Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Rising Tide Star: Shane Landry

This man is my favorite Cajun. See his comment on Ashley Morris' blog. It is hard to pick a best of so here is a paragraph:
Hell, many Americans would be happy to see us go. Many of our fellow citizens in "sister" states think we are abhorant and a financial drain. Let them believe that nonsense. Then we can stop subsidizing greater American prosperity with our high cancer rates, greater exposer to tropical weather, and, of course, always being on the wrong end of colonialist exploitation.
Ooooh-mmm. Just the right kind of chills.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We Are Not Okay

pictures by Derek Bridges

Monday, August 28, 2006

Faster, Food! Kill! Kill!

I've only voted once but as a mostly-vegan, it gave me a perverse thrill and long cackle. Then I watched her eat the winner of the last poll, hot dish on a stick.

Vote for which "food" item Karina should eat next at the Minnesota State Fair. At Pharyngula is the complete menu. Most everything is "on-a-stick." The most recent poll numbers:

Pleasantly painful laughing.

"I Have Had It with These Motherfuckin' Snakes on This Motherfuckin' Plane!"

(title courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson--see his "giddy" appearance on The Daily Show)

The closer it has gotten to August 29 ("anniversary" is too marital and positive), the worse I feel physically. The past week my insomnia has "flared" (instead of waking at 4 a.m., I've been wide-eyed, and pissed, at 2); my stomach is unsure, impossible to fill, empty or please; muscles so coiled I live on the verge of a tension headache or migraine (need a tequila IV); my other PTSD and PKSD symptoms are also worse, stronger, more bewildering and/or annoying. Used to living with a certain constant of tiredness, I can't get it going (relatively speaking).

Judith Herman quotes 5a and b apply. It's not as much what happened to us as much as what didn’t and hasn't happened--help, assistance or rescue; attention, funding, oversight, decision-making; apologies, restitution, healing. Even folks with no or minimal damage (and I hear a heartbreaking number of folks say their damage was minimal because they "only" lost a whole floor or half the roof) are in limbo, waiting, waiting with the rest of the city. Until insurance companies stop their bullshit, until folks are no longer camping out in half-gutted or gutted homes or piece-of-shit expensive-as-white-gold trailers (in the Ninth Ward, Lakeview, Gentilly, Broadmoor, the Seventh Ward), until those who want to come back can and those who want to stay don’t feel cornered into leaving, until we have enough open and functioning public schools and hospitals, until all are "okay" none are "okay."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Rising Tide Conference: Success

Congrats to the organizers for pulling it off. I haven't beeen around so many cool people over the age of 25 since I was 25.

One story I didn't tell: The Lakefront area is not my stomping ground and with my terrible sense of direction, I got lost at least 3 times. Not realizing how close I was, I stopped to ask a few folks on bicycles (fitted out in bright, new-looking biking gear) where the NO Yacht Club was. Only one turned to respond and he said, "Oh, you mean Southern, it's back that way." [Southern is the HBCU spin-off of UNO.]

"No, the NO Yacht Club."

"The Yacht Club used to be up that way but you're looking for Southern back behind you."

The thanks I gave was deeply insincere.

Oh, do I have to say these folks were white? Do I have to explain why Lakeview and the surrounding neighborhoods are a mystery to me? Is there any wonder WHY the US at large is uninterested in helping "black, poor" New Orleans?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Who Can Kiss My What

Rockey Vaccarella and Bush

Survivor: Cook Islands

"Our" Mayor

That's not the end of the list but all I have time for right now. If you want to hear me rant at Rising Tide, just say "Our Mayor" or "Nagin." Or "Army Corps." Or "Entergy New Orleans." Or.....

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Meaning of "Kafkaesque," NOLA Style

The court system was ineffective before Katrina and has added "chaotic," "absurd" and "self-imploding" to the list of approriate descriptors. Men and women are lost in the system and the DA is unwilling to see any violations, unfairness or gray (or plain ethical) areas. Today's Times-Pic example: "Drug case dismissed for inaction." Gregory Lewis spent 9 months in the NO criminal justice system for a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 6 months (he never got to enter a plea or go to court) but the prosecutor persisted in trying to keep him in the system:

"Mr. Lewis stands accused of possessing marijuana and a pipe with cocaine residue," [Oh Lordy, hide the chillen!!] wrote [Crosby] Lyman, a 26-year-old assistant district attorney, who argued the case Monday in magistrate court. "Having alleged drug addicts remain incarcerated longer than other individuals facing charges with similar penalties does a service, to not only the community but also to the addict, in that it allows time for the deadly poison and addiction to leave the body."
DA Eddie Jordan is actually not appealing the decision even though
"Our goal is to get convictions," Jordan said. "It's not our obligation to represent a defendant. [No one said it was.] We certainly can't do both. He did have representation. Since this person has served more time than the law would permit, we think it's in the best interest of justice not to appeal. Our goal was to have him held accountable."
Mr. Lewis was arrested for, and should have been allowed to plead one way or another to, possession, not drug addiction which, though problematic, is not criminal. (I believe it is a public health issue, that it is for health and psychiatric professionals, not prosecutors who have to hold certain beliefs to get through the day.) The purpose of jail time and prosecution is not to dry out the drug addict or the drunk but to prosecute and incarcerate dangers to the public order, be they rapists or corrupt politicians, not to act as the Moral Police busting drug addicts and preventing blow jobs. (Sodomy is safe in LA for now.) Mr. Jordan needs to live with the delusion that Mr. Lewis had representation and got a fair deal and that it is the DA's office that is the victim here (perps are all the same). I do not. And as a citizen, I couldn't give a flying fuck if Eddie Jordan and his smattering of 20-somethings get what they think are a satisfactory number of convictions. My job as an instructor is not to give out a certain number of As and Fs but to coach minds into being different than they were at the beginning of the semester. I want Jordan and company to do their fucking jobs. Murderers walk free but everyone else has to stay?

The system will not work with only one hand. People have the right, not the privilege or courtesy, to be legally represented and presumed innocent and not jailed indefinitely without being charged or jailed month after month because there are no translators available.

Time to lower my blood pressure.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Advice Some Men Think They Want to Need

The whole thing is at Sabrina in Stockings--Insatiable: How to Date a Nympho. (First, use the concept "date" lightly.)

***She’ll try to warn you most guys have a hard time keeping up with her. You’ll tell her you have the same problem. After all, you have a pretty high sex drive. Most of your previous lovers haven’t wanted it three, four times a week like you do. (ha!)

***We’re cool. We don’t need you, your love, your care, your time, your emotional support, your money. ...We’re the kind of chicks who think porn and pizza make a great date. We’ll spring for the pizza (and probably the porn). We won’t expect dinner and roses before we put out. Hell, we won’t expect anything. At all. (ha ha!!)

***Girls like us weren’t built for traditional love. We were expecting a lifetime of casual dating and dear, treasured…fuckbuddies. (maybe I should say "ho ho ho!!!")

***We go in looking for sex, not love. Maybe friendship. Not love. We want someone who’s interesting in and out of bed. Mostly in bed.

Yeah, it was kinda like that.

Some Katrina Events

All from There's much more listed here.

  • LEVEES.ORG to observe Anniversary of the Worst Engineering Disaster in U.S. History

4:00 p.m., Poydras Street Courtyard, Hale Bogg's Building, Magazine at Poydras to release a report card on the performance of the U.S. Corps of Engineers since August 29, 2005/ Hurricane Katrina and release a commemorative poster made from photos of flag-draped flooded homes.

For more information contact Sandy Rosenthal at 504-616-5159 or, or visit


Friday the 25th:
  • Katrina Consequences: What Has the Government Learned One Year Later?

9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Loyola University College of Law, Broadway Campus, 526 Pine St.

Four panel discussions sponsored by the Loyola Center for Environmental Law and Land Use. Info: 504-865-2011

  • Modular home demonstration

10:00 a.m. Frenchmen's Hope, Elysian Fields and Florida avenues.
Southern University at New Orleans shows off this project.

  • "Remembering Katrina Observance"

7:00 p.m., Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
With former Mayor Marc Morial and friends. For more information, contact Gail Glapion or Mtangulizi Sanyika, 504-242-8353 or 713-376-3364, or e-mail:

  • Katrina and Its Meaning for Black Americans and the Nation

7-9:30 p.m. McDonogh No. 35 auditorium, 1331 Kerlerec St.
A discussion by panelists including former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, District E City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis and economist and author Julianne Malveaux.


Saturday the 26th:

  • Rising Tide Conference
8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., New Orleans Yacht Club, 403 N. Roadway St., New Orleans

- 8 - 9:00: Keynote Address: Christopher Cooper and Robert Bloch, authors of Disaster: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of Homeland Security.

- 9:15 - 10:15: Panel Discussion: Personal Viewpoints moderated by Mark Moseley, including bloggers who stayed through the storm.

- 10:30 - 11:30: Think New Orleans by Alan Gutierrez.

- 1:00 - 2:00: Panel Discussion: New Orleans Politics moderated by Peter Athas.

- 2:15 - 3:15: Panel Discussion: Influence of Journalists and Bloggers moderated by Maitri Venkat-Ramani and Mark Folse, with NOLA.Com editor Jon Donley.

- 3:30 - 4:30: Panel Discussion: Bloggers & Neighborhood Associations moderated by Morwen Madrigal and Peter Athas, with blogger/neighborhood activists representing the Gentilly, Mid-City, Northwest Carrollton and B neighborhoods.

For more information, contact: Mark Folse 504-872-0091.
(I'll be at this one.)
  • Hands around the Dome

Noon - 3:00 p.m., Louisiana Superdome, Plaza level Gate C
Ceremony sponsored by the African-American Leadership Project to honor Katrina deaths, people who suffered after evacuating to the Superdome and the Convention Center, and those who risked their lives to save others. Followed by a march to the Convention Center.

  • ACORN Tour of Hope

2:00 p.m. Leaves from ACORN office, 1024 Elysian Fields Ave.
A bus trip through hurricane-devastated neighborhoods being rebuilt with help from nonprofit groups and others. Tour is free but reservations required; call (800) 239-7379, ext. 114.

  • United Nations Hurricane Katrina report
4-7:30 p.m. Ashé Cultural Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
A discussion of the report is sponsored by the African-American Leadership Project.

Sunday the 27th:

  • "My New Orleans is the Soul of Her People"

4:30 p.m. St. Louis Cathedral
Featuring local composer and pianist Davell Crawford and his ensemble of gospel singers, Louisiana poet laureate Brenda Marie Osbey and authors of recent books about Katrina. Sponsored by the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society, St. Louis Cathedral and the Louisiana State Museum.

  • White Buffalo Day and Katrina observance
4:30 p.m. Congo Square next to Municipal Auditorium.
Featuring Cyril Neville and his Katrina songs, drums of healing and Mardi Gras Indians.

Monday the 28th:
  • Katrina lecture series

7-9:30 p.m. Xavier University Science Building lecture hall
Speakers and their topics are: Dr. Alan Colon, African world studies chairman at Dillard University, on "What Happened to the People?"; Dr. Ivor Van Heerden, deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Research Center, on "What Happened to the Levees?"; and University of Pennsylvania professor Michael Eric Dyson, author of the Katrina book "Come Hell or High Water," on "What Happened to the System?"

  • Candlelight vigil

7:30 p.m. Levee at 9600 Hayne Blvd.
Sponsored by City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis.


Tuesday the 29th:
  • DecaFest
LGTB community marks Hurricane Katrina anniversary with a seven-day festival beginning with a reunion Tuesday evening and continuing through Monday, Sept. 4, with theater performances, a film series, special literary and political colloquies, and myriad New Orleans tours.

For more information, contact Melinda Shelton, Communications Director, at 504-458-9761 or email

  • "Share Our Strength: Restaurants for Relief"

Hours vary.
Several well-known local restaurants will join thousands of others nationwide to support Gulf Coast hurricane recovery efforts by donating a percentage of their Aug. 29 sales to the relief program, sponsored by American Express. A list of participating restaurants can be found at

  • Early Thanksgiving community picnic

9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Crescent City Farmers' Market, Uptown Square, 200 Broadway.
A chance for storm survivors to count their blessings, get free massages and record oral histories for UNO's Hurricane Archive.

  • "In Loving Memory" photograph exhibit

9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Mississippi River Heritage Park, 1100 Convention Center Blvd.
Exhibit of photos submitted by New Orleanians of family members and friends who died during Katrina, along with short essays about each person. The display will later move to the New Orleans Public Library. The project, led by City Council President Oliver Thomas, is sponsored by WWL radio, the New Orleans post office and the library.

  • Ringing of the bells & wreath layings

9:38 a.m., City Hall
To signify the first levee breach.
Mayor Ray Nagin and other community leaders will ring ceremonial bells to mark the time of the first levee breach. Simultaneously, five City Council members will lay memorial wreaths: James Carter at the St. Roch Playground at St. Roch and North Prieur streets, Shelley Midura at the 17th Street Canal breach on Bellaire Drive, Cynthia Hedge-Morrell at the London Avenue Canal breach, Oliver Thomas at the eastern New Orleans home of his deceased brother Renaldo, and Cynthia Willard-Lewis atop the Claiborne Avenue bridge over the Industrial Canal. Councilman Arnold Fielkow will lay a wreath during a 9 a.m. memorial ceremony outside Gate A of the Superdome. Councilwoman Stacy Head will attend a commemorative prayer service with her family.

  • Memorial ceremony and march

10:00 a.m., 9th Ward Levee Break, Jourdan and N. Galvez Sts.
March to be sponsored by a coalition of grass-roots organizations, which includes the African-American Leadership Project, the Causeway Concentration Camp Foundation, the Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association, New Orleans Worker Justice Coalition, the People's Hurricane Relief Fund, Common Ground and the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond.

  • Ogden Museum activities

11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St.
To celebrate New Orleans' culture, art, cuisine and music, the museum offers free admission and a 4-6 p.m. concert by Wanda Rouzan and Kermit Ruffins.

  • Jazz funeral requiem march

11:30 a.m., from the Superdome to Congo Square.

  • Commemoration Program

1:00 p.m. Congo Square, Louis Armstrong Park, N. Rampart St.
Culmination of march from site of the Lower 9th Ward levee break.

  • One New Orleans jazz funeral procession

2:00 p.m., Convention Center to the Superdome
Led by Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré and honoring first responders, lives lost in Katrina and the rebirth of New Orleans.


For once, I am not going to hide inside and drink.

2006 Black Weblog Awards: Vote for Finalists!

Even though my ass ain't on the list, go vote anyway. All finalists are deserving.

You have until the 31st to vote. Winnners will be announced September 3.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Rising Tide Conference

Coming alarmingly soon!

Rising Tide Conference
Rising Tide schedule
Rising Tide registration
Rising Tide Conference Wiki
NOLA bloggers list

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's Definitely Not a Hug: Update

Remember this picture from It's Definitely Not a Hug?

Think Progress reveals the awesome power of the presidential photo op--President Bush promised 74-year-old Ethel Williams that her house would be rebuilt. Four months later, not a thing has happened. Ms. Williams said, "[W]e all disappointed because nothing's been done."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Judith Herman: quotes 7 a and b, 8, 9, 10, and the final (11)

True forgiveness cannot be granted until the perpetrator has sought and earned it through confession, repentance, and restitution.

Genuine contrition in a perpetrator is a rare miracle. ...

The fantasy of compensation, like the fantasies of revenge and forgiveness, often becomes a formidable impediment to mourning. Part of the problem is the very legitimacy of the desire for compensation. Because an injustice has been done to her, the survivor naturally feels entitled to some form of compensation. The quest for fair compensation is often an important part of recovery. However, it also presents a potential trap. Prolonged, fruitless struggles to wrest compensation from the perpetrator or from others may represent a defense against facing the full reality of what was lost. Mourning is the only way to give due honor to loss; there is no adequate compensation.

The fantasy of compensation is often fueled by the desire for a victory over the perpetrator that erases the humiliation of the
trauma. When the compensation fantasy is explored in detail, it usually includes psychological components that mean more to the patient than any material gain. The compensation may represent an acknowledgment of harm, an apology, or a public humiliation of the perpetrator. Though the fantasy is about empowerment, in reality the struggle for compensation ties the patient’s fate to that of the perpetrator and holds her recovery hostage to his whims.


Debriefings, however, must observe the fundamental rule of safety. Just as it is never safe to assume that a traumatized individual’s family will be supportive, it is never safe to assume that a group of people will be able to rally and cohere simply b/c all of its members have suffered from the same terrible event. Underlying conflicts of interest may actually be exacerbated rather than overridden by the event.


...restoring a sense of social community requires a public forum where victims can speak their truth and their suffering can be formally acknowledged. In addition, establishing any lasting peace requires an organized effort to hold individual perpetrators accountable for their crimes. … If there is no hope of justice, the helpless rage of the of victimized groups can fester, impervious to the passage of time. Demagogic political leaders well understand the power of this rage, and are only too willing to exploit it by offering to an aggrieved people the promise of collective revenge. Like traumatized individuals, traumatized countries need to remember, grieve, and atone for their wrongs in order to avoid reliving them.


Our own society faces a similar dilemma with respect to the legacy of slavery. The unhealed racial divisions of our country create an ongoing potential for violence. The worst civil disturbance of the past few years, the Los Angeles riots, were provoked by the failure of the justice system to hold armed white police officers accountable for the severe beating of an unarmed black man. Within the African-American community, it was widely understood that such abuses were political crimes, carried out as part of a systematic pattern of racial oppression. The issue at trial was whether the larger society would condone the most flagrant of these human rights abuses. The responsibility to bear witness fell to the jury in the criminal trial. In their refusal to see the crime that was documented before their eyes, we can recognize the familiar defenses of denial, distancing, and dissociation. As is so often the case, the bystanders chose to identify with the perpetrators rather than with the victim, and it was this betrayal, not simply the violence of the police, that unleashed a communal outbreak of murderous rage.


And public discourse is something that perpetrators are determined to prevent. As in the case of more overtly political crimes, perpetrators will fight tenaciously to ensure that their abuses remain unseen, unacknowledged, and consigned to oblivion.

Herman, Judith, M.D. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic, 1992, 1997: 190, 219, 242, 243-244, 246.

And I Thought My Employer Was a #@&$*!

Employer Advises Dumpster-Diving for Axed Workers, courtesy of the Houston Chronicle 's From the "booklet...part of a 150-page packet to ground workers, such as baggage handlers, whose jobs will likely be cut after their union agreed to allow the airline to outsource some of their work":
  • The four-page booklet, "Preparing for a Financial Setback" contained suggestions such as shopping in thrift stores, taking "a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods" and not being "shy about pulling something you like out of the trash." [emphasis added--would you go on a date in the woods alone without the National Guard?]
  • "If you have saved some money, pat yourself on the back -- you deserve it," the booklet reads. "Take out only what you need and spend prudently."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Telling, without Shame

Stick your tongue out at demagogic anti-abortionists. This, though, is for real--your name, where you live, etc. and your name printed in Ms. and (They won't know if the address is fake. Unless you are really bad at it.) But it is time to stop hiding. I am not ashamed of my abortion and few women I know are. Difficult decisions are not necessarily shameful ones. That said, no one ever talks about It. When It does come up, I am always surprised by how many women have had an abortion and the range of ages and experiences and circumstances. Those who have not had an abortion can also sign in support of abortion rights. Those who do feel some shame need not participate and can find commiseration elsewhere. But before abortion is shoved back onto kitchen tables with paying male audiences, let's finally be honest.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Survivors Village: "Reality Check" Tour of Public Housing


August 14, 2006

Survivors Village

Contact: Annie Chen 510.847.4708

Survivors Village Hosts Media Exclusive Tours of New Orleans Public Housing
'Reality Check' Explains Housing Struggles One Year After Katrina

What: Media exclusive 'Reality Check' of New Orleans public housing

When: August 28, 2006, 11am-1pm

Where: New Orleans, LA public housing, please RSVP for details

Who: Public housing residents

Why: Give local and national media access to inside public housing and its residents.

Survivors Village is a tent city which has been pitched outside of New Orleans St. Bernard Public Housing Development since June 2006 in protest of the continued closure of public housing and plans to destroy 5,000 units in the housing-strapped city of New Orleans. Public housing residents will host a media exclusive tour which will give reporters a rare opportunity to hear about the struggles for the residents in public housing to rebuild their lives and communities. The tour will take reporters to various housing developments where there will be opportunities to speak with public housing residents and hear their stories. From those who have moved back into public housing to those who are still in exile, still denied access to their undamaged apartments for the past year, the tour will encounter a powerful cross section of perspectives.

To RSVP for the press exclusive 'Reality Check' of New Orleans public housing, please email with the following information:
  • Your name
  • Names of correspondents on your crew who will also be on the tour
  • Accomodations needed for film equipment
  • Media affiliation
  • Full Contact information
We will send specific meeting location information upon confirmation of your RSVP.

To learn more about Survivors Village please visit the Media Center of our website at

Reporter Resources:
Katrina Information Network

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Judith Herman: quotes 3a, 5a and b, and 6

Many acts that women experience as terrorizing violations may not be regarded as such, even by those closest to them. Survivors are thus placed in the situation where they must choose between expressing their own point of view and remaining in connection with others. Under these circumstances, many women may have difficulty even naming their experience.
Herman writes this primarily about survivors of rape. It can apply also to abusive distortions of the parent-child relationship and those survivors.

It can additionally, with some tweaking, be applied to difficult race relations in the blogosphere, especially wars in comment sections--what is seen as a violation by POC and allies may seem innocuous to PNOC (people Not of color).

Traumatic events call into question basic human relationships. They breach the attachments of family, friendship, love, and community. They shatter the construction of the self that is formed and sustained in relation to others. They undermine the belief systems that give meaning to human experience. They violate the victim's faith in a natural or divine order and cast the victim into a state of existential crisis.


The damage to the survivor's faith and sense of community is particularly severe when the traumatic events themselves involve the betrayal of important relationships. The imagery of these events often crystallizes around a moment of betrayal, and it is this breach of trust which gives the intrusive images their intense emotional power. For example, in Abram Kardiner's psychotherapy of the navy veteran who had been rescued at sea after his ship was sunk, the veteran became most upset when revealing how he felt let down by his own side: "The patient became rather excited and began to sweat profusely; his anger was aroused clearly by incidents connected with his rescue. They had been in the water for a period of about twelve hours when a torpedo-boat destroyer picked them up. Of course the officers in the lifeboats were taken off first. The eight or nine men clinging to the raft the patient was on had to wait in the water for six or seven hours longer until help came."

The officers has been rescued first, even though they were already relatively safe in lifeboats, while the enlisted men hanging onto the raft were passed over, and some of them drowned as they awaited rescue. Though Kardiner accepted this procedure as part of the normal military order, the patient was horrified at the realization that he was expendable to his own people. The rescuers' disregard for this man's life was more traumatic to him than were the enemy attack, the physical pain of submersion in the cold water, the terror of death, and the loss of the other men who shared his ordeal. The indifference of the rescuers destroyed his faith in his community. In the aftermath of this event, the patient exhibited not only classic post-traumatic symptoms but also evidence of pathological grief, disrupted relationships, and chronic depression:
Relate this directly to "One Year After Katrina, More Is Known About Its Mental Health Effects," "State sheds light on plight of evacuees" and the high rates of unemployment and stasis among New Orleans evacuees/refugees/the diaspora.

The perpetrator's first goal appears to be the enslavement of his victim, and he accomplishes this goal by exercising despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life. But simple compliance rarely satisfies him; he appears to have a psychological need to justify his crimes, and for this he needs the victim's affirmation. Thus he relentlessly demands from his victim professions of respect, gratitude, or even love. His ultimate goal appears to be the creation of a willing victim. Hostages, political prisoners, battered women, and slaves all have remarked upon the captor's curious psychological dependence upon his victim. …The desire for total control over another person is the common denominator of all forms of tyranny. Totalitarian governments demand confession and political conversion of their victims. Slaveholders demand gratitude of their slaves. Religious cults demand ritualized sacrifices as a sign of submission to the divine will of the leader. Perpetrators of domestic battery demand that these victims prove complete obedience and loyalty by sacrificing all other relationships. Sex offenders demand that their victims find sexual fulfillment in submission.
And the neglected and abused find themselves in a position of having to be grateful (and to blame) for the neglect and abuse.

Herman, Judith, M.D. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic, 1992, 1997: 67, 51, 55-56, 75-76.

Friday, August 11, 2006

How to Swim: Tenure-Track Edition

Bardiac has some sane advice for new tenure-track folks, and a welcome. The highlights:
  • Don't panic...don't be paranoid
  • Save stuff for your portfolio
  • Get to know your administrative and other staff members
  • Just by being a faculty member, you've pretty much started near the top....When you want to complain about your office or something, remember that the adjunct standing in line behind you would likely be grateful for your position and your office.
  • Learn to say "no"
  • If you're paid on a nine month schedule, budget for summer
  • Save your school's catalogs
  • Get to know the majors and minors in your department and related departments
  • make sure you're familiar with your school's mission statement and goals
  • Most schools these days have some sort of program that faculty can use as an on-line component for your class. It may be Blackboard, WebCT, or whatever. Get to know yours.
One thing, though:
  • I'm pretty sure every university and department has a faculty handbook of some sort.
Hm. The University's has been in revision (though after 3+ years on my watch alone, I wonder what the administration and full-time lawyer think "revision" means) forever. Post-Katrina, I heard rumors of "old" handbooks being cited to justify 5/6/7-class workloads. I may be a pest this coming year and try to "get one."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A G Bitch Pause

Still processing Trauma and Recovery. I've decided to try my own version of a link farm, as usual making my own non-rules:

Angry Professor breaks down the insanity of the "business model budget" at LSU in "In which I ponder the budget." The same could be said for every university in NO. I hope it is not true for others.

Coffeeandink's "How to Suppress Discussions of Racism" is tart and funny.

Mark Lamont Hill at blackprof dresses down "Claude Allen and the Hypocrisy of the Right":
Prior to his sentencing, Allen apologized for his thievery and explained that his actions were due to a lack of sleep – he was, after all, forced to work 14-hour days-- as well as high levels of stress in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Question: Would the ultra-conservative Allen have accepted that excuse from the New Orleans residents who were recently convicted for looting alchohol during the Katrina disaster? Probably not.
Mr. Girls Gone Wild is a mess indeed and proud to show it, it seems, in the L.A. Times' "Baby, Give Me a Kiss." Ew.

A great photographer at the Times-Pic, John McCusker, lost it in a very public way, reported in the New York Times and the Times-Picayune.

For anyone who's been in a college classroom in the past decade, "US Lags Behind Other Countries in Acceptance of Evolution" is not a surprise.

To further convince my PKSD ass that alcohol is a cure-all: "Booze as Pesticide: The Latest in Organic Farming."

And the entire ad-free text of's "The 'hiding among civilians' myth":

Israel claims it's justified in bombing civilians because Hezbollah mingles with them. In fact, the militant group doesn't trust its civilians and stays as far away from them as possible.

By Mitch Prothero

Jul. 28, 2006 | The bombs came just as night fell, around 7 p.m. The locals knew that the 10-story apartment building had been the office, and possibly the residence, of Sheik Tawouk, the Hezbollah commander for the south, so they had moved their families out at the start of the war. The landlord had refused to rent to Hezbollah when they requested the top floors of the building. No matter, the locals said, the Hezb guys just moved in anyway in the name of the "resistance."

Everyone knew that the building would be hit eventually. Its location in downtown Tyre, which had yet to be hit by Israeli airstrikes, was not going to protect it forever. And "everyone" apparently included Sheik Tawouk, because he wasn't anywhere near it when it was finally hit.

Two guided bombs struck it in a huge flash bang of fire and concrete dust followed by the roar of 10 stories pancaking on top of each other, local residents said. Jihad Husseini, 46, runs the driving school a block away and was sitting in his office when the bombs struck. He said his life was saved because he had drawn the heavy cloth curtains shut on the windows facing the street, preventing him from being hit by a wave of shattered glass. But even so, a chunk of smoldering steel flew through the air, broke through the window and the curtain, and shot past his head and through the wall before coming to rest in his neighbor's home.

But Jihad still refuses to leave.

"Everything is broken, but I can make it better," he says, surrounded by his sons Raed, 20, and Mohammed, 12. "I will not leave. This place is not military, it is not Hezbollah; it was an empty apartment."

Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they'll get some fighters, too. The almost nightly airstrikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut could be seen as making some sense, as the Israelis appear convinced there are command and control bunkers underneath the continually smoldering rubble. There were some civilian casualties the first few nights in places like Haret Hreik, but people quickly left the area to the Hezbollah fighters with their radios and motorbikes.

But other attacks seem gratuitous, fishing expeditions, or simply intended to punish anything and anyone even vaguely connected to Hezbollah. Lighthouses, grain elevators, milk factories, bridges in the north used by refugees, apartment buildings partially occupied by members of Hezbollah's political wing -- all have been reduced to rubble.

In the south, where Shiites dominate, just about everyone supports Hezbollah. Does mere support for Hezbollah, or even participation in Hezbollah activities, mean your house and family are fair game? Do you need to fire rockets from your front yard? Or is it enough to be a political activist?

The Israelis are consistent: They bomb everyone and everything remotely associated with Hezbollah, including noncombatants. In effect, that means punishing Lebanon. The nation is 40 percent Shiite, and of that 40 percent, tens of thousands are employed by Hezbollah's social services, political operations, schools, and other nonmilitary functions. The "terrorist" organization Hezbollah is Lebanon's second-biggest employer.

People throw the phrase "ghost town" around a lot, but Nabatiya, a bombed-out town about 15 miles from the Lebanon-Israel border, deserves it. One expects the spirits of the town's dead, or its refugees, to silently glide out onto its abandoned streets from the ruined buildings that make up much of the town.

Not all of the buildings show bomb damage, but those that don't have metal shutters blown out as if by a terrible wind. And there are no people at all, except for the occasional Hezbollah scout on a motorbike armed only with a two-way radio, keeping an eye on things as Israeli jets and unmanned drones circle overhead.

Overlooking the outskirts of this town, which has a peacetime population of 100,000 or so -- mostly Shiite supporters of Hezbollah and its more secular rival Amal -- is the Ragheh Hareb Hospital, a facility that makes quite clear what side the residents of Nabatiya are on in this conflict.

The hospital's carefully sculpted and trimmed front lawn contains the giant Red Crescent that denotes the Muslim version of the Red Cross. As we approach it, an Israeli missile streaks by, smashing into a school on the opposite hilltop. As we crouch and then run for the shelter of the hospital awning, that giant crescent reassures me until I look at the flagpole. The Lebanese flag and its cedar tree is there -- right next to the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It's safe to say that Ragheh Hareb Hospital has an association with Hezbollah. And the staff sports the trimmed beards and polite, if somewhat ominous, manner of the group. After young men demand press IDs and do some quick questioning, they allow us to enter.

Dr. Ahmed Tahir recognizes me from a funeral in the nearby village of Dweir. An Israeli bomb dropped on their house killed a Hezbollah cleric and 11 members of his immediate family, mostly children. People in Lebanon are calling it a war crime. Tahir looks exhausted, and our talk is even more tense than the last time.

"Maybe it would be best if the Israelis bombed your car on the road here," he said, with a sharp edge. "If you were killed, maybe the public outcry would be so bad in America that the Jews would be forced to stop these attacks."

When I volunteered that the Bush administration cared little for journalists, let alone ones who reported from Hezbollah territory, he shrugged. "Maybe if it was an American bomb used by the Israelis that killed an American journalist, they would stop this horror," he said.

The handful of people in the town include some from Hezbollah's political wing, as well as volunteers keeping an eye on things while the residents are gone. Off to the side, as we watch the Israelis pummel ridgelines on the outskirts of town, one of the political operatives explains that the fighters never come near the town, reinforcing what other Hezbollah people have told me over the years.

Although Israel targets apartments and offices because they are considered "Hezbollah" installations, the group has a clear policy of keeping its fighters away from civilians as much as possible. This is not for humanitarian reasons -- they did, after all, take over an apartment building against the protests of the landlord, knowing full well it would be bombed -- but for military ones.

"You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon," a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. "They do not come out with their masks off and never operate around people if they can avoid it. They're completely afraid of collaborators. They know this is what breaks the Palestinians -- no discipline and too much showing off."

Perhaps once a year, Hezbollah will hold a military parade in the south, in which its weapons and fighters appear. Media access to these parades is tightly limited and controlled. Unlike the fighters in the half dozen other countries where I have covered insurgencies, Hezbollah fighters do not like to show off for the cameras. In Iraq, with some risk taking, you can meet with and even watch the resistance guys in action. (At least you could during my last time there.) In Afghanistan, you can lunch with Taliban fighters if you're willing to walk a day or so in the mountains. In Gaza and the West Bank, the Fatah or Hamas fighter is almost ubiquitous with his mask, gun and sloganeering to convince the Western journalist of the justice of his cause.

The Hezbollah guys, on the other hand, know that letting their fighters near outsiders of any kind -- journalists or Lebanese, even Hezbollah supporters -- is stupid. In three trips over the last week to the south, where I came near enough to the fighting to hear Israeli artillery, and not just airstrikes, I saw exactly no fighters. Guys with radios with the look of Hezbollah always found me. But no fighters on corners, no invitations to watch them shoot rockets at the Zionist enemy, nothing that can be used to track them.

Even before the war, on many of my trips to the south, the Lebanese army, or the ubiquitous guy on a motorbike with a radio, would halt my trip and send me over to Tyre to get permission from a Hezbollah official before I could proceed, usually with strict limits on where I could go.

Every other journalist I know who has covered Hezbollah has had the same experience. A fellow journalist, a Lebanese who has covered them for two decades, knows only one military guy who will admit it, and he never talks or grants interviews. All he will say is, "I'll be gone for a few months for training. I'll call when I'm back." Presumably his friends and neighbors may suspect something, but no one says anything.

Hezbollah's political members say they have little or no access to the workings of the fighters. This seems to be largely true: While they obviously hear and know more than the outside world, the firewall is strong.

Israel, however, has chosen to treat the political members of Hezbollah as if they were fighters. And by targeting the civilian wing of the group, which supplies much of the humanitarian aid and social protection for the poorest people in the south, they are targeting civilians.

Earlier in the week, I stood next to a giant crater that had smashed through the highway between Tyre and Sidon -- the only route of escape for most of the people in the far south. Overhead, Israeli fighters and drones circled above the city and its outlying areas and regular blasts of bombs and naval artillery could be heard.

The crater served as a nice place to check up on the refugees, who were forced by the crater to slow down long enough to be asked questions. They barely stopped, their faces wrenched in near panic. The main wave of refugees out of the south had come the previous two days, so these were the hard-luck cases, the people who had been really close to the fighting and who needed two days just to get to Tyre, or who had had to make the tough decision whether to flee or stay put, with neither choice looking good.

The roads in the south are full of the cars of people who chose wrong -- burned-out chassis, broken glass, some cars driven straight into posts or ditches. Other seem to have broken down or run out of gas on the long dirt detours around the blown-out highway and bridge network the Israeli air force had spent days methodically destroying even as it warned people to flee.

One man, slowing his car around the crater, almost screams, "There is nothing left. This country is not for us." His brief pause immediately draws horns and impatient yells from the people in the cars behind him. They pass the crater but within two minutes a large explosion behind us, north, in the direction of Sidon, rocks us.

As we drive south toward Tyre, we soon pass a new series of scars on the highway: shrapnel, hubcaps and broken glass. A car that had been maybe five minutes ahead of us was hit by an Israeli shell. Three of its passengers were wounded, and it was heading north to the Hammound hospital at Sidon. We turned around because of the attack and followed the car to Sidon. Those unhurt staked out the parking lot of the hospital, looking for the Western journalists they were convinced had called in the strike. Luckily my Iraqi fixer smelled trouble and we got out of there. Probably nothing would have happened -- mostly they were just freaked-out country people who didn't like the coincidence of an Israeli attack and a car full of journalists driving past.

So the analysts talking on cable news about Hezbollah "hiding within the civilian population" clearly have spent little time if any in the south Lebanon war zone and don't know what they're talking about. Hezbollah doesn't trust the civilian population and has worked very hard to evacuate as much of it as possible from the battlefield. And this is why they fight so well -- with no one to spy on them, they have lots of chances to take the Israel Defense Forces by surprise, as they have by continuing to fire rockets and punish every Israeli ground incursion.

And the civilians? They see themselves as targeted regardless of their affiliation. They are enraged at Israel and at the United States, the only two countries on earth not calling for an immediate cease-fire. Lebanese of all persuasions think the United States and Israel believe that Lebanese lives are cheaper than Israeli ones. And many are now saying that they want to fight.

Judith Herman: quotes 3 & 4

Most women do not in fact recognize the degree of male hostility toward them, preferring to view the relations of the sexes as more benign than they are in fact. Similarly, women like to believe that they have greater freedom and higher status than they do in reality


Restoration of the breach between the traumatized person and the community depends, first, upon public acknowledgement of the traumatic event and, second, upon some form of community action. Once it is publicly recognized that a person has been harmed, the community must take action to assign responsibility for the harm and to repair the injury. These two responses—recognition and restitution—are necessary to rebuild the survivor’s sense of order and justice.

Herman, Judith, M.D. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic, 1992, 1997: 69, 70

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Judith Herman: quote 2

Remembering and telling the truth about terrible events are prerequisites both for the restoration of the social order and for the healing of individual victims.

The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner which undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperatives of truth-telling and secrecy. When the truth is finally recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as a symptom.

The psychological distress symptoms of traumatized people simultaneously call attention to the existence of an unspeakable secret and deflect attention from it. This is most apparent in the way traumatized people alternate between feeling numb and reliving the event. The dialectic of trauma gives rise to complicated, sometimes uncanny alterations of consciousness, which George Orwell, one of the committed truth-tellers of our century, called “doublethink,” and which mental health professionals, searching for a calm, precise language, call “dissociation.”

Herman, Judith, M.D. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic, 1992, 1997: 1.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Judith Herman: quote 1

In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.

The perpetrator’s arguments prove irresistible when the bystander faces them in isolation. Without a supportive social environment, the bystander usually succumbs to the temptation to look the other way.

Herman, Judith, M.D. Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic, 1992, 1997: 8.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Go Read This and Its Links Now

"Plagiarizing Granny" at Professor Zero.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The 2006 Black Weblog Awards

Go vote. See more at the site.

Zimbabwean women want Dignity.Period!

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