Category Archives: oh do what you want and have a good time

July 4, 2013, 11:07 am

Celebrating July Fourth Chez Radical

blog-firework-statue-of-libertyTenured Radicals are not supposed to love July 4. As you know if you kept up with the culture wars, we ruin everything about United States history with our constant harping about race, class and gender. But I do love July 4 — my Dad used to make a big deal of hanging the flag before breakfast (and being a former Eagle Scout, let me tell you — he could hang a flag.) I also love listening to the Declaration of Independence on NPR. This year, they asked ordinary Americans on the Mall to read it, line by line. and then asked participants to talk about what this document means to them.

So how do we think about July 4 without sinking into mindless, uncritical patriotism? (more…)

November 14, 2012, 11:25 pm

At Thanksgiving, We Thank The Lord For American Studies

Binders full of academics are being disgorged at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the American Studies Association Annual Meeting. Good news: unlike many places in the Northeast, there is heat and hot water, and it’s about 80 degrees. Your favorite Radical, who spent this pre-convention day eating fish sandwiches at the beach, has an unexpectedly fantastic room at the Caribe Hilton, the conference headquarters. A Mad Man-ny styled place with 1960s retro furniture and a shower as big as some Manhattan apartments, it has a balcony and a view of the entire coastline.

Those of us who are checked in here had a fantasy about being able to slip in and out of panels, and in between go back to the beach. I was not the only person to design my convention-wear so that a bathing suit would fit comfortably underneath.  Alas, it is not to be: the actual meeting…

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August 8, 2012, 5:06 pm

The End of Summer Blues: Is It Back To School Already?

“What’s the point of trying to finish my book now!!?!”

It’s getting to be That Time of Year.

That’s right: it’s back to school and whatever isn’t done, isn’t done.  That long lovely summer you were looking forward to in May? Over. Or nearly so. Except for those of you who are still watching ribbon gymnastics and beach volleyball in preparation for your research sabbatical, summer’s ending. What to do, what to do? How to break out of that nasty transition stage where you are just shuffling paper around your desk but unable to to accomplish much — whether it’s your own work or anything remotely connected to starting school — because in a few short weeks the students will descend?

I can’t do anything about the calendar, but let’s try to cheer up with a few Radical solutions to the end of summer blues!  For …

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April 8, 2012, 12:53 pm

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Who Is The Smartest Historian of All?

I am currently operating about a month behind on much of my professional mail because of the job-switch thing.  Therefore, it wasn’t until I was riding the train last week that I picked up on American Historical Association President William Cronon’s article, “Professional Boredom” (Perspectives on History, March 2012, 6-7.)  Without explicitly linking his thoughts to the job crisis, Cronon raises some issues about how we evaluate the quality of historical work, and what the consequences of defining the category of “good history” might be.

Cronon’s piece reminded me of a turn of phrase that irritates me more the older I get, which is characterizing a scholar or a piece of work by that scholar as “smart.” Most of us do it, but it either means nothing (original? well done? fun to read?) or it means way too much (“I have put X in the smart bin and that is that.”) What is worse is to…

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September 24, 2009, 8:56 pm

Speaking Of Gender, Facebook Is Concerned About Mine

I read somewhere recently (and I thought it was the New York Times but now I can’t find the story) that a great many women are removing their date of birth from Facebook because they are sick of getting gross and insulting ads about their bodies. It is simply true that nothing is free, even on the internet: everything one signs up for has some kind of questionnaire aimed at creating a marketing profile for you — oh, excuse me, “opportunities” for you — that can be squeezed in everywhere. You can always check the box that prevents them from selling your identity to every spammer alive, but what you can’t prevent is advertising tailored crudely to those of your gender and age.

Yahoo! is terrible, although I realize that were I to agree to pay for email I could get rid of their ads in a heartbeat. Endless acai berry products are the best ones. I’m not sure whether my least favorite a…

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June 16, 2009, 9:37 pm

And It Rhymes With Rich: New York Times Reports On Humiliating Mother Of The Week

As frequent readers of this blog know, the Radical occasionally takes an interest in secondary education when she is not kicking serious butt over the trials and trevails of the university world. I admit, I can take a sharp pen to people from time to time, and I have gotten into trouble over it. But occasionally I run into story that inspires real awe at the capacity of others to rip other people a new one.

This week’s winner is a well-to-do Goody Two-Shoes in Upper Manhattan named MeMe Roth.

Yes, her name is really MeMe, and her children might as well transfer to a school in another state. At least, I would not return to P.S. 9 on the Upper West Side of New York after today if I were them. According to this story in today’s New York Times Ms. Roth has a paying job at an organization called National Action Against Obesity, a non-profit organization for food fascists. The mission of…

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January 18, 2009, 3:49 pm

“Magnificent Wind:”* In Which The Radical Begins Receiving Excuses From Her Students Even Before The Term Begins

Yesterday I, and a number of other colleagues who work at Zenith and other colleges, began to receive a steady stream of emails from students. They said some version of the following: “Hey, Professor, I am going to Barack’s inauguration and won’t make it back in time for class on Wednesday afternoon. I am sure you support my presence at this historic event. Hope this is ok — let me know if it isn’t, (signed) Siouxsie Q.”** I had several crabby, middle-aged responses to the emails I received, including:

“Hay is for horses” (I had a kindergarten teacher back in 1964 who was fond of this one.)

“If I am not going to the inauguration because I have a prior commitment to be at school to advise you on Tuesday, and teach you on Wednesday, why shouldn’t you actually have some commitment to be there and receive these services?” As the Mother of the Radical (MOTheR), a font of wisdom on matter…

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