Monthly Archives: September 2009

Maybe you should just set those tax dollars on fire, Senator Hatch

Not content with afull morning of carnage, the Senate Finance Committee apparently had a bit of time on its hands after throwing the Public Option under the bus Tuesday. So they stayed late and passed a measure by Orrin Fucking Hatch to restore funding for abstinence fucking only education. How much money? How much of our tax dollars do 12 committee members want to spend on something thatEVEN TEXAS finally admits doesn’t work?

Fifty million.


Yeah, vote down substantive change that would help tens of thousands of people get comprehensive health care but by all fucking means, let’s approve spending $50,000,000 a year on a crap notion that is not just completely divorced from reality but also contributes tohigher rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

Not that it redeems him any, but Max Baucus was against the idea.

An alternate measure offered by Baucus also passed. Baucus’ measure,
which passed 14-9, would make money available for education on
contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, among other things, in
addition to abstinence. Lawmakers will have to reconcile the two
measures, both approved during debate on a sweeping health overhaul
bill, as the legislation moves forward.

These people make me sick.

Oh, and Speaking of Black Children Reading

Hell Yeah, Dwyane Wade:

Food and spirits flowed freely in the foyer of the W Hotel, as
pretty young women floated through the crowd, offering margarita shots,
and tuxedo-clad waiters served chilled shrimp and tidy canapes.

As most of you know, the NBA All-Star grew up in Robbins, an
impoverished south suburb that has kept itself going through a mix of
tenacity and pride.

Wade was in Chicago for “Wade’s World Weekend,” which includes several events to benefit his foundation.

While in town, Wade came to the rescue of Robbin’s lone library.

The library had run out of money to pay its staff and was on the
brink of shutting its doors when Wade stepped up with a healthy chunk
of change — $25,000.

“Robbins is a small neighborhood, and without a library there would be fewer opportunities,” Wade said.

Hell no, newspaper commenters:

Naperville North is different than Dunbar because
the 2 PARENT WHITE FAMILIES actually care about education, about a
family, about values, etc. Getting pregant at 16 and raising gang
bangers is not high on their priority list. Ever wonder why blacks are
7x more likely to commit a crime than ANY other race? Not my

I could go on slick but I’ll just leave you with one message. Black, angry and ignorant is no way to go through life.


There’s just no story so awesome people can’t make it HERE’S WHY I HATE YOU.



Kissing Jessica Stein

This was on TV the other night and I had completely forgotten how, any other problems with it aside, I loved the titular crazy fucking lunatic:


Student Journos to Politico: Screw You and Your Money


But where does our alma mater fall on the matter of journalism’s
future? It’s an important question, especially given our brand new (and
slightly Usdan-like) Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.
For those who don’t know, Robert Allbritton ’92 is the entrepreneur
behind, the insurgent beltway gossip newspaper that is
pretty much the only news organization in America making money at the
moment. Allbritton has made a lot of waves with his print/web business
model for journalism, and Wesleyan has been happy to take his money,
tossing him a breathless profile in the Wesleyan Connection in return.
Presumably, Allbritton will be interested in imbuing his ideals on the
Wesleyan student body through his new center for public life. In other
words, expect a journalism class or two in the near future.

But what will be taught in these journalism classes? Will the
professors be pre-approved by Allbritton himself? Will he have a say in
the curriculum?

We hope not. In his lust for advertising dollars and shout-outs on
the Drudge Report, Allbritton has squandered a wonderful opportunity in
Politico. Now that Allbritton’s paper has taken down the decaying
Washington Post with its story on backroom influence peddling at the
Post, it has became all too clear: Politico is certainly no
replacement. Politico does not investigate Washington. It fans the
flames of Beltway insanity, bowing down to the television hacks and
cynical “moderate” opinion instead of to the power of actual reporting.
It is trivial, gossipy, and petty.

So say we all.


Hugh and Cry

Hugh Jackman is my new hero. He struck an onstage blow for those of us who hate cell phones going off during a play, movie, concert or lecture:

The Trashanova

My city has a celebrity garbageman, I bet yours doesn’t. But he’s not one of the guys who gets up obscenely early to ride on the back of the garbage truck: he’s their boss. His name is Sidney Torres and he’s gone from being born with a silver spoon in his mouth to making money off rubbish. Here in Debrisville aka New Orleans we call him the Trashanova. Why? Because he’s the handsomest frakking garbage man in the frakking galaxy:



El Sid, as I like to call him, is actually just another greasy, politically connected contractor who oozed out of the sewer post-K and ended up with *part* of the city’s trash business. His slice of the garbage contract pie includes the French Quarter, which makes Torres the center of both attention and controversy. And the Trashanova knows how to capitalize on publicity; a gift that he’s about to take nationwide via a reality show on TLC. The pilot will focus on the dashing dustman as he and his minions pick up during the Voodoo Music Experience on Halloween weekend. That means he’ll have the chance to compare his massive ego with those of fellow reality teevee star Gene Simmons or his old boss Lenny Kravitz. That’s right: the Trashanova used to be Lenny’s personal assistant, a rich boy working for a rock star. Go figure.

Sidney Torres is not just a figure of fun: the trash contract he shares with two other companies is preposterously expensive and has been the subject of more controversy than you can shake a stick at. Torres, his relations and friends, of course, donated generously to the re-election campaign of our shiny headed fool of a Mayor Ray Nagin. It’s way too complex to go into in this post BUT suffice it to say that trash isn’t the only thing that stinks about Mr. Torres.

Here’s the Trashanova in the City Council chamber with Nagin’s Sanitation Director Veronica White who’s famous for trash talking and for both idolizing and emulating Whitney Houston:


This has been a superficial introduction to the world of the Trashanova about whom there was even an amusing spoof blog written by a guy who called himself Faux Sidney. There are times when I feel like I’m living in a Marx Brothers film and this is one of them.

Finally, just to give you a taste of what you might be in for on TLC, here’s one of El Sid’s teevee commercials, all of which feature him racing about the Quarter in a golf cart:

Why the Census Matters

Soa Census worker was attacked, killed, and left with the word “FED” marked on his chest.

Aside from the obvious, why is this a big deal?

First, you know there are a lot of Census survey forms that go out, but in many cases, the actual face-to-face contact by Census workers is crucial to getting anything close to an accurate count of people in this country, especially those who are most in need of government services. I’m not just talking about the decennial census, but also the various surveys like the American Community Survey that Bill Sparkman was working on when he was killed.

Those various counts have very, very far-reaching consequences.The most obvious is in congressional representation–representatives are apportioned among the states on the basis of population as determined by the decennial census.An undercount in one area means potentially fewer representatives for a given state.Add to that the issue of setting district boundaries, with the attendant potential for gerrymandering, and you can see it’s a big deal.

But that’s just the glamorous side of Census. Census data is used by many federal, state and local government agencies to plan services.The data are used to determine if agencies are serving the various demographic groups proportionally (one of the ways I use Census data regularly is to see if my college is attracting hispanic students in proportion to the local population, an issue which can dramatically affect what kind of federal grant funding we can get).

Incidentally, census data are also used extensively by businesses to target advertising, plan expansion, locate new businesses, and many other things. So this isn’t just a government program that benefits DFHs.

Obviously, there are those in political circles who believe their interests are best served by having the Census undercount certain population groups.Hence, Michelle Bachman’s obnoxious tirade back in June about the Census being used to put Americans in“concentration camps.” Does anybody really believe she has a deep and abiding concern for the rights of Japanese-Americans?

Which brings me back to the issue at hand.As horrific and tragic as the story of Bill Sparkman’s death is on its own, it has even more far-reaching effects when it comes to the outcome of the 2010 Census.Any kind of intimidation of Census workers has the potential to suppress the count, not just in the area where the intimidation occurs, but everywhere.Ultimately, when it comes to the impact on the Census, it doesn’t even really matter who did the killing.How many of us would be willing to work as a Census field worker now, whether it was right-wing paranoiacs or drug dealers?

Well, up till the anti-ACORN brouhaha, ACORN workers might have.Thanks a lot, Darryl effing Issa.

Yes, I know–right now there are a lot of out-of-work people who would take this on in spite of the real or imagined danger. But I think the point still stands–the right wing attacks on ACORN aren’t just about hating on that organization for the sake of hate.

Anyway, consider this the BuggyQ PSA–when the time comes, please fill out your Census forms as thoroughly as possible, and return them early. And encourage everyone you know to do the same. The more of us who do, the fewer Census folks who have to go knocking on doors and putting themselves in potential danger.

Today on Athenae’s Obsession with Mocking Jonah Goldberg

Wonkette’s commenters are on the case:“Suck It, Liberals Whose Only Pets are Gay Cats!”

Who the hell doesn’t like dogs? You have to admit that conservatives have to set the bar for awesomeness pretty low.

“Just found out that Ronald Reagan did not, in fact, skull-fuck
fetal pigs every morning before breakfast. Just one more aspect of his

You guys can laugh, but this Jonah guy has me looking at my dogs and wondering, what’s wrong with me?

It’s not really news that American conservatives are not into pussy.



The Jim Abbott Of South Louisiana

I rarely post uplifting items but there was afront page story in Sunday’s New Orleans Times-Picayune that melted my icy blue heart. It’s about Timmy Ruffino who is an eight year old little leaguer with the same disability that former big league pitcherJim Abbott overcame. Timmy calls it his “little hand.” The story is even more of a tear jerker because young Timmy and his family were flooded out of their house in St. Bernard Parish in 2005. Jim Abbott is, of course, Timmy’s idol.

I guess I’m a sucker for this story because I’ve always been interested in guys who played in the big leagues despite major disabilites:Pete Gray, Lou Brissie, Monty Stratton and, yes, Jim Abbott. When you hear their stories it makes your own problems seem small in contrast and anything that keeps me from bitching is a good thing.

End of semi-uplifting post, readjusting snark-o-meter for the next post…

‘That Distinction Doesn’t Really Count for Shit Anymore’

I am buried in work this week, just buried. I would have missed this entirely but apparently I’ve trained you all so well that you find me things I like on your own. Pretty soon this blog will be irrelevant and we can just set up one big crack van where you all say much smarter things to each other than I could ever come up with. Leinie sends this one along.


But when you shine a light on Zero Hedge, you’re taking the lightoffthe
people he’s focusing on. That’s the primary problem with this kind of
activity, and one of the reasons you often see this tactic employed
against an uncomfortable news-breaker. I’m not saying that was Hagan’s
intention — in fact I don’t think it was — but this kind of story can
immediately have the effect of shifting the geography of the
conversation, from Goldman’s backyard to Zero Hedge’s. I’d expect that
from other quarters, but coming from Hagan I’m a little confused by it.

Moreover there are lots of ways to write about a guy like Zero Hedge
that will tend to make it look like his reporting is baseless and
hysterical, and you can achieve this without even having to prove that
he’s even once been wrong about anything.

You can say, for instance, that his tone is conspiratorial, which it
is. You can say that people will want to believe his conspiratorial
view of things, whether it is true or not, because they are frustrated
over losing money and power to Wall Street. And that’s true. You can
say that his stories sound overblown and his interpretations of recent
financial history sound fantastical, likeStar Trekplots —
they do. (If you don’t mention that reality itself is that fantastic of
late, this can be a damning criticism). You can describe his campaigns
on various issues as “crusades,” which in a way they are. And you can
say he has an “agenda,” and wonder aloud what that might be.

I’m really not sure any of that matters. The only thing that matters with a guy like Zero Hedge is, is he right or not?

Every story about “those crazy bloggers” who uncover some scandal, in other words, is a story that’s not about what they uncovered. And to me it’s just enraging because that kind of starfucking nonsense is why many bloggers exist in the first place. They didn’t start working 5-9 on the Internets for free to make themselves famous, a lot of them who are still at it did it to yell as loud as they could “HEY HEY OVER HERE THIS IS FUCKED UP, LOOK AT THIS IT’S BROKEN FIX IT PLEASE FIX IT HEY OVER HERE.”

During the early days post-Katrina when Scout was scouring the NOLA blogs and they were posting stuff up that just made me want to bang my head against a wall, it was all too familiar a story: Local reporters/journalists/bloggers uncover something scandalous, put it out there, and … GIANT BLACK HOLE OF NOTHINGNESS. The national media proceeded to cluck over the Interwebs, snooze and/or spend six hours on TV talking about a politician who used the wrong mustard on a sandwich or fucked some lady who wasn’t his wife and got the skank pregnant and then made six other dick moves. This pattern remains essentially unchanged, despite a self-professed hunger for real solid reporting that is going to die with newspapers don’tcha know?

(Yes, I’m annoyed about the John Edwards coverage of last week. Has he done something he should be proud of? Absolutely not. But he has done nothing that is even a tenth as horrible as letting grandmothers drown while chained to their hospital beds in a hurricane, so spare me the need to make him our whipping boy. Republicans do far more evil, slimy shit all the damn time and the reason they get away with it is that nobody gives a fuck. IOKIYAR, and all that. Don’t make Edwards right, does make the coverage a monumental load of moralizing horseshit which sucked time from a million other more worthy things. Ahem.)

Actual wrongdoing is boring, and everything can be turned into a celebrity story if you can just find some weirdo to hang a graphic and a theme song on. But it’s the work that really counts. It’s the work that should be judged, I used to argue back in the early days of blogging in 2003 or so when dinosaurs walked the earth. Who’s a journalist? Look at the work. Is the work journalism? Then the person doing it is a journalist. It’s not as easy as looking at someone’s name tag, but it’s the way things have to be now. Bloggers ain’t going anywhere no matter how many crazy jealous old assholes write wankeriffic Romenesko letters about the death of true authority.

The key distinction used to be that mainstream reporters vetted and
fact-checked their material before they put it out in public. But the
only media outlets that dependably do that anymore, at least in my
experience, are feature magazines like Hagan’s.

Daily newspapers are crap for fact-checking now, even theNew York Times(hello,
Jayson Blair). TV stations, especially the cable news channels, are
often even worse than bloggers, because there we’re often dealing with
some chattering numbskull like Maria Bartiromo who is literally
ad-libbing her “reporting” live and on-air. Bloggers at least have a
neurological weigh station or two between their brains and their hands.

Some journo and ex-journo friends on Saturday were talking about the way newspapers abdicated their authority by trying to be what people wanted (or said they wanted) instead of being what they were already good at being. Whenever I hear some journalistic panel wittering on about how newspapers dying means no more investigative reporting I want to scream “YOU WANT INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING JUST GO DO IT JESUS GOD.” And journalism academics are quick to decry the academizing of journalism, and talk about how journalism was good before everybody got college degrees and decent paychecks and shit. Journalism got crappy not when journalists got credentialed and rich but when they got stupid, when they decided they’d rather be loved than hated:

Journalists aresupposedto be assholes. The system does not work, in fact, if society’s journalists are all nice, kind, friendly, rational people.

You want a good percentage of them to be inconsolably crazy. You
want them to be jealous of everything and everyone and to have heaps of
personal hangups and flaws. That way they will always be motivated to
punch holes in things.

If I was the sort of person to talk shit about places I used to work, I could tell tales of the personal flaws and hangups and problems of the people I worked with, everything from massive substance abuse to paranoid delusions to ordinary run-of-the-mill assholia. I’ll tell on myself: I was not exactly little Mary Sunshine when I was working 90 hours a week in the grips of something like religious fervor. If you met me back then you wouldn’t throw a rope to me if I was drowning; sometimes I have no idea how I’m not friendless and disowned. And this isn’t to say skill at a trade excuses untreated mental illness — I hate that trope — but I would much, much, much rather too confrontational and bombastic an attitude than the most perfectly polite cocktail party society, because it is beneficial in a line of work which requires you to walk up to important people and call them liars.

Nurturing a culture where it has become rude and detrimental to do so has done more harm to journalism than a billion bloggers ever could.


My Primary Vote, Ladies and Lolcats


Allow me a moment here.


(Format stole fromhere.)

Okay, here’s what’s actually going on:

Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI),
and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced today that they will introduce the
Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act, which eliminates retroactive immunity
for telecommunications companies that allegedly participated in
President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program.

“I believe we best defend America when we also defend its founding
principles,” said Dodd. “We make our nation safer when we eliminate the
false choice between liberty and security. But by granting retroactive
immunity to the telecommunications companies who may have participated
in warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, the Congress violated
the protection of our citizen’s privacy and due process right and we
must not allow that to stand.”

Feingold and Dodd are both up for re-election. Give them turkee if you can in the next few months because they will need it.


Practice City


Yes, it’s surprising that traffic on the sidewalk is coming and going,
which indicates that people using the sidewalks may not be going in the
same direction as you. This isn’t like Disneyland, where everyone is
doing the same thing and traffic runs in one direction. This means
that people will be coming up the sidewalk and it’s only polite to
share it with them. It’s much like driving, in fact—push off to the
right, and they’ll generally do the same. Stopping and freaking out,
or skittering off into 15 different directions is not necessary.

I was talking about this at dinner with some friends on Saturday, in that in any new environment there’s some stuff that is going to be nerve-wracking for people. I remember moving to a far-out exurb after years in a college town, and discovering that it was incredibly dangerous to ride my bike on the streets there. I had every right to, blah blah blah, but it just wasn’t done. People there weren’t used to making room for bikes, which were usually confined to specific bike trails and routes to which you had to drive. My bike stayed in storage for the two years we lived there because we didn’t have a rack for the car and going against the local customs likely would have ended in serious annoyance of the populace if not injury or death.

But the only way I found that out was to attempt to ride to the store one day and get honked and yelled at. There isn’t a book to give you the rules, and I am sympathetic to the idea that man, you just don’t know walking into a place what way the trains run and how you’re supposed to give up your seats for older folks or people with packages or moms with little kids and just ignore the guy muttering to himself in the corner.

Which is why I think we need a Practice City, with a parking garage, train car, bus, crowded restaurant and escalators in order to give people some kind of orientation. Stopping at the bottom of the escalator or the moving sidewalk in the airport is a really good way to get yourself slammed into, like, it’s a conveyance disgorging people automaticallyregardless of if you shove over or not so shove over. And a parking garage, especially downtownwhere you will not find a space on the first eight floors so stop stalking everyone you see, is something I think ought to be put in the Illinois driver’s test.

We could reverse the scenario, too, and have Practice Small Town and Practice Farm Country so that the city mice don’t annoy the country mice by bitching about the tractors on the roads or the smell of fertilizer or the way everyone wants to smile at you and say hello all the time.


Uncomfortable Plot Summaries

True, but reductive:

  • BATMAN: Wealthy man assaults the mentally ill.
  • CUJO: Family neglects to give family pet rabies shots, pays price.
  • HIGHLANDER: Elderly immigrant destroys property.
  • PRETTY BABY: Young woman’s modeling career encouraged.


Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Duck Soup Edition

Good morning, gentle people – My favourite Marxist philosopher (Groucho) once said (when asked to explain the plot of their new movie)“Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them
together. After one taste, you’ll duck soup the rest of your life.”

Well, we have turkeys, silly gooses, and cabbage-heads galore for you, so grab another cup of coffee – let’s see if we can break Typepad !

First up –Pickles defends Obama school speech – Freepers go ballistic.‏

Laura Bush defends Obama school speech


| 09/07/2009

Posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:18:05 PM byfreed0misntfree
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former first lady Laura Bush is defending
President Obama’s decision to address the nation’s school children,
telling CNN Monday that it is “really important for everyone to respect
the President of the United States.”
“I think that there is a
place for the President of the United States to talk to school children
and encourage school children, and I think there are a lot of people
that should do the same,” she told CNN’s Zain Verjee. “And that is
encourage their own children to stay in school and to study hard and to
try to achieve the dream that they have.”
The former first lady
said she believed criticism of the speech had arisen because of the
accompanying lesson plans. If parents are opposed to the address, said
Bush, “That’s their right. You know that certainly is the right of
parents to choose what they want their children to hear in school…
(But) I think it’s also really important for everyone to respect the
President of the United States.”
Does she think it’s fair to
criticize Obama, as some have, by labeling him a socialist? “I’d have
no idea whether it’s fair, do you think I thought it was fair when
President Bush was criticized — not really. So, I guess not,” she

To: freed0misntfree
She says it because she has to.

posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:18:52 PM
(Communism comes to America: 1/20/2009. Keep your powder dry, folks. Sic semper tyrannis)

Obviously, there’s a man with a gun pointed at her, just out of camera range.
Won’t someone rescue this poor woman??

div class=”ecxa2 blockquote” style=”margin-left: 40px;”>To: freedumb2003

Why does she have to say anything at all?

posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:20:11 PM

To: freed0misntfree
Shut up, Bushies.

posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:21:22 PM

To: Nonstatist
Oh Laura, Laura, Laura,…shush!

posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:21:54 PM

…and get back in that kitchen!
I think the revision of history is pretty much complete at Free Republic now.
They have always been at war with Eastasia:

Well, lets GOTV !

1 Posted on11/07/2000 06:22:34 PST byNonstatist

See what I mean?

Don’t forget – thesesame people were waving the pompoms and stuffing their flight suits in solidarity foreight years, and then suddenly:

Dubya wasn’t a “real conservative” (whatever the fuckthat means)
Dubya was really a Connecticut Yankee (well, duh!)
and Dubya sunk the Republican Party (well, double duh)

And of course, this moron managed to hide all this from them foreight whole years.
What exactly does that say about the level of discernment/judgement exhibited by freepers?

It says that the lying assholes over there who say that they vote for the person, not for a Party will in reality vote for any lump of meat with a (R) after its name, and them bitch about it afterward.

To: freed0misntfree
This was a stupid move on her part as Ole W put this Pinko Cretin in Office and we will not forget that little fact.

posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:23:50 PM
(Zero the Wright kind of Racist! We are in a state of War with Democrats)

To: freed0misntfree
Laura is a RINO and so is George and his entire family!

posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:24:43 PM
(People are not stupid! Good ideas win!)

Yes, butdid you vote for him??

To: freed0misntfree
Laura never did impress me despite all the worship on this site

posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:27:11 PM

Uh oh. Someone just mentioned always being at war with Eurasia.

div class=”ecxa2 blockquote” style=”margin-left: 40px;”>To: wintertime

the entire bush family are part of the new world order bunch.

posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:34:34 PM
bytelevision is just wrong
(one bad ass mistake America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

To: freedumb2003
Sad to say but she should have kept her mouth shut like her husband did for years.

posted onMonday, September 07, 2009 2:37:04 PM
(My President will be honest, transparent, open and have a legitimate birth certificate.)

Her husband kept her mouth shut for years?
Who knew??

Well, now that the de-Deification of Dubya is complete, history is rewritten, and Freepers have owned up to blindly supporting a President who ruined their Party, I can hardly wait to see whatelsethey’re wrong about these days.

Shall we?

Current Affairs, Doc, Of Interest

Boundaries… Like the corners of your crotch…

(It’s like this and like that and like this… So please stop talking…)

I’ve never been accused of being a prude, and I’ve never
really had people worrying that they were offending my delicate sensibilities.
True, I begged out of a bachelor party before my wedding because the guys
planned to take me to a strip club, but that’s a different issue. Having women
who use crack being willing to do “anything” for $20 (not a rip, but an actual selling point from one of the guys
trying to get me to go there) doesn’t really appeal to me. I also
have a weak stomach when it comes to noticing mold on food I’m eating, finding
used tampons in the toilet when I just wake up and hearing the Midget describe
in infinite detail what happened when the girl in her K-4 class puked all over
the snack table. That’s squeamish, though, not prudish.

However, I’ve found lately that perhaps there is a limit,
even for a guy who liked to tell dick jokes that could best be described as
“factory inappropriate.” Oddly enough, it’s the students I’m working with who
are leading me to this conclusion.

Here’s what I’m talking about: I had a couple of very nice, polite female
students I know signing up for an advising session on my door. The women were
going through the dates and asking me which days would be better or which days
I might have the Midget with me and so forth. Finally one of them says,
“October 2! That’s my birthday!” The other responds with, “I’m so bad at
remembering birthdays. Except for my best friend’s birthday, because that was
the night I lost my virginity.”

(Insert shot of Doc cringing here until every hair on him
stands on end.)

The kids then looked at me with a “Oh, was that not good?”
kind of look and started talking about something else slightly more

This wasn’t the first time this happened to me. A few years
back, I was meeting with a young lady in my writing class as part of a
one-on-one session. She explained she’d need to leave early because she needed
to have a fight with her boyfriend.

“He’s trying to break up with me, but he thinks I’m going to
keep fucking him if we’re just friends,” she explained.

(Insert shot of Doc feeling brain being sucked into the back
of his headlike in the old Maxell commercials.)

She stopped and said, “Oh, did you not want to know that?”
Uh… No…

I conveyed this to a colleague who was working with the kid
in another class and he said, “Oh, you mean Genital Warts Jen?” Again, too much
info, but yeah. “She told everyone once that they needed to stop stealing her
chair this week because her genital warts were particularly bad and she didn’t
want anything to spread.”

(Insert shot of Docthrowing up in his mouth a little bit.)

Recently, I’ve had guy students tell me something about how
they were “laying pipe,” women students tell me that they had to skip my class
because they were on their period and it was particularly nasty this month and
older students convey to me how they might need to leave because they had
menopause issues.

In some very, very, very small ways, I appreciate that people feel comfortable
enough to let me in on little slices of their lives. However, I think that your
right to express yourself to a professor should end a little farther north of
the border. Beyond the fact that I like to think of my students as Ken Dolls
when it comes to that region, I’m uncertain as to how to continue to contribute
to the conversation.

What should I say to the “deflowered” girl? “Hey, what a
great memory tool! The guy must have been great!” How should I react to the
menopause? “Yeah, my mom went through that. Ain’t it a bitch?” What should I
say to the lady who’s dealing with Aunt Flo? “Glad you’re back. How’s your
crotch?” I’m usually pretty glib, but man, I’ve spent days on this idea and
have yet to come up with something better than, “Oh… OK… Yeah…”

The two worst parts of this whole thing is that a) the students
don’t seem to know that there needs to be a limit to their expression to me and
b) there’s no good way for me to bring this up. I wonder if there’s just a growing trend of self-expression among today’s students or if I’ll just eventually get used to it.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll just keep wearing my crash
helmet to school.

Athenae, Of Interest

Weekend Question Thread

Who was your favorite teacher growing up, and why?


Adrastos, Hurricane Katrina & Federal Flood, New Orleans

Letter From New Orleans: Comfortably Numb

It’s time for more recycling from the new guy. I posted this on July 13, 2006 and I wish I could say that we’re no longer comfortably numb in New Orleans but we’ve had a bit of a relapse. That’s what happens when one’s leaders are numbskulls:

Syd Barrett’s death got me thinking in Pink Floyd song titles. A scary concept, I know.Careful With That Axe, Eugene didn’t fit the situation here in NOLA but one title nailed it:Comfortably Numb from The Wall.Comfortably numb describes the state of our political, judicial and socio-economic systems here pre-K. We were muddling through at all levels but as long as we were comfortable, we were numb.

Then came Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent federal flood, which, by analogy, was to New Orleans what the last part of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was to Pip the hero of the novel. Pip had always thought that the bitter recluse Miss Havisham had been his financial benefactor. He was wrong. His real patron was Magwich, an escaped convict turned magnate whom Pip had helped while a child. There are two scenes that complete the analogy:

First, Pip confronts Miss Havisham who had led him to believe that she had helped him. She had also cruelly used her beautiful ward Estella to torment Pip. Miss Havisham lived in a large and spooky house but spent most of her time in a dining room wherein a wedding feast had been laid but never served. Miss Havisham’s fiancee had jilted her. The table remained untouched including an aged wedding cake that had been gnawed upon by vermin. Miss Havisham always wore her wedding dress as a badge of shame and delusional martyrdom.

Pip let Miss Havisham have it: telling her what an evil and horrid crone she was; especially the way she’d used Estella as an instrument of vengeance against the male gender. Miss Havisham, being a Dickens character, realized the error of her ways but then a coal rolled out of the fire and set Miss Havisham’s dress ablaze. Pip tries to put the fire out by using the venerable tablecloth but it crumbles and Miss Havisham dies; a victim of, in her case, being uncomfortably numb.

How does this apply to NOLA? Miss Havisham is a perfect symbol of the city. For years, we allowed our city to rot and decay and instead of trying to do something about it, we turned to drama, drugs, booze, food and apathy. If I had a hundred dollar bill for every time I’ve heard “you can’t change fill in the blank it’s New Orleans,” I’d be as rich as Pip’s portly solicitor, Mr. Jaggers. I’ve heard that line applied to government, litter, crime, you name it; it’s the catchall excuse. The city and its people were all comfortably numb.

Second, at the end of the book, Pip returns to Miss Havisham’s house in an attempt to prevent his first love, Estella from turning into her step-mum, Miss Havisham. Pip finds Estella sitting in Miss Havisham’s dark and filthy dining room, where else? The curtains had not been opened since the day Miss Havisham was jilted. Pip rips the curtains open and flings the windows open. The curtains crumble from years of dust and disuse. But Pip has let the sun and fresh air in. Having faced their demons honestly, Pip and Estella go on to a better life.

Hurricane Katrina swept our old systems away; exposing them as rotten, corrupt and structurally unsound. Post-K, everything has collapsed; especially the criminal justice system. The criminal courts no longer function. There is no place to house juvenile offenders so they must be put back on the streets even those who pose a danger to the rest of us. Debrisville is like Miss Havisham’s decrepit mansion but there’s no Pip to level with us and help us to pick up the pieces and start anew. Why? Because for nearly two centuries, New Orleans was comfortably numb and content with, and downright proud of, its apathy and backwardness. The storm *should* have provided a jolt to the system but the future remains unclear. One thing *is* clear: being comfortably numb is no longer an option. Instead, we need great expectations.

UPDATE: The original post was written *before* my lethal YouTube addiction:

Athenae, Stupid Republican Tricks

Bored Now


Interestingly, according to the poll, support for a public option has
jumped 5 points since late August andopposition to it has dropped 8

Emphasis mine, because of course it has. I mean, honestly. It’s hard work, sustaining that level of crazy. It’s hard work spending each and every day tracking down fake statistics and bullshit anecdotes to sustain your phony outrage. It’s hard work simply maintaining interest in something for more than ten seconds when you have the attention span of basically a four-year-old on Pixi Stix, and ain’t none of the teabaggers impressed me much in terms of energy and focus, their dire threats to Go Galt notwithstanding.

So after you’ve had your little ragefest, and after you’ve exorcised your nutjobbery, and after some of your friends have started REALLY going off the deep end and calling for lynchings and shit, is it any real wonder people are starting to figure that eh, maybe it won’t be so bad after all? I mean, if it’s not so bad, giving sick people health insurance, maybe we can go back to watching TV.