Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve Thoughts

Apparently the kid's critical thinking nodes have come unpacked.  It might have been evolution books that did it -- anyway, not only is she on the Santa quest among her school friends, zealously hunting down believers and interrogating them ("What is water-boarding?" she asked me the other day, making me slightly nervous), she also is furious that they all adhere to the Creation notion of how the universe came to be.

"Why?" she demanded of me.  This was after she had explained, in zealous detail, how evolution worked to one of her friends, and had the friend respond with a la-la-la-I-cant-hear-you-I'm-not-listening answer.  "Why are people so stupid?"

"It's not stupid," I corrected.  "You know she's not stupid."

The kid glowered and fumed.  "It's stupid to believe that the world was created six thousand years ago.  It's stupid to believe that evolution says we're descended from monkeys.  It doesn't say that!  It's stupid to believe that crud about bananas proving God must have created the world.  That's stupid!"

"No, that's willful ignorance," I said.  "Plenty of people don't want to know anything about evolution, or physics, or psychology, because they would have to change their worldview.  You remember how we talked about how scary that is?  How lots of people are scared?  You know how you feel when you're scared?"

She glowered some more.

"For lots of people," I said, "and this is the sad truth, it's easier to stay ignorant, and so they do.  They keep believing something that makes them feel safe.  That seems okay, and lots of people say it is okay, they say what does it hurt?  I'd say it was okay, too, except these things these people believe -- the religions -- they do hurt things.  Right now they're hurting our educational systems.  They're keeping kids in lots of our schools from being taught about evolution, for instance, which is the key to understanding modern science and critical thinking."

"It's also a lie."

"Well, they think it's not.  But that's not the issue, exactly.  The issue is, without a proper understanding of science, you can't do much else.  If they deny this bit of science, which is at the center of the rest, they have to deny so much.  Then they can't do any other kind of thinking, either, because they've got this walled off spot they have to spend so much time defending.  Geology, physics, psychiatry, all of them are based on the sort of thinking they can't admit.  So you've got, what,  third to half of the country living in this false world -- "

"Moo," she said, which is what she says when I have talked too much.  It is a hazard, if your parents are professors.

I grinned.  "Okay.  But it's not that your friends are stupid.  They aren't.  And quit attacking them.  They've got a different worldview.  Leave them alone about it."

"But they're wro-o-ong!"

"They think you're wrong.  Do they attack you?"

She scowled: because they don't.  In fact, her best friend defends her whenever zealous Christians come after her with tales of hellfire these days.

"Okay, okay," she muttered: visions of waterboarding, no doubt, dancing in her head.

Monday, December 29, 2008


A conversation which occurs in our household at least twice a week:

Not me: Why is it so cold in here?  It's free-e-e-ezing in here!

Me: It's sixty-eight degrees in this house and I am NOT turning the heat up.

Not me: But I'm co-o-o-ld!

Me: Well, put some clothes on! Fuck's sake!  You're running around in a teeshirt and underwear in the middle of winter whining about being cold.  Those clothes are in your closet for a reason, you know.

(Not me is NOT just the kid; it is also mr. delagar.  WTF, say I, is wrong with slippers and a sweatshirt?  Not to mention PANTS?)

Friday, December 26, 2008

What Now?

Over on Unfogged, they're wondering why and how kids would fall for that whole Santa thing, and why they don't clue one another in, which cracks me up, since my tiny Jewish Enlightenment thinker has, recently, been on her very own one-woman quest to do just that, through the Upper-El at her school.

"Ryan still believes in Santa!" she declaimed to me, back in October.  "And the Tooth Fairy!  And the Easter Bunny!"

"Well," I said, "you know, that's really his business."

"But he's nine!"

She went around interrogating classmates (there are only six students in Upper El, three in fifth grade and three in fourth) and reporting to me daily on who believed in what, along with the lengthy arguments she gave them for why such mythical critters as Tooth Fairies and elves did not, in fact, exist. (She would make an excellent Inquisitor, I suspect.)

"Dude! I told her, it's just your parents!  They write the note!  They put it under your pillow!  Don't be a sap!"

"Sweetie," I said, "really--"

"But it's stupid, Mom!  They don't exist!"

"I know, but--"

"Ryan says when I grow up and have kids, and I see Santa bringing presents to them, then I'll believe."  She made a face of enormous contempt.  "First, I'm not having kids.  Second, Jewish!  Third, there IS NO SANTA!"

I grinned a little, intrigued.  "What did he say to that?"

"He says everyone has kids.  Jesus sends them kids."  She rolled her eyes.  "I had to tell him that is NOT how it happens."

"Um," I said.  "You didn't tell him..."

"Not at school, Ma!"  She rolled her eyes again.  "But Fern and Sarah agreed with me, they told him Jesus doesn't just send kids, you have to get married and do something first.  Which I'm never going to do, so."

"Well, you don't have to get married," I said, "but you do have to have sex.  And if you do have sex," I added, as always, "what are you going to do?"

"Birth control," she said, "but I'm ten, Ma, and I'm NOT having sex, Jeez."

"All right then," I said.

Monday, December 22, 2008


First night of Hanukah last night.  We had our usual wild rumpus -- latkes and brisket, gelt and snakebites, jelly donuts, and, because the Target has come to Fort Smith, I added Christmas crackers to the mix ("Whatever, you cracker," mr. delagar grumped) so everyone wore silly hats through the night.  The Other Liberal Professor and Mr. TOLP came, along with Mick and Miles, their younguns, and Uncle Charger, and the kids ate far too much sugar, and the menorah was knocked over only once, but did not set the table cloth on fire, and we talked departmental politics as well as U.S. politics and cooking and family and holidays past and stayed up late and it was cold, cold, cold outside when we finally broke up.  

Also, we have the cutest, smartest children in the country, in case any of you were wondering. (Oh, except for yours, I'm sure!)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thoughts on the Belt and Obama

So we had our first winter commencement here at the U a few days ago, on a wet and chilly December night.  All the faculty were penned together in our respective college clumps in one area of the arena, while the graduating seniors were herded into another area.  We had been told to arrive at 6.15, and many of us even did, though we fucking well knew nothing would begin for another 45 minutes: we had done this before, after all.  They tell us 6.15 knowing none of us will show up until 6.30 and some of us won't appear until 6.45 and then it will take at least ten minutes to herd us into lines, and someone will have to pee at the last moment, and another one will have forgotten her know academics, it's like herding cats.

Anyway, I was not two weeks off the operating table, and not well able to stand for 45 minutes (yes, I showed up on time, because I am OCD that way) but I secured one of the few available folding chairs and did not relinquish it; also I had the foresight to put two Vicodin inside me beforehand.  I wasn't suffering very much.  The College of Languages and Communications milled about me, and also the Colleges of Languages and Humanities.  We discussed how one should wear one's hood (who knows?  I put mine on and wait for someone who knows to wander past and fix it for me), which side the tassel goes on (this I do know: the left, because we're all Leftists); what various folk were going to do with the Break; who all had managed to get their grades on before Records started calling them with dogging phone calls and who had not; and, of course, politics.  Specifically, what we thought of this Rick Warren move.

Sigh: this is what we think of it.

You know, I understand those who say Obama is making the usual Obama move: big tent and all that.  I even understand those who say it's more devious than that, how he's playing a crafty political game, splitting the Religious Right's base from under them (I understand this, I just don't believe it for a second).  One, the tent can be widened with some other fella, frankly.  Not that guy.  Second, pull the other.

It's hard to see how this could be okay.

Then our Chancellor, who we are liking very much, most of us, had chosen as our speaker an African-American fella, a local insurance mogul, who had attended our university back in the day.  He was a good speaker, short, funny, to the point; but one of the things he said pointed at Obama -- look, he said, here's what this country of ours has done: elected Obama, and done what it promised, all those years ago, it said it would do: become a country where people are equal.

Well!  It is true that nearly half of Arkansas voted for Obama, but not half of Fort Smith did.  Laws no.  The stadium was icy silent, though they had liked his speech so far, as it had spoken of church, and prayer, and free enterprise, all that stuff they, as good Christian pirate Americans, hold so dear.  But if he was going to expect them to champion the cause of equality -- of black folk being equal to them -- well, really!  Might as well expect them to women being equal, or gay people having rights, or silliness like that.

They loosened up later, when he spoke of how he had gone up to finish his degree at the University of Arkansas (back in the day, our university was a two year college) and back then, as he pointed out, the U of A didn't let black folk room with white folk -- yes, yes, they nodded: weren't they enlightened ones, to have allowed segregation, not like them wicked people back in the sixties!  They'd never be like that, not them.

Just don't expect them to vote for one.  That's all.  Or no girls or atheists either.

Sometimes I need a really long nap.


Friday, December 19, 2008

School's Out!

Done with grading, done with commencement, all done until January 7 -- yay! -- a few blessed weeks now to do my own work.  I have two short stories I plan to revised (I even know how to revise them) and an article to bang into shape.  I might be able to get that done in this amount of time.  What's the odds?

Meanwhile: three days until Hannukah starts and for once I actually have the presents all bought.  (The kid, sternly, last week: "Have you bought the presents yet?  All of them?")  I don't have the house cleaned up; but I do have a really good excuse, that I am broken.

Did my first PT session this morning.  The PT woman told me not to lift.  How can I clean house if I can't lift?  I ask you!

Also my shoulder guy -- or rather his nurse -- is getting stiff about the amount of drugs I am getting through.  Apparently I am eating too many pain drugs.  They have no idea how many pain drugs I would like to eat: that is all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Updating

I am still grading...may I just mention, in passing, how heartily sick I am of the Witness for Jesus cleverly disguised as an essay answer? 

Does this only happen in Arkansas?  Or only to professors who have foolishly mentioned that they aren't Saved?

In any case: if I have to read one more How Jesus Entered My Life And How Blessed I Am Because of it paper and/or essay this grading season, I think I might yak.

I have gotten a couple excellent papers, though: one on black English; one on dive bar sociolects; one of the sociolect of hang-gliders; one examining the use of color in Howl's Moving Castle.  So, well, 90% of everything being crap, as it is, I suppose I should be pleased enough.

BTW: my shoulder HURTS.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weather Report

...metaphorical and otherwise.

My shoulder is repairing itself slowly; the bouncy weather (hot one day, icy the next, as fronts sweep through) is not helping.  I was up most of the night last night in violent pain, this despite taking five of my Vicodin.  (Shoulder guy took me off the Oxycontin, put me back on the lesser pain drugs.)

Mobility is increasing, though: I can lift my arm again, nearly shoulder-high, and type fairly well.

Starting official PT this week (I've been doing at-home PT since just after the surgery).

About halfway through the grading.  One plagiarist so far -- but only one.  Not so bad.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Grading Blues

I'm grading exams and papers, one-handed, grumpily -- our institution has a bizarrely brief period between the end of final exams and the deadline for grade reporting: about 72 hours this semester -- and with my usual qualms.

I just don't like grading students. It seems wrong. Back when I was teaching Latin, I had fewer issues, somehow, and I can't think why: I suppose because it was the test I was grading, and not the student, and the test was right or wrong, so who cared -- I was only deciding if they had learned Latin , nothing else.

Now, however, when it ought to be the same deal -- that is, I ought to only be deciding if it's the History of the English Language they have learned; or if they can construct an argument with good points and support those points with sufficient evidence, and that ought to be all that matters --well, I find myself thinking, no wonder this fella can't, he's a soldier, he comes here from the base, he's been up all night, he knows he's about to be shipped to Iraq, how in shit can I grade him the same as these six other students, living at home with their parents, with no issues on their minds but whether their Tivos are working?

If it's wrong to harsh on my soldier student, well, what about my single mother student, working the third shift at Wal-Mart, her with her two kids and her food stamps and her junker car that keeps breaking down? She's missing classes because her kids are sick so much and because that car won't start and because she needs to take extra shifts when she gets offered them -- is it fair, really, to hold her to the same standards as that nineteen year old honor student whose mama does his laundry?

Or the kid back in the corner, that manic-depressive who can't get out of bed half the time...what about him?

Or even if I don't fret about any of that, if I only grade their tests qua tests -- do they know the work or don't they -- well, another big section of my grade deals with squishier issues: a quarter of the grade is based on whether the student has been in class; and if he has not, if he's missed more than five classes in a given semester, I start docking his final grade, three points per missed class. I don't do this out of petty viciousness, but because my classes are highly interactive. We do a lot of work in the room, discussion in the literature classes, analysis in the grammar classes and the comp classes, work that can't be recreated or made up or done by one's self, at home, with a textbook. I explain all this early on and repeat it, more than once, as we move through the semester -- though, if you're missing lots of class, you might miss these tiny lectures.

Anyway: is it justice to penalize students for what some of them have difficultly helping? If it's not, should I then penalize anyone? (I can't penalize some and not the others, obviously.) If I can't penalize anyone, then I'm back where I was -- who will come to class? We get half the students not showing up on any given day. (Never the same half.)

Here, at Crooked Timber, we've got a post semi-related to this topic -- examined the great question of grade inflation, which has always gotten up my yak.

Grades in general, though: grr.

Montessori schools, btw, do not grade at all. One of the things I like best about the approach.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ow, Ow, Ow

I'm back at work today. My shoulder guy took out the stitches ( well, he didn't; his tech did) and said I could take the brace off while I wrote, so I am no longer typing left-handed. However, ow. Using the keyboard hurts. Also, my shoulder muscles are so wonked I can't lift my arm to the desk -- I have to use my left hand to put it up there.

Shoulder guy promises a month of PT and I'll be zooming. I have my doubts.

He says this dizziness I've been having is from hitting the pain meds too hard. Too hard for what? I say. What is this language you are speaking?

Meanwhile, on other fronts, Laura, at the kid's school, this is one of the far-right Christians, the one who argued with the kid about whether Obama was a Christian (still does, in fact) tells the kid the other day that she "just can't" read the Tale of Despereaux because in the opening pages the mother mouse says she doesn't want to have anymore babies. Wicked, ungodly mama mouse! Wicked ungodly book!

This Laura is ten, have I mentioned?

"What?" I said, muzzled with Oxycontin.

"I told her if you just read past that bit," the kid said, "it's really good, but --"

"Hadn't she already had a lot of baby mice?" I said, struggling to remember, since I read through all of Kate DiCamillo's books a few summers ago after reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, having picked it up from the children's new book section because the title was so cool. "How many mice babies does the mouse Jesus require her to have?"

The kid was silent a moment. Then she said, "I'm not having any babies."

"That's up to you," I said, which is my standard answer to this declaration. "It's your body."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I'm Alive

Though I can barely type (this is being brought to you left-handed) so posting will be brief.

Diagnosis: ideopathic bone spurs and a torn ligament. (Yay Zelda, who sd it was bone spurs weeks ago).

Now I am strapped into a highly amusing jet-black brace which encases my entire upper body and right arm and makes me look like the Borg professor -- all this to keep my right shoulder in a neutral position at all times, except when I am doing my excruciating P.T.

Doc gave me a big fat bottle of Oxycontin, so what do I care?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Okay, Then.

Conversation overheard in the Student Union:

Student #1: I hate English with a fiery Passion from the fiery depth of Hades, do you understand? I hate, hate, hate, hate it.

Student #2: I love English. I just hate these English teachers here.

Friday, November 28, 2008


That was a relatively painless Thanksgiving.  Now I've got three days to recover bf classes start again -- five days before they do my shoulder.

How'd yours go?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Kid

One of the best parts about having a kid is getting to give them all the cool bits of the world -- like the kid discovering evolution, for instance; or just over the past few days, she's started reading Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy (and if you think I'm happy that she likes evolution, you cannot imagine the delight when she came to me and said, "You know, I really like science fiction...")

Anyway, making your living on via a large socialist institution like a university has its benefits.  I mean, the pay isn't great and there's all the committee work and it does require that one at least pretend to know how to get along with one's fellow humans, not to mention the hours (people think university professors work nine hours a week -- ha! if I stop working before ten at night I do a little happy dance): BUT: you've got this great available culture:

(1) Plays, given by our theater department, which now that the kid is old enough we've been taking her to.  These knock her out.  It doesn't hurt that one of my favorite students, and one that she likes a lot, is in the plays ("Is Jack going to be in this one?" she demands when I tell her we're going to a play.  Since he's one of the best actors at the university right now, he always is, so she always consents to go.); but watching her being captivated by drama itself is so cool.

(2) The science building, the science professors, science.  We've got a nice science building (unlike the English building, grr) and nice science professors.  The kid and I like to go look at the fossils and the fish and the rocks; when we run into the science professors, they are always doing cool things, and will tell the kid about them.  She just loves this.

(3) Music.  Me, I'm musically illiterate, but mr. delagar, it's half his life.  He and the kid spend hours listening to prog rock and classical music and the Beatles, and I can't tell you what they're listening to, discussing what's happening -- she recently confided to me that prog rock is her favorite sort of music.  I wailed in pretended grief.  "Better than Billy Bragg?" I said.  "Better than Paul Simon?  Better than STEVE EARLE?"  She looked very prim.  "Please, Mama."

What a fine child I have.

Friday, November 21, 2008

General news

Which probably no one cares about, but o well...

(1) Our heat, which has been broken for who knows how long, we only found out it was broken when we tried to turn it on last week, and have been freezing in the dark since, is finally fixed again.  Yay!

(2) My bad shoulder is scheduled to be mended, by out-patient surgery, on December 3rd, about which procedure I have mixed feelings.  The guy in my class who just had the same procedure done says ow-ow-ow, and boy if I think it hurts NOW.  OTOH, boy does it hurt now.  On the third hand, December 3rd is right before the semester ends, and how will I write on the board for the last week of class?  Fume, fume.

(3) The kid is studying evolution, on her own.  Well, I will admit I craftily left a couple of kids' books about evolution lying about on the table in the living room where we all do our school work...then when she read the first one and came to me saying, yo, this is cool, I responded with just the right touch of idle oh, yeah, it is, huh? which one must use with the ten-year-old kid if one is to get her solidly on the hook...but man, I am so pleased.  I was twelve when I started reading about evolution, and it started me down the track to my general love of science that has never gone away. (If I could only do math, you know, maybe I'd be an actual scientist.  Instead, I just write about them.)  She's read all (which means three) the books the Pork Smith Public library had for kids on evolution -- they have no books for adolescents, huh, imagine that -- and I found one book at the local bookstore that wasn't an OOOO-Evolution-is-EEEEEvil book (Evolving Planet, it's pretty good) and got her that.  Now I'm waiting for the books PZ recommended over on his site, many of which I scored on Paperback Swap, to come in the mail.

(4) How did the end of the semester get so close? Must be all the Vicodin I've been doing.

(5) Now that the semester is drawing to a close, I need more books to read.  Who has suggestions?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jesus's General Leaves The Church

I taught in Idaho for three years, and the LDS students there, my students, I liked them a lot, even if some of the men did rat me to the dean every time I said fuck in class. And even if some of them did have this...attitude toward the Native Americans that I found difficult to get past. (Others came to me in my office after the class would go off on how lazy and entitled Indians were to tell me not every LDS felt that way, and how it used to be worse, how their parents had taught them when they were little that God hated dark people, so I should know things were changing...)

But they did their work, and they had immensely complex lives, due to the pressures their religion was putting on them, and when I was pregnant and in danger of miscarrying, and we had to move at short notice, one of my LDS students conscripted her husband and sons into moving my entire house for me -- I didn't ask her for this, she just did it -- and they would do things like that.

On the other hand: Proposition Eight. WTF?

Jesus' General speaks. And acts.

Friday, November 14, 2008


You've probably seen this, but in case you haven't, it's tres cool.

The comic book bit will make one of my brothers happy, I bet.

Scrabble and and the hybrid car please me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


This here is what happens when you teach ID or Creationism as Science.

There's a reason the Right is so far behind the curve when it comes to science and technology -- oh, not guns and not accounting: I bet they can multiple and figure their sales tax right sharp.

But give them something that requires critical thinking or knowledge of the scientific method? Hopeless.

I gave my freshmen two essays, both by conservative English writers (by which I mean from England), both dealing with, among other things, scientific studies (one on kids with ADHD, the other on prison populations and nutrition): they couldn't understand the arguments being made.

One problem, of course, was that when these students don't like a thesis they won't read a work, and the first essay was arguing that evidence exists that Ritalin helps children with ADHD. Well, my students know that's not true (how do they know it? They just do) so they flat out refused to hear or read any evidence to the contrary.

But they also just don't have the tools to understand scientific reasoning: their education has not prepared them for it. What's a blind study? (Shit, they don't even know what a scientific study is.) What's a placebo? What's a control group? What's empirical evidence? They have no idea.

This is why schools need to teach real science, not some "contraversy." Real science teaches what real evidence and real knowledge is. Without that, how are any of us here in America ever going to learn how to figure out what the right answer is?

Right now, here in Pork Smith, they're going on what their Bible and their Preacher tells them the right answer is. You see how well that's been working.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Right Implodes

It's really not a pretty sight, what's happening on the blogs and in their sphere. Did you catch P. J. O'Rourke's -- well, I don't know what to call it...that thing he published in The Weekly Standard. You can't call it an essay, since he's not putting forth any coherent thesis (if he has a coherent thought in that mess, I didn't encounter it). It's not a call to action, or a dissection of the failed Conservative strategy (which maybe it was meant to be?), or even a lament. Maybe it's a tantrum?

Whatever it is, it is, like so much of what's happening on the Right just now, it's astounding in its totally lunacy. I mean, for the past eight years we have watched them drift further from reality. Now they're totally into some sort of (For another look at this, check out the blogs Dr. Helen or RightWingSparkle or Blog And Mablog.

(From the last:

But the laws they pass, and the laws they seek to approve, are not the central point. The central point is not Roe, but rather what Roe makes possible -- the actual shedding of blood. Abortion is one of the sacraments of the secular state, and sodomy is another. What matters there is not the perverse ceremony at city hall, but what that makes possible -- sodomy ratified, approved, and consummated. )

Anyway, here's P. J. Just bits of him, because that's all I can take, but here's the link if you want the Full Barking Lunatic Effect.

It should be especially easy to move voters to the right. Sensible adults are conservative in most aspects of their private lives. If this weren't so, imagine driving on I-95: The majority of drivers are drunk, stoned, making out, or watching TV, while the rest are trying to calculate the size of their carbon footprints on the backs of Whole Foods receipts while negotiating lane changes.

People are even more conservative if they have children. Nobody with kids is a liberal, except maybe one pothead in Marin County. Everybody wants his or her children to respect freedom, exercise responsibility, be honest, get educated, have opportunities, and own a bunch of guns.


The real message of the conservative pro-life position is that we're in favor of living. We consider people--with a few obvious exceptions--to be assets. Liberals consider people to be nuisances. People are always needing more government resources to feed, house, and clothe them and to pick up the trash around their FEMA trailers and to make sure their self-esteem is high enough to join community organizers lobbying for more government resources.


The left has no idea what's going on in the financial crisis. And I honor their confusion. Jim Jerk down the road from me, with all the cars up on blocks in his front yard, falls behind in his mortgage payments, and the economy of Iceland implodes. I'm missing a few pieces of this puzzle myself.

He rants on like this for pages -- contradicting most things he says within paragraphs of where he says them, as where he says the Right is in favor of the living, and then, two sentences later, he's getting snarky about how the poor need trailers (who was it didn't want to fund Katrina survivors? Was that the left?). And, again, after a few more paragraphs, he's on about how pro-life he is, except he wants to kill the "teen-age boys" who have gotten the teen girls pregnant (apparently he's not so clear on who really gets teen-age girls pregnant, usually). So he's pro-life, you know, and he likes people, except if they're the people he doesn't like? Like leftists and people who annoy him?

The Right has lost its grip.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cool/Not Cool

(1) How cool is it that the Obamas want to get a shelter dog? (The mutt joke was also funny).

(2) So mr. delagar and I are watching Life on Mars last week, which is a show he likes mainly because it is a huge fantasy of his to be transported back to 1973, where he would never leave the record stores; and I am watching for anthropological purposes; anyway, it took this, um, religious turn last week.  Oh! the hero is an atheist!  Oh! Jesus sends an angel to him to deal with his atheism (after first pitching a nine-year-old girl off a roof, mind you, to create a plot-line wherein the soul-searching/answered prayers can occur).  Oh! Why is our hero an atheist?  Because when he was a tot, it develops, he prayed and prayed, and Jesus never answered his prayers.  Oh! In this episode, the nine-year-old dies so that his prayer can finally be answered! Voila! God does answer prayers!

Can I just....what?

As an atheist, this annoys me, because, no, that's not why we're atheists.  (I prayed and prayed for a pony and every time I looked in my backyard, no pony, so screw this.)  If I were a follower of any religion, including Christianity, I would hope it would annoy me more.

Also, can't we just have cool SF?  Do we have to have pandering to the whack religious right?  They lost! Can we go back to regular TV now?  Please?

Friday, November 07, 2008


So I made my students read Natalie Angier's essay "Atheism and Children" which is always such a treat.

My goal with this essay is to teach them:

(1) how, when your thesis is a difficult one, as hers is here, your approach needs to be crafted with care (I think this essay fails because she takes the wrong approach)

(2) how the Rogerian method should especially be used when you have a difficult thesis: Angier, in this essay, mocks and derides those she should be reaching out to, the religious thinkers in her audience. Well, that's a problem, as I point out to my students -- or as I would like to.

Unfortunately, I can't get them beyond their fury that I have given them a text written by an evil atheist to read. They're certain I have done this in an attempt to convert them to secular humanism. "You won't make me quit Christ!" is the response, along with impassioned witnessing about Miracles I Have Seen.

Really not the point of this class, I say, shutting them off, at which point they sulk through the ensuing discussion.

I went meta on them this time: Why did I give you this text? I asked them. They glowered. Do you think I thought you liked atheists? I inquired. Hmm? Do you think I live in a cave?

I explained why I gave it to them. I explained what my pedagogical technique here was meant to be. They thawed, maybe 10%. I got them to look at the actual essay, a tiny bit.

But here's the interesting part: I was explaining the part where Angier shows why she wants her daughter to be an atheist -- one of the few parts where Angier supports her argument:

According to a recent CBS poll, 55 percent of Americans believe that god created humans in their present form...Only 13 percent of Americans say that humans evolved from ancestral species, no god involved. Only 13 percent. The evidence that humans evolved from prehominid primates, and they from earlier mammals, and so on back to the first cell on earth some 3.8 billion years ago is incontrovertible, is based on a Himalayan chain’s worth of data. The evidence for divine intervention is, to date, non-existent.

Yet here we have people talking about it as though they were discussing whether they prefer chocolate praline ice cream or rocky road, as though it were a matter of taste. To me, this borders on being, well, unethical. And to me, instilling in my daughter an appreciation for the difference between evidence and opinion is a critical part of childrearing.

I asked them what this meant: what Angier was on about.

They couldn't tell me. Well, they had heard of evolution, though, this being Arkansas, very few had studied it. But they didn't get the difference between the two approaches to knowledge she was discussing. So I outlined empirical evidence and recieved wisdom on the board for them, and discussed this, using my usual example -- how many eggs do blue jays lay and how we know this, why, we fund a multi-year study in which we go and look and keep meticulous records and do the math and that is how we know; and Aristotle's "knowledge" that women had more teeth than men, and my grandfather's utter certainty that women had one more rib than men do -- both of these last examples of received wisdom --

At which point I got stopped by the class.

See, women do have one more rib than men. They all knew this for a fact.

(No, well, not all of them. But I'd say at least a third of the class insisted to me that women have one more rib than men do.)

I stared at them. The fuck, I almost said, right outloud in class. See, because my grandfather, dead now 20 years, when I was 19, he and I had that fight. But he was born in 1914 and never got educated past the seventh grade, in a Kentucky hill school.

These are Arkansas kids from 2008.

"No," I said, carefully. "No, really...that's a myth..."

"No," one of them insisted to me. "Because God took Adam's rib in the garden, to make Eve. So men have one less rib than women do."

"Okay," I said. "No. And no. And go study some anatomy, because no."

O please turn my red state blue.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


This cracks me up.

Though this does not.

O Yay!

Oh yes!


The kid came home from school yesterday dejected: they had held a school election, and Obama had lost, 11-16 (McCain got 16 votes).

"Obama got eleven votes?" I said. "In Arkansas? Really?"

Granted, the Montessori School is the most liberal school in Pork Smith, but still...

Nevertheless, mr. delagar and I, like Rachel Maddow, were wretched balls of nervous terror until 10.00 p.m. central time when, while we were surfing channels, we heard John Stewart on Comedy Central call the race.

After that, we were just drinking heavily.

Oh boy, oh boy.

Did you hear that speech? Is that a President?

God, it's so splendid to be in a country that's doing the right thing again.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I have turned in my portfolio (yay!) and now can concentrate entirely on my true anxiety: Obama.

I don't think I've ever really wanted a President to be elected before.  In 2000/2004 I just didn't want (DO NOT WANT) Bush to be elected.  Here, clearly, I don't want McCain/Palin, not so much for McCain, who I don't believe is a bad guy, despite his recent behavior during the election; no, I don't want Palin, and I don't want the Republican far-Right policies, which are wrong-headed and willfully ignorant, and openly hostile to humanist/feminist principles.

But more than that, I want Obama.  I'm puzzled how anyone, who is not a Far-Right anti-humanist/anti-Feminist, and has been paying attention, could not want him.  I'll admit, before I started paying attention, I didn't want him: I wanted Edwards, who struck me as the more likely to give the working class what we need.  But Obama, if you listen to him, this guy is smart.  This guy pays attention.  This guy listens.  This guy thinks ahead.  And this guy knows his history, and his economics.  He knows what happens when you destroy the middle class.  (If you want to know why Rome fell, btw, it was not hot baths, or soft living, or gay sex, or lead in their water pipes, or giving women the vote: it was destroying their middle class: taking land away from their small farmers -- that was the Roman version of the middle class -- leaving them with no tax base.  They tried to make it up by sacking the provinces for a time, but you can only reverse outsource for so long.  Gets too pricey in the end.)

So Obama winning -- yes, I want.

And yes, I'm worried he won't.

Especially since people I was thinking would vote Obama are now telling me they aren't, or didn't, or won't vote at all this year -- they don't have time?  WHAT?  WHAT?

You don't have TIME to vote?  Now?  This year?  The most important vote of our generation?  Are you fucking kidding me?  Are you HIGH?

And someone else told me he voted for RON FUCKING PAUL?!?  

So yes, I'm worried.  

How worried are you?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Now What Now?

I can't help it, this cracks me up.

(Via Pharyngula)

I'm always telling students in Arkansas that the U.S. really has two major competing religions, Christianity and Capitalism, which wholly contradict each other, and that this is why we're a fucked country, which is when they start howling at me -- nuh-uh, nuh-uh, we don't worship money, we don't, and anyway, it's nothing WRONG with being rich, God wants us to improve ourselves (cause getting rich is improving yourself, dude) --

But this!

Here is a quotation from the charming woman who called for Christians to pray at at the golden bull, btw, and save all of America's fatted money:

On September 29 last month, the US stock market went down 777 points in one day. Cindy says it was no coincidence that this happened on the first day of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.

“This is so severe in the economic area because we are facing judgment from the actions, not only for our stance towards Israel, but our blatant sin against Him in passing laws such as the one allowing homosexual marriages,” Cindy said.

Well, okay then. So long as it's also about hatin on the Jews and the Gays.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Good News Again!

I've been off working on my portfolio -- I'm going up for promotion to Associate Professor, which is actually sort of interesting and almost fun, albeit a ton of work. It involves getting together everything I have done for the past six years, and writing "narratives" for the promotion committee about how I teach and how I "innovate" in the classroom, explaining my assignments and how I respond to assessments that show my teaching isn't working -- anyway, it's turning out to be cool, since I get to talk (write) about what I like best, teaching and how it works, only, yikes, exhausting?

And everything has to be documented.

And put in a binder, which requires operating a three-hole punch.

And tidy. I could be better at tidy.

And it's due November 1.

So I've been occupied.

But here is some good news I have found for you: although it did not look like good news at first, since you'll see at the opening that it confirms more Right-Wing Religious Parents indoctrinating their kids against science/evolution (evil-ution, as my students often spell it); but look how the instructors are dealing with the problem: wisely!

A few years ago, Pratt started holding meetings – open to parents, students, church members and others – to address their questions about evolution. She holds the annual session a few weeks before she begins the unit and gets about 200 people.

“It used to be that the whole unit was a struggle, and we were butting heads,” Pratt said. “This meeting helps everyone understand that science teachers are not the enemy. Now, the kids are showing up ready to learn about evolution.”

Other teachers said they try to fix students’ misconceptions. They explain how humans and apes share a common ancestor that no longer exists, not that humans and apes evolved from one another. They say that while “theory” may describe a hunch in everyday language, in science it is defined as an explanation supported by factual evidence to describe events that occur in our world.

That's how our side wins: enlightenment.

Their side has fear and ignorance. Our side has education. We will always win in the end. (Well, that's my hope, at least.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ah Reality

So in my comp class this morning, where I was teaching grammar and format, how important it was to run the spell-check and be certain you have checked for run-on sentences and haven't misused semi-colons, all of that, before you submitted a paper --

"Why?" I asked.

I always ask this. I want them to think about why surface errors matter. "Certainly it matters if you have an excellent thesis and excellent arguments and you support those arguments with lots of solid sources. But suppose you do all that, and then your paper is riddled with lousy spelling and you've got two misconstructed sentences in the first paragraph and you can't manage to use semi-colons correctly. What happens to your reader? What's he do, twenty words into your argument?"

"He decides you're an idiot and quits reading," says my football player from the back row.

"Absolutely," I agree. "It's like if you show up for the job interview in cut off jeans and a nose ring and your hair stick up all over your head -- well, does it matter how many degrees you have or how qualified you are?"

My very intelligent but home-schooled student in the front row raised his hand. "How you explain, then," he asked, "how well John McCain is doing? Considering he's not that articulate, and he doesn't speak nearly as well as Obama? Why is he doing so well in this election?"

I stared at him, bemused. Then I glanced around the classroom. Then I looked back at him. "Well," I said, gently, "he's not, is he? The latest polls have him down what, fourteen points? He's at 38%? That's not so good."

He gave me the bemused look I had just given him. That couldn't be right, could it?

"Anyway," I said, "that's not really the scope of this class..."

And I moved them on.

But apparently, in the world these folk live in, McCain is doing well -- even winning the election.

It's that Republican again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Good News For Once

This makes me feel better!

Over at Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog (I don't know if you've discovered that blog yet, but you should), an embedded video shows more horrible racists -- except this time, they're confronted by their fellow McCain voters, who shame them into backing down, shutting up, packing up, and going away.

Further, they get called unAmerican by the other McCain voters.

Now that's the America I can get behind.

Yay McCain!

A Racist Tool in Kentucky has hanged Obama in effigy, with a Star of David spray-painted on his head. Though he declines to be interviewed on camera, he says flat-out to the reporters that he has done this because he doesn't want a black guy to be leading his country.

And in school yesterday, as has frequently happened over the past weeks, my daughter had to hear about how Obama wasn't an acceptable candidate because he wasn't a Christian.

She's ten, you know, and she's tough, but she's being driven to the brink: she shouted at the punk who came up with this argument that first, yes, Obama is a Christian, and that second, dude, not everyone in America is a Christian -- for instance, hey, Jew here?

Her friends supported her. They got told not to gang up on the poor punk.

Yes, see, because that's mean. That's persecuting the poor Christians.

We can't have that.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Tom Tomorrow provides some links to videos outside McCain-Palin rallies, and their supporters.

I warn you up front: seriously depressing.

My favorite bit is in the last one, where the Palin supporters keep trying to insist that the country "knows" Palin better and has known her longer than than we do Obama.  He keeps asking, "When did you first hear about Palin?  When did you first hear about Obama?"

They start lying their asses off.

I've known about Palin for three years! one claims.

I heard about Obama maybe a year ago, another decides.

One guy finally, at the end, says, never! I've NEVER heard of Obama.

Because, you know, it's the Right-Wing Way: if Reality doesn't work, we just invent our own Reality.


Yay Us!

This one, I must admit, is partly for my brother who used to send me snide emails about how Democrats were no different from Republicans -- our party being funded by really rich tools, just like his, etc:

Barack Obama raised $150 million in September, the largest monthly total any candidate has ever raised for any office in the history of the United States. The previous record was Obama's haul of $66 million in August. The money came from small donors averaging less than $100 each. This approach--many small donors--represents a revolution in fundraising, where previously the goal was to tap a small number of rich donors with many rich friends who could be hit up for money.

It's not just for him, of course. It's also for us -- America. Fifteen days out. Can it be that we might actually pull it off this time?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fair & Balanced Education

This is making me ill.

I'm grading my midterm exams for my WLIT class; I've graded half a dozen so far.  For the essay question on Frederick Douglass, four out of the six have devoted their essay to claiming that Douglass was "bias" because he didn't tell the "slave-owner's" side of the story; or that the slave narratives I gave them from the WPA site showed the "true" story of slavery, which was that it had "good" to it.

(No, btw, the narratives I gave them showed no such thing.  One, this one, John White of Texas, talked about his mama being let to marry the guy on the next plantation.  This guy gets to come visit when he's done with his work in the field, for a time; but then one day he just never shows up again.  And John?  When he's eleven?  He gets sold to Texas and never sees his mama again. Once in Texas, he is worked as a cook, beaten with a bullwhip, left hungry and cold --  My student who cites this essay claims John is showing the good in slavery, because, you see, his parents were allowed to marry.)

What is up with this?

Why do they think slavery has "a good side"?

Why do they think the side of slave-owners should be heard?

I can't prove this, but I have suspicions: many of these students have been educated here in the River Valley, at Christian Schools, or home-schooled with Christian curriculums.  We've all heard what those curriculums have to say about slavery in the American South.

"Slave life was...a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care."

"Slavery...was not an adversarial relationship....because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a partnership based on mutual affection and confidence."

Now I don't know my students were taught from this text; I hope to shit they weren't, in fact.  But from their reactions to Douglas, and to the WPA interviews; and from how they utterly refused to hear anything I said in rebuttal to their assertions in class that the WPA interviews were "evidence" that the slaves liked slavery ("She says here that they had two dresses!" one students told me.  "She says they got lots of food!"

I stared at the class in astonishment.  "Two whole dresses?  Really?  How many dresses do you think their owners had?  How many do you lot own, by the way?"

They scowled at me, sullen.

"And read me the part about the food, will you?"

"They got Christmas off!"

"They got three days at Christmas off.  Good --" I bit off the swear word.  "Did you read the part where John White was sold away from his mother?  Did you read how the little girl was dragged out and beaten for spilling the soup?"

"My mother whipped me for spilling things plenty of times," one of them said sulkily.  "Big deal.")

Nothing I did made a difference.  Slavery is a good thing.  Frederick Douglass is prejudice against them white folk.

It's the World they're making for us.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Right-Wing Radio Mmm!

Took the kid to the denist for an emergency tooth extraction (the state of dentistry in Pork Smith, ai, where we have no fluoride in our water, since to put fluoride in our water, as we all know, that would be a commie plot, and Jesus doesn't want socialism, he wants us to take personal responsibility for brushing our teeth and paying huge dental bills when they rot in our heads anyway, I think that's how the argument goes)...

Where was I?

Kid had an abcessed tooth, abcess under one of her many fillings, so I took her to the dentist at 7:00 a.m. this morning. Like most of the dentists in Pork Smith, this one is an Evangelical Christian. We love her anyway, she's a great dentist, great with the kid, who, as I might have mentioned, is just the smallest bit neutrotic, especially when it comes to matters of medical care.

Anyway, dentist talked her down off the ceiling and got the tooth out, it was practically painless.

BUT: while we were waiting in the waiting room and I was threatening the kid with baby Xanax if she didn't stop spinning in circles, the Christian radio station that is played over the sound system at the office broke off their inspirational songs for a moment ("Je-esus wilsave you! Hee --has the pow=r!") to give the weather and chat about the news.

"Now I didn't watch the debates," said male dj. "Did you, Honey?"

Honey hadn't watched the debates, either.

"But I keep hearing about this Joe the plumber. Who's the Joe the Plumber?"

Honey very sweetly says she has no idea.

Neither DJ is familiar with the operation of the Google I guess. They turn to a third expert, who has consulted some outside source.

"Well," he says, with the fatherly voice of one Who Knows All, "Joe was a concerned small business owner at an Obama rally. He was worried because Obama's tax plan is going to raise his taxes. Obama told him that it was better for everyone if we spread the wealth around, and McCain used this comment during the debate."

"Ah," said male dj. "Well, that makes things a lot clearer! From what I was hearing on CNN last night, I was thinking Joe the Plumber was made up! Like a unicorn that McCain kept under his bunk in a magic box!"

"Yes!" chirped Honey. "That's much clearer!"

Then they went to another song about Jesus.

Why is the Christian Right so ignorant? There you go!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vouchers? What?

Okay, there were lots of places where McCain had me yelling at the screen last night, since, like many on the Right, he has apparently decided to just start making up his own reality now, but this bit with Vouchers -- They Work!


Go see Steve Benen's Post at the Washington Monthly for a more substantive rebuttal.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's Happening Here, Again

I've been reading Slavery By Another Name, by Douglas Blackmon, which I really cannot recommend highly enough, even if it is the most appalling and depressing book I have ever read

I keep having to stop reading it -- seriously, I have to put it down every day or two, it upsets me so much: maybe you know the movie Cool Hand Luke? Fun and games on the chain-gang, white boys eat eggs and be tough on the chain-gang? This is the reality behind that silliness. This is what got done to whole generations of black men in America so certain white men could maintain their dominance, and Blackmon will not let us look away. He lays out the evidence, also, that everyone knew: the courts knew, the towns knew, the owners of the businesses and corporations that bought the enslaved prisoners knew, Teddy Roosevelt knew: just as in Nazi Germany, when the people in the towns knew what was happening in the camps, everyone knew what was happening: well, in Alabama and in Georgia and in Mississippi and In Florida, everyone knew how those roads and levees were getting built. Everyone knew how those mines were being staffed, where those farm workers were coming from. No one acted. Why? Because to act would be to support black guys over white guys: can't do that. Even when the courts followed the law, and agreed that what was being done was wrong -- violated U.S. law -- they did not enforce their own sentences: did not stop the white guys from enslaving the black guys: in 1905, in 1920, in 1930 and 1940.

Here we are in 2008, and what is happening?

What is getting done by white men in power in this country?

What always gets said?

McCain's crew wants to claim you can't trust Obama. Why in shit should we trust them?

As mr. delagar likes to tell his classes, he loves black people. None of them ever started any concentration camps. None of them ever ran a pogrom. You don't see many black folks starting crusades or holocausts.

Trust McCain? Tell me why.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yom Kippur

Last night began the last of the days of awe. We feasted on chicken, matzo ball soup, honeycake, and challah, in preparation for the big fast today, though no one actually fasts, since mr. delagar can't (he's diabetic) and the kid is still only 10, and I am a stone atheist. Today, mr. delagar and the kid are home considering their past year and the next to come. I ought to be, says mr. delagar. I remind him I am a stone atheist, and also have to get caught up in my classes, which I am days and days behind in due to this shoulder and this wicked Lyme's diease. He says Rabbi Hillel would not have given such spurious excuses.

This will give me something to regret next year, I tell him.

Grammar Issues

So just before class the other day, one of my students, who must have seen me in the parking lot, demands to know what "that button" on my briefcase says.

"Feminists for Obama," I said.

She gives me a piercing look.

"Well, what did you expect it to say?" I ask reasonably. "My kid has one just like it," I add, and move on with the lecture.

After class, she comes up to me and says, "Obama, huh?"

"Of course Obama. Jeesh."

"Well." She shakes her head, like I'm an idiot, but what can one expect from professors. As she starts to leave, she turns back: "But what about Sarah Palin? She's a product of feminism. You have to support that."

I have sworn -- I have promised -- hold me back --

I cannot keep it in my teeth. "Palin," I say, as reasonably as I can, "is not a feminist."

"I didn't say she was a feminist, I said--"

"She's an enemy of feminism," I interrupt. "She's not pro-choice, she made rape-victims pay for their own rape-kits, her position on equal rights is ridiculous."

"I didn't like the rape-kit thing," the student agreed.

"Also, she dangles her participles," I said, since I was getting a bit too fierce, "so, well."

The student smirked. "I won't comment on what Obama dangles," she said.

"Not his participles," I said. "I promise you that."

Since, I'll bet you six bucks to a quarter, she didn't have a clue what a participle was, this student had to leave my challenge alone -- but you know, even though I said I was going to shut up about Palin, her appalling grammar and Obama's perfect command of it, this does matter: it does tell us something about the two of them, the difference between the two of them. Not just the difference between their intelligence levels (I do think Obama is smarter than Palin, though people keep assuring me Palin is clever: I don't see it: no one that incurious about the world is clever, and it is not just her background. My students come from the same background, and plenty of them have plenty of intellectual curiousity.) It tells us that one of them got educated -- actually educated -- and one of them did the least she could, skated by, and will continue to do the least she can. She's that flashy student who thinks if she puts the essay in a pretty binder it will disguise the fact that she spent exactly three hours of the past three weeks working on it, and none of those hours involved research or proof-reading.

I'm shutting up on Palin now. I swear.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I just like to look at this.

So much better than in 2004.

Sure, it's sad about Arkansas and Louisiana (my states), but I have resigned myself to living in Fucktown, USA, having lived there all my life, after all (driving around Pork Smith, we still see yard after yard with McCain*Palin signs, and big ole pickups with McCain/Palin signs, I kid you not, in their windshield -- yes, taking up half the front windshield --and letters to the editor still excoriate Obama as lie-bral): but how splendid to see the rest of the country coming to its feet.

Yay us!


A White Bear's more reasoned response to Palin has made me step back and rethink my own response to Palin over the past few weeks.

Because, you know, it's not just that I disagree with her -- though I do, on every bit of every single political issue she has spoken on so far, except, well, let me think here, what now?

Title IX: she spoke highly of Title IX. I give her props for that.

And from what I hear she was nice to the woman who cut her hair. (But OTOH that woman was a nice white Christian just like her.)

Where was I?

Here's my point. I also disgree with McCain on every one of these issues and he has not sent me into a gibbering fury of sputtering posts. Why am I off my leash over Palin and not him?

It's because she's a woman, obviously, because she got fed to us feminists as a woman and we're supposed to embrace her as our champion: but certainly I should be angry at McCain for that, not her?

I suppose I'm angry at her for going along with it. (Collaborator! Weasel!)

Still doesn't make sense. She's only the tool. He's the patriarchy, and those like him.

So I'm going to step back and shut up and try to get some balance here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Kid Violence

White Bear's recent post is a good one, so I want to send you there -- that's the main reason I'm posting today at all, given how queasy I'm feeling (these antibiotics, I do not want) but also because reading the post reminded me of an event in my freshman comp classroom recently.

We've been working on evaluating sources, which, yikes. First, I discover that the students don't know what a Leftist is. They're not kidding. We're reading an essay by Mike Males, it's published in Mother Jones, I tell them that this venue is a bit leftist.

"Leftist," one of them says. "What is that?"

"Like...liberal." I study them. "Progressive? To the left side of the political spectrum?"

Their eyes are blank as empty fountains, except for my older student, the one who has come back to school on a TAA grant, who looks faintly amused at my shock and horror.

Anyway. Anyway.

The essay by Males talks about the root of violence in America, how violence doesn't come from kids watching violent TV shows or listening to rap music; violence is caused by violence being done to and around children. They get violent things done to them and they see violent things done to their siblings and parents, they'll grow up to act violently.

(Males' Webpage)

Anyway, of course this they could get a grip on: I had not mentioned, not had Males, their own parents beating the shit out of them with belts and sticks through all their childhood years, but their minds leapt there. Hands went up around the room: If you don't hit kids, then --!

Yes, then?

"Well, have you ever seen a kid that don't get beat?" One student asked me. "Have you ever seen how those kids behave--"

I usually put forth my own child here, but I didn't have to this time: one of the students in the class raised her hand. "Me," she said.

They stared at her like she was a viper.

"My parents never hit me," she said.

I let that sit a moment.

Then I said, "You can raise children without hitting them. Other methods of discipline exist."

"Yep," the girl in the middle row agreed. It didn't hurt none, BTW, that she was smart, charming, outspoken, goodlooking.

"That's not really what we're doing here, though," I added, "looking at content -- remember? We're evaluating this as a source."

They burned. They seethed. They stewed. They had to prove to me that it was vital that children get beaten, that it has to be that way, that GOD WANTS IT THAT WAY.

And it can't be changed!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

See? She's on Our Level!

Ignorant as the dirt, that is.

Of concern to McCain's campaign, however, is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Palin's interview with Couric last week that has the political world buzzing.

The Palin aide, after first noting how "infuriating" it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions. After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.

There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.

She wants to be VP, and quite possibly President, where she'll be responsible for appointing Supreme Court justices, and that's the only court case she even knows.

Well, why would she know any others? Taking away the right of women to own their own bodies -- that's the only important fight on the table! Screw Brown v Board of Education, or Miranda v Arizona, or Hustler v Falwell (I like that one), or Lawrence v Texas....but you'd think she'd know, say, Boumediene v Bush? Given it's her party with its policy on the line?

Unless, of course, she really is fucking stupid?

(Question asked & answered, professor.)

Monday, September 29, 2008


Berube is back!  Yay!  This cheers me up, even today, when the World is Ending!

Also, in his second new post, he notes the trend I've been suspecting since seeing Pat Buchanan grumble about it on the Rachel Maddow Show -- after years of deregulation and decades of tax-give-aways to their rich buds, not to mention ten billion a month for the past -- how long has it been now? -- for the War in Iraq which was, jeez, whose idea was that? -- who are they going to blame this crash on?

Yeah, you guessed it: Obama and the Democrats.

Don't ask me how either.  It's that famous non-reality-based WV.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


This, from Angry Black Woman, is so exactly what I was thinking during the debate.

Why wouldn't McCain look at Obama?  It's no mystery to those of us from the South -- well, to many of us from the South, anyway.  McCain is an old white guy.  Obama is a black guy.  How many times did McCain insist, with hot temper edging his voice, with those jaw muscles working in his jaws, that Obama could not possibly know what he was talking about?

You can call that a campaign tactic if you want to: I'm telling you it's a worldview.  The same way McCain does not, really, believe women know anything worth know, he knows, for a fact, this black guy over there can't really understand military or world affairs.  He's not looking Obama in the eye because white men don't looking black guys in the eye.  They snap orders at them, they don't engage with them.  That would be like, well, treating a woman as your equal. You wouldn't do that, either, would you?

Out of touch?  McCain is out of this millennium.  And here's a question for anyone who have no problem with his worldview: how's he going to handle having to talk to worldleaders who don't happen to be, oh, white guys like him?

Leave him in the Senate where he belongs.  That's my advice.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Depressing Bits from Pork Smith

So we take the kid out to eat tonight, as we have been promising and promising her we will, and we're happily eating our Chinese food like good Americans, when -- oy -- what do we hear from the next table?

These two women having a discussion about why Sarah Palin is so perfect a VP, and why Obama "better not get it."

Palin is perfect because she's going through what so many American women are going through, with her daughter being an unwed mother and all, and because she doesn't "talk down" to people.

"She's on our level," the first woman assured the second woman earnestly.  "She's a real American."

I exchanged glances with mr. delagar.

"I just hope Obama doesn't get it," the first woman went on.  "That's all.  He better not.  If he does, he's going to get killed, you watch, and then these blacks, they'll rise up and kill us all."  

She suddenly turned to us -- to our table, where we were minding our own business -- and demanded: "Don't you think that's what will happen?  Don't you think Obama will be killed if he's elected and then these blacks will kill us in our beds?"

mr. delagar, who is much more self-possessed than I am under these circumstances (I wanted to spit something like, are you fucking kidding me, you racist bint?), said, "You're misreading the situation radically.  First, Palin is not qualified to hold the office she is running for, and second, Obama is being protected so well it is highly unlikely he'll be assassinated."

They gaped at us.

"Further," he added, "we're Obama supporters and would like to eat in peace."

"Well," said the first woman.  "Excuse us."

Later, he wondered if he had been too mean.  Not mean enough, I said.  But actually, what is the point? 

Still, what a depressing encounter.


Last night, during the debate, McCain admitted that his administration, or at least the Bush administration he has supported 90% of the time, despite his cute comments about how he's not "Miss Congeniality" and how he's a "Maverick," has, in fact, tortured prisoners.

This is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, so I didn't blink when he made the admission -- or rather, the promise to the people that if he was elected he'd make sure no"American" prisoners were tortured ever again (screw any other prisoners -- business as usual with them).

Notice where that leaves guys like this.

Given what Rice and the rest have been revealing about what went on in the Bush White House, well, why be appalled now, but I am made ill by my country -- by these things being done in my country's name.  When Obama says that he will make America's respected again around the world, I say Yes.  That's what I want.  Bush has made us liars and torturers and pirates.  I want us to be the good guys again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

America the Beautiful

You want to know why McCain is still so close to Obama, despite being so inept he picked a VP who knows nothing about American History, economics, foreign policy, who can't think on her feet, who supports a culture of rape, who is a total misogynist -- yeah I could go on -- who himself can't decide from one day to the next what his policy is, who has demonstrated he is clueless about how to run the country, who lies about everything -- I mean EVERYTHING -- even something so petty as why he's not going to be able to make the Letterman Show -- why, why, why is nearly half the country thinking of voting for this guy?

Well! Lucky for you, my university has been running a non-scientific survey on just this question!  We have butcher paper up all over the U, asking students to write why the right to vote is important to them.  Many of them are, in fact, instead, writing why it is so important to vote for McCain.

Guess why?

Here's some reasons:

*He's the closest thing we have to a Republican!!!1!
*McCain will avoid the EVIL of Obama.
*Obama loves terrorists
*People Died for Your Right to Vote So Vote McCain NOT OBAMA
*McCain is the lesser of two wrongs
*Capitalism Made This Country Great, Vote McCain
*Its a child Not a Choice Obama is For Killing Babies

And, of course, there's the woman I overheard recently, telling another woman that Barak Hussein Obama was from Kenya, after all -- just getting elected to turn us all over to those Africans!  That was his plan!

Sometimes I despair.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cancel What Now?

I had been dealing with my own various crises all day yesterday, and so didn't get to link into the 'sphere until like six last night.

What's the first thing greets my cheery gaze?

McCain has canceled what now?

I began laughing hysterically. Oh, boy, I bet he has.

What's the next announcement? Bush cancels election? Wouldn't be prudent! Not at this time!

(Also: See Dave. B/c McCain isn't ever done with the lying.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Thank God this is just a joke!

I mean, seven hundred billion dollars!  That's a lot of money!  Think what we could do with that in this country besides hand it over to a lot of rich thieves on Wall Street!

Health Care For Me

So, bad news first: I have what might be a torn rotator cuff and, in entirely unrelated news, Lyme's disease.  Yay me!  Lyme's disease, if you catch it early and hit it hard enough with enough antibiotic (doxycilian, I think?), should cause no lasting problems, though the bull's-eye rash on my knee is so impressive everyone at the clinic had to be called in to view it, and my doctor wanted to take a picture.

The rotator cuff, well: that is causing me, serious is not the word.  Agonizing?  Vicious?  Amazing?  Astounding pain.  Who knew pain could reach this level?  Me with my migraines and childbirth stories and remember I had gall-bladder issues.  This is a whole new place of pain!  Oh boy!

I've got a fat new bottle of Vicodin and I can see already it won't last long.  Ten of them got me through last night.  mr. delagar kept thumping (I was wailing in my sleep) telling me, "Go take another one."  (I was drugged enough to sleep but not enough to let him sleep.)

The good news?  Our University just, like two months ago, got us a semi-socialized clinic.  Yay!  So I do actually have medical care.

This is opposed to all summer long, when I did not, because the doctors we had been seeing cut us off because we were unable to pay off what we owed them at the rate they thought we ought to be paying them.  (We owed twenty-five hundred dollars, that's over and above what the insurance had already paid, which I was paying off at the rate of fifty a month, that's all I could manage, considering mr. delagar's a diabetic and I'm on five different meds, so our monthly medical expenses are already fairly steep -- fifty a month was not enough: one day when I called for an appointment, they wanted me to give them five hundred dollars: that day, right then, or they were giving us no further medical treatment.  I offered them two hundred, all I had left in the bank just then.  Nope.  Five hundred or fuck off.  I pointed out I needed my prescriptions refilled, that I was a cancer survivor, and that these prescriptions were necessary, that I would die, literally, without them.  Fine, they said, cough up five hundred dollars then.)

I love American Health Care, don't you?

Anyway, I went to a doc in the box, and got the scripts refilled, but we had been doing without health care since.  (The docs above turned us over to a collection agency, even though I continued to pay fifty dollars every month.)

Now we have our university-sponsored semi-socialized health-care clinic, where the doctors don't do anything but practice medicine, where I never have to wait three hours to see the doctor (as I usually did at the previous place), where I don't get told, every third or fourth call, as I always did at the last place, that the doctor is "too busy" to see me, so I'll have to try a doc in the box if I'm "really sick," where I have to do research beforehand myself and tell the doctor what the problem is, if I don't want to end up paying for five or six hugely expensive tests I won't need, because the doctor is too busy to actually figure out what is wrong with me, and is taking the shotgun approach to medicine.

Also? because it's semi-socialized medicine, which means the university sort-of owns it?  Our health insurance totally covers it.  I get bills, but every single one of them says Patient Owes $OO.OO.

Boy, do I like reading that.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


We can't afford universal health care, or Pell Grants that actually pay enough to get students through school, or a system of trains that would replace these cars that are destroying our planet.

But we can afford a useless war that is costing us ten billion a month, is it, and we absolutely can afford to bail out these thieving bankers?  Do I have that straight?

Just checking.

Oh -- and while we're on it, remember how the Right is always telling us on the Left it's not fair to be always wanting to tax those rich folk so much cause it's their money, they earned their twenty million a year, it's class warfare, wanting these tax rates of 34 percent and so on, shut up and suck it up and live on our twenty-two hundred a year and do without medical care, it's our fault, should a been born rich if we ain't like it?

Well, okay, then: now that we're bailing out these fuckers, can we make them give some of that money back now?  Out of the money they made, say, just last year off of this crashing markey that we're now bailing out for them?  Money from my tax dollars?

Or is that still class warfare?

Is that still not fair?

Is it only socialism when the poor want it from the rich, and not the other way around?

These rules are so complicated.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Bitch needs money.

I know we're all broke, but throw'm a couple ten bucks if you can!

Monday, September 15, 2008

On the Other Hand..

Bardiac cheers us up.

See now? It's not all darkness and evil out there.

Racist? Palin Racist?

How can Palin be racist, her supporters are claiming, when she married a guy who is half-Innuit?

I'm reminded of Sheriff Harry Lee, our guy in Jefferson Parish, who ordered his officers to arrest any black men who were seen on the streets of Kenner, Louisiana, on the obvious (to him) cause that no black man has any legitimate business walking the streets of that (mainly white) neighborhood. When he was called on the racism of this order, he said, "How can I be racist? I'm Chinese!"

There's one source, which you might have heard already, which says that Palin, having heard that Obama won the nomination, remarked, "So Sambo beat the bitch!" I've held off blogging about that one; but here's this one: Palin only has white folks on her staff (white folks she went to high school with, btw): when confronted with this?

While meeting with Black leaders concerning the absence of any African Americans on her staff, Gov. Palin responded that she doesn’t have to hire any Blacks and was not intending to hire any.

This makes me even more cranky than it might because I've been reading this book, Slavery By Another Name, which is utterly horrifying --Douglas Blackmon writes about what happened to the freed slaves and then black men in America after the Civil War, up to 1930s/1940s, which is, essentially, they were stolen from their communities, their jobs, their towns, convicted on invented charges (changing jobs without permissing, vagrancy, "loud talking") and then "leased" to mines, public works projects, U.S. Steel, along with various large landowners -- leased as in sold them as contract labor.

White-owned corporations, white landowners, white America, abetted by the white justice system, right up through the 1940s, profitted enormously off the stolen labor of black America: not black American criminals: black Americans that white Americans thieved into forced labor and then worked to death in a system as evil as anything the Nazis dreamed up (in the mines and camps of U.S. Steel and Tennessee Coal and Oil, as many as half the contract laborers died, according the meticulous records kept -- records, by the way, that record whippings given and feet and legs amputated due to the blood poisoning from the leg irons and various chain "punishments" inflicted on obdurated contract laborers.)

When I read this sort of thing, and this, where Brad Hicks talks about the real purpose of lynching (not to kill "uppity" black folks, but to terrorize blacks into selling their land to whites -- and yes, historical evidence exists to support this theory), and then I hear Palin and McSame and their crew, I don't have to hire any of them and I don't intend to, and when I look at this election, again? Again we're going to put these evil people in power?

Again, America?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What About That Book Banning?

It's pretty clear that Palin did not try to ban that list of books that's been floating around the internet.

On the other hand, if you've been watching Fox News and CNN, the paid dogs of the Republican Camp have now begun barking about how Palin never ever tried even thought about banning books.  And out on the campaign trail she's beaming her Palin smirk and saying it's an "old wives tale!"  Me ban books!  Never!

Because you know these Fundamentalist Christians!  They love Free Thought!  Honest!

Here, over at Kevin Drum's site, he gives us the lowdown, which is that, no, she never managed to get the local librarian to actually cooperate (cause, you know, most librarians are tough cookies about issues like banning books, if you have ever actually met a librarian) but that doesn't mean Sarah Barracuda didn't try.

Among the books she, honest, never ever thought about banning?  Daddy's Roommate, Go Ask Alice, and Pastor Am I Gay.  Also, when her charming Fundamentalist church could not get the librarian to yank these books from the shelves, they did what the local churches here in Pork Smith have been known to do: disappeared them from the shelves!  Because, you know, God wants you to commit theft if it's for Jesus.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Here's AmericaBlog's take on the Rapekit scandal, which basically argues that Palin required rape victims to pay for their own rape kits because to do otherwise would, in fact, encourage them to report the rapes, which would encourage them to acknowledge they had been raped, which might, in fact, lead to them possibly aborting the rapist's child.

This woman is one sick puppy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Update on Rapekits

Well, now -- according to information uncovered by Huffington Post, Palin not only was on watch while her Sheriff was charging rape victims for their rape kits: Palin not only knew her Sheriff, the one she hired, was charging victims for their rape kits: Palin not only signed off on the policy of charging victims for their rape kits: Palin very well may have instituted the policy in Wasilla of charging victims for their rape kits.

Mind you, it was legal in Alaska to charge victims for their rape kits (as it apparently also is in NC and various other states) but previous to Ms. Sarah Palin's tenure no one was such a horrible person to think that was an appropriate action.

Really.  Seriously.  Fuck's sake.  What sort of evil heart does a human being have to have to think that's right action?

And we want her to quite possibly lead our nation?


This is from the USA Today article on the Rapekit-Gate:

"In 2000 there were 497 rapes reported in Alaska...That's a rate of 79.3 per 100,000 residents, the highest in the nation."  Which, why wouldn't the state have the highest in the nation, with this attitude toward rape?  Ms. Palin believes (a) a woman should have to bear the child of her rapist and (b) should have to bear the costs of prosecuting that rapist if she's bold and brave enough to bring charges against him.  What sort of message is she sending to the potential rapist in her state?  She's made it legal to shoot wolves from the air; she's all but made it open season on women, too.  Patriarchy much?

And, yes, Alaska wasn't the only place this was going on -- which was why Congress passed a law requiring states to provide rape kits free of charge to the victims in 2005.  Guess who was a co-sponsor of that bill?  Guess who was not? Yes, that would be Obama for the former, and our buddy McCain for the latter.

Republicans: We Support the Culture of Rape!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Man Obama

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

Go read this.

Watch the video. This is who should be President. Why is this contest even close?

Hey, it's just a word

You know, uppity -- not a racist word!

Just ask them white guys from Georgia. They'll explain it all to you.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Not that it will matter, since no one cares what the Right does, but look at this: while Palin was mayor of Wasilla? If a woman was raped there, and reported the rape? The city would charge her for the forensic kit.

Her own fault, after all, for leaving the house while female. Who else should pay? The good pure abstinent Christian citizens? I think not!

Deja vu all over again, or I'm Depressed

2000. 2004. 2008?

Crap, I hope not. If this country is stupid enough to buy these lies one more time -- how can we be? I thought, no. Not after Bush. Not after Bush AGAIN. Not after Bush lied and tortured and destroyed their ecosystem and stripped away their civil rights and destroyed the economy and took their jobs and murdered their children and put them in a war which now even most of them can see is stupid and useless, not to mention criminal, now, I said, now, surely this time--

But no. Dance a shiny puppet in front of them who is spitting pretty words (Country first! America Great! Liberals Bad! You Rock!) and that's it.

You'll never go broke, as the man said.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Republican America

Here's their country: the way they like it. Over on Althouse they were cheering this shit. McCain gets in, this is how they'll run the country for all of us.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Yet More Palin!!

The hits keep rolling in!!

From a 2006 Eagle Forum candidate questionnaire:

Q: Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance?  Why or Why not?
Sarah Palin: Not on your life.  If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me.

(Via Uggabugga)

More Palin


Before she was elected governor, she was mayor of a tiny Anchorage suburb, where[...]she also sought to have books banned from the local library and threatened to fire the librarian.

Can't we declare this race over now?

(mr. delagar wonders when the naked photos of Palin will appear.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Palin and Sex Ed

Some have been claiming that Palin is okay with using contraception -- um, no.

Here's a post on her actual positions, including that one.

(I suppose it could be possible that she's fine with her children using it -- she just doesn't want anyone else to have access to it. I've heard there are compassionate conservatives around like that.)

(This is OT, but also adorable. Someone tell me again how thoroughly McCain vetted this candidate?)

Monday, September 01, 2008

We Don't Need No Sex Education

Bristol Palin, one of Alaska Gov. Palin's five children with her husband, Todd, is about five months pregnant and is going to keep the child and marry the father, the Palins said in a statement released by the campaign...

I just seriously don't even know what to say about this.

The problem obviously isn't her having the kid -- I'm pro-choice.  She's a woman, even if she's 17, and I'm hoping the decision was left up to her (I'll keep my doubts on that score to myself).

The problem is -- five months pregnant? How are we just now dealing with this?  Why is Bristol afraid to tell her parents about this before now?  What kind of family values do we have in this house?  What kind of judgment have we been teaching our kids?  Also, how's this seventeen year old not being taught about birth control? (Or is that something Ms. Sarah Feminist for Life Palin also doesn't believe in?  Was Bristol supposed to Just Say No?  Did she get the Abstinence Only Sex-Ed?)  

Also, what kind of tool is John McCain, who claims he knew about Bristol's pregnancy (yeah, I believe it too) and chose Palin anyway.

I could go on, but I'll leave further objections to the class.