Archive for January, 2011

January 30th 2011
Win the Future?

Posted under American history & bad language

Justin Moyer reviews the presumptive Obama campaign slogan “Win the Future,”and offers a trip down memory lane of former Presidential campaign slogans in this morning’s Washington Post.  (I don’t agree at all with Sarah Palin’s assessment, since I’m all for massive investments in research, green energy, and public transportation, but she nailed the acronym!) 

I remember WIN buttons–or did I just see them in a history textbook once?–but am disappointed to have no recollection of MEOW.  (Click the link and absorb the American history, friends!)  That last one has to rank with the all-time dumbest, aside for what was originally called in 2003 Operation Iraqi Liberation, or OIL!

The problem as I see it is that Barack Obama had his moment when he could talk about the future and hope and change– Continue Reading »


January 29th 2011
Time travel?

Posted under American history & art & fluff

I wonder:  heading up CO-14 through the Poudre Canyon, over Cameron Pass and through North Park, did we somehow drive back in time to the 1950s or 1960s?

Because these are some pretty high-quality midcentury commercial signs!  (This photo really doesn’t do justice to the satellite on top of Space Station Gas.)


January 28th 2011
Ski holiday weekend! Talk amongst yourselves.

Posted under bad language & fluff & jobs

Ski holiday this weekend!  I am struggling to make progress as a skiier–but it’s hard work for this old b!tch to learn new tricks!  I’m hoping that my ultra-stylish apres-skiwear will compensate for my clinging to the green dots and blue squares on the slopes.  “NO JIB ZONE” = just my style!

I’ve found that it’s a good thing, if frustrating and a little scary at times, NOT to be good at something.  It’s been a long time since I felt completely incompetent and outclassed by everyone around me, including in most cases the preschoolers who don’t even have poles yet. . . but, I had a powder day a few weeks ago at Winter Park, and that was lots of fun!  So I will work harder to have more fun.

Meanwhile, for those of you stuck indoors at your computers or in front of classrooms, check out Bardiac’s response to yesterday’s post about entertaining candidates originally inspired by her post earlier this week. Continue Reading »


January 27th 2011
Candidate dinners: skip the diaper talk, willya?

Posted under jobs & unhappy endings & weirdness

Read it. Know it. Live it.

 Bardiac has a (mostly unintentionally) hilarious post about dinner with a job candidate in her department recently.  She writes: 

I went to dinner with some department folks and a candidate last night. The department folks included a married couple (TT), parents to two toddler types, an adjunct married to one of our TT folks, also parent to two toddler types. 

There was a LOT of discussion of nannies, pre-schools, and other toddleresque topics among the two married women. The married man talked about bourbon and his beloved porch drinking club. (He’s the type who babysits occasionally*, so he didn’t have much to add to the parenting discussion.) 

The candidate listened politely but didn’t seem to contribute. I don’t know if s/he is a parent or a partner (s/he didn’t contribute that information, and we sure don’t ask). 

.       .      .       .      .       .       

I tried to move the topic onto program stuff, but it didn’t really work, because the two married women really, really wanted to catch up on the latest pre-school news. I tried to get to know the candidate a bit, but there wasn’t much room, since it’s hard to move from diapering issues smoothly into pedagogy issues without an intermediate step that involves bringing the candidate in on the diapering issues. And I have little to say about diapering issues. I tried to move the topic onto things to do in the area, and the married man was just a tad snide at me (as he tends to be). Continue Reading »


January 26th 2011
WedneSKAday! Plus a public service announcement about birth control from The Specials

Posted under American history & art & European history & fluff & Gender & happy endings & race

Remember these guys?

Ska bands were just all fun–they’re my memory of party music in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Continue Reading »


January 25th 2011
It’s funny because it’s true! Plus some thoughts on mortification practices outside of graduate school.

Posted under American history & Bodily modification & European history & fluff & jobs & O Canada & students & the body & weirdness & women's history

Don't ask.

Wasn’t that an old Homer Simpson line or something, “it’s funny because it’s true?”  Anyway–here’s something I found pretty funny, although some of the commenters don’t seem to get the joke.  Actually, I think the author, Daniel J. Ennis, gets it right:  the oversupply of Ph.D.s is due to the satisfactions of smugness:

I don’t spend much time on The Outside, but I meet nondocs in the grocery, and at church, and at unavoidable family gatherings, and I see them struggle to achieve the smug. So much alcohol, so much philandering, so much striving for promotion to V.P., attachment to sports teams and political parties, time lavished on soup kitchens and animal shelters, on raising kids and caring for the aged, so much windsurfing and cross-training … so many airy castles designed to prove that there are good lives to be lived without that ne plus ultra of credentials. We were acquainted with those people before we went to graduate school. As Bob Dylan (honorary doctorate, Princeton) put it, “All those people we used to know /they’re an illusion to me now.” The nondoc trades thousands of dollars and hours for an uncertain shot at self-satisfaction. The person with a Ph.D. has a lifetime supply.

.       .       .       .      .       .      

While there is nothing more miserable and annoying than a doctorate-in-training, once that little sucker breaks out of the cocoon she can beat her wings like the butterfly she was meant to be. In mixed company (i.e. groups of doctorates and nondocs) she can let slip “when I was working on my doctorate” and the room becomes hers. In mixed marriages (distasteful, perhaps, but sometimes useful to pay for life’s little necessities, like health insurance), the Ph.D. can be the ultimate weapon in a decades-long struggle for emotional dominance. Nobody argued with The Professor (Ph.D., Botany, UCLA) on Gilligan’s Island. All those marooned nondocs depended on his serene intelligence when the chips were down. Continue Reading »


January 24th 2011
Rebecca Traister on Stephanie Coontz’s A Strange Stirring

Posted under American history & class & Gender & GLBTQ & publication & race & women's history

"Pink right down to her underwear!"

A colleague of mine sent me a link to Rebecca Traister’s review yesterday in the New York Times of Stephanie Coontz’s A Strange Stirring:  “The Feminine Mystique” and American women at the Dawn of the 1960s (New York:  Basic Books, 2010).  It–like the book it reviews–is a refreshing review of Betty Friedan’s signal achievement and its importance in the intellectual and political history of American feminism.  In this respect, it’s quite a departure for Coontz, whom most of us know as a prominent American historian of marriage and the family.

After decades of distancing themselves from Friedan, whose activism after the publication of The Feminine Mystique was frequently controversial, it seems like feminist historians of all ages are now drawn to reconsider her work.  Her work (like any historical document or artifact) was a prisoner of its time, and since it was based on a survey of Smith College graduates, it was primarily an examination of la querelle des femmes from a white, middle-class perspective.  Perhaps 50 years is now a comfortable distance from which to read all of the uncomfortable questions Friedan’s book asked and raised about itself?

But as Traister points out, so many of these conversations throughout the twentieth century about women’s roles and how to combine family life with a working life have a Groundhog Day-like quality.  “Reading Coontz’s account of postsuffrage backlash — ‘Three decades of relentless attacks on feminism as antimale and anti­family had taken their toll’ — it’s hard to remember that she is writing about the 1950s. When she quotes Dorothy Thompson, who proclaimed in 1939 that the fantasy of women’s being able to meld career and family was ‘an illusion,’ we might as well be reading a modern antifeminist screed about the impossibility of ‘having it all.’”

I have to put in a word for Daniel Horowitz’s terrific biography Betty Friedan and the Making of “The Feminine Mystique”:  The American Left, the Cold War, and Feminism (Amherst:  University of Massachusetts Press, 2000), which may have started the whole Friedan revival.  Continue Reading »


January 23rd 2011
Heather Wilson declaims “Our Superficial Scholars”

Posted under American history & students & wankers

Former U.S. Representative Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico) has an op-ed in the Washington Post echoing everything we’ve been hearing recently about how college grads just aren’t critical thinkers with supple, creative minds any more (h/t RealClearPolitics.)  Shockingly, she’s making this claim about applicants for the Rhodes Scholarship!

For most of the past 20 years I have served on selection committees for the Rhodes Scholarship. In general, the experience is an annual reminder of the tremendous promise of America’s next generation. We interview the best graduates of U.S. universities for one of the most prestigious honors that can be bestowed on young scholars.

I have, however, become increasingly concerned in recent years – not about the talent of the applicants but about the education American universities are providing. Even from America’s great liberal arts colleges, transcripts reflect an undergraduate specialization that would have been unthinkably narrow just a generation ago.

That’s odd–the whole “make up your own curriculum” fad is one I associate with the hippie-dippie days of the 1970s, and by the mid-1980s most colleges and universities had reinstituted a rigorous core curriculum (if they had ever let it go in the first place.)  But, read a little further, and it becomes clear that Wilson’s complaint is political, not intellectual:

As a result, high-achieving students seem less able to grapple with issues that require them to think across disciplines or reflect on difficult questions about what matters and why. . . . Continue Reading »


January 22nd 2011
Tiger mother beatdown: child-free auntie queersplains it all

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & Gender & GLBTQ & wankers & women's history

I’ve followed with only an exhausted disinterest the “controversy” over Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Motherover the past few weeks.  Having been scolded by readers for daring to express opinions on this blog from my perspective as an American women’s historian about modern discourses on motherhood without revealing myself either as a mother or as a non-mother has tried my patience in the past, and the whole fracas over Chua’s book (which was really about her article in the Wall Street Journal, which was clearly calculated to raise people’s blood pressure and get hits to the website) just seemed so calculated to get people–especially XX-chromosome people–whipped up into a lather as they performed their motherhood superior dances.

Fortunately, Tenured Radical breaks it down and explains it all in two posts, the first about the fact that “Middle Class Child Abuse is Not an Asian Thing,” and the second in which she writes about “How Amy Chua Made Me Think About Feminism” after actually reading Chua’s book!  Here’s an excerpt from the second post:

I can also now answer question The Los Angeles Times asked today: “What’s Behind Our Obsessive Amy Chua Disorder?”  The answer, I think, is that mothering is more or less a cursed profession that is analogous to being a professional homosexual, which is what I do when I am not being a tenured college professor.  As with mothers mothers, people always feel like they must have — nay have a right to have — opinions about homosexuals, regardless of how silly or unwelcome those opinions are.  The less people know about real homosexuals, the more they feel like they have to have an opinion about us. . . . Continue Reading »


January 21st 2011
A Modest Proposal

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & jobs & race & students & unhappy endings

Reader Swamp Ape brought this to my attention earlier this week:  Jon Wiener, a History professor at the University of California, Irvine, has a modest proposal to make our classrooms safe from gun violence.  “The Arizona legislature is considering a proposal to authorize the carrying of weapons on campus by faculty members. The idea is simple—in case of trouble in the classroom, somebody needs to be able to blast away at problem students. But the question arises, should all faculty members be armed?”

Wiener thinks this might be dangerous–adjuncts are understandably disgruntled, the untenured regular faculty might be unstable, and “then there are the women, the minorities, and the gays—always complaining about ‘underrepresentation’ and ‘equity issues,’ always whining about pay differentials. Guns must be kept out of their hands, too.” 

The lesson is clear: guns on campus should be restricted to the hands of the senior professors—the old white men. They know the importance of preserving order. Continue Reading »


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