Archive for July, 2011

July 18th 2011
Not one more winter in the tipi, honey: gender and labor “off the grid”

Posted under American history & book reviews & Gender & local news & technoskepticism & women's history

Via Corrente, another Colorado blogger Michelle Nijhuis writes perceptively about the differences (encore!) in women’s and men’s labor when an idealistic heterosexualist couple decide to live their low impact dream inside a solar-powered yurt or straw-bale home:

Here’s what happens: A couple arrives in our valley, young, strong, in love, and full of plans to build an ultra-energy-efficient house out of straw bales, rammed earth, adobe bricks, or, heck, used bottlecaps. They set to work with equal enthusiasm, buying land and setting up temporary quarters in a yurt or a tipi. The weather’s good, the views are great, and the new house is humming along.

But at some point, the weather turns, or the project slows. Or a baby arrives, and everything gets more complicated. For whatever reason, their brio fades, NOMWITTH (“Not one more winter in the tipi, honey.”) sets in, and what was once a joint project becomes a battlefield, XX vs. XY. In mild cases, help is hired, the house gets a roof, and all ends well. In more serious cases, one person — inevitably XX — splits town for a fully-furnished condo with central heating, leaving XY alone with the low-carbon dream.

So why is it always XX who bails out on “the dream?”  Is it that the solar panels can’t power up their hair dryers and curling irons and they miss watching E! and HGTV?  Continue Reading »

34 Comments »

July 17th 2011
Dear Katie Rosman,

Posted under Gender & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

If it were so important to your husband that you share a last name with him and the children, why didn’t he change his name to Rosman?  After all, it’s easy to spell and easy to pronounce in English.  I don’t understand why you permit him to make this your problem.

Oh, and his little “jokes” with perfect strangers and your own children about your surname, and the fact that you wrote about them in the Wall Street Journal?  Maybe you two should see a counselor.

Good luck with that,

Historiann

60 Comments »

July 16th 2011
Martin Amis on sex and death

Posted under art & bad language & book reviews & European history & the body & unhappy endings

I’ve been a huge fan of Martin Amis’s writing ever since I discovered him and read his back catalog in the 1990s.  What I love about his work is that he never pulls back from his self-loathing instincts.  More than any other novelist, he describes in minute detail the horrors of inhabiting human flesh, and even his youthful novels are obsessed with documenting bodily corruption and decay. 

The Pregnant Widow is unfortunately a disappointment.  Amis pulls back on the self-loathing, and he shies away from the horrors of the flesh.  Perhaps this was inevitable, given the setting for the book (1970), the fact that the main characters are all in their 20s, and that the male protagonist Keith Nearing is once again only a lightly disguised version of the now 60-ish Martin Amis, and the middle-aged and elderly tend to romanticize youth. 

There are some good lines about aging and the prospect of death, however, that are vintage Amis:

When you become old. . . When you become old, you find yourself auditioning for the role of a lifetime; then, after interminable rehersals, you’re finally starring in a horror film–a talentless, irresponsible, and above all low-budget horror film, in which (as is the way with horror films) they’re saving the worst for last. (5)

Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

July 15th 2011
AIA Barbie Dream House competition

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Dolls & fluff & jobs

Architect friend MBB forwarded this intel on yesterday about the American Institute of Architects’s Barbie Dream House competition:

At the convention, there was a lot of buzz about Mattel’s Barbie® I Can Be™…Architect. Please help us continue the buzz by sharing the following with members so they can vote for their favorite dream house.

Check out the designs–the one with the pool slide from the runway is really tempting, but I think I like the Eero Saarinen-esque one the best. At least, I can see myself living and working in those airy, sunny pods quite easily! You can review them all and vote for your favorite, too. Continue Reading »

6 Comments »

July 14th 2011
Another reason not to become a “presidential historian”

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

Did any of you cats see this from yesterday?  Some idiots tried to rip off the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore:

An attorney for a presidential historian charged with the theft of such library treasures as papers signed by Abraham Lincoln and invitations to inaugural balls says there is no evidence against his client and he shouldn’t have been denied bail.

A request for a bail review was filed Wednesday for 63-year-old historian Barry Landau, attorney Steven D. Silverman said, calling the denial unreasonable.

Landau and Jason Savedoff, 24, both of New York City, were arrested and charged Saturday with theft of more than $100,000 after document thefts were reported at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, according to court documents.

Landau is a published author whose works include “The President’s Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy,” released in 2007.

A historical society employee told police that Savedoff and Landau had been acting suspiciously and called authorities after he saw Savedoff conceal a document in a portfolio and walk it out of the library, according to court documents.

.       .       .       .       .      

A search of a locker at a building that Savedoff was carrying a key to turned up 60 documents, many of which Landau had signed out, according to court documents. The items included papers signed by Lincoln worth $300,000, numerous presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs worth $500,000, a signed Statue of Liberty commemoration valued at $100,000 and a signed Washington monument commemoration valued at $100,000, court documents state.

See what might tempt you if you don’t listen to Historiann, Continue Reading »

20 Comments »

July 13th 2011
Lori Ginzberg on Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Posted under American history & book reviews & class & Gender & race & women's history

Kudos to Penn State University historian Lori Ginzberg for her 2009 biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and for her interview this morning about the book on NPR’s Morning Edition The angle of the interview, and of the book I gather, is Stanton’s bitterness about voting rights being extended to African American men via the Fifteenth Amendment before white women won the franchise.  Stanton in fact would die almost a generation before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting voting rights to all adults, and the U.S. has never passed an Equal Rights Amendment.  The division among Civil War-era reformers like Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass who had been allies in the struggle both for women’s rights and for abolition, is one that continues to shape the relationships between feminism and anti-racist movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 

I look forward to the day when biographers of white, male progressives make the focus of their books the racism and sexism inherent in their activism and writings.  Continue Reading »

21 Comments »

July 12th 2011
Stuff we see in Colorado

Posted under American history & bad language & fluff & local news

Before you read this post, you might want to click play on this video for the soundtrack:

 

All photographs by Historiann or Fratguy, June 30 – July3, 2011. Warning: explicit images below the fold!

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park

Chicago Basin

20 Comments »

July 11th 2011
Skype interviews to supplant big conference interviews?

Posted under conferences & happy endings & jobs & students

Lynn Lubamersky, an Associate Professor of History at Boise State University, makes a pretty good case for using Skype instead of flying faculty and grad students around North America to (usually) northern cities in early January:

[S]ome history departments like mine have tried Skype to do initial screening interviews, and I think that it is a much more humane and effective method of seeing who is best for the job. At first, I thought that using Skype was useful because it is free, but that we should return to the AHA when the economy improves. But now I feel that interviewing via Skype is a better way to find the best job candidates.

Why? Because job-seekers are not required to travel across the country and the world to pay for the opportunity to be interviewed, and they have more control over the presentation of self. Instead of all the candidates appearing relatively the same in a sterile environment, the job candidates interview in their own offices or even kitchens, taking the opportunity to position themselves to best advantage.

I’m with her entirely–using Skype saves everyone’s time, money, and carbon emissions to boot.  And I think the arguments about the greater economic justice for using Skype make it an absolute slam-dunk.  I’ve been on search committees that wanted to inteview people at the American Historical Association’s annual convention, but because of a candidate’s recent surgery, recent or impending childbirth, or perhaps because of plain ol’ poverty, some prospects were unable to meet with us there.

But with respect to Lubamersky’s last point about the charm of seeing people in their home or work environments–I’m a little whingy about considering that at all when considering someone for a job: Continue Reading »

41 Comments »

July 8th 2011
Barack Hoover Obama, I presume

Posted under American history & unhappy endings & wankers

Didja hear the latest awesome news about the U.S. economy?

Well, Kevin Baker called his shot about Obama more than two years ago:

Hoover’s every decision in fighting the Great Depression mirrored the sentiments of 1920s “business progressivism,” even as he understood intellectually that something more was required. Farsighted as he was compared with almost everyone else in public life, believeing as much as he did in activist government, he still could not convince himself to take the next step and accept that the basic economic tenets he had believed in all his life were discredited; that something wholly new was required.
. . . . .

Much like Herbert Hoover, Barack Obama is a man attempting to realize a stirring new vision of his society without cutting himself free from the dogmas of the past–without accepting the inevitable conflict. Like Hoover, his is bound to fail.

Continue Reading »

26 Comments »

July 6th 2011
Back in the saddle again

Posted under American history & European history & Gender & jobs & the body & unhappy endings & women's history

We’re back in Potterville, and I’m back in the saddle again with nothing to do but write for a whole month! Yippee-kai-ai-ay and yee-haw to that.

While I’m working away at my day job, go read this post by Echidne, in which she discusses the ways in which the media discuss the “fertility crisis” in some European countries without noting the extreme pressure on women who are mothers in said countries to leave the workforce. (Or in one case she cites, pregnant women and mothers are just proactively pink-slipped.) She notes that even with generous maternity leave policies, most mothers do not return to work after the birth of just one child in both Germany and Italy. This sidles up to a point that I’ve made here before (and even in my day job writing recently) about the global and apparently transhistorical resistance to see women as rational economic actors who make decisions about their lives that respond directly to their political, cultural, and economic environments. Continue Reading »

8 Comments »

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