Archive for February, 2009

February 11th 2009

Posted under art & students & the body

giotto_crucifixOMG!  Someone is putting crucifixes in the classrooms of a Jesuit institutionSurely not!

Gimme a break.  Boston College is not going to lose faculty job candidates over this, contrary to the empty threats made in the linked article.  I taught at two different Catholic universities for a total of 5 years, and there were crucifixes in my classrooms.  The crucifixes never bothered me, and they were never the object of student attention or adoration (at least none that was apparent to me.)  I currently teach at a secular state institution where there are small, ugly, and very poorly framed American flags bolted to the wall of every classroom, and like the crucifixes in my former classrooms, they go entirely unpledged to and ignored by everyone.  This mimesis renders objects invisible.

That said, complaining about crucifixes at a Catholic university is like complaining that all of the students at Morehouse are black, or that there are too many feminists at Bryn Mawr, or that there’s no Hillel House at Calvin College.  What did you expect?  Duh.  (Interestingly, according to the linked article there is a Hillel chapter at BC, which just goes to show you–sometimes the Catholics are the most catholic of all.)


February 11th 2009
Updike, Redux

Posted under American history & art & Gender

Commenter Michael, who objected to the thrust of my comments about John Updike’s oeuvre a few weeks ago, reports on the recent meeting of his Portland, Maine book club and their discussion of Rabbit at Rest:

There was one fortyish [ed. note:  Michael too is fortyish] female consciencious objector who scheduled a competing girls-nite-out rather than discuss why the Rabbit’s internal monologue several times refers to Mrs. Rabbit as a “dumb mutt”.


Otherwise, and I am barely spinning this, the group was, to quote [my wife and her mother], “blown away.”  I think part of the reason is that Rabbit at Rest finds Updike at the height of his powers – several reviews indicate some sort of perfection of Updike’s craft in this novel.


As the visual artist / art historian in the group put it, “he notices everything”, and as others noticed, the way he jumps from Rabbit licking candied crumbs off his hand “like an anteater” in one sentence and contemplating a plane crash in the next, the sudden, realistic yet jarring changes of scope, are fascinating to follow. The run on sentences are gorgeous and also realistic.


The discussion was on point from beginning to end, and many people were compelled to read favorite passages, which almost never happens.


I think that Adam Gopnik put it far better than I ever could: Continue Reading »


February 10th 2009
Change you can smell! Or, same old $h!t, different day

Posted under American history & unhappy endings & wankers



Via Corrente, the verdict on tax cheat Tim Geithner’s new plan to save the his universe:

I was going to dub the new financial plan TANF 2 — temporary assistance to needy financial institutions, without, you know, any of the means-testing or work requirements involved when poor people get help.

But Jamie Galbraith (private communication) has trumped me; he says it’s the Bad Assets Relief Fund.

Yes, we’ve gone from bad, to worse, to BARF.  Enjoy, darlings!  Sometimes I feel like I’ll never be done mucking out this darned stall–but I can’t expect the poor, dear animals who $h!t the place up to clean it up now, can I?

I guess the only worse investment than the BARF plan is, well, paying $36 billion dollars for each Republican vote for the “Stimulus Bill” right?  As Lambert at Corrente would say:  “And we get…?”

UPDATED, later this afternoon:  Wall Street no likee, either:  “Stocks Plunge as New Bailout Disappoints.”  Some days there’s just no pleasing people.  Better luck tomorrow, Timmy!

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February 9th 2009
Blogroll Amnesty Day: chain, chain, chain of fools edition

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

Internationally known A-list blogger William K. Wolfrum (who also blogs at Shakesville) has tagged humble Historiann for Blogroll Amnesty Day.  This means that I have to send $100 to the name at the top of the list, then add my name to the bottom and then send 5 copies to other blogs, and then wait for the money to roll on in.  Payday is just around the corner, darlings!

So herewith are five blogs with which I’d like to share the cash love:

cowgirlwagonFirst up is Roxie’s World, when you’re in the mood for shockingly articulate cross-species blogging (with a side of Emily D.–yeah, you know me–thrown in for free.  How very public, for a dog!)  Then there’s Notorious, Ph.D., one of the few Americans who got good news about her job last week.  (Hint:  she gets to keep her job, and yet not do it next semester. . .wait for it. . .  while still getting paid!  Unbeflickinbelieveable.)  Next stop is Center of Gravitas, where GayProf can satisfy all of your needs for vintage Wonder Woman comics, gear, and what have you.  Next up is a new blog and blogger on WOC and GLBTQ issues who seems like an old friend already:  Prof. Susurro at Like a Whisper.  Don’t miss her recent review of Still Black:  A portrait of black transmenAnd finally there is Romantoes, for those of you who can’t say no to fries with that sandwich (You’re probably the alternately disturbed men and/or anxious women who google “hot 40 year old moms” several times each day and for some reason reach this blog.  What’s up with that?  Anyway, go check them out.)

Don’t thank me–just send the Benjamins straight to Historiann, c/o American Express, Potterville, Colorado.  I’ll swing by the P.O. on my next ride into town.  Toodeloo, friends, and I’ll see you tomorrow (or the next time I get a bee in my 10-gallon hat, which probably won’t be too long after that first cuppa joe in the morning.)


February 7th 2009
Bleg: Good biographies for a book club?

Posted under American history & book reviews & European history & women's history

clintonsheehyA neighbor of mine has asked me if I have any advice on good biographies for her book club.  I’m thinking something published by a trade press, American or European history, and well-written and interesting enough to keep intelligent non-specialists engaged.  Since this is a women’s book club, biographies of women would be especially useful, but all suggestions are welcome.

In a quick e-mail to my neighbor, I recommended Laurel Thather Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale(1990), and Blanche Wiesen Cook’s Eleanor Roosevelt, vol. I. (1992).  (I probably should have warned her that the Cook bio is 600+ pages!)  My guess is that this book club will want to be able to read and hear the voice of the subject, so while I admire Camilla Townsend’s accomplishments as a historian in Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma(2004), and her Malintzin’s Choices:  An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico (2006), my guess is that an audience of non-experts will feel that the subject of their book is rather elusive.


February 6th 2009
Friday round-up: we ain’t got the do-re-mi

Posted under American history & Bodily modification & European history & Gender & jobs & local news & unhappy endings & women's history

cowgirlguitardoremiI am so glad other people are writing interesting things and posting them on the open-source, non peer-reviewed world wide timewasting web today!  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to click the following links and enjoy the wisdom, mystery, and pathos of it all:

When women are unemployed and looking for a job, the time they spend daily taking care of children nearly doubles. Unemployed men’s child care duties, by contrast, are virtually identical to those of their working counterparts, and they instead spend more time sleeping, watching TV and looking for a job, along with other domestic activities.

.        .        .        .        .         .        .        .        .        .

Historically, the way couples divide household jobs has been fairly resistant to change, says Heidi Hartmann, president and chief economist at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.        

Do tell!  Anyway, I’m off to find those tail-scalpin’ scalawags, for probably only 80 cents on the dollar.  Ride hard, but don’t put your horses away wet, friends.


February 5th 2009
Stephanie Coontz in the New York Times today

Posted under childhood & Gender & women's history


Image by Ruth Gwily at the New York Times

Family historian Stephanie Coontz has an op-ed in the New York Times today, “Till Children Do Us Part.”  It’s less historical than sociological, suggesting that in order to overcome the inevitable stress that children put on a relationship, parents should take time together away from their child/ren in order to preserve a happy relationship.  Coontz also suggests that “traditional” households are unhappier than feminist ones:

Marital quality also tends to decline when parents backslide into more traditional gender roles. Once a child arrives, lack of paid parental leave often leads the wife to quit her job and the husband to work more. This produces discontent on both sides. The wife resents her husband’s lack of involvement in child care and housework. The husband resents his wife’s ingratitude for the long hours he works to support the family.

Gee–who ever would have predicted that?  What I wonder is, on what basis did people ever think that adding children to a household decreased marital tensions?  From what I’ve observed, even when a child is dearly, dearly wanted and loved, ze creates a lot more work for everyone (as well as, eventually, a lot more fun, but at first it’s just a lot of work.)


February 4th 2009
Dump the sports, keep the radio on

Posted under local news & students & unhappy endings


Radio, radio...

Inside Higher Ed ran a story this week about the demise of Miami University’s independent NPR-affiliated radio station, WMUB.  Historiann lived in Oxford from 1997-2001, owned a home there, and was a responsible public radio member/listener.  We listened to the station all day long–even “Mama Jazz” in the evenings.  I volunteered to answer phones on the early morning shift for their fund drives.

I understand that in these lean budgetary years, programs that are not “mission-critical” will get the ax.  My question is this:  why are college  sports teams ever seen as “mission-critical?”  The marquee sports–men’s football and men’s basketball–involve only a tiny handful of students who are unrepresentative of the student body on most campuses (since women are the majority of college students.)  Why not just drop out of the NCAA and turn them into club sports, as so many women’s teams and other men’s teams are?  Early in this decade, Miami University built a fancy new academic building down by their playing fields that is only for the use of student athletes.  It was apparently too much for their preciousnesses to hike up to a classroom building or the library to get their homework done!  Why the superstar treatment?  I know it’s the “Cradle of Coaches,” but it has produced only one NFL player in recent memory?  (And no, the vast majority of sports programs don’t make money–they consume it.)  Why does higher ed agree to run a free double- and triple-A league for the NBA and the NFL?  MLB and the NHL have done just fine, thank you very much, without this kind of welfare giveaway. Continue Reading »


February 3rd 2009
Democratic Dumba$$es: cheap, stupid, or both?

Posted under American history & class & jobs & wankers

nast-donkeyWhat’s with all of the high-profile Obama appointees and erstwhile appointees who have problems either 1) paying income taxes, or 2) hiring documented employees, and/or 3) paying unemployment taxes on said employees, or any combination thereof. 

Now, I’m pretty darned sure that Tom Daschle, Nancy Killefer, and Tim Geithner are all members of the Ruling Class in good stead.  (Let’s just say that it’s guaran-damn-teed that they make more money than your average Associate Professor of the humanities–I think we can all agree on that.)  By most people’s standards, they’re rich, connected, and FOBO (friends of Barack Obama), so why don’t they hire 1) legally employable people, and 2) accountants to do their taxes?  Because it just looks really, really crummy that these Democrats either don’t want to pay U.S. citizens to work for them, what with their American sense of entitlement to health insurance, sick days, and unemployment insurance.  Or, it looks like they’re so cheap that they’re depriving honest, hardworking, and smarter-than-you CPAs and tax attorneys from practicing their love on people’s tax returns.

Come on:  isn’t the Democratic Party the party of putting people back to work?  If so, why not start with nannies and accountants, who with their professional skills do so much to make our households and families function smoothly?  Because for a while this week, it looked like the party of dirtbag employers and tax-amnesty-for-me-but-not-for-thee.



February 3rd 2009
Sigh. Eyeroll.

Posted under jobs & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings

More evidence that Facebook is a foolish gamble that just leads to trouble.  No one over the age of 25 and/or who wants to get and keep a job should have a Facebook account.  (Scions and heiresses under the age of 25–party on!)  I’ve got a blog, so clearly I like to “share,” but there are limits, people!

Is nothing private?  Forget Arent and the banality of evil–technology today is all about the evil of banality.


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