Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Joining the ranks of the Nano-users

Joining the ranks of the Nano-users

OK ... I have bought a nano. Just the 1 gig. Not entirely sure I did the right thing, but everybody seems to like their nanos. BUT -- why did no one tell me about the Apple educators discount? Because I almost bought one slightly on sale, and you know? I did not know that Apple made it almost affordable to buy their products. I looked around their site and, while all the lovely Mac things are still more expensive, they aren't nearly as bad. I might even be able to think about buying a 12" G4 (do you know they have refurbished ones?). I wouldn't want it as my primary computer, but for travel and working in cafes??? I can type on a dinky keyboard for short periods...

Anyway, after a brief panic that I didn't have a USB2 port (I do ... I just don't know which one it is -- there are 4 USB ports, and only one is USB2), I can now await delivery of my gift. I don't think I bought myself anything when I got my job, so I'm justifying it that way!

Thanks, everybody for all your help and advice. It means a lot to me to know my friends will help me spend my money!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Advice from the net

Advice from the Internets

Dear Internets,

As you can tell, I have a bit of short-timers' and senioritis combined, what with the end of term (Finals next week!) and moving and all. And I need retail therapy. Not really. But I do need to get a headset so I can use my new Skype account and, most importantly ... I want a music player.

I wanted an iPod mini, but those are gone. And then some people said I wanted to stay away from the iPods, because you can only play things in iTunes format, and I could get more memory, more playtime, and more formats for less if I went with something else. So here's what I want -- pretty big memory, at least 15 hours play on a charge, the ability to download pretty much any format and play it (I use Rhapsody, but don't know if it's better/worse than iTunes), and comfortable headphones. Why? Because I need to have something to listen to at the gym and when exercising. I would like to be able to listen to podcasts and books and stuff off of BBC Radio. Otherwise, I can't see where I would use it. But I don't want to buy something that needs upgrading soon, so I'd like something that's good -- but preferably no more than $150, and that's pushing it.


Oh -- if it turns out I get something mac/powerbook at SLAC, should that push me in the direction of a nano?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Today's Useful Link

Today's useful link

Humbul Humanities Hub

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Where's the Carnival?

Next teaching Carnival?

Does anyone know where the next teaching carnival will be and/or if there's a host?

Sunday Link and Quiz

Sunday Link and Quiz Results

First of all ... Paul Halsall hath a blog! He's posting commentary, and also ... everything new to go up on the Internet History Sourcebook Project will be appearing there first. Also, I think I read that IHSP is looking for some volunteer editors, so you might ask about that.

Second (not nearly as important, but kind of cool, nonetheless ...

You scored as Storm. Storm is the seconday team leader of the X-Men. She has a peaceful personality but must be careful since her emotions control her powers. She loves gardening and is afaid of tight spaces. Powers: Control of the Weather



Jean Grey


















Emma Frost


Most Comprehensive X-Men Personality Quiz 2.0
created with

Saturday, May 27, 2006

In lieu of an actual post

In lieu of an actual post

Since I have to:
  • take back a pile of overdue books to the library at Flagship U
  • clean my house
  • do laundry
  • decide on texts for next semester
  • go through boxes of files and shred stuff so I don't have to move it
  • prep the last week's classes (which means reviewing Roland)
  • make appointments for the cats so they can be flown in The Move
  • um ... pack
  • move

Plus all those incidental things I haven't mentioned ...

I'm just posting links at the moment. Back to substantive stuff when the chaos of finishing the term, grading exams, and moving a couple of thousand miles in the next 3 weeks is all done. Wish me luck that I manage to have my internet connection set up as soon as I get to the new place!

Today's link --

This is kind of interesting. There's a new book out on Helen of Troy -- and it's history!

Oh -- and BTW, folks, I just noticed that the recent OUP Medieval Studies catalogue has the new Ward-Perkins, Heather, and Smith at fairly affordable prices. I think you can get all three for just under $100. The Wickham book is also marked down, but still out of my price range! But I will be buying the others.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Carnivalesque XV

Carnivalesque XV!!

Carnivalesque Button XV is up at Siris. There's an amazing amount of good stuff there, especially on Ancient -- the Medieval seems to be mostly about Kalamazoo, oddly!

Go, read, be enlightened or otherwise procrastinate!

Also, Carnivalesque Button needs a host for the next Ancient/Medieval edition in July. If you're interested in volunteering, email the Mistresses of Folly at carnivalesque AT-SIGN hotmail DOT co DOT uk.

Everybody Knows

Everybody Knows

Back when I was at school, I remember some story or other about the French having bailed out the Colonial rebels (at the time) during the Revolution. Some guy called Lafayette? At university, it was made clear that this wasn't necessarily because the French loved the rascally rebels, but that they liked the English even less than rebels did. But the bailout part? pretty much the same. Showing up in WWI was presented as a kind of "thank-you" -- a repayment of a debt of honor.

I'm teaching World War Two this week (doubtful I'm going to get past "and then the Berlin Wall fell"). I've noticed this before, but a reference to this article elsewhere made me think of it again. Here's my question, oh internets:

When did the common trope for US involvement in WWs I & II become, "the Brits and the French were a bunch of useless idiots who couldn't fight a war to, er, save their own bacon, so we (the US) had to come in and do it for them!"?

I just don't remember growing up with this. It wasn't in the movies I watched (and I've seen pretty much all of the big war films of the 50s, 60s, and 70s). It's not true in the newsreels of the time (although the Brits are often praised for their pluck in the face of adversity in a pretty patronising manner) -- at least not in the ones I've seen. And this is the even weirder thing to me: I get this from students who are taking a class that began with the French Revolution. We have discussed the Napoleonic Wars, second-wave imperialism/colonialism, and other things that might make a person think that France and Great Britain have indeed been forces with which to be reckoned. But we get to WWI, and it all goes out the window.

Does anybody have a clue on this one?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

It is to laugh

It is to laugh

Not only am I a bit chuffed that Master G. Chaucer has added me to his blogroll, but he has reached serious blogcrush status. The Cipher of Leonardo! Take that, Dan Brown!

I do wish there were more GC shirts for women, though.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Life's Rich Carnival

Life's Rich Carnival

Hello all -- I am frantically dogpaddling through the next couple of weeks, trying to catch up from the conference weekend and a funeral weekend immediately following, finish up the term and get books ordered for SLAC, and get ready for the big move ... So, not so much on the blogging front for a bit, I'm thinking.

Except: Student, Please! The paper was due today. Your peer review was supposed to have been done when I was at K'zoo. No, you cannot get a friend to review it today before you turn in the final draft, just because you didn't have your rough draft done on time. You didn't do it? Not my problem. Also? Please review the criteria for online discussion before telling me your grade last week was too low. You made four comments. The minimum requirement is three substantive comments over the week, or at least one per thread. There were three threads, and one of your comments was a question asking for clarification and another was, "I agree." And you are complaining about a 70? Hmph. And yes, I am a grumpy medievalist. The Child may have bought me roses, but she ate my chocolate.

History Carnivals!

History Carnival 31 ia up at Airminded, the first, I think, from the Antipodes.

Brandon at Siris will be hosting the ancient/medieval Carnivalesque on about May 21. More details later, but you can use the Blog Carnival submission form to nominate good posts on ancient and medieval topics posted since the last edition (13 March).

Two Questions

But before I go, two pedagogical questions:

First, presuming that you use laws/law codes as primary sources, how do you address the assumption that, if a law exists, it must be in response to something? My most recent example is the assumption that Augustus promulgated his edict tolerating the Jews because they were "obviously the victims of persecution." Normally, they see it in terms of bestiality laws, but since we're doing the Lex Salica this week, I'm sure it'll come up again.

Second, anyone have any favourite textbooks for 20th c. Europe for an upper division class?

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Carnival Calls

Carnival(esque) calls

Brett at Airminded will be hosting the next History Carnival on May 15th. Please e-mail nominations for recently published posts about history (a historical topic, reviews of books or resources,
reflections on teaching or researching history) using Brett's contact form, or use the submission form provided by Blog Carnival.

The History Carnival is not just for academics and entries don't have to be heavyweight scholarship, but they must uphold basic standards of factual accuracy. (If you have any further questions about the criteria for inclusion, check out the Carnival homepage at the link above).

Nominations should include: the title and permalink URL of the blog post you wish to nominate and the author's name (or pseudonym) and the title of the blog. (I also recommend that you put "History Carnival"; somewhere in the title of the email.) You can submit multiple suggestions, both your own writing and that of others, but please try not to submit more than one post by any individual author for each Carnival (with the exception of multi-part posts on the same topic).

STOP PRESS: URGENTLY WANTED: HOST FOR ANCIENT/MEDIEVAL CARNIVALESQUE (to be held any time that's convenient for you before the end of May). Pseudonymous or named bloggers welcome: all you need is some interest in ancient and/or medieval history and blogs of that ilk. We'd particularly welcome someone who hasn't done it before (Mike Drout? Scott Nokes? Tony Keen? Steve Muhlberger? Heo Cwaeth?)

Leave a comment here or for Sharon here, or email Sharon AT earlymodernweb DOT org DOT uk.

Sorry, Sharon, for nicking your text ... The Kazoo blogging took way too much time!

Kazoo Retrospective, pt. 3

Kazoo Retrospective, pt. 3

Started kind of late on Saturday. Got slightly lost finding the building for the first session, as we came upon it from a parking lot and not from walking up one of WMU's many hills. Consequently, I missed the beginning of a very interesting paper on how scribes and writing were seen in Ireland. The paper was one of the most lucid I had the opportunity to hear, and was accompanied by the best PowerPoint (or maybe Keynote) presentation I've seen. Really neat -- whole pages of text faded into a lighter shade of script while the pertinent parts of the text remained dark and bright. Unfortunately, Since I'h had to crawl into a middle seat, I was not about to disturb people any more by digging my stuff out of my bag, and took no notes. But from what I can remember, scribes in Ireland = good and respectable. Ergo, it is absolutely not surprising that relatively high-ranking clerics should also have been scribes and that that should have been seen as part of their work and their worth.

The next paper was by a Very Eminent Medieval Lion. It was also very interesting. The delivery was fantastic. I think it would have been fantastic to have been an undergrad listening to the Lion's lectures. However. Er. There were many other eminent types in the audience. Some of them asked questions that indicated that they doubted the paper's premise. There were also comments in the hallway conversation afterwards to the effect of, "pull the other one -- it's got bells on." Me? I choose to remember it as very entertaining and, since I was unfamiliar with the documents in question (again, not so good at the A/S anymore), at least I learned something of use. Oh, and in case we'd forgotten, Rome didn't fall. Instead, there was Continuity.

Off to lunch with the people who managed to get me through Beachy U, plus a Senior Colleague and The Cranky One. Someone did mention that I seemed to have my support network around me. It was very close to being true. It's not often that one gets to have a meal with a group of people one has known for a varying number of years (from just over one year to over twenty -- added up, a total of 105 years, I think!) and to whom one owes quite a lot. Shucks.

Skived off the next panels, as I had not yet been to the book room or amber table. I really did want to hear CelandineB's paper, because it was on a really fun subject, but instead I talked myself out of many purchases. Had some of the books been still available, I'd have bought more, but the display copies of things I wanted were already taken. Still, I got one of the last two copies of TFX Noble's new collection of old essays (apparently including some heavy editing of typos) on Rome and Barbarians, which looks to be very useful. I've also not read quite all of the essays, so I've got catching up to do.

Then off to the blogging panel -- saw many well-known medievalist bloggers in action. The panel was generally good, and the panelists very good, but somehow it really took off for the audience during the Q & A session, when the subject of blogs for pedagogy came to the fore, and a bunch of us stayed around to talk before heading off to drink free, not-especially-good wine. There was the choice of the mead and beer-tasting, but the medievalist hates crowds and was happy to stand in the courtyard with friends.

Off to a local brew pub for dinner, where one of my companions said that the pot roast was fantastic. I tasted it, and it really was. Then back to the hotel, where masses of medievalists were gathering to catch the shuttle to The Dance. Although I have been known to be a dancing fool, and was mightily tempted by The Cranky One, I had no dancing shoes, blisters on my feet, and was verging on knackered. So with fond and regretful farewells, I retired to my room. There I watched most of the second Harry Potter movie, which entertainment was followed by the sounds of mad and passionate conference dalliance and some very loud and (not to cast aspersions, but I did have to hammer on the connecting door, finally, at 3:16 a.m. EDT) possibly soused medievalistas.

Off the next morning by train with two charming colleagues from the British Isles, with a very nice, if not entirely healthy, lunch here, and on to the airport and home.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kazoo Retrospective, pt. 2

Kazoo Retrospective, pt. 2

Aha ... day two begins sans hangover. Yippee! And a darned good thing, because my panel was at 10:00. Oh -- and I'll say publicly here that, if they must add additional sessions, move the plenaries to evening sessions and have a few more papers in an early morning slot. But anyway ... caught a ride into campus with New Kid and CelandineB, and went on to my panel. It was really pretty interesting. Very gender-imbalanced, although the single male was not bothered by it at all. It was a really nice mix of disciplines -- three lit people, three historians. The audience was also very interested and interesting, so that there was a lot of good conversation during and after.

Lunch with a colleague I've known for a while, and another colleague whom I'd seen around for quite some time at early medieval panels, but never met. Both colleagues have a strong secondary interest in sf, and knew each other pretty well, so we got to kibbitz on all kinds of fun Tolkein-y and sf things while two of us ate very salty batter that ostensibly covered a piece of fish ... it was about a 3:1 ratio. Then off to a Late Antique/EMA panel, where we met up with The Cranky Professor.

The panel was interesting. A paper on Bede and miracles, which seemed very clear, but unfortunately, I seemed to have post-lunch dozes, so I had trouble following. Definitely a listener problem, because the notes I did take were very clear. Still, I think the paper was a bit overshadowed by the next two. The second paper was one of the two that particularly interested me (I'm just not an Anglo-Saxonist ...) -- ethnogenesis and Thuringians in the same paper! It was less new and stunning than I'd hoped, but there was a lot of great historiographical information, and the presenter made it absolutely clear where he stood on some of the issues. Still, I ended up a bit disappointed, because I'm really more interested in what happened to the Thuringians after Radulf took over in the 7th c. than I am in where they came from. On the up side, it was clear that the presenter believed that there was a clearly separate group of people who could be called Thuringians for whatever reason. But again ... where did they go? Are the Thuringians mentioned in the Annales Fuldensis at all related to the Thuringians who were ruled by Basinus? Or the Thuringians of Radulf? Or the Thuringians of Heden and the so-called Würzburger dukes? To me, this is a far more interesting question. As an aside, the question session for the paper was entirely predictable.
The last paper at the session was truly enjoyable. Vikings! Given by a very bright and entertaining British scholar, the paper raised some wonderful questions and the presenter made som excellent points about the limits of archaeology in dealing with the problems of secondary settlement in the Danelaw and elsewhere. One of the things I found most useful was the notion -- which really needs to be brought up much more often -- that migrants don't only end up somewhere, but they also come from somewhere. It is, after all a process, and we can't isolate the parts and do a good job. Even the somewhat hurried ending didn't hurt the overall impact of the paper.

Intravenous coffee, followed by rushing off by myself to join most of my Beachy U friends at a High Middle Ages panel (hey, I started as an Anglo-Normanist!) sponsored by the same group that had sponsored my paper. The first paper was really good -- and useful to me (yay!). Monastic donations again, this time mostly Marmoutier and a review of donation patterns and the occasional dual roles played by nobles who took up the monastic life. The second paper was a very nice discussion of types of lordship, that is, ways of categorizing lordship in terms of functionality and symbol. A good graduate paper by a student from Grad U on anger and chivalry and other such things. Again, the late afternoon doldrums were hitting, and I was unable to give the paper my full attention. Still, it was so different from the type of stuff I do that it was really refreshing -- all about what's in the texts and the language ... The final paper was a blast. The presenter took on the "F" word and really brought up some good points. Rather than dealing with the "did it exist?" question, the paper looked at when we can see evidence of the use of terms normally associated with the "F-word" in one very small area over a defined time, to see if there was evidence for an increase in usage. Despite some very good critical questions on types of source material and some very judicious caveats offered to the author, I think the ideas for methodology were very sound and might help to re-examine some basic issues without really disturbing the Brown-Reynolds-Ganshof-everybody else discussion.

After the papers, arrangements for lunch the next day, and off to the Avista reception, where a couple of my friends bought and assembled their own replica astrolabes. After that, two of us from the morning panel spent far too much time trying to find our way to the dreadfully mislabeled hotel shuttle and far too much time, once it arrived, waiting for it to get us downtown for dinner. Still, after quickly changing into more comfortable clothes and hitting the money machine, we joined the rest of our group at a very nice Bistro for a yummy dinner and great conversation. Home late to cope with overeating, and bed.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Kazoo Retrospective, pt. 1

Kazoo Retrospective, pt. 1

Well, this is the first conference I haven't tried to blog in real time ... partially because my hotel did not have wireless as promised. But here's Day 1 (Thursday). Got up. Breakfast with roommate and colleagues from the blogosphere. Paper panic. Attended a session on Late Antiquity, where two of the panelists did not show, nor did they send papers. Rude. But the papers presented, both by grad students, were good. The first one was on voluntary exile in 6th c. Gaul, i.e., exile used as a form of political coercion. It was very convincing. And I just remembered that I forgot to ask the presenter a question when I saw her at dinner later that evening. Must e-mail her. I wish I'd been that self-possessed as a grad student. The second paper was also good, with lots of fun questions about ethnicity. Some fairly well-known Late Antiquity types asked questions, and the presenter handled them very well. My only objection? Call me stuffy, but I tend to think that, the more junior one is, the better dressed one should be. That is, if you are a woman, wear some sort of jacket at least, and if you are a man, wear a damned tie. Either way, comb your hair! (only one of the two students was guilty of this particular set of sins, btw).

Second session. Missed two panels that looked to be excellent, because I was giving my paper. Survived. Got questions. Other panelists were good, and I especially liked the last paper, whose author I've known for over 20 years, but never heard give a paper. It was really interesting, and there were some good issues raised in the discussion. My favorite part of that was when she and I were jointly asked a question, and pretty much came up with the same answer, despite the fact that our topics were only thematically related. I also feel far less sorry for myself trying to pronounce complicated Frankish family names, now that I've seen a friend having to deal with Anglo/Saxon names! One of the best parts of giving the paper was that I knew almost all of the small audience, and the people I didn't know were friendly. On the downside, I think the other two panels may have diminished the audience. Not a bad thing, but trust me to keep thinking that it went so very well because most of the audience were 'family'.

Off next to another Early Medieval/Late Antique-y session. First paper, by an very amusing Lion, was pretty off the cuff, it seemed. Lots of metaphorical talk about Owls and Roosters, but the Lion never got to the Turkeys and Bats. You kinda had to have been there. Still, the central argument was interesting. Second paper was by someone I've seen before. Maybe it was the afternoon catching up with me, maybe it was that the first presentation went long, and so the presenter was talking like an auctioneer, but I was a little confused, and surprised at being so. The final paper started slowly (again, I was tired, the room was hot, and I felt a bit dozey), but ended really well, with a couple of very interesting points regarding the possible identity of the author of a well-known poem. It was so nicely done that I really had to sit up and take notice. The presenter really made some great points about gender and education under the Carolingians, and handled some pretty critical questions very well. Even if the presenter is wrong, the questions and issues raised really made me sit up and think about certain aspects of Carolingian renaissance/renovatio.

Wine hour. Caught bus to dinner with subfield group. Proportionately, there were few women. Was surrounded by really nice people (scary Lions from Toronto and places east were on the opposite side of the room) and only one scary one. But is was really nice, Lions on either side, but also some Cubs, so the conversations moved around a lot. Missed the blogger meet-up because of it, though. Went back to Valley whatever, where I was to catch the shuttle back to town, but instead saw someone from my panel, so we caught a cab together with another colleague, and went out for a couple more drinks. Possibly martinis? Still in bed fairly early, which was a good thing, since I had to be at a round table the next morning...