Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blue Jays Knock Raiders from Ranks of the Unbeaten

And remain unbeaten themselves! They really handed it to Rummel. Final score: Blue Jays 42, Raiders 21. Story here. Congrats to nephew Jacob, a junior starting offensive tackle. That O-line is awesome! Go Jays!

What My Kids Are Listening To: Cobra Starship - "You Make Me Feel"

Doesn't do much for me, but the Squirrelly Girlies seem to like it:



On the other hand, this is what I'm listening to:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yes, We Can

As we approach the one year marker until the next Presidential election, I think it's appropriate to have just a little reminder from the last Presidential election cycle of what made Obama such an inspiring choice to lead this country as its President:



We've had a lot of ups and downs, successes and disappointments, moments of inspiration and deflated dreams from President Obama over the last three years.  But it behooves us to remember that he never promised us an easy road and that there is, still, nothing false about hope.

When I look at the circus that is the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls, Barack Obama is by far and above the best hope this country has.  My hope for this country still resides firmly and unwaveringly in Barack Obama.

NOLA Satellite Government

Some colleagues of mine at Tulane have been developing a pretty awesome website that can only advance accountability and transparency in municipal government here in New Orleans.  And lord knows we need more of that.

The site, called NOLA Satellite Government, seeks to take publicly-available information on all sorts of public entities who manage programs and budgets that are supported by public taxpayer funds and collate them with the members of the boards of directors who oversee such entities.  There's a pretty cool visual network program on the site that shows how individuals are connected across boards and agencies.

While the site doesn't propose to draw any conclusions about what these networks mean, it does help citizens have a more accurate visual representation of the behind-the-scenes power brokers and how they are linked to one another.

At its best, this site can provide a starting point for other researchers to use this publicly-available information as a launching pad for investigating much more closely some curious and eyebrow-raising connections.

If these power-brokers have nothing to hide, they should welcome this site as a step towards greater transparency and public accountability of governing institutions in front of the citizens who are paying for them.  If any of these power-brokers complain about the site for whatever reason, that will be a red flag which will hopefully encourage greater scrutiny by investigative journalists into the operations of the programs/organizations/institutions they oversee.

There's nothing but good that can come of this, and I am glad to know the folks behind this effort.  Check out the site, use the information there to spur your own investigations, and write up what you find out on your blogs.  Spread the word and hold our elected and appointed public servants to account.

Here's an article from the Times-Picayune describing the website.

Dia de los Muertos Pachanga

I would like to invite you on behalf of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University to our "Dia de los Muertos" Pachanga tomorrow. Please see the details below. We're also putting up a communal Day of the Dead altar and, as for me, I'll be setting up a teacup, some toast, and a photo of my grandmother who passed, as well as a cigar and a small bottle of whiskey for my grandfather who passed.

Since this is a communal altar, I invite each of you to consider setting up a little memorial on the altar maybe to someone special in your life who has passed. It's a time to celebrate the lives of those loved ones who have passed on and to welcome them back to the world of the living once again. Please bring a little card with your name and the name of the person you will be commemorating, so that we can know that the altar contribution and items are yours. On the card, you should write something like: "Helen Alphonso [the name of the commemorated person] remembered by her grandson Jimmy Huck." Even if you aren't able to set up a memorial on the altar, you are most welcome to pass by the Jones Hall patio (or the Greenleaf Conference Room in Jones Hall -- 100A, in case of rainy weather), to view the altar.

And then there's the Pachanga (Fiesta) starting at 4pm and going until 6pm. We'll have free food, drink, and music from Los Poboycitos. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow (and hopefully, also, your contribution to the altar)!

Formal announcement follows ...

Friday, October 28
Celebrate Día de los muertos
10:00 am – 6:00 PM
100 Jones Hall
Come out Friday to the Jones Patio to contribute an offering to the Stone Center’s ofrenda or altar. Please consider participating in our campus wide celebration of Day of the Dead. Altar installation will begin at 10:00 am and end at 4:00 pm when our end of the semester pachanga will kick-off with Los Poboycitos paying tribute to el día de los muertos.

Altar:
The altar will be outside in the Jones patio and will only be up Friday 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. If you decide to contribute something, please remember the altar is a special place where we hope vandalism does not occur but we cannot guarantee it will not. Make sure to contribute something of little monetary value. The altar will be taken down by 6:30 pm so please make sure to pick up your items if you would like them back. We will not be responsible for any item left after 6:30 pm.

In addition, special handmade crafts from Antigua, Guatemala will be on sale during the Pachanga.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rick Perry, Superman, and Illegal Immigration

This has been making the rounds and I think it's just too damn good to pass up:

 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

MBH Pottery at the Palmer Park Arts Market: Saturday, Oct. 29

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. The market will be running this coming, Saturday, October 29, from 10am-4pm, and the weather forecast looks perfect. It promises to be a beautiful day and ideal for a visit to the Arts Market. 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 Saturday at Palmer Park on the corner of Claiborne and Carrollton Avenues and look her up. 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 (and hopefully not at you!)

No Cash for Second Hand Transactions in Louisiana?

One of my regular readers (and a worthy ideological rival), Eric, sent me an email with a link to an interesting story on a piece of legislation that apparently made it through the Louisiana Legislature and somehow avoided a veto by the state Governor.

In his email, Eric indicated that outrage over this legislation was something we both could agree on.

He's right.

While I understand the impulse in this legislation to make it more difficult to traffic in stolen property, this way of going about doing this is just pure wrongheaded.

Free human beings should be able to conduct commercial transactions using cash. Forget the other problems with the legislation that exempts some second hand commercial enterprises from the requirements of this legislation. They're ultimately irrelevant to the simple priniciple of conducting business transaction using cash. We should all be able to do this.

In fact, for much of the marginalized and poor, cash transactions are the primary means of engaging in commerce. This overzealous concern with clamping down on the trafficking of stolen property has the unfortunate consequence not only of compromising economic freedom, but also of disproportionately punishing the poor.

It's a foolish piece of legislation that never should have seen the light of day.

Poem of the Day: Gerard Manley Hopkins - "Brothers"

The following poem by the Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins has always been a favorite of mine since my first exposure to it in high school. I don't think I've ever encountered a poet whose language usage is so rich and densely packed with meaning, with an unrivaled beauty of rhythm. Here it is:

Brothers
How lovely the elder brother’s
Life all laced in the other’s,
Lóve-laced!—what once I well
Witnessed; so fortune fell.
When Shrovetide, two years gone,
Our boys’ plays brought on
Part was picked for John,
Young Jóhn: then fear, then joy
Ran revel in the elder boy.
Their night was come now; all
Our company thronged the hall;
Henry, by the wall,
Beckoned me beside him:
I came where called, and eyed him
By meanwhiles; making my play
Turn most on tender byplay.
For, wrung all on love’s rack,
My lad, and lost in Jack,
Smiled, blushed, and bit his lip;
Or drove, with a diver’s dip,
Clutched hands down through clasped knees—
Truth’s tokens tricks like these,
Old telltales, with what stress
He hung on the imp’s success.
Now the other was bráss-bóld:
Hé had no work to hold
His heart up at the strain;
Nay, roguish ran the vein.
Two tedious acts were past;
Jack’s call and cue at last;
When Henry, heart-forsook,
Dropped eyes and dared not look.
Eh, how áll rúng!
Young dog, he did give tongue!
But Harry—in his hands he has flung
His tear-tricked cheeks of flame
For fond love and for shame.
Ah Nature, framed in fault,
There’s comfort then, there’s salt;
Nature, bad, base, and blind,
Dearly thou canst be kind;
There dearly thén, deárly,
I’ll cry thou canst be kind.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Celebrating Maryknoll

Maryknollers are committed to Catholic Social Teachings in the context of missionary work, and their goals are more to be in solidarity with the peoples of the developing world more so than to evangelize or convert them to the Christian faith. This year, the Maryknoll Order is celebrating its centennial anniversary as a formal Catholic religious group. Just last week, the Affiliates of New Orleans hosted a celebratory mass and reception at, of all places, St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Metairie, which happens to be where I went to grammar school. But I recently read in the newspapers about one Maryknoll Priest, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a nice man but a rabblerouser of sorts, who was arrested in Rome for engaging in an unlicensed protest. Apparently, he and a few others were delivering a petition to the Pope that is opposing and challenging the Catholic Church's policy of not ordaining women to the priesthood. While I share a certain sympathy for the cause, I just have to wonder at the timing of Fr. Bourgeois's behavior. It strikes me, in a way, as extremely selfish. At the very moment when his religious order is trying to celebrate its existence for 100 years, he is sucking attention away from the order onto his own personal crusade, one that has not only led to his excommunication, but also has placed his order in a very tough and painful position relative to the Vatican. At a moment when all Maryknollers should be celebrating, we are caught up in the divisive and painful vortex of Fr. Bourgeois's cause. Maybe this is as it should be, but it just strikes me as injudicious and improper. It certainly is being done without regard for the damage and pain that is being inflicted on the Maryknoll Order itself. I just can't understand why Fr. Bourgeois would want to do this to Maryknoll. I want to celebrate Maryknoll, not cause it grief.

Posse

Part of what has been consuming my time and energy this fall semester is my role as Tulane University's assigned mentor for the freshman group of Posse Scholars. It's been a wonderful, albeit challenging at times, experience. For those of you who don't know about the Posse Foundation and its programs, I encourage you to check it out. It's really a simple idea, but one that has been quite revolutionary in advancing a particular kind of college education. Mind you, as someone intimately involved in the program by virtue of being a trained mentor, I can say that it's not picture perfect and that there are some challenges to the program; but on balance, I think it is a very worthwhile and successful idea. I'm proud to be a part of it and to have had the chance to get to know 10 really special young scholars.

Blue Jays Win

Well, my high school Alma Mater, the Jesuit Blue Jays, are still savoring an undefeated football season so far. Tonight they beat long-time district rival, Brother Martin, 41-3 (and this victory gives Jesuit a one-game edge in the long rivalry). Congrats to the Blue Jays and to my nephew, Jacob Campos, who is a starting offensive tackle as a junior. Next week will be the big test against Rummel High School.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Quote of the Day

"To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi within six months: if Obama were a Republican, he'd be on Mount Rushmore by now." Andrew Sullivan

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Liberalism, Conservatism, and the Academy

Over at Professor Mondo's blog, the subject of Dr. Ted Gup's piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education on liberal bias and intellectual diversity in the academy was given some play. In this article, Dr. Gup, a self-identified left-leaning academic, laments the lack of ideological diversity within the academy and calls for ways to create a more comfortable environment for conservative students at college/university. Of course, I've discussed this before, but I left a comment on this blog that I think is worth repeating here. I wrote:

I’ve engaged this topic here before, but I’ll only say the following now: yes, it is true the academics in the academy lean left; but it is also true that more and more conservative high school students, and their parents, are bringing a hardened and defensive spirit into college that makes any realization of Dr. Gup’s recommendations nigh to impossible. What does it mean when a conservative student, already expecting to be uncomfortable and subject to attack simply because of holding a different belief system, is (1) either unable to articulate a reasoned defense of a position or (2) is confronted with a fellow classmate who respectfully refuses to buy into his arguments and doesn’t back down in defending a differing position, but who automatically interprets the frustration of either outcome as de facto evidence of liberal bias and ideological persecution? Just because a student spouts off a conservative or liberal position doesn’t mean that challenging that position is evidence of hostility to the ideological basis of that position — but more and more conservative students are reading into the critical thinking process evidence of ideological bias. Challenging students to think critically can be uncomfortable, regardless of political ideology. I’ve called out many liberal students for making uncritical ideological claims and challenged such students to articulate a reasoned defense of their claims, and these students never respond by thinking I’ve attacked their core belief systems; but if I do the same to a conservative student, the reaction I get more and more from them is less an openness towards developing a critical capacity regarding defending their claims and more a confirmation of Horowitz’s own brainwashing crusade that they are being persecuted because they are conservative. I’ve said before that my own experience leads me to believe that though the academics in the academy are disproportionately left-leaning, that does not necessarily translate into a left-leaning propagandistic pedagogy. If it were truly as conservatives believe it is, then a much greater percentage of college-educated students would be liberal mind-bots upon graduation. Do conservative academics really think that they are the only members of the profession who can teach a course without proselytizing their political ideology and without respecting the different ideological inclinations of their students? If they don’t hold this view, that I would ask conservative academics to give their liberal colleagues the same courtesy and benefit of the doubt that they themselves would want.
And I'll leave it at that.

What My Kids Are Listening To: Move Like Jagger - Maroon 5

I admit to liking this one a fair bit, too. Never thought I'd be able to claim this about the most recent weekly top 30 pop #1 song. I guess that's what having a teenage child will do. Anyway, here 'tis:

 

Busy, Busy

Life has got me by the cojones these days, and so I haven't found much time to delve into the blog with any kind of substance or gravity. I have a lot of things swirling in my mind that will find expression on the Upchuck, but probably not for a bit. So, given that I am still operating under my blogging self-nudge, my meeting this obligation is more than likely going to be done by light and fluffy stuff. It counts, according to my blogging self-nudge rules; but it's going to meet the bare requirements, I'm afraid. Not to worry, though, I still plan to keep the blogging self-nudge going, primarily as a matter of discipline. So stay tuned and be patient, for which I thank you in advance.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

MBH Pottery at the Blues & Barbecue Festival

In Lafayette Square. Michele will be there all day tomorrow. If you plan to attend, stop in and say hello. Tell her The Huck Upchuck sent you. Buy a pottery mug and then listen to some great blues. Best thing about it: free and open admission.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Random NOLA

Here is my next addition to Random NOLA, which is a blog posting category that features a photo that I've taken from places around the city of New Orleans that make up a part of my day. They won't be pre-arranged. And I'm going to try to make them pictures of inconspicious scenes, but potentially identifiable to the attentive native. In other words, don't expect to find pictures of the Superdome or the St. Louis Cathedral or other such easily identifiable places. Where possible, I'll also try to keep street signs out of the picture, too. The goal is not only just to share a brief, random part of the path of my day, but also to see if true NOLA-philes can figure out exactly where in the city this scene is located. So, without further ado, here's the next "Random NOLA" Photo. Click on the picture to enlarge it. Give it your best shot and put your guess in the Comments section:



Rafael Delgadillo

The power of forgiveness.  The power of love.

An inspiration.

My friend.

Himself a miracle.

Rafa.

To MCB - For Love of the Spring of 1991

I wrote this sonnet when I was 23 years old, and I wrote it for the woman who was my girlfriend at the time, and who is now my wife of nearly 18 years.  People, it works.  Write someone you love a poem. 

To MCB, For Love of the Spring of 1991

Gentle bird, sweet lark, you who softly sing
Your misfortune, tonight lie cradled in
My palm.  Some malady had befallen
Your fragile frame, had clipped your forward wing.
So I held you and tended your being,
Healing my hurt by healing yours. But when
These flowers now start to bloom, do you then
Sing your sorrow still, my songbird of Spring?

No. I'll not keep you caged behind the bars
Of affection, and so heighten your plight.
For I, who knows that clutching also scars,
Do hear your anguished song through this dark night,
Lonely and yearning for the distant stars.
For love, I free you; fly, sweet life, take flight.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dueling Trumpets

Trombone Shorty and Wynton Marsalis go at it at the House of Blues in New Orleans.

It doesn't get any better than this:

Death of an Archbishop

I haven't written about the recent death of Archbishop Phillip M. Hannan because I have been quite conflicted over the whole post-mortem affair.

On the one hand, as much as I have disagreed with Archbishop Hannan's politics and his sticking his nose in the secular affairs of state, I recognize the important role he played in this community for a long time.

Like him or not, his influence in New Orleans was considerable and impressive.

So, I guess all the pomp and circumstance surrounding his death, funeral, and burial events can be understood in this light.

But ... the whole situation also struck me as way over the top.  I found it to be excessive, gaudy, and almost obscene.  It seemed like a throwback to times where Popes and Kings governed all aspects of life, cultural, political, economic, and social.  I can't think of any other person in the recent history of New Orleans who was treated like royalty upon his death, with such pomp and circumstance.

At a very basic level of the Christian example, I also found the funeral and burial events to be just the opposite of the humility and simplicity that one would expect.  One might argue that this is more a reflection on the living faithful than it is on the Archbishop himself, but even still, I would have expected Archbishop Hannan to have tried to downplay the hoopla and to insist on a simple Christian funeral and burial.  But he didn't.  Apparently, he left no instructions about his funeral and burial, which leads me to think that he was thus consciously acquiescing to the big deal that he surely must have known people were going to want to make about his funeral and burial.  And I see that as a last act of vanity.  He's human, after all, so one can forgive him this; but I did find it to be a bit of a moral failing.

At another level, I found it personally hard to celebrate the legacy of the man's life when that life has been in many ways lived improperly.  I simply cannot forget that he unapologetically defended capital punishment, even when the Vatican itself declared that capital punishment, for all intents and purposes, was no longer morally justifiable.  I cannot forget that he publicly declared that anyone who voted for a candidate for political office who happened to be pro-choice as sinful (and if memory serves, he called it a grave and mortal sin) -- even though, again, the Vatican has never categorically declared this.  I cannot forget that he generally justified war, even when the Vatican openly opposed particular wars as unjust and inconsistent with its commitment to peaceful solutions to disputes.

The man was significant to the history of New Orleans, but he was also a deeply flawed man, too.  Outside of the unseemliness of a vicar of Christ being laid to rest with such showy pomp and circumstance in this day and age, I don't think any public servant deserves to be treated so regally in death.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Why I "Love" the Federal Government

Over the past 24-48 hours, I have been involved in an "email" debate among long-time friends of differing ideological viewpoints.  In that debate, a very good and long-time friend of mine, someone whose friendship dates back 30 years, asked me the following question:

Jimmy, why do you love the federal government?
My friend comes from a very privileged background. He is extremely smart. One of the smartest people I know. He graduated from Stanford University and later finished at the top of his med school class. He is now a successful and prominent dermatologist. I'm happy for him and don't begrudge him his success one iota. He's earned it. But it is also the fact that he has never known material deprivation in his life. He has never experienced poverty. He is also a Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh conservative and he absolutely loathes the federal government -- hence his question to me. This is how I responded:
I wouldn't say that I "love" the federal government. But I will say that the federal work-study program and the subsidized college loan program made it possible for me, leech that I am on the American taxpayer, to get a college education that my parents could not afford. And I'm grateful to the federal government for that. And without the FHA, my parents would not have been able to raise their family in a modest home out in Kenner. Additionally, there was a short time in my family's life when I was a kid during which the food stamp program put food on the table. I'm grateful for that, too. I also know a whole bunch of folks, including a fair number of conservatives, who managed to rebuild a life and a home after Hurricane Katrina because of the evil and useless federal government. 
Maybe the federal government has never been important to your life, [insert name of my friend]; but it has made a positive difference in mine and in that of many other people I know. It ain't perfect, but it can fill a void that needs filling when no other entity is able or willing to step up to the plate.
There are many Tea Party conservatives whose lives are made better, or whose lives have been made better, in some way by the federal government and its programs -- whether its the GI bill, the Medicare program, SBA loan programs, Federal Student Loan programs, public works and infrastructure projects, federally-subsidized vaccination programs, FHA first-time home buyer loan programs, the FEMA federal flood insurance program, etc. Historical memory is short for many beneficiaries of these programs, who tend to forget these things once their feet become firmly planted on the ground. Of course, even people like my friend, who never suffered such deprivation so as to require the social safety net programs of the Federal Government, tend not to think of how the federal government has been a benefit to their welfare, too (through access to tax breaks, credits, and subsidized business loan programs that poor people aren't eligible for). I just wish more of these folks would acknowledge this.

Reliving the 80s

Yes, I admit, I was a huge Huey Lewis and the News fan.

Three of my favorites:





Friday, October 07, 2011

Why Do Some Conservatives Resent My Success?

I have lately been reflecting on my life, where I came from and where I've ended up; and I find that what I consider to be a crowning achievement tends to be viewed by many conservatives as something to belittle.

I grew up in a working-class family.  My parents got married at ages 18 (dad) and 17 (mom).  They didn't finish high school and had to settle for their GEDs.  My parents had 6 kids in 7 years.  By the time my mom was 24 and my dad was 25, we had an 8-person family.  My dad worked 6 to 7 days a week as an electrician.  And as my siblings and I grew up and became more expensive to feed and clothe, my mom had to find a job as a secretary/clerk just so we could avoid having to rely on food stamps and welfare to survive.  This happened when I, the oldest, was about 13 years old.  I remember getting home from school before my mom did and having to hold down the fort for about an hour or so until my mom got home from work.

I always did well in school; but in order to help out the family finances, I started working when I was about 14 years old at the family electrical contracting company, where my dad worked, as an electrician's helper, so that I could earn my lunch money and a bit of pocket money to buy my own clothes so that my parents wouldn't have to spend their incomes on these things for me.  I would work every Saturday during the school year and would work the entire summer.

The whole approach to life in my family was shared sacrifice, hard work, and compassion for the poor -- partly because we were always on the verge of poverty ourselves and so we could relate.

I was smart enough to earn admission to some very good private colleges; and my family was poor enough to qualify for need-based scholarships/grants, plus federally-subsidized college loans.  So I went into debt and maxed out my federal work-study awards to earn some pocket money in order to see me through college.  I worked about 15-20 hours a week, on average, as a student worker through the work-study program; and I got my college degree.

I could only afford to fly home for Christmas and for the summer break.  I spent every Thanksgiving and Spring Break in Washington, DC, where I wen to college at Georgetown University.  Sometimes, I spent those holidays alone because everyone else I knew was headed home for the breaks.

I did well enough in college, and scored high enough on the GRE test, to be admitted to graduate school with a full fellowship and a modest living stipend.  And so I went to graduate school, during which time I also worked side jobs to supplement my income.  At the end of this whole process, I walked away with a Ph.D. in a field of study that I absolutely love.  And I have been working a dream job as a college professor and administrator ever since.

For their part, my parents and the rest of my extended family are proud of my accomplishments.  And it gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction to have measured up to their expectations.  In fact, I sometimes am embarrassed by my family's deference to my accomplishments.  My parents, in the pride that only parents can have about their kids' accomplishments, often joke with me and to their friends about how I'm sure to be next in line to advise the President on important matters of foreign policy related to the Latin American region or be the next Ambassador to Mexico or some such foolishness (my Ph.D. is in Latin American Studies, with a concentration in Latin American Politics and International Relations).  It's all done in a spirit of good-natured banter, but I can tell that they are extremely proud of my accomplishments.  My career in academia is celebrated as evidence of hard work, accomplishment, and success.  

And I must admit that I, myself, am proud of this accomplishment, too.  I see where I am today as the epitome of the American dream; and I see my ability to occupy a position among an intellectual elite that can advance knowledge at a very high and complex level of thought as something to embrace as worthy and good.  It is a validation of all that hard work and sacrifice that both I and my family have done over the years to get me to this point.

It is primarily for this reason that I get angry when conservatives seek to belittle my academic and intellectual achievements.  I fail to grasp how my success is somehow less admirable than any other person's success, that my success as an academic is much more worthy of ridicule, just because my success is wrapped up in an ability to deploy my mind at a high level, because I can fashion complex arguments in a debate, because I can write and speak in grammatically and rhetorically "proper" ways, because I can call upon a relatively much larger vocabulary and intellectual toolkit than the average person, etc.

The "wealth" of my accomplishments in not contained in my bank account, but in my cerebrum.   Conservatives who criticize my "wealth" are doing nothing less than what they claim liberals do to those whose wealth is measured by the dollars they have in their savings accounts.  Furthermore, they are insulting the very measure of success that they claim to embrace: a person who rose up against difficult odds and earned his place in the realm of the intellectual elite.  And, in a way, they are also insulting those among my family who made my success possible.  It's really quite a shame that achieving such an accomplishment is viewed so suspiciously and, often, derisively, by many on the right.  I think it's fair to say that the Tea Partier who, upon finding out that I have a Ph.D. and that I work at a prestigious private college, doesn't have a knee-jerk hostile reaction to my accomplishment, is an endangered species.

Why such folks would resent my success is something that I just cannot understand.

Monday, October 03, 2011

From the Archives: 7 Random or Weird Facts about Huck

(1) I swoon for Commander's Palace Bread Pudding Souffle With Whiskey Sauce. (Recipe here.) I think it's the best dessert in the entire universe.

(2) I was strip-searched by Swiss immigration authorities in Geneva after an overnight train ride from Barcelona during my undergraduate Junior Semester Abroad program travels. Given how I looked at the time, I can't say that I blame them. But, truth be told, I was very nicely treated during the whole process. Seriously.

(3) I gave up a full-ride academic merit scholarship for undergraduate studies at Tulane University to pay to go to Georgetown University. I almost gave my working-class father an aneurysm. (You must remember that I am the oldest child of six kids, with the youngest only 7 years my junior. My parents were looking at a steady stream of college tuitions for six kids spread out over 11 years. To his credit, my father now looks back on that decision and recognizes that it was the best thing I could have done.)

(4) I wrote a Sestina in honor of American writer Bernard Malamud. If you want to read the thing, I've posted it in the comments.

(5) When I was about 12-yrs-old, while playing a street version of cricket that we used to call "Cool Can" in my hood, I ran teeth first into a basketball goal post, suffering nothing more than a cracked front tooth. (Don't ask me how that was even possible without a busted lip and stitches, but I assure you it happened.)

(6) I think this is the greatest breakfast cereal of all time.

(7) Many, many years ago I studied ballet. Really and truly. Still thinking I had the ballet chops many years and many fried shrimp po-boys later, in a fit of Mardi Gras (2005) madness, after having disembarked from my float [I ride in the Thoth parade] on Magazine Street (around State Street), so that a flat tire on our float could be repaired, I gave a brief performance, which some of my graduate students captured on video and, to my horror, posted on YouTube. (Be duly advised: I neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of this clip. Also, you click and watch at your own risk).

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Another Good Con Blog

It's always nice to find another academic, especially one who represents a reasonable and thoughtful conservative viewpoint, who also blogs.  Professor Mondo, whose blog I found through Morgan Freeberg's House of Eratosthenes blog (another usually reasonable conservative), has been nice enough to include the Huck Upchuck on his blogroll.  Although I do try to be a nice guy (and I've returned the favor to Professor Mondo by listing him on my blogroll) I can't claim to be reasonable and nice all of the time (As some of my regulars will confirm, I am prone to get excited on occasion and to spout off irresponsibly and carelessly at times); but I do appreciate that Professor Mondo's style of writing and thinking (kinda cerebral) matches my own.  Anyway, check his blog out.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

What My Kids Are Listening To: Gym Class Heroes - Stereo Hearts

I kinda really dig this one:




The Anti-Federalists on "Going Rogue"

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to read the Federalist Papers and the contemporary responses to them (often referred to as the Anti-Federalist Papers).  I have been slowly and sporadically doing this.  The Federalist Papers, as most students of American politics know, constitute an intellectual defense of the U.S. Constitution and the structure of the kind of centralized federal government, with its appropriate checks and balances, that it outlines.  The preference of the authors of the Federalist Papers was a government that tempered the excesses of dispersed "democracy" through the form of a representative "republic." The Anti-Federalists tended to prefer the more flexible and decentralized structure of a confederation of states.  The Anti-Federalists, we might say, were suspicious of the power of centralized authority in a unitary federal government, even with the introduction of "checks and balances" in the U.S. Constitution.

In other words, I would argue that the Anti-Federalists could be considered the intellectual forbears of the contemporary anti-establishment, anti-elitist, states rights movement in the U.S., i.e. the "Tea Party."  [An aside note: the original "Tea Party" was really a movement against a colonial central authority, Great Britain.  It was not a movement that would have viewed a national, freely-determined representative government of the United States as illegitimate.  "Taxation Without Representation" was the cry of the original Tea Partiers; but modern-day Tea Partiers can't really claim that they have no voice in constituting the "Representation" of their government.  It is a misnomer.  Modern-day Tea Partiers are much more akin to the confederationists of early America; and I believe the authors of the Federalist Papers and the defenders of the federal Constitution would view modern-day Tea Partiers with derision if not contempt, much like they did the Anti-Federalists of their day.]

Back to point ... if modern-day Tea Partiers can be connected to the Anti-Federalists of yore, and if we view Sarah Palin as a representative icon of the modern-day Tea Party movement, wouldn't it be curious to try to see how the Anti-Federalists may have understood Palin?

Well, in reading an Anti-Federalist tract published anonymously in the Maryland Gazette and Baltimore Advisor on March 7, 1788, I found a little tidbit that really interested me in relation to the narrative that Sarah Palin has constructed for herself today.

Sarah Palin has positioned herself as "roguish."  I've always been baffled by that, because being a "rogue" has always had a kind of negative association.  Yet, Sarah Palin has embraced that moniker.  As we know, she even titled her first book: Going Rogue.  I think it's also clear that Palin is appropriating the kind of mischievous, anti-establishment side of the definition, as if that is something positive.  But the Anti-Federalists thought of the "rogue" in a very different light.  Here's that little tidbit from the Anti-Federalist piece I mentioned above:

No man of merit can ever be disgraced by office. A rogue in office may be feared in some governments -- he will be respected in none.
I think Sarah Palin, the inheritor and modern-day claimant of the Anti-Federalist intellectual tradition -- though I doubt that she has ever read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers and that she is even aware that her views come out of this tradition -- would be wise to consider the counsel of some of her anti-establishment, confederationist "Founding Fathers" and stay away from the "rogue" label. The risk is that most people will wise up and think of her "going rogue" not as anything truly admirable, but as nothing more than foolish hardheadedness, impulsive and thoughtless contrarianism, and thuggish bullying that also comes with the term. The longer she plays that game, the more it is evident that the risk's negative outcomes are becoming realized in the minds of Americans.

The Commandments of the American Religion

"Crunchy Con" Rod Dreher, whose blog postings I have been enjoying very much recently (he's become, like Andrew Sullivan, one of my daily reads), references in one of his postings a column by James Altucher that posits some of what Altucher would call the great American shibboleths. Conventional beliefs that are sacrosanct in the American consciousness. But Altucher also believes that these "Commandments of the American Religion" constitute a "fickle and false religion." It's an interesting list. Here they are, listed simply without elaboration (see Altucher's piece for more explanation):

#1 Thou Shalt Own a Home.
#2 Thou Shalt Go to College.
#3 Thou Shalt Recognize that Some Wars Are Holy.
#4 Thou Shalt Obey the Constitution.
#5 Thou Shalt Give to Charity.
#6 Thou Shalt Obey the Food & Drug Administration.
#7 Thou Shalt Always Vote.
#8 Thou Shalt Choose Between Two Political Parties.
#9 Thou Shalt Recognize the Media as the "Fourth Estate."
#10 Thou Shalt Forever Progress Toward the Frontier.
It is interesting, isn't it? I'm not sure I buy into all of them, but it does make one think. Anyway, Dreher asks his readers if there's anything to add to this list. Of course, I came up with one:

#11 Thou Shalt Revere the Individual Above All Else and Place No False Gods of Community Before Him.