Monday, December 17, 2007


Perhaps quite obviously, one of my favorite things about "the holidays" is good food. In my family, there were more cooks in the kitchen at this time of year because there were more and different things to prepare. Delicious standards (like garlic bread) and rare treats (eggnog pie) emerged from the commotion of the kitchen only to land at a table whose company was equally as bustling. I've recently realized that my fond memories of holiday feasts stemmed as much from the good company as the good eats.

S and I just returned from a visit to Oregon where we feasted on the delights of reconnecting with friends we hadn't seen in far too long. The phone and e-mail are good, but I really enjoy face-to-face conversation (and all the subtleties of expression that come with it). S and I have had the good fortune to come to know some pretty remarkable people. Seeing many of them in only a few days was like overeating at a wonderful, long holiday feast. At its end, we were contentedly exhausted and ready to return for more. (One of the few drawbacks to this trip was the absence of C and those Santa Cruz people.)

So, if you're going somewhere in the next week or so (and even if you're not), I wish all of you great feasts.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I saw Sicko a few days ago and enjoyed it very much. I was appalled; I was saddened but it also made me laugh. I appreciate Moore's sarcasm, sense of irony and injustice, and his use of juxtaposition in telling this story. (The only beat he missed was when he explained how Western European countries developed nation-wide health care following World War II; he didn't explain that they did so on U.S. tax dollars thanks to the Marshall plan. This is an irony that I'm sure Moore have included if he had had it in hand.)

The best line from the movie came from a young couple taking their newborn home from a British hospital: "This isn't America" followed by laughter. It's brilliant; you can see it here.

My point is that I've seen a lot of good flicks, most of which were recommended by the lovely people whose blogs are here on the right. I enjoyed Atomic Cafe and Thank you for Smoking, and City of Men is in the queue. The holiday lull is fast approaching, so what other great flicks can you recommend to me?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

my mom sent me this ease my mind.
And, so far, it has worked.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


We are still enjoying our turkey-day feast- all three of us. When you make the whole Thanksgiving dinner for three, it lasts. But not as long as I thought. We're running low on stuffing/dressing and I admit that's my fault. I love stuffing. Year after year, it is the highlight of my Thanksgiving dinner and I always take seconds. It is such an odd food - admittedly, all parts of a Thanksgiving dinner are strange. How does stale bread, spices, butter, onions, and celery become such a wonderful treat? Anyway, during one of my post-stuffing carbohydrate-induced dazes, I wondered what you all think of dinner - what's your favorite part (if you can narrow it down to one)?

Saturday, November 17, 2007


and. . . . done. Whew.

I finished my grant applications and I got them in. The grants I applied for were all on-line which made it easy to upload my stuff at the last minute (actually I had about 15) instead of finding a printer and then flying off to the post office. The one major drawback to the application process was that they limited my response to some questions by the character - including spaces! I spent far too much time searching for a shorter word, like "study" - or better yet "work" - instead of "dissertation."

One of the applications asked for a "personal narrative" which was pleasantly narcissistic for the first hour. Then, it just became tedious. How may different ways can I say I'm desperate for money - in 2000 characters?

Now that these ap's are in I should take a day off but I can't because I'm tired and when I'm tired I have a hard time managing my anxiety/sleeplessness. So, I still feel an urgency to plug away at another chapter. I hope this next week will break me of the stress/fatigue. There's turkey in store and we've installed window-darkening curtains in the kid's room (she decided that 5:45 - when the sun comes streaming in her window - was a good time to get up for the day, ugh).

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Many years ago I read this smart and innovative history - The Technology of Orgasm. The author - a historian of science - explained in the preface how her colleagues and academic presses would not take this work seriously and the struggles she went though to get it published. The book jacket listed her as a visiting professor - something I thought was all part of the flack associated with pursuing the study of a taboo topic (assuming, of course, that histories of women, sexuality, and sex were just not "serious" history of science).

I was please to find out I was wrong. I just read this article and discovered that not only was her book an academic success but it is now a documentary.

This is my inspiring, unexpected-victory story for the day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


This holiday is so much fun with a kid to share it with. My little "Hermione" made all of our Halloween decorations including this skeleton.

She also planned out and executed the perfect face for this jack o'lantern.

And here's Hermione on the big day demonstrating the use of her wand.

I hope you all had a good holiday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

art, life, finis

The local county sheriff was indicted today on charges of federal corruption (a classic case of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"). Generally, I pay no particular attention to my county sheriff - in fact, I find it laughable that this place still has one.

Anyway, I noticed this news only because I had seen it before - recently, in fact, in TV land. I happened upon a series months ago about a young woman living in some unidentified - but completely obvious - southern California county inhabited by scads of slovenly rich people living side-by-side with the great masses who worked for them. I think this show was aimed at teens because the central figure was in high school, but the writers overshot their audience. I liked it not just because the central character is very clever and is an ass-kicker. I also liked it for being very dark and because every plot seemed to turn on the great disparity between the "haves" and the "have-nots." The former always preserved their unmerited advantages and the local, yokel sheriff backed them up. It was pleasantly unrelenting - which made me hope that it was a huge hit among its target audience. Alas, it wasn't. The show got the ax this season. I seem to always find entertainment at its final moments. I will have to find solace for my frustrations with this place by watching previous seasons on DVD.

(Oh, the show was Veronica Mars)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

blows hard

The Santa Ana winds make for an eerie October. At this time of year, I am used to winds with cool weather and falling leaves. But Santa Ana winds are incredibly dry, dusty, hot and, now, filled with soot and ash. They suck the moisture out of everything and have pushed temperatures into the upper 90s all week. There is a thin layer of grit everywhere in the house; there is ash in the air; and everyone is sick from the smoke and from breathing this dry, dry air.

Last weekend, weather reports foretold of the winds and the tinderbox they would whip up. And, lo, with the first gusts Sunday morning came news of canyon fires. In fact, all day on Sunday, every local news source delivered blow-by-blow accounts of the Malibu fire to the exclusion of all else. Over the course of the day I came to despise the media. Admittedly, it was awful that residents were evacuated and some even lost their homes. But the sympathy the media tried to extract for these "refugees" was obscene. It didn't work. These people aren't me; I can't identify. They live in multi-million dollar trophy homes that they decided to build out in some ocean-front canyon so they could live far, far from the rest of us. Reporters failed to mention these people wouldn't seek refuge in a public school gym, a church or the YMCA because they could flee to another multi-million dollar trophy home and arrange for their multi-million dollar insurance payout.

Malibu was the only fire any of us could get information on until Monday evening - when we discovered that a quarter of a million people had been evacuated from San Diego and there was a 13,000 acre fire 12 miles away! (This explains the thick smoke and ash hanging in the air all day.) Like everyone else in the region, we got ready to evacuate. Now that most of the danger has passed and reporters have discovered more worthy stories, I'm still annoyed. What faith I had is utterly destroyed. They're such pets of the wealthy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Being a graduate student at my advanced (though somewhat traditional) age gives me the sense of putting things on hold. Of course, I haven't put everything on hold (to which my family can attest). But this feeling of being on hold contributes to a general sense of urgency. I need to finish so that I can stop paying tuition, so I can find a job, so I can stop throwing money into the black hole that is rented housing. All of these are fine reasons for urgency. Yet, sometimes, I let the urgency to end the "holding" get out of hand. It grows to monstrous, all-consuming proportions.

I realized again today that the day-to-day is not "on hold." Everyone moves on whether I've written another page or not. So, I decided this Sunday to live in the moment (rather than the urgency). I didn't try to squeeze in the source that has momentarily stumped me. Instead, I cut S's hair and then we went out to look for her Halloween costume.*

This, my reality check, doesn't end the general sense urgency, but it contains it and reduces it to more realistic (and livable) proportions.

*After many weeks of consideration - and about a half dozen totally different ideas (ranging from a lizard to a princess to a "kissing snake"), S decided she wants to be Hermione (from HP). This evening, we found a Hogwarts robe and made a wand. (The wand has magic coming out the tip!)

Sunday, October 14, 2007


After leaving Ohio three months ago, we finally arrived in Los Angeles today. And what an arrival it was. We headed straight to Union Station and the old Pueblo de Los Angeles. Along the (rejuvenated)* old Plaza runs Olvera Street where we happened upon an open-air market. Olvera was decked out for dia de los muertos and the market included vendors of appetizing plates, all manner of decoration, and dancers and live music. It had all the visual and aural elements that seduce an "urban-phile" like myself.

Since we were in a real downtown, we walked around a bit and wandered into Little Tokyo. This place fascinates me and I can't wait to return. (Among other little tidbits that will keep me coming back is a time-line embedded into the sidewalk documenting the commercial and domestic history of each building.)

Our experience made me think that there is a reason to live in/near Los Angeles; and one could find a rationale for remaining here for some time. There are aspects to this city (admittedly, historic aspects) that save it from becoming dully predictable and stale. I think I will survive life in my entirely unremarkable corner of Orange County with a downtown like this one close-by.

*This renewal occurred under questionable circumstances where certain (white) Angeleans decided to "celebrate" the Hispanic origins of the Pueblo over its Mexican roots.

(Even though I lack a reliable camera and the photographic genius of E, I had to share these 'urbvana' vistas of Union Station, from the plaza, and Olvera Street.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


We are in the eye of the birthday storm. Last week both my sweeties had birthdays. R was first then S turned five a couple of days ago. And mine is coming up next week. This gives us just enough time to finish the cakes from the first two before heading in for more treats. (Coincidentally, we're all Libras.)

Even though the big mouse is a mere 10 minutes away, we drove almost 30 miles to take S to the aquarium in Long Beach. This was her "special birthday trip," and she really enjoyed it. We did too. The aquarium is new, so it had everything a modern zoo or museum should - gift shop, cafe, programs (that ran one after another), and hands-on tanks. It reminded me of my classes in museum studies because it used every trendy new trick (exhibits are so 19th-century). Even though this place also trades in sensory overload, I am still pleased that we chose it over the mouse. We will, no doubt, be visiting him soon enough.

Friday, September 28, 2007

'never say never' and other ramblings

Sometime during the weeks before we moved to so.Cal., I recall hearing the song "It Never Rains in Southern California." I thought that I could deal with this kind of weather after the severe winter and summer Ohio dealt us. I'm happy to report the cliché is wrong. Today is the second Friday in a row with rain - the kind that requires windshield wipers and umbrellas (a novelty most residents seem yet to discover). I really enjoy the rain. It completes the sense that I have finally returned to the West Coast.

On the general subject of weather, I must add that the variety of weather here is dee-lightful (that's the two word version of delightful). Afternoons are warm - almost hot - with a refreshing breeze from the coast; the mornings are cool; and the nights almost cold. Based on only two months observation, I can report a 153% improvement in the weather over our previous home.

Also improved is the food. I cannot completely describe the gastronomic pleasure that came about because of our cross-country move, but I can begin to describe it. The sheer variety of cuisines is matched only by their quality. (The improvement-in-food percentile runs in the range 350+.) Previously, when eating out, we had a lot of meat options, some with sauces, most with cheese (not the good variety). Salt was the most popular seasoning. Nothing was remarkable. Now, we have fresh, flavorful vegetables and spices whose mere fragrance can sustain the soul.* I love to eat and I love the variety of food here.

I feel like offering a toast - to the food and the weather.

*Those scenes from Ratatouille come to mind - where they depict how food-flavor combinations affect the brain/psyche. It's like that.

Friday, September 21, 2007

observations on beginning writing

This week I officially started writing! (Yeah!) I decided to begin with chapter two rather than at the beginning, the material in chapter two I find more interesting at the moment.

I appreciate now why so many PhD students stop at this point. I have an incredible amount of information to manage and then to puzzle through. It isn't just linking it together that is challenging (which is fun) but also figuring out why it is important (other than, it just interests me) and what new things all this evidence says about - and, at this point, there is a grab bag of ideas (indicative of my point in the process) - citizenship, US imperialism, class, race and society, race and economy, or any mixture of the above. And I would say that I've only read (ahem, had random contact with) about 50% of the evidence available. I probably won't see up to 20% of it. Nevertheless, I've read enough to distinguish patterns and so I begin to write.

Writing is not smooth, however. It becomes difficult, especially in two areas. One is when I start to describe something that I think is dull but a necessary part of the story (as in, thousands migrated to the US to find work). I try to spice it up by deciphering the reasons why I think I must write about something that I find dull (and that other scholars have already established). And this leads me into my other roadblock. I re-frame migration as a product of imperialism (and the political economy that the US produced in the Pacific) and "looking for work" as a process of integration into the racial socio-economic order already established in the US. All of this sounds more interesting to me, but it runs me smack into another unwieldy amount of evidence - the secondary works. Explaining these events with support from the theoretical works I've read (as well as the secondary historical scholarship) means I have to slow down and comb through this mountain of books, looking for just the place where they say exactly what I need them to say.*

All I want to do is sit and type. I want the words, pages, and chapters to magically flow from my fingertips onto the screen. I am definitely not there - not yet.

*Here is where the difference between the junior scholar and the established scholar is most stark.

By the way, if you haven't seen this new blog, then you've waited long enough.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Cool things I learned this week:
  • Orange and Los Angeles Counties have a mass transit train network (unfortunately the closest stop to UCLA is 9 miles away).
  • The County of LA Public Library has a huge untapped store of Asian American newspapers from the 1880s to the present (they haven't even cataloged them). I will tap it.
  • An immersion blender can make nearly-perfect whipped-cream in about 3.1 minutes.
  • Hein Online has it all (and just became my favorite source for legal info). It has not only all major law journals but also a complete run of Federal Statutes - all of them, forever. (Previously I had to hunt for a really big law library that had these in print, then drive and drive and drive to get there.)

Other stuff I learned (that wasn't cool):
  • the up-and-coming scholar in the general field of my dissertation did some oral histories some years back. But she won't be sharing those.
  • a full week of kindergarten makes four-year olds very tired (and grumpy).

Friday, September 7, 2007

fourmis... or what I did on a Friday night

Every place I've lived where the winters are mild attract bugs (where the winters are severe, its rodents). Now that we're back on the west coast, we've been visited by weekly invasions of tiny sugar ants. Unfortunately, we're used to this and slip easily into the role of exterminators. We trap, block the entry, and then scorch the earth.

I realized we are too practiced at this when our four-year-old took a piece of masking tape and, emulating her parents, began to clean up the bugs running frantically for cover. (The smushed ants, you see, stick to the masking tape which is so much more tidy than leaving carcasses all over the floor, table, or counter.) With tape in hand, she noted, "they're easy to get when they [are confused and] stand still." Then added, "Ha! I got it!"

Now, we await Tuesday when Raymond the Exterminator (we're on a first-name basis) will come and finalize the scorching of earth. Until then, I will suffer with the feeling - from time to time - that there is an ant (a fourmi) crawling on me. Now I fully appreciate the notion I learned in France of having "les fourmi." It was a common enough phrase that my neighbors used to refer to someone who was twitchy or jumpy, someone who acted strange and could not sit still. But I am not "coo-coo" (again, their phrase, not mine), I really do have ants. I also have a large roll of masking tape. And the night is yet young.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ode to H.I.

It occurred to me that I haven't posted any updates on my blog recently. I haven't yet settled into a routine. And I am definitely still trying to adjust to my new surroundings. Towards that end, I was pondering the differences between the place where I lived in June and now. Also, I am a huge fan of Harper's Index, so here's my observations in Index form.

Population density of my county in Ohio: 115,000
(Persons per square mile: 205)
Population density of Orange County: 2,988,000
(Persons per square mile: 3785)
Median family income of my-little-corner-of-Ohio: $41,500
(Median income for men: $33,900)
(Median income for women: $23,200)
Per capita income: $18,500;
Median family income of Orange County: $62,500
(Median income for men: $49,000)
(Median income for women: $34,000)
Per capita income: $25,800

Statistical diversity (Ohio): 2% Black, 97% white, 1% Asian American, Native American, Latino, etc.
Statistical diversity (OC): 2% Black, 30% Latino, 1% Native American, 51% white,14% Asian American.

Percentage of population living in poverty (Ohio): 8%
Percentage of population living in poverty (OC): 8.8%

Student population of the college in Ohio: 1819
Student population at the University here in California: 30,606
Annual tuition rates for the college in Ohio: $40,022 [ ! ]
Annual tuition rates for the University in California: $3302 in-state; $13,472 out-of-state

Cause of region-wide public noise in Ohio: Tornado siren (source: municipal building; frequency: once-a-year test)
Cause of region-wide public noise in OC: percussion of fireworks (source: Disneyland; frequency: daily)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

any comments?

Have any of you heard of - or better yet - used Zotero? It is a Mozilla program geared toward academics. I'm curious about it.

Monday, August 13, 2007


We did make it to O.C. and are settling in. (This includes trying to find a good beach.) I promise to offer updates within a week, or so. For now, I'm working on sending out our new address and phone number over e-mail. So, if you don't hear from me then I don't have a current e-mail address for you and you should send me one!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Up and away

Oklahoma - we're half-way through the road trip. I was surprised (and impressed) that the mapquest map of our move has to use almost the entire continent in order to get it all in. Oh look, there's Santo Domingo; and look, there's Prince Rupert; and, oh, there's our route in the middle.

The distance between points A and D is about 2390 miles - with requisite stops at points B and C for good food (Oklahoma is not one of these stops). Apparently the average American moves every 5.2 years. My average is 12 months. I don't know how far the average American moves but I move an average of 1532 miles.

The stop in Oklahoma (where I said "hi" for E) was in a small town where all the local restaurants served calf fries (where I come from, we call these Rocky Mountain oysters). I was surprised by their popularity but passed on sampling them. We did dine at the Old Glory Cafe which was advertised as "not health food. This food sticks to your ribs and other places." I really enjoy exploring local establishments and our fried catfish was good. I couldn't help but marvel at the menu; it was heavy and fatty (even the salad was piled with cheese). This reveals a lot about middle America.

**I want to extend my congratulations to Cabiria who is now Professor C!

Friday, July 6, 2007


Over the past week, I have realized how much I hate to move. This process is slow, inconvenient, and exhausting. It has made me temporarily homeless, and I am developing an aversion to restaurant food.

Here's the requested picture of boxes for E.

Before we could get to this point, though, we had to get past the backhoe. At the last possible moment, the city decided to dig up the street in front of our house (because of a broken water main).
So, the moving cubes/pods we arranged to have delivered had to go down the street a bit.
This last minute change of plans didn't stop us. Everything is now packed and on its way. Half of this unenviable task is done.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Boston was a blast. Good friends, good food, good fun. It was a true vacation - I didn't do a lick of work (at least in my mind I didn't). I took lots of photos, but no flicker for me. Here are a couple.

My apologies - my traveling companion wanted to make sure her tongue got into all the photos. (I'm still debating whether or not to include this in future slide lectures.)
(This is companion with a gi-normous snapping turtle.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

school's out

Day 10 of S's summer vacation is underway. What kind of school closes at the end of May!?!

This is my first summer without childcare. We're embarking on a new adventure. And, so far, we've kept ourselves entertained.

We caught ladybug larvae on the first day of vacation and kept them at home. They pupated after a few days in captivity and, five days later, they hatched. (The pupae shell is on the left and one of our ladybugs on the right.)

"We" also started swimming lessons. Because of the impending move, S couldn't get in on any of the scheduled swim classes, so I decided to teach her how to swim. I would like to take credit for her amazing success, but the kid's a natural. In three "lessons," she's figured out how to kick herself around the pool (with a float) and how to abandon the float to swim underwater. She thinks she's ready for the diving board. I disagree.

The biggest drawback to my first summer vacation is the weather. (Yeah, I know I complain a lot about the weather. File this one away as complain no. 4382.) We've had 90 degree weather which is worse than it seems because it comes with thunderstorms. Ninety degrees and rain is breath-taking -- breath-taking in terms of suffocation. I've never experienced this kind of humidity.

As a result, we're getting out of here. S and I are off for Boston in the AM.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I returned from a short, but well-deserved, vacation last week. Some reasons why it was great include:
  • babysitters available 24/7
  • leaving Middleofnowhere
  • grandparents (S's, not mine)
  • new sights (like the Arch, above, and Plaza, below)
  • forgetting momentarily that I don't know how to sleep and sleeping-in on three consecutive mornings (accomplished using the first point above)
  • new and unusual spectacles (like a pre-Vatican II Mass. That was a trip in itself.)
  • going out with R sans child
  • staying out - past midnight - with good friends

One of the more remarkable sights was this one of the Plaza in Kansas City. The historian in me can't help but note that this was the first shopping district planned for automobile traffic. The admirer-of-arts in me enjoys both the Spanish/Moorish-influenced architecture and the notion of planning urban spaces - no box stores here and everyone has to get out of their cars and - gasp! - walk. I enjoyed strolling around the Plaza.

(note the blue-clad child doing some illegal fountain wading.)

The only draw-back to my vacation, now that it is over, is I have only five remaining days to work. School ends for the summer next week and I transition to full-time parenting.

Monday, May 7, 2007


What is it called when you have so much to do that you loose the inclination to do it? You know, that point where the sheer number of tasks makes you freeze like a deer in the headlights?

I thought I had been doing well recently. I burned through a few of books on my things-I-should-have-read-long-ago list (turns out those skills developed while preparing for comps are useful after the exam). My major discovery from this effort is that the American Crossroads Series is fantastic - most of this is cutting edge stuff. Also worth mentioning is Von Eschen's Race Against Empire, one I recommend to anyone thinking about 20th-century world history. (She shows how McCarthyism re-calibrated both the Civil Rights Movement and anti-imperialism in Africa so that neither could offer critiques of or alternatives to capitalism. It is a great pair with Dudziak.) Nevertheless, reading these books just made me realize that I need to read others; my stack didn't get any smaller.

So, I turned to writing my first chapter and I started wading through sources. I've found many interesting and useful tidbits of evidence. Also, a lot of what I've read is insanely boring. Some of the crap that was printed as "news" 70 years ago was just as inane as what gets passed off as "news" today. I realize that reading through all of this stuff is how the dissertation process works, a sort of needle-in-the-haystack hazing ritual. I wish that I could sleep on my stacks of photocopied newspapers and just have the information seep into my brain the easy way.

This sense of getting nothing accomplished made it easy for me to do very little this weekend (it also helped that R finished teaching on Friday - yeah! - and became my enabler). We explored some hiking trails on Saturday and discovered the local go-cart/mini-golf place on Sunday. The latter also has batting cages. I had never gone into a batting cage before. It was fun. (I wish I had discovered this contraption long ago. I think it would have been great for working off stress.) But the weekend is over and my enabler is gone. Now, I will reluctantly return to rearranging my imposing piles of un-completed work.

Friday, April 20, 2007

funny Vowell

I'm ready to come clean and admit it. I lead a clandestine life where I read books for pleasure. This causes me some small degree of guilt - even in my clandestine life - because I know I could be "making progress" with other, more rigorous readings.

Recently, I've been reading Sarah Vowell's Partly Cloudy Patriot and it is so good that I have to recommend it to other clandestine - and non-clandestine - readers. (If you've ever listed to two or more shows of This American Life, then you've already heard Vowell in action.) It is a collection of short, humorous essays that are insightful, witty, and very funny. Most of the essays - like Vowell - have a historical bent, as this observation from her trip to Salem, Massachusettes, demonstrates.
"Twenty innocent people were executed in Salem during the witchcraft hysteria of 1692. Which is horrifying, yet manages to make for a surprisingly nice weekend getaway."
She explains how Gore could have won the 2000 election by taking a lesson from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Elsewhere, she offers the following insight into cultural fetishes:
"A person keen on all things French is called a Francophile. One who has a thing for England is called an Anglophile. An admirer of Germany in the 1930s and '40s is called Pat Buchanan."
I think the reason that I appreciate this book so much is because Vowell is an unapologetic history nerd. So, her wry comments are intermixed with historical interpretations for which I have much sympathy:
"The more history I learn, the more the world fills up with stories. Just the other day, I was in my neighborhood Starbucks, waiting for the post office to open. I was enjoying a chocolatey caffe mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle's Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top."

With this recommendation, I wish you happy reading!

(Google's blog spell-checker contains the word "Anglophile" but not the word "Francophile." Hummm.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


KFR offered a post today about which I have distinct opinions that I will now offer:

Like KFR, I too love my civil liberties* and would note that under the current administration, they are in danger.

I hold the liberty from government surveillance closer to my heart than the liberty to own and discharge fire arms as I see fit. As it turns out, I support restrictions on the latter liberty. Indeed, I would feel safer with distinct, enforced restrictions. (By the by, it is easier to buy a gun in this country than to buy liquor.)

(*including the liberty that the Supreme Court today decided I - as a woman - am not to be entrusted with.)

Here's some thoughts on this incident and ineffective and insufficient efforts at "gun control."
So, the VT gunman was involuntarily committed for psychological evaluation about a year ago. This should have prevented him from obtaining a gun (provided he bought it after this event).
A commenter on NPR (I will link to the article when I find it) raised some very good points about how VT can happen elsewhere in the US. He noted that countries with universal health care are better equipped to offer counseling and treatment to people who are depressed, suicidal, or unable to control their rage (and these people know that they can seek medical care). These same countries also have stricter gun control. But in the US - as Le Monde put it best - guns are readily available and owners are encouraged to use them. This says, in essence, if you feel dis-ease, a gun can solve your problems.

As for gun ownership as a civil liberty, this is one of the most warped of the various warped interpretations of the Constitution, so let us go there: Amendment 2 (1791) says
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Everyone seems to forget about the "well regulated militia" part. This asserted that each state - and village - needed to have an internal, organized militia for protection from the British or Indian nations or slave insurrections, etc. (Recall that not all Americans enjoyed this "liberty" - it was reserved for specific groups.) Also, remember the young nation did not have a national militia (i.e. a national army) because this would have put too much power under the control of the president who - like King George - might have used it against Americans. Private ownership of guns, then, was a matter of national defense. Recall - we now have a standing national army thus negating the intent behind good-old No. 2. I also want to note that a concentration of arms is the same reason that this amendment was not intend for private individuals to stock pile weapons - as modern promoters of this liberty will have us believe. Three years after the passage of this amendment, Pres. Washington led an army (composed of state militias) against up-country Pennsylvania residents who - instead of mustering their arms in defense of the nation - mustered them against the new Constitutional government. This internal threat to the fledgling republic was consistent and palpable in the 18th and early 19th centuries. I can say with confidence that the drafters of the Constitution did not intend for just any private American citizen to "keep and bear arms" because this posed too much of a threat to the consolidation of power and money that they were trying to effect under their pretty new government. By the way, this is the context and intent that the dicktard Supreme Court Justices who claim to be constitutional originalists conveniently forget about.

Rant done.

For the moment.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"tunnel vision"

I am impressed by the good number of 'tunnel' metaphors in English. It works for my present situation. I now have a tunnel.

I finally took my adviser's advice and tried to write out the first line of each chapter. It was useful in many ways. This made me reconsider where the chapters begin and end but also what each one will contribute to the whole. I can't say that I seceded in writing a single, good opening line for each chapter that encapsulated the argument. Many of my "opening lines" are rambling paragraphs.

Nonetheless, I can see the whole dissertation stretching out before me. It now has shape, form, and substance! One might call it a tunnel. It has enough substance that I know what remaining sources I need to see in order to write each chapter. I can also see how the various arguments twist and turn as they run through the story.

I definitely don't see any light at the end of this tunnel, but I do, finally, see a tunnel!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

petits madelines

I am a big fan of Proust’s story of the petits madelines. I have – and do – find his account of thought patters fascinating (while acknowledging that medical knowledge about how the brain works has expanded dramatically over the past century. I still think Proust explained best all that needs to be said).

I’ve noticed recently, that my brain appears to be addicted to this variety of petits madelines. I probably have been overly demanding, insisting on concentration and focus so that I can sprint through monographs and the like. I haven’t allowed myself very much mental free-association time - something that is exacerbated by my quite isolation and dearth of adult conversations.

Instead of sleep, my brain has been treating me to some petits madelines. One consisted of a trip back to high school and through the various pranks that one friend and I pulled off during those years. Another, randomly, of the places that my car has lived. And, then, one of my life the last time I lived in Seattle.

This led me to recall my stint with the AFL-CIO and organizing for HERE (the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union for the acronym neophytes). S pretty much ended any career I might have had as a union organizer. Nevertheless, I concluded (or my brain did – I’m not sure who was driving at that late hour) this was the last really meaningful work I did. This prompted some Internet searching this morning where I rediscovered Jobs with Justice. I highly recommend perusing the site and signing up for their e-mails. They do the typical “write your representative” campaigns, but they also mobilize the like-minded when bodies are needed (which is how I ended up joining a janitors picket at a Fred Meyer in Portland). And while the So. Cal. arm of J with J is pretty weak, S is old enough now that I can haul her along to these events.

Thanks Proust.

Monday, April 2, 2007

end game

I survived Spring Break - that is, S's spring break.

The school-that-closes-for-no-apparent-reason closed last week, this time for Spring Break. Her "break" came, of course, after the two-week break R had. So, S and I entertained each other. As it turns out, she has no interest in the Congressional Record or 1930's community newspapers. I, reluctantly, gave up training her as a research assistant. (Maybe I'll try again when she turns five... .) Instead, we molded clay figures, made a pillow, and played Wizard of Oz games. And she ended the week by going to college. I got to leave for the OAH meeting (yeah!), so S went to school with her dad where she, in her words, she was excited to "meet his students." In the end, we both capped off the week on a high note. I had a great time seeing all of you Eugene people! Next time, I'll make it as far as Oregon.

(By the way, my cold is abating and my voice is making a great come-back. Today it was so much improved that I sounded like a teen-age boy at puberty who can't control his pitch.)

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Spring is becoming an increasingly appealing season. Like E, I have always been a big fan of autumn. After the winter we've suffered here, I can see the appeal of Spring. I certainly have a better understanding of why it is so popular.

In fact, after eight weeks (or more) of really cold weather - included more than 30 inches of snow, sub-zero temperatures that lasted for days, and exactly six school-closing "snow" days, we thought the end was at hand. Last Monday and Tuesday the weather was blissfully warm. Tuesday reached 70 degrees. Then, Wednesday produced an ice storm (that is, one inch of ice pellets) followed by snow on Thursday and Friday and a below-freezing climate for the entire weekend. As it turns out, the early part of the week was only a wicked and deceitful trick on the part of the weather gods.

Sadly, I wasn't the only one fooled. I think (and hope) the spring flowers that appeared all around our house will make it through to the rain predicted for later this week.

I've decided the best revenge is to start packing!

(Addendum to previous post: We got S some new books - (Dahl's) The Enormous Crocodile and Charlotte's Web. She's really enjoying the latter and has already inquired about the end of the story. She didn't like the answer we gave and is lobbying for a revision.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

new read

Little S has made a new discovery - the Wizard of Oz. R assigned this book in his US history survey (because it is supposed to be a parody on the Populist movement). So while trying to maximize his time, he began reading the book to her while giving her a bath. She loved it and wants to hear it over and over again. We've now read it four or five times.

All this story-telling has had interesting outcomes. She has adopted some of the book's semantics. She adds words to her conversation that seem odd coming out of this little person, such as, "the weather is pretty, indeed." Or, someone "will be dreadfully happy." On the other hand, R was up with her at 3 and 4 AM the other night. S explained that she had a bad dream and it was bad for her dad too because in her dream he was carried away by a tornado.

Anyway, I'm surprised she likes this book. It only has a few pictures so she has to use a lot of imagination. It is entertaining. This made me wonder what other books I missed out on as a child (I never read this one). So, what suggestions do you have? What do you remember enjoying?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Every once in a while a gem like this one comes along and you just have to share it. (E, I thought you would find this entertaining.)

Yesterday, R showed me this website about Janet Greene. Greene was a 1960s folk singer who recorded with the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade. Had she been a little younger, she definitely would have been a Goldwater baby.

I suggest scrolling down a little to the list of songs - which are available here for our listening pleasure. These are the real "gems;" there is Inch by Inch (I think this one argues that Vietnam was not worth the effort); Fascist Threat (explains how communism and fascism "are twins"); and, my personal favorite because it is sung to the tune of "Jimmie Cracked Corn," Commie Lies. I found the last one the funniest.

(Of course, the humor is dampened somewhat be the fact that Greene, her label, and audiences took her seriously. But not everyone did; so I am joining the amused on-lookers.)

Monday, March 5, 2007

dribbling syllables

Despite the best efforts of the weather, I am back home from a conference in Detroit. It was worthwhile if only for the extra line on my CV and because I got to see fellow Eugene ex-pat KW (who is loving the big city and her new tenure-track job).

As for the conference itself, I remain ambivalent. It was ostensibly concerned with citizenship and race, but also with, what I would term, an effort to define this legal-political framework as “culture” writ large. In fact, one heavy-hitter suggested that citizenship was basically identity. (I take great exception to such ham-handedness.) The plenary sessions and seminars were useful though marred by excessive morphemes – in particular, the overuse of “ity.” Out of a single mouth I heard “factuality,” “religiosity,” and “textuality.” In the context of his pontification, he really meant “facts,” “religion,” and “texts.” This suffix – along with others – dribbled out of many mouths producing little pools of spittle here and there. Needless to say, they created slipping hazards and dampened paperwork. And I admit I was only half-heartedly interested in mopping up the spills so that we could move on to more productive conversations.

What I’ve drawn from this experience is that, unfortunately, interdisciplinarity seems to converge only on the cultural front. Nevertheless, I am confident that there is a conference out there (and academics to people it) that acknowledges the power of culture while moving beyond identity to realms of, say, politics, law, and economics. I will hunt it down.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Orange CSU

The game of roulette is over. The winning bet - orange CSU. Funny, I wasn't aware that roulette included orange. Oh well.

This is a very exciting turn of events. Yesterday, R accepted a tenure-track job with Cal State University. The excitement is dampened somewhat by the fact that this job is in Orange County. (The realization that we'll be moving to the OC feels a little like a blow to the head. I'm still reeling from it all.)

As it turns out, the cake that S and I made goes great with champagne. The only thing that tastes better is celebration champagne.

Monday, February 19, 2007

in my news

Harvard University just announced that it has hired Drew Gilpin Faust as its new president! She's the University's first woman president (and, reportedly, the first president in over three hundred years who does not hold a Harvard degree). If she is at good at administration as she is as a historian of American women, then this is great news for Harvard (and, one hopes, for women in the IV league).

cold, week deux

Still bitterly cold here. The wind chill gets us well below zero and we've had more snow. The good news is that a heat-wave of 40 degrees is projected for later this week! (Yipee, flooding.)

Middleofnowhere has been somewhat isolating because of the size of the town (and, admittedly, the nature of my work) but this past week has been even more so. No school and so much snow and cold that there is little reason to go outside for long. S and I put our cabin fever to good use (once S recovered from her flu) and made cake. We're both big cake fans, so our late Valentine's day served merely as an excuse for cake - in this case, chocolate cake.

R and I are currently debating the benefits and drawbacks to West Coast versus East Coast living. Any thoughts?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

my Valentine

I spent the day nursing my sick valentine who, I'm happy to report, is recovering well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

it continues...

It is still bitterly cold here. I was so cold last night that I had trouble sleeping. Turning the heat up was of no use because the furnace was broken - as in, not working at all. It got down to 50 degrees in here by lunchtime today when it was finally working again. S wore here winter coat inside. Once the furnace was operational again she hugged the pipes that deliver steam heat to the radiators.

Note: S is home on a random Tuesday because these people are complete wimps. It snowed 2 inches last night and they cancelled school. Someone - like me - would assume that if you live in the northeast you learn that snow is a given each winter and how to cope (as in, drive carefully, control skids). Ok, so it did snow another 10 inches during the day, but still, I have no trouble getting around. I think these people were just looking for any random excuse to cancel school and wreak havoc in my life. (There are too many traditional "wives and mothers" around here, so there's no consideration for the value of my time.) Anyway, my strategy is "movie day" - six hours of hypnotic Pixar films. This should give me some time to work.

(The southern and sun-belt locations that are job-prospects for R look more appealing by the hour.)

Monday, February 12, 2007


R is away for the third time in as many weeks. This prompts me to increase my ferrous-ness. Allow me to explain.

Growing up in Montana, I acquired an understanding of iron-man football early on. In fact, I played a little in high school, but that is another story altogether. Anyway, "iron men" play both offense and defense. It is exhausting; no breaks; you are constantly on; it requires an iron will. This is the version of parenting I'm playing - both offense and defense, et cetera, et cetera.

In fact, I've been playing for about five months. The first teaching gig is a truly monstrous undertaking (especially for the over-achiever type - any of you familiar with that?). When we were living in Oregon, parenting was a blissfull partnership. One of us took her to daycare, the other picked her up. One managed the nap, the other bedtime; we even alternated getting up with her on the weekends so the other could sleep in (because sleeping in for S equals 7 AM). I highly recommend this arrangement; it cuts the exhaustion. Anyway, this doesn't work now because R is trying to stay one step ahead of his two lecture classes, 4 independent study students, and 5 interns (and, then, there's the whole job hunt thing too). So, I'm playing ironmaid (or ironmade) parenting. I'm doing it for the team.

And I have to say that I'm getting tired; I think rust is setting in.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

the more things change...

This morning I was checking in with my lifeline to the outside world and heard an interesting story about Guatemalan workers in the U.S. These 12 men were promised landscaping work in North Carolina and they came to the U.S. using temporary vistas (read: work visas). Some shady character representing a company that doesn't seem to exist "rerouted" them to Connecticut where they received $2/hour - this meant they had to ask their families to wire money for food (they had planned, of course, to send wages home). Some of them simply walked away from the work and the rest found a Latino aid association and are suing their employer.

The entire time I was listening to this I kept thinking "Braceros." This story fit perfectly with everything I've ever read about the Braceros Program. And here I find that it lives long after its official demise - isn't the administrative side of government wonderful? The son-king - in his limitless vacuousness - wants to revive this program, as the "work visa" program. I'm sure when he talks about it Cheney and his ilk salivate at the prospect of unlimited exploitable labor. In some ways U.S. history is reducible to one simple theme - stealing someone's labor (and their bodies and their lives in the process).

The one point of light in all this is the Latino legal aid organization that is helping them sue their employers. I really want to hold out hope that this case can put the employer to the screws.

Monday, February 5, 2007

i surrender

To the weather gods: You have demonstrated your infinite command of the wind, rain, and snow. I never doubted your power. Those snide comments questioning the reach of the "lake effect" were made by the uninitiated. The snow has been nice but 15 to 25 degrees below zero is too much. I acknowledge your control and my powerlessness in these matters. And I fomally offer my appeal for an end to the wind chill and a return to the balmy weather of freezing temperatures.

If you weather gods see fit to moderate the wind (and perhaps move in a tropical front), I will remove the heavy curtains from the poor-excuse for windows. And I will take S outside for sledding and snow angels. I will even take her back to school (which you well-know closed because of your tricks). This will allow me to appreciate the improved weather as I walk to the library for my temporarily-suspended visits with the microfilm machine.

Such a bargain can be had for a mere 30 degrees.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

dead ringer

A post the other day by Kungfuramone reminded me of one of the light-hearted aspects of our jobs: Humor. Academics are way too serious. But they don't have to be.

Take for instance the following comparison.

One of my favorite parts of the colonial U.S. history course is Paul Revere, as Matto and E well know. This is because Paul Revere is a dead ringer for Jack Black. You can judge for yourself:

Then, of course, my mind wanders to personality comparisons. And I imagine that Revere and Black acted in very similar ways. It is the raised eyebrow; this totally gives him away.

(I plan to take credit for this discovery some day when Black plays Revere in a historic film.)

Another attempt at humor (and a successful one in my opinion) was created by a friend who (sigh!) decided to leave academia. It is the "then-and-now-popsicle-stick." It is great for people who don't have a good celebrity or historic double. It requires a bit of image research, but can be well worth it. Anyway, my friend C. had to do a report in our seminar on "a prominent historian." She chose U.S. historian Ruiz. She illustrated her talk with a popsicle stick (or tongue depressor) that featured small pictures of the historian, then and now on either end of the stick. C. wasn't making fun of the assignment or the historian, she just happened on this visual aid. I was thoroughly amused. (Yes, chalk that up to complete nerdiness.)

Monday, January 29, 2007

lesson from 4-year old

Recently, I've been reading to S her new favorite story. This began as a traumatic experience.

S's new favorite story is one that I remember hearing when I was little. In fact, it was burned into my childhood memory because it scared the six-or-seven-year-old me. For years, I vaguely remembered the story but not the title. S cleared that up; it's called Tailypo. In short, it's the story of an old geezer-hermit who cuts off the tail of some strange animal, eats it, and the animal comes after him looking for the tail and makes him disappear. I recalled how frightened that book made me when I read it to S. And, I thought that she would get scared and not want to hear it anymore. But no. She loves it, and we now play "tailypo" games.

The difference: she identifies with the creature and I identified with the geezer-hermit. If only I had come up with this reorientation when I was 7 or 8. I would have saved myself so much anxiety.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

more effect

Go figure. It keeps coming.

In other news, I am closing in on a conclusion. I've written two conference papers in one. So, after I revise it, I get to chop it down.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

lake effect

After two months of empty promises, the weather finally delivered. We have a significant amount of snow (over an inch) that has stuck around (literally).

For months, weather reports have bantered about "lake effect" snow - the increase in snow caused by our proximity to Lake Erie. This was something I awaited with anticipation. Unfortunately, we are just beyond the lake-effect shadow. So, while everyone around us got 6-8 inches, we got wet streets. It was a let down.

But no more. The lake effect has arrived. I will spare you more pictures of snow (for now). Suffice it to say, it's pretty.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Mushy or hazy - that accurately describes my state of mind right now.

I am off and away with the writing of my paper but I certainly seem to be spinning my wheels and going no where - because of the mush. It takes so long to make sense of this material, and I've written pages and pages of introduction (in fact, at this point, about 90% of the essay is introduction).

I think this haze is the effect of isolation. If I had been working in my office where I could break for coffee or lunch and hash out these ideas with colleagues, I think I would be working much more efficiently. I don't offer this in the way of an excuse, rather as a warning - keep to your community as long as you can, it is comforting and helpful in so many ways.

Now, back to my Gordian knot.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"unique and somewhat anomalous"

Here's the understatement of 1944 (the year when one federal judge wrote the following): "the relationship as between the United States and the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands has always been quite unique and somewhat anomalous." (read: we didn't know what the hell we were doing so we made it up as we went along.) What this means translated from legal-speak is roughly as follows : "it worked to our advantage to retain complete and unquestionable sovereignty over the Philippines - both the land and people. So, we carefully ensured that laws and court decisions leveraged our exploitative advantage while maintaining a pitifully thin veneer of democratic intent towards these recipients of our benevolent largess."

Have you noticed how some academics chose to cannibalize their evidence in the title of their books or essays? They use some snippet of a quote they found in the course of doing their research, like "Move Like Hell" or "Tell the Court I Love My Wife." I have decided that this is an annoying trend. I want titles to offer a straightforward and concise premise of the history (I have a limited amount of time and the quicker I can assess the main argument the better). This quote - "unique and somewhat anomalous" - is just the type of snippet that I could see heading the article of someone who is not me.

heat wave

Despite appearances, we enjoyed a heat wave in the past day.

Someone came over to check the temperature in our house (the new downstairs tenant complained that it was too cold) and we discovered that the house was about 4-5 degrees colder than what the thermostat said it was.

I turned the heat up four degrees and we were amazed at how warm 64 felt! In fact, it was too warm and I've adjusted the thermostat again.

This is what we get for renting an old house (1879!). The thermostat itself is at least 30 years old (as is its wiring), so its a little off. The doors and windows all have gaps - which created a huge heat exchange. I installed weatherstripping and covered almost all the windows with plastic (and I know its working - somewhat - because when the sun goes down the plastic balloons out around the windows). Now, I know why states like this are energy-consumption criminals - it all goes out the window.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

simple logic

Last week, S and I were driving home and she was sitting quietly in her seat, apparently deep in thought. Because, out of the blue, she asked me why we pay rent.

My attempt at 4-year-old logic didn't satisfy her ("because the woman who owns the house takes care of it and we pay her to keep our house in good shape"). "But why?" was her reply. So I took a new tack: "she does it to make money."
S: (annoyed) so that she can have more money than us!?!
Me: yes
S: (still annoyed and slightly yelling) But that's not fair!

Yes, folks, the 4-year old has capitalism all figured out. What surprises me is how easily we unlearning this logic over the subsequent years. (I guess it helps that all of society is oriented towards indoctrination and hammers it home again, and again, and again.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Procrasti Nation

I live in a state of procrastination. Life is busy here.

I am accomplishing things I've put off for months (like grading that one last paper to replace the incomplete). I watched Pride and Prejudice again (my reward for passing my exams - it took a while to get to this). I quilted a baby blanked for an expected nephew; I watched 49 Up! and Little Miss Sunshine, and I've found lots of new music at the public library that I have to borrow, now.

My research is progressing too. I've read secondary sources I had been putting off for months. KFR led me to the mother load of primary sources,* so I've carefully combed through this and found lots of new evidence. I even run off to the college library to read "just one more article."

None of this is writing my paper. After four months of "self-direction," I actually have a deadline to meet. I've been amazed at how quickly and easily my time-honed skills of procrastination have come back to me.

And the pressure of that pending deadline is not yet high enough to crack me. And, so, here I sit commenting on life in Procrasti Nation.

*Props to KFR for this!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

snow day

We finally got some snow today. The weather has been so mild that S has had to wait a long time for this. (A few weeks ago, she got up in the morning and went running outside because the frost looked like snow to her.)

We have to enjoy it all today though; tomorrow, a high of 52 with more rain.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

ruby slippers

I got some new shoes! (I don't do this very often; the shoe budget is woefully small.)
And they're red!

I think they're so pretty. Unlike Dorothy's red shoes, they didn't come "oz-equiped," so I can't click my heels together and return to OR, but I can tramp throught the mild Ohio winter in style - and 1.5 inches taller. How nice to have comfortable, new shoes!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

academic roulette

It is that time of year again when tenure-track or tenured faculty put thousands of their fellow academics through the ringer. If this is how supposed "colleagues" treat you, then we must re-label academia so that it reflects the more base qualities that this season brings out in everyone. I haven't found the best one yet but I have come up with "academic mafia," "ivory-tower hazing," and "elite racketeers." These aren't all-encompassing; I'm still working on the best label. Feel free to add to this list. I am open to suggestions.

R is in Atlanta right now playing academic roulette. When he first threw the ball, our options for our new place of residence next fall included the following states: Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Georgia, and Virginia. (Unfortunately, he was working with half the number of job options than were available last year.) I had some favorites on that list (as did he) that fell by the wayside almost immediately. Now, after bouncing around, the ball has settled closer to the center of the wheel. It is down to southern California, Georgia, and update New York. Or the ball may fly off the wheel entirely, in which case we'll get to play this crappy and degrading game again next year. Academic roulette can quickly and easily turn into Russian roulette.

Which brings me to the point about how awful this profession is prone to be. I didn't realize this until I was too invested in the more appealing aspects - the ones that graduate programs push on their unsuspecting victims. In fact, deceptive is the best way to describe most graduate programs. They have these lofty ambitions for instruction in facts and theory - which many can deliver. But there is no required course on maneuvering the job market* and the painfully obvious bias that colleges and universities have for elites. If the degree comes from the IV league (even though the dissertation is crap - and this happens; I've read too many of them before and after they were published as monographs), these candidates turn heads regardless. Where are the bonus points for people who attended public schools and survived in an environment where the bottom line is money not academics?

So, graduate programs refine deception. I asked my general manager (whom many of you know)** how well his program placed graduates (I already knew the answer - I had researched it, but I wanted to see what he would say). He went on and on about the one - the single - graduate from the program who went to Harvard as a post-doc for a couple of years. The only example he offered was the most shining one. He was completely out of touch with his program and what it offered its graduates.

Add this example to the one I heard just a few days ago when a colleague (a first-timer on the job market) asked R what was expected in the interview session - this colleague thought that it entailed a power-point presentation of his dissertation. This guy attended one of the most elite school in his field and this is how he was prepared for the job market!

When it comes to the real world - like getting a job - most academics have their damn heads in the clouds.

*PP is the reining exception to the rule.
**This is the same person who admitted that his colleagues once failed to recognize a prospective hire in the Classics when they went to the airport to pick him up. The prospective hire was African American. Here's another reason this profession is messed up. But that would take me in a different direction, so I'll leave it for the moment.

Friday, January 5, 2007

say it ain't so

This is what I get for indulging in those silly on-line "tests." This is the best movie that matches my personality?

Ok. Here's proof that these tests are lame and messed up:

There is obviously a fundamental flaw in the programming code. I am opinionated but I also understand tact and diplomacy and how to be subtle and have limits. This is ridiculous. (What answers to I have to give to get Michelle Bacelet instead?)

new congress

I was was so pleased by yesterday's swearing in of the first woman Speaker of the House (and I even like most of her politics). Yeah!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

I must have just had a holiday...

I got to watch some movies recently - another advantage of holidays. Some of the films were good and others I am trying to forget about - quickly.

I highly recommend When We Were Kings, a documentary I've wanted to see for ages. I am not a fan of boxing but boxing became a sub-theme to the politics of imperialism and racism in the 1970s. Even though the film didn't include details on the US and CIA involvement in eliminating Zaire's Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba (in favor of Sese Seko), I can overlook this because the film was well done, and Muhammad Ali is just fascinating to watch.

I also saw the Cradle Will Rock again. Brilliant. I wish Tim Robbins would make more movies like this.

I enjoyed our annual screening of It's a Wonderful Life. Regardless of what some academics say, I think Capra was influenced by the Popular Front because it is just that kind of great movie.

(Here's a Mexican copy of the Rivera mural that Rockefeller had removed from Rockefeller Center. Wow!)