Archive for June, 2012

June 30th 2012
What’s on your grill this weekend?

Posted under book reviews & fluff & local news

I have a few ideas for you.


June 27th 2012
Nora Ephron, 1941-2012

Posted under American history & art & unhappy endings & women's history

Now I will really miss her.

From the New York Times obit:

The producer Scott Rudin recalled that less than two weeks before her death, he had a long phone session with her from the hospital while she was undergoing treatment, going over notes for a pilot she was writing for a TV series about a bank compliance officer. Afterward she told him, “If I could just get a hairdresser in here, we could have a meeting.”

Ms. Ephron’s collection “I Remember Nothing” concludes with two lists, one of things she says she won’t miss and one of things she will. Among the “won’t miss” items are dry skin, Clarence Thomas, the sound of the vacuum cleaner, and panels on “Women in Film.” The other list, of the things she will miss, begins with “my kids” and “Nick” and ends this way: Continue Reading »


June 26th 2012
I think that went well

Posted under American history & bad language & happy endings & jobs & wankers & women's history

Teresa Sullivan reinstated unanimously by the University of Virginia governing board.

Looks like her political capital is pretty high!  This is something that always leaves me filled with mirth:  the incompetence of the evil when they try to oust the decent and the responsible.  They do it poorly, at a truly amazing rate.  They’re so stupid they can’t even find stupid with two hands and a looking glass.  I’d say the governing board has pie on its faces, but that seems to underestimate the amount of damage they’ve done to themselves, unless it is a pile filled with horse crap-covered M-80s and frosted with napalm.




June 26th 2012
Wildfires, cities, rural landscapes, and the wildland-urban interface

Posted under American history & childhood & European history & local news & technoskepticism & unhappy endings

Stay out of the woods, my pretties!

In a very smart and measured editorial last Sunday in the Denver Post, Professor Lloyd Burton of the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver, pointed out how language shapes our views of wildfires and forest management:

We have three problems with our narrative: First, it is an urban narrative applied to a mostly rural landscape; that is, it reports on [wildland-urban interface] wildfires as if they were urban fires. The initial focus is always on proximate causes (what ignited the fire), followed by a quest for fault-finding, usually around the issues of why the fire wasn’t immediately eradicated or why everyone may not have been moved out of harm’s way.

Applying the urban narrative to the WUI also stresses the necessity for the immediate and total suppression of all fires, whenever and wherever they arise. In the urban context, this is absolutely understandable. To do anything other than that would invite catastrophe in our densely populated cities. But applying this urban expectation to WUI wildfires is both futile and inappropriate.

A second problem is that the news media mindset and resulting language of its discourse is saturated in metaphors of war. We are treated daily to visuals of ex-military aircraft bombing fires and structures with toxic fire-retardant. We have strong, courageous, well-trained and well-disciplined “fighters” in the field being coordinated by a top-down incident command system; and we use many of the same communications technologies and terms to implement tactical field maneuvers. Continue Reading »


June 23rd 2012
Michigan mishegas over vaginas

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

Michigan border guard

I’m about to fly off for my annual sojourn to the ancestral heartland, and while I was buried in the eighteenth century last week, it came to light that some time-traveling pols from the eighteenth century have joined the Michigan House of Representatives!  Remarkable providences!  I try to prevent my worlds from colliding, but the Michigan ledge just won’t let me.  According to their thinking, vaginas should be the object of legislation, but people with vaginas should not be heard, and we sure don’t need to discuss the icky particulars.

I’ll be sure to ask every Michigander I meet if I’m truly welcome in their state.  Will there be a border check, I wonder?  Continue Reading »


June 22nd 2012
We don’t want “it all:” we just want your slice.

Posted under American history & Gender & happy endings & women's history

Per the last post (and many of your thoughtful comments), I’ve been thinking about that expression, “having it all” which has been evoked as a proxy for feminist goals for at least thirty years.  (Some intrepid M.A. student in a History or American Studies department should do a history of this expression, “having it all,” and its application to the women’s movement.  There:  that’s my mentoring for the day, and it’s only just 8:30 a.m. MDT!  On to the laundry and the library, now.)

What an ugly expression, meant to portray feminists as greedy consumers rather than social justice advocates.  And yet, many feminists have accepted or embraced “having it all” as the terms of the debate!  Continue Reading »


June 21st 2012
Feminism: the hapless frump of social justice movements

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

When you see a magazine cover like this, I can probably guess what you’re thinking:  Continue Reading »


June 20th 2012
Mudwoman in Virginia?

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & childhood & Dolls & Gender & jobs & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Howdy, friends.  Since I’ve been living in the long eighteenth century for the past week or so, at least in my own head, I haven’t been consuming either print or electronic news as I usually do.  But several of you have written to ask my opinions on the unexpected and untimely cashiering of the President of the University of Virginia, Teresa A. Sullivan, last week.  As many of you know much better than I, Sullivan had been prez for only two years, and was the first woman chosen to lead Mr. Jefferson’s university.  This morning, I read something that several of you (in person and via e-mail) had already suggested to me, namely that forces on the university’s Board of Visitors against Sullivan were peeved at her resistance to online education.  (Earlier this week, other reporting suggested that Sullivan was perceived as reluctant to cut low enrollment programs such as German and Classics.)

I’m really grateful to you readers for the e-mails and the prodding on this, but since I’m actually making some research and writing progress this week on my own irrelevant and self-indulgent intellectual work, I’d like to turn the conversation over to you.  Some of you who have written to me have UVA connections, so feel free to discuss the Sullivan firing and its causes and consequences. Continue Reading »


June 16th 2012
Code Blue at Ferule and Fescue!

Posted under publication & unhappy endings

Drink up, then find another publisher

Friends, as you know I’m conferencing this weekend, but I’m wondering if some of you can offer some helpful advice and assistance to our friend Flavia at Ferule and Fescue.  As some of you may know, she’s enjoying a completely enviable summer in Rome, but that’s beside the point.  Last week, someone peed in her negroni, big time:

As you may recall, I’d been working with this press for two years. They first sent the manuscript to one outside reviewer, who had stern but encouraging words, so I revised according to her suggestions. They sent it to her again, and she was very happy with my revisions and recommended publication. Then they sent it to a second reviewer, who read the entire MS in three weeks and was highly critical–but he also seemed confused about the basic parameters of my project; he made lots of suggestions, but most of them were, at best, tangential to my topic. I was asked to address “at least some of” his concerns, and I did so to the extent that I felt I could while maintaining the integrity of the project. I also told the press very clearly what I had done, what I had not done, and why.

So after winter break they sent it back to him. . . and after more than four months he submitted a one-paragraph review, most of it cut-and-pasted from his previous review, saying that I hadn’t engaged sufficiently with his criticisms.

And that means that’s it for that press. The editor was quite apologetic, but explained that such a negative review tied the press’s hands and would make it hard for the editor to make a case to the publication board–even if the editor were to find a warmly receptive third reader. Continue Reading »


June 15th 2012
Warm days, cool nights, and jacaranda trees

Posted under American history & conferences & fluff

Every time I visit the Huntington Library and Gardens–which has always been in May and June–the beautiful show of blossoms continues into the streets of Pasadena. Lucky me!

At a conference this weekend, actually talking to people F2F rather than on blogs and over e-mail. Remarkable! (I need to get out of town more often.)


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