Monthly Archives: January 2012

January 18, 2012, 12:43 pm

I Go To The Wrong Conferences

Any conference report that includes “but the mere public showing of his erection from the podium was not sufficient” is worth an extended read. The presenter–one Professor Brindley–was experimenting with cures for erectile dysfunction. His strategy involved the wince-inducing method of direct penile injection. He was not content with merely showing slides:

He paused, and seemed to ponder his next move. The sense of drama in the room was palpable. He then said, with gravity, ‘I’d like to give some of the audience the opportunity to confirm the degree of tumescence’. With his pants at his knees, he waddled down the stairs, approaching (to their horror) the urologists and their partners in the front row. As he approached them, erection waggling before him, four or five of the women in the front rows threw their arms up in the air, seemingly in unison, and screamed loudly. The…

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January 18, 2012, 11:03 am

Mark Wahlberg counterfactualizes the shit out of some history. Because he’s just that ripped.

If Mark Wahlberg had been seated in first class on that fateful day, there would have been no 9/11. Yes, seriously. I dare you to challenge his logic.

January 15, 2012, 11:06 am

In another country.

the government ratified measures that will bar anti-evolution groups from teaching creationism in science classes

Don’t get excited, fellow Americans – in the UK. A country where a physicist, Brian Cox, can have a prime time television special featuring major stars. A country with crap reality tv, tabloid press, and science. Behold.

January 15, 2012, 10:59 am

Higher learning.

Mitt Romney is flacking for his campaign donor’s business, “Full Sail University.” I eagerly await even one of our leaders sending his children to such an outfit.

January 15, 2012, 7:16 am

Grassy Knolls All Over The Place

Received in the mail on Friday, by a fellow EotAW blogger-person:


Required for my spring course on “Conspiracy theories in American History.”

January 13, 2012, 1:18 pm

Process, Part II

[First post here]

But if laptops replaced paper as the main way of getting notes down, the difference in the actual physical process of research was not that much altered. Go to the archive, order the sources you needed, and spend days or weeks or months taking notes on them. Copying costs at most archives were much too high to consider wholesale reproduction, and so note-taking depended on how fast you could type. Portable scanners did not really work; either one had to put the document face down on the scanner or drag the scanner along the document. Neither of those things pleased most archivists. In addition, the scanners were slow and did not offer much storage. Thus, note taking remained resolutely textual, and resulted in the production of lots and lots of MS Word documents with notes on specific sources.Notetakingwindows

That changed dramatically with the advent of digital cameras with…

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January 11, 2012, 5:37 pm

I Am Pleased

It pleases me that the 12th place finisher in the Republican primary in New Hampshire was…Barack Obama.

Socialism is alive and well in the GOP.

(Of course, that’s a slippage from his 2008 result, when he finished 7th in the Republican primary, and a severe slippage from John Kerry’s 2004 result when he came second)

January 10, 2012, 2:10 pm


The biggest changes in my research since I became a historian have come about because of the usefulness of laptops and digital cameras. When I started doing scholarly research, note-taking was still done using pen and paper (or pencil and paper for particularly careful archives). In the 1990s, however, computers suddenly became really portable, and could be carried into the archive and used to take notes. Suddenly, my high school typing class really started to pay off: ten fingers of typing madness.

My first real research workhorse was a PowerBook 160, 7 lbs and 25 MHz of raw computing power. Allied with a homebrewed Filemaker Pro database, this laptop carried me through a large chunk of my dissertation research. The main limitations on the PowerBook were its battery life (circa two hours) and the range of restrictions that archives put on the use of laptops. The former meant…

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January 8, 2012, 11:32 am

The Santorum taint.

Ira Katznelson’s When Affirmative Action was White shows how government social programs of the New Deal and immediately afterward skewed heavily toward white people – and, as the title indicates, this early “affirmative action” occasioned no objection from the paler members of the citizenry. It was only later, when government programs aimed to help Americans with darker skins, that principled libertarian objections became so popular among white folks.

January 6, 2012, 11:12 am

Random AHA Blog Note

Friend of the blog, Ian Lekus, is featured over at Tenured Radical:

This just in from Ian Lekus, the outgoing chair of the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History (CLGBTH): queer activities at the AHA abound…

Click over for a roundup of the CLGBTH activities at the AHA.

January 5, 2012, 12:36 pm

Blogging the New Gilded Age

Sometimes requires a strong stomach:

Mr. Brûlé, 43…looked immaculate in a custom blue flannel blazer, rolled Edwin jeans and Pierre Hardy desert boots that seemed box-fresh, despite dodging puddles all day…. [He] embodies the border-agnostic sophisticate whom the Monocle brand is built around. His globe-trotting persona (cocktails-with-Danish-diplomats intellectualism, sleeper-seat jaunts to Taipei) has inspired legions of followers, who hang on his oracular pronouncements on what’s next.

The phrase “perma-stubble” is also used, non-(apparently)-ironically.

January 4, 2012, 7:32 pm


Worried, I suspect, that the Constitution itself might be tainted by sharia law, New Hampshire Republicans have turned to an older, purer document. I give you (State) House Bill 1580

All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived.

Clearly, they haven’t seen the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood, with Morgan Freeman playing Azeem the Moor. Eek. Perhaps a return to the Tribune of the Plebeians?

January 2, 2012, 9:57 am

Finishing. And starting, too.

Over the past month, I’ve been finishing — as in, putting the final, no really, the final! — touches on my book. It’s been a huge pain because of the narrative structure I’ve adopted this go round. Lots of flashbacks means lots of moving parts. Change one thing, you have to change many things. Very annoying.

Anyway, because of my present circumstances (to recap: annoyed), I’ve been paying more attention even than usual to storytelling and editing. Which prompts two observations: first, J.K. Rowling should have edited her books. If another one of her characters “pants”, I’m going to assume Hermione or Gilderoy is trapped in a low-budget pr0n film (ick). And second, the opening twenty or so minutes of the Star Trek reboot is a model of narrative economy. Like the much-praised, and deservedly so, montage in Up (No, I’m not crying. But hang on a sec, okay? I have something…

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January 1, 2012, 1:39 pm

best New Year’s wishes

Schilderen, roken, eten

Best wishes to all for the new year. Among my resolutions: more postings.

Philip Guston, Painting, Smoking, Eating (1973; via the Guardian). I like the heap of his signature hobnailed boots behind him — I think they stand for the compulsive quality of his work. May we all contrive both to harness and indulge our compulsions, in due proportion!