Category Archives: Go With the Herd Why Don’t You?

February 14, 2013, 1:36 pm

Why Tenured “Radical”? And Other Political Confessions

It appeared that my ability to join the collective hinged on my agreement with all the criticisms of my past political thinking and work, and not just a willingness to consider them….The criticism indicated that I was inferior to other members of the collective, and I wanted the opportunity to prove that I had a substantial history of work and ideas, and that I should be considered an equal. So I agreed with the criticisms in general, and said I would rethink things in light of the criticism. I thought to myself, I could always change my mind.

Cathy Wilkerson, Flying Too Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as  a Weatherman (2010)

A central theme in several autobiographies of former radical antiwar activists is the role that criticism sessions played in persuading people to adopt a new world view, one that ran counter to attitudes they might previously have valued as members of …

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October 7, 2011, 3:18 pm

Is Steve Jobs’ Life An Inspiration To All Of Us? A Meditation On The Difference Between Having A Life And A Lifestyle

Great minds so think alike. Following the death of Steve Jobs, Historiann asks whether the outpouring of grief over the death of this brilliant and peculiar man is yet another symptom of anxiety over national decline. Oh yes — and, since our friend brings up the exploitation of Chinese labor by Apple —  I would add that Apple is a potent nexus for the ambivalent historical relationship that American politicians and manufacturers have with China.  Apple products are one of the very few consumer objects that people around the world seem to crave, much as American merchants have craved unfettered access to Chinese consumers since the 1870s. Simultaneously, Chinese consumers have craved the American consumer culture that is shamelessly knocked off there and sold to billions of people from Beijing to Times Square. An iPhone also closes the circle between a Cold War capitalist model and 2…

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September 2, 2011, 11:50 am

Since 9/11: Did Phyllis Schlafly Win the Foreign Policy Debate?

As we approach the anniversary, I will do you the favor of not sharing my memories of 9/11 with you. I am sure that half a dozen people you saw at work this week have had almost exactly the same thing to say: that it was a dark and scary day ten years ago, that it was a clear blue sky in the east (just like today), that their lives took a turn in some critical way. Mine actually did take a dramatic, although not unpredictable, turn for the worse a year or so after 9/11, but the terrorists were local and not international.  At the many memorial services and on the television specials, we will  hear repeatedly that “everything” changed.

But how has it changed?  One of the things that has struck me is that the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world is pretty much what Phyllis Schlafly outlined in her 1964 self-published blockbuster, A Choice Not An Echo. (more……

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June 1, 2010, 10:17 am

When The Radical Hits The Road: Dispatches From The Midwest

Big Regional Airport is ever so mildly fogged in. But it is very, very full of post-Memorial Day travelers as I embark on a journey to the Buckeye State for the annual conference of the Policy History Association, where I am to appear on a panel organized in honor of the fabulous Jane DeHart. Yesterday I was cursing myself for having booked a seven a.m. flight since Defending Our Freedoms mandates a 4:30 wake-up time. Never mind the 4 A.M. “courtesy call” from Orbitz telling me that my flight has been delayed twenty-two minutes.

Thank you for that courtesy. I always forget that Orbitz is going to do me the favor of warning me about things that I can’t act on in any way, something that this has particularly bad consequences for early flights. As anyone who uses online travel services know, a delay short of having one’s flight cancelled completely is followed by a cheerful reminder…

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March 12, 2009, 10:55 pm

Girls Gone Wild: Dade City Journal, Spring Break Edition

Just in case you have mistaken this for a department meeting, these are cows. They are the wives of New Gene, a white face bull, who is apparently not as unpleasant as your average bull, having been hand-raised as a 4-H project here in Central Florida.

That said New Gene (I believe that is his name, not Eugene, and vaguely I remember there was a predecessor named — Gene?) gave my companion a run for her money as she was walking over from the guest house this evening. The cows –some twenty odd, with new calves, one born around the time we got here — have the run of 300 acres, and they are all New Gene’s wives. There is a black one, whose udder is not full yet, who New Gene seems to be following especially closely. He sniffs her hindquarters with as much avidity as an 800-pound quadruped can muster, and she stands there looking grim. If you watch Big Love on HBO you will know what …

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