Thursday, April 29, 2010

Something for Anti-Illegal Immigrant Christians

Leviticus 19:33-34 (NIV) - "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God."

If it's good enough to vilify homosexuality, it should also be good enough to embrace illegal immigrants as something much more than a despicable criminal. Is it too much to ask anti-illegal immigrant Biblical literalists to be unwavering and unquestioning adherents to the Holy Bible, even when it inconveniently doesn't suit their own prejudices?

[H/T: Andrew Sullivan]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Palin on Arizona's Immigration Law

Isn't this rich:

“It's shameful, too, that the Obama administration has allowed this to become more of a racial issue by perpetuating this myth that racial profiling is a part of this law,” she [Palin] said.
This, coming from a woman who claims that a government program that reimburses doctors for the time they spend in a voluntary end of life counseling session with their patients constitutes a "death panel." There really is actually no comparison. The Arizona law clearly involves racial profiling. That is precisely its intent!!! Think about it. How could this law even be effective if there weren't profiling of potential "illegal immigrants," which common sense conveys that in Arizona this means Hispanics? You think a law enforcement official who pulls over a white driver or a black driver for a routine traffic stop will ask them for their "citizenship" documents beyond a driver's license, vehicle registration, and automobile insurance card? No way.

The only thing full of "myth" here is the world in which Sarah Palin lives.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teabagger Insanity

Check this out:

A few comments. First, it only appears very briefly, at the 1:37 or so mark, but from the comments he makes regarding Charity Hospital in New Orelans, it appears that this guy seems to be from New Orleans, or at least a long-term resident here. And he's Nicaraguan. Makes me wonder if I know him. It's very possible. And given how small New Orleans is, especially the Latino community here, it's actually a good probability that I know someone who knows this man personally.

Second, there is a deeper and likely more complex (and perhaps troubling) story here about how he got to "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Though I don't know for sure, I would imagine that this man, if he "escaped" communism in Nicaragua, as he seems to indicate, probably came to the US in the late 1970s following the Sandinista Revolution. His age would seem to indicate that he was probably in his 20s or 30s when he came over. If he had to flee, then there is a very good possibility that he (or his family) may have been involved in the Somoza Dictatorship in some capacity. That doesn't necessarily bode well for his claim to be a liberty loving freedom fighter. And when he spouts off the claim that the only good communist is a dead communist, when coupled with his violent temperament, and knowing what was done by the Somoza dictatorship (or tolerated by Somoza regime defenders) under the guise of anti-communism, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there are some shady human rights violations huddled somewhere in his own or his family's past. And that says nothing about how he (or his family) might have been ushered to the front of the immigration line to get his legal residency established here.

Equally disturbing is to see the completely irrational evolution of this guy's conviction regarding the person asking the question on the other end of the camera. It's clear to me that the guy walked off convinced that the person behind the camera was a communist (presumably, therefore, deserving death) with absolutely no provocation or indication at all about the questioner's ideology or his convictions. In fact, when this teabagger specifically asked the questioner if he was a communist, you can hear the person taking the video say "No" in the background.

Actually, the whole thing was kinda sad and embarrassing. Clearly his anger was misplaced and misdirected. His reversion to marine corps grunting and macho posturing was not only childish, but it was really pathetic.

And the absolute saddest thing about this is that if the guy were walking the streets in Arizona and were picked up by the cops there, his accent would lead to his being ethnically profiled as a potential illegal immigrant -- and if he didn't happen to have his green card or passport with him (because driver's licenses just don't cut it as proof of one's legal right to be in the country), he'd likely find himself making a trip to the Sheriff's office while his citizenship could be verified.

In the end, all I can do is sigh.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ray Nagin's Second Term

Summed up in three words: he checked out.

We hear from The Times-Picayune today that -- gasp! surprise! -- Nagin is leaving office with many unfulfilled promises. Anybody who hasn't been living under a rock would know that this is not news. As soon as the man won his second term, he rested on his haunches and essentially did nothing except travel on the taxpayer's dime.

I say good riddance. And may the Feds slap on the cuffs at the very moment the door to the mayor's office slaps closed on his sorry derriere.

I take pride in the fact that I never once voted for the man.

Palmer Part Arts Market: Alternative Jazz Fest

We had our own little jazz fest today at the Palmer Park Arts Market. Beautiful weather, good food, and some pretty solid music. And unlike the Jazz Fest, you can walk around the Market for free, bring your own beverages, and point the kids to the playground equipment, too. I think it's a pretty darn good alternative to the Jazz Fest.

Michele Benson Huck Pottery had a relaxed, but great day. Don't miss it next month!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Palmer Park Arts Market Update

The Arts Market this weekend has been moved from Saturday to Sunday because of poor weather conditions. It's supposed to be a nasty weather day tomorrow, with lots of wind, rain, and even hail. But Sunday is supposed to be lovely -- even if the Park itself will still be soggy. Anyway, please plan to come out on Sunday and visit. We'll look forward to seeing you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

MBH Pottery at the Palmer Park Arts Market This Weekend

Well, it's once again that time of the month when my lovely bride will again be out at the Palmer Park Arts Market setting up her booth to sell her pottery. This weekend, the market is supposed to run on Saturday, from 10am-4pm; but it's looking more and more likely, because of weather concerns, that it will be postponed until Sunday. I'll try to update as soon as we find out for sure. In any case, my B-2/3 has been hard at work all month and has added significantly to her inventory of pieces. So, if you want to support a great cause and pick up some wonderful pieces of handmade, high quality pottery as wedding gifts, birthday presents, early Christmas or Hannukah gifts, or any other kind of gift, please do come out to the Arts Market this coming weekend at Palmer Park on the corner of Claiborne and Carrollton Avenues and look her up. Not sure which booth number she's been assigned, but you can find out where she is at the information booth. MBH Pottery or Michele Benson Huck Pottery is what you should look for. Of course, as usual, Michele will also be doing live demonstrations at her pottery wheel, so please come out, enjoy the market, and stop by to visit Michele to see how pots are thrown!

Wrapping Upchuck: 4-21-10

I am always amazed at how quickly time slips by. It seems my last blog posting was this past Saturday, and now it is Wednesday morning. And I don't even know where the time went between then and now. This won't be a long Wrapping Upchuck, just a simple, short one hitting on the highlights. First was the Celebracion Latina that happened on Sunday. It was a day-long, outdoor, festival-style event celebrating Latino life and culture in New Orleans in conjunction with the Children's Resource Center of the New Orleans Public Library. The weather was perfect, lots of kids were out, and the music was great. The puppet show wasn't bad, either. All in all, a successful, fun event. Monday and yesterday were just regular university work/school days. Nothing so spectacular happened on either day. I did, though, play racquetball for the first time in a long time on Monday morning with a good friend and current graduate student. The only other real out of the ordinary event was my book club meeting which took place last night, where we discussed Christopher Moore's novel, Fool, which is a spin on Shakespeare's King Lear tragedy as told by the Fool/jester character. Anyway, that's about it (or about all I feel like mentioning).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wrapping Upchuck: 4-16-10 & 4-17-10

Wasn't able to wrap things up yesterday evening for a variety of reasons, but will catch up now. Let's see, Friday morning started out as usual, only instead of catching a ride with my Squirrelly Girlies up to the office, I donned the helmet and pedalled the bike into work. Did some administrative housekeeping in the morning, and then went over to the Center for Public Service to speak with Tulane's AmeriCorp Vistas contingent for about an hour or so. It was a great conversation, and I was happy to share my thoughts and hear from the Vistas about their experiences to date. From there, I hoofed across campus to the student cafeteria where I joined some prospective students and their parents for lunch. I was running a bit late to lunch, but made it to my assigned table to find that there were actually quite a good number of expectant students and parents eating and patiently waiting to speak to someone about the Latin American Studies program. I was pleasantly surprised, as most prospectives, if they do have an interest in any major at this point, tend towards the traditional professional fields -- business, public health, pre-law, pre-medicine, etc. And those interested in the Liberal Arts, tend to thing more along the lines of English Literature, Philosophy, Spanish, Communication, Art History, etc. Very few are thinking of Latin American Studies right out of high school. So, I was happy to have an interested audience. And, in fact, I had a wonderful convesation at lunch with all the students and parents there. I hope they choose to attend Tulane and take my classes!

After lunch, I had a relatively quiet afternoon (as Friday afternoons tend to be), with a couple of student appointments and some end-of-the-week tying-loose-ends up work. The day ended with me trucking on my bike up to St. Joe's to attend our Graduate Students' annual Faculty/Staff Appreciation Party. It was a great party and I felt very well-appreciated -- plied with good Abita beer and some wonderful Slice slices! From there, I biked on home where I found Squirrelly Girlie the elder sprawled out with a friend on our pullout sofabed in full sleepover mode watching a movie and eating popcorn. (It's primarily because of the sleepover that I wasn't able to put up my Wrapping Upchuck posting last evening.) And my Squirrelly Girlie the younger was at a friend's house experiencing her first sleepover (which she had been giddy about for days leading up to it.) So, needless to say, with a 'tween sleepover in progress at the homestead, I just cashed in early, being both useless to the event and wanting to avoid any chance of being an "embarrassment" to Squirrelly Girlie the elder.

Which brings me to this morning ...

Regular Saturday morning routing: sleeping in a bit (until 8:00am) and having a leisurely breakfast with the morning paper. Sleepover guest got picked up by 9:30am, my B-2/3 picked up Squirrelly Girlie the younger from her sleepover by about 10:15am or so; and then I carted both girls off to the regular morning dance class routines. The elder spends basically from 10:30am-3:30pm at the Dance Studio, and the younger joins me usually at the local coffee shop for a mid-morning snack until it's her turn to dance. Today happened to be an open studio day for the tap class, which both my Squirrelly Girlies dance in together, so this meant that my B-2/3 and I got to sit in and watch the hour-long tap class. It was, as usual, an enjoyable experience -- especially since my girls are just wonderful, cheery, and talented dancers.

From there, we headed out to the Fly (which is a riverfront park right behind the Audubon Zoo) for a crawfish boil put on by the St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church (my wife's church). Lots of fun ... and a great boil. I left the boil (and my family who was still enjoying the festivities) at about 1:40pm, smelling of spicy crawfish, to run up to the Children's Resource Center to participate in my Introduction to Latin American Studies class's Storytime program. We did have one visitor for the event, which meant that she got all the attention from the students who planned this event and who read the story. It, too, ended up being a nice event. After that, which brought me to about 3:00pm, I hopped in my pick-up truck and went over the my parents' house, where my siblings, nieces, and nephews were gathering for a belated group birthday party (three of us have birthdays in April within a week or so of each other). Fun was had by all, and my god-child gave me a gift of a big bag of Twizzlers for my birthday -- and this added to the two I had already gotten from each of my Squirrelly Girlies as their presents to me! One guess as to what my favorite candy treat is! Anyway, hung out with my extended family for a while, and got home just a couple of hours ago.

Now, Squirrelly Girlie the younger is tucked in, and both Squirrelly Girlie the elder and my B-2/3 are doing their little pre-bedtime sharing ritual while I'm in another part of the house tip-tapping away at the keyboard writing up this entry.

Tomorrow is Sunday, but it's a special Sunday. It's Celebracion Latina Sunday, and I'll be at the fiesta for pretty much all afternoon. I'll fill you in on the details after all is said and done. And so goes this Wrapping Upchuck!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

HB 1205: Open Letter to Walker Hines

Hi, Walker - Well, they're at it again. And so am I. HB 1205 is an abomination. It is so full of unfunded mandates, criminalizing charity, authoritarian dictates, and punitive mean-spiritedness that I almost don't know where to start. This bill even tries to penalize young high school kids from being able to get a college education at any of our post-secondary public educational institutions if they can't prove their legal status. Is that what we've come to now in Louisiana? Punish the kids for the sins of the parents? And even then you'd have to think that simply crossing an imaginary line in God's earth in order to do what is necessary to survive and feed your family is a sin! Walker, you can't even imagine the impact that this bill would have on Tulane University's outreach efforts, its commitment to have its students engage in public service to our community irrespective of a resident's legal status, its ability to administer its many medical clinics, educational reform efforts, public safety efforts, etc. Are your colleagues in Baton Rouge so blinded by their fear and hatred of the foreign that they don't see what a job-crushing burden this bill will impose upon local businesses in New Orleans? Do they not see what this will do to the integrity and structure of not just the immigrant family, but also the families of those legal residents and citizens who are their relatives, neighbors, and friends, who will also experience the social ruptures and grief of such a draconian policy?

Needless to say, I expect that you'll be opposed to this measure. I hope and trust that you will. And as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, you're in a position to help keep this bill from ever making it to the House floor. I feel even more strongly about opposing this bill than I did any of the ones that were brought up in the legislative sessions from a few years ago. I know that this bill, HB 1205, came up for consideration today in the House Judiciary Committee and I, unfortunately, was unable to join my fellow colleagues from the Hispanic Apostolate and Puentes to testify against and protest this bill; but I will most certainly make every effort to get to Baton Rouge if this bill goes any farther. I will be watching this bill closely from now on out, I will be mobilizing all of the constituency muscle I can in opposing this bill, and I urge you to do the right thing not only in voting against it, but also in leading the charge to kill it. Don't disappoint me, Walker! If I can do anything to help you fight this bill, please let me know.


Anti-Immigration Legislation in the Louisiana Congress

[UPDATE: Read LatiNola's excellent summary of the legislation in question.]

It rears its ugly head again. This time, it's obfuscated by a barrage of legislative mumbo jumbo and thrown into a larger, more sweeping piece of legislation; but the intent is exactly the same: criminalizing charity and common decency. In fact, it goes much more beyond that and its punitive dimensions are simply unconscionable. It seeks to mandate immigration enforcement practices upon local law enforcement agencies and even seeks to prevent local governments from passing ordinances that some might consider to be consistent with "sanctuary city" policies. It prevents undocumented immigrant youth from being able to attend public post-secondary institutions of higher learning. In essence, it is an effort to codify a policy that quashes any hope of what is known as the "Dream Act." It resuscitates almost verbatim the defeated langauge of the immigration measures that were proposed last year.

These SOBs. When will they ever understand. My colleagues at the Hispanic Apostolate and at Puentes once again made the trip up to Baton Rouge to protest and oppose. I wish I could have gone with them.

That was the only downer to my day.

But I have every confidence that this mean-spirited and unenforceable piece of xenophobic trash will be consigned to the legislative rubbish heap where it belongs. My gut instinct is that this bill is so expansive, and thus so rife with things that will turn off so many particular constituencies, that it won't amount to a hill of beans. For instance, the inclusion of an unfunded mandate that employers engage in a costly verification process is likely to be met with stiff resistance from the business community, even if the members of this community might support other elements of this bill. Likewise, the non-profit and social services agencies of the state, including Catholic Charities, will oppose the "harboring" and "transportation" measures of this bill, even if it supports another part of the bill. The local law enforcement agencies are likely to chaff at the mandate that they behave like immigration officials, which can even make their jobs more dangerous and more difficult, even if they support an employer verification aspect of the bill. Local governments will look at the measures of the bill that tie their own abilities to pass ordinances or enact policies at the local level that it things is best for public safety and orderliness as an undue infringement by the state on local affairs. Etc., etc. For this reason, I think the bill is essentially DOA; but one never knows in the frenzied xenophobic Tea Party atmosphere we currently live in. I'm just hearing about this monstrosity, but I will certainly post more on it as I learn more about it.

Looks like I may have to mount my own little legislative writing campaign against this bill (HB 1205) once again. If you are one of my readers, please contact your state legislator and senator and urge them to kill this unworkable, onerous, and, I say, hateful piece of legislation.

Wrapping Upchuck: 4-15-10

Tax day, the day the Titanic sunk, the day Abraham Lincoln died ...

My birthday.

42 years old.

And it was a good day.

It started with a hot cup of coffee and the Newspaper and lots of good morning hugs, kisses, and birthday wishes from my squirrelly girlies. There is something good about being the only dude in a four person family!

Also had my last day of physical therapy today. Graduated by completing a 10 minute jog on the treadmill. I'm pretty much back in the running saddle if I want to be; and I have to say it is a thrilling prospect to know that, if all proceeds accordingly from here on out, I will be running the Crescent City Classic next year. (By the way, I hope Fox News and the conservative tin foil hatters don't catch wind that New Orleans is affectionately known as the "crescent" city. They might think we've become irretrievably and horrifyingly Islamified -- you know, given that the shape of the bend in the Mississippi River that surrounds NOLA reminds one of all those crescent moons in the flags of those scary Muslim countries.)

Anywho ... back to the point ... felt great after the Physical Therapy session as I made my way across campus to the office, where I had a series of very productive meetings with some representatives from the Hispanic Apostolate's ESL program to talk about future service-learning collaborations with their programs and our curriculum. That brought me to lunch, where I was a bit late in getting over to the student cafeteria on campus for another "lunch with the Prospectives" session. Met some very nice people and had some good conversation.

Then it was back to the office to tackle some administrative stuff, that was interrupted by a mid-afternoon coffee break meeting coordinated by one of my office colleagues and involving some other colleagues from Esperanza Charter school to discuss lots of things relative to collaborating with that public charter school (whose students are more than 50% Latino) and in helping them to promote a scholarship fundraiser to help their 7th and 8th graders pay for the costs of High School. That, too, was a very productive and good meeting. I'm sure I'll be bringing more attention to their efforts in future posts.

Returned after that to the office, met with a grad student or two, and ended the workday meeting with a group of students from my own college course in order to talk about their service-learning work for the upcoming Celebracion Latina at Laurence Park (corner of Magazine and Napoleon) this coming Sunday, from 12-6pm. We're planning to reprise our semester-long Sring storytime program. Every hour on the hour starting at 12pm, we'll have an open reading of our Storytime book choices (taking the first six books on the schedule in the listed order) followed by a relevant craft. The whole day should be fun, so please do come out and bring the kids.

Then, after that meeting, I did a last minute check of my email (today was also the deadline for students we admitted to our graduate program to inform us of their final decisions), tidied up some loose ends, and then caught a ride home with my Squirrelly Girlies, where I had a wonderful birthday dinner and opened my thoughtful presents. And now I'm just lounging about catching up on my favorite blogs and winding down to another early-ish bedtime.

One thing that doing these Wrapping Upchuck posts has revealed to me is how busy and full my days are, and also how much I actually do manage to get done, even though it does sometimes feel as if I manage to get nothing done.

Oh, and thanks to my many Facebook friends for their seemingly endless litany of happy birthday wishes. It's actually quite humbling and touching.

I love my life. Peace.

The Christ of the Distended Abs


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wrapping Upchuck: 4-14-10

Sluggish morning routine, partly because I stayed up later than I wanted to last night. Anyway, read the paper and got ready for work, only before heading to work, I had to head down to the 2001 Behrman Hwy. DMV to get my driver's license renewed. What I thought was going to be a piece of cake ended up as a fiasco.

Pulled the number nad within five minutes I was at the counter with my current Driver's License and my proof of insurance. I was about to take the eye exam when the DMV worker stopped me and told me that there was a flag on my license. Some "Insurance Cancellation" issue that went back to 2004. Uh-oh! I had to leave the line and spend the next few hours on the phone with various entities. First I called the state LA DMV and explained that I was being blocked. They checked my record and found out that a car that I donated to Bridge House in April of 2004 was still showing up on my record. Of course, the insurance was cancelled the day Bridge House came and collected the car. I guess the DMV never did get the information on the Title transfer. Anyway, Bridge House did send me all the paperwork for the formal act of donation; but all those receipts and paperwork were Katrina casualties. I no longer have that proof. Of course, the State is pretty useless and can give me no information on the status of the car. Their only suggestion would be to call Bridge House and see if they can recreate or find a record of the donation in their materials. I did that, and they're checking into it; but it's a long shot. In any case, there is a final way out. I can fill out a form and pay a $225 fee to the state certifying that I no longer own the car and theyn they will push a button on a computer and I'll be good to go. Funny part of the story: When I was told of this option by the nice young lady from the LA DMV over the phone, I asked her what that $225 was paying for. She replied: Why, to clear your block! I said: So, what you're saying is that if I fork over $225 and sign a paper that tells you what I've just told you, it pays for a computer button being pressed? She replied so innocently as if she was simply astonished at my stupidity: Why, yes, essentially, yes, that's what you're paying for. $225 to have someone press a button on a computer that takes about 1 second and -- viola! -- they will allow me to have a new Driver's License. Damn! It's enough to turn me into an anti-government libertarian/conservative. Where's the next Tea Party!?!?!

Anyway ... after that I mosied over to my office where I began the tedious process of composing Summer Field Research Grant award letters to a bunch of lucky grad students (and I also had to compose an almost equal number of rejection letters to a bunch of the unlucky ones). Pried myself away from this task to take a lunch break with a colleague where we talked about some heady, important stuff. After lunch, I participated in the final interview for the Runsdorf Award and completed by committee obligations for that task. With the remainder of my work day, I hustled back to the office to plug away at some of my routing administrative tasks.

At 5:30pm, I drove the truck home and picked up Squirrelly Girlie the Elder to bring her to Wednesday night dinner and fellowship at the St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, after which we skedaddled on home. From then until now I've been chillin' with the laptop websurfing, making my blog rounds, and checking email -- though I did break away to read aloud to Squirrelly Girlie the Younger the next chapter in L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. We do that sometimes.

I'd say that I'm likely to stay up and read a bit, but my eyes are drooping closed as I write these words, so when I finish Wrapping Upchuck, I'm heading straight to bed. Hasta luego.

PS: Tomorrow I turn 42. Tax day, the day the Titanic sunk, the day Abraham Lincoln died. An otherwise good day in the annals of history! God bless!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fetishizing "Treme"

I have just read Jeffrey's review of the new New Orleans-based TV series Treme. Before I say anything else, let me say that I read Jeffrey's piece without having seen any other reactions or commentary on it. I just checked out his blog as I sometimes do, and there it was. And I read it.

And he's right.

It's a pretty long review, but it's worth reading every single word.

Here's a particular section of Jeffrey's piece (one of many, I should add) that really resonated with me:

If Simon is saying "we" as in the culture vultures looking to sell off the last bits of the carcass, he's got a point. Five years after the flood, what is being trumpeted as a "recovery" is really just an acceleration of the same gentrification that was already underway. We are being swallowed up by Jazzfest. What we're left with is a stage where the festivals, music, food, folkways that that most of us rightfully took as sort of for-granted elements of life here, are now props arranged for mostly someone else's entertainment. And those of us who don't fit on that stage... well it isn't clear that we're really needed anymore. Spoils of war, I guess.
Let me upchuck a bit of Huck here, too, to add something to Jeffrey's overall point that, if I read him correctly, I think he would accept as a friendly amendment to the piece. I am a native-born New Orleanian, who grew up in the burbs, went to Jesuit High School, did my graduate education at Tulane, currently works at Tulane, and is raising a family in this wonderful city I call home. My folks, having deep roots in the Vic and Nat'ly culture of Arabi (mom) and Holy Cross section of the 9th Ward (dad), are about as Yat as they come. I look forward to Mardi Gras (I'm even a Thoth Krewe member); I enjoy the festival culture here; I love me a good half-n-half po-boy; and, like many others, I had to rebuild a good bit of my home following Hurricane Katrina. So, like Jeffrey, I think I have a pretty standard, authentic New Orleans life. But ... I don't go chasing after second lines and Mardi Gras Indians. I like the Jazz Fest and have been there plenty of times, but it's never been a cult experience for me (and I don't waste away lamenting the loss of a Crawfish Monica if I miss it one year or two). I always catch Mardi Gras day parades on Napoleon Ave. and don't ever feel deprived that I'm missing Zulu. And I love the Saints, but am content to watch the games on TV or, better yet, just listen to Jim Henderson and Hokie Gajan calling the game on WWL. I don't need to be in the Dome to get my WhoDat on. Oh, and I didn't go to the Superbowl Victory parade, either. What's my point? Simply that I love my N'Awl as much as anyone and that I want to put my own little NOLA bison-head forward, seconding with my own little "Amen" this vintage Jeffrey thought:
It [the case being made by the romanticized "Why New Orleans Matters" meme] also belittles the experience of anyone who doesn't conform to this fetishized idea of what makes a New Orleanian. It, in fact, allows the perpetrators of these fetishes to judge your fitness to occupy your home on the basis of your willingness to play their phony roles.
And there's a lot like me out there in the NOLAsphere.

Again, I haven't seen Treme yet; but if it comes across as Jeffrey paints it; then he's got a damn good point that's very much worth thinking carefully about. I really wonder if the New Orleans of Simon's Treme is my New Orleans and not Anderson Cooper's. So upchucketh Huck, who has a native claim to this place.

Wrapping Upchuck: Tuesday, 4-13-10

Light Wrapping Upchuck for tonight, as I am dog-tired. But it was a good day. Started off with the usual wakeup routine, only this time I drove myself up to work where I parked and walked first to my scheduled physical therapy session for my left knee. Only one more physical therapy session to go. I'm already up to jogging some on the treadmill, which I guess is pretty much the last step on the road to knee surgery recovery.

Anyway, after my PT session, I had to rush up to a series of interviews of Runsdorf award nominees, all of whom are being considered for this award because of their outstanding community service over the course of their undergraduate careers at Tulane. We interviewed three students (and have one more to go tomorrow). I have to say that I am absolutely, thoroughly impressed with the quality of the accomplishments of our finalists. They are not only exceedingly smart and engaged students, but they are very self-confident, extremely well-spoken, and committed to their communities in so many ways. I think that being so much on the front lines of community engagement and in such direct contact with people of all kinds of ideas and backgrounds are principle causes for their confidence and capabilities to relate to others. The Service-Learning graduation requirement is worth it if for no other reason than having this impact on student performance.

Anyway, after this round of interviews, it was back to the office to work on class prep and some adminsitrative work. At 12:30pm, I attended our final faculty lunch gathering and found myself filling in for my boss and guiding the program of our meeting in his stead, given that he was away at another important meeting. It was a yummy lunch and a fun meeting. I think I did passably well in my substitute role.

After lunch, it was back to the usual duties of class prep, meeting with some students, and working piecemeal on some other ongoing projects.

By 3:30pm, I was in my regular Tuesday Honors Seminar, which took us until 6:00pm. After which, taking advantage of the Provost's course activity funds, I hosted the students from this class (most of them, at least) to a nice dinner at a place called Taqueria Corona, one of my favorite local Latin food restaurants. Good food, and even better conversation. I have some great students in my class.

So, today was a very encouraging and inspiring day in terms of being reminded of how talented and accomplished (and just downright nice and friendly) Tulane students are. I love my job!

Afterwards, it was straight to the homestead, where I put out the garbage (tomorrow's "trash day"), chatted a bit with my B-2/3 and talked about some upcoming weekend scheduling issues (looks like I'm going to be serving as "Assistant Coach" to my youngest's Spring/Summer Softball league, with our first organizational team meeting this coming Saturday morning), and eventually sat down to unwind in front of a Netflix instant movie which I had never seen before (but had heard good things about): "Donnie Darko." Wierd movie. Enjoyable and provocative, with a kind of David Lynch "Mulholland Dr."/"Twin Peaks feel to it. And now here I am, ready to call it another good day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wrapping Upchuck: Monday, 4-12-10

Today was a busy day. Started out with the usual morning routine of breakfast and paper-reading. Caught a ride with the B-2/3 and the squirrelly girlies up to work, which started off bright and early with a Graduate Student Summer Field Research Grants committee meeting. Glad that's over with. Now I need to get the news out on the decisions the committee made. That's always a tough job, given that I'm the one that has to be the bearer of bad new for some; but it'll be over by tomorrow.

Immediately after this meeting, I had my Monday morning seminar for the Public Service Fellows. The Seminar theme is "Social Justice and Civic Engagement in the Americas." For this seminar session, we discussed the topic of structural violence and human rights as presented by Paul Farmer in his book Pathologies of Power. Farmer is an interesting and impressive scholar and physician who is an unabashed advocate for the idea that healthcare is a fundamental human right. Farmer's belief comes out of years of working with victims of structural violence in the developing world. The stories he tells are gripping and they provoke a lot of thought. We had a great classroom discussion of his argument's strengths and weaknesses.

After class, I did a little office work for the remainder of the afternoon, which involved coordinating some more meetings, answering some emails, meeting with a couple current students about the outcome of their summer field research grant applications, chatting with one of my thesis advisees, and discussing our graduate doctoral program with a prospective applicant.

Then I caught a ride home with the B-2/3 and from there I went and picked up the squirrelly girlies from the ballet studio. From there it was back home, where I assumed responsibilty for dinner and the bedtime routines for the kiddies, given that my B-2/3 had a business meeting up at church, which was followed by her attendance at a Carlos Fuentes lecture up at the University. I was interested in attending that lecture myself, but someone had to be with the kids, and my B-2/3 really wanted to go. So I stayed home. Interesting story concerning my B-2/3 and Carlos Fuentes from many years ago, even before I knew Michele. When Michele was at George Mason University, she took an English class that focused on the work of Carlos Fuentes, who also was a visiting author in residence at her university at the time. Of course, Michele got to meet Fuentes at that time and had the chance to get Fuentes to sign her copies of his novels. When she went up to Fuentes with her books, Fuentes took a long look at her and then took Michele's copy of Aura and wrote: "To Michele, who looks like Aura. Carlos Fuentes." Quite a compliment! So, how could I not want Michele to have the opportunity to hear Fuentes speak, and perhaps even meet him in person again at the book signing following his lecture. Of course, Michele is bringing a few more of Fuentes's newer works for him to sign, but she's also toting along her signed copy of Aura just to remind Fuentes of their previous encounter. Michele is still up at the event as I write this and should be home shortly. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. Anyway, that's the "Wrapping Upchuck" for today.

6th Annual Celebracion Latina

My department, collaborating with the Mexican and Venezuelan consulates, as well as the New Orleans Public Library and other local non-profits, is hosting the 6th Annual Celebracion Latina. Click the link for more details. The short version: food, fun, live entertainment, kids activities, and lots more to celebrate Latino Culture in New Orleans. Free and wide open to the public. It'll be in its usual place at Laurence Square (on the corner of Magazine and Napoleon) this coming Sunday, April 18th, from 12-6pm. Pray for good weather and come join us!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wrapping Upchuck: Sunday 4/11/10

So, in this inaugural "Wrapping Upchuck" posting, what do I say? Where do I start?

Well, I guess a basic description of my day will do.

Today began like any Sunday does in the Huck household. We all slept in a bit (and by sleeping in, I mean until about 8:00am). Or rather, I should say that I slept in a bit. I woke up to the sound of my youngest daughter involved in some loud conversation with my B-2/3.

Of course, as is usual for Sunday, the first thing I do is head for the Times-Picayune. Really enjoyed the spread in the Living section on the new TV series Treme. My youngest, as part of a little game she has had going on since yesterday, brought me a cup of coffee as part of her "doing something nice" for me. She organized a name-picking process yesterday, sort of like a Secret Santa kind of thing, and we all as a family picked a couple of names from a hat with the promise to do a couple of nice things for the people whose names we picked. So, I got a nice big cup of hot coffee from my youngest, who obviously picked my name. Her big sister, milking the game for all it was worth, managed to squeeze breakfast in bed from her younger sister, who did it gladly. My youngest really is a very sweet, overly sensitive little human being. She wants to be an opera singer when she "grows up."

So, I sipped coffee, read the paper, and then putzed around doing much of nothing until it was time to bring my oldest up to Church for 11:00am. After dropping her off at Church, I stopped off at my office to print out a couple of essays I needed to read and grade, and then headed back home. I had just enough time, before all my squirrelly girlies returned from church, to freshen up and put on some semi-nice duds in order to participate in an admissions luncheon up at the university where I work. It was one of those major admissions events where hundreds of prospective, already-admitted students and their parents descend upon the University for a visit as part of their last efforts to wrap up their college decision-making process. We faculty get to join this group for lunch where we host a table and represent our departments/majors. I had a couple of families at my table and we had a very nice conversation and visit. Each of the young prospectives I spoke with was very impressive and would be a great fit for my university; but it sounds like they both have some pretty competitive alternatives, too. We'll see what they decide. I did my part and got a nice lunch out of it.

Afterwards, I went back home to join my family and I putzed around some more, listened to some music (Mozart's "The Magic Flute" opera, which I think may be my favorite opera of all), did some reading (I'm currently into a couple of books -- one is Christopher Moore's Fool, which is a bawdy retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear from the point of view of the court jester, and Jean-Robert Cadet's autobiography called Restavek: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American), played a couple of games on the computer, and did a bit of house cleaing in what we call our "craft room."

When the early evening rolled around, I attended a Maryknoll Affiliates meeting. The Maryknoll Affiliates are a group of Catholics who share the Maryknoll religious order's concept of "mission," which is heavily grounded in the Social Justice teachings of the Catholic Church. We meet on Sunday evenings once a month, and tonight was our monthly meeting night. We spend most of our time discussing a summary of the Latin American Bishops' 5th General Latin American Episcopal Conference that took place in Aparecida, Brazil, where they reaffirmed the "see-judge-act" method of social analysis that originally out of the famous 1968 Medellin Conference, and which produced what is now known as liberation theology. We had a great discussion about this, and we even had some time to address the big elephant in the room, which is the ongoing (and worsening) sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. I tell you, if it weren't for the people I know through the Maryknoll Affiliates, I don't believe I could continue to be part of the Catholic community; but knowing that there are good Catholic folks who find themselves keeping faith in the midst of their own doubts and struggles that parallel mine is a faith and church lifeline for me. Anyway, I came back refreshed from my meeting and with another book in tow on loan from my good friend, Mateo: Philip S. Kaufman's Why You Can Disagree and Remain a Faithful Catholic. And now I'm back home writing up this my first "Wrapping Upchuck." After which, I will be easing into my nighttime routine, reading and grading some more papers, and perhaps getting into a movie before drifting off to sleep in preparation for a new (and quite busy) week.

Buenas noches y que Dios te bendiga!

"Wrapping Upchuck": A Blog Experiment

Most of the postings on my blog are usually commentary on current events of the day. But I'm thinking that what is lacking from my blog is a real glimpse into the routines and activities of my life. So, what I'm going to try to do is give a daily descriptive summary of my day. Sometimes, I imagine this posting will be nothing more than a calendar listing of activities and events. However, I hope that more often than not I can be reflective on these activities and events and what they have meant to me. Like many things I've tried, this may be an experiment that is short-lived; but, what the hell, it's worth a go. And it will definitely keep me on top of my blogging self-nudge, which I have managed well so far, but sometimes only just. In any case, if you are the kind of person that likes to peer into the daily lives of people, you might enjoy this little blogging experiment, which I am calling, for lack of a more pithy title, "Wrapping Upchuck."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Replacing Justice Stevens on the SCOTUS, ctd.

By the way, my two favorites for the spot are:

Elena Kagan


Diane Pamela Wood

Right now, I'm leaning more towards Wood than Kagan, just because Wood's liberal credentials are solid and her experience on the bench is unassailable.

I like Kagan, too, but I think her liberal bona fides aren't as solid as Wood's. Also, Kagan has limited experience on the bench, though she does have good experience as a litigator in front of the SCOTUS as Solicitor General.

Replacing Justice Stevens on the SCOTUS

If Republican Senators predict a "whale" of a fight over Obama's next pick for the SCOTUS if that pick is a reliable liberal justice, I say give them that fight. Obama should force the Republicans to threaten, again, the filibuster over his pick. The general understanding is that the President should get his pick. I believe that myself, which was why I thought it appropriate that the Senate confirm both Sam Alito and John Roberts. I think most Americans do. And most Americans will view a purely ideological resistance, as opposed to a resistance grounded clearly on qualifications and competency, as bad form. Interestingly, if Obama can get a competent and respected liberal-leaning nominee in place before the November elections, and if the GOP goes into full "Party of NO" mode, the November elections will become more a referendum on the SCOTUS pick than on the Health Care Reform legislation. Given the deference many Americans expect to be shown the President in a SCOTUS nomination and hearing process, this may blunt some of the negative electoral impact that incumbent Democrats in electoral "swing" districts might have faced over their "yes" vote on HCR.

Might this be another Obama "meep meep" moment (as Andrew Sullivan might say)?

The Vatican's Latest Salvo

This really burned me up:

The Vatican heatedly defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, claiming accusations that he helped cover up the actions of pedophile priests are part of an anti-Catholic "hate" campaign targeting the pope for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
The deflection and wagon-circling among the Papal-azzi in Rome have now extended not just to putting up a flimsy defense against the indefensible, but have instead crossed the line into directly attacking the motives of those wanting to hold the untouchables accountable in some way for their egregious failures.

What burns me up about this recent turn is that it is both mean-spirited and consummately un-Christian. It imputes ugly motives to those who just want the Church to live its values and to be accountable for its failures.

Let me tell you what I think. Those who are the most critical of the way the Church has handled this whole scandal are those who feel the most betrayed by the Church that it loves. Those who raise the loudest voices of criticism and who are demanding accountability are those who are simply crushed at the damage this scandal has done to their faith in the moral and ethical leaders of the Church. Those who refuse to simply look away and bury their heads in the sand on the scandal are precisely those who have stuck their necks out the most in defense of the Church and the values it preaches.

The criticism being levied against the church and the desire to hold Church leaders accountable, even the Pope, for transgressions and failures of judgment that have led to damaged souls, violated bodies, and hurt psyches IS ROOTED IN LOVE, not "hate." It is the people who love their Church and their faith, and who, because of this love, feel all the more betrayed by the leaders who have damaged the Church and their faith, leaders who still refuse to accept any personal accountability for their role in inflicting such damage on the faith and Church that so many people love and want to save.

In fact, for many of us Catholics who look on this growing scandal and see this incredible turn towards vilifying its members, some of whom are also victims of the abuse, as hateful and vindictive people, well it's enough to make any person who expects loving pastoral guidance from Church leaders, even when faced with justifiable outrage and anger (not hate) over the scandal, feel completely abandoned and assaulted all over again. It is enough, in fact, to convert righteous anger and indignation INTO hate.

And to say it has anything to do with hate against the church's anti-abortion or anti-homosexuality stance is just sickening on its head. I wish the Vatican would tell that mother who so loved her faith that she decided to bring her unexpected teen pregnancy to term and to give birth to a boy, embracing all the consequences of that choice, instead of opting for abortion, a boy later violently raped or molested by a very representative of this "pro-life" church, that her outrage at such abuse is motivated by hatred for the church's position on abortion! It's absolutely sickening.

I know and love very good Catholic priests and brothers and nuns. I know and love many noble and committed Catholic lay people. Hell, I have a younger brother who IS a member of a Catholic religious order, and I have another brother who is actively studying for the Diaconate. And they are both some of the best, most generous, loving, and kindest people I or you will ever know. And my anger at the Church hierarchy for its current behavior is all the more compounded because I know the pain that this scandal has caused these good people of faith who are "guilty" by association -- people who have done nothing to warrant the pain of being associated in such a way to such a horrible scandal and failure of moral and pastoral leadership.

I cannot be a part of an institution whose leaders treat its own in such abominable ways. Rome has no claims on me anymore. I shake the dust off my sandals and move on. I will listen to the good Catholic priests and brothers and nuns and lay people that I know personally and respect. They will be my faith guide and inspiration -- not the Pope and not the Vatican.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

GOP as OSWF (Old Straight White Folks)

From a disillusioned Republican:

I am an old Republican. I am religious, yet not a fanatic. I am a free-marketer; yet, I believe in the role of the government as a fair evenhanded referee. I am socially conservative; yet, I believe that my lesbian niece and my gay grandchild should have the full protection of the law and live as free Americans enjoying every aspect of our society with no prejudices and/or restrictions. Nowadays, my political and socio-economic profile would make me a Marxist, not a Republican. ...

Now, we have became the party of the Old Straight White Folks. We should rename the Republican Party the OSWF rather than the GOP.
And if you have a hard time believing this guy and just want to write him off as an old crank, just click here and take a look at the picture of LA Congressional District 1 Congressman, conservative Republican Steve Scalise, at a town hall meeting in his district. OSWF indeed.

Race and the GOP

I have often called out conservatives for their cynical use of race in their own politics. There is a kind of schizophrenia within the supposedly "color-blind" conservative approach to race where conservatives insist on demonstrating how "color-blind" they are by pointing to all the people of color that have succeeded in the GOP because of their merits. And they tend to highlight and applaud such people of color within the conservative movement. One case in point is Thomas Sowell, the black conservative economist. Another case in point is Michael Steele, the chairman of the RNC. But the problem is that in their earnestness to show how "color-blind" they are by having people of color in positions of power and authority, they paint themselves into the box of not being able to respond to folks like Michael Steele and Thomas Sowell without being sensitive to their race.

For instance, whenever a black liberal intellectual speaks out on a particular social issue, whether involving race or not, conservatives often tend to try to find a black conservative intellectual to face off against this black liberal intellectual. And whenever a black conservative leader, like Michael Steele, faces complaint and scandal for his performance, conservatives are just as inclined to soften their criticism for fear of being called out as racially insensitive. And it doesn't help when Michael Steele himself acknowledges that his race gives him "slimmer margins" of performance expectations among his own ideological brethren. Race matters. It just does. And the more conservatives try to pretend that it doesn't, the more they actually make it so.

Joshua Green captures the conundrum of the race problem for the GOP by referencing the kid-glove treatment Michael Steele is getting. As Green notes:

It's impossible to imagine his [Steele's] magisterial display of buffoonery going unpunished in almost any circumstance--but it is going unpunished, and Steele appears to be in no danger of losing his job. Far from being a problem, his race is all that's standing between Steele and a pink slip.

The GOP, on the other hand, does have a race problem. It won't fire Michael Steele because he is black. ...

It's remarkable that Republicans, after a generation of complaining about racial quotas and political correctness, seem paralyzed by Steele's race. They appear to have internalized the very "liberal mindset" they once warned against. Steele presents a perfect opportunity for them to leave race aside and make a judgment strictly on merit. And they're flinching.
And this is, in a nutshell, what I mean when I refer the conservative schizophrenia regarding race.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Parking Ticket Gestapo Strikes Again

This time, targeting Crescent City Classic participants who parked on the Neutral Ground by City Park and posed absolutely no public safety danger at all. It's a pure money grab and it's disgusting. I will be exploring the possiblity of organizing a grass roots campaign to pressure whatever authority, be it the City Council or the State Legislature, to remedy this, and similar, situations.

The Crescent City Class is a once a year event that brings tens of thousands of people into the city where they have fun and spend lots of money. The City is very short-sighted in its parking enforcement strategy here and, I think, will do more long term fiscal damage to the city as a result than the short-term fiscal infusion that it gets from ticketing people.

I understand the need to have some traffic enforcement rules in place, but I also know that rational people can understand the difference between legitimate enforcement and a brazen money grab. If the parking ticket gestapo sees fit to ticket CCC participants, then I want them to issue citations to these illegally parked LAW ENFORCEMENT VEHICLES, too. What's good for the average citizen should also be good for law enforcement personnel, too.

Happy Easter

To all my fellow Christians, whether exodus Catholics like myself or progressive Baptists like my wife, I wish you a Happy Easter.

Even in my faith struggles, I always take comfort in believing that there is something greater than us and find solace in the kind of radical expression of love that comes with the sacrifice represented by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

If nothing more, it is a comforting story that eases that existential anxiety and despair that Kierkegaard has called the "Sickness Unto Death." And I am grateful for that comfort today.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

From the Archives: School Vouchers

I was just looking at my blog archives and realized that I have been blogging on and off, but somewhat fairly regularly, for almost 8 years now. I started blogging in the summer of 2002. When I look back on that, I have to say that it's pretty incredible. I don't know really when the blogosphere took off, but I do believe that I was right there pretty close to the beginning and certainly before blogging became so popular and prominent. Now, granted, I haven't accomplished anything anywhere close to what many have been able to do with the medium, but I still take some pride in the longevity of my blog. It's changed somewhat over the years, but not too much. I was looking over the first month of my blogging and came across a posting that I made then on the whole school voucher idea that I still think has relevance today and which I still think hasn't adequately been answered by voucher supporters (at least I haven't come across any adequate answers to my critique). Anyway, I believe it was a thoughtful posting then and think it's worthy of reposting now, so here it is:

Just a quick point to ponder about the School Voucher debate: It's a very nice thought that School Vouchers equals School Choice - but does it, really, provide for such a choice - or at least a meaningful choice? Would highly-regarded suburban public schools and urban private/parochial schools (or should I say the students and the parents of the students in these schools) welcome inner-city voucher students to their learning communities? Putting a voucher in someone's hand doesn't neatly translate into supporting REAL school choice. In order for school choice to mean anything, voucher students must have the option to REALIZE their choice, which is something most voucher advocates haven't really thought much about. To use a common metaphor, it's as if someone were to hand me a fishing pole, some bait, a boat, and even give me fishing lessons; but then tell me that the lake with all the good fish in it that he fishes in was, ahem, off limits.
Original blog posting here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


I got a kick out of this Flickr collection. Willful ignorance proudly on display by your average Joe the "Plummer" Tea Partier. (There's actually a photo in this collection where Joe the Plumber is referred to as Joe the "Plummer" -- but I guess they could be referring to some guy named Joe who does something with plums!!) The real choice ones, two of which I've posted below, are anti-illegal immigrant "English-only" screeds accompanied by the rich irony of misuse of the English language within the very screed itself.

Check out all the photos.

[H/T: Andrew Sullivan]

Photos From Esquipulas

Well, I made it back safe and sound and all in one piece. It was a long trip home. The one big drawback to Esquipulas is that there is no way to get to it except for a 4 hour drive from any of the region's closest major airports. And I'm not even sure there are any "minor" airports that service the environs. But it is this very drawback that also gives Esquipulas its charm. One must make an effort to get there, which means that folks who make it there and who live there really want to be there. That was reflected in the strong sense of devotion and camaraderie that I felt there, particularly among the residents of the city, but also among its visitors and pilgrims. In any case, I was up at 4:00am on the day of my departure, made it to Guatemala City by 9:00am, in time for an 11:40am flight back to Houston in the U.S. And giving myself a couple of hours to get through immigration and customs in Houston (though it took considerably less time than that given that when we arrived there was practically no line at the immigration/customs checkpoints -- but you never know, I've waited for hours in that checkpoint place), I didn't touch down in New Orleans until about 6pm and wasn't home until about 7pm. It was an exhausting day home. At least I got a lot of reading done! Anyway, I wanted to post a couple of photos of Esquipulas:

The Basilica of Esquipulas

I stayed as a guest in the monastery attached to this Basilica.

The pictures below are of one of the many street processions to celebrate Semana Santa. This particular street procession was one of and for children. Notice that young boys were carrying the Jesus figure (in the first picture below) and that young girls were carrying the Virgin Mary figure (in the second and third pictures below).

One of the things I love most about Latin America is the way the children there just shower their affection and exuberance for life upon you -- even children faced with much hardship and despair. They always find joy in life and share it with anyone and everyone willing to accept it.