Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What Problem?

Via Angry Black Woman, this post, by Tim Wise, breaks down the level of denial in this country.

If you hear from your racist relatives, as I do, about how good black people (especially black women) have it these days, and how the white male Xtian is really the one being discriminated against in America these days, here's the post for you:

How many Americans do you figure have even heard, for example, that black youth arrested for drug possession for the first time are incarcerated at a rate that is forty-eight times greater than the rate for white youth, even when all other factors surrounding the crime are identical (4)?

How many have heard that persons with "white sounding names," according to a massive national study, are fifty percent more likely to be called back for a job interview than those with "black sounding" names, even when all other credentials are the same (5)?

How many know that white men with a criminal record are slightly more likely to be called back for a job interview than black men without one, even when the men are equally qualified, and present themselves to potential employers in an identical fashion (6)?

How many have heard that according to the Justice Department, Black and Latino males are three times more likely than white males to have their vehicles stopped and searched by police, even though white males are over four times more likely to have illegal contraband in our cars on the occasions when we are searched (7)?

Stupid and Evil

I saw this on Rachel Maddow last night, but Fred over at Slacktivist has put it into an excellent post.

Anyone with any moral compass knows, from the first time they watch a bug or a frog or a grasshopper being tortured by a fellow six-year-old (or whatever your formative experience was--- mine was watching the kid next door set fire to a caterpillar) that torture is wrong.

But here, we have it explained to us in detail why torture is wrong, why Bushco screwed up so badly: not only did they torture this man, this prisoner in our custody, but they tortured him knowing they would get bad results; they spent millions of our dollars to get those bad answers; and then they spent hundreds of hours pursuing those bad answers: hours that might have been used productively, pursuing, oh, I don't know, actual criminals?  Actual evil-doers?

Assuming those exist.

I guess they do now, that Bushco has tortured them into existence.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Moral Dirt Clods

This Post over at Crooked Timber, which is about directing your kids' reading, whether you should or can direct your kids' reading, how you get your kids to read, etc, is an interesting one.

We never much directed the Kid's reading -- well, we read, all the time, non-stop, of course: mr. delagar and I are generally reading 2-5 books apiece at any given time (I'm reading Joe Haldeman's Worlds Apart, Kit Whitfield's new book, In Deep Waters, the biography of FDR, A Traitor to his Class, and a book by Anthony Burgess right now, called English Literature, which I am mainly reading for it's amusement value); and until she learned to read herself we read to her the same way.  Her bed, right now, is piled with books.

Lately, though, I have been reading the English Bible to her.

This is because one of her Xtian classmates had been urging her to read it, in class: when the Kid would browse the shelves of their school library, the little Xtian would say, "Why don't you read the Bible?  It's a Good Book!"  (Doing her special duty to convert the Jew, I expect.)

The Kid complained about this, at home.  I said she should take the other kid's advice, the Bible being the foundation of all Western Literature.  "Besides," I added.  "You're going to love what's in there."

So we're reading it, five or six or ten chapters a night, and boy does she.

"Now what now?" she says, when we hit some appalling bit.  "He did what?  Read that again."

She calls these moral dirt clods, and really, really wants to fling them at her classmate; but is nobly restraining herself, since she is a polite and civil child.

"Do you think Tillie knows this is in here?" she asked, about the bit where Lot offers to give up his virgin daughters to be raped by the mob.  "She says she's read the Bible."

"Most Christians," I said, "when they say they've read the Bible, mean they've read bits of it, given to them in church by their preachers.  Most of them have no idea what is in here."

She looked thoughtful, and interested.

"Anyway," I said.  "It's her business.  Leave her alone about it."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

But You Can Call Me delagar

Went in to pick up some papers at the office, even if it is spring break, and found a letter in my box from the provost, notifying me that my promotion had been confirmed.

Oh yes, that's me: Associate Professor Delagar.

Though it's not official until August, mind you.

Back from Tulsa

The kid and mr. delagar and I took an overnight to Tulsa, both to buy Passover supplies (which are not available in Fuck Smith) and to take the kid to the zoo, a trip we have been promising her since her last birthday (May 2008).  We told her it was for this birthday (May 2009) and she seems to have bought the story.  Sucker!*

We also went to the Philbrook, where we saw one of my favorite paintings, the Little Shepardess, and several Moran landscapes, as well as a photography exhibit (this last made mr. delagar very happy) and found a used bookstore and had lunch at a Chinese restaurant and stayed in a motel: the first vacation-like event we've had in, I believe, two years -- since the last time we went to Tulsa.  "Oh, I'm so happy!" the kid said at one point.

Then! We returned to find Tonks finally hatched! Yay Tonks!  And what a great kid! Hop over there and have a look.  He's huge!  And sharp!  Check out that gaze!  Don't mess with that kid.  He's got your number.

So a fine few days, I have to say.

*Kidding, Kid!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Christian Men Explain Patriarchy

Ross Douthat thinks we can all calm down, now that the Vatican has issued a "Christian" clarification on that whole stepdaddy rapes the 9-year-old and her mama had the nerve to get her an abortion deal.

See, the trouble, the Church explains to us (and Ross finds this enlightened of them) is not that men rape little girls (though the Church agrees that's wicked): the trouble is that women then disobey the rules laid down by the Church and keep their 66-pound 9 year old daughters alive by doing what their doctors advise, and having the fetuses caused by that rape aborted.

The other problem is that the Archbishop stupidly announced the excommunication of the mother and the doctors, which there was no actual need to do -- the woman and the doctors were automatically excommunicate anyway.  (Via a technical point, the 9 year old is not.  Yay her!  She gets to stay a part of this charming system!)   So the tool who excommunicated the woman and doctors should have just shut up, the Church explains, and everyone would have been perfectly happy, except mom and the doctors, who deserve to roast in hell anyway.

And stepdaddy could have kept raping little girl, I guess.  Or I suppose we're supposed to think the Church would have made him stop?

Anyway, Ross Douthat believes this is a splendid Christian response.  So does this guy.

What color is the air on their planet, do you suppose?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Racism? In America?


Lori Phanachone, Honor Student in Iowa, seventh in her class, with pending scholarships to two different universities, is sitting out multiple in-school suspensions for refusing to take an Enlish-proficiency exam, being given to her based solely on her race and heritage -- her parents are Laotian. She speaks English perfectly, as her school performance shows, and as all her teachers agree. So what, says her district coordinator: since she's not a white kid, she gets to take the test. (No, he didn't use those words. He doesn't have to, does he?)

Oh, and her assistant principal? He told her she should give up, because she's no Rosa Parks. And he did use those words.

In case you think this is all SOP, and she's just being a trouble-maker?

"We have chosen to say that if you do not have a proficient score on this test that we need to reassess to make sure you are proficient in English," Porsche said.

Administrators in other Iowa school districts, and in the area education agencies that provide the tests, disagree over whether the test is mandatory as Porsche maintains.

Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency-8 Title III consultant Kathy Brenny, who has an office in Storm Lake, explained that students are identified as English language learners or English as a Second Language students when they enroll. But she said, "If they are proficient, then we don't have to give the test."

Tom Green of the Northwest Area Education Agency in Sioux City said there is federal policy in place to determine who takes the test.

Phanachone's case "is an interesting question," he said and suggested, "A kid with a 3.9 GPA shouldn't be in an (English language learners) program."

(Via Karnythia on Angry Black Woman)

Did Someone Say Faux News?

Fox News brings us a very important piece of crap from Texas:

A Republican Representative from Texas, who (oh shock me!) does not "believe" in evolution wants to give his Texas Institutions the power to grant Masters in Creationist Science.

Uh-huh. And exactly what would you study for this here degree, sir?

Prayer and Fasting 101?

Power of Jesus 115?

How Satan Hid Fossils in Slate: Advanced Students Only 3103?

Merciful Zen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Information Revolution

This here in the NYTimes brings to mind something that's been happening more and more often in my classes lately.

The article is about mistrials being declared because jurors are using their Blackberries and iPhones to do research on any given piece of testimony or on some expert's credentials or on a certain sort of medical technology, all of this during the actual trial -- none of which, of course, is legal.

I'm not surprised, since my students have been doing the same to me.

"Uh, well," I will say. "Oxford Convocation. We're talking early part of the fifteenth century here. I don't remember the exact year, it's a number, I'm bad with numbers, but the point is--"

"1406," some student will say from halfway down the third row, his Blackberry on his desk.

Or someone will ask me about an obscure linquistic point, and I'll brush it off, as I have always done, since we don't really need that level of detail in the class, and before I can finish saying so, someone else in class has Wikipedia open and is explaining it.

It's creating an entirely different, and very interesting, sort of classroom.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Good thing we're in a post-racist society, is it?

After a police officer guns a 73-year-old man down on his front steps, during a picnic, in the middle of a family picnic, for the high crime of protesting that police officer's invasion of his house -- the police officer had been harassing the man's son, who was innocent of any crime, and had chased him into the house when the young man had enough of it and went inside -- the police in Homer, Louisiana not only (allegedly, I suppose we have to say, since the witnesses to the act are all black citizens) planted a gun on his body, but claim they're wholly justified in their behavior:

"People here are afraid of the police," said Terry Willis, vice president of the Homer NAACP branch. "They harass black people, they stop people for no reason and rough them up without charging them with anything.

"That is how it should be, responded Russell Mills, Homer's police chief, who noted the high rates of gun and drug arrests in the neighborhood."If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names," said Mills, who is white. "I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested.

Via Pam at Pandagon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Oh joy!

Here is a site I know you will love as much as I do:

World Wide Words, by Michael Quinion.

Words like Git, hebetude, zip (in the political sense) and many others are explained in brief and charming essays. My new favorite place to hang.

Friday, March 13, 2009

No! No Money! No!

You know Mark Sanford, the bold bold bold Republican Gov. of S. Carolina, one of those who won't take Obama's stimulus money because he had moral qualms?

Yeah, he's got no moral qualms about letting his black children go to school in slums.

Roofs leak.  Buildings that are actually condemned.  Classes that can't be held because the rotten walls are so close to railway tracks trains constantly drowned out the teachers. 

Not like they're white kids, though, is it?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

To the Left of Buddha

Ezra disliked this quiz, which purports to tell us how progressive we are, or how progressive we ain't, I suppose, but I found it amusing, probably b/c it supported what I already suspect, which is that I'm to the far left of, well, just about everyone on the planet, and like most beings who have transcended this plane.

My score? 379, out of 400.  (Mean score for liberal Democrats is 247.)


Oh, yes!  I'd forgotten this one!

That dark little fantasy of Obama opening "camps" for the good Christian Right is one I've been seeing over on Right-Wing blogs for five or six months now.  mr. delagar, when I yelled at him to come read this one, now, snorted in amused disgust. 

"We can't open re-education camps for the Right," he pointed out.  "First they'd have to be educated."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I want a little rubber stamp that says Put The Period Inside The Quotation Mark.

Also, one that says, What noun does this pronoun refer back to?

And one that says, Use a colon here, NOT a semi-colon.

(Why, yes, I am grading essays. How can you tell?)

Monday, March 09, 2009


I wasn't even going to post on the nine-year-old raped by her stepdaddy and ex-communicated (along with her mamma and her doctors) by the Catholic Church for aborting the twin fetuses which would have killed her had she carried them to term b/c, you know, abortion is murder and that is wrong (but raping nine-year-olds is just dandy) I was just gone leave that shit alone because I am so sick of dealing with the sick sick sick shit handed to me by the patriarchy this week --

But I could not DEAL with the IDIOT comments left over at Megan's site after she posted about the story: To Wit:

1) I doubt very much this story is true. Usually when stories come out like this, one finds out later, a few weeks later that the young girl in question was older and her family claimed she was younger to secure the abortion.
2) Thomasblair- actually the Church is just upholding its consistent position that all life is sacred and shouldn't (no matter the circumstance) be snuffed out. Of course, the Church also just runs the largest network of hospitals throughout the world- so meh on them right?
Posted by expatinsingapore
March 5, 2009 5:09 PM


Would Islam permit her to have an abortion? My guess is that she would be publicly humiliated for "promiscuity".
Posted by Staash
March 5, 2009 5:55 PM

And this charmer:

...If the facts are true, then her abortion is ok--life for life. However, if not--if she would survive and have no bodily defects---then no, she should not be allowed.
note that the stepfather is only suspected---no proof. She could have been sexually active, given that she apparently had hit puberty before age 9 (!).
Does anyone notice that last wbit of weirdness? I didn't know 9 year olds could have kids. I thought puberty was 11-13 in girls. 9 seems...unbelievable.
Posted by Basic Fact
March 5, 2009 6:37 PM

Who goes on through the thread to say even more appalling things. He's the worst of the lot over there, though several of the commenters make me gag.

Men hate you, Twisty says. She ain't lying.

The Second Amendment? My Neck!

Here's why we love the South: Only Certain People have right here. And that's how We Like It.

Over there in Tulsa the instructor of a gun-safety class, funded by the state, asked, before the class started, if anyone had voted for that Anti-Christ, Obama.

When ex-Marine Daniel Reddy raised his hand and said he had, instructor Kell Wolf told him he could take his son and get out.

No evil liberals were allowed in this class.

Reluctantly, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Education has told Mr. Wolf his services will no longer be required, and apologized to Mr. Reddy and his son. Gee, they say, Mr. Wolf never acted like this before.

But, you know, probably he never had to deal with uppity liberals and black guys trying to run the country before, either.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Going Galt

I've been reading Dr. Helen, Girl Misogynist, for over a year, so this Going Galt notion is an old one for me -- not to mention I teach undergraduates.  If you teach nineteen year old boys, you can't escaping hearing about Atlas Shrugged, John Galt, the way-coolness of Ayn Rand, yap yap yap, until you want to stick chopsticks in your own ears just to make it stop.

Also, I read that shit when I was thirteen myself, you know.  I too was a libertarian, briefly. But, you know, I grew out of it.

You live in a country, you're defended by its armed forces, you drive on its roads and cross its bridges, you're protected by its firefighters and police force, you benefit from its social services network (and yes, you do -- even if you don't have kids yourself, even if you yourself have been lucky enough not to need medicare or food stamps, you benefit because other people's children get educated in the public school system, other people get fed and cared for, and therefore aren't roaming the streets in savage hoards attacking your big shiny SUV, you benefit because you don't have to pay a private security force to guard your armed compound, tool): you use the beaches and the national parks, you live in a neighborhood where clean safe water is piped to your house which was built to spec and you shop in markets where the food is (almost always) safe.

All of these things have costs.  They are paid for by tax dollars.  Who do you think will pay for them?  Santa?  Mr. Jesus?  Crap.  You people are supposed to be adults.  You live here.  Pony the fuck up.

Also, what Matt says here.

Please, Dr. Helen and Mr. Dr. Helen -- would you both Go Galt?  Please?  B/c you know what?  Lots and lots and lots of young academics out there need work.  Honest.

Friday, March 06, 2009

This Just In

Andrew Malcolm: Tool

Snarkily, he demands to know how the poor dare to use cell-phones.  They're poor!  Let them...you know...use payphones.

Most of the comments point out that cellphones are cheap, idiot, and homeless guys need them if they're ever going to get unhomeless (how can you look for a job without a phone, tool?), but a few chime in to rattle their rich Rethug sabers: no one who owns a cellphone is poor!  America: the only country in the world where the poor people are fat!  Har-har-har!

I'd like every one of those commenters to spend five years in the Arkansas hills in the bad half of a duplex on minimum wage and no fucking health insurance.  Driving a ten year old Dodge Ram pickup with busted windshield wipers.  See how their tune has changed at the end of that little experiment. Har-har-har.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

One Born Every Minute

Or: Just When You Think They Can't Get Dumber.

"What The Heck Is Wrong With Christian Salt?" he sez to himself, watching a TV ad for Kosher salt.

B/c you know them Jews: always out to scam the money of the goyim.

Mercy.  Please.  I'm beggin.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

One More Episode

...In No One Warned Me Parenting Would Be Like This...

The Kid now has her first retainer, a purple sparkly item.

Now I spend all my time saying either, "Where is your retainer?"


"Will you get that thing back in your mouth please?"