Monday, April 30, 2007

Reading Lists

I took my kid to the dentist Friday (you'll remember my kid has the Born-Again Christian Dentist who we love to pieces and who we have bonded so totally with and who doesn't know that we're, like, utter evil humanist socialist scum yet) and the hygenist is delighted to see the kid again and the kid is rattling on at her, telling her about everything she's been doing and everything she's been reading, a reading list sixty books long, and I'm biting my lip hoping nothing appalling will come out, trying to remember just what the kid has been reading lately, and the hygenist recommends a book her son has just read, Where the Red Fern Grows, saying the kid will like it if she likes books about dogs (the kid has been talking about Cynthia Voigt's new book, Angus and I forget what) which leads the kid to look over at me and ask can she read that one?

"Oh," says the hygenist respectfully. "Do you look through her books?"

Meaning, do I make certain her books are "acceptable" before I let her read them.

I smile. "No," I explain, "she means does it end well. She can't take books about dogs where the dogs die. No, we let her read what she wants to read."

Which we always pretty much have. This was always my mother's policy, and it is mine, too: if the kid wants to read it, she can read it. This led to her struggling through about 30 pages of The Six Wives of King Henry the VIII last year before she surrendered, annoyed; and it leads to her sitting behind me in the white chair demanding, every 2.5 minutes, that I define words for her -- "What does turbulent mean?" "What is a cracked voice?" "What does it mean when it says he's sinus? Sinimumus? Sin-u-ous?" -- until I threaten to wallop her if she doesn't start using her dictionary. "Why do you think we bought that dictionary? For our HEALTH?"

"It takes to lo-o-ong to look things up in the dictionary!" she complains.

Worse than that, though, Flea, here, warns me of the potential hazards of my the Kid Reads All plan:

which I will admit I had already run into, in a less amusing way, when the kid found me reading Y: The Last Man a few months ago and wanted to read them too. I said she wouldn't like them. She thought she would -- graphic novels! A monkey! Scary! I countered. Violence! Remember how shook up you got by Dr. Who? This is worse!

But she wanted to try. So I gave her one. I had been so distracted by the violence I forgot about the sex -- sex jokes, lesbian sex, sexual references, all of them obtuse, so that they have to be explained to your eight-year-old. Luckily she's totally appalled by sex (S-E-X, as she says it) so mostly I could just say, "That's a joke about S-E-X," and she would go away.

But reading Flea's entry has reminded me that I better go do something about the more, ah, appalling volumes of my gay SF collection. Move it to a higher shelf, maybe?

Though that never worked with me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Still Here

Haven't posted lately, but I'm still around. It's just a confluence of (a) the end of the semester, when things step up naurally (b) the pneumonia which I am still recovering from [I lost a total of 12 pounds and don't seem to be regaining either them or any energy, but I suppose I will once the semester ends and I can sleep as much as I want to, which is to say 14-19 hours a day] and (c) some major fucking depression attached to being rejected by the good agent which is 3 agents in a row, which I suppose is nothing special -- I know it's nothing serious-- and I need to get over it and keep on submitting but fuck me if I can seem to and then (d) bad stuff keeps happening to people all around me. What is up with that?

It comes down to I am just too bummed to blog.

But more blogging soon.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

You Don't Need That

I should not have been shocked, I guess, that our Supreme Court would uphold the ban on the soi-disant "partial-birth" abortian ban (the D&X procedure); and clearly not while admitting that this is the safer procedure; and yet -- and yet --

I suppose it is because I am a deep believer in Enlightenment Values yet. I could not help believing that, even if that idiot Bush had appointed these judges, yet they were judges. They *had* been educated. They *could* reason. Like Plato's philosopher-king, they knew shadow from reality. Fools down in the cave would be swayed by klaxons and shrieks and scary cartoons, but those nine up in the sunlight? Never.

Go on over to Pandagon for more. I'm too sad right now.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

That Fucken Patriarchy

Mouse was telling me a bit ago about a couple who came into the store where she works with their kid. The woman was buying scrapbook supplies. The father was grumbling about. The kid, a little boy, picked up a sticker, wondering if he could have it. Dad went off. No! No! Put that down. Girls do that! Not Boys! Girls!

Mouse had more to say on this, all of it caustic, but it made me think of what's been happening to our Mick, at our pleasant little Montessori school. As you know, Mick and my kid have been best of friends since we first moved to Pork Smith, when Mick was 16 months old and the kid was 4. They play together all the time, they always have. But lately Mick has been catching shit from the boys in his class, because, as you might have noticed and they clearly have, the kid is, holy crap, a girl. They are riding his hide about it, that he plays with a girl. You know how evil and disgusting that is, playing with one of those!

Mick is a tough nut, let me tell you. He makes his own trail. But, on the other hand, he's five. It's a deal to bear up under, the socialization of the patriarchy. He's talked to the kid about it. He's talked to his mom (the Other Liberal Professor) about it (and she's talked to the teachers).

The kid has talked to me about it. "They say if he plays with me," she relates, "he'll have to play with Barbies! I don't even like Barbies! That's stupid. They say I'll hit him with a baseball bat! Why would I hit him? They say--"

"Hey," I say, calming her down. "Hey. Even if you did play with Barbies. What would be wrong with that?"

She's breathing hard. "But I don't!"

"That's not the point. What are they trying to say about girls?"

She thinks. "That girls are bad?"

"And why would they be trying to get Mick to believe that?"

She scowls.

"One word," I said, "and it ain't start with W."

"Patriarchy?" she says, disbelievingly.

"It's not just on TV," I promise her.

Over here on Pandagon, there's a beautiful post by Chris Clarke about women's experience -- which, yes, starts at six and seven and nine -- and guess what? It's not just us. Mick, too, is getting hurt by this patriarchy crap, at five. So was that little boy in Mouse's store. So are all our children.

Go read the post.

Read the comments too: the testimony of the women in them gets a big Amen from me.

Wingers Show Us How It's Done

My doctoral advisor, John Locke, was shot to death in his office on the UA Fayetteville campus by one of his students several years back, in one of these early campus shootings that are becoming far too common. So I'm not amused by Derbyshire's snotty comments on the VA Tech shootings

and how if HE had been on campus, WELL! things would have been different, that's all!

Because the only folk who get shot in these school shootings, you know, people, are idiots who let themselves get shot.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Imus and Maher

So I got back from the conference -- which went well, despite my ongoing pneumonia (it won't die-e-e) -- late last night, and while I was doing laundry and trying to finish prepping for Chaucer and coughing my lungs out, mr. delagar was watching Mr. Maher on the television as Mr. Maher defended Imus, tried to claim that folks had overreacted, that Al Sharpton and all the other black folks were seizing Imus's remarks as a political opportunity, that use of the media was not a valid way to make political advances (um, what?), that people had a right to say what they wanted in this country (okay, yes, but so?) and that to object just because Imus had called some black women nappy-headed hos was not fair. Or at least that Imus shouldn't lose his job over it. Because rich white guys shouldn't lose their jobs just because they attack black women.

I guess. Because then he dumped Al Sharpton and brought on some white guy I didn't recognize and he and the white guy made jokes about Al Sharpton's teeth and dialect and accent and from there transitioned into a lengthy whinefest how unfair it was that rich white guys like themselves got attacked in the media just because they made jokes about the disenfranchised and how picked on rich white guys were these days and how it wasn't easy being a rich white guy in America these days, how everyone was piling on rich white guys and it was ever so difficult trying to be a rich white guy making a living not to mention living in America where the poor and otherwise colored and female and disenfranchised got all the breaks and no one seemed to appreciate that.

I felt for them, I tell you. My heart bled.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Off Again

I'm off to a conference -- in New Orleans! Yay! I'm sure I will diligently spend all my time in conference sessions and not any of it in the Quarter or at the bookstores. You bet!

Later, suckahs!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Baby Baby

Another Quiverfull dude and his brood came up over on Twisty lately -- that famous picture of the family where they are all dressed alike and it's like seventeen little blond pups and they're all wearing blue and the girls all have long hair and the boys all have Nazi haircuts? You know the one.

Anyway, I was thinking of how if the Pro-Choice issue is raised in my class, the guys rant about the EEEEvils of Abortion, and some pretty little Pentacostal is certain to declare that the most dangerous place in America right now is inside a woman's womb!

But if I frame the question so that the choice in question shifts to birth control -- if I mention that those who oppose choice also are beginning to oppose access to birth control -- hah! The field shifts then. You should see how fast.

People might be ambivalent about abortion. They might let three or four hard right voices take over the debate about abortion. No one is ambivalent about their birth control. You're gone to pry their birth control out of their cold dead hands, dudes.

Here's Katha Pollit with a (sort of) related essay:

In the modern world, the traditional ways of producing large families--early marriage, lack of sex ed and birth control, religious propaganda, community pressure, denial of education and jobs to women--don't work so well, especially when combined with the high cost of living that prevails in many developed countries. Even in comparatively conservative countries like Greece (1.3), young women are going to college, working and postponing marriage, as young men have been doing for years. Faced with the choice between career and kids, a lot of women seem to be voting with their wombs. As Lerner notes, the countries with the most rigidly patriarchal families and the most sexist workplaces are the ones with the lowest birthrates.

She notes elsewhere in the essay that the U.S. has a birthrate of 2.0. We're only growing as a nation due to immigration. Which some might see as a bad thing -- but she doesn't, and neither do I. What -- six billion ain't enough?

Thursday, April 05, 2007


We had our seder Monday night -- a nice one, even though the Other Liberal Professor* and Her Minions could not attend. Three of our friends came down from Fayetteville, one bearing some very nice KFP wine, and we had shipped in some KFP matzo and cookies of affliction and such from New York, because, as I am sure I have mentioned, probably sixty times, one cannot get Jew food in Pork Smith (mr. delagar has taken to saying that there are only two things one can buy in Pork Smith, pork and bibles, which does not, may I mention, delight his students? but I am afraid our recent failure to find even Non-KFP matzo in the local stores -- we could always at least get *that* -- had embittered him), so we had that and a nice brisket and matzo ball soup, which is mr. delagar's speciality, both, and mr. delagar complained again about my passover plate (which I got from a chatline friend -- remember chatlines? they were previous to blogs?) about seven years ago -- I didn't have one and we were in Idaho then which was worse than Pork Smith as far as getting Jewish stuff and she had three because she had just gotten married, so she shipped me a spare, which I thought was so decent of her but mr. delagar thinks it's ugly, and, he says, hard to read. [I like it, may I nterject.] So go buy another one, I say. Where? He demands. Pork Smith?

We also lack a matzo cover. Sigh.

Anyway, despite all this sad affliction, it was, as I said, a fine seder. The food was not as grim as seder food often is, the haggadah reading went well, the wine was nice, it is true I had been rejected by the good agent just that afternoon, but hey, that is better than being a slave in Egypt, is it not? And it is not like I didn't expect to be rejected. And she wrote me a nice *letter* of rejection. So maybe I drank a little too much of the excellent wine. But not that much too much. And someone had to drink the Other Liberal Professor's share.

During the seder you're meant to discuss who is being oppressed around the world -- what oppression you know about, what you think you can do to relieve that oppression. The kid wanted me to sing a Billy Bragg song. However, I had not had that much wine. We discussed oppression as we knew it. Yes, the patriarchy was mentioned. mr. delagar refrained from wincing. The kid brought up women in Afghanistan, whom she had apparently been studying in school. The abuse of animals was brought up, I believe by Zelda. mr. delagar tried to scoff at this one, claiming that until humans were taken care of we shouldn't spend time fretting over pigs and chickens, but half the table rose against him. I pointed out this was the same argument made by certain male leftists about women's rights -- that they would worry about getting women equality when (male) humans were safe and secure worldwide; Zelda made the point that abusers often began their abuse by torturing animals, and escalated to humans; I added that people couldn't work in those slaughterhouses and factory farms, witnessing and participating in the largescale abuse of animals, without it dehumanizing and damaging them; our friend from Fayetteville, a world traveller, said that Norway (I think he said Norway) has very strict laws about how animals have to be treated on farms and in slaughterhouses and that they have one of the lowest crime rates and domestic abuse rates in the world. mr. delagar retreated and said he was all for animals being treated humanely and in fact he would like to become a vegan now except he could not do without milk in his coffee and what about George Bush? Wasn't he an oppressive son of a pig?

After that we drank more wine.

*The Other Liberal Professor is truly being afflicted. Y'all should keep her in your thoughts.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Here's a Disease

You don't want: Pneumonia.

Among many others you don't want, I agree, this is the least of them. But man, it has wiped me out. I can't stay awake. I can't work. I take a walk to the kitchen and I need a three-hour nap. My whole body buzzes with exhaustion, all the time. Eating? Eating is beyond me.

I'm teaching today -- somehow -- and we're finishing The Clerk's Tale in Chaucer. This is not going quite as I had planned. I don't teach it as it was taught to me (as a religious allegory -- well, my professor taught everything in the Chaucer as a religious allegory). I teach it as a reply to the Wife of Bath's tale, which it seems, obviously, to me to be, and the Clerk as talking, in a sly and sort of supercilious way, about power structures, using power in a destructive way, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, about six students in the class have, apparently, been homeschooled and got taught it as a religious allegory, in the most basic fashion -- Griselda is man, Walter is God, blah blah blah, and are annoyed that I am daring to teach it any other way. I'm not sure I have the energy to deal today. Maybe I'll just give in. "Yes! You're utterly right! That's exactly what Chaucer was doing! Go home!"

At least I can go to sleep then.