Archive for April, 2012

April 30th 2012
Horror master King sez “Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!”

Posted under American history & art & bad language & Bodily modification & class & wankers

A most excellent screed from rich guy Stephen King as to why Ritchie Rich needs to pay more taxes.  To all of those Ritchie Riches who are “tired of hearing about” how they should pay more in taxes, he says:

Tough $hit for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their d!cks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar. It’s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.

King and his wife are locally famous and revered in Maine for their charitable contributions and their support for the local arts community.  The Kings’ money actually funded a faculty position in History at the University of Maine that a grad school friend of mine has occupied for the past 15 years or so–a position that otherwise would not have been funded.  So he created at least one job–but as for the notion that Ritchie Rich is out there creating jobs?  Bullcrap, says King: Continue Reading »


April 29th 2012
If online education is the answer, what’s the question?

Posted under American history & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

As I understand it, the arguments about and within higher education boil down to this conundrum:

College is just a waste of time and money, and neither students, parents, nor taxpayers are getting their money’s worth at traditional brick-and-mortar nonprofit unis.  So let’s spend government money on the kind of education at the kind of institutions that show the lowest return on investment (as measured by alumni employment rates and loan repayment rates):  online education and/or for-profit universities. Continue Reading »


April 28th 2012
Another fraudster exposed, faculty-types unsurprised.

Posted under American history & bad language & jobs & students & wankers

Via Inside Higer Ed, we learn that Doug E. Lynch, the vice dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, has resigned because he falsely claimed to have a doctoral degree from Columbia University. (This was not discovered by anyone at Penn–no, the Philadelphia Inquirer started sniffing around, and used the daring and controversial investigative journalism technique known as making a phone call to Columbia to confirm his credentials.)

Now, any scrub ABD or recent Ph.D. out there who has applied for an Assistant Professor or even VAP position knows that we must submit our transcripts as a routine part of our job application.  Why not at the administrative level? I wonder.

Or, rather, no I don’t. Keep reading the Inky story, and you find this little tidbit: Continue Reading »


April 27th 2012
Mark Fiege’s Republic of Nature at the OAH, April 20

Posted under American history & book reviews & conferences

Mary Beth Norton, Eric Foner, and Linda Gordon comment on Mark Fiege’s The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States (2012) at last week’s Organization of American Historians annual meeting. Unfortunately, this video doesn’t include the questions and comments from the audience.

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April 24th 2012
Historiann retains birthright; tells Pearson to shove mess o’pottage where the sun don’t shine.

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

Check out an e-mail I just received today from a Pearson representative.  I can get paid $250.00 and have two essay assignments graded for me, if I turn over my students’ papers for the benefit of Pearson’s computer grading scheme!  I just learned about these scamtastic software packages last night via a comment that Indyanna left on my previous post.  Professor Pushbutton, here we come!

I am emailing you regarding a class project that may be of interest to you. For this project, Pearson is looking for instructors of the U.S. History course who are interested in integrating writing assignments into their course.

.       .       .       .       .      

Pearson is developing a computer-assisted grading program that will accurately auto-grade brief writing assignments. The program uses specific rubrics and writing prompts to achieve computer grading accuracy. For the program to work correctly, thousands of student essays are scored by hand and loaded into the system. By doing this, the system “learns” how to grade essay questions. This system has been successfully introduced into a number of course areas, and Pearson is now bringing this technology to the history market.

I am writing to see if you would be interested in helping us to build the bank of student essays needed to develop the product. Pearson will provide you with a choice of writing prompts and rubrics, two of which you would assign in your course during the spring 2012. The students will enter their essays through an online portal. These will be graded by a subject matter expert and the grades will be sent to you. These essays will also be used to create the auto-grading functionality mentioned above.

In exchange for your help and time, you will receive a $250 honorarium. In addition, you will have had 2 essay assignments graded for you.

If you are interested in working on this project, please let me know by return email. I will then send you the list of writing assignments for you to select the two assignments you wish to use in your course. This is a very simple way to include additional short essays into your Summer/Spring course.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dear Pearson Person:

I’d rethink that sign-off if I were you.  I don’t think you’re going to be happy when you’re through hearing from me!  But don’t worry:  no one reads my stupid blog anyway. Continue Reading »


April 22nd 2012
Profiting from our neo-liberal Rheeality

Posted under American history & conferences & students & wankers

Kiss my chaps!

Michelle Rhee, putative “reformer” of public schools, will be speaking at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities meeting this June, for a reported speaker’s fee of about $50,000.  (Rheediculous!  But then, you know that the APSCU doesn’t have to be careful with their money–they’re only spending your U.S. taxpayer dollars, friends, as for-profit unis are the welfare queens of the higher education world.

Now, maybe she’s going to administer for-profit unis the kind of dope-slaps she delivered on a regular basis to public school teachers in Washington, D.C., during her brief, troubled era as the public schools chancellor there.  After all, they have abysmal rates of alumni employment, leaving their students with just a crushing load of student debt without even the fond memories of tailgating, Thursday-night keggers, fraternity hazing rituals, or having after-hours consensual sex in a History seminar room.  (Talk about a wicked cheat!) Continue Reading »


April 20th 2012
Historiann gets “big laugh” at the OAH, laments the absence of Constitution-burning in today’s politics

Posted under American history & fluff

Unlike Tenured Radical, I’m not in Milwaukee right now, but l’esprit de l’Historiann lives there, apparently!  A correspondent writes that at an Organization of American Historians panel yesterday on the Revolution and its public memory:

Your name came up by Fitz Brundage, the panel’s chair: your memorable line begging historians to stop writing hagiographic books about the founding fathers. Big, appreciative laugh in the room.

I don’t know if the crowd (or Brundage) was laughing at me or with me, but I don’t really care.  (There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?)  I think this is the post she means:

Here’s a suggestion, boys: just stop writing about the so-called “Founding Fathers!”Stop it! Stop! Go find something new, interesting, and utterly undiscovered in the archives, for a change!

But then, there have been so many posts to this effect on this blog that it’s difficult to pick just one! Continue Reading »


April 20th 2012
4-20 and loaded .44s: guess which one isn’t welcome on campus?

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & local news & students & wankers & weirdness

One of these things is not like the other!

Want to smoke pot in public at the University of Colorado today?  Move along, and never mind the fish fertilizer, especially if you don’t have a CU i.d. to prove that you’re a member of the campus community.  But of course, if you’re armed to the teeth with handguns and shotguns of your choosing, campus denizens and members of the public alike are always welcome on our state university campuses!  (And for now anyway, students at CU can even keep their guns in their dorm roomsAwesome!!!)

Think about this for a moment:  a district court judge has ruled that a public university may ban all non-students and non-employees from a public university campus today, just because the admin says so, whereas other courts have ruled that public universities have no right to forbid anyone–students, faculty, staff, and the general public–from campus with a gun, so long as it’s permitted. Continue Reading »


April 18th 2012
Are there any regions left in American history?

Posted under American history

Nota Bene:  This is a post of interest mostly to American historians, although I would certainly welcome the thoughts of other historians about the role of place or geography in their sub-fields.

Here’s my question:  is there any such thing as regionalism in American history any longer?  Northeastern history was always a regional history, but historians (many of whom lived in and/or trained in the northeast) for the most part denied that it was a regional history and instead claimed to be writing “American history.”  There are regional and state-based history associations like the New England Historical Association, but there is no Northeastern Historical Association.

Western history used to be much more about place, but I think the consensus has shifted to seeing the West–and more broadly speaking, what used to be called “frontier history” and is now called most often borderlands history–as more of a process than a region.  That is, diplomacy, trade, and violent conflicts between Native Americans, Euro-Americans, and various other ethnic groups, depending on spatial and temporal location (Chinese immigrants, Latinos, and African Americans, for example), are a central part of American history from the Columbian “discovery” to our contemporary debates about immigration and border security.  Continue Reading »


April 17th 2012
The fantasy life of Whig historians, or, Srsly, Tina?

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

The Whig of Illusory Progress is back!

Click here and try not to barf all over your desk.  ZOMFG.  You’ll have to click–I’m not going to post that trash on this blog, and that’s really saying something for someone who recently posted a photograph of Pat Buchanan.  You’ll notice, however, that “Father Pat Coughlin” of the Know-Nothing Party wasn’t posed topless and blindfolded, and yet a cover about feminism and working women features just that imagery.  You’d think with symbolism like that that Father Pat’s ideas were mainstream and uncontroversial, whereas feminism and working women are deviant.

This ugliness reminds me of a conversation with a senior scholar I had a few years ago, a woman who probaby took her Ph.D. in the 1960s and so has been an eyewitness to change in our profession over the past 50 years.  I was relating  stories of women I know (including me) whose progress to tenure and promotion was screwed up/f^(ked with/thwarted unjustly, etc., and she looked at me with surprise:  Continue Reading »


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