Archive for 2010

November 11th 2010
“America’s most progressive President in more than half a century!” will extend tax cuts for the rich

Posted under American history & bad language & unhappy endings & wankers


White House Gives In On Bush Tax Cuts.”  (Via TalkLeft.)  But, I guess this is what we get because Democrats fell for a marketing campaign instead of someone with a resume and forty years of experience.  Top White House adviser David Axelrod:

“We don’t want that tax increase to go forward for the middle class,” he said, which means the administration will have to accept them all for some unspecified period of time. “But plainly, what we can’t do is permanently extend these high income taxes.”

In other words, the White House won’t risk being blamed for raising taxes on the middle class even though, arguably, it is the GOP’s refusal to separate the categories that has put Obama in this bind. The only condition, at least initially, seems to be that the tax cuts for the wealthy not be extended “permanently.”

A student of history and a onetime political reporter, Axelrod expressed curiosity and even some optimism about the tea party, suggesting that Obama could work with them on matters such as a ban on spending earmarks and on winding down the war in Afghanistan.

If so, Obama would turn the Clinton-era triangulation strategy on its head, reaching out not to the moderates in the other party but to the new breed of conservatives who could bring the ideological arc of Congress full circle.

Letting tax cuts expire is now–in the mouth of an alleged Democrat–a “tax increase” or instituting “high income taxes?”  As Big Tent Democrat said, “This is, of course, insane. The Obama White House seems to have lost its mind. At this rate, unless the GOP nominates Palin, Obama may very well be a one term President.” Continue Reading »


November 10th 2010
Patriarchal equilibrium: we’re doin’ it rite!

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

Check out this story from Inside Higher Ed about the effects of gendered language in letters of recommendation submitted for applicants to faculty positions:

You are reading a letter of recommendation that praises a candidate for a faculty job as being “caring,” “sensitive,” “compassionate,” or a “supportive colleague.” Whom do you picture?

New research suggests that to faculty search committees, such words probably conjure up a woman — and probably a candidate who doesn’t get the job. The scholars who conducted the research believe they may have pinpointed one reason for the “leaky pipeline” that frustrates so many academics, who see that the percentage of women in senior faculty jobs continues to lag the percentage of those in junior positions and that the share in junior positions continues to lag those earning doctorates.

The research is based on a content analysis of 624 letters of recommendation submitted on behalf of 194 applicants for eight junior faculty positions at an unidentified research university. The study found patterns in which different kinds of words were more likely to be used to describe women, while other words were more often used to describe men. Continue Reading »


November 9th 2010
Futoriann presents fashions and news headlines of futures past

Posted under American history & art & the body & weirdness & women's history

This Pathetone Weekly newsreel is a late 1930s look at what “Eve, 2000 A.D.” will be wearing:

I’m really struck by how accurate the predictions are–not the actual look of the clothing, but the general outlines of the fashion priorities of early 21st century people:  in a world in which denim is worn for evening wear and velvet and satin are worn in the daytime, women’s wear does in fact move seamlessly from day to night (with a little accessorizing, always).  The dress of transparent net highlighting trim that looks like the foundation garments is very Madonna-esque, ca. 1987, and the “cantilevered” heels are nearly identical to shoe styles I’ve seen all over the place in the past decade.  The menswear look is of course spot on with the phone, the “radio” (a.k.a. i-Pod), and the slouchy leisure wear pioneered in the late 1980s by M.C. Hammer.

Speaking of uncanny futorian (the opposite of historian) skillz:  Continue Reading »


November 8th 2010
I wanna be promoted!

Posted under American history & art & fluff & jobs

Roxie wants to be promoted, and she’s made her own Xtranormal video explaining her reasoning.  (Er, I mean “Professor Sawyer’s” reasoning.)  I know that this wasn’t the point of her post–but as soon as I read her title, all I could think of is this song:

Sing it with me:  Bam bam bam bam buh bam bam bam bam–I wanna be promoted!  Bam bam bam bam buh bam bam bam bam–I wanna be promoted!  (But I might settle for sedation if it were offered.  Mmmmmmmnnnnnn.)

Have you been following the spate of rude little Xtranormal movies that are flitting around the academic blogosphere?  Continue Reading »


November 8th 2010
Wanda wonders: what would other proffies do?

Posted under jobs & students & unhappy endings

Folks, we’ve got another “Dear Historiann” letter that is really a request for ideas and advice from you, the wise and experienced commentariat at  Tenured Professor Wanda wonders what the heck should she do on a master’s committee when the student’s thesis is literally indefensable, but the student’s advisor won’t admit it.

Dear Historiann,

In a few days’ time I will sit on the exam committee for a master’s thesis that is not ready to be defended.  I stopped the defense once already because the document was not comprehensible. This time it is comprehensible and it turns out the work is, in my opinion, no good. I got a second opinion on this from a colleague with relevant expertise and ze agrees.  We are on a tight timeline.  The revised thesis was given to me with only a few weeks to spare before the last day to defend this term and I didn’t have time to read it until a few days ago.

It is not surprising that the thesis is poor because the adviser knows very close to nothing about the subject area of the work. I actually know more about the topic area and I would not have agreed to advise it.  The problems with the thesis come in many flavors, from basic knowledge flaws, to methodological errors, to unsupported conclusions. I have talked with the student about some of these issues in the past but ze disagrees with my concerns.  It did not ever seem an option to steer hir toward a better analysis.  This is, in my opinion, the fault of the adviser. Continue Reading »


November 7th 2010
Are you an adjunct instructor or lecturer? Plus memories. . .

Posted under American history & happy endings & jobs

World's most famous former adjunct

Don’t neglect to take the survey on contingent academic labor this month sponsored by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce.  Here’s the blog post on it, and here’s a direct link to the survey.

I know people think that tenured regular faculty like Historiann were somehow born in tenured faculty positions or leaped immediately into our jobs upon receiving our Ph.D.s, but believe me–most of us have done our time as adjuncts or non-tenure track lecturers.  Even in the relatively good years of the history job market in the later 1990s and very early 2000s, most of us did our time in these positions before winning a tenure track appointment somewhere. 

That said, I think adjuncting has become a way of life in ways that it just wasn’t fifteen or even ten years ago.  For example:  I applied as an A.B.D. to a number of jobs in the fall of 1994, and didn’t get anything but one interview at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting.  My graduate funding was ending the following spring even though I wasn’t probably going to be done with my dissertation. Fratguy and I were in Boston for his residency, so if worse came to worst, we could live on the $27,000 he was making if I found some kind of part-time job.  So, that year was kind of a see-what-happens attempt at the job market.  When I came up blank for academic jobs, I got a part-time job in a local frame shop running the dry-mount machine, and put out some applications for adjunct lecturing while also writing my dissertation. Continue Reading »


November 5th 2010
Work Promotes Confidence! (And maybe drinking.)

Posted under American history & art & childhood & fluff & weirdness

But alas–work does not promote blogging, and I won’t get promoted on the strength of this blog.  (Details on the poster at left here.)  Hope you have a good day of work behind you, too, and are enjoying the adult beverage of your choice, if that’s your style.  Here’s a recipe for a favorite of the twentieth-century working man, the Boilermaker, otherwise known as a “beer ‘n a bump.”  If the shot is dropped or mixed into the beer, I’ve heard it called a Depth Charge.  Truly, nothing could be simpler:


1 pint of beer (your choice)

1 shot of liquor–whiskey or rye is traditional, but tequila is a popular modern choice.  (It’s your call, but I’d stay away from the Frangelico if I were you.)

Directions:  Pour into separate vessels (or mix them together) and serve. Continue Reading »


November 4th 2010
Retro-Depression Thursday: Big Rock Candy Mountain

Posted under American history & art & fluff

In the big rock-candy mountain, you never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol come trickling down the rocks. . .

I’m going to stay where they sleep all day, and they hung the jerk that invented work . . . in the big rock-candy mountain.

Howdy!  Now that my hat-eating is all done, my day job calls.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that great Cohen brothers movie, O Brother Where Art Thou.  Fratguy loves to quote it around this time of year:  “They’ve got the midget, they’ve got the broom–it’s a well-run campaign!”  So here’s a hopeful little hobo song that should put a smile on your face.  Continue Reading »


November 3rd 2010
I was wrong!

Posted under American history & class & Gender & local news & race & weirdness

Dang--and it's a new one, too!

Michael Bennet has just been elected Senator.  (I suppose I’ll have to stop calling him “Senator” with the scare quotes now.)  If you recall, I predicted in August before the primary:  “Bennet will either lose next week, or he’ll lose in November.  He’s going to have to clean out his desk in January, in any case.”  Well, I was wrong.  The Denver Postis calling it for Bennet, with 47.5% to Ken Buck’s 47.1% of the vote and a lead of about 7,000 votes.

The sound you hear is of me eating my cowgirl hat!  But, I still stand by all of the low-down dirty things I said about Michael Bennet, whose d00dly white privilege is the only thing that explains his mysterious success at getting appointed to jobs he hasn’t trained for and hasn’t earned.  And if you doubt me about his Locust Valley Lockjaw, just click here and listen to this recording of his phone call to a local radio stationUnbelievable!


November 3rd 2010
Colorado Senate race all Buck’d up

Posted under American history & local news & weirdness

Stumbling through history

Oh yeah, babies–here’s what happens when you have a race between a thin resume who couldn’t win a “one-man charm contest” and a neophyte who until six months ago couldn’t get anyone to talk to him but the Greeley Tribune.  Stay tuned, folks–if you give a crap.  As of this minute, the Denver Post vote returns have Bennet and Buck within 9,000 votes of each other, with Bennet at 47.4% of the vote and Buck at 47.0% (and 87% of precincts reporting.)  It’s going down to the provisional ballots and the military ballots.

In other Colorado election news:  Continue Reading »


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