Category Archives: friends of the blog

March 4, 2014, 1:22 am

The Leading Edge: Charles McKinney on the Rhodes College Civil Rights Conference

This is a slightly different kind of Leading Edge. Charles McKinney, a fellow Duke alum, helped organize and run a conference on civil rights at Rhodes College in Memphis. During the conference, he posted regular Facebook updates on the speakers. I thought a retrospective gathering of them would be a wonderful stream of consciousness account of the conference, and Chuck agreed. Headings are my words, the rest are Chuck’s.

From Civil War to Civil Rights: Race, Region and the Making of Public Memory

The conference schedule is here.

Rhodes Jazz Ensemble kicking off the conference! Copyright Charles McKinney 2014
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First up is Professor Kate Masur’s plenary lecture:

Masur: “Birth of a Nation” and “Lincoln” have the same narrative line regarding the caricature of Black/Republican politics. BOOM.

Masur: We should confront the tenuous nature of black life in the South. Have NEVER…

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February 13, 2012, 8:07 am

The Warren Buffett University in California.

Michael Bérubé runs the numbers on Penn State:

In 1985, the state provided 45 percent of Penn State’s budget; in 2011 it provided 6 percent. In 1985, in-state tuition was just over $2,500; today it is over $16,000. Over the past twenty-five years, the cost of a public college education has increasingly been offloaded onto individual students and their families, as education has been redefined from a public good to a private investment.

And he concludes:

A fully privatized Penn State no longer has any reason to call itself “Penn State.” Indeed, the name would amount almost to false advertising, since there would be nothing “State” about us. And that means a whole new vista would be open to us – and in different ways, to Temple and to Pitt. In two words: naming rights … Let the bidding begin.

My hopes are in the title.

December 22, 2011, 10:35 am

This history blog has its own history.

November 24, 2011, 3:28 pm


Cosma Shalizi on turkeys and Pareto optimality. Happy Thanksgiving.

December 8, 2009, 10:12 am

Emergency powers?

Aaron Bady, aka zunguzungu, has a long post up about the crisis facing the UC.

He argues that:

One of the myths about the UC system crisis is the idea that “Sacramento” is the real villain, and that protesting the UC administration is a waste of time. The legislature is the actual problem, people say, because they‘re the ones who have allocated less money to the University system. Instead of occupying the Office of the President of the UC system, such people argue, students should really be protesting politicians in Sacramento.

This seems to me to be both wrongheaded and misinformed. The president (and the regents who appoint him) are Sacramento, while the university community itself has not only had very little role in the massive top-down restructuring of the university that got under way in July, but they have been quite actively shut out of it, by the Regents and by…

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November 10, 2009, 7:56 pm

40 is the new 20.

Happy Birthday Sesame Street! And many more! For a wonderful series of posts marking the occasion, see here, here, here, and here. Also, if you’d like to share your favorite Sesame Street moment(s) in the comments, with or without links, that would be lovely. And finally, yes, I know the above clip isn’t exactly celebratory (and that we’ve talked about it here before), but for me it represents the essence of the show. Put another way: it’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to.

September 15, 2009, 2:05 pm

“You know the Faust story?”

Alice Cooper tries to convince Kermit to sell his soul in exchange for fame as a rock star. From a list of the ten weirdest moments on the Muppets. Number 6, Alan Arkin on a bunny killing spree, is pretty odd. Also, Peter Sellers! That’s all.

Thanks to B for sending this along and brightening up my day.

August 26, 2009, 3:47 pm

They used to call it civic virtue.

Over at her place, B has a thoughtful appreciation of Ted Kennedy.

Also, Erik Loomis asks if Kennedy was the nation’s greatest senator.

August 12, 2009, 11:43 am

History for kids

[Editor's note: Our friend Michael Elliot sends along the following request for help. And yes, at some point I really should respond to the Wilentz essay linked below. You know what else I really should do? Post a review of Nixonland.]

Like any self-respecting parent, my main goal is to indoctrinate educate my children so that they can share my own nuanced take on the world. My second goal is to avoid having to read the insipid dreck that passes for children’s literature at bedtime. For these reasons, I’m looking to pick up some books that will shove my five-year-old down the path toward becoming an American historian. (After reading Sean Wilentz, God knows I don’t want him to become a literary scholar.) So, any recommendations on books about U.S. history for the kindergarten set?

For the record, I’ve recently tried out a couple of short picture-books on Lincoln. My so…

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July 13, 2009, 8:42 pm

OK, I believe you.

Is this the same Brad DeLong who mocked certain UC professors for muppet-blogging? Yes, yes it is.

Daylight come and we want to go home!
CAI we say CAI we say CAI
We say CAI, we say CAI-AI-AI-OU!
Daylight come and we want to go home!

Caucus all night on a drink of rum!
Daylight come and we want to go home!
Cut the schools till the morning come!
Daylight come and we want to go home!

Come Mr. Schwarzenegger don’t cut our schools.
Daylight come and we want to go home.
Come Mr. Schwarzenegger don’t cut roads and bridges.
Daylight come and we want to go home.

It’s 8 billion, 16 billion, 24 billion hole!
Daylight come and we want to go home.
8 billion, 16 billion, 24 billion hole!
Daylight come and we want to go home.

CAI we say CAI-AI-AI-OU!
Daylight come and we want to go home.
CAI, we say CAI, we say CAI, we say CAI…
Daylight come and we want to go home.

A beautiful…

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May 8, 2009, 10:25 am

Partisanship and budget crises.

[Editor's note: Seth Masket, a good friend from my days at the University of Denver, has a new book out. He also has this post, about California's budget politics, for us. Thanks, Seth, for doing this.]

During a difficult economic year in which the state faced a severe budget shortfall, California’s Republican governor worked with Democratic leaders in the state legislature to craft a budget that contained a mixture of tax increases and service cuts. The Republican party stood together on the vote, with the exception of one holdout in the Senate.

Sound familiar? Actually, the year was 1967. Many of the story’s details are familiar because they recur from time to time in California. The real difference, though is the fate of the Republican state senator who refused to vote with his party. Instead of being driven out of politics, John Schmitz was renominated by the Republicans and…

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April 29, 2009, 9:14 am

The Future of the Past: History Beyond the Book

[Editor's note: Karl Jacoby's Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History is a must read. And the website he created to support the book is a model for the future. Below, he shares some thoughts on what that future might look like. Thanks, Karl.]

As the American newspaper industry collapses around us, its economics imploding under pressure from the worldwide web, we can begin to see hints that the book publishing industry is on the cusp of the same downward spiral. History book sales are down. Penguin and other presses have announced layoffs. The once venerable Houghton Mifflin may soon cease to publish trade books altogether.

Such changes ought to be sobering to historians. Ever since history first emerged as an academic profession in the mid-nineteenth century, the basic unit of production has been the book. One needs to publish a book to get…

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February 9, 2009, 1:24 pm

He’s everywhere.

Eric’s book on the Depression and New Deal is the subject of this week’s book club at TPM café. So if you don’t see enough of him here, or you want to learn how FDR actually caused the Depression, you might want to stop by over there.

February 5, 2009, 11:08 am


Cast off the chains of humorlessness by looking at postbourgie’s series for Black History Month, “Know Your History.” I’m still partial to the post on Franklin:

Franklin N’desi Babatunde, known to the entertainment world simply as Franklin, was a member of the first black family to settle in Springslight, Michigan, the famous home of the Peanuts gang. Franklin’s integration of the school divided the Peanuts gang, pitting Lucy against Charlie Brown, Schroeder against Lucy, and Linus against Sally. After a torrid affair with Peppermint Patty, Franklin moved to New York, where he joined the Nation of Gods and Earths under the name ‘Divine God Father Equality.’

Know Your History.

But your mileage may vary. Regardless, don’t let the man keep you down.

January 13, 2009, 7:38 am

Our work isn’t done just yet.

A great injustice is brewing here, as jesus general had the lead when last I looked. So please, go vote for our friends at bitchphd. (Today is the last day to do so.)

Update: B lost. By 30 votes. And it’s all your fault.