Big news from Williamsburg!

How many times have you seen that in a headline in this century? 

First of all, there’s a Visiting Assistant Professor position in early American history for academic year 2011-12 “with the possibility of renewal.”  The job carries a 2-3 course load and a wonderful community of other early Americanist faculty and graduate students.  One year in Williamsburg seems just about right.  (It reminds me of that old W.C. Fields joke:  “First Prize, one week in Philadelphia!  Second Prize, two weeks in Philadelphia!”)

Secondly, we see that the deadline is nigh for short-term fellowships from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for projects that are closely related to the collections of the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, “with its distinguished collection of primary and secondary sources relating to eighteenth-century Williamsburg, the colonial Chesapeake, African American studies, decorative arts and material culture through 1830, archaeology, architectural history, digital history, and historic preservation. An important component of the work of the Foundation’s Division of Research and Historical Interpretation, Rockefeller Library fellowships primarily support research on topics related to British America, the American Revolution, and the Early Republic.”  Continue reading

Monday movies: Paddle to the Sea

All of this talk about elementary school makes me remember one of my favorite movies from my school days: Paddle to the Sea (1966). We saw this annually in Great Lakes country where I grew up. And of course, it stars a doll–Kyle Apatagon’s clever creation, “Paddle to the Sea.”

Do you know this movie, or does it stir a distant memory? I find it mesmerizing still–it’s a glimpse of an experience that’s something new for most urban or suburban children. If you have young children in your life please share this movie with them.

Rodeo Queen of Heaven, hear my prayer

This is Arthur Lopez’s “Robert Reina del Cielo,” or “Rodeo Queen of Heaven,” a clever little santo, or devotional sculpture of the Holy Family that I saw today at the Denver Art Museum (more info here, although as you’ll see they misspell cielo.)  Ain’t it swell?  Dig baby Jesus’s hand raised in the preaching (and/or bronco busting and bull-riding) position, just as in the European tradition. 

At least it’s the most important parts of the Holy Family–the Madonna and Child, natch.  Joseph:  he’s always seemed like the Ken of the Holy Family to me.  Barbie and Skipper seem to do just fine without him.

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Christmas shopping for the kids just got a lot easier!

All kids love log!

Have you heard the pseudo-scientific news?  Human girls are biologically programmed to play with dollies like little mommies!  A recent study suggests that female juvenile chimps play with sticks and nurture them like babies, whereas male juveniles turn their sticks into weapons or other manly toys–it’s scientifically proven.  Echidne has the goods, as I knew she would.  She’s got an interesting follow-up post on a 2007 study of a Senagalese chimp community that found that female adult chimps led the way in tool-making and killing in their communities–but as she notes, that study didn’t go viral now, did it?  She writes, “[I]t’s every bit as significant as the new stick study, only it shows female chimps as tool makers and as killers. So are we going to draw conclusions about human society from that one, too?”

One of the aspects of these studies that purport to show the essential or biological basis for gendered behaviors in humans is how selective we are in looking to the non-human animal kingdom for justification of human behaviors.  After all, what is “natural” behavior?  $hitting outdoors, scratching our crotches, and smearing our scent everywhere is “natural,” I suppose.  Human societies have developed multiple different technologies and etiquettes for dealing with all of these “natural” needs and urges.  Continue reading

Denver: zero tolerance for misfit toys

"They blew him up???"

It’s rough out there for a robot.  Check out this story from the Denver Post this morning:

A robot met its end near Coors Field on Wednesday night when the Denver Police Department Bomb Squad detonated the “suspicious object,” bringing to an end the hours-long standoff between police and the approximately 8-inch-tall figurine.

Denver police spokesman Matt Murray said a citizen called police at 3:27 p.m. to report the presence of the plastic, white, toy robot, cemented to the base of a pillar supporting a footbridge near 20th and Wazee streets. Police closed 20th Street between Blake Street and Chestnut Place but did let a few people past the police tape to retrieve cars parked in nearby lots.

Nobody was allowed within about 100 yards of the robot.

Thank goodness state and local governments got all of that federal grant money after 9/11 to purchase anti-terrorist equipment and beef up their bomb squads!  Continue reading

"Science Cheerleaders": feminist FAIL

When I read Zuska’s comments about Science Cheerleader, I thought Science Cheerleader had to be a parody.  Apparently it’s not–but it is in fact a total joke, because (for example) it suggests that “What Everyone Needs To Know To Be A (sic) Science Literate” is the cheerleaders from the Philadelphia 76ers in spangly bras and short-shorts reading the words of an actual physicist.  The actual physicist does not don a bra-top and short-shorts and read the science concepts himself.  I wonder why not?  Maybe because he understands that it’s never a mark of status to appear publicly in a state of undress?  (In my period and field, for example, the only people portrayed as unclothed are enslaved people–and they’re almost never represented as wearing clothing at all, whereas 17th and 18th century portraits of white people are more portraits of clothing than of individuals.  Clothes make the man, indeed!)

Anyway, back to science.  Zuska writes:

Okay, let’s play what if. What if the Science Cheerleaders are responsible for making just one girl stick with her science & math classes – isn’t it all worthwhile then?

Let’s say the Science Cheerleaders do keep one girl in advanced science or math classes, but make three other girls feel like they have to pornulate themselves in order to be 21st Century Fembot Compliant While Doing Science, and make five d00ds feel like it is perfectly okay to hang up soft porn pictures of sexay hawt babes in the lab and harass some colleague because hawt science women WANT to be appreciated for being sexay and smart! – is it still worth it?

She then goes on to describe an effective outreach program she worked with to get more girls, especially girls who would be first-generation college students, into STEM fields.   Continue reading

Monday Roundup: Road runner edition

How-deeLa Famille Historiann, such as it is, had a fantastic weekend camping trip in Arches National Park.  I swear, ANP must have the friendliest, cutest, and nicest park rangers in all of the 50 states–how do they do it?  And the Devil’s Playground Campground was not just pictureseque, but immaculate.  I mean, eat off the bathroom floor immaculate, and I’ve never said that about a public restroom in my life. (I’ve never imagined saying it about a public restroom, quite frankly.)  This may have been due to the fact that a number of campers and RVs were camping closest to our local bathroom in the park, but there were plenty of other tent campers like us.  You can do a lot worse for 20 bucks a night, friends.  The wind- and rainstorm we endured Saturday night was dramatic, but hardly a deal-breaker.  But be sure to make on-line reservations–unbelievably, on Halloween weekend, this campground was full. 

You were all so good while I was away!  I wish I could give you all some of the candy that we have leftover after Halloween, for which we inevitably over-purchase.  So, these bibelots will have to do:

  • First of all, check out Dr. Cleveland, who it turns out is a dude.  He explains why it’s not the same thing when a student comes on to a straight, white male professor as when a male student does the same–or is otherwise inappropriate–to a female professor:  “Basically, all a male college professor has to do to repel such invitations is ignore them. A student has a fantasy, no matter how durable or ephemeral, of being pursued by an older man; if the older man doesn’t pursue, that’s pretty much the ballgame. . . . Does the student just have a garden-variety crush, or is she actually hoping to act out her fantasies? Doesn’t matter; there’s not much she can do without the male faculty member’s cooperation. Male privilege is not only powerful, but it’s convenient.  A woman professor, unfortunately, doesn’t have to distinguish the male students with harmless crushes from the ones who are prone to act out, either, because the young men who want to act out do. If the script is ‘man pursues,’ a young man with a sexual interest in his professor is apt to make unequivocal gestures.”  Continue reading