Category Archives: the Progress of the Radical

September 23, 2008, 12:14 am

Elegy For A Really Good Administrator

Over the weekend, our associate provost died suddenly and very young. Early in both our careers we had our struggles with each other. As I matured, I acquired the attitude that maybe being pleasant rather than obnoxious would help me get on better with everyone who ran the university, which, shockingly, did turn out to be a better way to get things done. As the Mother of the Radical (MOTheR) always said, “Good manners can’t hurt, and smile when you say that.” (Or was that John Wayne who gave me that advice?) Anyway, when I became a chair, and then chair of a major faculty committee, I realized that being pleasant was the only route to go, and in the process came to understand that most of the people who run Zenith are hard-working individuals who try to do their best for the faculty and the students.

Which is how I ended up forming a relationship with Paula Lawson. Oh sure, we didn’t …

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September 14, 2008, 4:15 pm

Sitemeter Strikes Again, and Other News

In a morning that I could have been doing other things (“Yeah? What, exactly?” you sneer) I have spent a substantial amount of time migrating to the New Sitemeter. And after a prolonged effort, during which I considered options from sending out an SOS to ahistoricality (a generous blogpal who has occasionally offered unsolicited but nonetheless very valuable advice about cyber-issues) or (as I did last time) simply closing down the account and re-registering (which means starting your stats all over again) I succeeded in activating the migration. Which leads me to reveal a small source of pride: becoming a blogger has made me a more skilled computer techie.

But to return to my previous line of thought, I was happy with old Sitemeter, just as I am more or less happy with the eleven year-old Tercel we intend to drive until it dies an honorable death. But I get it, I am not typical, and…

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August 8, 2008, 1:45 pm

Internet Kudo of The Week: Canada Speaks

Knock me out with a wooden spoon, but a quick check to the sitemeter this morning elicited the information that your favorite Radical has been noted on a list of Top Academic Blogs by, a Canadian on-line magazine that describes itself as “Canada’s site celebrating women over 40.” The Radical is joined in the top three by two of her own favorite bloggers, Margaret Soltan of University Diaries; and her second favorite dean, Dean Dad, at Confessions of a Community College Dean(as regular readers know, my favorite dean is my very own dean.) But this is excellent company indeed, particularly for a historian, whose lack of talent for punctuation is a continual shame to her, and makes her reluctant to even send email to members of English departments, much less be put in the same category as Margaret Soltan’s alter-blogging-ego, the Scathing Online Schoolmarm.

This is particularly…

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May 24, 2008, 1:59 pm

Dispatch from Paris: Lunch With Victor Hugo

Okay, so I didn’t really have lunch with Victor Hugo. But I did become exhausted in what proved to be a difficult search for the Victor Hugo Museum, and I had to pause at a boulangerie for a sandwich and a tarte pomme. More about that later. However, I am happy to report that so far la famille Radicale is well, and having a bang-up time. My French is holding up, and contrary to what everyone used to say when I was growing up about how French people were endlessly horrid to foreigners about their French, this is emphatically not my experience. Perhaps it is the intervening half century from Eisenhower leaving De Gaulle in the lurch in a certain Vietnamese valley, or perhaps everyone who told me this spoke even worse French than I, but it is downright fun to function en fran├žais, and I seem to be getting better at it day by day.

And, except for the fact that the q and the a are…

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May 20, 2008, 1:57 am

I Love Paris in the Springtime

On May 20, 1927, at 07:52 in the morning, Charles Lindbergh — not knowing that he would play a bit part in a book published by the Tenured Radical in 1997 — took off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, flying “The Spirit of St. Louis” on the world’s first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. He landed at Le Bourget Field in Paris at 22:22 the next day, as hundreds of Frenchmen cheered wildly and hoped that he would not try to speak French.

Strangely, the Radical herself will by taking off from JFK tomorrow — although the plane will be piloted by a clever German employed by Lufthansa — and landing in Paris the following day! And I am sure there are lots of French people who are also praying I don’t test run my French on them. But you know what? They’re out of luck.

Meaning — unless I happen to fall into an internet cafe in either paris or Corsica in the next …

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May 10, 2008, 7:03 pm

Obama Nation

Some of the most insightful discussions of race and gender in this year’s endless contest for the Democratic nomination are in the May 19 edition of The Nation, which arrived at my house some time last week (why do magazines arrive long before the date on the cover? And how will future historians actually know when we knew the things in them, if the dates are wrong?) It is an excellent read, particularly if you would describe yourself as one of the following:

1. Someone who has already voted for Barack Obama, but without the enthusiasm that is seen on TV;

2. Someone who can’t get a grip on all of the racial discourses colliding around this candidacy;

3. Someone who is firmly convinced that Hillary Clinton is the better candidate, but will slap herself around on election day and vote for Obama if s/he has to;

4. Someone who can’t get a grip on what all the second wave feminists are up to…

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May 4, 2008, 1:29 am

Kentucky Derby Coda: Farewell to Eight Belles

Those who know the Radical well also know that she is a handicapper, and loves great horses. Derby Day — and the day before, the Kentucky Oaks and its undercard, are practically national holidays in the Radical household. Although we did not plan it this way, we also live right around the corner from the off track betting parlor, so there is a whole racing community at my fingertips. Yesterday I cleared a large sum at the Oaks, and went into today’s races very optimistic: indeed, financially, it has been a successful weekend, with enough winners to cover and surpass inevitable bad picks and funky trifectas.

But as many of you probably already know, today’s Kentucky Derby ended on an extraordinarily sad note. Eight Belles, the only filly in the race and the runner-up, had to be euthanized after breaking her forelegs; this may have happened as she was trying to slow down after she…

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April 16, 2008, 9:24 pm

Return to Sender; or, the Art of Rejection

In response to recent accusations of smuggery, I would like to say that, although I occupy a privileged position in the world, I am still subject to rejection from time to time. I hate rejection. It makes me feel unwanted. I hate it when students reject me by writing mean teaching evaluations. It makes me feel misunderstood and resentful. Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often.

I have had to get used to rejection, though, since between my exalted position as Chair of the Program and the never-ending project of keeping my scholarly life vital, I have to apply for things constantly — internal to Zenith as well as external — and, as they say, you can’t win ‘em all. One year, during the Unfortunate Events, because members of my department were giving me the Big Raspberry and because I couldn’t really sleep, I applied for everything under the sun: five jobs, three year-long fellowship…

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March 21, 2008, 1:02 pm

Notes on the End of Spring Break

Spring break is almost over: in fact, you could say it is over, since around mid-afternoon, various beloved family members descend on our normally secluded life. So, much as I would like to write something fun for everyone today, I have to take a stab at doing some of the things I have left until the last minute. Although I am pleased to say I have accomplished much over break (in addition to screwing up my right knee, so that until I got a lovely shot of cortisone under my patella I spent several days on a cane imagining myself lurching aggressively around Zenith for the rest of my career, like an academic version of Dr. House.) An yet, there are a number of items that remain on my list.

Like grading my midterm exams. Some things never change, eh? Even though I am at a stage in life where I have a grader to help me I still can’t pull myself together to finish. Only my compulsive …

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March 6, 2008, 1:50 pm

Good Morning, Vietnam: A Shout Out From An Old Radical To Some Younger Radicals

As a historian I know perfectly well that the war in Iraq has major differences from the war in Vietnam, and it’s not just because depleted uranium weapons are now used in conventional combat, or because the troops are fighting in sand for oil, as opposed to fighting in jungles against Communism. But when I was driving to rowing practice at around 5:00 a.m. and heard about this bombing of the military recruiting center in Times Square, I thought, Wow. That I should live to see this again in my lifetime.

When I was a kid in the 1960′s and ’70′s, such bombings were associated with an increasingly militarized anti-war movement, made up mostly of white college students. I followed the doings of the Weather Underground very closely: my research on this radical antiwar movement and an unhealthy fascination with the doings of the Philadelphia mob are probably what, in the end, either led me…

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