Monthly Archives: January 2010

January 29, 2010, 11:59 am

Department of “The past is another country …”

… and they speak a different language there. From a Pacific Historical Review article of 1946 on war damage to France:

Military engineers restored the railroads and roads needed as supply lines for the advancing Allied armies, but responsibility for the repair of shattered bridges and railroads which were not needed for military purposes was delegated to the French. It might just as well have been delegated to the Zulus.

George Kyte, “War Damage and Problems of Reconstruction in France, 1940-1945,” Pacific Historical Review 15, no. 4 (December 1946): 417-26, on 421.

January 29, 2010, 8:31 am

Where do you stand on the so-called “hominid theory”?

Brian Leiter links this interesting article on Wheaton College written by Andrew Chignell (now an associate professor of philosophy at Cornell). It details some internal struggles over what constitutes doctrinal purity, and, in particular, how these divisions were handled under the administration of outgoing president Duane Litfin.

One of [Litfin's] first moves was to declare that Wheaton’s longstanding “Statement of Faith” allowed too much interpretive wiggle-room on the question of Adam and Eve. Scientists were thus required to specify whether they (1) “reject the idea that Adam and Eve were created from pre-existing human-like creatures, or hominids”; (2) are neutral or “unsure” on the hominid theory; (3) affirm that “God gave a human spirit to a pair of pre-existing human-like creatures, or hominids”; or (4) deny the historicity of Adam and Eve and think of…

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January 28, 2010, 11:29 am

Just try to stop watching.

What’s there to say? In 1966, Sam and Dave went overseas as part of the Stax-Volt European tour. As Ta-Nehisi Coates says in his post, these guys just killed it every time they performed. Otis Redding, who headlined the shows, apparently became enraged at his manager because he had to take the stage after Sam and Dave. I can see that. I never like teaching in a classroom that Kathy has recently used.

January 27, 2010, 11:29 pm

Shameful, self-promotional Howard Zinn death tie-in

Whatever we might offer on the merits of Zinn’s signature work, I think we can all unite around the knowledge that it beats A Patriot’s History of the United States like a rented, red-headed step-mule. I don’t ordinarily have favorite paragraphs in anything I write — preferring instead to focus on paragraphs I hate slightly less than all the rest — this one was a lot of fun to produce:

Worse, in their chapters on recent U.S. history, the authors make claims that are not even remotely endorsed by the footnoted sources. In excoriating the Great Society, for instance, Schweikart and Allen observe that one “malignant result of AFDC’s no-father policy was that it left inner-city black boys with no male role models” (p. 689). In support of this Gingrichian pronouncement, the authors cite a single 1989 study from Social Forces— an article that makes no mention of AFDC, inner-city black…

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January 27, 2010, 5:02 pm


Magic! It’s gonna change the way we do the things we do everyday! A single piece of multi-touch glass! You don’t have to change yourself; it will fit you! It will wipe your ass if you ask nicely! Order-of-magnitude-more-powerful apps! It just feels right! Hunting and killing hobos has never been easier! To hold the internet in your hands as you surf it! Tap it! Tap that ass! It’s completely natural! Like arsenic! Or strychnine! Just do! The best way! The correct orientation! Huh? FUN!!!!! Reading an e-book is such a pleasure! Now we have three phenomenal stores on the iPad! Your jowls will never again smell like gravy! No problem! The most advanced piece of technology! The largest multi-touch! You really feel the power that multi-touch can offer! Really? Wow! This is a really vibrant display! This product responds so well! Apple’s the one place that you can…

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January 27, 2010, 4:34 pm

Howard Zinn.

Died today of a heart attack, aged 87. May he rest peacefully. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and many admirers. The old radical cutting his last class short to encourage his pupils to picket is a perfect picture for that obit, too.

Students often ask what I think of Zinn’s People’s History. I generally point them to Michael Kazin’s great essay on Zinn’s history, which—whatever you think of his politics or activism—is well worth your reading.1

1A quick search of the blog shows me I noted another of Kazin’s great essays back when EotAW was young.

January 26, 2010, 10:08 am

Like an orchid, or a full-blown rose. A big flower, is what I’m saying.

As we hear of the progress of the healthcare bill and the innovative rhetoric about a need for a spending cap, I am less reminded of any Roosevelts or Lincoln, and more of Grover Cleveland, the Great Non-Consecutive One, so brilliantly penciled in by Richard Hofstadter:

a taxpayer’s dream, the ideal bourgeois statesman for his time: out of heartfelt conviction he gave to the interests what many a lesser politician might have sold them for a price. He was the flower of American political culture in the Gilded Age.

Granted, the current occupant is more svelte, but that too is in keeping with ideal bourgeois norms; they’ve just shifted.

January 25, 2010, 8:22 pm

speaking of Gary Snyder

(Image by Flickr user northcascadesnationalpark, used under Creative Commons license.)

Gary Snyder has written a lot of rewarding poetry over the years. But for me no single poem has been as coherent and satisfying as the first piece in his first collection:


January 25, 2010, 11:37 am

“both brief in this world, both foolish, and we have earthly fates”

Gary Snyder, UC Davis professor emeritus of English and Beat poet, has this to say about his Mac:

January 25, 2010, 10:04 am

I, For One, Welcome Our Corporate Overlords

This, written by Glenn Greenwald at Salon,

But the speech restrictions struck down by Citizens United do not only apply to Exxon and Halliburton; they also apply to non-profit advocacy corporations, such as, say, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, as well as labor unions, which are genuinely burdened in their ability to express their views by these laws.

essentially translates as “We have a strange set-up where completely different things are nonetheless given the same legal label.” The conclusion which Greenwald suggests (though he expresses misgivings) is the same which the Supreme Court recently arrived at: that the First Amendment makes unconstitutional restrictions on the use of money by corporations for political purposes.

The flaw is obvious. (more…)

January 24, 2010, 9:52 am

Werner Herzog reads Curious George.

Probably old, but still funny.

January 23, 2010, 4:23 pm

A choice of Sydney Bernard Smith’s verse.

Since I was reminded of it, a brief selection. Despite the post title, I’m not going to write an essay on why we do not know Smith’s poems so well as we might, I’m just going to offer you three that might divert you on a weekend.


January 22, 2010, 2:11 pm

So many plagues.

Dear Football/Healthcare Jesus:

Lately, you seem to have forsaken me, and I’m just not sure I can take much more of this. So if it’s not too much to ask, I’m hoping that you won’t visit a Favre-Manning Super Bowl upon a nation that’s already reeling. But if it’s got to be one or the other, I suppose Vikings fans have suffered enough through the years. And even you, despite your infinite compassion, must see that Peyton Manning, whining Republican that he is, is an abomination. Also, while we’re chatting, how about reminding the president that uplifting the poor and healing the sick is Godly work.

Thanks for your consideration,


p.s. If you hook me up this once, I promise to stop laying tefillin on airplanes.

January 22, 2010, 11:40 am

The kids really are alright.*

Observed in a nearby campus library.

*Please, ben, don’t even start.

January 21, 2010, 8:10 pm

Protestant, Catholic, Who?

What would Will Herberg say if he could know about this?

A religious Jew wearing a series of black boxes and leather straps called tefillin or phylacteries inadvertently set off a bomb scare on a US Airways flight to Kentucky.

The plane was diverted to Philadelphia.

A 17-year-old boy on Flight 3079 traveling from New York to Louisville was using tefillin boxes which are attached to the arm and forehead and contain prayer scrolls and have long leather straps which wrap around the arm, said Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore.

“It’s something that the average person is not going to see very often, if ever,” FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver said.

Klaver, as the Forverts admits, is probably factually correct. But technically, it wasn’t the religious Jew who set off the bomb scare, it was the pants-wetting pearl-clutcher who thought he was a “security situation.”