Monthly Archives: December 2009

December 31, 2009, 2:57 pm

Night and day.

One of the best New York things I ever did, during the time I lived there, was to go see Bobby Short one cold night at the Café Carlyle. It was impressive how Bobby Short could make you love a nothing song like this one. Or maybe Cole Porter could write a nothing song that was somehow easy to love.

Anyway for some reason I like to hear that kind of music this time of year. Since we previously featured a Cole Porter tune roundly denounced as derivative, here’s the Muppets performing the tune from which, we are told, that one is derived.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.911596&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

more about "cole", posted with vodpod

Happy new year. If you like, throw a link to your favorite Cole Porter or other tinpantithetical tune into the comments.

December 31, 2009, 10:36 am

These, then, are the things that are said, brah

I heart wiki:

Aristotle described a concept similar to the bromance as early as 300 BCE, writing, “It is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality”.

December 30, 2009, 7:11 pm


When I am king the word “listicle” will be first against the wall.

December 30, 2009, 10:47 am

From bad to worse!


December 29, 2009, 1:40 pm

When John Yoo makes you look impolitic…

…you know you’re in trouble. Here’s Yoo’s interview with Deborah Solomon. He sounds vile, sure, and I truly pity his parents*. But give the guy credit: he’s mostly polished and on point. By contrast, here, again, is Professor Yoo’s boss, President Mark Yudof. It’s been a tough year for the UC. Let’s hope for better days in 2010.

* “Our son? He’s a law professor.” [pretends to kvell; walks briskly away]

December 29, 2009, 10:25 am

Military History Carnival

The Edge of the American West (in conjunction with H-War) will be hosting the next Military History Carnival, on January 17, 2010. Carnivals are an ancient and hoary Internet tradition, bringing together the best submitted work on a particular topic from around the web:

A blog carnival is like a roving journal, a rotating showcase of interesting writing from around the blogosphere within a particular discipline. Individual bloggers volunteer to host a carnival on their personal blog, acting as chief editor for that edition. It falls to them to collect noteworthy items, and to sort through suggestions from the community, many of which are direct submissions from authors. On the appointed date (carnivals generally keep to a regular schedule) the carnival gets published and the community is treated to a richly annotated feast of new writing in the field.[1]

My belief is to construe…

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December 28, 2009, 1:51 pm

Rest in peace without victory.

Let’s start a tdih by turning over our pixels to the first couple paragraphs of John Milton Cooper, Jr.’s new biography Woodrow Wilson:

Each year, in the morning on December 28, a military honor guard carrying the American flag presents a wreath that bears the words “The President.” Accompanying the honor guard are members of the clergy, who carry a cross and say a prayer. The clergy are present because the wreath-laying ceremony takes place in front of a tomb in the Washington National Cathedral. Since teh day is only a week after the winter solstice, the low angle of the morning sun causes bright colors from the stained glass windows to play across the floor of the alcove where the tomb is located, over the stone sarcophagus, and on the words carved on the walls. The alcove contains two flags, the Stars and Stripes and the orange and black-shielded ensign of Princeton University. The …

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December 25, 2009, 7:46 am

Seasons greetings.

Like any good Jew, I’ve made the annual hajj schlep to the greater Miami area. And I ate Chinese food last night. I might even go see a movie today. But I kind of doubt it, as I have some work to do. Merry Christmas to you and yours.


December 23, 2009, 1:00 am

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in storage

This is a guest post by our friend andrew, over by the wayside. Many thanks!

(Image from W.H. Michael, The Declaration of Independence, Washington, 1904)

On this day in 1941, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were taken out of their exhibit cases at the Library of Congress, carefully wrapped in acid-free and neutral packing materials, and placed inside a bronze container designed especially to carry them. When the packing was complete, the “top of the container was screwed tight over a cork gasket and locked with padlocks on each side.”*

The documents remained in this state for the next few days, until the Attorney General ruled on December 26th that the Librarian of Congress could “without further authority from the Congress or the President take such action as he deems necessary for the proper protection and preservation of these documents.” At which point the…

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December 22, 2009, 2:21 pm

Some notes on TR.

Seventy years ago this winter, in one corner of the American West, explosions shattered the peace. But they were not, as elsewhere in the world, symptoms of war. Rather the five dozen men spending winter in a large wooden shack at a Dakota mountain were finishing the giant likeness of Theodore Roosevelt, which would stand alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore.

In his speech marking the beginning of work on the monument, President Calvin Coolidge mentioned Washington the creator, Jefferson the extender, and Lincoln the preserver of the nation’s life. As for Roosevelt, “To political freedom he strove to add economic freedom.” Yes, Calvin “business of America is business” Coolidge said that; and Gutzon Borglum, the monument’s sculptor, explained that Coolidge really meant it:

President Coolidge once asked me, in…

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December 22, 2009, 8:20 am

“Thank you very much! Thank you, boy, here, have a snake!”

Phil Nugent, my favorite cultural critic, has a great post up about Oral Roberts.

Here’s a taste:

It was Oral the raving bull goose loony whose image was preserved for all time by Lenny Bruce in his epic “Religions, Inc.” routine (“Thank you very much! Thank you, boy, here, have a snake!”). A milestone in Bruce’s career and the history of stand-up comedy itself, it depicted Oral as a cynical religious con man with contempt for the “thick rednecks” who were his natural audience, which stands to reason, since Bruce’s most fertile approach as a satirist was always to describe the powerful and respected as if they were just another bunch of nightclub performers who’d come up from working in strip clubs and toilets and hustled aluminum siding between gigs. It’s most prescient when it caricatures the rage that the self-made man (and woman, Sarah) feels at the brainy types who would dare to…

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December 21, 2009, 9:01 am

The Analytic Philosopher vs. the Television, part 2 of n

Thesis:  A successful children’s cartoon in the 80′s required three elements: an occupation, a natural kind, and the ability to fight crime, broadly construed.

Case in point, from a late-night conversation:

“…the Mighty Ducks.”


“They were hockey players.  Who were ducks.”


“And they fought crime.”

Discussion point:  I admit one has to construe “crime” broadly to include the Decepticons and whoever it was that were the foes of the Care Bears.  I submit, however, that this is a legitimate construal.

December 21, 2009, 12:01 am

‘Tis the season.

[In what passes for a holiday tradition here at The Edge of the American West, I'm re-posting my thoughts about how to handle AHA interviews. If you want to see the previous iterations of this post, including some really useful comments, you can go here and here. Consider this my opening salvo in the war on Christmas.]

It’s the most wonderful time of year. No, not Christmas silly, the AHA. Or, as I’m fond of calling it, the world’s largest and least flattering mirror. The mere thought of thousands of historians gathered in one place warms the cockles of my heart. Particularly cockle-warming, of course, are AHA interviews, the preliminary candidate screening done by most history departments at the annual conference.

For the past few years, I’ve offered our graduate students a talk in which I’ve shared a few tips about how to handle the AHA interviews they receive. And, given…

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December 18, 2009, 2:42 pm

FDR couldn’t do it.

This post is in response to Sir Charles’s request, though I can’t find it.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a liberal president, allowed by crisis to go further in turning the purpose of the United States to the aid of the least among Americans than any president before or since. He spoke frankly of his commitment to the poor and downtrodden.

Tonight I call the roll—the roll of honor of those who stood with us in 1932 and still stand with us today.

Written on it are the names of millions who never had a chance—men at starvation wages, women in sweatshops, children at looms.

Written on it are the names of those who despaired, young men and young women for whom opportunity had become a will-o’-the-wisp.

Written on it are the names of farmers whose acres yielded only bitterness, business men whose books were portents of disaster, home owners who were faced with eviction, frugal…

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December 17, 2009, 7:22 am

Enclosed please find a post by D. McCourt

A woman starts a freelance writing service from home.  Her business struggles along.  On a whim, and to distance herself from her struggling business, she chooses a male pen name, James Chartrand.

Her business takes off, earning two to three times the income she earns under her own name.  She wins recognition, and now she’s outing herself as a pseud.

The phenomenon here is reasonably well attested.  J. K. Rowling published under her initial upon the advice of her publisher, if I recall correctly, because of the belief that a book by a male writer would be more appealing to the kids’ market.  Identical resumes with female names have been found to be presumed to be less qualified than their male counterparts.   What’s striking about this particular anedote is both that it’s removed from most of the external forces that would amplify or diminish prejudice and that the outcomes are …

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