Howdy! Hellsapoppin’ here. While some of you in the East may be shoveling yet more snow today, we in the West have got more than a few stalls to muck out today, and a lot of fences to mend. Here are some items for your delectation and consideration:
- National Politics: What’s up with our Transformational President? Well, not his approval numbers, that’s for sure. Jonathan Last offers an analysis that says it’s the Clinton primary voters who jumped off the bandwagon first, and looks at the recent election results in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts from that perspective. Michael Lind writes that the Republicans have nothin’–but that won’t stop them from winning because of Dem fecklessness, diffidence, and/or incompetence: “Buyer’s remorse is what the voters should feel when they vote for a party that promises a bold reform agenda and then acts between elections as though it were a lobby for the financial industry. But wait — which party are we talking about here?” Meanwhile–there are open rumblings about the incompetence of the Chicago bubble that appears to have been more effective at getting President Obama elected than they are at governing. (H/t RealClearPolitics.)
- Local Politics: Our new U.S. Senator, Michael “Never Won a Single Vote” Bennet is sinking like a stone against Republican front-runner Jane Norton, and even against Weld County D.A. Ken Buck. (OK, so they’re only Rasmussen and DailyKos polls, but wev–that’s all we’ve got.) Gee–who ever would have predicted that it might be a craptastic idea to crown this guy Senator? Meanwhile, a guy who actually ran a few successful campaigns and won a lot of votes is now in the lead to replace Gov. Bill “The Family Guy” Ritter. Go figure! Historiann might be voting Republican for the first time in her life come November–unless Andrew Romanoff wins the D primary, and even then, I might vote Republican anyway. Why should I reward bad behavior by all of the d00dly d00dz who think they run this state? (Of course, we’ll have to see how Norton and Buck play their hands, too.)
- Literature: Leonard Cassuto considers J.D. Salinger’s Bartleby-like retreat from literary celebrity, and predicts that his reputation is likely to “drop like a stone” once the probably mediocre “lost works” are published: “Rebuffing the literary anthologies may prove to be Salinger’s most consequential decision in that regard, because it has kept his writing from the eyes of succeeding generations of readers. Most young readers encounter classic authors in the pages of such collections, and these encounters lay the foundation for their later reading. Salinger’s work is increasingly invisible to younger people now, so his reputation won’t stay aloft once the brief, titillating pleasure of revealing what’s in his writer’s cupboard is satisfied.”
- Speaking of literary celebrity: Squadratomagico comes to see that one of her early idols in her field is a mere trafficker in gimmics. She asks, “have any of you lost any scholarly gods through disillusionment?” (This is a password protected post.) I haven’t–but then, I never worshipped an academic “god” in my field. But, I have come to see that some of the works in history I admired as an undergraduate are really not that interesting to me now–but that’s more because I’m likelier to be astonished and impressed by the incredible creativity and erudition of my colleagues today. For example: I’ve just finished reading Kathleen Brown’s Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America (2009), and am really impressed by her ability to bring together the histories of medicine, science, technology, sexuality, race, material culture, religion, and women’s and gender history, among many other fascinating sub-fields. This is a book that we’ll be reading and talking about for years to come. (You can see Brown discussing her book in the University of Pennsylvania History Department here.) The problem is that the whole time I was reading the 367 pages of text while reclining in my home office, I was plagued by the feeling that I really should be up and cleaning something, or doing another load of laundry! Perhaps it was all of those vivid descriptions of vermin infestations that were endemic in early America before 1830 or so.
- And now, we’ll close with some cleansing images of the Fairmount Water Works in Philadelphia. I used to run along the paths on the Schuylkill River, which have a lot of extremely interesting art and architecture to look at along the way. (Photo by Brandin McDonough.) The neoclassical Water Works buildings are the ones perched on the river’s edge–they’re very small, not much bigger than children’s play houses. (That’s the Philadelphia Museum of Art rising monumentally behind them.)