Archive for the 'fluff' Category

February 15th 2013
Gone skiin’

Posted under fluff

We’re heading for the mountains, where the snow is better and you can do something useful with it.  As for the rest of you:  behave!

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January 5th 2013
2012: the Year of the Asshole?

Posted under American history & bad language & book reviews & European history & fluff & Gender & the body

Some of you have probably heard of Geoffrey Nunberg’s Ascent of the A-word:  Assholism, the First Sixty Years (2012) because of his platform as the resident linguist for NPR’s Fresh Air.  A few weeks ago, we learned that Aaron James, a philosophy professor at the University of California, Irvine, published a book in 2012 called Assholes:  A Theory, and this article describing James’s book made me laugh out loud:

So what is an asshole, exactly? How is he (and assholes are almost always men) distinct from other types of social malefactors? Are assholes born that way, or is their boorishness culturally conditioned? What explains the spike in the asshole population?

James was at the beach when he began mulling those questions. “I was watching one of the usual miscreants surf by on a wave and thought, Gosh, he’s an asshole.” Not an intellectual breakthrough, he concedes, but his reaction had what he calls “cognitive content.” In other words, his statement was more than a mere expression of feeling. He started sketching a theory of assholes, refining his thinking at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, where he spent a year as a fellow in 2009.

Now here’s the part I really like as a historian.  James pushes beyond the linguist’s focus on the word to explore the history and philosophy of the asshole avant la lettre:

He consulted Rousseau (who, James notes, was something of an asshole himself on account of his shabby parenting skills), Hobbes (especially his views on the “Foole” who breaks the social contract), Kant (his notion of self-conceit in particular), and more-recent scholarship on psychopaths. He spoke with psychologists, lawyers, and anthropologists, all of whom suggested asshole reading lists. “There are a lot of similar characters studied in other disciplines, like the free rider or the amoralist or the cheater,” James says, calling his time at Stanford an “interdisciplinary education in asshole theory.”

James argues for a three-part definition of assholes that boils down to this: Continue Reading »

18 Comments »

December 31st 2012
Toasting the New Year

Posted under fluff & happy endings

I hope you are all staying nice and warm this New Year’s Eve.  I am on Eastern Standard Time, for a change, so I just might stay awake long enough to ring in the new year. . . in Nova Scotia, or maybe Newfoundland.  Anyway–stay warm and toasty, wherever you are, and have a happy new year.

My New Year’s Resolution?  I want to wear more practical, G-rated clothing.  What’s your resolution?

17 Comments »

December 24th 2012
Cake! Because Christmas.

Posted under European history & fluff & happy endings

Susan’s orange-scented fruitcake

Can you believe it? Susan actually sent me a cake! It’s her orange-scented fruitcake, and we are having a hard time keeping it whole until tomorrow.

Merry Christmas to those of you who keep the feast; to those of you who don’t, enjoy the short lines at the movies today! Although I am by faith a profane scoffer, I enjoy a little choral music at Christmas time, old-school style. 1441 style, that is: it helps me get in the mood to cook a turkey and toast some walnuts. Here’s the King’s College choir singing The Holly and the Ivy. Continue Reading »

6 Comments »

December 19th 2012
Happy holiday post, with cookies.

Posted under fluff & happy endings

Continue Reading »

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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 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 »

November 15th 2012
Historiann is attending an important interdisciplinary conference

Posted under American history & fluff

Tenured Radical has all of the details.  What will happen when four academic bloggers meet to talk IRL and before an audience?  (We’re waiting to hear if a certain invisible plane has been cleared to land in U.S. airspace.)  At least we’re meeting close to Paradise Island, very close to the Bermuda Triangle.

And Madwoman with a Laptop doesn’t think I look like a cowgirl.  Phoo!  I say, this is what cowgirl looks like!

 

 

12 Comments »

November 6th 2012
You’re welcome, America

Posted under American history & fluff

As a native Ohioan and currently a voter in another swing state that went for Barack Obama, I’d just like to take this opportunity to say you’re welcome.

 

26 Comments »

November 1st 2012
Dia de los Muertos/All Saints Day quiz

Posted under childhood & fluff

I meant to get this post up last night, but for some reason my blog was off-line for a spell.  (BTW, this is not my pumpkin-carving kit, which tends more toward the soiled yoga pants-and-crummy sweatshirt variety.)  I hope you all had a safe and happy Halloween.

Now that the candy has been counted, stashed, and secretly raided by those of you with children under the age of 8, here’s my question:  Continue Reading »

46 Comments »

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