Archive for 2010

December 16th 2010
Most melancholy Christmas song ever

Posted under American history & art & unhappy endings

Judy Garland as Esther Smith in Meet me in St. Louis(1944), “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  I can’t get through this song (either hearing it or singing it) without sobbing–even without seeing Tootie’s snowmanicidal tantrum in this clip.  1944 was a year in which a lot of people wouldn’t be seeing their loved ones for Christmas–or ever again.


December 15th 2010
I am the woman who does all the committee work

Posted under Gender & jobs & women's history

And now, a funny, thanks to reader and commenter John S. who sent this along for your delectation.  It’s a letter from one faculty member to another, “I am the woman in your department who does all the committee work,” by Sophia Gould.  It begins:

I received your email about the tower you are building in the woods with a few Amish masons, and of course I understand that you’ll be unable to notify us as to what classes you’ll be teaching next semester, or when you’ll be available to meet with your advisees. With your permission, I’ll rely on last year’s schedule and again sign you up for two five-person sections of “Lyric Sexuality.” I will also schedule some extra office hours to collect mucous-soaked, germ-infected tissues from each of the suicidal girls you seem to enjoy mentoring when you are not laying stone.

Here’s my favorite part:

As you recall, you agreed to chair our hiring committee, but since I know you’re “bad with paperwork and deadlines” I will continue to fill out the “administrative paperwork” that amounts to reading and summarizing all 300 applications (or twelve feet of paper) for you. When we meet to discuss candidates, I will count on your voicing your commitment to affirmative action, as well as your support of young men who write about young men, unless they are too talented, in which case you’d prefer a woman who will do all of your committee work. Continue Reading »


December 13th 2010
Baby I’m a-laughing

Posted under American history & art & childhood & fluff

Do you get the joke below, and if you do what is your age?  (Leave your answers in the comments below.)

Here’s the joke:  when we’re listening to the news and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s name is mentioned, Fratguy says to me, “and Bread.”  And I laugh my a$$ off! Continue Reading »


December 13th 2010
Trinidad hospital slays the goose that laid the golden egg

Posted under American history & Bodily modification & Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & local news & unhappy endings

Marci Bowers, MD

After years of being an internationally-renowned place for sex reassignment surgery for forty years, Trinidad, Colorado no longer has a doc in town to do the work.  The Denver Post reports that Dr. Marci Bowers, herself a transgender surgery patient at one time, has moved to San Francisco because of what sounds like an extremely stupid business decision on the part of the local hospital:

Her work has been recorded in documentaries, magazine articles, TV shows — attention she has welcomed, even courted.

Mt. San Rafael Hospital, not so much.

Bowers views the publicity as part of her work.

“It’s important. It educates people,” Bowers said.

The hospital viewed it as an intrusion, an inconvenience and a royal pain. Crews dragging cameras, wires and microphones through the 24-bed hospital disrupt patient care and cost money, said chief executive Jim Robertson.

That prompted an unusual policy. Media must get hospital permission 60 days in advance before visiting and pay for access.

It was that policy, Bowers said, that drove her away.

“In September, I finally said, ‘Look, if I’m going to stay here, we’ve got to address this media policy,’ ” she said.

The hospital and its board weren’t about to do that.

“There are many residents of Trinidad who would like to have the city known for something other than gender-reassignment surgery,” said board member Dr. Jim Colt.

Uh, right:  let me guess.  I’m certainly no businesswoman, but does anyone really think that the one gynecologist the hospital has hired to replace Bowers and the new “cardiac diagnostic tests” are really going to bring patients from around the world to Mt. San Rafael Hospital?  Continue Reading »


December 12th 2010
No sabbaticals in “I-O-WAAAAY?”

Posted under American history & art & fluff & jobs & students & wankers

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

We’ve got trouble, friends–right here!  Republican legistlators in the Hawkeye State are ginning up the kulkurkampfen again by targeting professors’ sabbaticals at public universities.  They think that Iowans are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of sabbaticals in public university budgets!  Unsurprisingly, incoming House speaker Kraig Paulsen doesn’t remember that there are all kinds of biomedical faculty, business professors, and engineering proffies in Iowa.  He targets Medieval Studies and Music!

It’s awful hard to look a taxpayer in the eye and say, “You need to pay higher property taxes so that a professor can take a year off from teaching to go research superstitions on the Middle Ages or write a musical.”

I wonder how sabbaticals would fare if faculty proposed instead to remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock, and the Golden Rule? Continue Reading »


December 11th 2010
My own Christmas special–gone commercial!

Posted under American history & art & childhood & fluff

Thursday, December 9 was the 45th anniversary of the Charlie Brown Christmas special.  The Washington Postpublished a fascinating interview with Emmy-winning producer Lee Mendelson in which he details the making of the special with Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz and composer Vince Guaraldi.  In the course of the story, I learned this fascinating detail:

Mendelson also credits part of the power of the scene to child voice actor Christopher Shea, whose tone of wise innocence, the producer says, fits the moment perfectly.

Several years earlier, young voice actors were cast as “Peanuts” characters for a Ford commercial — this at a time when adult actors were typically cast to voice animated children. “They were 6 or 7 years old when they made the commercial,” Mendelson says of the “Peanuts” actors, “and now they were 10 or 11. But they were still the best voices.” (Melendez, meantime, was drafted to voice the sounds of Snoopy, which were speeded up by 10 times the rate at which they were recorded.)

I agree that Shea’s voice was perfect for Linus, who embodies the adult sensibilities of the Peanuts gang as well as ambivalence about joining the world of the grownups:  he alternately counsels Charlie Brown and quotes the Gospel of Luke from memory, then clutches his blue blanket and sucks his thumb.  (Sadly, IMDB reports that Shea died this summer at the rather young age of 52.)  Every time I see the Charlie Brown Christmas special, I marvel at Schulz’s courage in portraying children as troubled or even depressed at all, let alone suffering from a Christmas-induced depression.

Anyhoo–I did a little research on the world wide non-peer reviewed YouTubes into those old Peanuts kids commercials for Ford, and here’s what I came up with.  There are several advertisements for the Ford Falcon made in the early 1960s–here’s one from 1961 which sounds a lot like a younger version of the Linus and Pigpen voice actors in the Christmas special:  Continue Reading »


December 10th 2010
Shockholm Syndrome

Posted under American history & unhappy endings & wankers

Robert Kuttner writes at The American Prospect:

It was nothing short of astonishing to see Obama, at his surprise press conference Tuesday, with harsher words for members of his own party than for Republicans. It is the Republicans, after all, who have been blocking his efforts, wall-to-wall, while liberal Democrats have been his staunchest if often exasperated supporters.

Also rather surprising was Obama’s misreading of his own incrementalist beliefs into the history of Social Security and Medicare. It’s factually incorrect, contrary to the president’s assertions, that Social Security began as help for “widows and orphans.” The basic provisions of Social Security, as a retirement benefit for workers, was right in the original 1935 legislation. The first retiree began collecting benefits in 1939, a necessary delay while the program accumulated funds. And Medicare, despite Obama’s misunderstanding of its history, was legislated as a full-blown program of health insurance for the elderly in 1964.

Seriously?  Which sentient adults are really shocked, shocked” that Barack Obama has more contempt for the Left than the Right?  Surely not anyone who paid attention to his 2007-08 campaign or anyone who’s picked up a newspaper pretty much any day since his inauguration.  Praising Ronald Reagan as “transformative” during the 2008 primaries?  Check.  Winning all of the Red State caucuses while losing every closed primary in Rust Belt/Big Labor/Big Dem states, even after “the math” said Hillary Clinton couldn’t win the nomination?  Check.  Larry Summers and Timmy Geithner still have jobs in the Obama administration*, and tens of millions of worthy Americans don’t have jobs at all?  Checkaroonie!  Continuations of George W. Bush’s wars in Afghanistan, on “terror,” and on the Fourth Amendment?  Check, check, and check.  Continuations of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, the 2001 Bush tax cuts for bazillionaires, and the for-profit health “insurance” industry?  Checkcheckcheck.  Continue Reading »


December 9th 2010
Eggnogurate the season!

Posted under American history & happy endings & women's history

Of Syllabubs, Creams, and Flummery, p. 143

An absurd number of people are finding their way to this blog after googling the words “egg nog” or “eggnog.”  This is strange, especially because the only thing I’ve ever had to say on the subject of eggnog was this flippant post from nearly two years ago–whose major point was that people shouldn’t pronounce the word “inaugurate” as “inNOGGERate.”

But, since it is in fact eggnog season, I thought I’d do a little research into my trusty digital copy of Susannah Carter’s The Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook(1772 edition) to see if we can find any colonial antecedents to our holiday beverage.  There’s nothing called an eggnog in the book, but here are two recipes for syllabub and one for a “fine cream” that would seem to be rich and festive enough to serve in the place of eggnog.  First, she provides instructions “To make a fine Syllabub from the Cow.”  To wit:

Sweeten a quart of cyder, with double refined sugar, and grate a nutmeg into it; then milk the cow into your liquor.  When you have thus added what quantity of milk you think proper, pour half a pint, or more (in proportion of the quantity of syllabub you make) of the sweetest cream you can get, all over it.

That sounds a little weird, although I admit it might be a fun activity for the kids on Christmas morning to milk a cow directly into a pan of sweetened cider.  (If that’s your style.)  Her next recipe sounds even noggier with the froth of some egg whites included in “A Whipt Syllabub:” Continue Reading »


December 8th 2010
Your daily LOLz

Posted under American history & bad language & fluff & technoskepticism

She no can say dat

 I LOLed, anyway.  Bonus LOL:  someone put it on Twitter!  (Well, part of it.  It’s more than 140 characters.)

I couldn’t have said it more emphatically myself.


December 6th 2010
The War on Teachers: What has Michelle Rhee learned about education politics?

Posted under American history & childhood & students & unhappy endings & wankers

How to cash in on her educrat celebrity!  From a lengthy, self-serving analysis of her time as Washington, D.C. school chancellor:

There are enough people out there who understand and believe that kids deserve better, but until now, there has been no organization for them. We’ll ask people across the country to join StudentsFirst—we’re hoping to sign up 1 million members and raise $1 billion in our first year.

.       .       .       .       .       .      

Though we’ll be nonpartisan, we can’t pretend that education reform isn’t political. So we’ll put pressure on elected officials and press for changes in legislation to make things better for kids. And we’ll support and endorse school-board candidates and politicians—in city halls, statehouses, and the U.S. Congress—who want to enact policies around our legislative agenda. We’ll support any candidate who’s reform-minded, regardless of political party, so reform won’t just be a few courageous politicians experimenting in isolated locations; it’ll be a powerful, nationwide movement.

Great!  Just what Washington needs:  another billion-dollar “nonprofit” lobbying firm!  Yeah, I bet that will change everything–for the children, of course.  (It will change everything for Michelle Rhee, anyway–I’m sure she’s looking at a major salary bump!)

Rhee can cry publicly about those meanie teachers in Washington, but she should be sending them a big thank-you note.  In defeating Mayor Adrian Fenty’s bid for re-election and ousting Rhee, the biggest winner in all of this is Rhee herself.  See, the number one lesson of being an educrat is that you never stay in one job long enough for the conclusive test results to come in assessing your tenure.  It’s much better to be driven out after just a few years and complain that you didn’t have time to implement your brilliant ideas.  That way, there’s never accountability for educrats, who can continue to claim to be working on behalf of the children, but who are never asked to show any proof that what they’ve done is working.  Certainly they’d never subject themselves to the same pay-for-performance that they claim is the only way to go with teachers earning $40,000 a year!  After three or four years, they’re off to superintend or chancellorize yet another big city school system, or (better yet!) to enter the super-lucrative revolving door of lobbying and “public service” in the nation’s capital. Continue Reading »


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