Archive for March, 2013

March 27th 2013
Historiann at the MCA Denver: more blah-blah about blogs, motherhood, and feminism

Posted under American history & Gender & jobs & local news & women's history

Howdy!  Didja miss me?  One of the reasons–aside from spring break!–I’ve been offline recently is that I have some real-life presentations to prepare and research talks to get ready.  For example, tomorrow I’ll be hitching up Seminar, my commuter horse, and high-tailin’ it down to Denver tomorrow right after class to convene a discussion on feminist blogging at the MCA Denver as part of the Feminism & Co. program this year.

I’ve been doing a little reading and reflecting on the feminist blogosphere lately, a timely undertaking since I’m sure you’ve all heard of the recent $hitstorm inspired by New York Magazine’s linkbaiting article on so-called feminist “retro-wives.”  Inevitably, this hi-larious fiction in turn inspired a foul and NSFW (but delicious) parody.  Perhaps just as inevitably, the women profiled in the original article complain that their comments were taken completely out of context and distorted beyond reason (h/t to Echidne for both of these last two links.)

The internet is an outrage machine, innit? I’ll be talking tomorrow night about the ways in which blogging fits in with the history of feminism as well as addressing some of the personal and professional issues that come up in blogging and other social media tools.  Continue Reading »

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March 18th 2013
Being wrong & never paying the price: a Washington journalist testifies on the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq

Posted under American history & Gender & unhappy endings & wankers

On the day before the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, John Judis has an interesting reflection on “What it Was Like to Oppose the Iraq War in 2003.”  He reviews the crazy consensus among “serious” thinkers (even of the so-called “liberal” sort) about the righteousness of the Bush administration’s obvious hard-on to take out Saddam:

In December of 2002, I was invited by the Ethics and Public Policy Center to a ritzy conference at an ocean front resort in Key West. The subject was to be Political Islam, and many of the best-known political journalists from Washington and New York were there. The conversation invariably got around to Iraq, and I found myself one of the few attendees who outright opposed an invasion. Two of the speakers at the event—Christopher Hitchens, who was then writing for Slate, and Jeffrey Goldberg, who was then writing for The New Yorker—generously offered to school me on the errors of my way.

More interesting to me was something Judis writes in the second paragraph in his article:

[W]ithin political Washington, it was difficult to find like-minded foes [of the plan to invade]. When The New Republic’s editor-in-chief and editor proclaimed the need for a “muscular” foreign policy, I was usually the only vocal dissenter, and the only people who agreed with me were the women on staff: Michelle Cottle, Laura Obolensky and Sarah Wildman. Both of the major national dailies—The Washington Post and The New York Times (featuring Judith Miller’s reporting)—were beating the drums for war. Except for Jessica Mathews at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington’s thinktank honchos were also lined up behind the war.

I wish he had paused to reflect on the obviously gendered language he uses here, as well as the clear gender divide he recounts here in pro- versus anti-invasion journalist and think-tank opinions (Judith Miller excepted).  Continue Reading »

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March 15th 2013
Rob Portman is still a Pharisee. In other news: Spring Break!

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & happy endings & nepotism & wankers

I’ve been thinking about marriage today–gay, straight, what have you.  Fratguy and I have been in a civil union for 15 years.  I think that’s the right term, as we were “married” by a notary (you can do that in Maine), but because we’re an opposite-sex couple, everyone calls us “married,” although neither of us wanted to darken the door of any church in the service of enacting our civil union.

But you get used to this kind of thing when you’re in a straight union–a lot of the time you benefit from other people’s assumptions about you.  It means (for example) that you don’t have to carry around your marriage license as proof of your legal relationship.  The words “husband” and “wife” really are magic in that respect–I’ve never been asked to prove it.  My husband’s agreement about our status suffices.

Sometimes those assumptions are annoying–such as when other people lay their trip about what marriage is on you, and judge your marriage by their standards, not yours.  (These assumptions are almost always about the behavior of women in marriages, not the men they’re married to.  Men usually benefit from the assumptions people make about them as married men, even if those assumptions are totally wrong.)

In any case, this is all just a windup to direct you to go read Madwoman with a Laptop‘s thoughts on her 29 years with the woman whose wife she will never be, along with a really thoughtful analysis of civil unions, gay marriage, and her very intentional rejection of marriage and wifedom although her state now permits same-sex marriage.  Continue Reading »

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March 13th 2013
Historiann at Feminism & Co. panel about feminism and blogging, March 28

Posted under American history & art & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & women's history

How cool is this?  I’ve been invited to talk about feminist blogging at the March 28, 2013 Feminism & Co. event at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

I’ll be joined by Ru Johnson of Westword, Heather Janssen of Get Born, Ellie Kevorkian of Violet Against Women, and Camille Bright-Smith of BlogInSong on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street.  More details about the 4-week series of events are here. Continue Reading »

15 Comments »

March 12th 2013
SCOTUS Cowgirl Sandra Day O’Connor

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

OK, so enough of the images of dudes with mustaches.  Did anyone hear this interview on Fresh Air with Arizona’s Sandra Day O’Connor last week?  Man, she’s a tough cowgirl, ain’t she?  Half the time I was thinking, “what a jerk,” but the other half of the time I was thinking, “now that’s a real western woman.” Plenty of attitude, and no deference whatsoever to Miss Terry Gross.  I mean, none, even though her publicist surely booked her on Fresh Air to let Miss Terry Gross help her sell some damn books, right?  It’s not like Fresh Air showed up at the ranch uninvited.

(Whereas you know that if I ever get invited to be on Miss Terry Gross’s show, I’d be as slobbering and deferential as a Golden Retriever.  Sandra Day O’Connor treats Miss Terry Gross like an irritating college intern in this interview!  But Miss Terry Gross knows that there’s a big difference between Sandra Day O’Connor, for example, and your garden-variety douchehats like Bill O’Reilly or Gene Simmons, so she’s very good-humored about it all.) Continue Reading »

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March 11th 2013
CPP = William Howard Taft?

Posted under American history & art & bad language & class & students & the body

Comrade PhysioProffe‘s post last week on Thomas Friedman’s puffery of MOOCs calls out MOOCs as a “class warfare scam,” and makes an interesting comparison of mass-produced MOOC education to mass-produced poor quality chain restaurant food:

The children of the wealthy will never, ever be subject to MOOC-based education, and the elite institutions they attend–who are perfectly happy to publish some courses on-line for free viewing by the public–will never, ever allow their students to take MOOCs for course credit. (Or if they do, they will be *extremely* restricted in the total number of MOOC credits they allow to count for major and graduation.) These kids are being prepared to be leaders and bosses of the poor mooks who are gonna be subject to MOOCs, so they need real education.

Just like the Tom Friedmans of the world don’t eat cheap greasy fattening nutrient-poor corporate swill at Denny’s, they don’t allow their kids to be subject to shitteasse greasy educational corporate swill like MOOCs.

Compare this to a speech by the resurrected William Howard Taft in Taft 2012, by Jason Heller, pp. 186-87: Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

March 8th 2013
Is the ‘stache back?

Posted under fluff & students & the body & weirdness

Mustaches:  they’ve been on my mind lately because of all of the interest in Thomas Friedmans’ “The Mustache of Understandingmooky MOOC-fest earlier this week.  But I’ve also been seeing them riding some young men’s lips around my campus–not so many that I can say that it’s a look on the rise, but not so few that I can dismiss them all as U.S. Civil War reenactors, or actors in a play set in the 1970s.

Beards are always in fashion in Colorado–and unfortunately, a lot of younger men in Fort Collins appear to prefer the crazed Lubavitcher/Amish/Unabomber beard (see below) to the neatly trimmed kind. Continue Reading »

50 Comments »

March 6th 2013
Suck on this!

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

What I learned from Thomas Friedman this morning in the New York Times:

  • No one cares what you learn in college, because Google!
  • College professors have no certification that we can teach, and all we do is lecture at students who passively take notes, and then administer tests of their passive learning skills.
  • Lecturing to 14,000 “with audience participation” is a terrific way to share knowledge.

I just love these experts in “disruptive innovation” who trash learning in college classrooms and lecture halls with 15, 40, or 125 students because “all professors do is lecture,” who then turn around and brag about how scalable their educational model is because–wait for it!–it’s based on lectures!  To 14,000 people who swooned like bobby-soxers fainting for Frank Sinatra.
Continue Reading »

30 Comments »

March 3rd 2013
Jonah Lehrer: a weird old trick that melts belly fat and makes 54-year old mom look 27!

Posted under American history & Gender & race & unhappy endings & wankers

Modern publishing: just a sausage party.

From the “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” file:

Two weeks after disgraced journalist Jonah Lehrer publicly apologized for the “frailties” and “weaknesses” that lead to his firing from The New Yorker and withdrawal of his bestselling book Imagine, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), publisher of all three of Lehrer’s books, has decided it will no longer offer for sale his second book, How We Decide. After an internal review uncovered significant problems with the book, the publisher is “taking How We Decide off-sale” and has “no plans to reissue it in the future,” HMH senior vice president Bruce Nichols said in an email.

HMH, who pulled Imagine from shelves in July and offered refunds to those who had purchased the book, will “shortly alert accounts about How We Decide and offer to refund returns” from customers, Nichols said. He also noted that the company’s review of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Lehrer’s first book, did not uncover any problems and that it “will remain in print.”

Nichols didn’t reveal the specifics of HMH’s findings, but shortly after the company withdrew Imagine I privately provided them with a handful of problematic passages, gleaned from a cursory look at How We Decide.

HA-hahahahahaha!  The author of this article, Michael Moynihan, goes on to reveal that his “cursory look” at How We Decide probably involved no more than a simple Google search of Lehrer’s prose and a look at Wikipedia.  That’s right:  the world’s most obvious undergraduate-style plagiarist was getting paid to write for The New Yorker and publishing books with HMH.  Most of you professor types probably would have found him out a lot sooner if he were trying to pass his stuff off on you than his editors or readers did. Continue Reading »

19 Comments »

March 2nd 2013
New research on Nazi slave labor camps shocks even Holocaust scholars

Posted under captivity & Gender & Intersectionality & race & the body & unhappy endings & women's history

This is certainly shocking to me as well. From the New York Times article:

[R]esearchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.

The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.

Interestingly, the researchers at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. have uncovered a number of camps and slave labor sites in which sexuality and reproduction were central to the torture inflicted on women.  Continue Reading »

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