Overheard In UNC Classroom:

PROF: In this box, I 
have a 10-foot snake.

STUDENT: You can't fool 

me, Teacher... snakes 
don't have feet.


PROF: How can you 

prevent diseases 
caused by biting 


bite any.


Professor Howdy said...

I try to take one day at a time,
but sometimes several days
attack me at once.

Professor Howdy said...

Culture and Crime
More Thoughts on the Jena 6

Note: This commentary was delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.

I recently told you that events in Jena, Louisiana, raised important questions about the role of race in our criminal justice system.

But there's more to this issue than just race—there is a cultural dimension to the problem as well.

That cultural dimension was recently articulated by the distinguished sociologist and historian Orlando Patterson of Harvard. In a Sunday New York Times op-ed, Patterson cites the numbers—African-Americans make up 13 percent of the general population, but 50 percent of those in prison. He asks: "How, after decades of undeniable racial progress, did we end up with this virtual gulag of racial incarceration?"

Part of the answer undeniably lies in the way that our laws, especially our drug laws, are enforced. As Patterson writes, our criminal justice system "unfairly focuses on drug offenses and other crimes more likely to be committed by blacks . . ."

Combine this with "draconian mandatory sentencing" laws, and there is little wonder that so many young black men are behind bars. Still, the sad truth is that even if racism were eradicated from our criminal justice system, young black men would still form a disproportionate percentage of prisoners.

Why? Patterson points the finger at what he calls a "crisis in relations between men and women of all classes." The result of this is the "catastrophic state of black family life, especially among the poor."

This "catastrophic state" is best illustrated by the fact that "some 70 percent of black babies are born to single mothers." Patterson writes that this "absence of fathers" is "undoubtedly a major cause of youth delinquency."

As a result of this absence of fathers, "far too many African-Americans" face a "lack of paternal support and discipline." Single mothers are forced to work "regardless of the effect on their children's care."

This leaves their children vulnerable to gangs, which often function as "parental substitutes" and what Patterson calls the "ghetto-fabulous culture of the streets."

These conditions then combine with the criminal justice system to make "hardened criminals of nonviolent drug offenders." The result is a self-perpetuating "vicious cycle" that produces young men who are "unemployable, unreformable, and unmarriageable."

These are hard words from Patterson, not only for African-Americans like Patterson, but for all of us. The "catastrophic state" Patterson writes about is the result of cultural trends and ideas about the family that originated outside inner-city neighborhoods. As political scientist James Q. Wilson has pointed out, the poor and marginalized were simply more vulnerable to these forces.

Whatever the causes, Christians cannot stand by and do nothing while this "vicious cycle" perpetuates itself. Prison Fellowship is dedicated to breaking the cycle: by working for a more just criminal justice system and through Angel Tree, which reaches out to the most vulnerable victims of this cycle, the children of inmates. And here at BreakPoint, we seek to equip Christians to oppose the false values and ideas that help to cause so much misery.

A great deal has gone wrong to bring us where we are today. It is time for God's people to dedicate themselves to setting things aright.

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Professor Howdy said...

Dear Spike,

I have been unable to sleep since I forced my daughter
to break off her engagement to you. Will you forgive
& forget?

I was much too sensitive about your Mohawk, tattoo,
and pierced nose. I now realize motorcycles aren't really
that dangerous, and I really should not have reacted the
way I did to the fact that you have never held a job.

I am sure, too, that some other very nice people live
under the bridge in the park.

Sure, my daughter is only 17 and wants to marry you
instead of going to Harvard on a full ride scholarship.
After all, you can't learn everything about life from books.
I sometimes forget how backward I can be. I was wrong.
I was a fool. I have now come to my senses, and you
have my full blessing to marry my daughter.


Your future father-in-law

P. S. Congratulations on winning the Powerball lottery!

Professor Howdy said...


~ Anita Baker and Humble Pie
~ Asleep at The Wheel and ZZ Top
~ Bad Company and Motley Crue
~ Blondie and Split Enz
~ Bob Dylan and Wheezer
~ Boston and Cream
~ Cracker and The Jam

~ Crash Test Dummies and Third Eye Blind
~ Cream and Puff Daddy
~ Dizzy Gilespie and Ten Times Fast
~ Donna Summer and Edgar Winter
~ Eddie Rabbit and Echo & the Bunnymen
~ Fine Young Cannibals and Missing Persons
~ Flock of Seagulls and Everybodyduck

~ Foreigner and Bad English
~ Guess Who and The Who
~ Jethro Tull and The Clampetts
~ Josie & The Pussycats and Cat Stevens
~ Kajagoogoo and The Babies
~ Kansas and Toto (and add Ozzy)
~ Meatloaf and Salt-N-Pepa

~ Michael Jackson and Enigma
~ Milli Vanilli and The Pretenders
(or Milli Vanilli and Cheap Trick)
~ Neneh Cherry and Fiona Apple
~ Pearl Jam and Bread
~ Phish and Styx
~ Ratt and Poison

~ Smashing Pumpkins and The Smithereens
~ Spice Girls and Simple Minds
~ Styx and Stones
~ Tammy Graham and Cracker
~ T-bone and Skillet
~ The Beatles and Black Flag
~ The Cranberries and Juice Newton
~ The Lost Dogs and Stray Cats

~ The Mamas and the Papas and The Offspring
~ The Monkees and Bananarama
~ Three Dog Night and Bow Wow Wow
~ Traffic and The Jam
~ Twisted Sister and the Doobie Brothers
~ Us3 and U2
~ Vanilla Ice and Cream

Professor Howdy said...

"By way of background: Kyrgyzstan is an actual nation
located in the western hemisphere. Or possibly the eastern
hemisphere. It's definitely in a hemisphere. Historically,
Kyrgyzstan is part of the group of nations -- also including
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kurdistan -- that
were founded by a tribe of men named 'Stan.'" -- Dave

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