Archive for November, 2011

November 30th 2011
Teenager hurts nasty pol’s fee-fees!

Posted under American history & childhood & Gender & happy endings

Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft:

[Ruth] Marcus states that “I may sound alarmingly crotchety here, but something is upside down in the modern world, which has transformed [Kansas teenager Emma] Sullivan into an unlikely Internet celebrity and heroine of the liberal blogosphere[.]” You don’t sound crotchety Marcus, you sound insane. Sullivan was too mean in her tweet about a politician? And you claim to cover these people?

Something is upside down in this world when a so called journalist can get this up in arms over a tweet that is disrespectful to a pol while being just fine with the past decade in Washington, DC.

Ruth Marcus, a supremely silly woman, is nevertheless only reflecting the reality of the world for people under age 30 or so.  Teenagers and young people aren’t permitted to talk back to nasty pols, even passively through Twitter.  Continue Reading »


November 28th 2011
Diane Ravitch: the only honest reformer, or an opportunitistic, grudge-bearing polemicist?

Posted under American history & Gender & jobs & students & women's history

Used and discarded by the king!

In “The Dissenter” in the current New Republic (h/t RealClearBooks), Kevin Carey has written a fascinating article on professional education reformer Diane Ravitch.  As many of you may recall, she has switched sides recently from being a conservative supporter of No Child Left Behind, charter schools, and vouchers, to identifying those very reforms as part of an intentional effort to “destroy” public education.

The whole portrait of Ravitch is worth the read.  Like many women of her generation (Ravitch was born in 1938), she achieved her graduate education only after marrying and starting a family.  Even then, she couldn’t win acceptance into Columbia’s doctoral program in History–she was deemed too old (at 34!) and too female.  But Carey makes it clear that hers is really the career of a polemicist, not an academic.  More important than graduate school is the fact that she volunteered for six years at The New Leader, “a small but influential publication of the anti-communist left, [where she] asked for a job. When the editor, Myron Kolatch, said he couldn’t afford to hire her, Ravitch offered to work for free.”  Carey continues:

The New Leader was where Ravitch received her true education. The small staff was crammed into one room on the fourth floor of an old building. Then and future luminaries like Daniel Bell and Nathan Glazer would drop by to turn in their latest essays; strong argument was prized. “This is where she learned how to write,” says Kolatch. Ravitch worked intermittently for The New Leader until 1967, when she took a part-time assignment from the nonprofit Carnegie Corporation to report on the city’s school system.  Continue Reading »


November 27th 2011
Occupy this space

Posted under American history

The Occupy Movement, however unclear in its message and agenda, has been much more politically influential than a decade of blogging by so-called progressive bloggers. Human bodies are much more newsworthy, and donations of time and energy in person are so much more effective than the hundreds of millions of hours spent in virtual spaces by bloggers and their readers.

Social media has not transformed politics, although it may have transformed political organizing and communications. The only thing that really gets attention is showing up in person and making some non-virtual noise.


November 26th 2011
Tenured Radical’s Top Ten Turkeys

Posted under American history & Gender & jobs & students

Go read–it’s one impressive feminist meta-analysis of what ails education at all levels, as well as a tasty linkfest.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, I agree with all of her turkeys, and then some.  (Go ahead–guess where she puts Linda P. B. Kathei, the UC Davis Chancellor.  Also, don’t miss the fact that she not only puts the eternally dopey U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on her list, she also co-nominates the man who elevated him to his eminent position, President Barack Obama.  So please, all of you who complain every time I write something you deem insufficiently worshipful of The One, go over to her comments section to b!tch for a change.)

Meanwhile–here’s something that’s worth 75 seconds of your time: Continue Reading »


November 23rd 2011
Holiday round-up: Happy Cranksgiving!

Posted under American history

So. Over. Cooking.

I hope you have a great holiday.  I’m kind of burned out on cooking on Thanksgiving, so I’m outta here.  We’re heading for the hills to some hot springs for the next few days.  I don’t even really give a dadgummit if Thursday’s dinner is steam tray turkey and Stove Top stuffing–so long as I don’t have to cook it, it’s all good.  That’s something I can be very thankful for.  (H/t to Notorious Ph.D. for the awesome visual aid at left!!!)

And since you’ve asked:  yes, indeed, our mountains look just like that.

Those of you who are cooking (poor dears!) may need a little inspiration, so here’s a roundup of my impressive Thanksgiving-themed blogging from the previous three years.  Continue Reading »


November 22nd 2011
Brenda in Birmingham is riding a bummer of a semester

Posted under American history & jobs & students & the body

From The Way We Work by David Macaulay

 Dear Historiann,

Have you or the readers of your blog ever had a “cursed” semester?  What can I do about it in the short-term when my department has no resources to help me recover from it?  If  I were a student in my classes this semester, I would have withdrawn.

Let me explain:  I am an adjuct at a large urban university.  I got sick and was hospitalized for an entire week, then taught one class, then I had to take another week off to actually recover or else risk another stroke. Then my husband’s spine ruptured, requiring emergency surgery and another week’s hospitalization for him. I could not get a substitute for any of this, since my department is severely understaffed. THEN, my hard drive melted a day after having recorded and turned back graded papers, which meant that I’ve had to ask for all of those back. For half of these absences, I have posted alternative online sessions, but I understand that students still perceive those as absences. Continue Reading »


November 21st 2011
“We love you, Mr. Gingrich!” (It’s the hard knock life.)

Posted under American history & art & childhood & class & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

I haven’t commented much on the Republican debates or their primary shennanigans (mostly because I think they’re both absurd and tiresome) but sometimes the crazzy just demands mockery.

Via The Daily Beast we learn that Newt Gingrich has called for the repeal of child labor laws and for children to perform the janitorial work in their schools.  At Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government!  I’m not kidding–there’s a video at the bottom of the linked story.  This makes his 1994 proposal to bring back orphanages look almost responsible and moderate. (Gingrich’s recent thoughts on child labor makes Michele Bachmann’s comments from an earlier debate this summer look positively prescient!)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but by my lights that’s really slapdash janitorial work. Continue Reading »


November 21st 2011
11/22/63, the Warren Commission, and the “torrid atmosphere of political rage in Dallas,” 1963

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & unhappy endings

Via RealClearPolitics, Frank Rich has some interesting comparisons of the political climate of our time and the political climate of 1963 in his review of a recent spate of books on President John F. Kennedy and his assassination 48 years ago tomorrow:  “Caroline Kennedy’s belated release of her mother’s taped 1964 reminiscences with an obsequious Arthur Schlesinger Jr., of course, but also Chris Matthews’s man-crush of a biography, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, and Stephen King’s Moby-Dick-size novel 11/22/63,” and a preview of Alan Brinkley’s ” John F. Kennedy, his contribution to the American Presidents Series, due next spring.”

Rich appropriately spends most of his time on King’s novel, and specifically on the fact that King spends a great deal of time detailing the “torrid atmosphere of political rage in Dallas, where both Lady Bird Johnson and Adlai Stevenson had been spat upon by mobs of demonstrators in notorious incidents before Kennedy’s fateful 1963 trip.”  He continues:

As the time-traveling [protagonist of King's novel Jake] Epping gets settled in that past, he describes an inferno of seething citizens, anti-Semitic graffiti on Jewish storefronts, and angry billboards demanding the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and equating racial integration with communism. That last one, King’s protagonist observes, “had been paid for by something called The Tea Party Society.”

That “Tea Party Society” is the novelist’s own mischievous invention, but the rest of his description is accurate. King’s touchstone is The Death of a President, by William Manchester, a meticulous biographer and historian who was chosen by Jacqueline Kennedy to write the authorized account of the assassination. Continue Reading »


November 20th 2011
The Ron Swanson Scholarship in Women’s Studies

Posted under art & fluff & Gender & happy endings

The serious conversation about campus “police” brutality will continue below, but for those of you looking for a little Sunday morning light entertainment, see Amanda Krauss, the Worst Professor Ever, on the feminism of Parks and Recreation and the overall awesomeness of Ron Effing Swanson, man’s man and feminist icon.

I wish I could watch Parks and Recreation more often, but out here in the Mountain Time Zone it’s on at 7 p.m., and I’m ususally still feeding watering the horses.  Continue Reading »


November 19th 2011
Campus “police:” opportunistic thugs

Posted under American history & jobs & local news & students & unhappy endings & wankers

Check it out:  UC Davis campus “police” pepper spray a cowering line of about a dozen students and drag them away.  Check out their SWAT-team gear.  I bet they’ve been waiting all year to play dressup and have some fun.

This video only confirms my already very low opinion of college and university campus “police.”  My personal experience on two different campuses is that they are thugs who hassle only people who are sure to pose no threat to them whatsoever, and that they leave the real miscreants alone.  I was working alone in my campus office one late Sunday afternoon at a former university when an amped up campus police officer with a billy club burst into my office without knocking and threatened me.  (He assumed that only a thief would have the light on on a Sunday night.  I assured him it was my own office and that I was working there legally, showing him my keys.)  At another former university, I was pulled over and ordered out of my car for mistakenly driving the wrong way an exit-only parking lot egress.  (There was no danger to anyone else–there were no other cars trolling around that parking lot anyway.)

But these are far from the worst stories I’ve heard.  Continue Reading »


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