to explain that if we lived in other parts of the country, there would be, but I don't think she believed me.

So do I have a lot of sympathy for Mr. O'Reilly and his faux-War? I fucking well do not. He can fucking well bite me, in fact.

Him and all his lying weasel friends.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wal-Mart Fucks America

TBogg has a good post up on the details:

This has been irking me for about a decade now. All over Arkansas, everywhere here in the Fort, folks claim they "have" to shop at the Wall, because things are so much cheaper there. Yes, certainly. Cheaper because Wal-Mart is being subsidized by your tax dollars, you berk. Because you're paying Wal-Mart's health insurance bill. Because you're paying for food stamps for Wal-Mart's employees and the ER bill when the children of Wal-Mart employees get sick -- that's why your fucking underwear is so fucking cheap, you fucking bint.

Not that I'm the least bit hysterical about this or anything.

And then, because it's where all my students end up working, and they all end up "full-time" employees, working 33 hours a week for six dollars an hour and no benefits, because what other options are there in the Fort, and most of them cannot afford to move, not with three kids and a husband who hasn't paid child support in five years, well, it's a never-ending story, isn't it?

Monday, November 28, 2005

New Orleans

DED Space links to a Katrina story --

that makes me sad and angry, though not surprised.

New Orleans has sort of fallen off most people's screens these days. I hear about it, because of my family. Metairie, where most of my family lives, is partly up and running again, my mother tells me; but New Orleans itself is not.

My youngest brother lives in the city. His house still has no power, though he says power crews are "supposed" to be coming through soon. He and his wife are nearly the only ones living in their neighborhood at the moment. One house down the block is also occupied, and another house several streets over -- and this is typical, apparently. Only about 15% of the population of New Orleans has returned.

Shops aren't opened. Stores that do open, close by five, for the most part. Houses are decayed and fallen. My mother says the landscape is gray. Places burn down frequently. At night, the city is utterly dark, and utterly silent.

My brothers went to the French Quarter on Halloween evening. They said it was bizarre. (Halloween, you might know, was, or used to be, a huge deal in the Quarter.) They said it was like a J. Crew Halloween.

Oh, what's been done to my city.

Pride and Prejudice

We took the kid to see two movies over the TNX holiday, Zathura and Pride and Prejudice. She loved them both; so did I. (mr. delagar confessed to being a bit bored in Zathura, but then I suspect he did not find the astronaut as charmingly sexy as I did. A charmingly sexy astronaut will go a long way toward distracting me.)

Anyway, this P&P is the best yet, I think. It's got the best Mr. Collins ever, and while I don't think it handles Mr. Wickham very well, all the other characters are brilliantly done, including Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. And it's done just excellent with the class issues -- it touches deftly on the real peril of the Bennett situation and lets the audience, at least, see that yes, Elizabeth does, in fact, have her head in the clouds just a touch, if she thinks she can afford to marry for love.

It also captures all the background detail wonderfully -- the scenery and the lighting and the clothing and the farmyards and the servants and the dogs -- those are all perfect. The ballroom scenes! The kid was bouncing in her chair with delight over the ballroom scenes.

Also, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's sexual attraction -- repressed and violent, played with amazing beauty. The actors did an amazing job with this. As did the director.

(For an opposing view, see this guy,

who apparently thinks people should not desire one another sexually previous to marriage -- I guess that's what he thinks -- and that previous to 1960 no one ever looked at anyone else's butt. Yes, of course. That's why Victorians put out more porn than any other generation on the planet, son.)

Anyway, I highly recommend the new P&P. I loved that six hour BBC version, but this one is even better.

(mr. delagar, at Pride and Prejudice, looking around the packed theater about six minutes before the previews start: "I think I'm the only guy in here."

I look around too. "Nah. Look. There's one, with his mother.")

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Rude One Speaks

The Rude Pundit on Coulter:

"You can dismiss Coulter's mad brain as a belfry filled with those flying rats, but she is the seething evil id of the
right, daring others to cross her line."

Yep. And this is why -- much as many might like to dismiss her as harmless and a joke -- she, like her animus figure, Rush, is scary.

It's not so much that she says what they all want to say -- though she does -- as that, by saying the truly evil things she says, she moves the boundaries: and thus allows the Right to say, each day, things that are just a little bit more evil. It's the function of every trickster figure in every culture. She and Rush are the Right's own Loki puppets. It's not what they say that matters -- it's the changes they leave in their wake.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


We stopped visiting family for Thanksgiving about five years ago, here at the delagar household. It makes us much happier about the holiday, frankly.

So today, instead of waking up after having driven miles & miles to be somewhere we don't especially want to be, we woke in the chilly dusk of an Arkansas fall morning, and have been, since, idly preparing a feast for just the three of us -- a turkey (which we got free from our local Harps -- it's Employee Owned, the Harps, and sells free-range chicken, and organic vegetables, and milk from a local dairy that comes in glass bottles and has Nothing Added! and tastes wonderful, we love our Harps, they gave us the free turkey because we bought more than a hundred dollars worth of groceries last Friday) and rolls (I'll attach my recipe) and pumpkin pie (mr. delagar made that, so I don't know the recipe) and some of those sweet potatoes with marshmellows but not raisins because the kid does not believe in cooked raisins and grilled asparagus (you can have the recipe for that too if you like) -- and in between making all of this, I've been working on revising the third novel in my trilogy and mr. delagar has been composing and the kid, well, she's still working her way through Black Adder. "What's a leper?" she asks. "What's a dingle?" "What's typhoid?"

We've bought her a children's dictionary. It's infuriating what those things don't contain.

On the other hand: "What's a tosser?" she asks.

Now that one I'm relieved to find the children's dictionary won't define, I admit.

Here's the recipe for my rolls:

One cup ice-cold milk. Marshall's dairy makes the best milk, but if you don't live here, do what you can.
Two eggs. Free-range organic are the best.
One Tbs yeast
One tsp salt
One tsp sweetening -- any sort, honey, brown sugar, maple, whatever suits you
Two tbs butter, soft or melted

Mix. Add in some bread flour. King Arthur Bread flour is the best sort. But if you can't get that, just use any sort of bread flour. It MUST be bread flour, though. Keep adding bread flour and mixing (if you have an industrial mixer, mix one minute after every half cup of flour you add; if you're kneading by hand, you have my sympathy, and just knead as long as you can stand it) until you have a good stiff smooth dough, almost but not quite not sticky.

Set that sucker to rise about an hour. Punch down after an hour. Rise again, another hour. Punch down again. One more hour. Punch down, shape into rolls, put in a well-buttered pan -- I use a round pan, but that's only because my pan is round. I also make round rolls, but it's only because I always have. Rolls about the size of my fist. You should have started the oven heating to 400 somewhere in here.

Let them rise about 20 minutes. Bake about 20-25 minutes. Eat with real actual butter. Honey is also nice.

The Asparagus.

Get skinny aparagus. Little puppies. Wash'em. Snap off the tops, throw the bottoms away. Put them in a big shallow pan. Put about a tablespoon of good olive oil on them. Toss'em around. Sprinkle with Kosher salt. Put under the broiler for about six minutes. Eat like French fries. The kid loves these.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Why Do We Have Kids

Except to torment them?

So the kid is still studying her Black Adder text assidiously, and it contains a whole section on Medieval Medicine, with various ways leeches were used for this cure and that cure. She's munching Tater Skins while she reads.

I eat one. I eat another. She is reading me bits about leech cures. I eat another, and say, "You know, these are dried leeches."

She looks at the Tater Skin she is about to eat, and looks at me. "It isn't."

"Is too."

She considers it. "Leeches aren't this color," she declares.

"Well, sure. Not until you cook them."

She considers some more. "Leeches aren't flat."

"Right, the factory flattens them during the process."

She regards me with deep suspicion. "It says Tater Skins on the bag," she points out.

"Of course it does. Who would eat a chip called Dried Leeches?"

She didn't fall for it, though. She's gotten too clever. My brother Ben, on the other hand. He would have fallen for that one until he was ten or eleven, at least.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Kid Strikes Again

Two days ago the kid found a copy of the Black Adder scripts in our local public library -- all the scripts, in one volume -- and has since been reading them with a Talmudic intensity that is almost unbearably charming.

Or it would be if she didn't keep demanding that we supply historical annotations, definitions of obscure words, and disquisitions on just why certain puns are or are not funny. Which behavior, frankly? Gets old after the second or third hour.


Last night, she's kneeling by the ottoman, her favorite study position, reading intently, and abruptly she says, "Daddy."

"What, sweetness?" mr. delagar says.

"Does prick have two meanings?"

Monday, November 21, 2005

Here, Here, Here, Here

HERE you go.

Here is why being an atheist is the right and moral way to go:

My two favorite paragraphs:

Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.

Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

(Hat tip to the Other Liberal Professor.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Fat America

Every semester in my ENGL 1213 class, which requires a research paper, I have two or three students who write on dieting or on weight loss or on various weight loss methods -- one this semester is writing on bariatric surgery as the sure-fire way to reduce the rate of morbid obesity in this country. Usually the students who write are wan girls of around nineteen, who weigh in at about 122 and walk with their heads down, and who earnestly tell me, when I try to point them toward the articles that show that being a bit overweight really isn't bad for one's health, that "people" really just want to lose weight because "they" will "feel better about themselves." All the while never once looking me in the eye.

Here's an article looking over the whole obesity mess one more time.

It doesn't really say much that's new, but it says it clearly. I like this paragraph especially:

In spite of the fact that there are virtually no controlled clinical trials examining the effects of obesity in people, we can make some inferences from animal research. Investigations performed by Ernsberger and his colleagues have shown that, over time, weight cycling (temporary weight loss followed by a regain of that weight, otherwise known as yo-yoing) in obese laboratory animals increases blood pressure, enlarges the heart, damages the kidney, increases abdominal fat deposits, and promotes further weight gain (Ernsberger and Koletsky 1993; Ernsberger et al. 1996; Ernsberger and Koletsky 1999). This indicates that the yo-yo effect of crash dieting may be the cause of many of the problems we attribute to simply being fat.

That's the one you can't get people to hear -- people like my mother, who has been on diet after diet for the past fifty years, and who insists to me that if she "ever" stopped dieting she would weigh a thousand pounds, and yet keeps losing and regaining the same twenty pounds. And meanwhile along the way, like so many of my students, has done speed and diet pills and diuretics and Atkins and this lunatic diet and that insane regime and is currently, I believe, doing a mix of Weight Watchers and those no-fat/no-carb foods everyone thinks will work so well -- yikes.

I've got feminist issues about this (what else?) mainly because I had food issues as an adolescent: I remember trying to make myself thin enough to be acceptable to the world. I remember what it was like, trying to like on 1200 calories a day. I remember a life when all I could think about was food. This was high school, mind you. When I ought to have been thinking about algebra and physics and Latin: I was thinking about how much beef broth I could have for dinner and whether I could have four crackers or five with it. All afternoon I would think about that. And how many miles I would have to run, if I ate ten crackers instead.

Because I focused, from grades nine through eleven, on trying to make my body fit some magazine image, I did not focus on what I ought to have been focusing on (not, I admit, that it would have made much difference: I was, after all, attending what was likely the worst high school in Jefferson Parish, Riverdale High: but nonetheless.

My young women students, many of them, are in the same place. They are focusing, not on studying biology or algebra or work for my class, but on how much they weigh, how much they have eaten, how much they can eat, how much they ate yesterday, do their bellies stick out, did they run far enough last night -- if they're obsessing over their weight, as America tells them to do, they are not obsessing over my class.

Which is just wrong.

Some Housman for Today

Yonder see the morning break:
The sun is up, and up must I,
To wash and dress and eat and drink
And look at things and talk and think
And work, and God knows why.

Oh often have I washed and dressed
And what's to show for all my pain?
Let me lie abed and rest:
Ten thousand times I've done my best
And all's to do again.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A question

I’m teaching Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own in my Lit of Diverse Culture’s Class (we’ve gotten to the Feminist Lit part of the class) and we were discussing the bit where Woolf says women previous to the 20th century really couldn’t write well because they were too hampered by their cultures, unable to travel or have educations, and by the critics around them telling them constantly that women couldn’t say this and mustn’t think that, that they weren’t smart enough, and so that women were, as a result, too limited, too angry, too poor – I was delving into this idea with the students, seeing what they thought of this, with side excursions into Woolf’s classism (which gets really evil in that text, I’d forgotten how vicious she was about the working classes, all in the most polite manner possible, of course: that is, she is totally blind to her own prejudices), and one of my students asked about the anger issue, did I think that was true, that you couldn’t write well if you were writing out of anger, or other strong emotions?

“Ah,” I said. “Well,” I said.

They waited, expectant.

“See,” I said.

“Here’s the problem,” I said. “I don’t think that. But that’s because I write pretty much entirely out of anger myself. So you might want to reckon whether I’m able to give you a clear answer to that question.”

Now they’re staring at me, like hungry wolves. “What do you write?” they demand.

“Can we read it?” they demand.

“No, you can’t read it!” I said. “Hell, no, you can’t read it!”

And I got the class back onto Woolf, swiftly.

But here’s my question: what do I do about questions like that?

I’ve had students want my blog address before. Sometimes I give it to them, sometimes not. Depends on the student and how reliable I think that student is – students who want to read my short stories and novels, I have always demurred. (One or two are published, but I can count on students not being able to find them, as obscure as the publications are.)

My impulse is not to let students read anything I write, you know, EVER.

On the other hand, I make them let me read what they write: they have no choice about it. So it hardly seems fair, does it?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Over at Crooked Timber, there's a post on a speech recently given by Barack Obama, along with some excellent comments. This quotation is featured:

And so women still earn 76% of what men do. They receive less in health benefits, less in pensions, less in Social Security. They receive little help for the rising cost of child care. They make up 71% of all Medicaid beneficiaries, and a full two-thirds of all the Americans who lost their health care this year. When women go on maternity leave, America is the only country in the industrialized world to let them go unpaid. When their children become sick and are sent home from school, many mothers are forced to choose between caring for their child and keeping their job.

… In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it – Social Darwinism, every man and woman for him or herself. It allows us to say to those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford – tough luck. It allows us to say to the women who lose their jobs when they have to care for a sick child – life isn’t fair. It let’s us say to the child born into poverty – pull yourself up by your bootstraps

Whenever I mention any of this in any of my classes, throwing out the notion that maybe it might be useful if parents got some help with childcare, if the entire burden of providing for taking care of kids didn't devolve on the nuclear family -- whenever I mention that, here in the Fort, invariably I get some student snorting something about communism, or social engineering, or right, that's how they do things over there in France, maybe...

It's almost always some single male saying that, I've noticed. Oddly enough. It's never some single mother with kids. And it's never some guy with a wife and two kids at home, either.

Odd how we don't have any problem with the government providing families with help paying for care for their elderly in this country. But help paying for their young'uns? That's just crazy talk.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dropping By

Just to say, that if it comes up in your life, and the guy says to you, we're going to put you in for out-patient surgery to break up that kidney stone (that big ol'kidney stone, but he'll likely only say that if he's from Arkansas) but don't you worry none, it won't be much discomfort--

Just for future reference?

Don't believe his lying ass.

Plus when I woke up in recovery and demanded my own morphine pump they ain't give it to me.

Just some Darvocet. Ai.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Habeas Corpus

If you want to know the scariest thing that has happened in America under the Bush Administration, here it is:

From Paul Craig Roberts' column:

On Thursday November 10, the Republican controlled US Senate voted 49 to 42 to overturn the US Supreme Court's 2004 ruling that permits Guantánamo detainees to challenge their detentions. How dare the US Supreme Court defend the US Constitution and the civil liberties of Americans when we have terrorists to fight, argued the Republican senators. What are civil liberties, the Republicans asked rhetorically, but legal tricks that allow criminals and terrorists to escape.

Habeas corpus prevents authorities from detaining a person indefinitely without charges; the guarantee of habeas corpus ensures that no one can imprison you without a trial.

The Bush administration wants the power to detain indefinitely anyone it declares to be an enemy combatant or a terrorist without presenting the detainee in court with charges.

(From Walcott's column:

Roberts is right: without habeas corpus, we haven't got a democracy.

Under the rules as this current administration is running them, any of us can be declared an enemy, or an agent of the enemy, or as being suspected of working with the enemy, and then held -- forever.

Without being allowed access to a lawyer.

Without the government which is holding us having to show cause -- that government just has to declare it has cause, not show what the cause is,to anyone.

And -- this is charming -- we can be tortured, apparently.

That sound you just heard? It was the death of America.

Friday, November 11, 2005

November 11

For my students who have been and who still are in uniform, and all our other vets as well:


I know it's not enough.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Where Teh Gay Originates

So I'm teaching this class, the Lit of Diverse Cultures class, and we've just read Churchill's Cloud 9, an interesting and bizarre text, and we had an interesting session on it.

Among other things, I pointed out to the class how much violence was in the text -- and found they had not even noticed that. "Huh," one student said. "You know, I saw all the sex. And now I can see all the violence. But until you mentioned it, I didn't even notice the violence." So then I got to spin out on that for a bit, about how violence in our culture is so normalized that we don't even see it, that it's fine for us to see people being beaten up and people's heads blown off and people being burned alive, but oh, show a tit on TV, and yikes, Western Civilization is going to Fall!

And I talked to them about the roots of the word obscene, how it's from the Greek for off-stage, how for the Greeks violence was the thing that was obscene: how the Greeks never allowed violence to take place on-stage. It was obscene: it always took place off-stage. But sex? That was fine. Sex could happen, and did happen, giant phallus, humping, naked men and women, that could be on-stage all you liked, and did. Sex was good. Violence was risky.

And what do we communicate to our children, with our different rules -- that sex is obscene, that violence is a fine thing to show?

But what I started out to post about is another thing. This is, after all, the Gay Lit part of the class. In one bit of the play, Harry, a guy who's meant to be gay, has sex with a little boy. One of my smartest students, who's also a conservative, put forth the theory that this event is what makes that little boy gay.

Teh gay, she says, is caused by little boys being molested by adult men.

I explained that no, it was not. I assured her that being sexually molested as a child will make a child more likely to have mental issues when the child grows up, but it is not what makes the kid a gay kid.

She gives me a cool, superior look. She didn't argue. But she knows better.

I didn't argue either. I moved on.

I'm not sure what I should have done. This is one of my smartest students. But she's also rigidly conservative -- I'm not sure I could have said anything that would have made her listen. She knows that being gay is a dysfunction. She's not about to listen to anything I say that says anything different.

I wish I could have thought of something, though.

More Total Anesthesia

Saw the guy yesterday and he showed me a picture of my big old kidney stone, which is indeed a big old stone -- about as big as the end joint of my thumb -- and he says they're going to bust it up for me (yes, this is how doctors in Arkansas talk, but trust me, it's charming) on Monday, while I'm under yet another session of total anesthesia. My brother says when he had this done they did not knock him out. Or for when they had a look up there to see what was wrong, a tumor or a stone -- he was awake for that one, too. Apparently in Louisiana they do not go giving total anesthesia for every little whip-stitch of a procedure.

Or maybe it's because I'm a girl and the doctors are afraid I might cry?

I don't know. Don't care, either. I love total anesthesia.

Anyway, this all reminded me of the conversation I overheard as I was waking up from the anesthesia last time, between one of the docs and all of the nurses in the recovery room. The doctor was insisting that one should neither cook nor make coffee with water from the hot water tap. One of the nurses was objecting to this rule most vehemently. Other nurses were chiming in on various sides.

The doctor's argument was that the hot water tank did not ever empty out all the way. And, it was hot. But not hot enough to kill bacteria. In fact, just hot enough to grow bacteria. So, therefore, if one cooks or makes coffee with water from that source, one is using bacteria-infested water.

The nurse argued it is water one cooks with, or runs through a coffee-maker, and that the heat would then kill the bacteria. But even I, half-woozy, could see the flaw there. Not enough time being heated, I argued in my head. One must boil water 20 minutes to kill bacteria -- or is it 25? But anyway, much longer than one usually boils things one is cooking, and certainly longer than it takes to make coffee...and so the doctor argued.

On the other hand: what sort of bacteria would likely be in a hot water tank? Assuming any bacteria at all are in there? I lay, muddled, loopy, trying to think. How would they get in the tank? What would they live on? Has this doctor any evidence that bacteria live in hot water tanks? Or is he talking out his hat?

I know my home ec teacher, back in Kansas, told us never to cook with water from the hot water tap. But I always figured that was more crap from Kansas.

What do y'all think?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Why Support Bush Part II

Here's more explanation from Fred over at Slacktivist:

How Scary?

I took this quiz

and apparently I am so scary I even scare scary people.

So all right then.

Wear a Shirt for Jesus

Over here from Dobson's site

comes a young woman with at sense of humor and wit, who seems bright enough and who can at least write, arguing that good Christian girls should, for God's sake (little pun there on my part), put a shirt on.

Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37, NIV) and to "[l]ove your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). Usually when I hear these verses, I think of being nice to my friends, or at least trying to avoid running bad drivers off the road... [But it] seems pretty obvious, but if you love your friend, you probably won't murder him. If you decide to love your classmate, you won't steal his new laptop. Simple, right?

Loving our neighbors relates to any kind of issue we come up against — including modesty. Notice that "love does no harm to its neighbor." If wearing a shirt that shows cleavage will cause some guys to sin, why should we purposely do it?

Her argument is more involved than this, and a bit too simple-minded -- she's assuming that the women she sees on television "choose" to be sex-objects (of course they must! Because all humans have free will! No one is ever exploited on this planet! And society is not complex! Nor is the psychology of psychosexual relationships! Heavens no!) -- and she also assumes, amusingly, that only men lust; but the main problem I have with her argument is, simply, her conclusion.

Put a shirt on for Jesus, she says, because we don't want our brothers to sin -- but, she hastily adds, "I'm not going to wrap myself in a burka."

Well, why not?

It's the logical conclusion of your argument, sister.

If our bodies are so lucious and tasty that the very sight of them leads men into the occasion of sin, and men are so swept away by their appetites that they cannot control these appetites, if that's what you believe, then yes, I think, for the good of your neighbor's soul, I think you ought to wrap yourself in a burka. Why haven't you done that? You evil whore?

Or better yet, I think you should remove yourself from society entirely. Because even in a burka, you know, men might catch a glimpse of your toe, or the wind might blow and reveal your foot -- or, well, even if it doesn't, just seeing you walking about might cause a man to think about what's under the burka. No, no. I think you should enter a convent. You and all the other right-minded woman in the world.

Here's the thing:

Women have bodies. Men have bodies. We have this thing we do with our bodies? It's called sex? About, oh, I don't know, seventy or eighty percent of our energy and our resources (I'm talking of normal folk here, now, not born-again Christian, who apparently have some sort of wiring problem, causing them to spend all their time thinking about whether they have sinned, and what exactly a sin is, and whether wearing jeans instead of culottes is a sin, and if they accidentally went two miles over the speed limit on their way home from church last Sunday, was that a sin?) is devoted toward sex -- getting sex, getting more sex, dealing with the consequences of having had sex, and then finding some more sex.

Dressing the way we do? It's one way we show that we're sexual beings. Looking at other folk, dressed the way they are? It's how we evaluate them as sexual beings. Even when we don't actually plan to have sex with the guy we evaluate as we're crossing the street on the way to the bookstore, which most of us don't, by the way, we are, in fact, usually noticing him as a sexual creature. And he's noticing us the same way.

That's not evil, or sinful, or perverted, or whatever words you're dredging up there from your home-schooled book of synonyms -- that's how we're made.

Some of us -- not all of us, but lots of us -- like to play with the energy this sexual wiring puts off: like to dress in ways that make those wires kick out sparks. This is also not evil, or sinful, or perverted. It's also just something humans do.

(The girl with the thong panties you were so scandalized by, btw? I would have been scandalized by her as well. But mostly because she was doing the sexy thing so badly. I also dislike the girls with the cleavage hanging everywhere, and the boys with the too-tight trousers and the vest over the bare chest look. We want some skill in teh sexy-dance, I say: we want some art here. But not everyone agrees with dr. delagar. Some folk really go for that low-rent thing, and who am I to disagree? I too went through my dress-like-a-slut years, years mr. delagar is forever bemoaning his missing of them.)(And no: I will not post pictures.)

Oh, where was I?

Ah, yes. Human like sex.

Humans really like sex. Even humans who have committed themselves to monogamy, such as dr. delagar, enjoy looking at other sexy humans. That's how we are. It does not make us evil or sinful, and -- really? -- it doesn't mean we want to have sex with the guy we see crossing the street on the way to the bookstore.

I mean not usually.

It's just how we're wired.

And unless you actually do plan to lock us up in separate enclaves, I don't see that there's much you can do about it.

That's how adult humans are.

Except for the ones wearing culottes, I guess.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Well, yes, THAT explains it...

I got this off the blog A Certain Point of View, who got it from SNL...

"According to most recent polls, 66% of Americans think President Bush is doing a poor job in Iraq. And the remaining 34% think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to Church."


I'd been driving around the Fort lately looking at all these fucktards still sporting their Bush/Cheney placards and their OSAMA WANTS YOU TO VOTE FOR KERRY posters, trying to understand what's in their heads, how anyone, anyone could still be supporting this administration at this point -- but yeah. That clears it right up.

Who Knew?

Over at Dobson's site? They've figured out what causes Teh Gay! And who knew? It's (a) liking music (b) liking to hanging out with (ick) girls and (c) not getting enough attention from Daddy.

Jeremy was a typical teenager with baggy jeans, an appetite like a horse and a "‘tude" the size of New Hampshire. Or at least that’s what his parents thought.

But more and more, they began to see how different he was from other teenage boys they knew. Ever since he started junior high school, Jeremy felt like he didn’t fit in. It seemed like most of the guys in his class were only interested in sports. Jeremy was interested in music. He was shorter and skinnier than many of the boys in his gym class—a glaring fact that caused him to feel self-conscious. Most of his friends were girls. For some reason, he felt he could relate to them more easily.

But he never realized how different he was until the first time someone called him “queer.” It was like a devastating gunshot wound to his heart. And when others joined in and added the title “fag” to the insults, Jeremy was humiliated beyond words. By the time he reached high school, he was basically considered an outcast. He couldn’t communicate his fears to his dad—in fact, Jeremy couldn’t relate to him at all. So, slowly, he found himself in a world with no male companions or acceptance from men.

Soon, Jeremy began to crave attention from guys and even fantasize what it could be like if a boy really liked him.

Well! Glad Mr. Dobson has that all cleared up for us!

(A bit further down on that same article, I came across this line, which I can't resist sharing with you: "Let’s face it: science is meant to be fact . . . not theory." )

I've been skulking about on their site for a few days now, and I'm just -- what is it with these people and their obsession with sin? It's pathological. Is this a sin? Is that a sin? Did you sin? If I say jeez but I secretly thought Jesus, did I sin? If I don't actually sin but I think rebellious thoughts in my heart, am I sinning? What about if my neighbor sins and I don't try to stop him, am I sinning then? I swear, it's like OCD.

Can't we get these people some Prozac or something?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

America the Prison State

Over at Crooked Timber this post

notes that the number of us in prison or on parole is now around seven million.

Yep, seven million Americans in the prison system.

Among other things, anyone want to reckon what that costs? How much we're spending to keep seven million of us in jail or under state control? And where that money is being drawn from? (As I say to my students when I go off on this rant in the classroom, as I sometimes do, if we're building prisons, folks, we're not building biology labs, we're not building libraries, we sure as shit ain't building new high schools or art museums or day care centers.)

And why, do you think, so many Americans are in prison these days?

Are we just wicked? Is that it? Too many bad, bad children? The sixties, was it? Not enough spanking going on? (Ha!)

War on drugs, folks. There's your answer. Go have a look at the stats. Over half the people in prison are there on drug charges. And? Mostly? Stupid drugs charges.

Look. I know some drugs are bad drugs. I live in Arkansas. I know meth, for instance, does really awful things to people's lives. But putting meth users in prison? Really isn't useful.

Rehab. That might help. (I admit it probably doesn't help much.)

Prison and jail -- they don't help at all.

What would help, you wonder? I tell you what would help: really good daycare, really good schools, really good jobs waiting for the sixteen year old who, because she has nothing else to do with her life and nothing to look forward to, gets in the car with Jim Bob and takes that hit of crank. If crank is all there is, crank is what she'll choose. Here in Arkansas, for these kids in the hills, it's crank or playing bingo and the slots over in Oklahoma, hoping to score big some day. Most of them aren't, in fact, stupid -- at least not until the meth has eaten out their brains. Why wouldn't they choose the meth?
Amanda over at Pandagon recommends this site

to all teens and post-teens who need to know things about sex and having sex and birth control and just anything like that, and boy, is she right. Boy, do I wish I had had access to a site like this before I started doing the sex thing. And yes, yow, she's right, it's got stuff to teach me even now.

Send it out to everyone you know. Teens or not. That's my advice.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Banning Knowledge

But let's keep ignorance readily available.

Over at Pharyngula, PZ has a post about Albertson's, out west, banning Seventeen magazine because an issue included, inside I assume, "a labeled gynecological illustration of the female pelvis."


Why ban this? To protect the innocence -- of the teenagers this magazine is aimed at. God forbid teenage girls know anything about their own anatomy.

This sort of thing happens here in the South with our buddy Wal-Mart all the time -- certain magazines get banned for having covers that some religious group or the other finds too naughty, or some book gets banned because it has some scene in it that's too shocking. Yet just last week, I'm in line trying to buy whatever it is I go to Wal-Mart to buy -- I don't go there much, but in the Fort there are, in fact, things you can only get at the Wall -- and the kid is with me and I look down and she's staring, horrified, at one of those stupid publications, the Globe or the Enquirer or whatever it was: ARMAGEDDON TWO YEARS AWAY!!! WORLD SCHEDULED TO END ON NOVEMBER 15 2008!!!

"Is that true?" she whispers to me. "Is the world really going to end?"

Now normally this would not be a problem, because normally the kid is smart and sensible and I can tell her no and explain how those stupid publications are stupid -- but she's been having issues lately, as you know.

So we have a three hour long thing over this stupid magazine.

They won't put sex ed on the shelves. But they will put that crap. Right at a seven-year-old's eye-level, too, I might add.

Watching TV

So Tuesday night at the delagar household is Girls Night Home -- this is what the kid has named it, because mr. delagar teaches on Tuesday nights, so she and I lie about on the sofa in the TV room and watch first Bones, which has the guy that used to be on Buffy, who's very tasty, plus a woman who plays a forensic anthropologist, so, you know, a smart woman, and then House.

Last night my mother was there as well -- she came up to Arkansas to stay in case I did, in fact, have a tumor, and is hanging around for a bit. Anyway, we're watching Bones and the guy who used to be on Buffy, I cannot remember his name, hold on, let me do some research, David Boreanaz, jeez, no wonder, who could remember that one? Anyway, he's coming out of a bar with the female lead, the really smart anthropologist woman, and he's putting on his jacket and just for a second his belly shows, and all three of us go, oooo!

Seven years old to sixty-eight years old, slain by a glimpse of hot belly.

I tell you what, biology is a killer.

Meanwhile, though, that's not what I started this post to talk about. Really! It isn't!

This post is about the anthropologist woman, who's brilliant (so the show writes her) and yet wholly inept socially. I like this show, because I like the bit about having smart women on TV, smart people on TV, but why must smart people be shown as socially inept?

I know, I know, we gotta get plot and character arc somewhere. Why, though, with smart characters, does it always have to be there? "Oh, I know! She's smart, but she -- has no common sense! She's smart, but she -- can't deal with people!"

See, because that doesn't necessarily follow, I have to tell you. Most smart people, they have common sense, in fact. (Lots more than your common ijits, actually.) Most smart people are, in fact, good at handling (you can read that manipulating, if you like) people. Goes with the big juicy brain. Tends to make smart people good at reading emotional cues and paying attention to details and collating data.

Now, smart folk may not think it worth their while to coddle every ijit around them -- that may be true. You could write that character -- as had been done with the show that follows Bones, House -- but notice that's not what is being done with the woman on Bones. It's not that she's smart enough to know how to handle people and just doesn't care to, as is clearly meant to be the case with House. No, it's that she's too inept to handle people.

She can figure everything else in the world out, just like that. But the human male? Beyond her capacity.

I mean, please.