Weekend roundup: boob tube rubes and working class dudes edition

How 'bout some coffee, friends?

Good morning, all y’all tenderfeet and dudes!  Here is a collection of some interesting news and views that Historiann roped up this morning.  I’ll be out mending fences this weekend before the next big Rocky Mountain snowstorm comes in tomorrow–pour yourself a cup of cowboy coffee to ward off the chill of that Alberta Clipper, and read on:

First of all, Judith Warner provides more evidence for the viewpoint that raising your children among the upper middle-class in these United States makes you a bad person.  (Don’t get me wrong–I admire her honesty, but it sounds like she would have been happier if she and her family had stayed in France.)

Here’s an evidence-based argument that the teevee–watching it and appearing on it–makes you stupid:  Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler says that cable TV and Washington village media politics have taken over Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC (see Wednesday’s and Friday’s edition especially.)  Sad, sad, sad.

Am I cynical about the teevee?  You bet!  Historiann has had brushes with TV documentaries:  I appeared in one historical documentary, “Captive:  the Story of Esther” on the subject of my current research.  I was interviewed several times over the course of 18 months before the shoot, and I believe that my ideas were influential with the filmmakers.  Around the same time, I was contacted by the producers of another documentary that wasn’t on my research topic.  When I told them that I had no particular insights to offer or research expertise in the topic and therefore felt that I was unqualified to appear in it, they replied, “oh, you’re very well qualified,” and went on to explain that the sole qualification for the job was basic literacy.  They wanted me merely to read a script, probably in front of a bookcase full of books to prove that I’m a “real” historian.  No, thankee!  That’s a job for a chimp–well, a chimp that reads, anyway.  The only TV gig I dream of is an appearance on C-SPAN 2:  Book TV.  Production values a-go-go, am I right?  (I love it, but it reminds me of community cable access in the 1980s.)

Memo to Tom Daschle:  Health care for all won’t happen if your plan is just giant subsidies for private, for-profit insurance companies.  Remember the $700 billion doled out to the banks this fall?  And how has that worked out for us?  Are you feeling the liquidity, my darlings?

In a related story, Susie Madrak reports on a trip to the University of Pennsylvania dental clinic, where it sounds like the student dentist needs an empathy implant.  (And she provides more evidence that upper middle-class and elite Americans are bad, bad people who seem to have forgotten a little amendment to the U.S. Constitution I like to call the No Slavery Allowed amendment.)

Finally, some good news for working women and men, also via Susie at Suburban Guerilla:  the United Food and Commercial Workers has successfully unionized the Smithfield Packing slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, N.C.

Et vous, mes amis?  How are you planning to de-ice and warm up this weekend?

Actual progress for the new Obama WPA?

What's wrong with this picture?

Via Knitting Clio, we see that there’s a letter drafted by a group of prominent U.S. women’s historians to President-elect Barack Obama asking that his jobs-based stimulus package not replicate the same biases of the WPA.  Read on to see a draft of the letter, and the contact information for signing on:

Friends and colleagues,
Attached is a letter to President-elect Obama making a historical case for more attention to gender equity in the proposed stimulus package.  It is based on a draft circulated by Linda Gordon with input from several others.  We are sending it out to you now in the hope of gathering signatures from students of history–which we mean in the most inclusive sense.  To sign on, please send an email with your name and affiliation to Alice O’Connor:  aoconnor(ampersand)history(dot)ucsb(dot)edu.  Please respond NO LATER THAN 5pm (PST) Monday December 15.  We plan to send the letter on Tuesday, and then to have it posted on appropriate websites.  And DO forward to others.  With thanks in advance for your help,

Linda Gordon, New York University
Mimi Abramovitz, Hunter College
Rosalyn Baxandall, SUNY Old Westbury
Eileen Boris, UC Santa Barbara
Rosie Hunter
Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University
Alice O’Connor, UC Santa Barbara
Annelise Orleck, Dartmouth College
Sally Stein, UC Irvine

Dear President-elect Obama,

As students of American history, we are heartened by your commitment to a jobs stimulus program inspired by the New Deal and aimed at helping “Main Street.” We firmly believe that such a strategy not only helps the greatest number in our communities but goes a long way toward correcting longstanding national problems.

For all our admiration of FDR’s reform efforts, we must also point out that the New Deal’s jobs initiative was overwhelmingly directed toward skilled male and mainly white workers. This was a mistake in the 1930s and it is a far greater mistake in the 21st century economy, when so many families depend on women’s wages and when our nation is even more racially diverse.

We all know that our country’s infrastructure is literally rusting away. But our social infrastructure is equally important to a vibrant economy and livable society, and it too is crumbling. Investment in education and jobs in health and care work shores up our national welfare as well as our current and future productivity. Revitalizing the economy will require better and more widespread access to education to foster creative approaches and popular participation in responding to the many challenges we face.

As you wrestle with the country’s desperate need for universal health insurance, we know you are aware that along with improved access we need to prioritize expenditure on preventive health. We could train a corps of health educators to work in schools and malls and medical offices. As people live longer, the inadequacy of our systems of care for the disabled and elderly becomes ever more apparent. While medical research works against illness and disability, there is equal need for people doing the less noticed work of supervision, rehabilitation and personal care.

We are also concerned that if the stimulus package primarily emphasizes construction it is likely to reinforce existing gender inequities. Women today make up 46 percent of the labor force. Simple fairness requires creating that proportion of job opportunities for them. Some of this can and should be accomplished through training programs and other measures to help women enter traditionally male-occupied jobs. But it can also be accomplished by creating much-needed jobs in the vital sectors where women are now concentrated.

The most popular programs of the New Deal were its public jobs. They commanded respect in large part because the results were so visible: tens of thousands of new courthouses, firehouses, hospitals, and schools; massive investment in road-building, reforestation, water and sewage treatment, and other aspects of the nation’s physical plant–not to mention the monumental Golden Gate and Triborough Bridges, the Grand Coulee and Bonneville dams. But the construction emphasis discriminated against women. At best women were 18% of those hired and, like non-white men, got inferior jobs. While some of the well-educated obtained jobs through the small white-collar and renowned arts programs, the less well educated were put to work in sewing projects, often at busy work, and African American and Mexican American women were slotted into domestic service. This New Deal policy assumed that nearly all women had men to support them and underestimated the numbers of women who were supporting dependents.

Today most policy-makers recognize that the male-breadwinner-for-every-household assumption is outdated. Moreover, experts agree that, throughout the globe, making jobs and income available to women greatly improves family wellbeing. Most low-income women, like men, are eager to work, but the jobs available to them too often provide no sick leave, no health insurance, no pensions and, for mothers, pay less than the cost of child care. The part-time jobs that leave mothers adequate time to care for their children almost never provide these benefits.

Meanwhile the country needs a stronger social as well as physical infrastructure. Teachers, social workers, elder and child-care providers and attendants for disabled people are overwhelmed with the size of their classes and caseloads. We need more teachers and teachers’ aides, nurses and nurses’ aides, case workers, playground attendants, day-care workers, home care workers; we need more senior centers, after-school programs, athletic leagues, music and art lessons. These are not luxuries, although locality after locality has had to cut them. They are the investments that can make the U.S. economically competitive as we confront an increasingly dynamic global economy. Like physical infrastructure projects, these jobs-rich investments are, literally, ready to go.

A jobs-centered stimulus package to revitalize and “green” the economy needs to make caring work as important as construction work. We need to rebuild not only concrete and steel bridges but also human bridges, the social connections that create cohesive communities. We need a stimulus program that is maximally inclusive. History shows us that these concerns cannot be postponed until big business has returned to “normal.” We look to the new administration not just for recovery but for a more humane direction—and in the awareness that what happens in the first 100 days and in response to immediate need sets the framework for the longer haul of reform.

Nicely done.  Who could argue with that?  (Aside from people who think raising any feminist issue is “divisive,” I mean?  And who really cares what they think?)  Spread the word, academic feminist bloggers (and other likeminded folk.)

In solidarity,


Money, class, and the values of academe

At the top of this post, I’d just like to stipulate that I am extremely phobic about money.  I never open my TIAA-CREF statements, and for years I avoided consulting the “little black book” in the library that reveals the salaries of everyone at my public institution, for fear of learning how vastly underpaid I was.  (When I did consult it, I learned that I was underpaid by a little, but above all I found that I and all of my colleagues were “compressed” tightly together with our below-average salaries.)  Because of my crippling money anxieties, I’m probably losing out on tens of thousands of dollars I might be able to save or invest more wisely, but then, that’s the price of my happy obliviousness.  (At least I don’t carry credit card debt, and I never have had to–thank goodness.)

I found these two interesting, somewhat oppositional posts at Reassigned Time and Tenured Radical this week about universities and money in these hard times.  On the one hand, TR reminds us that for those of us “regular” faculty who have tenure, it’s rather unseemly to complain when our colleagues on the staff may face layoffs because of budgetary downturns.  In discussing the likelihood of a faculty salary freeze at her college next  year, she says “Agreeing to a salary freeze, when it is explained as part of a well-reasoned plan is sticking out your hand and playing your role as a partner in the enterprise,” and then continues:

The strangest thing I have heard — and I have heard it from more than one person — is the narrative of sacrifice, in which a faculty member claims to have chosen university teaching when other, far more lucrative work was possible, but in an act of self-abnegation chose to teach the unwashed masses who seem to cluster regularly at private colleges and universities. Having made this sacrifice, the story goes, no others should be required: nay, this person should receive raises while others near and far, working class and middle class people working in soulless occupations, lose their jobs.

While it is not required of us to be grateful for having jobs as unemployment gallops to new highs, it is worth remembering that life isn’t fair. When we are not being rewarded with cash prizes for our accomplishments, it might be a good time to figure out if there are personal rewards other than money that cause you to stay committed to teaching and the production of knowledge. If there are not, I strongly suggest you use the safety of your tenured position to explore another line of work that would make you happy.

Fair enough.  But, I would suggest that very few of even us tenured folk teach at wealthy “private colleges and universities” or tony SLACs like TR.  (Having taught at a few different private universities, I can attest to the fact that they’re not all wealthy–in fact, some sectarian universities are perpetually struggling.)  Dr. Crazy at Reassigned Time reports that at her university, the faculty are being charged more for parking and health insurance, course releases are gone, travel money is vanishing despite the fact that the research requirements are rising, and yet, “[i]t’s being strongly hinted that faculty should give money to keep certain things afloat.”  She continues:

I get really angry when it comes to all of the above. The bottom line is that I work at this place, and every such request that faculty “do their part” makes me feel like my work isn’t valued – like I’m not already doing my part by teaching in [fracked] up classrooms without the equipment that I need, quietly accepting that I have an office with no heat and that’s 400 miles away from the printer, teaching four freaking maxed out classes a semester, etc. I feel like people have their hands in my pockets and like they’re taking money that is mine and that I earned. And while I get the fact that a university is a special kind of place, blah blah blah, I kind of want to tell everybody that they can [frack] off and that I don’t make enough on a humanities salary, no matter how giving a heart I possess (and really, I don’t possess one of those, but for the sake of argument), to keep a university in the black. $hit, I’m not in the black just in terms of my personal finances. And yet, because of all of the PR surrounding this $hit, I feel guilty when I don’t give. You know what? Screw it. No more guilt. I’ll feel guilty when my student loans are paid off. Until that time, they’ll just have to be happy that I do my freaking job.

Mind you, Dr. Crazy’s book has just come out, so we know the girl works hard for the money.  I bow to her achievements, producing a book while teaching a 4-4 load.  I think most people would agree that faculty salary freezes are not the worst thing in the world, and that if everyone at an institution is suffering, then faculty shouldn’t be exempt, but I also think that most people would recognize that working at an already-beleaguered institution with high teaching loads and similarly high research requirements is materially different than working at an institution with a 2-2 load and/or at SLACs where the classes are small.  Tenured Radical and Dr. Crazy work at very different institutions.

In the comments to the aforementioned post, Dr. C. goes on to raise an interesting related issue, namely, that “[w]hat I really see underlying all of this is that the notion that professors are gentlemen intellectuals still rules the day when it comes to the way money works at universities, even at a university like mine where that is far from the role that any professor I know inhabits.”  Right on.  With respect to my discipline, up to the mid-nineteenth century, historians were rich amateurs and hobbyists.  Even after earning Ph.D.s at German universities (or at the few American universities that offered them) became de rigeur, historians were overwhelmingly WASP men of the ruling class, which is why the professional study of history had (and arguably still has) WASP ruling-class prejudices.  Although I know a few genuine WASPs (one of whom will inherit family money, the other of whom won’t and is bitterly disappointed about that), I’m not one, and in fact I know a lot more historians who grew up very working class.  One of my friends has a community college degree on his transcript, and another has told me that in her last year of college, she was living in her car.   

While some of us may be independently wealthy or have married well so that our jobs just provide us with walkin’ around money, the vast majority of academics I know need a middle-class salary and benefits.  And yet, the modal values of academia are upper middle-class.  The profession still assumes at some level that we’re all sons and daughters of the ruling class, and that we’re too refined or rich enough already to haggle about money.  At some level, isn’t this evidence that the profession doesn’t take itself seriously?  Doesn’t it imply that at some level, we’re merely hobbyists who would be happy to fund our own travel, or pay for our own sabbaticals, because what we do isn’t really work?

Is the meaning of what we do all day long–teaching, research, and service–dependent on how badly we need the paycheck?  Is it not work, regardless of the worker?

Drunk History, vol. 3: women's history edition

We’re in the darkest days of the year, when we all need extra artificial light and extra alcohol content in our beer and extra fat in our diet to make it through the night.  (At least, that’s what’s for dinner here–beer, chips, and guacamole.)  Since we’ve been debating some heavy topics lately like displays of sexual dominance, hostile work environments, and public boob grabs, I thought many of you might appreciate this very special women’s history episode of “Drunk History.”  At the very least, it’s something to entertain you while you hide out until the solstice.  Not safe for work or the kiddies!  (Unless your workplace and family are all about the f-word, that is.  We at Historiann HQ don’t work blue.)  H/t Bing McGandhi at Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes for alerting me to the possibilities of ethyl-fueled historical narratives.  (As if that’s not what dinner parties at my house look like already!)

The Epistle of Miranda the MBA, 1 Manhattanites, chapter I: Yea verily I say unto you, this sucks


Here at Historiann.com we’re so pleased and surprised that anyone other than whiny brilliant, insightful academics reads us that we’re happy to post this rant straight outta Manhattan from Miranda, a twentysomething new MBA who knows a thing or two about having to go along to get along in a male dominated workplace.  The Apostle Miranda writes:

Warning: rant ahead.

I’m too late to this topic to post my thoughts on Historiann.com, but felt compelled to email you to let you know that I’m totally, 100% enraged that Jon Favreau has not been fired. The sense of entitlement that underlies this sort of crap is so pervasive and it kills me that people don’t see it. I see this sort of stuff (not this exact stuff w/ cardboard cut outs, but the sexualized frat house antics) all the time and it just sucks. It sucks to be a woman in that situation, where your options seem limited to: saying something about how offensive the behavior is, risking that you’ll be isolated professionally because you “aren’t a team player” or “can’t take a joke” OR you can try to make a joke to neutralize the behavior (which is what I think HRC was trying to do w/ her thing about “reviewing his application”). I’ve tried both and they both suck, but in different ways. Every workshop/dinner/lunch/mentoring session I’ve gone to about being a woman in business recommends the second option, but I often find that I have a hard time thinking of a clever retort in the moment because I’m so enraged by the behavior and, as a result, unable to think of something appropriate.

The other issue is the total lack of professionalism this shows. The Obama transition team rules clearly state that they’ll be going through your Facebook page to find anything embarrassing. So, he was on notice, which indicates that he allowed this to be posted despite the fact he knew that it could become public (or at least that his boss might see it)–totally, 100% unprofessional. (There’s also something about thinking you can get away w/ having something like this on your facebook page and thinking that it’s OK that strikes me as another sign of entitled behavior, but I haven’t fully unpacked that yet.)  Ed. note:  I think commenter ej made this point on the previous post here–but there’s surely more to say on this topic.

I’m really, really shocked (and saddened) that more liberal male bloggers have not picked up at this story.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Obama fires him. I think it would be a good lesson for guy like this to learn that sometimes there are consequences to this sort of crap. But I’m certainly not holding my breath.

No, please don’t hold your breath, Miranda!  We need people like you.  I appreciate your perspective as someone who works in an environment that sounds a lot like that of a political campaign, and as someone close to Favreau’s age.  If it’s consoling at all, please remember that lesser men with much greater offenses have been appointed to the Supreme Court.  (I’m not sure why that should be consoling, now that I think of it…)  Here at Historiann.com, we’re no longer shocked at all to see what many so-called liberals and progressives really think women are for:  public boob grabs.  That’ll keep us in our place!

The events of this year have shown me that feminism is simply not a progressive or liberal value, unless it’s useful in scoring a point against the political opposition or a foreign enemy.  (Remember in 2001 the Bush administration’s argument that “we need to go to war against the Taliban because of burkhas?”  Good times, good times.)  2008 has clarified a few things for me:  I’ll probably save thousands of dollars in 2010 and 2012 because I won’t be donating them to male political candidates, only to women candidates.  Yes, I know it’s essentialist, but quite frankly, it’s essential that we get more women of any party elected so that we can expand the nation’s understanding of women in politics.

Readers:  your thoughts?  Should Miranda and I give up all hope?  (And, by the way, if you write in the comments that we have to keep supporting Democrats regardless because of abortion rights, that’s more than a bit of a cliche now.  In fact, on feminist blogs, I now delcare that anyone who says “But but but teh Roe!” proves Godwin’s Law.) 

Here endeth the Epistle.

UPDATE, 3:30 P.M. MST:  Apparently, Dee Dee Myers and Miranda have a mind-meld thing going on.  (H/t to Herb the Verb at Corrente for posting on Myers’ comments at Vanity Fair today.)  Some flava for you:

I can’t stop thinking about this picture, and I confess I find it really upsetting. And, no, it’s not because I don’t have a sense of humor. I like to think I have a well-earned reputation for often irreverent, sometimes ill-advised humor. But I’m not laughing now.

.         .         .         .         .          .

What’s bugging me is his intention. He isn’t putting his hand on her “chest,” as most of the articles and conversations about the picture have euphemistically referred to it. Rather, his hand—cupped just so—is clearly intended to signal that he’s groping her breast. And why? Surely, not to signal he finds her attractive. Au contraire. It’s an act of deliberate humiliation. Of disempowerment. Of denigration.

.         .         .         .         .          .

[T]here is a larger issue at stake. At what point does sexist behavior get taken seriously? At what point do people get punished in ways that suggest this kind of behavior, this kind of thinking, is unacceptable? At what point do we insist there will be consequences?

Thank you, Dee Dee.  Don’t worry about staying off the phone because you’re waiting for invitations to appear on cable TV shows to talk about this–it won’t ring.

Gender, youth, culpability, and responsibility

Some of the commenters on the recent blog posts (here and elsewhere) about Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter Jon Favreau have suggested that his tacky groping of a Hillary Clinton life-sized cutout, his decision (or acquiescence) to be photographed doing this, and then the publicizing of this photo on his Facebook page, was perhaps due to his dewy age and youthful inexperience.  “Sure, it was ugly and stupid, but you can’t trash a young man’s career over prankish hijinks,” they say.  “Besides, he was drunk.”  (I’m paraphrasing here.)  Many other commenters here and on other blogs have cried foul at the implicit extension of “youth” to age 28 (at least?)  There was a humorous thread at Talk Left in which some commenters were presuming that Favreau was under 25 and commenting on the behaviors of men 12-24, until another commenter pointed out that he’s actually 27.

I agree that this extension of “youth” to the late twenties is ridiculous, because it clearly only applies to middle-class or elite men.  We don’t extend the same courtesy to young women who drink too much, party too hard, and do stupid things.  In fact, the standard young women are held to is precisely the opposite of the standard applied to privileged men:  whereas “boys will be boys,” girls are daughters of Eve and therefore they’re never too young to be blamed for everything we hate about ourselves and our culture.  I don’t read tabloids, but since I buy food at grocery stores, I’m well aware of the unstintingly harsh glare that was trained on singers and actors like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan in recent years.  (By the way, Spears just turned 27, and Lohan is all of 22, according to their Wikipedia pages.)  The emotional investment–to say nothing of the investments in money and time–some people have in trashing young women is truly shocking and disturbing.  Last year, when it was announced that Spears’ sixteen year-old sister Jaime Lynn was pregnant, she was held up as an example of everything wrong with the United States today.  So, talking about Favreau’s “youth” is yet another example of male privilege. 

The Spears sisters and Lohan appear to be troubled, but they’re insulated by their wealth and fame from the more violent fates suffered by many other young women.  When young women drink and engage in sex outside of marriage, that’s frequently used as an excuse to victimize them sometimes through rape or sexual assault, both by their attackers (“she was asking for it”) and by the public at large (“what was she thinking, drinking and then walking home alone in that state?”).  The men who attack them frequently were engaged in the same behavior, but although they are in fact the criminals, they’re rarely held accountable because of course, “boys will be boys.”  As grandoc pointed out helpfully in the comments on the previous post, testosterone does not in fact lead to greater criminality, so it’s clearly our culture that’s to blame for male predation.  But acknowledging and confronting that would be soooo hard, and it’s so much easier just to blame women for their own victimization.

Aside from the sex inequities, the “youth” dodge to excuse the criminal or merely embarrassing actions of men like Favreau in their 20s is also an expression of class privilege.  It’s only college men whose criminal behavior gets a pass because of their supposed “youth.”  College frequently functions as a magic shield of immunity for all manner of bad behavior, something I’ve always thought was terribly unfair.  Teen-aged and twentysomething non-students or working stiffs don’t get the same breaks that college men get when they engage in drunken criminal mischief or assault.  Because they hold down jobs and pay rent, like the adults they are, young working men are held to different standards than their infantilized and more privileged peers.

You don’t have to be a woman or a feminist or an old fogey to think that holding these men’s feet to the fire would be a good thing.  Depend upon it:  the fate of the nation might have been different if at least one entitled, lazy, drunken idiot had been held accountable for his actions when he was younger.  Or since he was selected President.

Your thoughts, dear readers?


This is a photograph of Barack Obama’s 27-year old chief speechwriter Jon Favreau mock-groping the breast of a Hillary Clinton cardboard cutout, while another “Obama Staff” member mock-nuzzles its ear.  It’s been a hot topic on some feminist political blogs this weekend–see for example the threads at Corrente, Shakesville, and now Talk Left.  (The original source of the story appears to be this posting at the Washington Post blog “44.”Susie at Suburban Guerrilla offers some interesting thoughts on the context of this behavior–she says that it’s testosterone and alcohol that fuel most local, state, and national political campaigns, and so she is unsurprised to see Favreau & company behaving like this.  

Most commenters on the aforementioned blogs see this photograph as confirmation of a disturbing misogynist frat party culture they see in the culture at large and saw in the Obama campaign all along, built around male privilege and the objectification and subordination of women.  Some commenters agree that the photograph (and behavior it documents) is objectionable, but hey, it would be ridiculous to trash a young man’s career for a foolish prank.  (File this one under “social networking sites can be professional suicide,” all you twentysomethings!)

What do you think?

UPDATE, 12/7/08, 3:30 P.M. MST:  This squib at CNN (posted yesterday) suggests that the photo was on Favreau’s Facebook account, because after using the passive voice to say that the photo “appeared on Facebook Friday,” it then states that “the picture was reportedly up for a scant two hours or so before Favreau removed it, along with every other picture of himself beyond his profile photo.”  So if he removed it, presumably he was the person who posted it, unless there are other people he has permitted to post things to his account.  This article also says that the photo was taken “at a recent party,” which is rather odd.  Did they think that they were campaigning to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election?  She campaigned her heart out for Obama, so that level of hostility and need to express sexual dominance strikes me as extremely strange.  Does anyone else think that this guy should keep his job now?

Santa Baby…

"A '54 convertible too, light blue..."The entire staff at Historiann HQ has been dreaming about a “”54 convertible too, light blue,” while shopping for presents for many of my blog friends.  (Sorry, gang–it’s just pictures, not the real thing for you this year!  But you don’t need more stuff to clutter up your homes, right?)

For GayProf, here’s a vintage Mego Wonder Woman companion, Major Steve Trevor!  (He’s not nearly so handsome as the actor Lyle Waggoner, but then, the Mego WW doll doesn’t really look like Lynda Carter either.)  Check out his six pack!

For Tenured Radical, a new pie-baking enthusiast, a great new cookbook–Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift’s How to Eat Supper.  These recipes look fun, speedy, and tasty.



For Roxie’s moms, these companion cowgirl salt and pepper shakers.  (Do you know how difficult it is to find same-sex anthropomorphic salt and pepper shakers?  In the course of my research, I’ve found that heteronormativity is strictly enforced in kitschy kitchen condiment dispensers.  I think my next book will be called The Epistemology of the Pantry!



For Notorious, Ph. D., Girl Scholar and The Bittersweet Girl, book contracts!



I hope Erica (aka Cleanser) at the good old days likes the Snoopy Snow Cone machine I got for her, Buzz, and the kids.  It doesn’t snow much where they live now, so I thought they might enjoy saying, “Thanks for the snow cone, Snoopy!”



Knitting Clio might appreciate these patterns for tiny Barbie, Ken, and Skipper-sized matching 1950s-style sweaters. 




For Rose at Romantoes, a whole posse of Dawn dolls outfitted for winter! 



Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Profs is a vegetarian who really, really digs bacon-themed bibelots.  Here you go, Ann–a bacon cake!



Clio Bluestocking might enjoy this Queen-sized margarita machine for the holidays.  (Did I mention that it comes with a ticket to Palm Springs and a date with a Peter Lawford lookalike?)


And, for Squadratomagico, I got one of those Russian Cat Circus cats that she could perhaps incorporate into her act one day.

Ok, Santa Baby–you know what Historiann wants, and it’s got a landau top, white sidewalls, and bench seating front and back.  I know it’s no good for carpooling or hauling ski gear around and tying Christmas trees to the top–but then, that’s the point, isn’t it?

Just in case you wondered what they really say about you at the office

"I've just worked twenty hours without rest, and I'm fresh as a frackin' daisy, Ed!"

Hey, all of you unmarried, child-free women:  it’s not your imagination that you’re getting dumped on by everyone who leaves the office by 3:30 every afternoon to chauffeur their children in the the after-school soccer/ballet/piano lessons dash across town.  Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell suggested before a live mike this week that Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is perfect for the job of Homeland Security Secretary because she has “no life” because she has “no family” and “can devote, literally, nineteen, twenty hours a day” to her new job!  What a lucky duckie.

Aside:  one of my best friends is a critical care physician who is the only unmarried, child-free person on her service.  Guess who’s always, always scheduled to work for every holiday?  Guess who gets pleading phone calls asking her to pick up a night of call, although her colleagues never reciprocate?

I first found this at The Clutter Museum, whose author has thoughtfully posted the video of Campbell Brown’s takedown of the Guvnah, in which she points out that both Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff have wives and families, and they were never asked how they would balance their families against the job as Homeland Security Secretary.  Here’s a fuller explanation of Rendell’s oopsie, and an excerpt from Brown’s commentary:

1. If a man had been Obama’s choice for the job, would having a family or not having a family ever even have been an issue? Would it have ever prompted a comment? Probably not. We all know the assumption tends to be that with a man, there is almost always a wife in the wings managing those family concerns.

3. If you are a childless, single woman with suspicions that you get stuck working holidays, weekends and the more burdensome shifts more often than your colleagues with families, are those suspicions well-founded? Probably so. Is there an assumption that if you’re family-free then you have no life? By some, yes.

2. As a woman, hearing this, it is hard not to wonder if we are counted out for certain jobs, certain opportunities, because we do have a family or because we are in our child-bearing years. Are we? It is a fair question.

I also appreciated the comment Brown made about Napolitano having other qualifications for the job aside from not being married and not having children.   Funny how actual skills and experience don’t come up as often as marital status and children do when evaluating women politicians, either favorably or unfavorably.


When I tell people I live in Colorado, one of the first things they always say is, “Gee, you must like snow,” or, “Betcha get a lot of snow there, huh?”  Everyone in the country seems to think we all live in ski chalets in Aspen or Vail, when the reality is that the majority of us live in the High Plains Desert, with an emphasis on the desert, where we get only about as much snow as any northern tier city.  I’d say the Denver area probably gets less snow than Buffalo, but more than Washington, D.C.  I may be underestimating it–one reason the snow feels less oppressive here than it does in northeastern cities is that it’s very powdery and dry, and then the sun comes out and melts it all so we don’t have to shovel it all that often.

So, I present you with another photograph of Creepy Doll Head in the back garden late this afternoon, with a fresh cap of new snow!  We’ve had about 8-10 inches here over the past 24 hours.

Oh, and one more thing, for all of you who live or play in ski towns:  Can we please lose the Uggs?  They’re SO 2003!  They’re the Crocs of winter, and I’m sure they smell almost as bad.