Thursday, December 22, 2005

Incontrovertible proof that Jesus was a Republican

From Jesus's General's great blog:

"Lock and load!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


He was a dark, depressed, maybe-masochistic, endlessly-cynical, and remorselessly courageous man.

He grew up in colonial India (tall guy, 3rd from left in the back row--as a member of the Burmese police) and he saw it for what it was--and he rejected it:

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Burmese Days

He hated what the fascists were doing in Spain in '36 (basically war-gaming for WWII)

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and he went to Spain to fight (he's the cadaverous tall guy with the mustache and cigarette):

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and then he came back and wrote about the way that bothRight and Left would propagandize what had happened there as he arrived back, wounded and disillusioned, into Britain:

“the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen—all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.” [from Homage to Catalonia]

He saw the nightmare beyond the Socialist Utopia:

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and he called it out by 1948, when the rest of Britain's Communists were trumpeting Stalin's heroism:

[Animal Farm]

Here's what he said about Bush 43's "war on terror":




Those scoundrels and villains will not escape the verdict of history.

Missing FZ

God, I miss Frank Zappa.
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Patron saint of the bloggers, or should be: he figured out decades ago that finding and promulgating information--and then laughing about it--was the most effective weapon against fascists. A song is the ultimate meme:

He nailed Dick Nixon:

["Dickie's Such an Asshole"]

One 'n one is eleven!
Two 'n two is twenty-two!
Won't somebody kindly tell me,
What the government's tryin' t' do . . .
Dickie's just too tricky
For a chump like me to use, oh use
You take that sub-committee serious, boy (and I'm serious)
You just might get a seizure from the evenin' news

Millions 'n millions of dollars . . .
Much as he might need . . . (good work!)
He could open up a chain of motels, people,
On the highway, yes indeed!

Quadrophonic desperation! (oh, pinch that loaf now!)
There might be confinement loaf up under your bed (well . . . )
You know if you just might pinch a little loaf in your slumber (pffft . . . NURSE!)
The FBI is gonna get your number




Tryin' not to worry
Tryin' not to care
But you know, I get so excited
When that soup goes over there

Can't have no private conversation
In the USA
Can't wait 'til the rest of the people all over the the world
Find out that their confinement loaf
Is just the same ol' way
Every day . . .
(Pinch that loaf now!)

Let me tell you about this right now
Let me tell you about this right here
Let me make this formerly clear
Let me tell you about this right here
You know you put me in office
So you must have wanted me in office
I've did you no harm
I used to have twenty-five tapes
Now I only got ten
Can't remember what happened to the rest
Musta gave 'em to a friend
Gave a couple to Bebe Rebozo
Gave a couple to Pat Boone
Gave a couple to Ronald Reagan
Gave a couple to the new vice-president
He said he'd stick with me through thick and thin
Even if I invaded Nicaragua
You know I'm not a crook
You know I'm not a crook
I just wanna lie about one more thing right now . . .
(Say yeah yeah . . . )

The gangster stepped right up,
'N kissed him on the lips good-bye
Made him a cocksucker by proxy, yes he did,
An' he didn't even bat an eye!

The man in the White House -- oooh!
He's got a conscience black as sin!
(Yeah, maybe I . . . I don't know but, it's just a training exercise)
There's just one thing I wanna know --
How'd that asshole ever manage to get in?

You're all the same, so sing right along now:

Sincerely, Dick, we mean it
Sincerely, Ron, we mean it
Sincerely, Dick and Ron, we continue to mean it

Now let's bring the Republican Party up to date . . .

and then he nailed the Religous Right

[When the Lie's so Big]

(Pinch it good!
You know, that confinement loaf is real good stuff
Hey, you oughta try some!)

They got lies so big
They don't make a noise
They tell 'em so well
Like a secret disease
That makes you go numb

With a big ol' lie
And a flag and a pie
And a mom and a bible
Most folks are just liable
To buy any line
Any place, any time

When the lie's so big
As in Robertson's case,
(That sinister face
Behind all the Jesus hurrah)

Could result in the end
To a worrisome trend
In which every American
Not "born again"
Could be punished in cruel and unusual ways
By this treacherous cretin
Who tells everyone
That he's Jesus' best friend

When the lies get so big
And the fog gets so thick
And the facts disappear
The Republican Trick
Can be played out again
People, please tell me when
We'll be rid of these men!

Just who do they really
Suppose that they are?
And how do they manage to travel as far
As they seem to have come?
Were we really that dumb?

People, wake up
Figure it out
Religious fanatics
Around and about
The Court House, The State House,
The Congress, The White House

Criminal saints
With a "Heavenly Mission" --
A nation enraptured
By pure superstition

Do you believe in the Invisible Army?
(Yes, indeed!)

When the lie's so big
And the fog so thick
And the facts kept forgotten
Then the Republican Trick
(Ketchup is a vegetable!)
Can be played out again
People, please tell me when
We'll be rid of these men!

"King of the Hill" is a documentary

This just in, from West Texas:
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"King of the Hill" is not a comedy. It's a documentary.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Flavors of my childhood

Not too many memories of my childhood and many of them are bad. The period between about age 11 and age 17 was one in which my family was falling apart: alcohol, disfunction, emotional abuse, you name it. But one/some of the few positive memories are of experiences--tonight, I'm recalling the Macintosh apple. We lived not far from orchards, and two or three times in my recollection we went, picked, brought 'em home, and made applesauce. What notes would Charles Ives use to recall the remembered taste of a Macintosh apple?

Primary challengers from DeLay's own party

Turning on each other, I see. No surprise there.

More evidence that animals are superior to humans

Little Brother's dog Sam and her mixing bowl...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Virtual Faculty Lounge

Have recently been catching up with more-wired colleagues and discovering the numbers of educators out there in the blogosphere. A lot of interesting insight out there--not least, confirmation that some of the trends/syndromes we notice Around Here also crop up Out There. But on a very preliminary run, there are two things I notice:

  • A lot of the edubloggers are pre-tenure, working their butts off as adjunct, visiting, or assistant professors. There seem to be fewer post-tenure people. Don't know why that is.
  • A lot of the edubloggers use their anonymized sites at least in part in order to vent a lot of anger at students. I certainly don't blame them: adjunct/visiting/assistant status means that everybody else, from undergrads to grads to junior colleagues to senior colleagues to upper administration, feels they can impose. And they carry large loads, of disinterested students, and that's massively wearing.
But I wonder if there might be another factor operating here. Certainly my female colleagues have spoken of having to use a very different classroom manner than I seem to have to. Are these edubloggers getting dumped on, and venting in response, because many of the edubloggers I'm reading are female, and lower-status, and thus get dumped on much more?

[update 2.13.06: Scott Kaufman's data confirms this.]

Probably a massively gender-oblivious comment on my part. But I ask because I mostly don't dislike my students. They occasionally irritate me, but mostly I like them. And if I don't like them, I'm at least amused by them.

Hmmm....need to get my head out of the sand a bit.

[added 12.13.05 2330 by Professor Spouse]:

Whether we like it or not, gender makes a huge difference in classroom discipline AND the amount of ridiculous crap students will try to pull. One of the reasons for this has to do with perceptions of authority, and what fosters authority can be completely different for male instructors than for female.

First of all, sadly, no matter whether it should be true or not, I believe it is simply not possible for a 5’2” woman (me) to have the same kind of physically authoritative and challenging effect on a young testosterone-ridden undergraduate male that a 6’5” male with a commanding voice can have. I am no expert on gender issues or socialization, but frankly I think this is hard-wired cave-man stuff. The latter punches very primal “rival who might kill me” buttons, and the former seems kind of like Mom. Not that Mom has no authority – she does, but it’s a very different authority from the Alpha Male, and it’s an authority that after a certain age is regularly circumvented with a whole bag of manipulative tricks.

The difference in accepted social behaviors between genders is also a huge factor. One of the most obvious examples of this seems to occur in students’ perceptions of identical behavior in male and female professors. Male teachers who are strict, good class disciplinarians, abide by the rules and boundaries they set in their syllabi, and inflict consequences for student irresponsibility are often described as “tough” or “demanding,” whereas I have repeatedly heard students describe analogous female teachers as being “mean” or a “bitch.” In our culture, the socialization, and hence expected behavior, of women requires us to accommodate, commiserate, forgive, and compromise. If we do not, we invite the very disrespect that we are trying to discourage by being “tough,” and the disrespect actually comes from our refusal to conform to the expected social norms. To add insult to injury, female students can sometimes be even worse culprits in this department than male students – if they have to spend so much time accommodating, commiserating, forgiving, and compromising, then they expect female Professor So-and-So to bloody well do the same.

Male and female students also exhibit very different patterns of trying to “get around” a professor. In my experience, undergraduate male students who are trying to avoid the consequences of their own bad decisions or irresponsibility usually just call upon some combination of lame excuses, obvious lies, and retroactive sicknesses, and then sit back and see what they can get away with. (I had a stomachache three weeks ago and therefore couldn’t do the 40-minute exam that was available on the class website for 9 solid days.) If they don’t get what they want, they will persist, usually by repeating the same excuse multiple times. Female students, on the other hand, tend to write long involved emails, trying to appeal to the female professor’s emotions, and pleading technical / computer imbecility, emotional meltdowns, vague “family problems,” and grueling, incompatible work schedules – in other words, the kinds of things that they think will elicit the expected reaction that has been socialized into them: that the female professor will commiserate with them, forgive whatever ridiculous irresponsibility they’ve exhibited, accommodate to the consequences of their bad decisions, and usually compromise on a grade issue. If they don’t get their way, they will also persist, but in a different way, often ramping up the emotional tenor of the phone calls and e-mails to a degree that is almost embarrassing. My conversations with male colleagues over the years would suggest that most of these same female students would never in a million years engage in this same style of communication with a male professor, or persist to this degree.

I myself certainly don’t have the answers for any of these issues. So far the formula I have tried to use with students of all genders is this:
1) model the same behavior you expect from them,
2) treat them all with equal respect,
3) don’t answer every addle-brained e-mail that comes over the transom;
4) insist on consequences;
5) always speak authoritatively about your subject, and
6) make it so abundantly clear that you know so much more than they do, that you scare the crap out of them (and the respect *into* them.)

As for hating or disliking them– sure, we get angry at them sometimes. And sometimes their complete lack of responsibility and sense of consequence is extremely frustrating. But it’s very important to keep a sense of humor about it, too.

And frankly, I think that people who find themselves consistently hating their students should find another line of work.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Great essay from Pedablogue on classroom geography

Great essay from Pedablogue on classroom geography.

Newsweek's "Bush in the Bubble": "What Bush actually hears and takes in, however, is not clear. "

It's amazing that even as stolid a source as Newsweek can run a story describing the extent to which Bush is a case of "lights on and nobody's home" and the balance of the MSM still can't articulate the fact that he's disengaged, incompetent, wilfully ignorant, a bully, a mama's boy, and out of his depth. Of course we're in an unwinnable, unnecessary war. Of course no one saying anything remotely critical of 43 was willing to be identified. Of course he does what the "older, smarter kids" tell him to do; that's what he's always done. But the job he's doing now matters a little more than cramming/cheating his way through a Gentleman's C at Yale.

Putz. He's an embarassment. I suspect that historians will look back and ask themselves how 51% of Americans could possibly have believed the man was competent.stupid Bush

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Dogs laugh, chimps play, loons mourn, whales adopt

Science Online reports that dogs laugh when they play.

When are we going to outgrow the Puritan vision of nature as "given to man by God" and start treating sentient beings as if they actually are?

" The Pilgrims justified their conquest by appealing to the Bible, Psalms 2:8:

“Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”

The use of force to take this “inheritance” was justified by citing Romans 13:2:

“Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

William Bradford, called a man of “more than ordinary piety, wisdom and courage” by no less an authority on Godliness than Cotton Mather, wrote in 1642:

“Wickedness Breaks Forth—Marvelous it may be to see and consider how some kind of wickedness did grow and break forth here, in a land where the same was so much witnessed against and so narrowly looked unto, and severely punished when it was known, as in no place more, or so much, that I have known or heard of; insomuch that they have been somewhat censured even by moderate and good men for their severity in punishments. And yet all this could not suppress the breaking out of sundry notorious sins.. Especially drunkenness and uncleanness. Not only incontinency between persons unmarried, for which many both men and women have been punished sharply enough, but some married persons also. But that which is worse, even sodomy and buggery (things fearful to name) have broke forth in this land oftener than once. I say it may justly be marveled at and cause us to fear and tremble at the considration of our corrupt natures, which are so hardly bridled, subdued and mortified.....But one reason may be that the Devil may carry a greater spite against the churches of Christ and the gospel here,....I would rather think thus, than that Satan hath more power in these heathen lands, as some have thought, than in Christian nations, especially over God’s servants in them.”"

Above compiled and quoted from ManticEye

More proof that animals are superior to humans

This time it's a mother otter and her pup at the Seattle Zoo.

"Plan for Victory" = "Vietnamization"

Excellent Richard Reeves article unmasking the latest "Plan for Victory" in Iraq--which is the same thing as "Vietnamization", strategic hamlets and all. As John le Carre put it in "The Honorable Schoolboy": "This is how they tried to win it--in air-conditioned rooms, behind smoked glass. And this is how they would lose it, as well."

The criminal tragedy is that hundreds more Americans and thousands more Iraqis will probably die while Bush/Cheney seek some non-existent (read: politically-secure) "peace with honor."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dick Cheney and the Salem Witch Trials

So they (Egyptians following US orders) tortured Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi until he told them what they wanted to hear: that there were links between al-Qaeda and Iraq.


NYT: “The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.”


I grew up across the harbor from Salem Massachusetts, and at the age of 11 attended the Salem Witch Museum for the first time, in which the testimony--both false and later recanted, and true—was induced from the accused by torture: pressing with huge stones, strangulation, starvation, immersion in icy water, and so on (timeline and testimony here. Even for children, the stupidity, inhumanity, and injustice, caused us horror. 300 years ago (in 1692), Governor Phips acknowledged that torture could not be used to extract confession, and we learned the evil of its usage in 1968—the year Dick Cheney had “other priorities” than service in Vietnam.


Dick Cheney and Condi Rice haven’t learned torture’s elementary lesson yet—that the suffering inflicted upon its victims is matched only by the condemnation heaped upon its practitioners. What kind of government with any pretense toward justice, legality, or humanity says “We’re going to torture you until you tell us the lies we want to hear”?


The evil they are practicing in the name of “protecting America” is making us unworthy of protection in the eyes of the world, and of history.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Christiane Amanpour tells it like it is

Just heard on a Sundance documentary on Christiane Amanpour:

"If you are aware of the reality of a situation--of genocide, of the depths of human suffering--and you do not report it, you are complicit."

Are you listening, embedded journalists?

"4 more years" (shades of Nixon) to erode civil liberties

A small minority of Republican negotiators hammered out a “compromise” to extend the Patriot Act—under which all manner of unconstitutional domestic surveillance is legitimized to “fight terror”—for “only” 4 more years, instead of the 10 originally sought. This is bad law and intentional erosion of civil liberties, under the guise of “keeping us safe”, at which the Bush Administration has proven singularly incompetent—see the findings of the 9/11 Commission. It’s no consolation that the Act is supposed to expire in 4 years instead of 10—that 4 years still gives the Bush White House the opportunity to target political opponents for domestic spying (shades of the “ratfuckers” of CREEP), and another year during which they can guarantee pardons for themselves—shades of Ford pardoning Nixon.


HUAC under McCarthy in the early 50s used “domestic security” as excuse for all manner of illegal and unconstitutional invasion of privacy; Nixon did it in the early 70s; now Bush/Rove are doing it. It’s always the same: external threats are magnified in order to justify internal spying, repression, and illegality. Now we’re including torture and character assassination. Those bastards are going to have a lot to answer for, and I’d guess there will be multiple indictments, on both the Hill and in the White House.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Excellent TPM blog comments which address the 37% in TX who still support DeLay

This is really very articulate, thoughtful, and accurate commentary about the sociology, cosmology, and thinking processes of hard-core conservative, fundamentalist, Bible-literalist Texans. What’s not so clear is that a lot of them are actually decent people…but they’re very very provincial, the big outside world (diverse, contentious, changeable, skeptical) deeply intimidates them, and they are comforted by cynical politicians who will mouth insanely simplistic platitudes to reassure them. DeLay is just the same kind of selfish, cynical, nepotistic, opportunistic, greedy, hypocritical asshole as the city fathers in Lubbock.



speaking of fanatics...

There’s not much question that NYT wants Mel Gibson’s new project on the Holocaust to seem like the work of a fanatic. Gibson’s acting offends me, his opportunistic pandering to the White House for We Were Soldiers and Passion of the Christ disgusts me, and his gutless, whiny, and spiteful response to those who tell him he makes bad films amuses me, so I’m not sorry they’ve chosen a shot designed to make him look like a homeless street preacher (with top-class hair-piece). But it seems cheap.

I’d expect it from CNN, but NYT should do better.

Evangelicals turning on Bush for insufficient fanaticism

Now the radical fundamentalist right is pissed at the Shrub because his Xmas cards leave off any reference to Jesus. But it’s all bullshit really: they’re not really angry: they’re just sending a message to remind him that he has to pander to their agendas if he wants their continued support.


He’s exploited cynical fanatics to get into office; he can hardly be surprised when the fanatics turn on him.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

War-crimes coming home to roost

A German national of Arab ethnicity, represented by the ACLU, is suing the CIA (including George Tenet) after he was allegedly detained without indictment, denied legal counsel, and tortured. The war crimes are coming home to roost. Here’s hoping Tenet (and Cheney, and Rumsfeld, and Gonzales, at the very least) are brushing up on their Dutch and building their legal defense funds.

This is heart-breaking. One prays that cowardice, if not conscience, will push these criminals to reverse criminal and inhumane policies.

Monday, December 05, 2005

I love it when they whine...

Donald Rumsfeld, the self-described “toughest man in Washington” (who never served in uniform), is now whining about the MSM’s coverage of the Iraq War. To anybody with any historical memory, this is a blackly comic reminiscence of the way Westmoreland would exhort Vietnam-era journalists (who are the ones who uncovered the secret invasion of Laos, the bombing of Cambodia, the My Lai massacre, and so on) to “quit being so negative” and “get on the team.”


One-armed pushups don’t make you tough, Don. And whining doesn’t make you right.


GWB as "post turtle"

A doctor and an old Texas rancher were talking about George W. Bush being in the White House. The old Texan said, "Well, ya know, Bush is a 'post turtle'." Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was. The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle." The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain, "You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, and you just want to help the dumb bastard get down."



Friday, December 02, 2005

Arlen mouths off again. Credibility = still 0

Arlen Spector says “Alito's personal views won't drive rulings.”

C’mon, Arlen: why should we trust your statements of opinion? You thought that there might be an anti-trust case to be made against the Eagles because they fired Terrell Owens’s obnoxious ass.

Arlen: shut up. You’re a relatively decent and moderate Republican, but your credibility is not much better than the nominal head of your party.