My new answer to every question

When a student comes to complain about their grades, I will answer…

I’m building a wall.

When the local bank asks why I’m waving that gun in the clerk’s face, I will answer…

I’m building a wall.

When the police come to arrest me and tell me to come out with my hands up, I will say…

I’m building a wall. I’m building a wall.

It seems to be the answer to everything.

Great gog, but that man is infuriatingly obtuse. At least the press are beginning to look a bit exasperated with him, too.

OK, maybe I won’t bother to come home

I’m scared, Mommy. I just saw the latest NRA ad, which is a warning to the “ayatollahs of Iran” about what insane, violent, stupid people live in the “heartland of America”. The only true Americans are farmers and miners and policemen in our “urban war zones”.

It’s racist as fuck, and as simple-minded and macho as a fat old white man can be (I can say that, it’s my demographic). And the NRA thinks it is smart and a benefit to their cause to air this absurd ad.

Well, I’m from the “heartland of America”, and I’m a liberal college professor, the antithesis of the NRA, and I’m an American too. Some bigot in a bedazzled coat and a cowboy hat doesn’t get to decree what constitutes a real American.

Is this really what we want people abroad to see as the face of America?

Where it counts, at Liberty University

Liberty had a star-studded commencement, featuring…

  • A guy who sells duck calls!

  • A football player!

  • A movie star who gets drunk and rants about Jews!

  • Another movie star who made some crude comedies that students are prohibited from watching!

Because, if you’re Liberty University, these are the kinds of people who represent academic excellence or significant cultural influence.

Sadly missing from the gala was any acknowledgment of the quality of LU’s education. Here, let me help you out: as far as the employment prospects of its law school graduates, Liberty University ranks among the worst ten in the nation, with a quarter of LU graduates currently unemployed.

Of course, a lot of lawyers from reputable schools are also unemployed, but it’s still worth noting the special effort it takes to be the fourth worst in the country.

The Scopes Monkey Trial

The cool things I find in my mailbox…I just got a copy of The Scopes Monkey Trial by Moore and McComas, and it’s a fun read. It’s a slim book, and it is almost entirely photographs from around 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. It’s a visual record of a time and a place and an event, well worth reading.

Now I’m thinking that someday I have to make a trip to Dayton.

What does it take to get rid of delusional public servants?

Let me qualify that: what does it take to give far right lunatics the boot in Texas? That’s a different ball game, I know.

Currently running for the Texas Board of Education is the infamous Mary Lou Bruner, who is way out there.

On her Facebook page, Ms. Bruner called Mr. Obama “Ahab the Arab,” and wrote that he “hates all white people and all wealthy people because to him wealthy means white.” Although she condemned the Ku Klux Klan in one posting, she wrote positively of its roots, writing that it started “as citizens trying to fight back against a corrupt government when there were corrupt officials or no officials at all to keep law and order in the rural areas.” Of Mr. Obama’s youth, she wrote: “I heard from a reliable source that Obama was also a male prostitute for a while when he lived in New York with his male ‘partner.’ How do you think he paid for his drugs?”

She’s got all kinds of wacky ideas.

On climate change, she wrote last June: “Climate change has nothing to do with weather or climate; it is all about system change from capitalism (free enterprise) to Socialism-Communism. The Climate Change HOAX was Karl Marx’s idea.”

On the Civil War, she wrote in 2014: “Slavery is not the Reason for the Civil War. by [sic] Mary Lou Bruner…. Historians waited until all of the people who were alive during the Civil War and the Restoration were dead of old age. THEN HISTORIANS WROTE THE HISTORY BOOKS TO TELL THE STORY THE WAY THEY WANTED IT TOLD.”

On the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, she wrote last November: “Many people believe the Democrat Party had JFK killed because the socialists and Communists in the party did not want a conservative president.”

Of course she’s a creationist.

When the flood waters subsided and rushed to the oceans there was no vegetation on the earth because the earth had been covered with water. It took a while for grass and trees to grow back and the big plant-eating dinosaurs needed lots of vegetation to live. The dinosaurs on the ark may have been babies and not able to reproduce. It might make sense to take the small dinosaurs onto the ark instead of the ones bigger than a bus. After the flood, the few remaining Behemoths and Leviathans may have become extinct because there was not enough vegetation on earth for them to survive to reproductive age. Most of the dinosaur fossils which scientists have found are permanently preserved in positions of great distress as if they were trying to keep their heads above water or above the mud.

She won 48% of the vote in her district in the Republican primary.

Any of those bizarre claims ought to have been sufficient to get her rejected by sensible voters; the long history and vast collection of infuriating stupidity ought to have been more than adequate to disqualify her.

But now, finally, a Texas Tea Party group has reconsidered their endorsement of Bruner. Was it the dinosaur story? Accusing Obama of being a drug addicted gay prostitute? The open hatred of “Middle Easterners”? No. It was this video of a speech she gave before a group of teachers, in which she misrepresented the number of teachers employed in a school district.

I guess I’ll take it, whatever it takes to discredit her in the eyes of Texas voters. But it’s just odd that it was this bit of casual ignorance, instead of her record of idiocy, that finally broke some of her support.

Kill the TSA

We’re flying to Korea this weekend, and I have more than the usual amount of travel anxiety. It’s not because of the flight, or because I’ll be spending a week in a foreign country — it’s airport security that I dread. We’re hearing about 3 hour plus wait times to get through the pointless, stupid inspections, and our flight is at a terrible time, 9:30 in the morning. Subtract 3 hours from that. Subtract another hour or two because of Old Man syndrome. Then realize that if we don’t get on the plane in time, we lose lots of money that we can’t afford, perhaps suffer the stress of a chain of missed flights, and worst of all, risk missing the wedding we’re flying to.

This article about the futility of TSA isn’t helping, either. We’ve known for years that the security measures at airports are pure theater, that they’re inefficient and wasteful, and that they simply don’t work. So why do we keep doing something that makes the problems worse?

We all know why: fear. All it takes is one incident to set bureaucrats to scrambling to find something they can do to pretend that they’re reducing the threat. Take off your shoes! 3-1-1! Next thing you know, it’ll be patriotic loyalty oaths before boarding, or something ridiculously arbitrary. No zippered clothing allowed! Shave yourself bald before coming to the airport! Dance, monkey, dance!

Also, watch this.

The heart-warming Poon/Tang case

It’s actually called that. This is the case of a wedding photographer who was sued by the groom, who was a bad lawyer, and it was informative to me in a couple of ways. I did not know that the occupation of wedding photographer was so hazardous — apparently, some people are really demanding and finicky about the little details around their wedding (sometimes, it seems, more so than they are about the marriage), and they’ll go after the photographer if the pictures are not sufficiently flattering. I wouldn’t know about that; at our wedding, we had some people with polaroid cameras wandering around informally. The pictures aren’t so great, but the marriage has been wonderful.

The threatening letter from the lawyer has to be seen to be believed. Here are some excerpts:


I’ve received a few blustering extortion letters from attack-dog lawyers, but never anything as unprofessional and openly vicious as this thing — they usually try to keep the threats veiled and only vaguely unsettling. This jackhole just freely cranked it up to 11, to attempt to intimidate the photographer into settling.

But go read the whole thing. It has a happy ending with the lawyer having to go before the bar and defend himself. Some days, the bad guys lose.

I’m already sick of politics

At least Charles Pierce is an oasis of sensible punditry. The violence this weekend in Nevada by Sanders supporters has me exasperated in the same way he is.

That being said, this whole mess was over four freaking delegates, and the Sanders people should know better than to conclude what has been a brilliant and important campaign by turning it into an extended temper tantrum.

I voted for Bernie Sanders. I even wrote about why I did here at this very shebeen. But if anybody thinks that, somehow, he is having the nomination “stolen” from him, they are idiots.

I understand what’s going on. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a catastrophe: as Pierce puts it, she’s been trying to “grease the skids” for Clinton, a maneuver that was as unnecessary as it was divisive. Clinton has a solid lead, she’s 99.9% certain to get the nomination, and all Schultz has accomplished is to fuel a feeling that the electoral process is rigged. And now some Sanders supporters are rightfully outraged at the betrayal of the process, and becoming irrationally unhinged over a trivial number of nominees.

There are also people calling for Sanders to step out of the race. I don’t think he should; I want him pushing back every step of the way. But at the same time, he needs to slap down these idiots.

Also, if anyone needs to get out of this election, it’s Schultz. Don’t even talk about booting Bernie Sanders until Debbie Wasserman Schultz gets the heave-ho.