Archive for July, 2011

July 30th 2011
That’s why I wish again that I were in Michigan. . .

Posted under art & fluff & happy endings

She’s so sweet here and so young–who can resist? 

I’m off to Michigan–did you guess?  Please do summer the Historiann way: get plenty of fresh air, wear sunscreen and bug spray P.R.N., and give yourself and your animals plenty of water.  Blogging will resume once I’ve groomed and watered the horses.  Continue Reading »


July 28th 2011
Synchronize Swatches!

Posted under American history & art & childhood & fluff & happy endings & students

Living in the present reality is just too, too sad. Not for me personally, but for the Republic at large, and it just seems strange that summer is all popsicles and bike rides and the adult equivalent of day camps for me. (More on my recent summer adventures tomorrow, I hope.) So instead of ranting about all that again, how about a little fun? That’s right: the guy you know who just can’t lose. (Was I the only person who actually rooted for Ms. Musso and his sister?)

If only we could all be like Parker Lewis! And the lead actor, Corin Nemec, is still a working actor, so good for him. Continue Reading »


July 26th 2011
Oh noes–anything but that!!!

Posted under American history & European history & jobs & unhappy endings & wankers

Get this:  via The Daily Beast, International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde says the U.S. had better solve the debt ceiling crisis, or else:

Unless politicians agree a package by 2 August the US may be unable to pay its bills, triggering an economic crisis.

On Tuesday the dollar fell against the euro whilst US shares opened down.

But Ms Lagarde warned against drastic cuts in spending, saying these could create a “jobless recovery”.

Our reality:  u haz it rite!  Maybe she should have said it would mean even more job-lessness in our so-called “recovery?”  In which case we must ask:  what part of this reality is the “recovery,” and can we stage an intervention in Congress and in the White House already?


July 25th 2011
Monday’s reading assignment: “What Were They Thinking?”

Posted under American history & wankers


Via Shakesville, Corrente, and pretty much every other political blogger today–go read Elizabeth Drew’s “What Were They Thinking?” which gives an overview of recent political history as well as her prediction that history will not smile on the political leadership we’re stuck with today:

Someday people will look back and wonder, What were they thinking? Why, in the midst of a stalled recovery, with the economy fragile and job creation slowing to a trickle, did the nation’s leaders decide that the thing to do—in order to raise the debt limit, normally a routine matter—was to spend less money, making job creation all the more difficult? Many experts on the economy believe that the President has it backward: that focusing on growth and jobs is more urgent in the near term than cutting the deficit, even if such expenditures require borrowing. But that would go against Obama’s new self-portrait as a fiscally responsible centrist.

There’s lots of interesting gossip and inside baseball about the President’s re-election maneuverings, the different goals of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor; and the recent negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.  I agree with her perspective for the most part, but the last sentence of the article strikes me as wrong:

This country’s economy is beset with a number of new difficulties, among them that recovery from the last recession remains more elusive than was generally expected, while the US is confronting a variety of international economic instabilities, especially the large debts and possible default of several countries in the eurozone, bringing on unpopular austerity measures. Recent experience with what should have been a simple matter of raising the debt ceiling, normally done with no difficulty, is reason for deep unease about our political system’s ability to deal with such challenges.

Saying that the “political system” isn’t up to the challenges of 2011 and beyond is pretty vague–what does she mean?  The U.S. Constitution?  The two-party system?  It’s unclear, but as I’ve said here before:  it’s a mistake to see President Obama’s failures or the failures of the Democratic Party as failures of the U.S. Constitution or the political system in generalContinue Reading »


July 24th 2011
Medicare eligibility: 65 or fight.

Posted under American history & jobs & the body & unhappy endings & wankers

Jeralyn Merritt explains her point of view on Medicare eligibility, which I share:

If President Obama backs raising the age of medicare, which won’t save the Government money in the long run due to the huge numbers of 65 and 66 year olds who will shift to Medicaid and who will break the backs of small businesses providing health care to elderly workers — and which will force middle class elderly workers who don’t have employer paid health care to pay premiums of ten thousand dollars a year or more for two more years, with huge deductibles and out of pocket costs, he doesn’t deserve a second term as Democratic President. Let him run as as Republican or go home to Chicago. He will have sold us out.

I am a knowledge worker who outside of voluntary gardening or home improvement chores has the privilege of working with my brain in a climate-controlled environment.  However, I have two elderly relatives who although mentally and physically disabled from infancy, Continue Reading »


July 23rd 2011
Pick a little, talk a little. . .

Posted under American history & art & fluff & Gender & local news & the body & women's history

The kerfuffle in the feminist internets that I wrote about yesterday somehow recalls this scene for me. “She advocates dirty books: CHAW-ser. RABBaLAYS. BALL-zac!” Knitting Clio, a historian of medicine who has written about adolescent medicine in particular, has more to say about this–check her out.

Continue Reading »


July 22nd 2011
Why the internet & Twitter suck

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & Gender & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

Writing about parenting decisions on the internet is hazardous if you are a mother.  It doesn’t matter that the mistake in question wasn’t yours, and that instead it was a nurse’s fault that your child received the wrong vaccine.  If you are a mother, you will only be attacked as a neglectful mother/helicopter parent/narcissist/etc.  (Don’t believe me?  Just skim some of the first comments, if you dare.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around her being called both neglectful AND a helicopter parentAwesome!)

If you as a mother simultaneously transfused blood into your child WHILE lifting a burning car off of her body, you’ll still be told U R doin’ it RONG.  You’re a helicopter (or Jaws of Life) parent!  Parents do too much for their kids these days!  What a narcissist–why would you write about a private trauma like that?  It was dangerously irresponsible for you not to call 911 and let the paramedics handle that!  Take take take–that’s all they’ll ever learn if you do everything for them!!!!11!!!1!1!

It’s difficult for me to imagine that a father who wrote a similar essay would be subject to such patronizing, dismissive, and nasty lectures from anonymous (and not-so-anonymous) commenters and tweeters.  In fact, in the world I inhabit, I think it’s quite plausible that he’d be offered warm, gooey cookies for an essay like that, even (or especially?) from feminist writers.  Continue Reading »


July 21st 2011
Simon Says, Goody Two-Shoes edition

Posted under American history & art & bad language & European history & Gender & jobs & publication & race & unhappy endings & wankers

Ah, the 1980s:  when fashionable men dared to wear eye shadow.

This video seems newly timely given the massive wiretapping scandal blowing up News Corporation.  Now that Rupert Murdoch and his empire look pretty weak, the long knives are out for him.  Roger Simon reports that nearly 30 years ago–perhaps to the soundtrack of an Adam Ant video–Murdoch said something racist at a dinner with Chicago Sun-Times reporters after he bought their newspaper:

Continue Reading »


July 20th 2011

Posted under bad language & jobs & students & unhappy endings & wankers

She took it-online!

WARNING:  Rant dead ahead.  Proceed a vos risques.

Didja hear?  Online courses have higher dropout and failure rates.  From yesterday’s Inside Higher Ed:

[A] new study urges caution to those who believe that online education is a panacea for educating more community college students. The study finds that students who enrolled in online courses — controlling for various factors that tend to predict success — were more likely to fail or drop out of the courses than were those who took the same courses in person. Notably, there was not a gap in completion between those enrolled in hybrid and in-person courses.

Further, the students who took online courses early in their community college careers were slightly but statistically significantly less likely than were other students to come back for subsequent terms. And students who took higher shares of coursework online than did their peers were slightly but statistically significantly less likely either to finish a degree or certificate or to transfer to a four-year institution.

The study was by Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College of Columbia University. Their analysis is based on a large cohort — the 51,000 students who entered community and technical colleges in Washington State in 2004. And the study is similar to one on students in Virginia, adding to the researchers’ belief that the trends are real and potentially troublesome in that increasing numbers of community college students are enrolling online.

I’ll wager that if someone repeats this study at four-year colleges ze’ll get pretty much the same results.  It seems so obvious to anyone who has ever taught a class–and I’m sure to pretty much anyone who has some functional memory of their college years.  The mission of community colleges is to serve students who may not have had the background in high school to leap into a 4-year degree program.  Many universities market online courses as easy–and fun!–to do while working full time and/or raising children.  (I’m sure you’ve seen the ads on your local buses, subways, and in airports, as well as on the teevee.)  So, less prepared students + marketing the idea of post-secondary study as fun and easy to do in your spare time = tuition scam-a-lama-ding-dong.  Awesome!  It’s so unethical it makes me grind my teeth until my molars ache. Continue Reading »


July 19th 2011
From the mailbag: NEH Enduring Questions grants

Posted under fluff

This came via e-mail yesterday:

The NEH Enduring Questions grant program supports the development of a new course that will foster intellectual community through the study of an enduring question. This course will encourage undergraduates and teachers to grapple with a fundamental question addressed by the humanities, and to join together in a deep and sustained program of reading in order to encounter influential thinkers over the centuries and into the present day.

Deadline(s):      09/15/2011

E-mail:           enduringquestions AT neh DOT gov

More information here on the web site, which also includes some samples of successful “enduring questions:”

  • What is good government?
  • What is the value of work?
  • What is friendship?
  • What is evil?
  • Are there universals in human nature?
  • What are the origins of the universe?

This got me thinking about other Enduring Questions that span the ages of humankind: Continue Reading »


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