Monthly Archives: October 2010

October 29, 2010, 6:05 am

Election season

Here on the eastern margins of San Francisco’s supervisorial district 8, one candidate stands out — his flyers pile up in drifts in the corners, his volunteers have rung our doorbell three times, and he’s out on the streets himself soliciting votes. I’ll probably vote for him anyway — though I suppose I ought to find out what he stands for first. (At least he seems to be able to inspire passion in his staff, if not logistical rigor.) The state and national races are not even as engaging as that — the stakes are high, true enough, but the less-bad candidates seem likely to win, on the whole.

How’s it looking where you are? Anybody volunteering?

(CC-licensed photo by Flickr user sashax)

October 28, 2010, 5:51 am

“This is the first time you have ever talked to me. Ever.”

Unfortunately, I think the conclusion is that English PhDs aren’t as funny as lawyers.

October 27, 2010, 2:26 pm

Now let us never speak of this again. Oh, maybe one more time.

Henry Farrell takes some time to write a careful case that he summarizes thusly:

Megan McArdle believes that we would all benefit from more intellectual charity in the exciting cut and thrust of the blogosphere. There is indeed a plausible case for this. What there is not a plausible case for, in my opinion, is more intellectual charity towards Megan McArdle.

This case begins with a discussion of the infamous “spanking Eric Rauchway incident,” which you may remember concluded with Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman saying I was right. Henry says McArdle promised to revisit the issue, which was a promise I did not see at the time.

October 26, 2010, 10:55 am


dr-strangelove-DVDcover.jpgThere’s an odd article running at Foreign Policy about crazy military ideas put forth by civilians:

Here are the top 10 most ridiculous military options offered up by U.S. government officials or civilian commentators over the last few decades. Thankfully, these would-be civilian follies, based on unrealistic and often dangerous notions of what military power can achieve, were quashed before they left the drawing board.

It’s strange for a few reasons. First, it’s about proposals rather than actual actions. In other words, these were things that were thrown out and shot down. Given the range of suggestions–some crazy, some sane–that surround any policy issue, it hardly seems indicative of anything that a few of them over the past decades were pretty awful. Second, the ideas mentioned, while not particularly good, don’t really rise to the level of “follies.” Robert Gates’ 1984…

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October 26, 2010, 7:41 am

Very quickly, because I’m using my humanities degree to get this order of fries.

You know, one of the benefits of a liberal education is that one can learn to think critically, and this article raises more questions than it answers:  317,000 waitresses with bachelor’s degrees!  Time to panic and lament like in Player Piano that one is expected to have a Ph.D. in Food Delivery and Note-Taking!

Or, maybe, the numbers don’t tell the whole story.  If you took a snapshot of me right after college, you’d see someone who was working two part-time jobs. Oh, that education, wasted folding clothes at Dick’s Sporting Goods!  Wasted entering check amounts in the bowels of the bank!   Prob’ly shoulda gone straight to McDonald’s.

Of course, I was doing that because I needed to earn money to buy business professional clothing, for my job that would start in the fall.  What I need to know in order to make sense of those statistics is how long those workers are at that job, …

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October 25, 2010, 10:06 am


Edge of the American West, in conjunction with H-War will be hosting the next Military History Carnival, on November 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.”

My belief is to construe military history as widely as possible: drums and trumpets, surely. The face of battle, most definitely. But also memorialization, gender, and anything else that seems related to war in all its forms.

Submit potential entries here with the subject header “Military History Carnival Submission.” The deadline is November 15th.

October 23, 2010, 12:36 pm

Military History Digest #133

Table of Contents

1. John T. Weikert Farm (Francis Althoff Farm) by Jenny at Draw the Sword (and Throw Away the Scabbard)
2. Schmidt: “Civil War Justice in Southeast Missouri” by (Drew@CWBA) at Civil War Books and Authors
3. The R Word by Brett Holman at Airminded

October 22, 2010, 6:00 pm

When I hear Juan Williams on my radio, I get nervous…

…because something stupid is surely heading my way. First, Williams is probably right to say that NPR was looking for a reason to fire him, though he is wrong about why; it’s not so much that he appears on Fox as it is that he says inane things, e.g. Michelle Obama is like Stokely Carmichael in a dress. (The halfway serious point here is that it’s a mistake to take Williams’ firing out of the context of his general lousiness.)

Second, the people in “muslim dress” on your flight are probably the least likely to be jihadists, unless their nefarious plot involves making everyone very aware of, and suspicious of, their presence.

Third, the phrase “muslim dress” annoys me because it conflates religion and culture. There’s no religious reason to wear salwar kameez instead of a suit. Everyone knows what he meant and it’s not a big thing, but still, irritating. Oh look, someone made t

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October 22, 2010, 1:42 pm


Reenacting, the practice of replaying historical events, is a hobby with a fairly substantial following in the United States. Wars seem to be the most popular events being reenacted and Civil War re-enactors are enough of a cultural presence to be used for an impressively funny commercial:

But there are troubling aspects to reenactment as well. Like it or not, playing Confederate soldiers in the Civil War invokes uncomfortably the Lost Cause mythology and the enslavement of millions of African-Americans. Equally fraught is World War II reenactment, especially if someone wants to play the Germans, whether Wehrmacht or (as is the case of one GOP candidate), the Waffen-SS. The evoking of the Holocaust is inescapable and deeply distressing. Nor can this be compared simply to an actor playing a role. Actors play many roles; re-enactors tend…

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October 22, 2010, 6:09 am

You qualify for the senior coffee discount at MickeyD’s, is all I’m saying.

Here’s an interesting piece on women’s hairstyles and aging, but I can’t get past the idea of calling someone who is fifty-five “middle-aged.”  Not that she should cut her hair!  But there’s an interesting tension between flouting traditional short hairstyles for “women of a certain age” and the headline, which moves middle-aged up with the  baby boomers.

On the other hand, this should make me a young woman for another ten years or so.

October 19, 2010, 10:13 am

It’s a living, breathing document

Via Farley at LGM:

October 14, 2010, 10:18 am

The Australian War Memorial

I was at a conference in Australia recently and had a chance to visit the Australian War Memorial in Canberra:

The War Memorial


October 14, 2010, 10:10 am

Military History Digest #132

Table of Contents

1. The Battle of Valcour Island 11 October 1776 by NHHC at Naval History Blog
2. Stoker: “the Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War” by (Drew@CWBA) at Civil War Books and Authors
3. Brian Gardner: Up the Line to Death by (Tim Kendall) at War Poetry
4. Commitment and Perseverance: Float Plane Pilots Ens. Harvey P. Jolly and Lt (Jg) Robert L. Dana. by NHHC at Naval History Blog

More after the jump… (more…)

October 12, 2010, 8:26 pm

Quien sabe, indeed.

There’s been some debate over whether the term “illegal immigrant” should be retired.  I think it should, largely because the bare “illegal” is used as a slur and the longer “illegal immigrant” doesn’t reliably pick out a specific class of people or what’s wrong with their legal status.  The U.S. government treats people very differently depending on the specifics of how they got here.

This isn’t just fun with intensions and extensions; it’s significant to the debate.  Around four million people who are here unlawfully entered legally; they’re people who could get visas and later violated the terms of them.   They are people with slightly more options, because in some cases having overstayed a visa isn’t a bar to becoming a permanent resident from within the country.  Some estimated number (anywhere from about two to about 30 million, depending on who you ask; having entered…

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October 11, 2010, 8:32 pm

A toastest for the mostest

Ten years?  I don’t care how much traffic you throw my way now and then (nice of a vet to acknowledge a mere newb), o bearded* one, you need about six months off and a good stiff drink or twenty.

*Still laughing at the Bluto post.  Dude, it is okay to be grizzled.  That makes you a Bloggy Bear. *runs and hides*