Archive for the 'fluff' Category
Sorry I’ve been out of touch lately–I’ve been enjoying our lovely wet and cool late spring days here on the high plains with my head stuck pretty much full time in the eighteenth century. (And that is awesome! So long as it’s all in books and in my head, and doesn’t involve period costumes and camping out.) Working on the back porch, watching the rose bushes bloom (finally!) and the hollyhocks and herb garden grow is pretty swell (even if it ain’t Italy.)
If you want some bloggy amusement, head on over to Tenured Radical, who is soliciting ideas in the service of answering some reader mail: what makes for a good blog post? How does it differ from academic writing for books and journals? What do you look for, and which posts do you tend to avoid? Let’s share!
A few weeks ago in Portland, Oregon at a conference, I had a fantastic cocktail called the Bonnie Wee Lass at a fun pub called the Raven & Rose near Portland State University with Sharon Block, Monica Fitzgerald, Rachel Hope Cleeves, and Leslie Paris.
The drink featured the relatively exotic but completely delicious ingredients of Hendrick’s gin, lemon juice, rhubarb syrup, and rose water, and appeared in the most appealing shade of baby pink. I’m pleased to report that I’ve cracked the recipe code on this one, although the photo at left doesn’t do the color justice.
In any case, here’s the recipe, including instructions for making or procuring rhubarb syrup and rose water: Continue Reading »
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 »
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?
Mustaches: they’ve been on my mind lately because of all of the interest in Thomas Friedmans’ “The Mustache of Understanding” mooky 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 »
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!
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 »