Archive for the 'fluff' Category

May 8th 2013
Worst teachers ever.

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & fluff & Gender & jobs & students & wankers & weirdness

Trying to avoid grading final exams? Slate offers a diversion with a feature called “What’s the worst thing a teacher ever said to you?”

The Slate writers had some pretty funny stories, usually involving teachers who were irritated about being corrected by their students, but the stories in the comments below are funnier. Check out the story of the kid who tried–and failed!–to convince his high school honors English teacher that Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote takes place in Spain instead of the Netherlands. (Because windmills–duh!) And the stories about not understanding a teacher’s thick Southern or New England accent are pretty funny too: what would you do if you were asked to lead your class “down yonder hill,” or if instructed to draw a picture of that cozy autumn ritual we know as a “barn fire?”

The worst thing I can remember was probably said by a student teacher in his late 20s Continue Reading »

46 Comments »

April 30th 2013
Nominations are now open for Best Title Ever

Posted under American history & European history & fluff

First Sealord of the Admiralty probably gets my vote, but Supreme Allied Commander is pretty boss, too. (What does it say about me that I gravitate towards these European-oriented military offices and titles? Hmm.) Maybe I should just keep it simple and ask that people call me Citoyenne Historianne. (At least that’s a democratic civilian title, albeit rather European-sounding.)

What’s your pick for Best Title Ever?

41 Comments »

April 9th 2013
Welcome to Potterville!

Posted under fluff & local news

Photo by Fratguy

Now git along, little doggies.  Here’s what our backyard looks like this afternoon, amidst the very disappointing snowmageddon: Continue Reading »

9 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 »

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!

5 Comments »

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 »

11 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 »

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