Archive for 2012

December 14th 2012
Of course we can’t even talk about limiting gun ownership now. . .

Posted under American history

because that would just be exploiting a tragedy.

Freedom isn’t free.  A pile of dead kindergarteners is the price of our liberty.  And we’d all be much safer if those children had been armed and had been able to shoot back.

26 Comments »

December 13th 2012
Cake Week Thursday: retro faux-fruitcake?

Posted under American history & childhood & fluff & weirdness

Erica at Retro Recipe Attempts has gone where no woman or man has gone since at least 1972:  No-Bake Festive Fruit Cake! Even back in the day, this seems like one of those recipes that people make once, and then hope everyone else politely refrains from mentioning it ever again.

Srsly, it’s like a time machine to all of those church potluck suppers I attended back in the 1970s as a child.  I swear, every single one of those hot (or cold) dishes featured either one or more of the following ingredients:  1) evaporated milk, 2) sweetened condensed milk, 3) graham crackers, 4) marischino cherries, and/or 5) Jell-o.  (And that included the main-course dishes, too.)

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a palatable and festive dessert with as many of the same ingredients as you can use, instead of mashing everything up into a weird ball of dough the way this recipe calls for.  Here’s your shopping list: Continue Reading »

19 Comments »

December 12th 2012
We interrupt Cake Week for an important announcement

Posted under American history & wankers & women's history

This is why even antifeminists really need to learn some women’s history.  (Via a link from Echidne.)

I suppose the rest of us would have fewer laughs at their expense if antifeminists knew more women’s history, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay in order to stamp out ignorance.

I think I’ve told this story before, so stop me if you’ve heard this one:  Continue Reading »

8 Comments »

December 11th 2012
Cake Week, Tuesday edition: pull up a chair for coffee and War Cake

Posted under American history & book reviews & fluff

Today’s post is a recipe cribbed from M.F.K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf (1942), which I reviewed here a few years ago and did not love.  However, this recipe stuck with me, because it seems like an ingenious way to make a cake without butter or eggs:  hide the use of sub-standard fat with gingerbread spices!  (And/or ganja, or as M.F.K. Fisher herself would say, “what have you.”)

Now to the recipe and its explanation:

Coffee, when it is brewed intelligently, is a perfect accompaniment to any dessert, whether it be a Soufflé au Grand Marnier, or a bowl of frost-whipped Winesap apples, crisp and juicy.  It is good, too, with a piece of fruity cake, and here is a recipe for one which is foolproof to concoct, and guaranteed to make the world take at least two steps back, instead of one step nearer.

It is a remnant of the last war, and although I remember liking it so much that I dreamed about it at night. . . like all the other children who ate it, I can’t remember that it was called anything more appetizing than

WAR CAKE

1/2 cup shortening (bacon grease can be used, because of the spices which hide its taste) Continue Reading »

19 Comments »

December 10th 2012
Cake week, Monday edition: Reefer badness!

Posted under American history & childhood & jobs & local news & students & the body & unhappy endings & weirdness

This past weekend was spent gathering ingredients and starting a little holiday baking, so I thought a little cake blogging would be in order this week, which is finals’ week at Baa Ram U.  More cake and baking fun will follow, but today’s post offers a cautionary tale.  Friends, although the people of this great state have voted to decriminalized recreational pot use for people 21 and older, it’s still illegal to feed your classmates and your proffie pot brownies without their full consent:

Two University of Colorado at Boulder students are facing multiple felony charges after they allegedly fed marijuana-laced brownies to their unsuspecting history class — leading to the hospitalization of three people.

The professor of the course was taken to a hospital by paramedics Friday after complaining of dizziness and dropping in and out of consciousness.

.       .       .       .       .

Thomas Ricardo Cunningham, 21, and Mary Elizabeth Essa, 19, baked THC-laced brownies for their class at the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building on Friday, said Ryan Huff, CU police spokesman.

After the professor was taken to the hospital, a student’s mother notified campus police that her daughter, who had been in the professor’s class, was in the hospital after having a panic attack.

Later that day, the parents of another student in the same class took their daughter to a hospital after she told them she felt like she would black out. Continue Reading »

37 Comments »

December 8th 2012
Notes on X

Posted under American history & book reviews & European history & Gender & women's history

Here’s something amazing I learned from Dreaming in French:  The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis, by Alice Kaplan (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2012).  Apparently, even Susan Sontag struggled against an inner Disney Princess!

The X Factor

With two books in print, life went on–the more and more dazzling public life, the secret inner life.  Life and work were tightly combined, yet under the pile of manuscripts, cultural outings, and intellectual connections was a constant buzz of worry, a struggle that preoccupied her throughout the winter months of 1960, in her daily existence with [her lover] Irene and her son David.  She called it “X”–the overwhelming desire to please, to appease, to see oneself through other people’s reactions, to spare other people’s feelings, to care what they think.  Women, she decided, were X; America itself, with its cult of popularity, was “a very Xy country.”  “X is the scourge,” she wrote in February 1960:  “How do I really cure myself of X?”  She made lists of X situations, X feelings, X characteristics, and finally connected her personal problem to a concept in existential philosophy:  “X is Sartre’s bad faith,” (125-26). Continue Reading »

11 Comments »

December 7th 2012
He capsized the boat and we lost five men, and we did not catch the whale, brave boys.

Posted under American history & art & book reviews

This time you’re going down, Moby Dick.

I hope as many readers out there as have time for it will join in Comradde PhysioProffe‘s interdisciplinary excursion into Melvilleana over at his blog. If you’re interested, be sure to click on over and let him know. Continue Reading »

3 Comments »

December 6th 2012
That time of the year: empty brains, embodiment, Bartleby, and the mooks pushing MOOCs

Posted under American history

This is a cross-section of my skull right now.  Last classes are tomorrow.

I am grateful to MOOCs and to the specter of online courses for something:  they have made me grateful for the “residential instruction” classes I teach and the embodied human students who enroll in them.  I’ve had a particularly great group of students in both classes this term, and I’ve had fun writing new lectures and inventing new writing assignments for them.  I think we’ve had some fascinating conversations, too, about the new books we’ve read together.

I will admit that those embodied students are sometimes problematic.  A few of them have gotten pregnant this term–both of them happily so, fortunately.  One of them has unhappily suffered from complications from a brain surgery and a botched root canal.  Others of them have been called to jury duty, to custody hearings, or to funerals for their formerly embodied family members.  One even served as a delegate to the Democratic National convention.  Continue Reading »

21 Comments »

December 3rd 2012
Historians: we’re great, but what the hell is wrong with you?

Posted under American history & jobs

2,440 Associate and full Professors surveyed by the American Historical Association tell the rest of academia to get off their lawns:

The historians in the survey were generally satisfied with their careers, with 41.2 percent reporting they were somewhat satisfied, 46.5 percent reporting they were very satisfied and only 2.2 percent reporting they were very dissatisfied.

One area of frustration — with 55.7 percent expressing dissatisfaction — was “effectiveness of academic leadership” at their institutions. Comments indicated that many were frustrated by responses to recent economic challenges.

The area of greatest frustration was students, with 69.2 percent of the respondents expressing dissatisfaction with their undergraduates, and 67.3 percent reporting dissatisfaction with graduate students. In comments with the survey, historians worried about the impact of poorly prepared students on their classes. One wrote that “increasingly poorly prepared students have necessitated that I spend ever greater amounts of time on preparing courses, assessment of student work, and remediation of student work in my teaching.”

And your music?  It’s just noise!

26 Comments »

November 30th 2012
Thoughts on Little Women

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Gender & women's history

Little Women, 1933

Barbara Sicherman offers some interesting thoughts about Little Women on the occasion of Louisa May Alcott’s 180th birthday (yesterday) and its influence on generations of women around the world (h/t to reader LKK for this.)  She says that the book’s durability is due to its surprisingly modern sensibilities, perhaps most memorably in the person of Jo March, Alcott’s alter-ego:

Perhaps the most important reason for the novel’s survival is a heroine with unusual appeal. Some readers have identified with the other March sisters, but it is Jo March, the rambunctious tomboy and bookworm who is unladylike and careless of her appearance, who carries the story. The vast majority of readers, past and present, have identified with her. Jo’s presumed flaws are precisely the characteristics that speak to preadolescent and adolescent readers, themselves struggling with issues of growing up.

Alcott, who modeled Jo in her own image, created a character that continues to appeal. As J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books and herself a “Jo,” observed: “It is hard to overstate what she meant to a small, plain girl called Jo, who had a bad temper and a burning ambition to be a writer.”

For readers on the threshold of adulthood, the book’s embrace of female ambition has been a significant counterweight to more habitual gender prescriptions. For years there were few alternative models, although in my generation, the Nancy Drew books helped. Even today, some girls still respond to the portrait of Jo, the enthralled and enthralling writer.

It’s a good time of the year to consider Little Women, as the novel opens with Marmee and the March girls cooking Christmas breakfast.  I think I read LW when I was eleven, in the sixth grade.  I remember being so moved by the idea of Jo reading a pile of books while eating “russetts” in her “garrett” as to climb a tree with an apple in my teeth and the novel under my arm in order to re-enact Jo’s escape as best I could.  Continue Reading »

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