Monday, October 30, 2006

University Shredding Redux Again

HT to Ashley (when The Girl is old enough, I owe you some babysitting):

Where Y'At's "Local Universities Post-Katrina" by Jana Mackin
Critics argue that financial exigency and other restructuring plans are being used by the universities not just as vehicles of rebuilding damaged institutions to financial and academic health, but as back alley sleight of hand to circumnavigate the basic rights and protections offered by academic tenure and freedom.
with roundups on UNO, Xavier, SUNO, Tulane and Loyola--the enrollment numbers, the programs cut, etc.

Sitting on My Ass in the Wrong Room

Actually, I wasn't sitting on my ass but I mostly wasn't at the UNOP Community Congress this past Saturday. According to the Times-Picayune, the people who showed up weren't exactly representative:
75 percent of about 350 participants in the meeting were white, and 40 percent had an annual household income of more than $75,000. Before Hurricane Katrina, the city was 67 percent African-American and only 2 percent of residents earned more than $75,000 per year, while 54 percent earned less than $29,000 annually.

About 90 percent of the meeting participants also were from areas west of the Industrial Canal or from Algiers, with nearly one-fourth of the total drawn from a zone including Broadmoor, Carrollton and neighborhoods surrounding Audubon Park.
I'm glad those 350 or so showed up, had something to say and participated. Of all the things I skipped this weekend to have peace and quiet (not really but I thought about peace and wondered what quiet might be like). One thing that is not improving, it seems, is getting greater participation of people who have returned.

The rest of the article is here.

I haven't been able to hear any of the audio recordings of district meetings. Not for lack of trying. Audio of some of the last Community Support organization advisory board meeting is here. (It is enlightening and demoralizing.) I asked my students today about UNOP and these meetings. None had heard of them and only one had a vague idea what UNOP was.

addendum: Of course, Schroeder has the best run down and links you need to read. Go there now.

Future meetings:

Community Support Organization's Advisory Committee Meeting--November 9, 2006. City Council Chambers at City Hall, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

District Meetings #2: Scenarios--November 11-12, 2006. Meeting times and locations TBA

Community Support Organization's Advisory Committee Meeting--November 30, 2006. City Council Chambers at City Hall, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Community Congress #2: UNOP Citywide Recovery Scenarios
--December 2, 2006. Morial Convention Center. Meeting time and specific location TBA

Community Support Organization's Advisory Committee Meeting--December 7, 2006. City Council Chambers at City Hall, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

District Meetings #3: Draft District Plans--December 16-17, 2006. Meeting times and
locations TBA

Community Support Organization's Advisory Committee Meeting--December 21, 2006. City Council Chambers at City Hall, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

District Meetings #4: Final District Plans--January 6-7, 2007. Meeting times and
locations TBA

Community Support Organization's Advisory Committee Meeting--January 11, 2007. City Council Chambers at City Hall, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Community Congress #3: UNOP Draft Recovery Plan--January 13, 2007. Morial Convention Center. Meeting time and specific location to be announced.

Community Support Organization's Advisory Committee Meeting--January 25, 2007. City Council Chambers at City Hall, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Nearest Book Meme

From Bardiac, a tag-yourself meme.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

What exactly are we saying? That the presence of such people and their acts in our community will cause its downfall? Why should we think this? Because we don't like them?

Nussbaum, Martha. Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2004.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's Not a Stroke, Really, I Swear

I've read a lot about migraines in the last 36 hours. The last one, the one I am still trying to hold back, announced itself with colored flashes (most in a charming blue or purple) and mild speech problems--I couldn't pull words together properly and had uncharacteristic trouble coming up with the words I needed, incredibly useful and ego-building for an ENGLISH professor. There are classic migraines with auras and "visual disturbances" (think psilocybin trip--towels undulating, static things winking and sashaying only for you) and common migraines that have no aura warning. I'd never heard of abdominal migraines (usually experienced by children: sudden nausea/vomiting and severe stomach pain), hemiplegic migraines (typical migraine headaches preceded and/or accompanied by reversible limb weakness on one side as well as visual, sensory or speech difficulties), retinal migraines (migraines that involve temporary blindness), Status Migrainous (severe migraines that last at least 72 hours; often, the sufferer goes to the emergency room because the pain is so severe and long-lasting), and mixed migraines (a combination of a migraine and tension headache, one sparking the other.) In the pre-migraine state, whether you experience auras or not, you may make poor decisions about self-care, possibly because of the approaching migraine itself. You may think it's lack of sleep or food or strenuous activity. Sometimes the warnings involve extreme mood changes (hm.....), muscle weakness, confusion, speech or physical coordination problems mimicking stroke symptoms. 30-60 minutes or even hours later, the pain hits. And by the time you feel the pain, it is too late to stop it; all you can do is reduce the pain from excruciating to dull throbbing.

Once I am past this migraine-could-come-back-any-second stage (hopefully, today), I can get to some of the things I want to write about.

Migraines Wiki
Medline Plus

Friday, October 20, 2006

Warning: Uncontrollable Personal Distortions Ahead

I need to take a break until I get some damn sleep. I can't handle insomnia brain anymore--a couple weeks of sleep has ruined my 6-years-in-the-perfecting ability to function despite a gradual deterioration of most of my functions and faculties from chronic lack of sleep. I am getting too weird for public consumption.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


No one likes it, no one is "good" at it, and few handle it with the desired (face-saving) grace. As used as I am to it, I am no "good" at it. It sticks in the undersides of my eyelids. Not enough to be crippling but enough to grate every second of the day.

(What's worse is that I have no right to feel rejected. I had no right to what I wanted anyway. I wasn't going to get it, either. Several folks would've seen to that.)

The blog is nothing like that. It is not about being rejected. I can be ignored benignly and without my knowledge, hated that way, too. Rejection, though, isn't part of it unless I am the one rejecting. So it is a place that is, if not safe, under my own control.

Safety is a personal issue. Not physical safety but the feeling of safety, something most people take for granted. Somewhere in most folks is a sense of solidity beneath their feet or behind their backs or however they visualize or conceptualize it. When I look below or behind, there is nothing but the void. And that's a lot to look into from 2 a.m. until 6.

An Insult to the Insulted

Former Rep. Mark Foley, after he resigned, blamed not only alcohol abuse but sexual abuse by a Catholic priest for his behavior. (I see, though, Susie Bright's point that 16-year-old males aren't children, have their own sex lives and can make some decisions for themselves about their sexuality, sex lives and particular sexual activities.) And in a report on WWL (Schroeder can tell you why you should hate WWL), a suddenly-clipped sound bite left the impression that there is a direct connection between experiencing childhood sexual abuse and commiting child sexual abuse--what the man truly said was that 1/3 to 2/3s of sex abusers have some kind of sexual abuse in their background. That's of abusers, not the general population of sexual abuse survivors. The majority do not repeat the abuse.

In some cases, though, abuse is repeated but it is repeated, the same abuse and behavior, not the alleged touches of a priest "repeated" as instant messages about the hotness of 16-year-old athletes. It is not like this, from Terrence Real's I Don't Want to Talk About It:
Peter reminded me of a case I supervised in which 5 British boys were lured onto a deserted beach by a local man who sodomized 2 of them while the others watched. True to the male norms of their culture, none of the boys said a word about their experience from that day forward, to anyone else or even to one another. What they did do, however, for the next 5 years or so, was take turns sodomizing one another. ... By carrying on the abuse with one another, the boys were trying to normalize it, to share the burden (76).
It is not the same. Foley's excuse is bullshit and an insult to survivors.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Certain Blindness

Broadsheet's Page Rockwell gives Bob Herbert some praise in "Why doesn't shooting girls count as a hate crime?" (must look at ad to read!) for being the rare mainstream voice to see the misogyny, the femicide, in the Amish school shootings. Her next-to-last paragraph rings:
I'd argue that it's precisely because the schoolhouse killings are a clear-cut instance of targeted violence against girls. Ramsey and Holloway (and Elizabeth Smart and Laci Peterson and Chandra Levy) were individuals who may have been in danger because of their unique circumstances. And because their cases featured lots of mystery and investigation, they were easier to construct breathless, speculative crime narratives about. By contrast, it's harder to sensationalize, romanticize and even fetishize the deaths of several Amish schoolgirls who were in danger because they happened to attend the wrong school. These five deaths remind us not only that some people want to harm women and girls indiscriminately, but that many people would rather not see those crimes for what they are. Indeed, plenty of people would prefer to think our culture has no problem with women and girls -- or that we did maybe have some systematic sexism issues at one time, but now it's over, and domestic violence and sexual harassment and workplace discrimination are illegal, and what more do you want? American misogyny and the related objectification of women are the great invisible, [sic] mechanisms for eroding the status of women and girls that work best when they're not identified as such.
As a woman/former girl, I cringed when I heard he released the boys and adult women. The details silenced me for some time; all I could do was shake my head and remember to keep breathing and stay in the present, in my current flesh and body.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bow Down and Bend Over: 2

Any regular Western visitor to the developing world will be familiar with that awkward moment when a local resident raises, with a passion and level of forensic detail that reveals this sis still an open wounds some injustice perpetrated long ago by the colonial master. Baffled, the traveller registers that the forgotten massacre or broken treaty, which he has only just discovered, is the keystone on which an entire community’s identity has been built. ‘Gosh, why are they still harping on about that?’ he thinks. ‘Why can’t they just move on? We have.’ It is a version of the ‘Why do they hate us so?” question a shocked America asked in the wake of September 11. Eritrea’s story provides part of the answer to that query. It is very easy to be generous with your forgiving and forgetting, when you are the one in need of forgiveness. A sense of wounded righteousness keeps the memory sharp. Societies that know they have suffered a great wrong have a disconcerting habit of nursing their grievances, keeping them keen through the decades.

Even if, in some cases, those grievances are delusion or lies-not-quite-telling-the-truth.

Wrong, Michela. I Didn’t Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005.

Bow Down and Bend Over: 1

We have been told for years to bow down before “the market.” We have placed our faith in the laws of supply and demand. What has been forgotten, or ignored, is that the market rewards only efficiency. Every other human value gets in its way. The market will drive wages down like water, until they reach the lowest possible level. Today that level is not being set in Washington or New York or Sacramento but in the fields of Baja California and the mountain villages of Oaxaca. That level is about five dollars a day. No deity that men [sic?] have ever worshiped is more ruthless and more hollow than the free market unchecked; there is no reason why shantytowns should not appear on the outskirts of every American city. All those who now consider themselves devotees of the market should take a good look at what is happening in California [illegal immigrant labor, wages, conditions, etc.]. Left to its own devices, the free market always seeks a work force that is hungry, desperate, and cheap—a work force that is anything but free.

Schlosser, Eric. Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Naked Emperors

I wrote on Father's Day about my unresolved, opaque feelings about my father and, ultimately, male authority:
But I grew up without the absolutist authority of the male in the household. As far as I am concerned, all the emperors have no clothes. They come and go, they are needed and not, they are good and bad, they fortify and decimate.
I like that my daughter has a father. Even when I feel left out of their moon-and-Earth orbit, I am happy that she has an Earth around which to revolve, at least for a while longer. But I wonder what her inner sense of male authority will be.

I grew up with men but not ruled by any domestically. My father left and made himself mostly scarce. My maternal grandfather was mellowed by age and a first grandchild, me, a girl—a man who’d said educating a girl was a waste (because she’d get married and just benefit somebody else’s family) pestered my mother about my education from the time I was 5 until he died, right after my high school graduation. He was relief from the household and not an emperor, at least not with me or not by the time I came along. All my uncles were younger than my parents, one only 7 years older than I. Male cousins were my first and best playmates. And until college—fuck, still—men are some of the friends I most value and most deeply enjoy, think most fondly of and pursue the most, whose loss I most intensely mourn. (Marriage has been a salve for and contributor to those losses. Men are bewilderingly-to-me reluctant to be friends with a married woman.) But I didn’t LIVE with any of them. I wasn’t girlfriend or wife or fiancée or cohabiter. I wasn’t the take-care-of-a-man type.

Then I did live with one of them. And culture kicked in and girl-training I didn’t even know I had oozed from all pores. I cleaned counters and did laundry and balanced accounts and cleaned litter boxes and bought food and cooked and washed dishes and found keys, socks, wallets, birth certificates and watered plants and and and. All that work was inherently different than what I had done or would do for myself. And that difference churned in my ribs, cracked in my knuckles and turned to metal on my tongue. I was the base on which others stood. No matter how grateful they were, I was still looking up at the soles of their shoes.

Even covered in girl-training ooze, I never completely submitted. I never bought all the way into anything, that gratitude was enough or any payment at all, that I could get to myself later or that this service was my Self.

I never believed that men or boys in general were superior. The emperor was always naked to me. Without an emperor in my childhood home and memory, I could flick off (at least most of) the girl-training ooze. Born in another time, if I hadn’t been killed by my clansmen for some intellectual, social and/or sexual transgression, I would have had to pass as a man or be a gender separatist—nun, Amazon, outlaw or isolate in the desert squinting into the horizon, sharpening her scythe.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Not at All Related to My PKSD

Humans are like weeds. I believe in negative population growth, especially in the developed Western world with its refrigerators and SUVs and Ferris wheels and pig farms. This chart from Treehugger needs no words of mine.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Teeth Gnashing

On my mind last week and this weekend:

1) Nagin awards pair of hefty trash deals: Garbage trucks will use robotic arms—Another of Nagin’s practical ideas for the city. “Semi-automated” in this case means the same number of workers per truck but a robotic arm is added. Huh? Where’s recycling? How is any neighborhood going to reduce waste without recycling? Those trucks, as I remember, used one worker. I am baffled by Nagin’s decision-making “process.” How can a goofy-ass deal like this be anything but corrupt? Or maybe it's just plain stupid.

2) Nagin embraces Jefferson campaign: Mayor returning a political favor—A favor from Nagin? Gratitude from Jefferson? This works for whom?

3) Four suspects lacking attorneys freed: Judge's ruling faces appellate challengeJudge Hunter makes good on his threats to uphold the Constitution. The best exchange that made the paper:
Prosecutor David Pipes argued that the court needs to appoint attorneys for poor defendants instead of releasing them from custody. All four defendants had made bond earlier only to either get arrested again or fail to appear in court, Pipes said.

Anyone who has passed the bar could adequately represent a marijuana possession case, Pipes said, even someone fresh out of law school. The image of matching poor inmates with rookie attorneys drew Hunter's ire.

"If you were sitting over there," Hunter said, pointing to the row in his courtroom reserved for inmates, "would you want that lawyer to represent you in court? When you're facing six months in jail?"

Pipes replied, "
I may not want that . . ."

"Move on," the judge said.
[emphais added]
I get this kind of “reasoning” from my first-year college students and it is embarrassing to hear a prosecutor, allegedly working to keep me and my community safe, or at least do his part toward that effort, say that those who are not like him deserve whatever the fuck they get. Like students who say all cheaters should be expelled unless it is someone they know or who say the poor are lazy so-and-so’s looking for handouts though they grew up on food stamps, WIC and free school lunches walking around in $200 shoes. This “logic” of separate-and-unequal is often, I find, labeled as “conservative” or “Republican”—Those People Over There are not at the same level of humanity as I am and get what they deserve because they deserve it and because they are Those People Over There. Sickening. I admire Judge Hunter’s restraint. I would’ve taken my shoe upside Pipes’ head.

Prostitutes and potheads do not threaten my safety. Rapists and murderers walking free because the little cell space available is filled with prostitutes and potheads does threaten my safety.

4) Campaign spending questions remain: ALSO: You can ask, but we won't tell; Ditto for City Hall; Budget waits for latest figures—Again the name of 9th Ward minister and longtime Sewerage & Water Board member Benjamin Edwards, Sr. rises to the top of the brew.
Edwards, pastor of Third Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, quietly filed paperwork not long after the election indicating that he spent $269,250 in support of Nagin -- or about 13 percent of what the Nagin campaign spent by itself.

Though contributions to campaigns are capped at $5,000 per person or corporation, Edwards' spending falls under "independent expenditures," according to state laws. Those laws say there's no limit on what an individual or an organization may spend to support or oppose a candidate or proposition, provided the spender does not "coordinate" with the candidate. …

Back in May, Edwards said he had raised his money to support Nagin from dozens of family members. Yet the report he filed with the state lists just one contribution, of $269,250, from Benjamin Edwards.

Likewise, Edwards said in May that he had paid for billboards in Atlanta and Houston, along with radio ads in Memphis, Tenn. But his reports list only three expenditures: $250 for "screening" -- presumably, converting a Nagin bumper sticker into a billboard -- and payments of $73,000 and $196,000, both to CBS Outdoors in Atlanta.
And Meffert is mentioned. As Dambala has reported again and again, Meffert and Imagine Software need to be looked at more closely.

5) Bush rejects minimum experience to lead FEMA: Democrats, Republicans alike blast president's stance on law—It boggles the mind that Bush thinks no one else would have a problem with this:
President Bush … won't comply with a homeland security law that sets minimum qualifications for future directors of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
I guess this is what Rockey Vaccarella likes so much about The Pissant-in-Chief.

6) Road Home isn’t easy street: Residents complain of slow pace, red tape—Our (Alleged) Mayor said he was dissatisfied with the Road Home process at the District B take-a-peek. And that was all. And has been all.

I also don’t like the connotations of “easy street” in the headline. How is anything 14 months after the fact a worry-free situation?

7) Hookers follow workers' dollars: Katrina labor force attracts them to N.O.—I knew and said this months ago. Men in trucks + government workers + insurance inspectors + National Guard = a whole lot more men than we had pre-Katrina. The first things to reopen in the French Quarter were strip clubs. Once again, the Times-Picayune is fast on the local angle.

8) wins two prizes for Katrina coverage: Breaking news, public service recognized—Clearly, no one granting the award has actually tried to use the site since then or for anything else. For example, the archives. Sports scores and stories, especially prep scores, and letters to the editor are listed numerous times while actual political news and recovery items are buried in a long repetitive list of links. Does no one read the list? It makes the archives like a lot of things in NO—structured so as to be discouraging.

It Begins Again

An actual student spelling error: "As the saying goes, a group is only as strong as its weakass link."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sunset Sundays at City Park Botanical Gardens


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pedophant T-Shirts

via Boing Boing and for sale at Blue Collar Distro. One of 3 creepy IMs under the logo:

(7:57:05 PM) i always use lotion and the hand
(7:79:48 PM) is your little guy limp...or growing

or as featured above--(8:08:31 PM) get a ruler and measure it for me

Which is creepier--the red-rimmed eyes, the come-here finger, the trunk, or the sack?

tags: ,

10/7: And, available at, the "Foley Erect" t-shirt:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Telling, without Shame: Update has a story on the Ms. Magazine "I Had an Abortion" petition. I took the poll around 5 pm and these were the results:

Is it a bad idea because women shouldn't be "shamed" with public acknowledgement of an often difficult decision? Or because it might "encourage" other women to have abortions? Or should it just not be talked about? Abortion abortion abortion abortion abortion abortion abortion. So there.

Though the magazine is publishing 1,016 names in next week's issue, the names of all 5000+ women who signed (including the real me) will be available online and you can still sign it.

As the article says, it is a watershed moment. There is a slope down which we all can slide.

Monday, October 02, 2006


First, go read Debrisville meets the Jetsons and we all lose our parking at Wet Bank Guide, there's another one born every minute at dangerblond's and Residents call trash pickup a mess. Include the Wet Bank Guide comments or you only get half the picture. I almost broke a tooth I was so pissed. We can talk automation after I get recycling back.

Next, look at this morning's Health plan urged for La.'s kids. It sounded great, until I got to

The most controversial part of the plan would likely be the "individual mandate" requiring private coverage for children in households with incomes above three times the federal poverty rate. About 14,000 children would fall into this category, according to the policy paper.

To help those families afford coverage, the state could negotiate with private insurers to provide low-cost policies that provide basic coverage. Another option is to let wealthier families buy into the LaCHIP program. [If these things actually happen along with this mandate, I might ungrit my teeth. Either of these sound like good ways to work toward universal coverage.]

[Health and Hospitals Secretary Fred] Cerise said he expects the individual mandate to be controversial, but that it's the only way to achieve universal coverage.

"If you are going to . . . cover the entire population, then the only way to get there is with a mandate, because (otherwise) you're going to always have people who opt out," he said. "With kids, we think that's a legitimate policy discussion to have."

It's not always an "option" to not insure yourself or your child; sometimes it is a financial decision, rather than a "policy discussion." It worries me when the state, any state, decides it will tell people what they can afford. This is not the answer to locking Charity.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Day or 3 After the Fact

There are 5 pages left in my journal. Usually, that sparks an immediate search for a new one and a generalized anxiety that makes me ready to abandon the last few pages for any new journal. That impulse to run at the end is deep, well-ingrained and often counter-productive. Job annoying? Don't go back. Who gives a fuck about rent or food? Friend shows a never-before-seen strain of narrow-mindedness? Never call back. Run in the opposite direction until the focus is no longer a job or a friend or obligation but my own panting and trying to figure out where the hell I've ended up.


Now that the Superdome is open and lovely-fied, the Saints won a game, the nation has seen something in NO that isn't broken, blighted and/or water-stained, it will be nice to refocus on the situations at hand. I'm glad the Saints won, I'm glad the city (right around the Dome) looks good to outsiders, I'm ecstatic folks had a damn good time but can we get back to the business at hand now?


Yeah, I voted. The Girl and I had another of our excellent discussions about democracy, voting and voting rights, civil rights, poverty and housing on our way to and from the poll. I love taking her with me to vote.

I haven't seen details on voter turnout yet though a few good amendments passed. What I usually feel like voting in NO and LA is like I've already shit my pants and 5 men have guns to my head telling me to take my time, relax, make the right choice then get ready for my comeuppance--more of the same from the same people to the detriment of the majority. It's not democracy if you have no choices, if your vote doesn't cause at least minor change for the better, if the chance to finally have your say is secreted away (instead of divide and conquer, it's hush-hush and bumrush) then you are told you made your choice now carry it to term for us.

Zimbabwean women want Dignity.Period!

Listed on