Archive for 2009

December 18th 2009
Friday doll blogging: Wes Anderson and nostalgia as a limitlessly renewable resource

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Dolls & Gender


I’ve been slacking off on my doll blogging over the past several months–so it occurred to me that a certain stop-action animated movie I saw recently might qualify as a doll post!

I saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox last weekend.  Wes Anderson has become a successful director because he shares and manipulates baby boomers’ and Gen Xers’ nostalgia for our childhood:  the mid-century office technologies, the clothing that always looks like it’s right out of a Goodwill grab bag ca. 1963-1979, the self-conscious references to things that appealed to children in the 1960s and 1970s (Jacques Cousteau and Davy Crockett, for example.  Pass the Space Food Sticks and Tang!)  If you’re in your mid-30s to your mid-50s, Anderson is like a very clever kid brother who missed out on all of the fun you had during your late midcentury childhood, and who’s getting rich selling it back to you in idealized dreamscape slices.

As to the movie itself:  Continue Reading »


December 17th 2009
Howard Dean: harshing that Village of Oz buzz

Posted under American history & unhappy endings & wankers

wizardcurtainI always liked Howard Dean.  I thought he was the best choice in 2004, and although I don’t know if he would have beat Bush, he would have gone down swinging (unlike John Kerry.)  Although he’s been on TV over the last several months speaking up for “health care reform,” like the good Dem that he is, he has decided that he can’t support (today’s) iteration of the Senate bill

So, guess what?  The good doctor, who is not in office now, has no role in the Dem party, and doesn’t have a role in government anywhere, MUST BE DESTROYED.  Again!  He’s being accused of having “lost his mind!”  The White House has whispered that it’s all “irrational,” just his personal beef with Joe Lieberman.  Sen. Jay Rockefeller–a totally useless Dem if there ever was one–accuses Dean of being childish, “sob”ing and “complain”ing: Continue Reading »


December 15th 2009
Intellectual dishonesty: Ur doin’ it rite on the “left!”

Posted under American history & unhappy endings & wankers

healthcarenowRemember back during the George W. Bush administration, when lefties laughed and laughed at the intellectual (as if!) contortions the right engaged in as they tried to reconcile their isolationism and defict hawkishness with Bush’s spending sprees and the invasion and occupation of Iraq?  And, remember back during the Dem primaries last year when we were told over and over again that Barack Obama was a magical healing presence who could bind up the nation’s wounds and banish partisanship to the ends of the Earth?

Well, some of us–or should I say more accurately, some of you–better sit up, grab your forks, and get ready to chow down on some Humble (or Umble) PieCheck out this embarrassment from Michael Tomasky:  apparently, because Obama hasn’t accomplished much in his first 11 months in office and because partisanship has only gotten worse, it means that the U.S. political system is “broken.”  That’s right–Dear Leader is in fact powerless before a few determined loudmouths in the Senate.  (I’m speaking of President Joe Lieberman, President Blanche Lincoln, President Olympia Snowe, President Max Baucus, President Ben Nelson, President Chuck Grassley, and President Mary Landrieu–who all have more power than President Barack Obama because they’re not afraid to use the levers they have to get what they want.  Too bad Obama didn’t learn at their feet when he was their junior colleague!) Continue Reading »


December 14th 2009
Tiger Woods: Who cares?

Posted under fluff

golfI mean, seriously:  what is this, 1998?  Are we all children?  Who is ever surprised that professional athletes are tough dogs to keep on the porch?  They’re celebrities who are (usually) in shape, they travel a lot, and they have lots and lots and lots of money.  Like the kids used to say back in the 1990s:  do the math.

I get it that a lot of middle-aged sports writers got to know Tiger Woods when he hit the scene 15 years ago as a teen-aged phenom, but he grew up, and they seem to be unable to deal with that fact.  Continue Reading »


December 13th 2009
Who ever would have predicted?

Posted under American history & jobs & local news & nepotism & wankers

Don't we already have enough rich, white "Teds" in the Senate?

Don't we already have enough rich, white "Teds" in the Senate?

What????  You mean it wasn’t a super-duper awesomely fabulous idea to appoint a man to the U.S. Senate with zero political experience and without him ever having proven he could win a single vote?  Who indeed ever would have predicted this

It’s an early poll, so take it for what it’s worth, but both Governor Bill Ritter and Senator Michael Bennet face an uphill battle for (re)election.  It couldn’t happen to more deserving white ruling-class d00dly d00dz!  Continue Reading »


December 12th 2009
Exams during Exam Week? revisited, in which I check my privilege.

Posted under jobs & students


Historiann goofs!

Hi all–thanks for your feedback on yesterday’s post.  I threw it together quickly–unusual for me–and I was more than a little embarrassed to re-read it in light of many of your comments yesterday.  I wrote as a tenured professor with a 2-2 load who has a grader to assist with our large (100 to 123-student) classes, and didn’t consider how differently grading final exams and papers is when 1) one teaches 3 or 4 classes (or more!) per term, and 2) doesn’t necessarily have a T.A. or a grader, and especially 3) if one is on a quarter system, with a super-short Winter Break and/or a non-existent break in-between the winter and spring quarters.  As Ann Landers used to say:  my slip is showing!  I used to teach a 3-3 load, and I used to have non tenure-track jobs–how easy it was to forget those pressures once they were no longer mine!  So, I apologize for being a clueless oaf.  You all were a lot more polite than I deserved–but as always, good manners are appreciated here!

I should also have written more clearly–it’s the piling on of all final work in the last week of classes that is objectionable to me.  Continue Reading »


December 11th 2009
Exams during exam week? Plus a fabulous frock.

Posted under fluff & jobs & students & wankers & women's history

Apparently, a lot of proffies start their winter breaks early by making final papers due during the last week of classes, and they even hold in-class finals then, too.


Hey, I’m all for the “let’s get this party started,” but really:  that just seems totally unfair to the students, not to mention unprofessional.  Exam week is for exams and the submission of final coursework.  Yes, grading sucks, but it pretty much always does, right?  (And, as much as it sucks, it’s not nearly as stressful as taking exams or writing papers!)  I can understand early deadlines and exams in special cases–such as when one needs to jet off to a conference that week (I did once attend a conference in London in early December), but I don’t think that’s the case for most of us, most of the time.  What do you do?  What do you think about exams administered before exam week? Continue Reading »


December 10th 2009
Thursday Round-up: chapping your a$$ edition!

Posted under American history & class & Gender & jobs & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings

elvgrensnowfunWell, friends:  we’re in the midst of a butt-chapping deep freeze, thanks to an Alberta Clipper that just won’t quit.  It’s -15 degrees Fahrenheit here in Potterville, and won’t get above freezing until sometime this weekend.  Those of you in the East might be enjoying a snow day today, so here are a few tidbits to warm you up and get your engines running this morning:

  • Chris Hedges asks, “Are Liberals Pathetic?”  (h/t Susie at Suburban Guerrilla.)  He writes that their “sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America’s liberal class an object of public derision.”  He then goes on to contrast elite, sheltered liberals with working class men who “knew precisely what to do with people who abused them. They may not have been liberal, they may not have finished high school, but they were far more grounded than most of those I studied with.”  What do you think?  I think he’s onto something, but he also engages in a romanticization of a partcular kind of working-class masculinity that equates “fighting” with manhood only, and by implication slights the liberal coalition of today which is based on feminists and gays.  Can we get away from these gendered tropes for criticizing the left?  (Hedges himself identifies the intersection of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue that’s really to blame for Dem reluctance or even refusal to attempt real change.)
  • Hedges’ essay reminded me of an interesting piece by Joe Bageant on the absence of compassion among so-called “progressives” called “Shoot the Fat Guys, Hang the Smokers.”  I worry about this–it’s part of what I was trying to get at last year in most of my posts on Sarah Palin.  Laughing at or condescending to people isn’t a winning strategy.  Smugness will be the death of the left.
  • Clio Bluestocking brings us more tales from the Orwellian world of online teaching at her school–or, as Hacky McHackhack, the overpaid consultant puts it, “delivering education.”  Continue Reading »


December 9th 2009
Historiann’s rogue’s gallery: can you name that commenter?

Posted under fluff

Remember that Mad Men Yourself little game from last summer we had so much fun with?  Well, I thought it would be a great way to play a new game called “name that commenter.”  Here are some Mad Men-ized versions of some of the regular commenters at Historiann.  I’ve met all of these people in person, and some here have been with me from the very beginning of  Can you guess who is who?  Images after the jump!  Continue Reading »


December 8th 2009
Best books of 2009: No girl writers allowed!

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & Gender & publication & wankers


Many of you are probably making your holiday gift lists, and checking them twice, and I’m guessing that some of my smarty-pants readers are interested in gifting (or being gifted) some of this year’s best new titles, in both fiction and non-fiction.  Well, here’s a funny coinky-dink, courtesy of reader Kathie who tipped me off last month:  all of the very best books this year were written by men!  It isn’t just the STEM fields anymore, girls–apparently, we are clearly inferior at every professional and artistic endeavor:

  • In “Why Weren’t Any Women Writers Invited to Publishers Weekly’s Weenie Roast?” The Green Lantern Press writes, “Publishers Weekly recently announced their Best Books Of 2009 list. Of their top ten, chosen by editorial staff, no books written by women were included. Quoted in The Huffington Post, PW confidently admitted that they’re “not the most politically correct” choices. This statement comes in a year in which new books appeared by writers such as Lorrie Moore, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant, Rita Dove, Heather McHugh and Alicia Ostriker.”  (Who??)
  • Publishers Weekly explained, “We ignored gender and genre and who had the buzz. We gave fair chance to the “big” books of the year, but made them stand on their own two feet. It disturbed us when we were done that our list was all male.”  But–we didn’t give it a second thought, beyond this odd acknowledgement of the bias of our list!  (Which implies somehow that in years before, when “gender and and genre” were not ignored, the ladies were the beneficiaries of some kind of literary affirmative action.)  Boys rule, girls drool!  Let’s take a closer look at that top 10 list, shall we? Continue Reading »


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