RequiesCat In Pace

Remember all of those dolls and doll parts I’ve found running on back roads and country byways in Colorado, Michigan, and Maine?  Well, here they are–you can’t see it very well, but there’s a blue-haired doll in the mint pot on the left that looks like it was designed to be a dog’s chew toy, too.  Naked Barbie-like doll, doll in the homemade dress, and creepy doll head are all standing guard over my mint, parsley, sage, catnip, and lavender.  (The garden looks pretty scrubby, I must admit:  the sage is a re-plant just introduced, the mint leaped around the pots that were to contain it, the chives are totally overgrown, and the parsley needs to be decapitated and revived somehow.)

Here’s a view of more of the beds.  In the top left bed is garlic and brussels sprouts, and in the right foreground is yarrow and a just-starting-to-bloom red hollyhock.  (What’s eating the hollyhock leaves?  It seems to happen to every hollyhock in my neighborhood lately.  They still seem to bloom and come back every year nevertheless.)

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What's he got that you haven't got, Logan? Gender, access, and the doodliness of war

Check out Lara Logan’s comments on Michael Hastings’ reporting on General Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone last week.  She says: 

“Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there were no ground rules laid out. And, I mean, that just doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me,” she said, adding that she knows McChrystal’s staff and McChrystal doesn’t have a history of interacting with the press. “I mean, I know these people. They never let their guard down like that. To me, something doesn’t add up here. I just — I don’t believe it. “

So far, no one–neither the General nor his staff of Lost Boys–has said that Hastings’ reportage wasn’t accurate.  There’s always going to be some carping and jawing when someone gets scooped, but all you have to do is read Hastings’ article to see why he was privy to a lot of talk and behavior that Logan never saw in her years on the war beat for CBS in Iraq and Afghanistan.  From “The Runaway General:”

“Who’s he going to dinner with?” I ask one of his aides. 

“Some French minister,” the aide tells me. “It’s fucking gay.” Continue reading

Monday round-up: Stampede-a-riffic!

It’s Stampede season here, friends, and we’re all excited about rodeo days and the world’s largest Independence Day rodeo, right here in Potterville!  Heck’s’a’poppin’.

  • First up, the hearings for Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court start today.  Tenured Radical has a nice round-up of her own, with some quality links for your enjoyment.  I liked this article by Deborah L. Rhode of Stanford University, “Why Elena Kagan’s Looks Matter.”  (Answer, paraphrased by me:  That ol’ devil, patriarchal equilibrium.)  Don’t miss the part in the article where she describes how hateful, anonymous insults about her looks after publishing an op-ed illustrated the point of her new book rather perfectly.  Rhode writes, “Yet pointing this out is likely to unleash the prejudices at issue. I got a recent taste after publishing an op-ed in The Washington Post. The editorial summarized themes from my just released book, The Beauty Bias, which documents the price of prejudice and proposes some legal and cultural strategies to address it. It was surprising to discover how many individuals were willing to take time from their busy day to send hate mail on the order of ‘I just bet that you yourself are one ugly c—.’ Some readers, annoyed that no author picture accompanied the article, felt strongly enough to do independent research. One explained: ‘knowing there had to be a reason why [you would write about bias] I looked you up in the Stanford Faculty Directory and then all the pieces fell together… I’m sure Stanford has to tie a bone around your neck to get even the campus dogs not to run away from you.’ Several hundred online posts following the article included more of the same. One reader proposed taking up a collection so I could ‘buy …a burqa: This would certainly improve the aesthetics around Stanford.'”  Lovely.  (Does the WaPo realize that comments like this reflect poorly on them?  Once again, and with feeling:  either moderate your comments or eliminate them!  Same goes for you, Daily Beast.  Why give these douchebags a forum when they can start their own damn blogs, for free?)
  • Paul Krugman has some bad news for us all.  (Well, those of us who aren’t fabulously rich enough to eschew employment and live off of interest income, anyway.) Sucks for us, friends!
  • Randall Stephens has some interesting reflections on Glenn Beck’s use of history and style of historical argumentation.  He writes, “Beck’s political grandstanding and maudlin theatrics are offensive enough. (I can think of no better ipecac for the typical humanities professor.) But it’s his ahistorical theories of the past that disturb me most. Continue reading

And now a word from our sponsor

Howdy, friends:  sorry to have been so remote lately.  We’ve got house guests and a wedding this weekend, so I’ve been a little busy.  But, I wanted to share with you an e-mail I received the other day:

I’m interested in placing a promotional link on your page:

The link would be for a website which has art schools and college reviews as its main keywords.

I have a limited budget, but hopefully there is a reasonable price we could arrange.

Please let me know if you’re interested, and if not thanks for your time.


I'll just do it myself!

Now, I know I’ve joked here in the past about “monetizing” this blog, and this isn’t the first e-mail I’ve received asking if I’d accept advertisement.  But, this e-mail has prompted me to clarify my advertising policy here once and for all:  THIS BLOG DOES NOT ACCEPT ADVERTISING OR DO PRODUCT PLACEMENT.  There was nothing wrong in asking–but I’ve added this statement to the “About Historiann” page linked above.  My brother-in-law, a web guru, designed the template and pays for my server space, and I do all the work except for the technical troubleshooting that he does for me.  That’s it:  we’re totally D.I.Y. here, friends. Continue reading

A blow for mental health in this lifetime

Dawn Johnsen, who is now refusing to be President Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, on the “forced silence and inaction” of her year in limbo while awaiting a vote on the Senate floor after twice being approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee:  “In the current climate, even if you attempt a crass political calculus about how to live your life, you may as well say what you think because they can always find a footnote to twist and distort in a twenty-year old brief!”  How’s this for some Hoosier common sense?  “The one thing you didn’t want people saying at your funeral was, ‘She went to her grave with her options open.'”  Continue reading

Notes from the class of 1960, Dartmouth College

‘Tis the season of college reunions!  Today’s post is a short essay on the occasion of a fiftieth college reunion the author attended a few weeks ago.  (Some of you may remember that I posted a few thoughts on my twentieth reunion last month.)  I thought his observations about college then and now, and his concluding thoughts on the importance of the college years and college mentors might be of interest to many of you.

In 1960 my college in the pines in northern New Hampshire was all-male and isolated. Interstate highways were just a dream. Road trips to women’s colleges were a way of life. This common bond fostered very close alumni and frat brothers – who for years after graduation would often hold mini-reunions and vacation together. This back-to-the future time warp sometimes seemed odd. Alcohol abuse was a problem; weed and street drugs were non-existant. Every few years, prior to major reunions, a professional scrapbook MUSINGS would contain the thoughts of most of our class of 800. The reading was fascinating, funny, and often weird.

One outstanding event at the college in the late 1950s was the Freshman “Great Issues” (a.k.a. “Grey Tissues”) course  – every Monday night a prominent person was invited to speak. In 1956 the list included Adelaide Stephenson, Clement Attlee, and Robert Frost. Our silent generation was unaware of the explosive change that civil unrest, war, coeducation, and sexual liberation would bring only a decade later. But two events come to mind:  our college chapter, along with some California and Wisconsin chapters, were unable to delete a discriminatory clause from the bylaws of our national fraternity. Blocked by a southern vote, we were forced to go local. On another occasion I watched as members of a Jewish fraternity, sitting in the balcony of the college auditorium, tomatoed a neo-Nazi visiting professor off the stage and into his car. Wow. In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy stopped by during his Presidential campaign to talk and answer questions.  Continue reading

Of fraudsters and scholars, Part II: two kinds of historians

In a recent e-mail exchange with Squadratomagico, we discussed something that relates very closely to the subject we’re exploring here in this space, namely, feeling like an untrained fraud when you move on to another book project and/or contemplate retraining yourself in another sub-field (or even an entirely different discipline).  In a recent conversation with a senior person in her field, she said that his advice about moving into a new project (with whatever reading and/or retraining that might require) was not to be too intimidated by the existing literature in a given sub-field.  His advice was to learn from that literature, but not to get stalled there or let it talk you out of pursuing your own ideas. 

This is very much related to a conversation I had over a decade ago with a senior scholar in my field.  When I expressed wonderment at keeping up with all of the new books and articles published in our field (because 3 years out of grad school, I was already far behind.  Three years!).  He said in response, “there are two kinds of historians:  Continue reading