Archive for November, 2009

November 18th 2009
Wednesday Round-up: “Gaywads” unite edition, yee-haw!

Posted under American history & bad language & GLBTQ & local news & students

cowgirlgalwhotookBusy day here at the ranch!  I thought I’d throw you  few curves to help keep your day interesting:

  • Roxie’s World brings us the heartwarming story of a non-gay pro-gay little boy in Arkansas named Will Phillips who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school until there truly is “liberty and justice for all” in these United States.  (Some of you may also want to weigh in on the pressing question raised by the insult this little boy hears now at school:  what is the proper spelling of “gaywad?”  Is it “gaywad,” “gay wad,” or “gay-wad?”)
  • There’s a fun new gay blog I’ve found called Down and Out in Denver.  Actually, the blog proprietors Alastair and Blake hate Denver, which is why they started a blog to complain about the lack of urbane gay funky goodness there.  Continue Reading »


November 17th 2009
“Better dead than co-ed”

Posted under Gender & students & unhappy endings & women's history

FratGuyThat’s what we used to say back at my “Seven Sisters” college in the 1980s!  Every twenty years or so, it seems like even the most elite and well-established women’s colleges have a conversation about going co-ed.  Let’s face it–coeducational or historically all-male colleges have much bigger endowments.  My sense is that male alumns support their colleges much more generously, because they can.  (That is, they can give more because of the wage gap that persists between men and women, plus the fact that few male college graduates drop out of the workforce even temporarily because they married and/or had children.)  So, I understand the appeal of admitting male students.  (I also understand the value to the endowment of invoking the spectre of co-education for women’s college alumnae.  That sure opens up a few moth-eaten old wallets and revs up the donorcycles, eh?) 

Well, there’s reason for us old broads to fear co-education at our alma maters, because a women’s college may be “better dead than co-ed.”  Susan O’Doherty over at Mama Ph.D. tells the fascinating tale of what happened when her women’s college went co-ed while she was an undergraduate.  (This was a follow-up to a post she wrote last week about the idea of applying lower admissions standards to men who apply to competitive colleges, because of the fact that a number of selective colleges have a noticeably skewed sex ratio in favor of women.) 

By the time I graduated, there were about thirty men among a student body of 2500. Some of these guys were stellar — bright, committed, enlightened, and fun to be around. Most were not. A number were unprepared for the academic and social challenges of college; a few bragged that they had transferred because “with all these chicks around it should be a piece of cake to get laid.” It was clear to us that there was a double admissions standard. We joked that the entrance exam for men consisted of the ability to sign one’s name, but we didn’t find it funny, really.

There was one men’s dormitory. It was a beautiful old house — one of several on campus; most were reserved for honors students or those with special interests. I lived in one that was dedicated to French-speaking students. It was a privilege to live there, among well cared for antique furnishings, and we were constantly reminded that the privilege could be revoked for bad grades or bad behavior. The men, however, lived under no such strictures. Continue Reading »


November 16th 2009
Walkin’ in an autumn wonderland

Posted under fluff & local news

autumnwonderland2I didn’t even bother posting photos or commenting on our pre-Halloween freak snowstorm of October 28-29 that left 8-10 inches of snow on the ground in my neighborhood.  Well, here’s evidence of our second “freak” snowstorm this past weekend, another 8 inches or so.  Wild!

I always have to reassure people who hear that I live in Colorado that we don’t wear boots, polarfleece, and parkas all year ’round in the Denver metro area, and that the vast, vast majority of the snow falls in the mountains.  Maybe I should live here longer before I am so quick to contradict these ideas.  (We moved here in the middle of some serious drought years, which meant that summers were unusually warm and the winters relatively dry and snow-free.) Continue Reading »


November 15th 2009
“Jackal” lifestyle very aging

Posted under American history & captivity & fluff & the body & unhappy endings

ksmI was lounging in bed drinking coffee and reading the paper this morning about Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent announcement that several of the 9/11 masterminds would be put on trial in New York, and learned a startling new fact, courtesy of a New York Timesstory by Mark Mazzetti that was excerpted in The Denver Post:  Khalid Sheik Muhammed (“KSM” in National Security shorthand) is only 44 years old!  Yegads.  He’s younger than the President, but looks about half a generation older.  (This photo helps underscore the reasons why so many men shave their beards off when they start turning gray.)  I’m sure his attorney will want him to have a makeover before the trial and to dress him in a western-style suit–but my guess is that he’s going to stick with the full-on jihadi look.

I guess living in caves on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and/or in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is a very aging lifestyle.  Continue Reading »


November 14th 2009
The bookless library

Posted under book reviews & jobs & students



It’s probably already happened at your institution–university libraries are built at a certain moment in time with certain assumptions about the kinds of growth and collections storage they’ll need in the future.  Given the expanded role they’ve been expected to play in the past twenty years as sites that offer PCs, web access, and access to digital collections and databases, on top of the books and journals they continue to purchase and store, more and more libraries are moving to off-site storage for their older and/or less frequently used volumes.  (Baa Ram U. has off-site storage books that are usually delivered in a day or two.  It’s understandable–we’ve been here since 1870, so you have to have priorities.)

Syracuse University library had a plan to move half of their collection to a storage facility 250 miles away–and the faculty and students revolted Wednesday night (h/t Inside Higher Ed):

[M]ore than 200 faculty and students flocked to first public airing of the issue, a University Senate meeting. Some held signs protesting the proposal (one read “FREE BIRD”). Some spoke against the move on the grounds that library space had been misallocated while others questioned the need to ship the books so far away from campus. Faculty members delivered a petition against the plan signed by more than 100 humanities scholars, whose fields would be hurt more than others by the book relocation.

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       Continue Reading »


November 13th 2009
Friday round-up: heads up and screens down, boys! edition

Posted under American history & class & conferences & fluff & Gender & GLBTQ & students & wankers


It’s been an awful long time since we’ve had an old-fashioned round-up–I’ve been so busy with this, that, and the other thing that I haven’t been a good blog citoyenne lately now, have I?  Well, here’s a few things you can use to warm yourself up and keep your power dry:


November 12th 2009
Maj. Nidal Hasan, MD: just an all-American guy

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & women's history

The bloviating in the conservative media about the Muslim identity of the Fort Hood murderer is predictable, but so, so very stupid.  It’s clear to me that he’s just another mass-murderer in our all-American tradition in which socially maladjusted men, who in spite of also being religiously insane and/or suffering from acute misogyny, are permitted to arm up and mow down their fellow citizens at work, school, church, or in other public spaces.  Daniel Zwerdling at NPR has done some solid reporting on what he can find out from little birds hanging around Walter Reed who worked with Hasan when he was training there. 

But it’s only the occasional story in the print media or on the radio that will note how very much like other American mass-murderers Hasan truly is:  Continue Reading »


November 11th 2009
Must be swell being a steer

Posted under jobs & local news

stockjudging1Here you see the building that’s just across the parking lots where the Liberal Arts college (including the History department) is located at Baa Ram U.  How many of you can boast a stock judging pavillion in your immediate environs?  It’s just another charming detail of life on this High Plains Desert–like two feet of snow before Halloween, and then temperatures in November in the 70s.  Go figure!  (If only there were a rodeo ring there, too–now that would be fun.  They do occasionally park some bulls at the Stock Judging Pavillion, usually towards the end of the spring semester.)

stockjudging2Take a look at the boys over here on the right:  as Bill says to Jake in The Sun Also Rises“Must be swell being a steer.”  Consider that your eye candy (of a rusticated sort) for the day.  Sorry for the poor quality of the photos–I shot these with my trusty 3-year old mobile phone on the fly as I rushed to my veal-fattening pen office Monday morning.  Continue Reading »


November 10th 2009
HCR, the Stupak amendment, and the complex reality of abortion

Posted under American history & Gender & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

Eucharius Roesslin 1545Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft has done some exemplary analysis of Health Care Reform and the Stupak amendment added this weekend to the  health insurance reform bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Saturday night.  Examples:  see here, here, and then she asks, “How About Pre-Natal and Birth Care for Pregnant Undocumented Women” in the U.S. who will necessarily give birth to U.S. citizens?  She links to a Mother Jones story that explains exactly how odious this particular poison pill is in “Stupak is a Radical Change:”

Mother Jones: Why Stupak is more radical than you think.

The two parts to the Stupak amendment:

The Stupak amendment mandates that no federal funds can be used to pay for an abortion or “cover any part of any health plan” that includes coverage of an abortion, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

Part 1 is just the Hyde Amendment. But, part 2?

Where pro-lifers won big was on the second part, which could significantly limit the availability of private insurance plans that cover the procedure. That’s because Stupak’s amendment doesn’t just apply to the public option—the lower-cost plan to be offered by the government.

The House health care bill will also provide subsidies to help people and small businesses purchase plans on an exchange. This represents a lucrative new market for insurers: anyone earning less than $88,000 for a family of four qualifies for assistance, as well as certain small companies. But to gain access to these new customers, insurers will have to drop abortion coverage from their plans.

That’s A-OK with the forced pregnancy crowd, who are apparently unfamiliar with how private health insurance works now:  we all pay into a big pot, and then we make claims–and yes, those claims are sometimes to cover abortions and all sorts of other medical procedures of which you may or may not approve.  There’s lots of money from premiums paid by people of all political persuasions–pro-choice, pro-life, anti-immigrant, pro-immigrant, etc.–and it all goes to cover services provided to everyone.  It’s stupid for people get all excited when it comes to their pooled tax dollars, as opposed to their pooled private insurance dollars.  What’s next?  So-called “pro-lifers” will demand that their municipal and state taxes not pay for roads driven on or library books checked out by citizens who differ in their political views? 

Oh, and the Stupak amendment contains one of those “life, rape, or incest” qualifiers, which is the biggest load of hot, steaming B.S. ever.  Continue Reading »


November 9th 2009
The Berlin Wall, 1961-1989

Posted under European history & happy endings & unhappy endings

The Berlin Wall started to crumble 20 years ago today, November 9, 1989.  What a weird beginning of the end of the Cold War:  in the early and mid-1980s, Americans had worked themselves up into a frenzy of “Evil Empire” fear–any of you old-timers like me remember Red Dawn and The Day After, and Testament?  (The video below, Nena’s “99 Balloons,” English version, is a little treat for all of you.  That’s what the MTV generation was grooving on in the early and mid-80s, while Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan were summiting at Reykjavik:  big hair and nuclear war!  The original German version, “99 Luftbalons” is here.)  And President Reagan had big hair too, remember?

But with the fall of the wall, decades of fear in the U.S. were over, or so we thought hopefully.  I remember listening to the news on my radio in my dorm room, looking out over the darkening college green on that late afternoon, Continue Reading »


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