Archive for April, 2010

April 12th 2010
Who’s accountable?

Posted under American history & jobs & local news & wankers


This morning, I snapped open my newspaper to see on the front page that a longtime area priest was removed from his post because of charges that he once molested children, and that Toyota has violated discovery laws for years in product liability suits.  Meanwhile, the people of Pettus, West Virginia continue to mourn and bury those who were killed in the Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch Mine last week.  So forgive me if I’m skeptical to read on the editorial page that the root of all evil is tenure, and the key to reforming public education is tying teacher’s evaluations to their students’ scores on tests administered by for-profit companies.  Is it only public sector employees who are accountable?

The attacks on union workers and public employees in this recession seem meaner than ever.  In the boom years, those of us who are public employees (or other non-profit sector employees) were told that we were soft, we were uncompetitive, we were missing out.  Now those of us who have opted for greater job security–staying in grad school through the 1990s and missing out on the tech boom, trading cash bonuses for tenure, or better benefits packages or retirement plans for salary increases–are lectured that we’re enjoying outsized benefits and job security.  How dare we?  The lectures will never end, apparently.  “But it’s not fair that you’re tenured!  Why isn’t every other worker as vulnerable as I feel?” Continue Reading »


April 11th 2010
The “reel” Mad Men?

Posted under American history & art & fluff & technoskepticism

Look at what I came across on Hulu recently–season 3, episode 8 from Bewitched!  If you recall, either from its original run or from watching endless re-runs of the show after school in the 1970s like me–Samantha’s husband Darrin Stevens was an ad man who worked for Larry Tate at the firm, McMann and Tate.  This episode is all about a rival ad agency’s attempts to steal McMann and Tate’s ideas (and clients): 

This show is an interesting time capsule from 1966 for other reasons:  Continue Reading »


April 10th 2010
Saturday Round-up: Crybaby Ranch edition

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & wankers

Suck it up, don't muck it up!

What is it with what the outbreak of what the “liberal” blogs I used to read call “whiny-a$$ t!tty babies” this week?  Honestly, friends, like a cowgirl doesn’t have enough stalls to muck out–and now all of this foolishness busts out everywhere.  Well, you know the drill:  pull your socks up, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, and click away, if you’re so inclined:

  • Crybaby of the week:  Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Upper Peninsula, which is a state unto itself) has the vapors because Tea Partiers called his phone and said mean things about him, so he’s not running for re-election!  Now, I’m not crying over the prospect of a Stupak-free U.S. Congress, but d’ya think he ever thought twice about how the late Dr. George Tiller and his family felt about all of the harassing phone calls, the threats, and the stalking they all endured over the decades before his murder?  Do you?  Yeah–me neither.  Well, boo-friggin’-hoo, Congressman:  you got zero credit from the crazzies for all the precious little baby fetuses you pretented to care about.  And in spite of your bad hair and your Polish name, you apparently know nothing about Chicago-style politics.  If you can’t stand the heat, go take a jump in a sault (that’s pronounced soo.  Isn’t it even more shameful in retrospect that so-called “liberals” got rolled by this guy?)
  • First runner-up:  Gregory Giusti, the man who was jailed for threatening Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, cried at his hearing on Thursday.  Now, it looks like there’s a whole load of Crazzy going on in this case.  Calling and threatening your opponents (real or imagined) anonymously is not the path I’d recommend to any political movement looking to legitimize itself, but if you’re going to threaten the life of a public official, be man enough to accept the consequences.  Otherwise, everyone in your movement gets tarred with the crazzy brush, dig?  And we wouldn’t want that to happen now, would we?  Threatening members of congress is so easy–look at this guy!  (And memo to Bart Stupak:  none of the girls have called it quits.) Continue Reading »


April 9th 2010
Women’s history: we haz it, but does anyone want it?

Posted under American history & conferences & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & jobs & race & students & women's history

Good morning, friends–today’s post is a front line dispatch from my faithful correspondent Classy Claude, who is in Washington, D.C. at the Organization of American Historians’ annual meeting.  Yesterday, he attended a star-studded panel, “State of the Field:  History of Women/Gender/Sexuality,” and reports that the panel and the audience ended up discussing the question, “are undergraduates interested at all in women’s history these days?”  Great question, Claude!  Everyone else, read through his report and join in the conversation below.

Classy Claude checking in from the OAH, this year in Washington, DC.  First of all, it is HOT here!  I arrived yesterday and as the plane was coming in for a landing the pilot informed us that the high was 90 degrees.  [Ed. note:  Claude--take off the suit and tie!]  This unseasonable warmth also seems to have produced a remarkably high pollen count.  I went for a run yesterday upon arrival and at the end my eyes were so red and bloodshot that Classy Claude looked more like Cannabis Claude.  And the sneezing! 

But on to matters historical… Most of my day was filled up with grad school friend reunions but I did make it to one of the OAH’s “state of the field panels,” this one of particular interest both to myself and other Historiann readers: Women/Gender/Sexuality.  The panel was moderated by Robert Self and was comprised of Nancy Cott, Nayan Shah, Stephanie McCurry, Regina Kunzel (who was ill and whose comments were delivered by Self), and Brenda Stevenson (Iris Stevenson, a DC attorney, delivered the paper that her sister, recovering from an ankle injury, was unable to give herself). Continue Reading »


April 8th 2010
Mad Men season 3: trauma, narcotics, and a low-tech startup

Posted under American history & art & unhappy endings


Last night, Dr. Mister and I stayed up late (until 10:30!) watching the last two episodes in the third season of Mad Men.  (I reviewed most of season 3 last week, as you may recall.)  For those of you who haven’t yet seen the whole season and don’t want to have some key plot points revealed, do not read any further.  So, consider yourself warned!  But, if you don’t click, you’ll miss all of the Mad-Menized self-portraits sent in by more of my readers and commenters! Continue Reading »


April 8th 2010
Mad Men season 3 review coming soon…

Posted under art & fluff & unhappy endings

Captain Black

. . . as they say in the trade mags:  watch this space!

I just have to make one observation:  for most of this season, especially in the last four episodes as Don’s deep, dark secrets are revealed to Betty and his marriage unravels, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Captain Black, the bad-guy Mysteron agent from the Captain Scarlet TV show.  For a handsome man, actor Jon Hamm has an extremely unfortunate  5-o’clock shadow problem.


April 6th 2010
Historiann hits the Old Northwest Territory, again!

Posted under American history & conferences & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & O Canada & race & students & women's history

Sorry for the radio silence these last few days–I’ve been on the road, in the air, and on the ground at Michigan State University to give a talk about my current research project and to discuss my book with a class here.  (More news–including a podcast!–coming soon.)  I’m always happy to visit what we in Colorado call the East:  it’s a beautiful spring here, with lovely green grass and flowers bursting open everywhere I look.  The accomodations are far from spartan–in fact, they and the hospitality here have been downright stately.  And who wouldn’t love to visit a university campus with its own dairy and retail store? 

Fragrant white magnolias

Scented white magnolias!

The former Michigan Agricultural College has a lot in common with Baa Ram U., which was originally called Colorado Agricultural College (“for Eighth Grade graduates!”)  Our Deans and Provosts like to call MSU a “peer institution,” but from my perspective in the History department, that’s ridiculous:  MSU’s history department has 54 faculty members, 100 graduate students, and a Ph.D. program.  They also get pre-tenure leave.  We got nothin’ compared to that. Continue Reading »


April 3rd 2010
Beehives and Butt-heads: Mad Men, season 3 (so far)

Posted under American history & art & Gender & GLBTQ & race & women's history

Knitting Clio

Dr. Mister and I have been binging this week on Season 3 of Mad Men, now out on DVD.  (It’s better than anything else on the teevee–but that’s probably not saying much.)  This season we’re left with the overwhelming need to say, “Mad Men?  Meh.”  We just took delivery of the last DVD, which has the final four episodes, but overall this season is just more of the same characters put in the same situations, and there’s no sense of forward movement.  The show’s nearly all-white cast makes occasional reference to the Civil Rights movement, but I’m afraid some of my initial suspicions about the show appear to have been justified:  the two black characters (Hollis the elevator operator and Carla, the Drapers’ housekeeper) so far this season are totally marginal, and we never see them in their non-work lives the way we do the white characters. 


It’s 1963, and Betty Draper is redecorating and tries out a beehive hairdo, but otherwise nothing much is new.  (I will say that Betty’s dresses are even more gorgeous and envy-inducing than ever–and for me, they’re reason enough to watch the show all by themselves.)  Pete Campbell?  Still a douche.  (Quelle Suprise!)  Peggy Olson?  Still trying to find her way to career success and love in a man’s world.  Betty Draper?  Still suffering from the problem that has no name.  (Actually, the problem was named on February 25, 1963, when The Feminine Mystique was published, but the show isn’t suggesting any awareness of that title on the part of its characters.  Civil Rights, Vietnam, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy are the only current events they’re using in their foreshadowing.) 


And Don Draper?  Still the brooding, mysterious, strangely trouble-prone old Don.  I’m so over that.  Can we at least have more of the wisecracking, hard-drinking, child-bride-taking Roger Sterling, please?  He’s the only guy who seems to be enjoying himself.  (The minstrel scene was horrifying, I’ll grant–and appeared to be included to shore up the show’s moral position as an anti-racist show with an overwhelmingly white cast.)  After this point in my review, I should probably say SPOILER ALERT AFTER THE JUMP! Continue Reading »


April 3rd 2010
High school student: U R doin’ it rite!

Posted under American history & childhood & happy endings & jobs & students & women's history

Last weekend, I received an e-mail from a high school student asking for help with a research project on a topic clearly in my field.  For those of you taking notes on how to contact complete strangers to ask for their help, here’s how you do it:

Dear Dr. Historiann:

I am a Local High School Student doing a research project on Famous First Lady, and wondered if you might be able to meet with me this week to provide me with a few quotes relative to her ideals, influence during the time period, and overall influence on history/the modern world. It would also be a great help to me if you wouldn’t mind reading the essay, too (either beforehand or during the meeting).  A copy of it is attatched to this message, should this be agreeable to you.  If either this week or the meeting itself don’t work out with your schedule, I completely understand. Thank you for your time!


Sally Sincere

(If you recall, we’ve already covered how not to ask strangers for help, high school edition here and grad school edition here and here.) Continue Reading »


April 2nd 2010
Hillary Clinton on maternal health and abortion services

Posted under Gender & O Canada & the body & women's history

Here is U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Quebec on Tuesday, making an important point with respect to abortion, contraception, and maternal health:  “I’ve worked in this area for many years, and If we’re talking about maternal health, you cannot have maternal health without reproductive health, and reproductive health includes contraception and family planning, and access to legal, safe abortion. . . and finally, I do not think governments should be involved in making these decisions.”

In Canada, the opposition (and some of the newspapers, apparently) are enjoying this smackdown of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government, which wants to make maternal health the center of his initiative for the G8 meeting in Ottawa in June, but which denies that contraception or abortion play a role in ensuring maternal health.   Continue Reading »


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