Monday, July 31, 2006

More Christian Worldview

You want to read something that will make you ill, head over here to the Christian Worldview and see what the Good Christians think about the Andrea Yates verdict.

Here's a sample:

As a person who leans toward a theonomic understanding -- i.e., that the law of God should generally be normative in determining civil and criminal law -- I've always been curious: Where does the Bible make exceptions in the treatment of criminals (murderers, thieves, etc.) because they are mentally incompetent, "insane," or even under-age?
As far as I know (which admittedly isn't as far as I'd like it to be), when the Bible requires this or that punishment for having committed this or that crime, there seems to be no exceptions re. the perpetrator's age or mental capacity.
Anybody have any insights on this?

The insanity defense reminds me of David and his approach to escaping from the king of the Philistines. He feigned insanity and the king had him thrown out rather than killed. It worked for him, so it must be worth a try.

The Yates case is an example of what happens in a society that has legalized abortion - women, for any and all reasons, including "emotional health", are allowed to end the life of their unborn children. Can we honestly expect our culture at large, that has believed the lie that children are an inconvenience and a detriment to our "emotional health", to see birth as the magical time when a mother is now able to deal emotionally with her children? Birth is just the beginning of days, months, and years of special joys and challenges faced by parents, especially mothers who have the primary responsibility of caring for their little ones 24 hours a day. It is no surprise to me that a jury would have made the determination that Yates was insane and thus "not guilty". The logical outplay of our abortion culture is displayed in this case. Until children are strictly protected by our laws and offenders are strictly punished, we can expect to see this sort of thing. As I see our culture's direction, there has been an increasing trend towards the demeaning of the value and preciousness of children, as exemplified in this case. As for me, I give glory to God who gives me the strength and grace each day to care for and see as a wonderful blessing the precious little ones He has given me and my husband. Surely in God alone is our strength and joy. Our culture has never really been a source of strength and encouragement for parents.

I had a small touch of Postpartum after my fourth child. Before that experience I would have sent Andrea Yates to death row without a second thought. Now, I strongly agree with the verdict. I cannot imagine what she was going through.

Deb, God's requirements for certain sins do not change because of yours, Andrea's or anyone else's postpartum depression, schizophrenia or anything else. The woman should be put to death because she put to death five people made in God's image. Your experience with postpartum does not change the Word of God.

Maybe the Debster's right. Maybe all Andrea needs is a hug from compassionate Christians and prayers that the next time she gets knocked up in prison during a congugal visit that she won't suffer from I-feel-ugly-because-I-have- stretchmarks-and-don't-look-sexy-anymore- syndrome.
Most depression - postpartum or otherwise - and most mental illness is the result of unrepentant sin.
Dang, I'm so uncomapassionate I feel like flaming myself here!

It's nice to know they've taken Jesus's advice about not judging and not throwing the first stone and all that to heart.

Jesus fucking Louise, can I just say? I ain't want these fucking vipers for my neighbors.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


My power bill arrived -- $298 dollars.

(I'm not even mentioning what we pad for gas last month -- but gasoline is $2.89 a gallon here these days.)

mr. delagar blames me. "It's because you want it so cold in here all the time!"

I point out global warming is hardly *my* fault, and he was the one whining it was too hot to sleep all month.

Meanwhile I have turned into my father: every time the kid or mr. delagar opens a door I holler at them to shut it. "Do you think we can afford to air condition the backyard, well, we can't!"

It was a hundred and four here again yesterday. Hundred degree today. Hundred and one tomorrow. Man, have I had my bait of this.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What I've Been Reading

(1) Jonathan Lethem: You can blame this on A White Bear


who hooked me on Lethem back when, I forget, a month or so ago, with that book Girl in Landscape. Anyway, I've been reading all of Lethem since then. Hah. All I can find at the Pork Smith Public library, I should say, which is, in fact, a surprisingly large selection. Some Pork Smith Public Librarian apparently has a Lethem jones. I have read Gun With Occasional Music, which I cannot recommend highly enough, it is my favorite so far, I think, and Motherless Brooklyn, also excellent, and now am starting Fortress of Solitude.

(2) J. M. Coetzee, The Master of St. Petersburg, which is, so far, odd. It's about Dostoevsky. And anarchists. I think.

(3) Unveiling the Prophet, by Lucy Ferriss, which I think is creative non-fiction. I'm reading this because I'm writing a review of it. It's also sort of odd. I'm trying hard to like it, because I do try hard to like books I review, but it's one of those I'm an oppressed member of the upper classes tales, and, well, fucking shit. I have a hard time sweating out much grief for the oppressed bints whose suffering includes being forced to go to their daddy's country clubs, you know? It's like that new book by Curtis Sittenfield, The Man of My Dreams, which I was also, briefly attempting to read, only I gave it up after about page 30, because, wah, her daddy yelled at her? Her daddy wouldn't buy her pizza? Ooo, she had to go live with an aunt whose husband was a trucker and she had to swim at a club you paid for at the gate? Eeek! Granted, these chicks get some credit because they know enough to know they're shallow, but not much credit, because they still want my sympathy -- and for what? That miserable life of wealth and expensive educational opportunity she has been forced to suffer through? Come tell it to my students, you troll.

(4) John Barnes. More SF. I like that John Barnes.

(5) An on-line gay comic I just discovered. It's actually all over now, and Sandra Fuhr, who draws & writes it, is drawing and writing another one, but it's still archived and you can read it all here:

The other one is here:

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

English Only

Every semester in my HEL class I do a one-day lecture on the English-Only movement, its origins and its racism and how it has class-warfare at its roots ("It's all class-issues!" I yell at my students, until they are sick of the words, but it is, it is), and here we are again:

The mayor of a small Bergen County town is calling for a McDonald's boycott if the fast-food chain does not take down a Spanish-language billboard advertising iced coffee.

Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan said the advertisement is "offensive" and "divisive" because it sends a message that Hispanic im migrants do not need to learn English.

"The true things that bind us together as neighbors and community is our belief in the American flag and our common language," Lonegan said. "And when McDonald's sends a different message, that we're going to be different now, that causes resentment."

"We are a very ethnically diverse community and we're proud of that," said Lonegan, the grandson of Italian immigrants. "But I happen to think the billboard is divisive. I think there's resentment from some parts of the community.

Bogota councilman George Shalhoub said he agreed with the mayor. "Something like this doesn't really help the Latino community," said Shalhoub, the son of Lebanese immigrants. "If they're going to assimilate they need to utilize the language of the country they're in.

(Via the Language Log:

The fact is, of course, that Hispanics as well as other immigrants in this country are learning English just as fast as -- some studies show them learning it faster -- than any previous generations of immigrants learned English. Despite anything any talk radio host or any Right Wing Politician (which seems to be what Lonegan is, btw) wants to claim, neither Hispanics nor any other political or religious or linguistic group, with the possible exceptions of the Pennsylvaia Dutch, those Chinese folks out in California, and them Mormons in Utah, and those Religious Right who are always, well, you know them and their home-schooling enclaves, except for those folks, no one in this country is going to separate off into Balkanized groups.

Really. They aren't.

And we don't have to worry about those groups, do we?

How important are they, really?

Christian Worldview

Over there at the Weekly World Whacks, Mr. Joe Carter quotes himself -- from the interview he did on NPR -- as saying this, about Bush's Stem Cell research ban, and why that ban was a splendid thing, and why, I'm guessing, even tiny little blastocytes are, too, babies:

"No husband, on finding that his wife is newly pregnant, brags, 'She's having my fetus!'"

He thinks this is the soul of wit and wisdom. So much so that he couldn't wait to quote himself on his site. So do tons of his readers.

I'm trying to count the number of ways I disagree with him. I'm up to about six so far.

How many can you get?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fuck you, Clown

This is the funniest ever.

Though maybe only if you're an English major...

The comment thread had me gagging on.


Heh. See now?

Another reason to drink coffee -- it makes us more open-minded.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Heat Stays On

105 degrees today. 105 tomorrow. When I walk the two hundred yards or so from my car to my office each afternoon, the skin on my face feels as though it's burnt -- as though I have first degree burns, flash burns. I find it difficult to breathe, and have to walk slowly, and seek shade.

At night, even though we have had the AC on all day, it is still hot in our house -- the AC can't handle this sort of heat -- until well past midnight. We lie on the bed, sheetless, whining. It's too hot to sleep. It's too hot to live in a world like this.

It's supposed to be cooler on Saturday. Down in the mid-nineties. Hah. I can't believe that sounds cool to me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

All Right Now

It's 102 degrees -- or, as mr. delagar puts it, one hundred and two fucking degrees here in the Fort today.

Tomorrow it's supposed to be 104 degrees.

Can I just mention that this is WRONG?

Can I just say Global Warming, loudly, once?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Back from Little Rock

We have returned with the kid. She's an inch and a half taller, and has a nice golden-syrup tan, from the days on the beach. Very pretty. Must be from her Ashkenazi ancestors. She's pleased to be home, I think, though she tells us our house is too small and has an insufficient number of bathrooms.

The trip to Little Rock to pick her up (we met the grandparents there) was uneventful, though extremely hot. It was a hundred degrees, yesterday. Spotted interesting billboards. One of the way down, paid for by a local church, said: TAKING AMERICA FOR CHRIST!

And, on the way back, this charming bit of xenophobia:


That's the America I know and love!

While in Little Rock, we visited Comp USA, where we bought me a new Mac Mini. I don't know if you've seen these little fellas, but they're totally sweet. About as big as Middlemarch (the Oxford Edition), silver, and, with the 12 month no interest deal, not impossible to finance. I had to get a new computer -- my old one was making appalling noises.

I haven't yet tried writing on it. We got home late yesterday, and spent this morning getting it set up. We'll see how it works tomorrow.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Teen Culture in Pork Smith

Over at Atrios, Duncan points out that the 1984 law which compelled states to raise their drinking age to 21 has probably not actually caused the decline in teen drunk driving deaths -- though there has been a decline, it's probably a post hoc connection.

It is true that teen drunk driving fatalties have fallen significantly since the law was passed in 1984, but it's also the case that all drunk driving fatalities have fallen then due a combination of various factors including cultural change, education, enforcement, etc. Since the law was passed (I'm not sure how quickly every state changed their laws), teen drunk driving fatalties fell from about 3600 in 1984 to 1536 in 2004 (.pdf) , about a 57% decline.Over that same period all drunk driving fatalties fell from about 82,000 to 44,000, a 46% drop. (.pdf link)So, yes, over that time period teen fatalties have decreased by a bit more than for that of the general population, but not by all that much


In other words, at a glance the law doesn't seemed to have improved things all that much over and above over what has been achieved through a general increase in societal hostility to drunk driving.

Then he mentions an interesting idea:

As a sort of compromise I'd propose the option for the under-21 crowd to choose between a drinking license and a driving license. You couldn't have both until you become 21. We could figure out if this was a one time choice irreversible choice or if switching were possible, and there are some other logistical issues, but it would seem to make sense.Also it would help to achieve a better policy goal which is reducing the amount of teen driving.

I like this notion, mainly because in the parts of the country I've spent most of my time living in -- New Orleans and Arkansas -- that law hasn't had any real effect at all on teen drinking. Sure, teens (mostly) can't drink in bars anymore (as opposed to when I was a kid in New Orleans, when we could -- I remember being 15 and getting served double bourbond in bars in New Orleans without anyone blinking, including me: it didn't even cross my mind that I wouldn't get sold drinks at 15 in a bar in the Quarter at that age); but no one has any trouble getting anything they want to drink, so far as I'm able to tell.

The same seems to be true of Arkansas, from what my students write in their essays and from what they tell me. This, coupled with a culture where kids start driving at 14 and 15, and an entire lack of driver's education (because it "doesn't do any good," my students assure me blithely) makes for some, ah, interesting highway experiences, here in Pork Smith.

Not to mention an interestingly high number of essays from my students about their friends who die in truck wrecks, and car wrecks, and head on collisons.

So I like that suggestion.

Not that I actually think it would make any difference. Kids would all just pick the license, and keep on drinking, wouldn't they?

Burka Barbie

Yeah, okay.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Is the World's Smallest Political Quiz:

Y'all won't be shocked to find out I'm a Far Left Liberal, I bet.

And here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Have I mentioned lately how much I like that Wikipedia?

I mean, where else are you going to find things like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:


Conversations at the delagar household

Scene One:

me: (surveying piles and piles and piles of books stacked around every surface of the main room of the house not to mention the bedroom and the kitchen): Right, now. Either we order more bookshelves --

mr. delagar: We can't afford that.

me: -- or we stop buying books ---

mr. delagar: (giggles)

me: (giggles also)

mr. delagar: you crack me up sometimes. You do.

me: All right. I thought I'd just put it in there. We could also get rid of some of the books we have. What about that one?

mr. delagar: Oh, no. I'm not falling for that one again.

me: What do you mean, again? When's the last time you got rid of a single book?

mr. delagar: (In the accent of the gyroscope captain from The Road Warrior): Los Angeles. Remember Los Angeles?

me: Crap. Aren't you over that yet?

mr. delagar: He still hasn't forgiven me. Why would I be over it? (This refers to a writer we both know, and a signed first edition of a book that mr. delagar owned by that writer. I accidently included it in a box of books we were giving away. The writer had signed the book with a very touching inscription, how fond he was of mr. delagar -- and, you know it, that very writer finds it in a used bookstore, years later. Eck.)

me: I never liked him anyway.

mr. delagar: You don't like anyone.

me: And so because I don't like anyone, you're never giving away another book in your life?

mr. delagar: Exactly.

me: Okay. Fair enough. (Pause) So can we buy more bookcases?

Scene Two:

mr. delagar (lying in bed reading the latest Robert Jordan opus)

me (kicking mr. delagar's socks out of my way as I attempt to dress for work): ####

mr. delagar: So you're heading off to leave me for another fifteen hours, are you?

me: Yes I am.

mr. delagar: well, fine. Do that.

me: (kicking my jeans out of the way, looking for a shirt I could actually teach in) Someone should do some laundry around this place.

mr. delagar: someone should make some bagels, too. We have a serious bagel shortage.

me: Someone should do the dishes, while we're on it.

mr. delagar: I did the dishes. Last Thursday.

me: Well, I cooked. Remember? On Sunday? I microwaved that Chinese chicken shit?

mr. delagar (fondly): That was really good Chinese chicken shit.

me: I was reading this blog? Linked off of White Bear?* Ladies Against Feminism?** This stay at home wife, who (I have found a shirt, by the way, and am strugging into it. It is one with buttons, so I have to remember how to work buttons. I'm not so good at buttons, folks, and it's hard for me to button and talk at the same time -- I can only do one thing at a time, as I am constantly telling mr. delagar and the kid) is so devoted to her husband and her house -- do you know what she does?

mr. delagar: (turning the page in Robert Jordan) : I bet you're going to tell me.

me: she bakes bread so that the house smells like bread when he gets home. Also, she irons their linen napkins. (My buttons have come out wrong. I start over.) I was thinking, see. Since you're a stay at home husband for the rest of the summer? Maybe you could iron our napkins?

mr. delgar: Do we have an iron?

me: Sure. My mother bought one when she was here the summer before last. It's in the garage somewhere. (I get the buttons right this time.) I wonder if this is what they mean by equal division of labor in the modern post-feminist household?

mr. delagar: I think you should stop for ice cream on the way home tonight.

Scene Three:

I'm eating raisins at the breakfast table (it's like four in the afternoon, so I don't know if you still call it the breakfast table) and reading a book about Nat Turner.

mr. delagar: (coming into the room): so do you want to do it?

me: (giving him an incredulous look): what?

mr. delagar: Want to have a boink?

me: you're fucking messing, right? (I go back to my book)

mr. delagar: (after a long pause): does that mean you don't?

me: how long have we been together? And you don't know how yet how to get me to have sex with you?

mr. delagar: (stands considering this extremely important question.)

me: (imparting a hint): "Want to boink?" is not how.

mr. delagar: (brightening): Oh, baby, I love you.

me: (rolls eyes, turns a page.)

mr. delagar: you're so beautiful!

me: Oh, fuck up with that.

mr. delagar: I love the way you write!

me: um...

mr. delagar: especially this new chapter! That epilogue you wrote yesterday, I loved that epilogue!

(Cut to: bedroom, forty minutes later, and -- well, you know.)



Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Teaching Nights

This teaching nights is sort of bumming.

The students are worn out by the time they get to me -- one of my classes runs until eight and the other runs until ten, so these are students who have been working all day long, or, in the case of the four athletes, working out all day long -- and I have been up writing and prepping for class since six, so I am in not much better a mood.

I have, mainly, nurses, athletes, construction workers, and folks from the Fort's two remaining factories in my classes. They're cranky and annoyed and about half conservative. That is, about four of the eight students in each class is a far-right conservative, and the other four are middle-right.

And me! Your friendly socialist professor!

Oh, boy, are we having fun!

Wait until we start reading G. B. Shaw! Ha! Ha! I'll crack them up!

So far, though, it's just been grim. The women students (three out of the eight in one class, five out of the eight in the other) will at least read their assignments -- many of the men won't. Trying to teach students who haven't done the reading is, as those of you who teach know, a special challenge. Sort of like rowing uphill.

It also exasperates the students who have done the reading. As well it should, frankly.

I'm not sure what can be done about any of this.

Build a better society? One where students don't have to work?

And, on that planet, students would all do their reading, both because they would be rested, and because they would want an education, and they would be in school for the love of learning, and not because they saw the degree as a capitalist tool...

Never mind me. I think I might have a fever over here.

Monday, July 10, 2006


The kid's coming back this weekend.

How weird will that be? She's been gone since May. Mid-May. Visiting the grandparents. In Florida right now, living on the beach with her favorite aunt and uncle and her grandmother. She loves the beach, apparently, and threatens never to come home. They took her to Disneyworld. She loved Disneyworld. She actually spoke to me on the phone afterwards (she has been too busy at the beach to speak to me otherwise). Well, I might have loved it at eight myself.

It'll be odd to have a child again. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Now Here

Is something mad cool that I came across, doing research into AAVE on Wikipedia for my HEL class:

Back from 1936-1938, the WPA had something called the Federal Writer's Project -- you might have heard of it -- which did a bunch of things; but among other things, they went around the South collecting narratives from ex-slaves -- seventy, ninety, even hundred year old black folk, about their memories of what life had been like in the South during slavery, and just after the Civil War.

These are all online now -- they scanned the actual documents in and they're available. You can go read the suckers, right here:

It's like the coolest thing ever.

It takes a bit of fiddling to get to the texts themselves -- I recommend clicking on "browse by narrator," and then picking a name and clicking on it, and then clicking "view page images," but you can go in through "browse by volume."

Some amazing stories in here. A thousands of them.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Good Christian Values

That War On Christians you keep hearing about?

How Christians are being persecuted and abused and driven out of the public square?

Oh, yes.

This school in Delaware not only has school prayer -- forces prayer on its students, whether they are Christians or not -- not only uses public school time and funding to encourage and promote Christianity (and only Christianity), not only did nothing to stop the (actual) persecution of non-Christian students at its school, it then, when the Jews had the termerity to object, brought out the torch-bearing mobs in response:

The complaint recounts that the raucous crowd applauded the board's opening prayer and then, when sixth-grader Alexander Dobrich stood up to read a statement, yelled at him: "take your yarmulke off!" His statement, read by Samantha, confided "I feel bad when kids in my class call me Jew boy."

A state representative spoke in support of prayer and warned board members that "the people" would replace them if they faltered on the issue. Other representatives spoke against separating "god and state."

A former board member suggested that Mona Dobrich might "disappear" like Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the atheist whose Supreme Court case resulted in ending organized school prayer. O'Hair disappeared in 1995 and her dismembered body was found six years later.

The crowd booed an ACLU speaker and told her to "go back up north."

In the days after the meeting the community poured venom on the Dobriches. Callers to the local radio station said the family they should convert or leave the area. Someone called them and said the Ku Klux Klan was nearby.

(Via Shakespeare's Sister:

This is what angers me, when Christians over on TownHall and like places get all pious about how they're "persecuted" and how Christians are the "real" minority these days. Right. Sure. On what fucking planet could anything like that happen to a Christian in United States? In their fucking wet dreams, Christians are persecuted in this country.

So, Well

I am teaching the night classes for the next five weeks.

This is good since I write best (now) in the mornings, like from six in the morning until about ten a.m.

(Used to be I wrote best from about ten at night until about two in the morning. That was previous to having a kid. Having a kid will fuck you up, may I just insert that? And in more ways than one. Who knew that having a kid would change me from a vampire to some chipper coffee-drinking morning bird?)

But it is not so good because my writing group, my beloved writing group, meets Monday nights. I will have to miss meeting my writing group for the next five weeks.

On the other hand hand, being able to pay rent -- such a nice thing.

And I have finished Book IV and started Book V. And I'm reading over the first three books one last time, the actually trilogy part of this trilogy (which is five books long now, and I think might go as long as seven books, and why not? Why not?), and starting to look around for agents. So long mornings to work in, those are good things.

The kid is still with her grandparents. At the beach now. I call her up, but she has no time to talk to me.