Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I am wondering..

..can someone who has more experience with Arizona as a whole explain to me how it is that "natives" sometimes can't see the forest for the horrifically lopsided, classist, racist trees? Hell, I come from Texas and I have stopped trying to explain to people why I want to go back (and no, I didn't vote for the Ex-Guv). But somehow it is even more astonishing t ome why anyone would stay in AZ, even in the lovely and probably more mellow hamlet of Tucson.

I figured when I got here, almost completely ignorant of the politics, that being in academics would ensure a relatively educated gaggle of colleagues for me, if not relatively educated students. Some are, but I am astonished by the self-imposed limits of some people I've met in Arizona. You don't have to get out and do a major degree folks. Is it too much to ask to get out of the STATE some time, fer Kerist's sake?

So, it's not all that political, but I am still wondering while in Arizona I feel like a black man stuck in "Far from Heaven". Insight welcome.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Unexpected Border Patrol gift...

Happy post-orgiastic consuming of food and products! One of the most important things I'm thankful for: finding out that the Border Patrol checkpoint close to my home ISN'T OPEN WEDNESDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING NOR THE SUNDAY AFTER due to massive traffic.

Just in case you might have a good reason to know that.. *insert evil grin here*

Post-food orgy catatonia...

Monday, November 20, 2006

The difference between Tucson, Phoenix, and Podunkia

Well, I gave my paper on Education and Politics, and am kinda glad I didn't go theoretical, since those things seemed to go over like lead bricks at the conference I was at. I discussed different student learning styles from San Luis to Yuma, and how our culture might be able to assist in the process of education, but also what we had to do as a culture/ community not to shoot ourselves in the collective foot.

More interestingly by far, I found out that I really have no reason to fear I'm vegetating as an academic in Podunkia/ Yuma, since I found out that some acadmic types from Tucson/ Phoenix were a bit-- well, weird. It felt as if they could talk much talk, and undoubtedly do some walking, yet there seemed to be a sense of disconnect from the very community's students they felt they needed most to serve. I mean, the majority of my students are brown, and pretty much always will be. I go within walking distance of Mexico once a week and only ten miles away a bit later that same day. I live, eat, breathe, and work among my students in a remarkably contentious area every day. And now I know-- Tucson and Phoenix really DON'T konw any better how to deal with the everyday life of Latinas and Latinos.

But I bet they have Thai food....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A break from our regularly scheduled program...

...In-N-Out has opened in Yuma. The phenomenon that is In-N-Out

Yes, they have a secret menu-- and yes, you CAN find it on their website under the menu!

Tomorrow I talk about Education and Politics in Arizona... we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

South Africa recognizes gay marriage...

There is a Dog. Or deity of your choice. And by a GOOD majority.

So... when will we be next to recognize our own citizens' right to happiness?

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Nov. 14, 2006 (Ass. Press)


(AP) The South African parliament on Tuesday approved new legislation recognizing gay marriages _ a first for a continent where homosexuality is largely taboo.

The National Assembly passed the Civil Union Bill, worked out after months of heated public discussion, by a majority of 230 to 41 votes despite criticism from both traditionalists and gay activists and warnings that it might be unconsitutional. There were three abstentions.

The bill provides for the "voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union." It does not specify whether they are heterosexual or homosexual partnerships.

But it also says marriage officers need not perform a ceremony between same-sex couples if doing so would conflict with his or her "conscience, religion and belief."

"When we attained our democracy, we sought to distinguish ourselves from an unjust painful past, by declaring that never again shall it be that any South African will be discriminated against on the basis of color, creed culture and sex," Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the National Assembly.

The bill had been expected to pass given the overwhelming majority of the ruling African National Congress, despite unease among rank and file lawmakers. It now has to go to the National Council of Provinces, which is expected to be a formality, before being signed into law by President Thabo Mbeki.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

I don't really watch football that much, since SOME people I know have horribly competitive tendencies in my house, and he ain't the dog.

However, while bringing my head up from the local sports teams' losses on the weekend, I noticed a remarkable football/ soccer game of its own beginning nationally: Iran or not to Iran?

If you Google news read, as I sometimes do, you'll notice a top headline with our QB, George "C student" Bush, pretty much trashing Iran, as might be well expected. On the field as well is Tony "GB" Blair, our QB's normal backup, asking for a bit more patience and utilitarianism.

I can understand the Red Team's side, what with the bad blood of the past with Iran. However, when your ally, well, several of them kindly request a "rapprochement", it might bear some thinking.

OF COURSE! Let us not forget (as if we could) some of the fallout of the elections. I didn't have to wait long to unearth anti-Pelosi images, stories, hysterical rantings. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to buy an "I Love Nancy Pelosi" shirt, even though I'm not from California. I'm wondering if the elections spanking and subsequent Blue Tide Rising (TM) are playing with our QB's head and pride, making him stand harder on things he 1- likely doesn't understand fully and 2- gave lip service to. When your "Architect" of war is outed as a shameful hussy by the Army (Navy, Air Force, Marines) Times and basically is sacrificed (as he damn well deserved to be) for the appeasement of a ravenous crowd tired of the BS, you might feel defensive. You might throw when you should've stayed with the ground game.

Let's just say he's not headed for a BCS game yet. Meanwhile, Ford is still around. Ford/ Carter 2008?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Absolutely my favorite ad of the season...

(courtesy www.bettybowers.com)

..obviously summarizing Repugnicratic misfires on ads... and WHEN did so many people (mostly Republican guys, apparently) develop such hate for Nancy Pelosi?

Yee haw, cowpokes! Ride em up, move em out, conGRESS!!!!!

Will my country now be mine? Ours?

...truth be told, it's beautiful outside, I'm feeling good, I listened to reggae on the drive in, and I tried not too feel too smug or overconfident. I do, after all, live in crAZy. I stayed up too late to watch returns, completely ready to feel that sinking failure again, certain robberies were going to happen, certain some pendejo was going to shoot someone at a polling place...

But nothing happened.

And, something happened.

What we, who have become so tired and frustrated and angry with the lies, deceit, arrogance, fear-mongering, and anti-American, anti-Constitution, hell, anti-human dignity wave of political endeavor will do with a putative victory by slightly less arrogant bastards (but god of your choice bless Nancy Pelosi!) is a good question. I'm not a libertarian or a some goofball Ayn Rand type, but I am really concerned that in a wave of giddiness we forget to take control. In the same way I want Latina/os, Chicana/os, Mexicana/os, and brown peeps of all kinds to get up stand up, I am fully aware many of us have been so tired just trying to keep our heads above the water of agressive arrogance. I truly want us to be able to take a few collective breaths as a nation, then remember not to giggle too much in public.

However, I am greatly pleased that Arizona, of all places, voted down the marriage amendment. I hope that means we're interested in NOT letting government rule every aspect of our lives. The anti-immigrant and English only BS is just that, though I deeply worry, given a penchant nationally in some spheres for illegal detention, that the bail amendment will impact quickly.

What the anti-immigrant things mean to me is that though I have no accent, have a PhD, and can throw a perfect spiral, I still might be a target for some wackos like Warden or Felony Dove because I'm brown. My white husband probably wouldn't make much difference to them-- he'd be a race traitor. Even though he's Bohemian and Irish...

Johnny Clegg, a white singer from South Africa who plays with a black and white SA band and was harassed for doing so before the dismantling, wrote this song about his country during Apartheid, and when I was listening to it recently I thought-- one day my country will be mine... but, right now I don't know if I'm the witness or the crime.

And I am DEAD tired of you who who cause friction in the land.


Woman Be My Country

Here we stand on the edge of the day
Faces melting in the African rain
So many seasons of silent war
So many drowned before they reached the shore
Nothing is clear to me any more in this sad and strange landscape
I've got no defense, I've got no attack
I can't leave, I can't stay and I've got no way back
Hard to deal with the way things have been
I can't lie but the truth is so extreme

Woman be my country, 'till my country can be mine
Hide me deep inside your borders in these dark and troubled times
Remember me my innocence before I drowned in the sea of lies
Woman be my country, 'till my country can be mine

Too many seasons of quiet rage
Too many young people just wasted away
Too many futures hanging in the balance
Too much owing nothing left to pay
A lonely flag flutters in the breeze
for the hardened hearts who still want to believe
Am I the witness or am I the crime
A victim of history or just a sign of the times
Across my heart questions and shadows still fly
But in the dead of the night I know where the answer lies

Woman be my country, 'till my country can be mine
I have no flag, I sing no anthem, I no longer carry an armalite
Bathe me in you sweet rivers, anoint me with your touch and your smile
To your colours I give my allegiance, I lay it on the line

Ngikhathele ngifile wena weqat' izwe
(I am dead tired of you who cause friction in the land)
Ngikhathele ngifile zindaba zakho
(I am dead tired of you, and your matters)
Yash' imizi yobada
(The homes of my fathers are burning)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mi Vota es... pues.. MAYBE mi voz...

Well, I went and did the voting thing-- and here's the report!

The little hamlet east of Yuma I live in has the polling place at the elementary school, right off the main drag out of town and to I-8. Dutifully, I dragged the S.O. to the place to get there just after 6am when they opened. On the way there, we saw the local PD putting up a sign for a Diesel Fueled Vehicle Checkpoint on the main drag, next to the polling place's grounds. By the time I finished voting (having to cast a provisional ballot which then got counted because someone forgot it was provisional and now they will have to pull it out later-- oh dear!-- since I didn't receive the early ballot they said I had been sent). My sticker should have said "I THINK I voted today!"

When we went back out, the stop was in full action, police directing people and cars, and trucks being pulled over to be, I have no idea, "inspected" for diesel fuel lawbreaking? It was slowing down traffic to the highway, and no doubt freaking some people out with the police and the flashing lights and trucks being pulled over.

What in the HELL were they thinking? It's not like election day is a surprise... Conveniently, polls opened at six, diesel fuel checkpoint went up at six. What were they looking for? Sure, some people might be scared off voting, but you also are pissing off voters like me who have limited time to vote because we're going to work. What if I had been driving our diesel truck?

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I DID exercise my right to let the Yuma County election folk know via email what was going on there. ANY kind of situation which could impede voting by ANYONE (including lack of ADA access) should be removed and remedied. I did let the poll workers know that the checkpoint was going up, and I hope against hope they asked someone to try to deal with it. In a fiery election season, the last thing anyone wants is the APPEARANCE of voter intimidation. If I was going to vote and was carrying the legal forms of ID (but say no picture ID), I think I might be a bit freaked by the police next to the polling place. Since it's also a school, you'll have CRAZED traffic the whole time the stop is there. Let's not even mention the farm worker trucks being pulled over with day workers from Mexico or who are now going to be late picking up the day workers from the border.

The police have the right to their checkpoint. Is it not obvious, however, that on election day perhaps you might catch those evil emissions violators a little LESS close to the main drag and the polls??

Like I said... I exercised my right to vote... I THINK. After all was said and done at the polls, they forgot to give me back my little copy of the provisional ballot which I could have used to find out if my vote counted.

This is better than Chicago voting!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ted Haggard..

..is so full of shite.

A small digression from AZ politics and such...
(from an Aussie paper, the Herald Sun)

Pastor admits lies and sin
Colleen Slevin

November 07, 2006 12:00am

DESCRIBING himself as a "deceiver and liar" who had given in to his dark side, one of America's top evangelical leaders yesterday confessed to sexual immorality in a letter read from the pulpit of the mega-church he founded.

The Rev Ted Haggard, the disgraced former president of the National Evangelical Association, which represents 30 million evangelical Christians, apologised to his flock.

"Because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn't want to hurt or disappoint them," he said.
Pride? How about sheer lust you jerkwad!

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," he said.

He didn't take responsibility when he got caught! Shades of Foley...

Mr Haggard, 50, resigned last week as NEA president, a powerful position he used to lobby Washington against gay marriages and homosexuality. The married father of five quit after a man claimed to have had drug-fuelled homosexual trysts with him for three years.

The independent Overseer Board of the 14,000-member New Life Church, which Mr Haggard founded in the 1980s, sacked him on Saturday. The letter was read to the New Life Church by the Rev Larry Stockstill, a member of the board that fired him. Neither Mr Haggard nor his wife, Gayle, attended.

In his letter, Mr Haggard said: "The accusations made against me are not all true but enough of them are that I was appropriately removed from this church leadership position."

He did not give details on which accusations were true. Mr Haggard had acknowledged on Friday that he paid Mike Jones, of Denver, for a massage and for methamphetamine, but said he did not have sex with him and did not take the drug.

But the Overseer Board said: "Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct."

At the New Life Church, the Rev Ross Parsley has replaced Mr Haggard.

"When tragedy and crisis strikes it is at that moment that you truly decide if you are a worshipper of the most high God. And today as the worship pastor of this church I am very proud of you," Mr Parsley said.

Church member Ryan Price said: "He's reaching out and asking for forgiveness." - AP
From whom? I hope his wife! Who of course, now is being picekd on in other circles...

I could care less whether this man is gay, blue, orange, or lime green- but I am SO sick of the evangelical right-wing hypocrisy passing from Christian in this country! The picture of a weeping "believer" tells the tale. His sin is not in the dalliance, it's in the lying, deceptive, hypocritical way in which he went about it. When will Moderates in Christianity get a grip on this out of control train called fundamentalism? I'm no longer Catholic, but be damned if I don't recognize a system in danger of damaging the people who believe in it. Faith is important to many-- it's not something to be taken lightly by men or women of devious means and piety.

People... are...human. That means they err, doubt, lose faith, cheat, sin, steal, speed, dally, and sometimes snort or shoot up. We're human-- but don't make things worse on a flawed flock by being a pious hypocrite.

The state of Edjucamation in crAZy: Tom Horne

This is semi-old news, but I'm still appalled more isn't being made of it. Tom Horne, AZ Education guru, has been accused of illegal campaigning. Of course, his Demo opponent has been accused of laziness, by not finding out who the emplyers of some donators are (a 25 dollar plus donation apprently triggers this need for info... Go figure.)

Horne is a bug to me, not only for the illegal campaign issues for which the AEA has filed suit, but because in response to Arizona's dead last finish in a nationwide poll of education he opined:
Horne cited a report issued earlier this year by the RAND Corp., a non-profit "think tank,'' which says that when family background is factored out, Arizona scores above the national average in the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. "So on the real test of education, which is test results, Arizona's above the national average on every conceivable measure,'' he said. And Horne said one of the things that proves "is that Morgan Quitno's a stupid company, and I would estimate they have no employee with an IQ over 90.''

The real test of an education is the result of a test? (AFTER factoring out family influence-- how do you do THAT?) My failing students can pass tests well enough with coaching in test-taking skills, while some students who are brilliant lack the nerves or other things to pass the AIMS, SAT, or whatever. In several states, passing the HS graduation tests means you can read at a 9th grade level, NOT the grade at which one passes out of high school, as far as I can tell. This is what the testing of students has wrought.

What is seems to have wrought for Tom Horne is an inability to say "you know what? We fucked up." And it is true, in this state. We are now dead last in funding, BELOW Mississippi (which most couldn't spell without the "crooked letter" mnemonic). I have heard such excuses as "we don't have enough land revenue"-- well, hell with that. I came from a pretty dumb state back in the seventies, survived a piss-poor public ed system, which still serves my family, and I made it out not because of the school, but because of myself. HOWEVER- Texas is HIGH above Arizona in state funding and achievement.

In case anyone cares, (and I don't, but HE brought it up) since Tom Horne is all about tests, here's a rough guide to IQ according to researcher Linda Gottfredson in "Scientific American":
"Persons of average IQ (between 90 and 100) are not competitive for most professional and executive-level work but are easily trained for the bulk of jobs in the American economy. By contrast, individuals in the top 5 percent of the adult population can essentially train themselves, and few occupations are beyond their reach mentally."


89 to 100 IQ score-- 25% of population score this, 50% score below 100
Grade equivalent is: 8th-Grade to 1-2 years of College.
100 to 111 IQ score-- 50% of pop score this, 1 in 2 above 100
Grade equivalent is: 12th-Grade to College Degree

Under these ideas, many of my students would be sub-average becasue they cannot read or do mathematics at a college level. YET-- they passed AIMS!

So even if Morgan Quitno had people with 90 IQs there, they'd still be perfectly qualified--just not probably running the show.

Horrowe'en; Election eve

Well, since tomorrow we pretend to select new or old leaders, change state constitutions, vote on issues of complexity which even the most intelligent sometimes go "duh" about because of arcane wording, and condemn certain US citizens and hard workers to second-class status, I'm calling today Horrowe'en.

It's an ancient, frightening holiday, stretching back into the dim mists of putative republics which, then as now, were almost always controlled by a small aristocratic group, all men usually, and all with a vested interest to stay there once elected. Precious little restraint was shown on the run up to Election Day, with Sejanus countering Rufio's pronouncement that he didst sleep and dine with swine. While Sejanus may damn well have, he couldn't APPEAR that way to the electorate, so he would post signs and posters indicating Rufio's mother hadst kept company with German soldiers. In the end, moeny tended to win, and if occasionally an upstanding rep was chosen-- they'd be killed not long after.

Fast forward 2500 years later or so, and let's peek now... in some places, the incumbent is asailed as "weak" on some "vital" issue, "incompetent", "the worst", "bad for our country", one whom "we can't afford anymore". In the last gubernatorial in crAZy, Janet Napolitano's dead in the water opponent hinted at lesbianism. Kyl hints Pedersen has hinky tax practices. Bonnie Garcia over in California "prefiere los perros", according to a recent Spanish-language ad, over "seres humanos".

Not that much has truly changed. Our unfortunate political victims of a warlike juggernaut are our soldiers, fighting without the things they need, our kids, struggling to pass a test which barely confirms they can read, or if they can they only have to read at a 9th grade level to graduate high school, only to fail or be told they need remedial work to go to college, the great potential equalizer.

Yet, we wake up tomorrow and hold our nose and hope that our representatives represent. I'll vote at 630 in the morning, before driving to work, as opposed to having the day off and my vote being compulsory as some other more civilized countries do. Many of us will scramble around at lunch to vote, curse and swear when we forget a picture ID and someone gets cranky at the polls, try to find time between kids and dinner to vote then sit down to find out some company in Florida that makes electronic voting machines screwed up (Like HERE or HERE)

Unfortunately or not, that's where we are thousands of years after the founding of the Thingvellir, the fall of Rome, the eclipse of the British and Japanese empires, and 3/4 of the way through the US empire.

What will we see?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A note on new links..

...while a pretty proud Tejana feminist, I have always wanted to return to the island I was born on, Guam/ Guahan. I have no idea why. Perhaps 9 months of rocking in my mother's belly, being lulled progressively by surf sounds did something. I remember writing a paper in middle school, and again in high school, on Guam, and remember hearing stories of the latte stones, and others.

My family spent four years there prior to my birth, and then jetted to Oklahoma (gasp!) afterwards. There's no real connection, except I was native-born and have met some Chamorro folk later in life.

HOWEVER- I am very much interested in colonialism, post-colonialism, diaspora, and what I call in my book the "strange non-diasporic postcolonial condition" of Texans on the Mexico border after the TX-MX border, when a 'government' arbitrarily MADE some border dwellers "instant Texans". I'm very interested in American nationalism and imperialism as it has made itself known, particularly in places we might forget or even WANT to forget. Hence, my searching again for a Guam connection.

So, raza-- no worries. I'm a good poco loco Tejana feminist!

Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

On this solemn day, let's remember the losses we have had to endure as a country from warmongering, extreme nationalism, ignorance, greed, cultural imperialism, isolationism, and fear.

And please, if you are so inclined-- pray for a change.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More brouhaha election-style

Well, while the sleepy hamlet I live in is not exactly bustling with action, the fair and entirely too ignorant at times burb of Yuma is bursting with election day fervor! Or, so you would think form all the campaign signs.

However, I was interested to note that some signs have started to disappear. I was on my way to work when I noticed a couple of long-haired guys (liberals? Animal Rights activists? Lost snowbirds?) stopping by the "It's Hogwash" sign (Proposition to put an end to some types of food animal torture-- you try not turning around in a box for your lifetime). Next thing I knew, on my way back home, the sign (and it was a BIG sign) was gone.

Now, I don't exactly feel bad about that, but it reeks more of a republican desperation than the act of a citizen of conscience. Repubs tend, at least among those not fiscal conservatives, to shriek instead of discuss when challenged, to lie, steal, misguide, and cheat. Do I have proof of these contentions?

SURE I DO! Foley... Bush and the towers... Enron... Rush... etc etc...

How people get away with the most outlandish statements, under the guise of "first amendment rights" is amazing. While I'm not about suing as a course of life, maybe someone needs to start some libel suits!

off to teach...