Sunday, December 20, 2015

Here Is Why I Love Academics

This is the sort of thing we get up to:

Rosie the Roach

Friday, December 18, 2015

Latest Favorite Drawing by the Kid

Here's one of the kid's latest drawings: two of the characters from one of her up-coming comics, puzzling out how to do Romance. 

The working title of the comic is Fragile. I already love it.

Books I Am Weary of Reading

This article, by Rebecca Solnit, excellent in itself, reminded me of the ennui, not to say disgust, I've been feeling in bookstores and the local public library lately, taking books off the shelf, reading their flyleaf, reading a few pages of them, and then putting them back with a sigh.

I am reminded of a brief period in the late 1990s, I think it was, though I might have that date wrong, when it seemed like every single book being published was about some young (white) guy's experience in Africa. This was just after the movie Out of Africa hit it big, as I recall.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Happy Hanukkah 2015!

It's the first night of Hanukkah here at Chez delagar!

We're having the latkes and brisket tomorrow, since that coincides with Dr. Skull's birthday; so tonight we just lit the candles and said the prayer.

 Also the kid opened her first present, a book of drawings by Evan Dahm:

Evan Dahm being one of her favorite artists, her glee was pronounced, not to say earsplitting.

In other news, I have just discovered the sound-track to the musical Hamilton, and have spent the past 35 hours listening to nothing else. (I think I slept briefly.) If you have not, for some reason, yet discovered this amazing work, run do not walk to Spotify or iTunes or whatevs.

Friday, November 27, 2015


This is great:

The end is my favorite.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy TNX, Y'all

Here at Chez delagar, we're having Uncle Charger & his mama to dinner, which is a relatively small guest-list for us -- in general, Dr. Skull spends the entire months of October and November inviting everyone he runs across in the street or in his active social life to dinner.

But this year, between his job and the fact that he's been working on not one but two novels, he's been more occupied than usual; also, many of our friends are traveling.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

And Now For Something Entirely Different: Reviewing The Stepford Wives

Normally when I review a book, it's a one-off, one-post overview deal.

BUT.  As some of your might know, the kid has been doing a running review of Flowers In the Attic, and over here at Libby Anne's blog, she's been going bit by bit through a thoroughly silly book about how evil CPS is, called Anonymous Tip, and I assume everyone knows about Fred Clark's review/s of the Left Behind series.

So last night I was reading The Stepford Wives, because one of my Utopian/Dystopian students did a presentation on the movie yesterday, and because I had never read the book, and because this online book service I subscribe too had a copy available.  It's not a terrible book, by the way.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

But Here in Arkansas, We've Got Poor White People

AKA the "Where's my privilege, huh? HUH?" argument.

AKA as the argument that makes me roll my eyes and sigh.

Not because it's a good argument. But, like every argument trotted out by a freshman or a libertarian or a toddler, it's one of those arguments that is difficult to refute not because it's a good argument -- it's a terrible argument* -- but because to refute it, you practically have to re-educate the person in question from the ground up.

It's not an argument that can be refuted with sound-bites, in other words.  And in general, people making this argument are only going to used to arguments made in sound-bites and bumper stickers.

So, you know, I'm already discouraged.

Part I: "What are you even talking about, delagar?"

More than once this semester, I've had a student, in class or in person, argue with me that white males are the ones who face real discrimination these days; or that white people in general are the ones facing real discrimination in our current economy.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Some Links on the Protests

These are from LG&M, where the bloggers are doing good work.

You Know Who Else Took Part in Hunger Strikes?

More about Mizzou

Jonathan Butler and Mizzou

ETA: See this link as well, from the Guardian.

The Campus Race Protests...

The comments over there are also very much

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Protests at the Universities: What's Up, Why They're Righteous

Over the past week or so, two protests at two very different universities have been stirring up a lot of ruckus, mostly on the Conservative blogs, but also on the mainstream media.

One protest is at Yale; the other, at the University of Missouri.

The Conservative blogs -- and I know, big shock here -- have been represented these protests as either "whiny, spoiled entitled rich students who need a dose of the real world" (Yale), or "SJWs out for blood" (UM).

Rod Dreher -- again, no shock here -- has gotten even more hysterical than usual. (It's the French Revolution, y'all!) I think that boy needs to get some help, and soon.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Kid Writes a Post

Y'all remember the Kid's blog, upon which she liveblogs books she is reading. (Currently she is liveblogging Flowers in the Attic, for our amusement.)

She had another post up.  My favorite part?

Cathy is still preoccupied with clothes, but when she tries to get some of the ones in the attic, moths with DISGUSTING LITTLE WINGS fly out. She also finds some photos with relatives; everyone is completely miserable. This is a Misery Family.


Go here for the rest!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

As Much as I Hate to Keep Attacking Rod Dreher....

So you've all heard of Ben Fields and how he assaulted that black child.

You know all the circumstances.  How the girl is a recent orphan.  How the entire contretemps started over the girl getting out her phone in class, and then refusing to surrender the phone. (I'll admit I have some sympathy here -- I know how essential my kid's phone is to her mental well-being, and no, I do not exaggerate, not even one tiny bit. She, too, would probably risk arrest rather than give up her phone, and she has two living parents.)

Monday, November 02, 2015

Some Photographs

Here is a new photograph of my cat Junti, with a pear,

Here is the new dog, Heywood, lolling.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hey, Look! The Kid Has Blog!

The Kid has a blog, called Lizard Lord Liveblogs, in which she will (more or less) recap the liveblogging reads she does.

Here you may read one of her first posts, in which she reads/tweets/liveblogs that 1979 favorite, Flowers in the Attic.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Morning in the delagar House; or, The Perils of Letting Them Be Educated

Scene: This morning, in the delagar house. Just past six a.m.  Very dark and silent.  I am stumbling about the half-lit kitchen, assembling breakfast.

From the kid's bedroom, suddenly: A TERRIBLE HALF HOWL, HALF YOWL SHRIEKING YELP.

Me: (Nearly dropping the eggs): Good Shit!  What was that!  What happened!

Kid: (Mildly, from her bedroom): That was my barbaric yawp, Mom.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Missing the Point

Here is Rod Dreher, being clueless as usual.

I swear, he is utterly incapable of seeing what he is writing, or what he is reading.  (Here's the original article, the point of which Dreher has utterly missed.)

Instead of grasping the point, Dreher retreats (once more!) into banging his favorite drum.  Those black people! Their terrible culture!

He uses as his example the story of a young man, Jadereous Davis, who is the subject of the Washington Post story.  Jadereous is from Mississippi, growing up in a town where the poverty rate is triple the national average; where the schools are awful; where there are no jobs and no prospects of jobs.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dag Nabit

So just over two months ago, I finally paid off all my credit card debt.

Which -- you know -- that had taken me, even with filing bankruptcy, something on the order of twenty-five years.  But it was gone at last, y'all.

Now, this month, a crown (my share, just over five hundred dollars), and this "procedure," as we're calling it, for my ulcer (my share, just over eight hundred dollars) and the car blew a tire, thanks to the charming Fuck Smith roads (that's barely a hit, in the scheme of things, but still, close to a hundred bucks, since we got the oil changed as well).

Much of this I hope to shit I will eventually get back from the fucking HSA account, once the fucking insurance company stops being asshats.

Meanwhile, yeah, I now have credit card debt again.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What's This Good News WUT?

Just back from the Endodonist, who tells me he is fairly sure I do not need a root canal after all.

"Let's put a temporary crown on it for four to six weeks," he says.

"Keep an eye on it," he says.

"But I think it's going to be fine.  Then we'll put on the permanent crown," he says. "Eighty percent chance everything will be straight from there.  How's that sound?"

"Wut?" I said. "Yes!" I said.

"You look like you just got a reprieve from the Governor," he said.

Monday, October 12, 2015

American Medicine: Best In the World

So I have to get this root canal, right?

Luckily I have dental insurance. Right?

Except in July my kid had her wisdom teeth taken out.  Which I paid for with my Health Savings Account.


American health insurance being what it is, when you use it, you're fucked.  (Apparently you're supposed to have it, not use it.)  I used the benefit card that came with my HSA, which triggered this audit function, and froze the card.  Since July, y'all, I've been fighting with the HSA company about the $625.00 co-pay which was our share of having the kid's wisdom teeth removed.

The HSA benefit card is still frozen.  Oh, and our deductible is still not yet met.  (Yes, even after paying $625 in July.) So Tuesday I have to go in for this root canal and pay $258.00 (my share of the root canal) out of pocket.  I have it in the HSA, but I can't access it, because the benefits card is still frozen.

(Why is it still frozen?  Because the insurance company -- yes, the same insurance company that controls the benefits card -- had not, until about a week ago, issued the EOB on the wisdom tooth question.  Now it has, but it will take four to six weeks to unfreeze the benefits card.  Explain to me one time why socialized medicine is worse than this?)

Then next week, I will have to pay out $421 dollars for my ulcer procedure.

Did I mention we owe almost $2000 in back taxes?


Saturday, October 10, 2015

What If We All Read The Same Book?

My university, like many universities, has a program wherein all the Comp II students (in theory, at least) read the same book.

There's a committee that gets together every year.  The English professors can submit suggestions to this committee about what the book ought to be.  The committee looks at the suggestions, and then chooses a single book for all the Comp II students to read.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

In Which I Am Cursed

Dr. Skull and I have an in-joke for when life suddenly goes awry like this -- when out of nowhere, everything starts going wrong at once:

  • I break a tooth 
  • the washing machine breaks down 
  • the kid gets sick not once but twice (so far this month) 
  • I get put on the Committee From Hell (the committee members are lovely; the work load is the problem)
  • I find out I need a root canal -- see broken tooth, above -- for which my dental insurance will cover only some of the cost
  • the dog gets fleas and gives them to the cats 
  • the state sends us a letter saying we owe (I kid you not) nearly two thousand dollars in back taxes
  • and now, this morning, we go out in the garage to find the car has yet another flat tire. (We ran over a screw.  ANOTHER SCREW. The AAA guy says the city is doing a lot of construction; he's seeing a lot of flat tires as a result.  He says this is better than the other tires he had to change this morning, two of them, a result of a woman whose ex-boyfriend came around during the night to slash two of the tires on her truck. Count your blessings, I guess.)

"Uh-oh," we say. "We're in an astrological cold spot."

To be clear, neither of us believe in astrology.  Or magical thinking of any kind. Or fate. Or even bad luck.

I don't even believe the universe is actually fucking with us.

But jeez, universe,  Let up a little.  I give.

Monday, September 28, 2015


So this weekend I broke a tooth -- a molar that was like 70% fillings.  (Why, yes, I did grow up in Louisiana, a state with no fluoride in the water, because communism, thanks for asking!)

I called my wonderful dentist, who said she could fit me in today at 2:00, but sadly today is the Teaching Day From Hell, when I teach from 8:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., so no go on that unless I wanted to cancel classes, and since I've had to cancel classes once already this semester I was reluctant to do that.

Me: "Well, the tooth is hurting.  But not that badly.  Do you have any time tomorrow? Or Thursday?"

(These are my non-teaching days, the days I use for writing. Or, you know, going to the dentist.)

The dentist's assistant: "We can fit you in Thursday afternoon. Are you sure it's not hurting?"

Friday, September 25, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately: Tana French

I can't recall which blog I was reading which recommended Tana French, but I do recall the logline of the recommendation.  She was on a list of books that named the blogger's Top Ten Most Devastating Reads.  I probably have the adjective wrong; but not far wrong.

Devastating but brilliant, I think was what the list said.  Again, I've got the adjectives wrong, but not far wrong.

I've read four of Tana French's books now, and my verdict is: Yup.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Look What I Made

The short story I sold to Sockdolagar is live today, y'all.

Go here to read it: "What Happened to Lord Elomar during The Revolution."

This is set in the same universe as my Martin stories, though it shares none of the same characters.

Also, a kitten!

You can buy the issue on Amazon here.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rosh Hashanah 2015

Every year at Rosh hashanah, we go down to the river and throw bread in the water.

Here at the right, you can see (barely, that's me and the kid, very tiny) us at the river this year.

This is a Jewish custom.  When you throw the bread in the river, with each piece, you say the thing you're sorry that you're did that year -- for instance, "I'm sorry I yelled at the dog!"  "I'm sorry I was mean to people on Facebook!" "I'm sorry I used gender-specific insults!"

That sort of thing.

Then we walk along the river, as the sun goes down, which some years is nicer than others -- this year it was very nice, because today was a lovely day -- and then we come home for a holiday dinner, which always includes Challah and honey, so that we can start off the New Year sweetly.

L'shanah tovah, y'all.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dialogue from the delagar Household: Travails of the Job Search

(Dr. Skull has a job here in the Fort now, finally, after being unemployed for two years -- but it's a job outside his field.  He's still looking for a university position.)

Me (to Dr. Skull): Here's a job for a poet. But it's in Houston.
Dr. Skull: Send me the link.
Me: It's in Houston. You don't want to live in HOUSTON.
Dr. Skull: It's a job teaching poetry. Send me the link.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

This Is So Great

...that I must share.

Y'all might know that Dr. Skull is working as a substitute teacher now.

Yesterday he had a second grade classroom.  Which, as he puts it, is like teaching puppies.

Golden retriever puppies.

Anyway, they all wanted to give him their drawings to take home.

My favorite is this one, which I wish I had a scanner, because my descriptive powers do not do it justice.  It is so wonderful.

On pink construction paper.

Outside: a giant bright red heart, with two layers, the outside scalloped, the inside very darkly drawn.

On the inside a carefully printed message:

Hi Mr. B

You Are


(The "Mr. B" is for his actual name, which starts with a B.)

Sunday, September 06, 2015

New Issue of Crossed Genres:Issue 33: 2065

Our new issue of Crossed Genres is up.  This is Issue #33, which has the theme the year 2065. So all near-future stories.

For me, these are the hardest sorts of stories to write.  Not other writers, apparently -- we got tons of submissions for this issue, though not nearly as many as for the novella issue.

Our stories!

Verity Lane, our Spotlight Author, brings us The Springwood Shelter for Genetically Modified Animals.  (For those at home just joining us on the blog, each month Crossed Genres publishes one Spotlight Author, which is an author who has never made a professional sale before.) Verity deals here with the twin problems we have already in our country -- disposable people, disposable pets.

Here is Verity's interview.

Elliotte Rusty Harold gives us Ants on a Trestle, a story about problem many of us don't consider when we think about the future -- we think monsters or terrorists will be what we have to worry about.  But realistically, you know, probably not.

And finally, from Brian Trent, a wonderful story, Chasing Comets.  No spoilers on this one. Go read. You won't be sorry.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Teaching Utopian / Dystopian Lit

Right now in my Popular Lit: Utopian / Dystopian Lit class, I have the class considering a trio of texts.

We are just finishing up reading Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, while at the same time we are watching John Carpenter's Escape From New York.  Then, after Labor Day, we will read Joanna Russ's The Female Man.

Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966)

If you are not familiar with Heinlein's classic SF work, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a Utopian novel set in a prison colony.  (There's a McGuffin plot about a Revolution, which is almost incidental.) Heinlein posits that if we transport a heap of prisoners, many of them political, but some of them actually criminal, to a prison world from which they have no escape, and dump them with no laws and no social controls except those they make themselves, what will evolve will be an anarchist Utopia.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Writing Good Short Stories

This is taken from a handout / lecture/ rant I give my Fiction Workshop students every year at about this point in the semester (second or third workshop, in other words).  I thought some of y'all might like to read it.

It's my tips on Writing Good Short Stories.

(1) These are tips, not rules.  You don't write fiction by rules.

(2) The best short stories will be between 1500 and 5000 words. That’s about two to twenty pages – not a lot of room to develop characters, confliction, drama, and resolution. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

So That Was Week Two

This semester has had a rougher start than usual, for a number of reasons.
One, because I'm teaching two reading-intensive courses.  Both great classes, mind you -- Working Class Lit, and Utopian/Dystopian Lit -- but both with heavy reading to be done every day.

Second, because my insomnia is so vicious at the moment.  Not sleeping makes everything feel like I'm rowing uphill.

Third, why is Labor Day so late?  Why, why, why?

Also, I have a kid in high school.  OH MY GOD, what trauma.

Fourth, I have a kid in high school who is taking both PE and Geometry.  KILL ME NOW.

On the other hand, the short story I sold recently, "What Happened to Lord Elomar during The Revolution," is coming out soon: it'll be published on September 15, in Sockdolager.  

This is one of my favorite short stories -- of all the ones I have written, I mean, this one's one of my favorites.  I have such a soft spot for this story.  

It's in the same universe as Broken Slate, for those of you who like that novel, though none of Slate's characters are in it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Whining About My Health

So, I've had this stomach issue forever -- a hiatal hernia is the technical term, for those keeping score at home.

Often this sort of thing causes no problems.

Sometimes it causes "mild discomfort," which OTC drugs can relieve.  I've been on those for one billion years now.

Sometimes, eventually, as with me, it causes an ulcer, which is where we are now.  I have a lovely ulcer, and am on some very nice drugs for it -- proton-pump inhibitors and something other drug, they work very nicely, but holy hell the regime is complicated.

I have to take them five times a day, and one of them I can't take with food; and one I must take with food but no other drugs; and meanwhile I have all the other drugs I must take (because I am still, always, a recovering cancer patient); and then today I discovered, looking one of these drugs up, that it can interact with one of the other drugs I'm on -- the levothyroxine for my missing thyroid -- so now I have to call in on Monday and find out what to do about that.

On the other I sold a story last week -- yay! -- and today I received the contract for it and got paid for it.

Nothing like getting paid for writing.  Absolutely the best!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What Could Be The Cause of All This Disrespect for Teachers?

Over at his blog, Rod Dreher cites an amusing little anecdote  (from the Daily Mail -- there's a reliable source, Rod! almost as good as Steven Sailer!) where some Chinese teachers come into a British classroom, spend some time teaching some British kids, and improve their test scores -- by a whole 10%!

The Chinese teachers comment with amazement on the unruly behavior behavior of the British kids and blame -- what else! -- the "generous" benefits of the British social safety net.  Having welfare available made kids rude and lazy, one Chinese teacher claimed, since they knew they had the dole to fall back on.

Rod expresses some doubt about this theory.  He thinks it's more cultural -- you know, some cultures teach people to respect education (he doesn't come right out and say white culture, but you know who he means) and some don't.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New Issue of Crossed Genres: Issue 32 Portals

It just occurred to me that I forgot to post about our new issue up at Crossed Genres!

Portals is our theme; and our writers did some very nice things with it.

Yusra Amjad, in Where Do You Go, My Lovely? writes about women and girls who, now and then, mix a little more than spice into the dishes they cook.

(Yusra is our Spotlight Author -- her interview is here.)

Naru Dames Sudar writes about a scientist who uses her team's breakthrough in a heartbreaking, and dangerous, personal quest in Infinite Skeins.

And finally Lauren Rudin mixes mundane with fantastic in The Copperlin U.S. Post Office Manual.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Once More into the Breach

Tomorrow begins our back-to-school conference.


I have yet to meet a single academic who finds these meetings useful, interesting, or helpful.

And yet.

Some of these sessions, I understand, are necessary -- we have to be trained, yearly, for instance, on ADA requirements, and when else to do that? -- but some of it, you know, not so much.

To give my school credit, they have cut the back-to-school conference down from the four or five days of endless blatherskate we used to have to sit through (with people being brought in and being paid tons, I am sure, to talk at us for hours at a time about perfectly useless bosh) to what is now an almost painless two days worth of meetings.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Enough, Summer. We GET It.

It's been over a 100 here every day for the past week, with a heat index of OMFGNODON'T LEAVE YOUR HOUSE ARE YOU INSANE?!?!

We have air conditioning, which hasn't broken at all this summer, for the first summer since we moved into the house, but as usual in Arkansas, it can't keep up with his vicious heat. And unless we want the power bill to be $300 dollars, we can't run the AC low enough to keep the house decently cool anyway.

It's ten or eleven o'clock until the house is cool enough to sleep at night, and through the peak heat hours -- noon until seven, in other words, we are all (except Dr. Skull, who perversely loves the heat) limp and miserable.

The cats lie on top of our orange crate bookshelves, which are the coolest places in the house, except for the kitchen floor under the AC vent, which the dogs commandeer.  I have the white chair under a different AC vent.  The kid works in her room, under a fan. Both of us are stripped down to minimal clothing.

We don't go anywhere unless we have to. Yesterday I ventured out to the store for supplies.  The heat was astounding.  Not just the heat itself, but the wet heaviness of the air -- a violent, oppressive, vicious heat.

Even the dogs won't go outside.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

A Review of the Kid's Comic

This is pretty cool.

A through review, which makes good points.

Review: Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

tl;dr: Oh, Harper Lee, No.

As I started out reading this book, I had some hope. The writing is lovely, and the early chapters are nice enough: It's the mid-1950s, sometime just after Brown v. Board of Education was handed down, and Jean Louise is coming home from New York to visit her daddy in Maycomb.

There's a train ride.  There's some trenchant and interesting commentary on the South and Maycomb and the difference between New York and the South and on one's ageing relatives. Some nice details about Atticus and Aunt Alexandria. This fella Hank, a new character, is introduced -- he's not part of To Kill a Mockingbird, but in the new history, he was always there, living across the street from Scout and Jem, and he was Jem's BFF, and Scout has always, sorta been in love with him. Lee does a good job of making him interesting enough that we see why Jean Louise might actually be drawn to marry him.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Um, Okay Then...

Rod Dreher knows that demons are real.

A Haitian cab driver told him so.

"I am not a crackpot," Rod Dreher says.

And the comments on this post.  Holy hell, if you will pardon my pun.  My favorite is the fella who knows demons are real because when his daughter was little there was this little girl who came over to play with his daughter, see.

And she was wearing this sweater.  And orange sweater.  With yellow markings.  And without even looking it up on the internet he just knew that was a demonic sweater. Something's not right about that girl, he told his wife.  And sure enough later he heard these growling noises coming from inside the girl...long story short, now his daughter is all grown up and has all sorts of problems, like anorexic, and it's because of the demonic influence of this demonic devil worshipping child they were so foolish as to let their child come into contact with at that demonic public school.

Let this be a warning to you!  HOME SCHOOL RULES!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I have just realized it is only three weeks until Fall 2015 starts.

This cannot be true.

I am teaching two reading intensive classes, starting in three weeks, and I have read exactly zero books for either of them.

Also, I don't have any of the kid's school supplies.  Except two pairs of jeans, and her shoes.

I am a giant squid of AAAARGH!!!

(I did write several short stories this summer, though, plus I revised and submitted a novel. SO.)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Another Drawing By Our Favorite Artist

Our favorite up-and-coming artist just had her wisdom teeth out, and is now recovering, under opiates, which she is finding very pleasant.

But before that experience, she drew this:

I love the light and color best. She likes the hands.  Look at those hands!

Numb3rs: A (preliminary) Review

I'm probably the last person on the planet to watch the TV show Numb3rs.

I just started watching it this past week, on Netflix, b/c I have been having my intermittent chronic insomnia and  needed something to watch late at night (like, two and three in the morning late) when I am simply unable to do actual work anymore.

Numb3rs is the perfect show for that.  It's smart enough to be interesting, and yet dumbed-down enough (the writers patiently over-explain everything for teh ijit American audience) that the exhausted brain can follow it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Reading C.S. Lewis

So I'm reading C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity -- for my sins.

Naw, it's actually because my students were doing some group work, and I happened to have a copy handy in my office, which I hadn't read in years.  I was killing time, in other words.

I read the first few chapters while they worked, and he infuriated me all over again.

First, this bit, where he is explaining how we know that there is something beyond sense and reason that makes us act with justice toward one another:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Toxic Ignorance

So a town not far from my town has finally -- finally -- made the decision to add fluoride to its water supply.

This is a big deal for Arkansas.  In 2011, our governor made it a law that all cities and towns with populations over 5,000 people had to add fluoride to their water. (A great many did not, up to then, including my charming city of residence: we're supposed to have it starting in November 2015.)

Giving the appalling lack of dental care in Arkansas -- this is partly due to poverty, and partly due to a serious lack of dentists -- you'd think anything that improved people's teeth would be welcome.

But that just shows you don't know Arkansasans.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

New Member of the delagar Household

We have broke the 12-paw rule, and adopted a baby brother for Big Dog.

Here he is having a nap in the kid's bed after his many exertions on his first day at home:

His name is Heywood Floyd.

He's four years old, and he's a rescue.  The cats are wary, but interested.  Big Dog is slightly appalled at our outlandish behavior, at least so far.

The kid is madly in love.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Latest Comic From A Certain Kid

Which I'm linking B/c  it's great

But also pasting in.

It's not the comic she's currently working on; it's the one she'll do after Two-Faced.

Friday, July 10, 2015

How (Some) Men Handle Women Who Talk Back

Also: Why Arguing with (Many) Conservatives on the Internet is useless.

So I'm on FB, as I often am.

One of my ex-students has this history of posting kind of terrible memes. Racist memes, I mean.

Memes like this.

And this.

And this.

The thing is, she's not a terrible human being. I've had her in several classes, and we've gotten to know one another -- as you do -- not on a personal level, because she's my student; but on more than a superficial level.

I know she's not the person these memes suggest she is. Not to mention, she often posts sane and even social justicy memes and comments as well! Also, now and then, when I feel up to it, I will challenge her gently in comments; and frequently she responds well to these challenges.

But this afternoon.  Yikes.

She posted yet another meme, this one about that flag.

The story that went with it: Al Sharpton Demands Kid Rock Stop Using That Flag.

A gentleman, who, as it developed as the comment stream ran on, was her son, made a comment.  Not just a sort-of racist comment, but an appalling racist comment. (I am changing the names, because this is a student / ex-student.)

Dude: I'd tell that nigger to suck my dick on national television, then and only then I would consider it.

To which I replied, addressing not him but my student -- I did not at this point realize Dude was her son:

MeNice friends you have, Ellie. And tell me again that there's nothing racist about that flag. Please.

EllieIt is freedom of speech. No matter how racist.

After which I went on a bit of a rant:

Me: Yes, he clearly has the right to say whatever horrible racist things he wants to say. I would hope you would have the decency to call him out on the horrible racist things he says. That, too, is part of our responsibility, as people in a society which has free speech.

Free speech is not just the *right* to speak. It is the *responsibility* to evaluate the speech of ourselves and others, and to speak up when we see bad ideas being put forth; and to promote good ideas.

Otherwise, the marketplace of ideas fails, and free speech is worthless.

At this point, Dude reappears:

Dude: What ever. Those who think they are high and mighty are often mistaken.

Me: Dude, whatever you mean by that, there can be no mistake about your first comment on this thread. It is racist and homophobic and hateful, and you should be ashamed that you made it.

DudeI'm not ashamed of anything I say because I know I can get a rise out of people like you

(Charmingly, he added this meme: 

He's a keeper, folks.)

Me: Ellie, when you share memes like this? Dude is the sort of person you sound like. He's who people think you are. Maybe you should think about that.

Dude: And I think your a snobby bitch who needs the dust knocked off her pussy and the stick removed from her ass.

At this point (a) Ellie intervened to call Dude out as her son; and I quit responding, both because Dude was her kid, and because once asshats start getting abusive, there's really no point.

BUT.  Dude did not quit.  He escalated, in fact, posting over the next several minutes about a dozen abusive posts and memes, most of them filled with racist, sexist, and homophobic language.

Just a few of the memes he posted:

When I left FB, he was still posting horrible comments and memes. The anger, I'm more than 75% certain, arose from my daring to challenge him -- to talk back.  And you will notice that his first response was to promise sexual violence against me.

There are your Conservatives, folks. Family values and morals my back teeth.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Book Reviews: Naomi Kritzer

I guess this is actually an author review.

Author rave, my precious!

I discovered Naomi Kritzer entirely by happenstance.  I was killing time on Twitter, so I wouldn't actually have to write this scene in my horrible novel, which had been galling me raw all morning, and I came across someone (I have no idea now who) recommending her story in Clarksword.

This story: Cat Pictures Please.

If you haven't read it yet, go do so now.  I immediately fell deeply in love, not just with the story, but with Kritzer, and began hunting out everything by her I could find. Which -- spoilers -- is how I operate.

If it's how you operate as well, here's Naomi Kritzer's homepage to help you out.

What do I love about Kritzer's fiction?

A list!

(1) So many women protagonists.

(2) Such wonderful lucid writing.

(3) Such physical writing -- flavors, scents, details about landscapes and clothing and how the world feels.

(4) Social fucking justice.  Fuck yeah.

(5) And yet! Complex and complicated ideas.  Nothing is simple or simple-minded here.

(6) Animals.  I loved how the animals are characters, too.

(7) LGBT characters. Brown characters.  Multiple landscapes -- we have complex and complicated cities, we have complex and complicated environments, we have economic systems, we have different languages, we have scholars and working class and rulers and the understanding that the most informed person in a given household is not, in fact, the master, but the kitchen maid.

(9) Character who learn, and are allowed to learn, from their mistakes.  This is great.  This means we get characters who can be wrong, who can learn better and do better. I'm thinking of the trilogy (which I highly recommend) that starts with Freedom's Sisters, but it's true in other examples of Kritzer's works as well.

(10) Kritzer always starts with the ghost pigs.  Not a wasted word.

In summary, what are you waiting for?  Go and read!