Wednesday, March 16, 2005

History Carnival #4

History Carnival #4


Welcome to this edition of the History Carnival. The main attraction is a selection of entries on the relevance of History or, more importantly, whether we should try to make it relevant. But because this is a carnival in more than one sense, we'll meander through the sideshows to explore the nature of expertise versus credentials and finally, take a quick gander at history that is relevant without our making it so.

Over the past couple of weeks, the question of the meaning of History, or of making History meaningful, has come up a few times, both on history blogs and in my more immediate experience. Just as I feel we should support the Arts because of their intrinsic value, and not because they draw economic health to the community, I believe that History and understanding it are also intrinsically valuable. Moreover, I think that History as a discipline aids in learning critical thinking, fostering greater awareness of other cultures, and understanding our own society. However, I also know that those of us who teach history are often challenged to justify it in terms of FTEs (by administrators) and by relevance (in terms of our students). "What will learning this stuff do for me?" they ask. My answer? Perhaps you're asking the wrong question. And then, sometimes, students try to see much deeper meaning in their history courses, from the almost ridiculous to the sublime, whereNew Kid finds that her Women's History course is almost too relevant:
It's just interesting to me that in some ways, the responses to my women's history assighments have become more a space for a kind of consciousness-raising than analysis of the texts. On the one hand, I kind of hate consciousness-raising; I want to teach women's history as a serious scholarly subject, something that's about using your reason and logic and intellect, rather than about trying to elicit a particular emotional reaction. I don't WANT students to analyze history through their emotions. On the other hand, though, we're talking about 18-21 year-old women who are (mostly, but not all) middle to upper-middle class, mostly from this general region, and while some are quite traveled and sophisticated, they're pretty darn young. Most of them don't know anything about what many women's lives are like TODAY, let alone what they were like in the past.


Want more? Ancarett brings more light on the subject with Little Whigs:
To some extent, I blame the entire “relevancy” culture. When we teach a course that’s billed as being relevant to another field (as when you cross-list with a popular program such as Women’s Studies, but more noticeably here at my institution, Education), we see a flood of students who almost automatically view the past as nothing more than prelude to the present.

On the other hand, there's something to be said for the popularization of History. Over at Threading the Needle, our host treats us to a view of Downward Progression, wherein we see the effects of good documentary programming on a non-specialist audience. It's a good read, although I think in some ways it also helps to illustrate the weaknesses of the medium -- a sometimes simplistic or not exactly correct understanding seems more likely because the big picture needs to be presented in a small, tidy package:
The first 20 African slaves arrived in the Jamestown colony during 1619. At the time, Jamestown was struggling to become an economically viable outpost in the New World. After several failed attempts at various colonial industries, a strain of tobacco began to show a potential for profitability. However, tobacco cultivation required a massive and inexpensive labor force, something in short supply. To remedy this dilemma, the colonists had two choices: indentured servitude and slavery.

Despite the distinction, there was initially little different between the two labor categories. Indentured servants were bound to service for a specific time period in exchange for passage across the Atlantic. Upon completion of their contract, they were released. Likewise, though slaves did not enter into the arrangement willingly, their term of service was not lifelong.

Nevetheless, it's clear from the essay that a popularization of History (and I shrink a bit as I write the phrase, because dammit, we shouldn't have to popularize something that is pretty interesting all by itself) can have great results. For proof that History can hold its own in the world of Interesting Stuff, we need only look to the illustrious Sharon Howard at Early Modern Notes, where she treats us to a series of episodes in ritual transvestism! I'm not going to excerpt it here, because it's pure fun and no one excerpt can give enough of the flavour.
Finally, in a pretty serendipitous submission, Natalie Bennett at Philobiblion has a short post on Postcard History that reminds us that certain kinds of evidence make the recent past both historical and relevant.

But wait! That's not all this Carnival has in store! Mark Grimsley, over at The Ohio Twenty-first write in The North Star about republicanism in American History -- or the teaching thereof -- and how that leads into helping students question their own ideas of citizenship. I found the article really interesting, both for the subject and for Grimsley's attempts to translate some of those reflections into action. Subject-wise, I suppose it's because I teach Ancient History, and so spend a lot of time on Athenian democracy and Roman republicanism. In terms of action, well ... I think you can figure that out yourselves.

Moving along to our final features, the topic is a bit tricker: what, exactly qualifies a person to do the job? An education with credentials, or ability? And what about the fuzzy areas where the person with credentials is nonetheless suspect in the eyes of his colleagues, and the person without them proves through his actions that he might should've had them all along? CW at the Dartmouth Observer offers his take on the Ward Churchill case, along with thoughts on Michelle Malkin and, as his main topic, Thomas Woods, author of A Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. CW shows little mercy to Woods (referring to a review by Max Boot):
Check out his book if you want more "evidence" that the Klan were just a bunch of "ham-handed" freedom fighters. Boot's not an academic historian, and his own Savage Wars of Peace suffers from selective examples and inadequate primary research, but he strikes me as being on the mark here.

I can sympathise with CW's sentiments, but as someone who's adjuncted at both 4-year colleges and taught full-time at a community college without drawing too much opprobrium from my colleagues (most of whom understand the vagaries of the job market), I was a bit disappointed at this:
And by solid credentials, I don't just mean a PhD from Harvard; I mean a tenured position at a reputable university (not Suffolk County Community College, where Woods teaches), with a series of peer-reviewed books and articles to one's name.

Despite that comment, which I attribute to inexperience, the article as a whole is quite good and worth your time. On the other end of the spectrum, Ralph Luker, Cliopatriarch par excellence, draws from his college days to remind us that, in some cases, credentials don't make the teacher, but lying about them still makes things, well, complicated, in
Why I Agree with Everything that You Say and with Nothing that You Say ... Read it and reflect, I say.

Last but not least, I seem to recall that in some places, it's the month where we honor women, extraordinary and otherwise (if there is such a thing). Lest we forget, and because again, it's just a really neat story, I leave you with melinama's account of The Rebel Nun of the 17th c. I like it because, among other things, it reminds us that for a very long time women looked to a life in the Church to free them from their obligations. I think in a very nice way, this leads us right back to the kinds of issues that New Kid and her students were dealing with, and something we all deal with on a regular basis -- the debunking of popular conceptions which, although they might help to make history personally relevant, get in the way of allowing history to be meaningful.

Thanks for all the great submissions, folks! The next History Carnival (#5) will be held at Clioweb on or about April 1. Submit entries to jboggs AT gmu DOT edu.

18 comments:

Jonathan Dresner said...

Nice work! This might be the highest ratio of "posts I've not read yet" in the history of the carnival, too.

Sharon said...

See, I said you were gorgeous, and now you've given us a gorgeous carnival too. :)

Thanks for doing a great job!

New Kid on the Hallway said...

This is great - I love how you've tied everything together! (And I'm not just saying that because you listed me. ;-D)

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Thanks! I did this in the icky period between laundry and late night packing for a conference. Glad you like it, because I did have a momentary 'peer review' panic attack!

TTN said...

Greetings all!

ADM has brought to my attention that my post, A Downward Progression, may contain some historical inaccuracies/oversimplifications. Well, I'm no historian, so that's just the way these things go sometimes.

That said, a lot of you ARE historians. Therefore, if there is a correction or clarification you could offer me, I would be forever in your debt. You could send it to me in an e-mail or leave it as a comment at my blog. Either works for me.

Anyway -- I'm honored to be in such company and thanks in advance for helping me along in this learning process.

kungfuzi said...

Sorry if I offended - that wasn't my intention. I'll clarify my thoughts on that when I have time, but in the meantime, thanks for linking to me, and keep up the good stuff on this blog!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Not a problem. I just think that there is (especially at the R1 schools) an attitude that people who don't teach at R1s are somehow less qualified. I would argue that we are all differently qualified. There are people who are great researchers and can't teach, and great teachers who hate (or suck at ) research. Some people do take jobs that don't make the best of their abilities, and some people get jobs where they will really be a waste of space. The thing is, with each job getting between 50 and 125 apps each, on average, it is sometimes a bit of a crapshoot. It isn't necessarily where you end up that counts, but what you do when you're there. That's something that most of us don't learn till we're deep into grad school, though.

Rudbeckia Hirta said...

My take on the "relevency" thing is that students want a class to be: interesting, fun, or "useful" (= "clearly related to making money in the near future"). If it is none of those, then it had better be EASY.

Of course everyone has different ideas of interesting and fun: I find History to be neither. And no matter how good a professor anyone is, I would not want to take a History class. I would view a required History class as a hoop to be jumped through and a waste of my time (and keeping me away from classes that were interesting, fun, or useful).

And as long as there are graduation requirements, there will always be students who have this opinion about courses that they take just to fulfill requirements.

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Sometimes, debt consolidation companies can discount the amount of the loan. When the debtor is in danger of bankruptcy, the debt consolidator will buy the loan at a discount. A prudent debtor can shop around for consolidators who will pass along some of the savings. Consolidation can affect the ability of the debtor to discharge debts in bankruptcy, so the decision to consolidate must be weighed carefully.

Debt consolidation is often advisable in theory when someone is paying credit card debt. Credit cards can carry a much larger interest rate than even an unsecured loan from a bank. Debtors with property such as a home or car may get a lower rate through a secured loan using their property as collateral. Then the total interest and the total cash flow paid towards the debt is lower allowing the debt to be paid off sooner, incurring less interest. In practice, many people are in credit card debt because they spend more than their income. If that habit continues, the consolidation will not benefit them much because they will simply increase their credit card balances again.

Because of the theoretical advantage that debt consolidation offers a consumer that has high interest debt balances, companies can take advantage of that benefit of refinancing to charge very high fees in the debt consolidation loan. Sometimes these fees are near the state maximum for mortgage fees. In addition, some unscrupulous companies will knowingly wait until a client has backed themselves into a corner and must refinance in order to consolidate and pay off bills that they are behind on the payments. If the client does not refinance they may lose their house, so they are willing to pay any allowable fee to complete the debt consolidation. In some cases the situation is that the client does not have enough time to shop for another lender with lower fees and may not even be fully aware of them. This practice is known as predatory lending. Certainly many, if not most, debt consolidation transactions do not involve predatory lending.

Student Loan Consolidation
In the United States, federal student loans are consolidated somewhat differently, as federal student loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government. In a federal student loan consolidation, existing loans are purchased and closed by a loan consolidation company or by the Department of Education (depending on what type of federal student loan the borrower holds). Interest rates for the consolidation are based on that year's student loan rate, which is in turn based on the 91-day Treasury bill rate at the last auction in May of each calendar year.

Student loan rates can fluctuate from the current low of 4.70% to a maximum of 8.25% for federal Stafford loans, 9% for PLUS loans. The current consolidation program allows students to consolidate once with a private lender, and reconsolidate again only with the Department of Education. Upon consolidation, a fixed interest rate is set based on the then-current interest rate. Reconsolidating does not change that rate. If the student combines loans of different types and rates into one new consolidation loan, a weighted average calculation will establish the appropriate rate based on the then-current interest rates of the different loans being consolidated together.

Federal student loan consolidation is often referred to as refinancing, which is incorrect because the loan rates are not changed, merely locked in. Unlike private sector debt consolidation, student loan consolidation does not incur any fees for the borrower; private companies make money on student loan consolidation by reaping subsidies from the federal government.

Student loan consolidation can be beneficial to students' credit rating, but it's important to note that not all federal student loan consolidation companies report their loans to all credit bureaus; Experian or Transunion, which means that students will have differing credit scores at Equifax Transunion, and Experian.

Mortgage Loan Types
There are many types of mortgage loans. The two basic types of amortized loans are the fixed rate mortgage (FRM) and adjustable rate mortgage.

In a FRM, the interest rate, and hence monthly payment, remains fixed for the life (or term) of the loan. In the U.S., the term is usually for 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. The only increase a consumer might see in their monthly payments would result from an increase in their property taxes or insurance rates (paid using an escrow account, if they've opted to use an escrow). But payments for principal and interest will be consistent throughout the life of the loan using an FRM.

In an ARM, the interest rate is fixed for a period of time, after which it will periodically (annually or monthly) adjust up or down to some market index. Common indices in the U.S. include the Prime Rate, the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), and the Treasury Index ("T-Bill"). Other indexes like 11th District Cost of Funds Index, COSI, and MTA, are also available but are less popular.

Adjustable rates transfer part of the interest rate risk from the lender to the borrower, and thus are widely used where unpredictable interest rates make fixed rate loans difficult to obtain. Since the risk is transferred, lenders will usually make the initial interest rate of the ARM's note anywhere from 0.5% to 2% lower than the average 30-year fixed rate.

In most scenarios, the savings from an ARM outweigh its risks, making them an attractive option for people who are planning to keep a mortgage for ten years or less.

Additionally, lenders rely on credit reports and credit scores derived from them. The higher the score, the more creditworthy the borrower is assumed to be. Favorable interest rates are offered to buyers with high scores. Lower scores indicate higher risk to the lender, and lenders require higher interest rates in such scenarios to compensate for increased risk.

A partial amortization or balloon loan is one where the amount of monthly payments due are calculated (amortized) over a certain term, but the outstanding principal balance is due at some point short of that term. This payment is sometimes referred to as a "balloon payment". A balloon loan can be either a Fixed or Adjustable in terms of the Interest Rate. Many Second Trust mortgages use this feature. The most common way of describing a ''balloon loan'' uses the terminology X due in Y, where X is the number of years over which the loan is amortized, and Y is the year in which the principal balance is due. A contract could be written up so there would be more than one "balloon payment" required to be paid during the life of the loan.

Other loan types
Assumed mortgage
Blanket loan
Bridge loan
Budget loan
Commercial Loan
Deed of trust
Equity loan
Hard money loan
Jumbo mortgages
Package loan
Participation mortgage
Reverse mortgage
Repayment mortgage
Seasoned mortgage
Term loan or Interest-only loan
Wraparound mortgage
Negative amortization loan
Non-Conforming Mortgage

Debt Consolidation entails taking out one loan to pay off many others. This is often done to secure a lower interest rate, secure a fixed interest rate or for the convenience of servicing only one loan.

Debt consolidation can simply be from a number of unsecured loans into another unsecured loan, but more often it involves a secured loan against an asset that serves as collateral, which is most commonly a house (in this case a mortgage is secured against the house.) The collateralization of the loan allows a lower interest rate than without it, because by collateralizing, the asset owner agrees to allow the forced sale (foreclosure) of the asset in order to pay back the loan. The risk to the lender is reduced so the interest rate offered is lower.

Sometimes, debt consolidation companies can discount the amount of the loan. When the debtor is in danger of bankruptcy, the debt consolidator will buy the loan at a discount. A prudent debtor can shop around for consolidators who will pass along some of the savings. Consolidation can affect the ability of the debtor to discharge debts in bankruptcy, so the decision to consolidate must be weighed carefully.

Debt consolidation is often advisable in theory when someone is paying credit card debt. Credit cards can carry a much larger interest rate than even an unsecured loan from a bank. Debtors with property such as a home or car may get a lower rate through a secured loan using their property as collateral. Then the total interest and the total cash flow paid towards the debt is lower allowing the debt to be paid off sooner, incurring less interest. In practice, many people are in credit card debt because they spend more than their income. If that habit continues, the consolidation will not benefit them much because they will simply increase their credit card balances again.

Because of the theoretical advantage that debt consolidation offers a consumer that has high interest debt balances, companies can take advantage of that benefit of refinancing to charge very high fees in the debt consolidation loan. Sometimes these fees are near the state maximum for mortgage fees. In addition, some unscrupulous companies will knowingly wait until a client has backed themselves into a corner and must refinance in order to consolidate and pay off bills that they are behind on the payments. If the client does not refinance they may lose their house, so they are willing to pay any allowable fee to complete the debt consolidation. In some cases the situation is that the client does not have enough time to shop for another lender with lower fees and may not even be fully aware of them. This practice is known as predatory lending. Certainly many, if not most, debt consolidation transactions do not involve predatory lending.

Student Loan Consolidation
In the United States, federal student loans are consolidated somewhat differently, as federal student loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government. In a federal student loan consolidation, existing loans are purchased and closed by a loan consolidation company or by the Department of Education (depending on what type of federal student loan the borrower holds). Interest rates for the consolidation are based on that year's student loan rate, which is in turn based on the 91-day Treasury bill rate at the last auction in May of each calendar year.

Student loan rates can fluctuate from the current low of 4.70% to a maximum of 8.25% for federal Stafford loans, 9% for PLUS loans. The current consolidation program allows students to consolidate once with a private lender, and reconsolidate again only with the Department of Education. Upon consolidation, a fixed interest rate is set based on the then-current interest rate. Reconsolidating does not change that rate. If the student combines loans of different types and rates into one new consolidation loan, a weighted average calculation will establish the appropriate rate based on the then-current interest rates of the different loans being consolidated together.

Federal student loan consolidation is often referred to as refinancing, which is incorrect because the loan rates are not changed, merely locked in. Unlike private sector debt consolidation, student loan consolidation does not incur any fees for the borrower; private companies make money on student loan consolidation by reaping subsidies from the federal government.

Student loan consolidation can be beneficial to students' credit rating, but it's important to note that not all federal student loan consolidation companies report their loans to all credit bureaus; Experian or Transunion, which means that students will have differing credit scores at Equifax Transunion, and Experian.

Mortgage Loan Types
There are many types of mortgage loans. The two basic types of amortized loans are the fixed rate mortgage (FRM) and adjustable rate mortgage.

In a FRM, the interest rate, and hence monthly payment, remains fixed for the life (or term) of the loan. In the U.S., the term is usually for 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. The only increase a consumer might see in their monthly payments would result from an increase in their property taxes or insurance rates (paid using an escrow account, if they've opted to use an escrow). But payments for principal and interest will be consistent throughout the life of the loan using an FRM.

In an ARM, the interest rate is fixed for a period of time, after which it will periodically (annually or monthly) adjust up or down to some market index. Common indices in the U.S. include the Prime Rate, the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), and the Treasury Index ("T-Bill"). Other indexes like 11th District Cost of Funds Index, COSI, and MTA, are also available but are less popular.

Adjustable rates transfer part of the interest rate risk from the lender to the borrower, and thus are widely used where unpredictable interest rates make fixed rate loans difficult to obtain. Since the risk is transferred, lenders will usually make the initial interest rate of the ARM's note anywhere from 0.5% to 2% lower than the average 30-year fixed rate.

In most scenarios, the savings from an ARM outweigh its risks, making them an attractive option for people who are planning to keep a mortgage for ten years or less.

Additionally, lenders rely on credit reports and credit scores derived from them. The higher the score, the more creditworthy the borrower is assumed to be. Favorable interest rates are offered to buyers with high scores. Lower scores indicate higher risk to the lender, and lenders require higher interest rates in such scenarios to compensate for increased risk.

A partial amortization or balloon loan is one where the amount of monthly payments due are calculated (amortized) over a certain term, but the outstanding principal balance is due at some point short of that term. This payment is sometimes referred to as a "balloon payment". A balloon loan can be either a Fixed or Adjustable in terms of the Interest Rate. Many Second Trust mortgages use this feature. The most common way of describing a ''balloon loan'' uses the terminology X due in Y, where X is the number of years over which the loan is amortized, and Y is the year in which the principal balance is due. A contract could be written up so there would be more than one "balloon payment" required to be paid during the life of the loan.

Other loan types
Assumed mortgage
Blanket loan
Bridge loan
Budget loan
Commercial Loan
Deed of trust
Equity loan
Hard money loan
Jumbo mortgages
Package loan
Participation mortgage
Reverse mortgage
Repayment mortgage
Seasoned mortgage
Term loan or Interest-only loan
Wraparound mortgage
Negative amortization loan
Non-Conforming Mortgage

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Anonymous said...

it has become very easy to borrow loans these days. Advancements in technology particularly with the Internet have made it convenient for loan seekers to track the loan of their choice. With just a few clicks on a lender's website you can access the desired loan online. The ease with which loans are available online nowadays is the main reason behind the growing number of debt-related problems.

The vast number of loans taken on different occasions may have benefited you many times and may have even been a lifesaver in an urgent situation. However, you may not have known that these loans can pose a threat to you. Now you have to remember which lender to pay, how much and when. Failing to pay any of the installments on the loan may affect your credit score adversely. In such circumstances, debts become a burden. You may get into a life-long debt trap if you don't know how to handle these debts. A debt management program in such conditions can work as an effective debt management tool helping you in reducing the debt burden.

Here are a few debt management tips that can help you in managing your debts and getting your life back on the right track:

Create A Budget
An organized and well-planned budget can help you in keeping control over your monthly expenses. Write down each and every financial transaction you do each month; this will help you stay on track. It will give you a real idea of your finances and thus you can make the decision accordingly. A budget will give you an overview about how many funds you do have and how you are going to disburse the expenses with the available money. Setting up the budget is not enough: what is important is to stick to it.

Consolidate High Interest Loans
Consolidate your debts that carry a high rate of interest with a debt consolidation loan. A debt consolidation loan can work as an effective debt management tool. It will help you in getting rid of the debt burden by reducing the monthly outgoings. With a debt consolidation loan, you will get freedom from all the hassles involved in dealing with several creditors, you will be accountable to only one loan, one lender and one lower monthly installment.

Avoid taking on new credit
If you are already in a debt trap, avoid taking up a new loan. Borrowing a new loan may be of great help to you, but it will be in the short term. It may increase the debt burden and will add to your troubles rather then solving them.

Debt Management Counseling
You can also seek for advice from debt management counselors. The majority of the lenders in the US engage debt management counselors who have years of experience and can provide you with an easy road map to get rid of the debt trap by paying off the existing debts.

Learn To Save
A need for a loan arises when you do not have sufficient funds in your saving account to meet your personal desires. Make saving a habit, try not to overspend on unnecessary things. No, don't become a miser but use the funds carefully, a little sum of money saved today will be highly beneficial for you in the future and will make it easy for you to deal emergency cash need with the available funds on the right time and in the right manner.

Debt management is a time-consuming process. You can save your time and hard-earned money by employing a debt management company who will take care of your debt and can offer effective solutions to all your debt-related problems.

Tips for managing debts employed in the right manner can curb the menace created by debts, helping you get out of debt in an easier way. Paying off the existing debts will help you in securing a smoother and easier life for the future

naxza said...
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naxza said...

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