Sunday, February 28, 2010

Healthcare Now!

This from DailyKos is your MustRead today.

I was at a party last night (I know! Me at a party!  WTF!), about a dozen of us, graduate students, professors, two ornithologists (yes! really! they are part of the team tracking the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker!), media specialists, a guy who used have a lucrative career with Cox Cable before he got fucked by downsizing, and we had been drinking and talking birds and universities and politics and our wicked youths, the sorts of things one does discuss in NW Arkansas at this sort of party, but invariably, as usual these days, the party devolved to the discussion of hospitals, doctors, and medical debt. 

Everyone of us at that party, and nearly all of us, mind you, had actual jobs, and all of us had actual insurance, but all of us are up to our chins in medical debt, and most of us have been turned over to collection agencies by various doctors and hospitals: this despite have insurance, this despite paying on the medical bills we have to the best of our ability (not very well, since medical bills and medical insurance are now eating up about a fifth of my take-home income).  We're standing there in a huddle at the party swapping tactics on how to deal with collection agencies and hospital billing departments, desperate as outlaws, people who have, in fact, paid for their health care, because none of us had ever missed an insurance payment, while meanwhile the insurance companies, last I heard, post larger and larger profits, as do the drug companies.

Then?  This year?  I get the fine news from my university that they will be raising our insurance premiums.  Oh yay.

Pass the damn bill.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Kid's First Dance

It was a themed dance.  They were all to wear Disney costumes.  The Kid dressed like Cruella De Vil, a costume we built ourselves, turning an old white stuffed puppy into a Dalmatian with a Sharpie and then gutting it, fake blood added liberally.  White felt made into Faux-Dalmatian hide with the same Sharpie was then stitched onto my old black coat, to be her Cruella de Vil jacket.  We turned her hair half-white with a mixture of mousse and cornstarch.  A rolled up sheet of paper for a fake cigarette, eh voila!  She went off to the dance, waving her slaughtered puppy and cackling evilly. Herr Dr. Delagar takes her -- as her daddy, he must take her to her first dance, of course.

Two hours later, she and Herr Dr. Delagar returned.  "I'm soooo tirrred!" she howled.  "My feeeet!"

I am reminded of the scene in Pride and Prejudice, when the Bennett sisters come home from the ball.  She collapses and drops her feet in my lap for me to rub.  We discuss costumes as the Bennetts discuss lace.  HDD, OTOH, retreats to his icy mountain fortress (This is what he calls his office).

Later, though, I pry details from him -- who did our beloved child dance with? I demand to know.

He snorts.  "It was not like that at all," he informs me.  "The boys retreated to a separate room and beat each other up.  The girls stayed in the main room and danced together."

Ah, romance.

All Right Then

Particularly I still, from time to time, see Right-Wing Blogs citing "what happened in New Orleans after Katrina" to excuse their vicious racism/classism, this is good to see.

George Orwell

It always cracks me up when the Right Wing quotes George Orwell (pontifically), assuming he would have been at their tea-bagging parties or voting Republican along with them. None of them seem to have actually read Road to Wigan Pier, or to have noticed he was a socialist.

I guess I should not be surprised. If they could read, they'd be Leftists.

Anyway, I was reading this, prepping the deep background for one of my 1213 classes, and came across this passage. Orwell is writing about his days at boarding school.

There was a boy named Johnny Hale who for some months oppressed me horribly. He was a big, powerful, coarsely handsome boy with a very red face and curly black hair, who was forever twisting somebody's arm, wringing somebody's ear, flogging somebody with a riding-crop (he was a member of the Sixth Form), or performing prodigies of activity on the football field. Flip loved him (hence the fact he was habitually called by his Christian name) and Sambo commended him as a boy who ‘had character’ and ‘could keep order’. He was followed about by a group of toadies who nicknamed him Strong Man.
One day, when we were taking off our overcoats in the changing-room, Hale picked on me for some reason. I ‘answered him back’. Whereupon he gripped my wrist, twisted it round and bent my forearm back upon itself in a hideously painful way. I remember his handsome, jeering red face bearing down upon mine. He was, I think, older than I, besides being enormously stronger.

As he let go of me a terrible, wicked resolve formed itself in my heart. I would get back on him by hitting him when he did not expect it. It was a strategic moment, for the master who had been ‘taking’ the walk would be coming back almost immediately, and then there could be no fight. I let perhaps a minute go by, walked up to Hale with the most harmless air I could assume, and then, getting the weight of my body behind it, smashed my fist into his face. He was flung backwards by the blow, and some blood ran out of his mouth. His always sanguine face turned almost black with rage. Then he turned away to rinse his mouth at the wash-basins.

‘All right!’ he said to me between his teeth as the master led us away.

For days after this he followed me about, challenging me to fight. Although terrified out of my wits, I steadily refused to fight. I said that the blow in the face had served him right, and there was an end of it. Curiously enough he did not simply fall upon me there and then, which public opinion would probably have supported him in doing. So gradually the matter tailed off, and there was no fight.

Now, I had behaved wrongly, by my own code no less than his. To hit him unawares was wrong. But to refuse afterwards to fight knowing that if we fought we would beat me — that was far worse: it was cowardly. If I had refused because I disapproved of fighting, or because I genuinely felt the matter to be closed, it would have been all right; but I had refused merely because I was afraid. Even my revenge was made empty by that fact. I had struck the blow in a moment of mindless violence, deliberately not looking far ahead and merely determined to get my own back for once and damn the consequences. I had had time to realize that what I did was wrong, but it was the kind of crime from which you could get some satisfaction. Now all was nullified. There had been a sort of courage in the first act, but my subsequent cowardice had wiped it out.

The fact I hardly noticed was that though Hale formally challenged me to fight, he did not actually attack me. Indeed, after receiving that one blow he never oppressed me again. It was perhaps twenty years before I saw the significance of this. At the time I could not see beyond the moral dilemma that is presented to the weak in a world governed by the strong: Break the rules, or perish. I did not see that in that case the weak have the right to make a different set of rules for themselves; because, even if such an idea had occurred to me, there was no one in my environment who could have confirmed me in it.

(Emphasis added.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No More Hummers!

Ah, the world continues its conspiracy to cheer me up.

General Motors' decision today to stop manufacturing Hummers has struck at the heart of the group who loved the vehicles most: America's assholes.  Across the nation, leading assholes spoke of a sense of loss and sadness caused by the decision, and suggested that they would now be searching for new ways to compensate for their small penises.

Re The Guardian's Top Ten Rules...

Here's some writing advice I can get behind.

Via Crooked Timber.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just Dropping by to Mention This

I'm carrying a lot of anger today.

Y'all should be glad you don't live here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Teabaggers are Teabagging

Or, This is what happens when you let children play with politics--or, you know, chainsaws and flamethrowers.

...even if Pawlenty gets away with claiming that it’s just a metaphor, his meaning---the overall meaning of CPAC this year---couldn’t be clearer. They’re encouraging their followers to literally believe the only legitimate party is the Republican party, and that this is true even if Democrats win fair and square. How conservatives rationalize this is all over the map. “Jokes” about repealing women’s suffrage are part of this narrative, since women, especially Unwomen (aka, the unmarried) can’t make the “correct” choices. At the big teabaggers’ convention, Tom Tancredo floated the idea of literacy tests, which along with the Palin speak about Real Americans® establishes a racist narrative where non-white voters are considered illegitimate. Questioning the patriotism of the “liberal elite” rounds off the trifecta of rationalizations.

WTF? Do these people not listen to what is coming from their mouths? Have they read no history? Can they not think two weeks -- shit, two days -- into the future? Outside of their own small window of experience?

Well, no, obviously not, or they would not say these things they say.

Also, I admit, I am working with an advantage: I have been in the houses of some of these Teabaggers. I know that they own no books. I know that they do not read. I have spoken with them, asked them questions. I know their body of knowledge is, to use the kindest terms, neither broad nor deep. Even when they have good hearts, and a few of them do indeed have good hearts, their limits curtail them.

You can't make good decisions about your route when you can't see the entire landscape. These folk won't open Mapquest. Shit, they don't even know the program exists. Knowing about their Daddy's backyard was good enough for Daddy and it's good enough for them too.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Persecution of Xtians

Ken Blackwell, educated at Liberty University (do I need to go on?), pens a charming essay posted by Faux News in which he claims that the Left, under Obama, is persecuting Christians.

Oh, but not just persecuting them.  That's old news.  The Left is engaging in pogroms!

I don't know who taught Mr. Blackwell this big word, but he is very impressed with himself for knowing it:

What we are witnessing right now is an anti-Christianprogrammatic pogrom. What is a “pogrom” it’s the word that describes anti-Jewish raids by Cossacks and others in czarist Russia, but a programmatic pogrom best describes what is happening right now. 

Mr. Blackwell objects (as far as I can follow his somewhat incoherent argument at all) because certain organizations connected with churches (such as Liberty University, I imagine, though he does not mention that one) are being refused funding requests because they refuse to comply with Federal Regulations: providing information on all health options available to women, apparently, being one of them, though he phrases this as refusing to provide condoms to monks.  (Do monks really ask for condoms that often?)  I happen to have a young relative at a Catholic University.  He is himself not actually Catholic, or in fact religious in any respect.  When he goes to the school clinic -- his primary source of health care -- he cannot get contraceptives; he cannot even get tested or treated for STDs; a whole spectrum of vital health care, in other words, is not made available to him, despite the fact that he is paying for this health care as a student of this university.  

Should we underwrite this irresponsible, hell, felonious behavior on that health care center's part?  I put it to you that that university is endangering the health of the students in their care.  (Not my relative so much, since he's a smart kid and knows to get his condoms and health care elsewhere, but what about the less careful and less wealthy students in their purview?)  Also, if the churches want to push their archaic and lunatic belief systems, obviously we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion in this country; but we don't have to fund or support such lunacy.

Further, and this is my main point, Mr. Blackwell:  denying someone Federal Funding because they refuse on religious grounds to comply with Federal laws is not, in fact, a pogrom.

It is not, I do not care what you heard on Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or whatever crap you have been listening to, not getting funded is not the same being raped, or slaughtered, it is not the same as watching your children get raped and slaughtered, it is not at all like being raped and slaughtered and terrorized and having that happen to you and your entire community and to every community like yours for generation upon generation all over Europe for a thousand years, culminating in the biggest pogrom of them all, Mr. Hitler's, so you can STFU, please.

And take your stupid university and your stupid network with you.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I heard about the Daily Kos poll awhile back, but somehow I miss this bit.  Here's Republicans on whether contraception -- not abortion, mind you, not the Morning-After Pill, but plain, flat, contraception, as in the Pill and the condom and such as that -- should be made illegal.  And yes, you're reading that right.  31% say yes.

QUESTION: Should contraceptive use be outlawed?

Not Like305812
Def Not295912
Not Sure285913

What If...

The Kid: (working on her school project, a cut-out related to the book report not quite yet overdue): If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

Me: Uhmmm.  Just one thing?  Jeez.  That's tough.

The Kid: Just one.

Me: (Thinking of Wilhelm's wishing for big things -- don't waste your wishes on tiny things, always wish for Golden Wings!; and the old joke*): Ummm...okay, okay.  I would make it so there was no religion and never had been any religion.

The Kid: --- --- ---

Me: See, because I think a lot of bad things have happened because of religion.  And also lots of people use religion to excuse doing bad things.  And even if some few good things happen because of religion, that's--

The Kid: I'd wish for there not to be any corn syrup.

Me: Oh.

The Kid:  Yeah.  That's what I'd change.

Me:  So you could eat marshmallows.

The Kid: Right.

Me: --- --- ----

The Kid:  Don't judge me!  YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO JUDGE ME!

*You know the old joke: This tenured professor of philosophy is working late one night far back in the stacks at Cambridge or Yale,  I forget just where, anyway, in among piles and piles of books, and he reaches far back in the stacks and pulls out this jar.  He dusts it off, and WHAP, out pops a Genii.  "Dude," the Genii says.  "TNX, I've been in there forever.  You can have one wish--"

"One?" The professor interrupts.  "I thought--"

"Dude, don't interrupt.  You can have one wish: you have everlasting beauty, infinite wealth, or eternal wisdom."  The Genii paused.  "Choose now!" he hinted.

"Sublime wisdom," the professor said promptly.

"Done," said the Genii.  "Deuces, dude," he added, and zap, he was gone.

About six minutes later, some of the professor's colleagues come along, and the professor is sitting at the table, his fists clenched, staring straight ahead of himself.

"Hey," they said.  "Hey, what's wrong?"

He shook his head. "I should have taken the money."


Double Rats.

You'll remember last fall when the dryer broke, and it was weeks and weeks before we could afford to get it fixed?

Yeah, now the washing machine is gone. And we are even poorer than ever.

Yay, laundromats.

Hear, Hear

It would certainly keep committee meetings, ah, more focused.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Cheering Me Up!

New Rules for handling suspects our former democracy!

(None of that Miranda Warning and rule-of-law around here!  What are you, soft?  These are tough times!  We have underpants bombers to deal with!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

More Cheering Up!

This comic makes me laugh:

Though I also lurve this one.

Update: Oh God: I've changed my mind: This one is the best.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh My

Just in time, b/c I needed something to cheer me up today:

Signs from the Teabagging party!

My personal favorite is "Homosexuals Are Gay," though "Death To All Juice" is also very cute.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What? Racist? Not the Right!

Via Joe-My-God, a must-see segment from my BFF Rachel Maddow about the Teabaggers and their racist evil.


The snow and ice having for the moment moved off, I am back on campus.

Don't expect me to be cheery about it.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Well, anyway, snow enough that campus is closed -- good enough!  Coffee and time to work on my writing.  Casting my eye back over the semester, I see we have not met one entire week this semester so far, due to weather or holidays.  Hmm.

Today I will finish stage-one editing for Crossed Genres, work on the new short story, make bagels and oatmeal cookies, and prep to teach tomorrow, although, frankly, looking at the weather, I'm thinking classes might get called tomorrow as well: more snow and ice on the way.

Outside my window, btw, a lovely landscape of snow and trees.  I do love winter.

Friday, February 05, 2010

He Knocks Another One Out

Another Must-Read from Ta-Nehisi Coates.

I don't write this out so that I can establish blame/guilt. To the contrary, the point is that the system was so far-reaching, that it took a conscious, deliberate and often personally dangerous effort to defy it. Against all odds, against a media that reinforced the assumptions of the system, against segregated social institutions that prescribed the assumptions, against whole familes which had bought into the assumption, one would have to rebel and say, "No." The point isn't that all white people are somehow guilty. The point is that a choice between guilt/innocence wasn't really present. It had to be created and it carried with it significant social costs.

This sort of post is why I keep on going over there. He's good a great deal of the time, though he will talk about music (y'all know I'm musically ignorant) and sports and other matters of which I know utterly nothing.

Now and then, as in today's post, he's amazing.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Having been rejected yet again, I cheered myself up by submitting the new story to Clarkesworld. Do you know their response time is 30 hours to 3 days? That's right! They reject or accept stories in less than 30 hours! Three days tops! What's wrong with the rest of you slackers?

Monday, February 01, 2010


Well, that's one way to drive up your sales ranking, I guess...


Another reason to love Joe.My.God.

Issue 15

The new issue of Crossed Genres is available, with a way cool cover and excellent stories. Go read!

Also! We're now taking submissions for issue 17, which is SF crossed with the Anti-Hero. I know you gotta story for this one. Get to work, get it in shape, get it in (by 11.59 EST) February 28.