Archive for December, 2008

December 24th 2008
Christmas cookie exchange and U.S. Senate appointment update

Posted under fluff & Gender & jobs & local news & women's history

Well, the cookies have been baked (at least one batch of each), and delivered to neighbors and friends.  I still have a wrapping marathon ahead of me, but I thought you’d love to feast (your eyes, at least) on my heaping plate o’cookies!  (I’m not the first blogger to post cookie photos–Roxie beat me to it with her photo and recipe for “Moose’s Boobs” cookies last weekend.  Grades were only due yesterday–what do you think Historiann was doing all weekend, friends?) 

Clockwise starting at 12 o’clock, that’s pistachio cranberry Christmas bark, decorated sugar cookies (with a crazed lederhosen-wearing cookie on top), holly cookies, and Mexican wedding cakes.  The holly cookies were an exercise in nostalgia for my 1970s childhood–the Mexican wedding cakes are actually my favorite.  Not pictured:  gingerbread and Christmas cake, the items I had no hand in making.

Perhaps I should add the cookies to my list of qualifications to become my state’s next U.S. Senator?  The Denver Post featured a story this morning suggesting that our dear Governor Bill Ritter has lots of men on his list of possible appointees, but not so many women.  I think either U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette or former Colorado Senate President Joan Fitzgerald would be terrific, if I’m somehow overlooked.  If you want to send the Governor a note of support on my behalf (or anyone else’s), you can send it to:  ussenate DOT comments AT state DOT co DOT us.

Merry Christmas, if that’s your style.  If it’s not, stay warm and eat some cookies anyway!


December 23rd 2008
It’s a Festivus Miracle!

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & women's history

Via TalkLeft, Richard Cohen in the Washington Post this morning:

I can understand Obama’s desire to embrace constituencies that have rejected him. Evangelicals are in that category and Warren is an important evangelical leader with whom, Obama said, “we’re not going to agree on every single issue.” He went on to say, “We can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.” Sounds nice.

But what we do not “hold in common” is the dehumanization of homosexuals. What we do not hold in common is the belief that gays are perverts who have chosen their sexual orientation on some sort of whim. What we do not hold in common is the exaltation of ignorance that has led and will lead to discrimination and violence.

Oh, you mean like this story (via Corrente) about a lesbian being gang-raped last weekend and left naked on the street in California?  Yeah, that sounds like violent discrimination to me.  Over to you again, Richard:

Finally, what we do not hold in common is the categorization of a civil rights issue — the rights of gays to be treated equally — as some sort of cranky cultural difference. For that we need moral leadership, which, on this occasion, Obama has failed to provide. For some people, that’s nothing to celebrate.

We don’t negotiate with terrorists, so we shouldn’t negotiate with people’s civil rights.  (Especially not other people’s rights.  Nor should we vote on them, because no one else’s civil rights are ever as vital or as important as yours, are they?)  Even Richard Cohen understands this, people!  How much more conventional do you really need your wisdom? 

(Cake via Cakewrecks.  There’s a place for us–somewheres!)


December 21st 2008
Bad apples, and how they ruin it for the rest of us

Posted under Bodily modification & book reviews & jobs

This weekend’s This American Life radio program was a bellyfull of Christmas candy (including the accompanying stomach ache) for the writer and readers of this blog.  The program, “Ruining It for the Rest of Us,” opened with an interview with researcher Will Phelps Felps, who conducts research on “bad apples” in the workplace (aka bullies), and how they can take over an office culture.  His conclusions?  The bad news is that bad apples can single-handedly commandeer a workplace culture and drive it into the ditch.  He hired an actor to play one of three “bad apple” types:  the bullying jerk (who attacks and insults people), the slacker, and the depressive pessimist. 

The good news is that leadership by another person can counteract the effect of the bad apple.  This person doesn’t directly confront the bully, but instead asks questions, engages team members, and works to diffuse conflicts.  (This happened in only one group, however; in every other test case Phelps Felps ran, the bad apple dominated the group, and the other group members took on the bad apple’s characteristics.)  This segment is only 5 minutes long, and it’s right at the start of the program, so if you’re interested in workplace bullying issues, click here to listen for free.  By the way, the This American Life website doesn’t list Phelps‘s Felps’s name or his affiliation, and my efforts to try to locate his research with EBSCOhost databases and the google have failed.  I’m not sure I’ve even got his name spelled right (and in fact I didn’t, as you can see from the edits above.  This is bad form, This American Life.  Any time you interview a researcher, you really should at least provide hir name and affiliation on your website, if not also link to hir publications.)

The program’s main feature was an exploration of a recent outbreak of measles in San Diego caused by a family who refused to vaccinate their children.  The story features an interview with an anti-vaxer who is friends with the family that brought the disease to San Diego, which sickened dozens of children, and with a woman whose 11 month old son was a victim of the outbreak.  If this woman’s description of measles doesn’t lead everyone listening to run out and vaccinate their kids, then I don’t know what will.  The ultimate message of the program is that both the anti-vaxer camp and the pro-vaxer camp are utterly entrenched in their rival views of medicine and science.  However, these camps are hardly morally equivalent:  one camp is actively punching holes in herd immunity, which puts at risk infants too young for the vaccine as well as people whose immune systems are compromised.  Moreover, the anti-vaxer camp’s beliefs are utterly evidence-free and based on magical thinking. Continue Reading »


December 20th 2008
So you think you had a bad semester?

Posted under jobs & students & unhappy endings

Sorry about the light posting and utter inattention these past few days–I picked up my final student papers and exams yesterday, so I’ll be back home at the ranch grading this weekend and frantically manufacturing some Holiday Cheer.  Here’s a little divertissement from our pals at Rate Your Students, the sad and disturbing answers to their “Big Thirsty” question of the week:  how did you ruin YOUR class this semester?  The answers are posted here–check back later this weekend for some more, but here’s a brief excerpt for your entertainment.  Schadenfreudelicious!

  • I slept with two freshmen. No, kidding. But doesn’t that make me leaving a whole set of essays in the Pittsburgh airport seem a lot less terrible?
  • After a hard swim at the college pool, I went into the locker room, took a nice, long shower, and then walked in the buff to the lockers only to find a young woman in front of her locker. Problem is: I am a male. Yes, I had the wrong room
  • .         .        .        .         .         .         .        .        .         .         .

  • On the day grades had to be turned in, I realized that one of my “favorite” students had not turned in a final project. I have no idea how it happened. It’s worth 25% of the grade, and without it she would have gotten a C. With a great project (like her other work) she would have had an A. I don’t remember her turning in a project. I had no way of getting in touch with her. It’s entirely possible she didn’t do it at all. I gave her an A anyway.
  • .         .        .        .         .         .         .        .        .         .         .

  • I gave my notice at my college, thinking that I’d rather not have a job than teach someplace that I hated. Then when the job market went south, I discovered that I’d made a huge mistake. I spent almost no time on my classes, scrambling instead to save a job I’d given back to the Dean. I missed class several times, was late other times, didn’t hold office hours. When I finally negotiated to stay on, I realized it was week 13 and my students had been robbed of nearly a whole semester of my attention.
  • Et vous, mes amis?  What mistakes did you make?  What advice do you have to offer the rest of us?


    December 18th 2008
    Feminist Historians for a *New* New Deal update

    Posted under American history & class & Gender & race & women's history

    In case you missed last week’s post, “Actual progress for the new Obama WPA?,” you can now just go to “Feminist Historians for a New New Deal” at the Center for Research on Women & Social Justice.  From the press release:

    An open letter to President-elect Barack Obama, initiated by several historians specializing in the New Deal, urges Obama to avoid the discriminatory components of Franklin Roosevelt’s programs in designing a stimulus package to address the current economic crisis. The letter has collected more than a thousand signatures from scholars of American history.

    Noting that today’s stimulus package may focus heavily on construction to address the nation’s crumbling material infrastructure, the historians point out that American social infrastructure is crumbling just as badly. They call for jobs in education, health care, child and elder care, and point out that green and sustainable energy policy requires educators as well as construction workers.

    The letter recalls both the achievements and weaknesses of New Deal stimulus programs, focusing particularly on discrimination against women in the public jobs programs (see below for full text of the letter).

    “For all our admiration of FDR’s reform efforts,” the historians write, “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 would be 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.”

    With so many female breadwinners, the country cannot afford an exclusive emphasis on construction, which remains a heavily male-dominated field. All jobs need to be open to a diverse workforce, they agree, but a more diversified jobs strategy will create immediate opportunities for all, they add.

    The letter, from Feminist Historians for a New New Deal, can be accessed on line at

    Click here (or on the link above) to read the letter drafted by Eileen Boris, Linda Gordon, Jennifer Klein, and Alice O’Connor, and learn about other ways to take action.  Over 1,000 of us signed on. 

    Thanks everyone, and happy end-of-the-semester!  I’ve got to get back to my little red (cook) book to finish up all those delicious holiday cookies and treats.  (Do those little holly cookies that you make with butter, marshmallows, cornflakes, green food coloring, and red hots count as cookies or candy?)  Rose at Romantoes and Erica at the good old days have already posted about some culinary sentimental journeys–divinity and Grandma’s fruitcake!  Bon voyage, and bon apetit, time travelers–let us know more about what the 1940s tasted like!


    « Prev - Next »