Archive for August, 2010

August 9th 2010
Monday round-up: we’ve got primary fever!

Posted under American history & bad language & class & Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & local news & unhappy endings & wankers

Anyone but Senator Wonderbread!

Well, friends:  what are the hot races in your political neighborhoods?  We here in Colorado are looking forward to the possibility of lame-duckitude on the part of our Never Elected Wonderbread “Senator” from JP Morgan Chase, although it will be a close race either way.  Here are some other news & views from blogworld you might be interested to read all about: 


August 6th 2010

Posted under American history & local news & unhappy endings & wankers


He's a fake and he doesn't know the territory!

NOTE:   Click here only if you’re interested in the latest developments in the Colorado Democratic U.S. Senate primary race between Andrew Romanoff and the Unelected Senator Michael Bennet.  The New York Times has a story that’s superbad for Bennet–some of you easterners may have seen this today shortly after the paper hit your doorsteps.  Otherwise, please read and respond to the previous post in which I ask for advice about how to free up some shelf space. Continue Reading »


August 6th 2010
Sentimental education

Posted under book reviews

I’m a historian, and I’ve been at this gig for about fifteen years now, if you count back to when I was first paid to profess somewhere other than my graduate institution.  (Twenty if you want to count all the way back to my first year in grad school.)  I’m at the point in my life and career now where all of our bookshelves and bookcases are full, and some of them hold two full rows of books (with one row stacked right in front of the other, hiding the row behind.)  Some of my history book shelves now have books lying down horizonal on top of vertially-arranged rows.  Both of these solutions are aesthetically unattractive and/or impractical if one wants to locate a specific tome. 

Before the Google, I was usually able to find answers to most questions, large and small, the old-fashioned way by consulting my personal library.  (I don’t want to sound like Susan “mine is the greatest library in private hands in the world” Sontag here.  It’s far from that–but it has served me and my obscure interests extremely well.)  I have a pretty strong collection of important titles in my field published in the last 25 years, in additon to hundreds of obscure titles or published primary sources I’ve found in old junk shops and used book stores.  I’m particularly proud of my fairly recent acquisition of the 1977 edition of Father Lafitau’s Customs of the American Indians translated and edited by William N. Fenton and Elizabeth L. Moore.  (Mine is #656 out of the 750 published by the Champlain Society!)  So stuff like that is obviously not going in the junk pile.

Have anyof you endured a major book clean-out?  Continue Reading »


August 5th 2010
Mariage a la Mode

Posted under American history & GLBTQ

Too optimistically whiggish?

Federal District Court Judge Vaughan R. Walker made the right decision in the California marriage case yesterday–interestingly a decision (like Dred Scott) based on history more than on the law.  Historians Nancy Cott and George Chauncey appear to have been extremely important in his decision, which you can read here.  (Check out the citation of Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the 2003 the Lawrence v. Texas case to explain the judge’s reasoning, p. 63!)

The big lesson in this case appears to be–have a case and credible witnesses to back it up.  Walker’s decision makes a great deal of the credentials and credibility of the plaintiff’s witnesses (those testifying against discrimination in marriage law) versus the absence of credentials or credibility in the two–two!–witnesses who appeared for the defense of marriage discrimination.  (If you followed the case last winter, you’ll recall that there was a great deal of folderol about the pro-discrimination team fearing for their personal safety if they actually testified about their opinions.  Please.  They were defending a law the majority of California’s voters approved of just 14 months earlier, a law that supposedly reflected the will of the people.  I tell ya, in this country we used to have civil rights foes who would go to the mat to preserve discrimination!  These folks are just wimps.)

What possible strategy could the pro-discrimination team have had in mind in basically throwing their case?  Did they just want to rush their appeal on up to the Roberts court?  Continue Reading »


August 4th 2010
Anti-volunteerism, and other career saving strategies

Posted under book reviews & happy endings & Intersectionality & jobs & publication & students

Don't be a do-bee.

Tenured Radical has a nice, long, seasonal post full of advice for newly hired term or tenure-track faculty, and some pointed reminders for those of us returning to the same old positions in the fall semester.  Go read and cogitate, and let her know what you think.  I especially wanted to highlight these two paragraphs:

Do not volunteer, stupid. You know who you are — whatever your biological gender, you are a girl. You are the one who finds the silence insufferable when the chair has asked for someone to step up, and you think it is your job to make everyone feel good again. Why you? And why now? At least go away and consult your job description before you go all Do-Bee on everyone. It isn’t your job to see to it that everything gets done — it is the chair’s job, and believe me, s/he will figure out how to do it.

Underrepresented faculty in underrepresented fields have no obligation to extend themselves without end to under-served students. Sometimes I look around me and it is so frackin’ obviouswhy the scholars who are perpetually sicker, angrier, more exhausted, and frantic about meeting deadlines for their scholarship share certain characteristics. We are queer, we are of color, we are international scholars, we are women, we are feminist men. We are the ones who, in order to make space for what we care about in institutions, do it ourselves. We invent the programs, then we chair them. This is what Jean O’Brien and Lisa Disch write about in an article I strongly recommend (and that partly inspired this post) “Innovation is Overtime: An Ethical Analysis of ‘Politically Committed Labor,’”(Aiku, Erickson and Pierce, Feminist Waves, Feminist Generations: Life Stories from the Academy Minnesota, 2007.) We are the ones that advertise our universities’ “diversity” when we labor outside the classroom. We are the ones who students seek out to teach the things they never had a chance to learn in high school. We are the ones who students “like us” and the ones who hold similar political commitments flock to in droves. Continue Reading »


August 3rd 2010
Money, money, money: it’s a rich man’s world.

Posted under American history & local news & unhappy endings & wankers

“Welcome to the Recovery!,” shouts Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.  (Yeah–you’re welcome to it, pal.)  Running a ponderous description of everything you think you’ve been doing in the New York Times–yeah, that’ll do it.  That’ll make of those jobless folks in the Rust Belt feel better and put money in the pocketbooks of all of those people whose unemployment benefits have run out nationwide.  Former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich has a better handle on, yes, feeling your pain, and acknowledging the gap between Wall Street profits and Main Street realities.

Meanwhile–the Unelected Senator from St. Alban’s Locust Valley Wall Street Colorado Michael Bennet has loaned his struggling primary campaign $300,000!  Yes, friends:  all of that business acumen learned at the feet of right-wing union-busting billionaire Phil Anschutz has led him to run the most expensive U.S. Senate campaign in Colorado history–and all he has to show for it is a 20-point reversal in the polls in six weeks.  I’ve said it before, and you know I’ll say it again:  what a tool.

That Bennet had to give himself cash a week before ballots are counted means his campaign has burned through almost $5.8 million. That figure exceeds all previous spending records in Colorado Senate primaries.

In July alone, the campaign spent $1 million.

How does this compare with what his primary opponent, “career politician” Andrew Romanoff, has spent so far?  Continue Reading »


August 2nd 2010
“Students of the digital age” put one over on their proffies

Posted under American history & jobs & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

I call bull$hit on this article in the New York Times today, which suggests that “digital age” students just don’t think copying and pasting stuff from the world wide non-peer reviewed internets into their papers and putting their names on said papers is plagiarism. 

Digital technology makes copying and pasting easy, of course. But that is the least of it. The Internet may also be redefining how students — who came of age with music file-sharing, Wikipedia and Web-linking — understand the concept of authorship and the singularity of any text or image.

“Now we have a whole generation of students who’ve grown up with information that just seems to be hanging out there in cyberspace and doesn’t seem to have an author,” said Teresa Fishman, director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University. “It’s possible to believe this information is just out there for anyone to take.”

It’s the “I can’t help it–the intertoobz rewired my brainz!” story.  Riiiiiight.  What aside from a few of the most dumba$$ anecdotal examples is the evidence for this alleged generational cluelessness about plagiarism? 

In surveys from 2006 to 2010 by Donald L. McCabe, a co-founder of the Center for Academic Integrity and a business professor at Rutgers University, about 40 percent of 14,000 undergraduates admitted to copying a few sentences in written assignments.

Perhaps more significant, the number who believed that copying from the Web constitutes “serious cheating” is declining — to 29 percent on average in recent surveys from 34 percent earlier in the decade.

Wow!  All the way from 34 percent to 29 percent over nearly a decade!  Continue Reading »


August 1st 2010
Who ever would have predicted?

Posted under American history & jobs & local news & nepotism

OK, OK–I know it’s getting tiresome to read about me being right all of the time.  But–seriously:  Who ever would have predicted that it’s a bad idea to appoint a man to the U.S. Senate who never ran for office or won a single vote in his entire frikkin’ lifeThe Denver Post reports today on a new Survey USA poll on all of our statewide races, but of course the result that is really interesting is the poll showing former Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff pulling slightly ahead of Unelected Senator Michael Bennet in the August 10 primary, 48 to 45 percent (margin of error 4.1 percent) with 8 percent of Democrats undecided as to how they’ll vote.  (That’s a twenty-point turnaround from where the race was in a mid-June Denver Post poll, with Bennet at 53 and Romanoff at 36.)  ColoradoPols has some analysis here–clearly, they’re crapping their pants because they’ve been mocking and laughing at Romanoff’s campaign all year long and have been shilling pretty hard for Bennet for reasons that are difficult to fathom.  (Strangely, they spin this poll as “a story you already know.”  Well, not if you’ve been following ColoradoPols for the past year!)

The Denver Post article has a pretty good laff line here:  “‘The fact that Bennet has Barack Obama ads on everyone’s television screens multiple times a day right now shows that he’s scrambling to win this primary,’ said Eric Sondermann, a Denver political consultant. ‘That is not an ad you’d run in the general election.’”  Well, no wonder Romanoff is pulling ahead.  If Bennet thinks running ads featuring President Obama here is a good idea even in a Democratic primary, then he’s a bigger idiot than even I would have guessed.  Obama is not popular here, not even among Democrats, and especially not among the kinds of Democrats who are inclined to mail in a vote this week.  Even many liberal Coloradoans go for the “I’m an independent thinker and I’ll represent the people of Colorado against Washington interests” blah blah blah.  This is a state that likes its mavericky Senators, left, right, or center.

Here’s a little recap as to why I think Bennet is such a supreme tool: Continue Reading »


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