Archive for the 'childhood' Category

October 3rd 2012
Arne Duncan: quite possibly the dopiest Secretary of Education we’ve ever seen

Posted under American history & childhood & class & jobs & local news & students & technoskepticism

Yesterday, Arne Duncan announced that he wants all schoolchildren to switch to electronic textbooks as fast as possible.  Because:  South Korea!  Or something.

Apparently (and unsurprisingly!) he hasn’t talked to any teachers or student teachers recently, many of whom don’t even have enough of the boring, old codex technology to send books home with their students so they can read and do homework at home, or anywhere outside of class.  A grad student of mine told me that when she did her student teaching in the Big Thompson school district last spring in Loveland, Colorado, this was the reality she was expected to cope with.  Oh, yeah:  she also said that half the students didn’t have internet access at home, so she and her cooperating teacher couldn’t assign them any online reading or schoolwork outside of class, and they had no budget for photocopies either. Continue Reading »

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September 9th 2012
How d’ye like them apples?

Posted under American history & childhood & fluff & happy endings & local news

This is September in Colorado:  cool nights and warm afternoons with clear, blue skies.  We’re lucky to have an heirloom apple tree in our yard, which this year is absolutely loaded with fruit.  (The hot, dry summer has been perversely great for the Colorado fruit crop.  This tree ain’t exactly an orchard, but it appears to share in the local bounty.)  With any luck, we’ll have enough pies and applesauce to last us until the apple blossoms open next spring.

Maybe it’s due to my huge fangirl crush in the 1970s on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House series, but I’ve always been inordinately charmed by “free food,” and aggressively motivated to do something with it when I find it.  When I was a little girl, I loved finding those ferny weeds in people’s lawns that looked like Queen Anne’s Lace, but whose roots resembled (and tasted like) thin, pale carrots.  (Maybe they were Queen Anne’s Lace?  I don’t know.)  I remember a scrawny clover whose lemony leaves we used to chew.  My greatest childhood discovery was perhaps a patch of strawberries along a lazy spring that burbled up in the woods by my house. Continue Reading »

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September 1st 2012
Great Men and Famous Deeds, plus trucknutz.

Posted under book reviews & childhood & Gender & the body & women's history

Mancraft

The title of this post (and the image at left) is a Childcraft classic whose influence has been tragically overlooked on modern American historiography!

Have you ever seen those nasty trucknutz that some d00ds hang underneath their trailer hitches?  Yes, that’s right:  some men believe that the smelliest and most unattractive of their body parts are so awesome that they hang replicas of them outside of their cars and trucks!

So here’s what I’ve been thinking, after writing a blog post that I claimed was smeared with menstrual blood and would pollute everyone who clicked on itContinue Reading »

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July 11th 2012
Twice in a Lifetime

Posted under childhood & Dolls & fluff & happy endings

For Madeline, with all our love.

Here’s one for Madeline and Annabel: Continue Reading »

4 Comments »

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 »

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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 »

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May 23rd 2012
The Learning Machine

Posted under American history & art & childhood & fluff & students

Courtesy of blog reader JM, we hear that Anna Platypus, Daniel Striped Tiger, and Prince Tuesday are debating whether they want to learn via a fabulous new educational technology, The Learning Machine, or whether they want to have teachers and field trips.  “Lady Elaine was telling people that all they needed to learn anything” is the Learning Machine! Henrietta Pussycat is hoping for “Meow Meow Meow Field Trip Meow?” Scroll up to about 15:15 to the Neighborhood of Make Believe to see what they decide:

They must attend some kind of Quaker school or a Montessori, because the students are permitted such a large role in pedagogical decisions.  (Then again, it is the Neighborhood School of Make Believe!)  Continue Reading »

9 Comments »

May 11th 2012
My fantasy

Posted under art & childhood & fluff & happy endings

You can have the coaches, the royal balls, the glass slippers, and personality-free Handsome Princes. For a library like that, I’d happily live with a beast. Continue Reading »

27 Comments »

May 7th 2012
Rites of spring

Posted under childhood & class & fluff & Gender & happy endings & students & the body

A colleague of mine recently gave a talk at my undergraduate college.  While we caught up over a cup of coffee, he asked about my experiences there, as he’s interested in sending his daughter to a college or university like that.  As I told him stories about the safety and liberty I felt there–and have felt nowhere else before Freshman convocation or since graduation–it occured to me that a surprising number of my fondest memories involved semi-public nudity.  Most of the naked memories were streaking up and down Senior Row or skinny-dipping in a fountain after dark when few people were around to witness us, and it was always a group endeavor–sometimes all-women, sometimes a coed group.

Is it just me, or do some of you have similar stories and memories?  What do you think is behind the compulsion of students to experience a college campus in Eve’s Livery? Continue Reading »

16 Comments »

April 5th 2012
Sex preferences among expectant parents: are they antifeminist?

Posted under childhood & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & race & women's history

Via Bridget Crawford at Feminist Law Profs, we learn of a trend observed by Erin KLG at 5 Cities, 6 Women

[T]here’s a trend I’ve noticed lately that gets me as teary …. It’s this: when pregnant women – smart, funny, fierce women I respect – say they don’t want daughters. Some even take to their Facebook pages to rejoice, at approximately 20 weeks, when they find out it’s a boy instead of a girl – or, in the case of one person I know, updates her status to complain specifically about the disappointment of having a girl.

I find these women fall into two camps:

#1: “I don’t want a daughter because girls are harder to raise than boys.  Variations on this: “Girls are so moody and dramatic” or “Girls are manipulative and dangerous” or “Girls are easy when they’re young but watch out when they’re teenagers! Hoo boy!” or the ironic “Girls are too girly. I just can’t get into that stuff.” I cannot explain these women. I’m sorry. The best I can figure is that they dislike themselves, their sister, their mother, or someone else with a vagina, based on past experience, and the thought of producing another creature of the female variety makes their brain short and they say stupid things like, “Girls are just, I don’t know, harder on you emotionally.”. . . Really, you should pity these women. Show them kindness. Love them. But do not try to change them; you will not be able to reason with them. . . .

#2: “I don’t want a girl because the world is harder for girls.”. . .  Continue Reading »

57 Comments »

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