Saturday, December 31, 2005


The kid and I watched Supernanny last night, one of our favorite Friday night treats -- we love to get appalled together by how bad the parenting is, and how Jo Frost makes the parents act right.

Last night was particularly appalling: a stay-at-home mom (I love how folks think that's a cure-all: so long as mom is at home full time, that's ALL she has to do! Be there! Nothing else is necessary!) with three boys; Dad was deployed in the Iraqi war.

Home was chaos. Why? Mom's solution -- to everything! -- was to hit the boys. Wallop them, for everything. Hit them, with her hand, with a belt, or threaten to hit them, for every transgression. And? Ignore them otherwise.

What did the boys do, when they weren't getting hit? Well, they beat on each other, of course, and they screamed and attacked their mother. What else were they going to do?

Mom didn't talk to them, or play with them, or read to them (no books in the house -- that's one thing I've noticed about every household Jo Frost gets called to: not a single bookshelf in any of them, not a single book: hmm!): the four year old watched TV all day, the school-age kids came home from school and started beating each other up right away, until Mom, literally, locked them out in the back yard.

Jo's solution? She established a no-hitting rule. Not only that the kids could not hit each other -- Mom could not hit the kids. No yelling either. What a concept!

She also established rewards -- a pie chart thing -- for following the rules, and got Mom to start talking to and hanging out with her kids. (Reading to them too, I noticed. Heh!)

Astounding transformation.

She also taught Mom to compromise with the kids -- not do this or else, but, okay, you don't want to do this: what about this?

In other words: not perfect obedience or I'll beat you, but let's see how we can work things out, why don't we? Let's treat our children like human beings.

That Jo. She's clever.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Prager's Divorce

Dennis Prager is getting a divorce. Apparently he announced it on his radio show. His beloved fans insist this doesn't make his advice on marriage any less valuable.


Cause, you know, that's who you want advising you about marriage -- someone who can't do it -- and that's who you want advising you about raising you kids -- someone like Dobson, who ain't got it right once -- and that's who you want teaching you to build bridges, an engineer whose bridges keep collapsing, and that's who you want running the country, someone who...uh....

Well, you know these conservatives. I guess they actually do prefer someone who doesn't know how to do the job.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I suppose it's no shock that I'm dying to see Brokeback Mountain.

Which, BTW, according to Ted Baehr, who reviews films for the Christian Film & Television Commission, is "abhorrent" and a "twisted, laughable, frustrating" bit of "neo-Marxist homosexual propaganda" --- high praise indeed!

It's also been doing pretty well at the box office, out-selling that bit of neo-Christian propaganda, The Chronicles of Narnia, earning $13,599 per theater, while Narnia earned $8,225 per theater. Wondering how Ted feels about that?

But nevertheless I'm not going to get to see it, because I live in this rustiest piece of the buckle of the Bible Belt, and the Christian Coalition will make GOT-damn sure no homosexual movie evah shows its flickering ass he-ah.

More Stuff About New Orleans

The labor shortage: restaurants and shops and everything from theaters to offices can't hire sufficient employees. Signs are up all over town, wheedling for workers.

Outside the Krispy Kreme: "High Wages, Great Benefits, Flexible Hours, Free Donuts!" Outside the Steak N Ale: "We'll Start you at $15.00 an hour!" The Burger King promises a $6500.00 a year commitment bonus; McDonalds promises a bonus of $250.00 a week. Some other place (I forget which) offered a five hundred dollar signing bonus.

Even so, few restraurants and few stores or shops can run a regular schedule -- no restaurant is open more than five or six days a week, or later than nine o'clock at night; most fast food restaurants are only working their drive-through windows. You can't rely on any place to be open on a given day -- if they have the workers that day, they're open that day. If not, not.

And in stores, shelves often don't get stocked. Bare spots are common-- not because goods don't exist, but because workers don't exist to stock the shelves. And lines are often appallingly long -- like winding through the store long. Stores have marked out trails on the floors with tape, so that customers know where to stand when the line gets really long, that's how customary this is. It's like post-war England, these lines.

"I should tell my students about these jobs," I told mr. delagar, since all my students are working for six bucks an hour at the Wal, here in the Fort.

"Right," he said, "Except where would they live? Under a bridge?"

Which is a good point, because housing is a problem in the city. Many stores and restaurants and businesses have put trailers in their parking lots and are letting their employees live in those; and lots of people live with their relatives, as my youngest brother and sister-in-law are doing -- four months after Katrina, they're still refugees, moving from house to house, waiting for a FEMA trailer, staying right now with my oldest brother in Destrehan: we heard about lots of people like this, living with a brother, living with an aunt, whole extended families living in the apartment of an uncle -- but if you aren't that lucky, if no one in your family had a house that survived, then what do you do?

Whole vast areas of the city did not survive and are not going to be able to be rebuilt. They'll have to be razed. The 9th Ward. Much of Gentilly. Most of Lakeview and Araby. That's housing for hundreds of thousands of people. Where are they to live, if they return, while they work, while their houses are rebuilt?

FEMA has trailers for some of them-- but down in the city, apparently, lots of folks don't want those trailers around their neighborhoods. Trailers in their neighborhoods, they say, willl drop their property values.

Like a dead city wouldn't, I guess.

Other folks claim its who would live in those trailers (ahem, dark folks, from that wicked 9th Ward) that really are worrying those who object.

In any case, finding anywhere to live in New Orleans at the moment is next to impossible. But finding a job ought to be a snap. In case anyone is interested.


Go see what the ACLU has to say:

And pass it on!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Back From the Holidays

Which I spent visiting my parents in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, as some of you may know.

Driving into the subdivision where my parents live was startling -- it's been four months since Katrina: piles of rubble stripped from the insides of houses are still heaped on every street corner and along all the gutters; downed trees are everywhere. Only about half the houses, my father says, in the neighborhood he lives in, are currently being lived in, and that's a pretty good average, a good neighborhood, one that didn't get hit very hard. People were working on the houses everywhere we went in that neighborhood. FEMA trailers were in many yards. Almost no houses there had simply been abandoned.

My mother took us, on the second day, driving through Lakeview and Gentilly -- these are areas that were hit bad. Lakeview is where the 17th Street Canal levee breach was, where the water came through so hard it pushed houses off their foundations. Gentilly is where my youngest brother's house is. In both of these neighborhoods, although some people are at work on the the houses, many more -- even most -- of the houses are still standing abandoned. Abandoned cars, whitened by flood waters, are everywhere. Boats, too, washed up on the neutral grounds and in empty lawns. Most of the trash left by the flood (my brother said the original piles were forty feet high in the neutral grounds) has been cleared away, but new piles are forming. Not many people are in these areas of the city.

The houses are empty and bleached gray or white by the flood. The windows are broken. Some have blue tarps on their roofs -- FEMA roofs, these are called, even if they're not really from FEMA -- and some have FEMA trailers in front of them. These are the houses being worked on. Not many of them, not in this part of town. My brother and his wife are up for a FEMA trailer. Once you get a trailer, you can start rebuilding the house. Plumbing and power and water are all available, but not, obviously, until you have pipes and wiring and walls and a roof. And the material all that calls for. Which is all in high demand in New Orleans at the moment. I'll get to all this later.

Down near the Quarter and in downtown itself, in the Garden District, and near River Road, where it never flooded, things are much better. We went down there -- took the kid to the zoo, walked around. Lots of people down there. People are back, down there. Lots of them. The zoo is open on weekends, the restaurants are open, when they can find workers (more on this later too), the shops are open, when they can get staff (ditto), some of the populations is back (100,000, my mother said, but I'm wondering if this is all real population, or does it count FEMA and insurance folk and people that have come to do construction?).

The roads are battered. The street lights don't work -- it's a charming and amusing experience, with the way folks in New Orleans drive anyway, coming up on a street with traffic approaching from all four directions and who knows who's supposed to go now? Obviously it ought to be treated like a four-way stop, but, hey, this is New Orleans! "It's like a roller coaster," I told mr. delagar, "only real."

Also, very few of the street signs survived, so often you don't really know where you are, driving about. Luckily it's very hard to get lost in New Orleans. Eventually you either hit the river or the lake, and then you know where you are.

And the city is keeping its sense of humor. At the zoo, one of the exhibits was the Louisiana Swamp: on the swamp was a houseboat, with a blue roof, and on the porch a taped-up refrigerator, and a box of MREs, and, spray-painted on its door, the symbol that marks most of the abandoned houses in the city: the big X, with the date of when the house had been checked, and the initials of who checked it, and other bits of code, and underneath it, information about whatever pets had been found inside (I saw, as we were driving around the city, things like: cat not found; dogs pawprints seen; kitten recovered; cat outside): this one said: GATORS FED. There's also a hot song in the city right now called "Temporarily Not There Anymore," which is basically a list of all the places in the city that are closed or don't exist at the moment.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Went out yesterday to the public library and to the other useless bookstore in this town, desperately hunting something, anything to read -- I'm out of things to read -- and could not find a thing.

I was always afraid this day would come. And here it is.

I'm a book junkie. I suppose y'all already know that. I need books. I have needed books since before I could actually read. One of my first memories is sitting on the floor with a book in my lap, staring down at the print, trying furiously to make the letters coalesce into meaning. I might have been three. I didn't learn to read until I was six. I remember my first word: TOY. I remember reading it, I remember how it looked, printed in yellow chalk on the blackboard. I remember suddenly being able to read everything.

I remember getting hit across the face with a math workbook by my first grade teacher, also, for reading in class. (I was reading Lassie and the Mystery of Blackberry Bog behind the workbook, and she took it amiss.)

I remember being banned from reading for six weeks by my 4th grade English teacher, if you can imagine such a thing. She thought I read too much. Yes, my English teacher. She thought all that reading I did interfered with my school work. Ah, the Jefferson Parish education system. How I loved it.

Anyway, I'm a print junkie. I need books. I've read them ALL.

No, not really. There are many, many books about football and hunting and Rush and many Western novels and many Romance novels and many books of Christian fiction and so on out there which I have never read and never will. Also many novels of Alternate history. And Men's Adventure. And shelves and shelves and shelves of the Left Behind novels.

So yes, there are, in fact, lots of books I haven't read.

But no books left I can find that I want to read.

Here's what I like to read:

Science fiction that's actually SF and not fantasy (I don't like fantasy because I can't seem to believe it, sorry, I know it's a failing, but there you are)

Mainstream fiction that isn't about some guy/woman trying to decide whether or not he/she is going to have an affair/baby/get married because? Really? who cares? I like fiction about people who actually do have lives and are actually living them.

Gay fiction/feminist fiction

Some mysteries, some westerns, but only if they're about really interesting characters and are really well written

Young adult & children's lit, same as above

So -- who has book recommendations for me?

I'm desperate. Seriously!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Say It Again

Over at Red State and on the other Rightist blogs, they're banging the drum and saying Bush has the right to do what he's doing, it's fine because it's the War on Terra and look at those silly Leftist Moonbats crying Impeach Impeach when all Bush is TRYING to do is DEFEND our country --

And mr. delagar reminds me that Lincoln also suspend habeas corpus and that we tortured prisoners plenty during the Philippine war, and DED Space notes that Nixon also spied on citizens (, so it's not like this is all new --

I know all this is true.

What Bush is doing is still a criminal act. What he is doing still violates his oath. What his administration is doing still is a disgrace to our nation. What he and his people and his party are doing is still destroying what America ought to be.

Here is Katherine at Obsidian Wings:

I was shocked by the brazen defense of the wiretapping thing like anyone else, but when I thought about it for a's not like this should be news to us.

Look. We have a President here who is making a claim of unlimited power, for the duration of a war that may never end. Oh, he says it's limited by the country's laws, but they've got a crack legal team that reliably interprets the laws to say that the President gets to do whatever he wants. It amounts to the same thing.

I am not exaggerating. I am really and truly not.

September 11 started the war. When will it end? Maybe never. Where is the battlefield? The entire world, including the United States. Who is an enemy combatant? Anyone the President says is an enemy combatant, including a U.S. citizen--no need for a charge, no need for a trial, no need for access to a lawyer. What if they're found not to be an enemy combatant? We can keep them in prison anyway, and we don't have to tell their families they're alive or their lawyers that they were cleared. What can you do to an enemy combatant? Anything you want. Detain him forever, for the rest of his life, because this is a war like any other and we have always been able to detain POWs for the duration of the war. But you don't need to follow the Geneva Conventions, because this is a war like no other in our history. And oh yes--if the President decides that we need to torture a prisoner for the war effort, it's unconstitutional for Congress to stop him. They took that position in an official memo, and they have not backed down from it. They have said it was "unnecessary" but they have never backed down from it.

They are not only entitled to do these things to people; they are entitled to do them in secret. When Congress asks for information about them, they can just ignore it. And they are entitled to actively deceive the public about all this.
That's the power they claim. At what point are we going to take that claim seriously?

At some level, I think we read these things and think: well, they can't really mean that. But by now we know that they mean it enough to have shattered a number of lives. Right now there are a limited number of people who have gotten to experience the absolute powerlessness that is the flip side of the president's assertion of absolute power. I would guess there are relatively few of them, compared to some other wars in our history. But they certainly exist; I can rattle a litany of the worst cases off the top of my head by now. Maher Arar, A'del Abdu al-Hakim, Saddiq Ahmad Turkestani, Sean Baker, Muhammad Saad Iqbal, Sami al-Laithi, Dilawar and Habibullah, Abed Hamed Mowhoush, Manadel al-Jamadi, Benyam Mohamed, the Salt Pit case....This is nowhere, nowhere close to exhaustive. Again, this is only a partial list of the cases that I could name off the top of my head. Read those links, and think of the stories I could tell after an extra half hour on Google, let alone a thorough look through the relevant news stories and government documents. And for every case we know about there are probably many more that have never been publicly reported.

Many of those men have been accused of horrible crimes. Some of them are probably guilty. But we know for a fact that some of them are not, so innocence is not any kind of protection. U.S. citizenship works a hell of a lot better, but it's not foolproof. You could ask Sean Baker about that; you could also ask James Yee, Jose Padilla, Yasser Hamdi, Omar Abu Ali.

This is wrong. It is wrong, wrong, wrong.

These are criminal acts and they should be stopped.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Kid's Poetry

Here is another poem from the kid (not appalling like the last one, sorry):

Black cat intuition
Nighttime and meadowlark .
White Cat
Medl Claws
Brown Cat
On A Mission
To Find night time paws

Isn't she brilliant?

(You must say yes now.)

War on Christmas

This is depressing -- last night we went to the Harp's, the employee-owned grocery store we like to go to, here in the Fort because it isn't Wal-Mart, and also because it sells free-range chicken and organic eggs organic vegetables and milk from cows raised on an actual dairy farm, cows that live in pastures and aren't given hormones, milk with "nothing in it but milk!" -- anyway, what do we find when we show up at our beloved Harp's last night but a GIANT sign boasting "Welcome to Harp's! Where Christmas is STILL Christmas!"

You know: as opposed to that evil Winterfair or whatever, where instead of celebrating the birth of Jesus we celebrate the sacrifice of Virgins. (Oh. Wait.)

Gays in America

So I just finished grading the exams for my Diverse Cultures class, and they were surprisingly good, in that several of them surprised me by showing actual insight and depth -- most of them were the usual undergraduate stuff -- and none of them, not a single one, said gay guys were evil and should burn in hell, which was nice, and not at all what I was expecting. (I guess they knew they better not, though.)

And I also got two or three essays from students saying things like, "After I read that story "Billy," it changed the way I thought about gay people, because it showed gay people weren't disgusting at all, just people wanting to have lives, so even though I'm not gay myself, I think gay people should be allowed to have rights like anyone else." I liked reading that, I admit. That was cool. Literature at work.

One student did tell me, privately, that her uncle had committed suicide recently, as in a few weeks before, because he had lived all his life in a nearby small town -- an Arkansas small town -- as a gay man, and couldn't take being treated the way gay guys get treated in small Arkansas towns anymore.

Which brings me to this:

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz., Dec. 19 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Private Kyle Lawson, a 19-year-old Tucson resident, was physically assaulted and threatened at Fort Huachuca Army Base after fellow soldiers learned he is gay, according to a report in Sunday's Arizona Daily Star. Fearful for his safety, Private Lawson is leaving the Army, while the soldier accused of his assault appears to remain unpunished. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today called on Army officials to hold the responsible party accountable for the assault and called on the Pentagon to implement an Anti-Harassment Action Plan originally adopted in 2000. The plan, SLDN has reported each year since, has never been implemented.

"Pentagon leaders have consistently refused to take harassment seriously, and our men and women in uniform continue to pay the price," said Sharra E. Greer, SLDN's director of law and policy. "The Pentagon has found, in its own survey, rampant anti-gay harassment in the armed forces. Service members report harassment, violence and threats to SLDN on a regular basis. At least two service members have been murdered because of unchecked anti-gay harassment. Yet military leaders have utterly failed to send a strong, clear message that anti-gay harassment is unacceptable or that those who harass will be held accountable for their actions. The result is yet another anti-gay assault."

Sunday, December 18, 2005


I have finished grading EVERYTHING and have entered my grades into the school's e-system and so I am, at last, officially done for the semester. This means I have the next four days to do nothing but write. Yay!

I've finished revising the trilogy, essentially -- I'm still reading it to the writing group, and so I'm still messing about with fine-tuning it -- but something odd has happened over the past two days: I've started writing Book Four in the Trilogy. Which makes it Not A Trilogy anymore, I know. Book Four has an actual plot, as well. My books almost never have plots when I start them, though they always have plots when I'm done, so this is an odd an interesting development.

Anyway, given that the kid is in New Orleans, the next four days ought to be blissful.

Given that I don't develop a migraine. Knock wood.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

You Know What?

Enough is enough.

Here is the Rude Pundit's entire post, because I could not resist:

Shorter Bush Saturday Address:

Here's Bush's vicious radio talk today, where he mentioned 9/11 about nine times, in haiku form:

L'etat c'est moi, 'kay?
Once you accept that, you fucks,
We'll all get along.

And here's my question:

How long are we going to let this criminal -- because that's what he is, a self-confessed criminal, who has wiped his ass on the Constitution of the United States of America -- how long are we going to leave him in office?

Because Enough is, in fact, Enough.

We are become the Enemy.

He has turned us into the Evil Empire.

Do we just sit here and allow it?

Bits of Progress

Two bumper stickers I saw while I was driving around the Fort yesterday:

First one:


Second one:

You Keep Believing:
I'll Keep Evolving.

The second one was outside the Books-A-Million bookstore, which is, I regret to say, the best bookstore in the Fort. It had, yesterday, utterly no new fiction, and two huge tables full of Narnia displays and books on how to pray and how to teach your child to pray, and little cuddly bears that, when hugged, would recite prayers to your child, and this was right by the eleven rows of bibles and Christian fiction, and I have nothing against this, honest I do not, I would just like some actual books, as well, in the sole bookstore of any note in the city I live in.

(This is the bookstore, by the way, that regularly gets harassed by the local religious right because it has, back inthe way back, one tiny section of sex-ed books, and, in the same area, under "Social Sciences," about two dozen books of gay fiction.)

Friday, December 16, 2005


This makes me ill:

For her 17th wedding anniversay Jeanette Yarborough wanted to do something special for her husband. In addition to planning a hotel getaway for the weekend, Ms. Yarborough paid a surgeon $5,000 to reattach her hymen, making her appear to be a virgin again.
"It's the ultimate gift for the man who has everything," says Ms. Yarborough...

Via Pandagon:

What sort of sick culture are we running here?

I can recall, back in the day, when I was first teaching, getting in a brief discussion with one of my classes about why guys would want to marry virgins -- this was when I was teaching the Odyssey, and discussing why it was important, to the Greeks, that women be virgins when they marry --- and I remember one guy in the back row speaking up and admitting the truth: he was about nineteen and not afraid to speak it. "Cause if she's a virgin," he said, "she won't have nobody to compare me with."

So all right then. That's one thing.

But these are women in their thirties and forties, with kids, getting themselves made into fake virgins, with enormous attendant discomfort, apparently, so that their hubbies can have some sort of sick thrill over "deflowering" them.

And their hubbies like it?

(The women themselves don't like it, the article goes on to make clear: one woman admits it's two years before she can enjoy sex again. But hey: worth the price if hubby is going to have a good night, in't it?)

There are some sick relationships out there. That's all I say.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Our Boy Bush

The boy in the bubble accidently admits that 30,000 dead Iraqis, more or less, (not to mention over 2000 dead American soldiers), was nothing to him:

“Q: Since the inception of the Iraqi war, I’d like to know the approximate total of Iraqis who have been killed. And by Iraqis I include civilians, military, police, insurgents, translators.”

“Bush: How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say, 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis. We’ve lost about 2,140 of our own troops.”


While it’s a relief, I suppose, to know that Bush understands that his war has killed at least 30,000 Iraqis, does even that figure mean anything to him?

He acted as though it was a totally acceptable number.

In fact, as David Sirota has noted, Bush in the very next breadth made a joke as he interrupted the next questioner to say, “I’ll repeat the question. If I don’t like it, I’ll make it up.” The White House transcript reads: “(Laughter and applause.)”

That is the definition of obscenity.

To segue from the deaths of 30,000 Iraqis and 2,140 U.S soldiers to a poor attempt at humor is to reveal a frightening callousness.

What will it take for Bush to grasp the meaning and the magnitude of 2,140 dead U.S. soldiers and 30,000 dead Iraqis or more?

He has said over and over again that he came to liberate the people of Iraq and deliver them the gift of freedom.

But he didn’t liberate those 30,000 or those 100,000. They didn’t get to unwrap their gift, or if they did, it blew up in their faces.

Each dead Iraqi has a name.

Each dead Iraqi leaves a family that will never be the same again.

At what point does the President acknowledge the horrific pain he has inflicted on the people of Iraq?

Mentioning a mere number and then blithely moving on does not cut it.

Such indifference permitted their mass killing in the first place.


I'm working on grades for the semester, figuring quiz grades at the moment. Quiz grades are also how I reckon attendance, since I give a daily reading quiz in all my classes.

So I'm working on the reading quiz grades in the Diverse Cultures Class. You'll recall that that's the class where I taught four cultures/Literatures -- Asian, Jewish, Gay, and Feminist Literatures.

Guess which segment had the highest number of absences? In other words, which quarter did the students stay away from in droves?

Not gay lit -- which was what I would have expected, here in the Bible belt. Heavens no.

Feminist lit. How they hated that feminism.

Far worse than gay guys, those evil feminists.

I admit, that was a surprise to me.

More on Tulane

Here's more on Tulane's "re-tooling," this from The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Last week university officials announced a sweeping restructuring that will slice $60-million from the annual budget and will result in the layoffs of 233 faculty members, the elimination of 14 doctoral programs and 5 undergraduate majors, and the suspension of 8 athletic teams.


The changes are wide-ranging:

The university will go from 45 doctoral programs to 18. Fourteen will be totally eliminated: economics, English, French, historical preservation, law, political science, sociology, water resources planning management, social work, and five in engineering. Other Ph.D. programs may be combined.

At the undergraduate level, the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering will be reorganized into two new schools — the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Science and Engineering. Five undergraduate majors will be eliminated — four in engineering, plus exercise-and-sports sciences.

Of the 233 faculty members laid off, 53 are from academic departments and 180 are from the medical school. The medical school took the biggest hit because the smaller population of New Orleans will result in fewer patients and less revenue, Mr. Cowen said.

Elsewhere in the article, it says that the programs that got cut are the weaker programs, and that the graduate students weren't just dumped -- they were mostly moved on to other programs: which is likely the case. I can't imagine a graduate student from Tulane finding it hard to be accepted into another program.

Still: how depressing. My lovely city.

The kid's grandmother is coming today to fetch her down to Metairie for the holidays. Then, on the 23rd, mr. delagar and I are traveling down there to spend a week or so, over the break. I'll see for myself how things are in the city, I guess.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tulane Cuts Its Graduate School

mr. delagar was up the hill yesterday, where his dissertation director told him Tulane had cut its English graduate program in the wake of Katrina. "The whole thing?" I said. "It fired all the grad students?"

I couldn't believe it, so I went online to have a look.

It's worse than that -- Tulane has cut all its graduate programs:

Five undergraduate majors have been eliminated, all in science and engineering, and many other programs have been consolidated. The graduate school has been shut down.

The medical school faculty is being reduced by 180 positions, to 345, largely because only two hospitals are operating in New Orleans.

Over all, Tulane is reducing its full-time faculty and staff to 4,000, from 4,700. The cutbacks include job losses for 26 tenured professors whose programs are being dropped.

Other news is worse:

The facts on the ground are sobering. Power and other utilities have not been restored in many places. The city government has laid off much of its work force, and nearly all the public schools remain closed. On Thursday, Tulane University, the city's largest employer, announced major budget cuts.

It is unclear when the levees will be repaired, and it will probably take years and tens of billions of dollars to fortify them. Without assurances about the levees, many exiles do not want to move back. The longer the uncertainty lasts, the more likely it is that they will put down roots elsewhere.

More than 75 percent of the city's population of 460,000 is gone, by some estimates, and it would appear to make little sense to spend enormous sums revitalizing areas if they are to be sparsely populated.

I knew things were bad in the city -- I've been gathering that from the bits I hear from my family -- but this is really depressing.

Lackwits Try to Argue

Worldview Weekend, put out by American Family Online, sent me this little gem in my email -- not once, but six times -- it case I didn't get around to opening it the first five times, I reckon:

Recently Brandi Chambless was told by a Bartlett, Tennessee branch library staff member that she could not use a public shelf to display a Nativity scene along with an announcement about a Christmas concert at Broadmoor Baptist Church.

The shelf is open to the public for advertising upcoming community activities.

The library official told Brandi that a donkey, sheep and other farm animals, along with a Shepherd boy, could be displayed but the Wise men; Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus were inappropriate "religious figures" and must be removed. The library official sited a written policy that does not allow any display in the library that was religious. This policy of the Memphis-Shelby County Libraries deems "any item which promotes a particular religion or sectarian religious belief" to be unacceptable for display in the library.

If this is truly the policy of the Memphis-Shelby County Library then they need to remove every book and resource from every shelf and leave them completely and totally empty.


Because Webster's dictionary defines a religion as a collection of beliefs, therefore, every book in the Memphis Library system is promoting someone's religious belief.

We can thank the wise man that is the Mayor of Bartlett for over-ruling the Memphis-Shelby County library's ridiculous policy.

However, this incident brings to light the need for our local libraries to be influenced by the community and not the liberal American Library Association of which the Memphis libraries are members.

The American Library Association has a long history of being hostile to Christian values including suing to stop the enforcement of a federal law that would withhold federal funds from any library or school that does not filter internet pornography from children. Judith Krug, of the American Library Association, bemoaned internet filtering software for libraries saying, "blocking material leads to censorship. That goes for pornography and bestiality too. If you don't like it, don't look at it."

Well, two can play that game; if the Nativity scene at the library offends you then don't look at it.

Note that there is no huge freedom of speech crisis in Memphis -- some staff member wanted to advertise a religious service, some other staff member objected, a mayor settled the issue in an appropriate fashion. (Because this is, after all, a public space the staff member wanted to advertise in, not a state space, so it is, in fact, appropriate for her to advertise religious services there -- duh.)

So what we've got here is the American Family Online whipping up a hissy fit over nothing -- no shock there -- and attempting to demonize librarians while they're at it. How dare librarians be against censorship! Those evil librarians!

I really love this definition of religion, while we're on the subject. A collection of beliefs. Yes, right. You do realize that makes pornography and bestiality religion, American Family Online folks, don't you? And therefore, under your definition of the term, something that has to be protected by our Constitution? And given special rights and tax breaks?


Monday, December 12, 2005

How I wish

This were not the sad truth:

You cannot reason with people who could give a fuck about being wrong. Reason has been tried. And it has been tried. And it has been tried. And it has been found lacking. This country is not being run by so called “reasonable conservatives.” It is being run by that 43% of the population who actually sincerely believe that there is a fucking war on Christmas being perpetrated by secular liberals. Ponder that. All the nice little bon-mots and civil conversations with your David Brookses and your George Wills are merely self delusion. Pretending it is not so might feel good, but I don’t really think it’s solving anything, or moving your agenda. It’s nice. But it’s not changing minds. Does open mockery change minds? Is that any more effective? Maybe not.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Conservatives Miss the Point

Here's some charming posts from the Right for you: This one, at Pirate's Cove, is upset because the police in SF are being scolded for making "racist, sexist, and homophobic" videos -- all in good fun, mind you!

The videos were a bit rude, maybe insensitive, a little overboard. However, did they physically harm anyone? No. All they did was offend some people. Considering what police have to go through, I do not blame them for wanting to blow off some steam. But, the San Fran Thought Police are now out to get the real police.

Because, as we know, what people think. especially when those people are armed, and have the power to arrest, detain, and interrogate, has nothing to do with what those people actually do.

This is the same Infuriated Right, of course, that's All Outraged because the Universities are filled with Lefties. Have my lectures ever physically harmed anyone? (Never! Not even that time when I flung the chalk at the idiot in the back row! I swear!) Sure, I've been rude, from time to time -- once I did, in fact, shout at a devout Christian to shut up and listen when I was talking -- maybe that was a little insensitive. But no blood got spilled. So what's the harm, right?

And I ain't even pack a gun, for heaven's sake. All I have is a grade book.

Then, over here, Tammy Bruce, who claims she's seeking common ground with common sense, says,

I've noted a number of times how we owe Europeans, and especially the English, a deep apology for not intervening sooner in World War II. Until the strike on Pearl Harbor, we allowed so-called Pacifists and isolationists to determine this nation's (non)reaction to genocide and naked aggression. Some attitudes haven't changed. Thank goodness we as a nation have. So much for 'pacifism' and 'peace.' Because we waited and did nothing as the Axis powers raped the world, millions died. Of all the things we learned during World War II, from its beginnings in 1933 when Japan invaded China, it is to never mistake not being at war for peace.

While, as you can imagine, I wholly support the war that wiped out Hitler, finally, it's her attributions -- them evil pacifists -- and that last line really annoys me. Never a mistake to not be at war for peace?

So anytime some fuckwit comes along and claims we need to fight a war for peace, Tammy Bruce, you're going to sign up, are you?

What is it with these conservatives? Why are they so hung up on the code ethics? What is wrong, I ask you, I beg you, I beseech you, what is wrong with engaging your brain?

Yes, Tammy: there is a difference between WWII and Iraq.

No kidding. Really. Look and you will find it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Okay, this isn't a new post -- it's a link to a post you have to read. Here's a bit, but read the whole thing, which is delicious:

It's from a post called The Unofficial Gay Test For Men:

The question is, succinctly, "Am I gay?" It is normally prefaced with some rather obtuse and, I assume, unintentionally insulting explanation about feeling odd and weird and wrong and so forth, which is not unusual given the cultural climate and the drive by certain forces to frame the homosexual as someone who made a "wrong decision," and is "succumbing to sinful ways," and other such nonsense.

...I have accepted the challenge that my high-profile on-line gaydom affords me and will attempt, in this article, to help satisfy those questions that may be haunting you in the dark of night as you lie sweating between your sheets thinking about why you're feeling particularly excited about that guy you saw standing in line at Starbuck's with the arms that, gee, do they really get that big?

First, a short series of questions to ask yourself.
Score one (1) for each Yes answer, and zero (0) for each No.

1. Have you ever wondered what Johnny Depp tastes like?
2. Have you ever actually read Playboy for the articles?
3. When buying underwear, do you consider "ass fit?"
4. When watching the bar scene in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, are you thinking to yourself, "I wonder what Luke Wilson looks like naked"?
5. Do you have more than three different hair grooming products, i.e. mousse, wax, paste and gel? (The same type of product by three different manufacturers doesn't count.)

If you scored 3 or more, start sweating.

Posting Deficit

Boy, have I got excuses for you for why I haven't been posting much -- where will I even start?

(1) Five day migraine. Don't know what's up with these migraines. I've had them since I was about six, but they've been getting steadily worse, and this last one lasted, as I say, five days, and was excruiciating for the last two, despite all the drugs I took trying to make it go away. My charming neurologist suggests it might be the drugs -- rebound headache, he says. Try not using the drugs, he says. Bite me, I say.

mr. delagar thinks it's the rum. I'm more willing to give up the rum than I am the Vicodin, so we're going there first. (I don't drink that much, but I do drink some, and the research I've been doing suggests that alcohol can cause migraines, so, well. I'm laying off for a bit. And can I add? Rats.)

(2) Kid is sick. This was yesterday. She wakes up saying her head is wobbly and her knees hurt. I swear great oaths of fury (remember I am suffering an excruciating migraine) and make her swear she is not faking. She swears an oath of blood that she is really sick. I call in sick to work (mr. delagar is already gone to work) and ten minutes later she projectile vomits all over me. And is cranky and feverish and bad-tempered the rest of the day.

(3) Did I mention our heat stopped working? Not that I care. I hate central heat anyway.

(4) It's the last week of the semester. Students keep wanting me to work with them on their papers. Pesky students!

(5) I'm behind in grading, due to the migraine. Urg! Grading!

(6) No one had done any laundry, cooking, or shopping at our house this week. We're out of food and clean clothing. Last night I fed us -- well, me and mr. delagar, the kid did not eat, too busy hurling -- Kraft Mac & Cheese for dinner. At 9:00 p.m. And we were glad to get it too.

It is, however, almost the end of the semester. Maybe I will have time to read and think again soon. One can hope.

Damn. I forgot (7) mr. delagar's birthday is tomorrow. Nor have I bought him a present. This is bad news. He gets all touchy about shit like that.

I better go shop.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

In case you needed one

Another reason to despise the Wall:

A Wal-Mart in Tampa thinks a black guy with a big check has to be a thief:

Pitts, local human resources manager for GAF Materials Corp., called the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 11110 Causeway Blvd. in the morning to order 520 holiday gift cards for employees. The white, female worker who normally did the task was on vacation. The company had spent about $50,000 a year on gift cards at the local Wal-Mart for several years.

Store employees assured him it wouldn't be a problem. The roofing system manufacturer gave Pitts a check for $13,600, and he left to pick up the gift cards.

Pitts, who wore khaki pants and a button-down dress shirt, arrived at the Wal-Mart customer service desk about 1:15 p.m. and found the cards ready.

But first, he was told, managers needed to verify the check.

Pitts gave them his GAF business card, driver's license and numbers to Citibank, GAF's bank. The company's accounting supervisor told Wal-Mart over the phone that the check was good. GAF, based in Wayne, N.J., is the nation's biggest roofing systems maker, with $1.6 billion in 2004 revenue.

At least two black clerks watching the situation told Pitts he was being subjected to such scrutiny because he is black. They told him other companies made similar purchases that day without such interrogations.

Wait! There's more!

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies arrived, responding to a call from store managers about a possible forged check.

Pitts said one of the officers grabbed his arm, causing him to pull away.

Hey! Doesn't he know that's resisting arrest?

And this isn't the first time, either:

Last summer, Wal-Mart managers at an Eagan, Minn., store accused Gayle Bryant of using a bad check to buy $92.69 worth of bottled water and household goods, news reports said. Managers called police, who waited for her to leave the store and then stopped her for questioning.

Bryant said she was targeted because she is black.

To be fair, of course, this likely is not Wal-Mart policy. This is the racism of Wal-Mart employees -- which is to say, the racism of typical Americans. Nor can the caliber of the average Wal-Mart employee be much, considering what Wal-Mart pays -- anyone who can, moves on as soon as possible, I imagine. Anyone who stays is no doubt angry and looking for someone to take it out on.

Which doesn't excuse anything.

Wal-Mart ought to be educating its employees against racial profiling. For that matter, it ought to be paying its employees enough that they aren't taking their hate out on their customers.

The Kid Makes Me Nuts

Now y'all know me. I loves me some dialect. I love teaching the History of the English Language class, here at the Fort, mainly because in the second half of the class I get to teach dialects. So I have nothing, nothing, mind you, against dialects.

On the other hand: the kid has taken to saying "ain't," every chance she gets, in this utter hick accent, and it is driving me m-a-a-ad.

Which I made the parental error of letting her know, early on.

"I ain't going to," she said, about something. (Ain't pronounced like a'yunt, only all one syllable, it's appalling how low-rent it sound, well, I'm appalled, and you know me, I don't have class issues -- well, I thought I didn't--)

"You ayunt?" I said. "What are you, from Arkansas?"

This was a bad mistake. Since then she's been fitting ayunt into every sentence she can. Giggling madly when she does it. Today, I'm suffering from my fortnightly migraine -- "My head is killing me," I say.

"It ain't," the kid declares.

I glower at her.

"Well," she points out, beaming with delight, "you ain't dead."


Apparently, not only have we evil Secular Humanists declared a War on Christmas, but now we are launching a War on Thanksgiving (Why do I never get the Memos?). Go here for details:

While we're on the subject, I'd like to give Christian Conservatives a bit of homework: look up that word secularist, would you, please?

Here's what secularist means: "one who believes that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education."

Not an atheist, not one who isn't religious, not evil Satan-worshipping demon: just someone who happens to believe that religion should be kept in one sphere, and civil matters in another. Someone like, oh, Thomas Jefferson. Ben Franklin.