Friday, July 31, 2009

International Blog Against Racism Week

International Blog Against Racism Week

Well, it's International Blog Against Racism Week, and I only found out on Wednesday. So I don't have a particularly long or well-thought out post and am instead linking to some things that maybe you would like to see.

The first are from a site called Racebending. The site grew in reaction to the casting for a movie version of Nickelodeon's show, Avatar: the Last Airbender. The world of the show is clearly built with East Asian and Inuit cultural elements. Where the problem is ... well, look at the characters from the show:

Look at the casting:

The film is M. Night Shyamalan's latest attempt at a blockbuster, and the trailer looks pretty damned cool. I certainly thought it looked like I might want to see it, but not now. In fact, I'm going to be boycotting it, and encouraging my friends to do likewise.

It's not the first time this has happened, and it seems to happen a lot with sf/fantasy -- does Hollywood think that, because those genres are still somewhat marginalized, the fans are too few to notice and be annoyed?

If you remember, this sort of thing also happened with the adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea. Le Guin was not pleased with the result. It also regularly happens on bookcovers, where the main characters are depicted as white, even when the text makes it clear that they aren't.

Racebending also points to the video below. It's almost 10 minutes long, but worth watching.

It's interesting that this week is also seeing the winding-down of the furore following the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in his own home. There's been a lot of coverage of that on the web, on TV, and pretty much everywhere. HNN has had a lot of coverage, including this column on President Obama's tendency to not confront issues of race very directly. My own opinion is that the arrest was probably fine within the letter of the law, but the circumstances were probably loaded with a lot of racial baggage. Would Gates have been as upset had he not been a black man who has achieved a pretty notable position in the scholarly, and even talking-head, community -- and yet every day has to deal with a society where there are still many forms of institutional racism, and knows very well that people of color are frequently treated differently by the legal system and its representatives than whites? Would Sgt. Crowley have reacted as he did had Gates been white? or even (and my own totally unfounded guess is that this might have had something to do with it) had Crowley not been someone who was supposed to be especially well-versed in issues of racism, and was perhaps even more upset by Gates' alleged abusive language because he thought of himself as an ally?

I am not sure. What I am sure of is that race is still a very real issue in most of the societies in which I and my readers live. There's a poll on Facebook at the moment asking whether Michael Vick should be allowed to return to a career in the NFL after his conviction for participating in a dog-fighting ring. I do sometimes wonder if professional athletes would be held to higher standards if the demographics of professional sports in the US had not changed so dramatically over the last 30 or so years. Along with our, "anyone can make it if they just work hard enough," mythos, we have also developed one where sports save the young black men from a sure future of life in the inner-city, probably dealing drugs, fathering welfare babies, and otherwise caught, inevitably, in a vicious cycle of crime and punishment. So if professional athletes act like criminals, well, what do we expect? There's a subtext of "we know that's what they are" in a lot of the media coverage of the lives of professional athletes.

Um ... no. There are lots of reasons why people commit crimes, but I'm pretty damned sure that race is not a cause, although there are correlations between some of the effects of institutionalized racism, e.g., poverty, poorer education and fewer opportunities for better education, surroundings where people are more exposed to crime, disproportionate incarceration of juvenile offenders, etc., and whether or not a person becomes a criminal.

I don't really have much else to say on the matter. I just thought I should say something, because, well, it's something we should be aware of, and now's a good time to remember that.

Thanks to Tony over at Memorabilia Antonina for one of the links, and to writer Sherwood Smith for originally pointing me to the Avatar stuff.

What about this?

What about these fonts?

Any better?

Also, if anybody has clues on how to take the archives and compact the months under a year link that opens ....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not sure about this ...

Not sure about this

The colors, I mean. Grey background, or white?

Anyway, I figure it was time for a change, and I think this might be a bit easier to read? This is only the 4th layout in seven years, soooo ... Happy almost blogiversary!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No really, still alive

No really, still alive

Working on two posts, one about drinking the kool-aid and all that entails when it comes to the professoriate, the other about service and the range of approaches to it, from 'cant be arsed' to 'can't bear not to have a finger in every pie.'

Back soon, I promise.

Also, I need to report on conferences.

Also, Thursday is my 7th blogiversary, and I may be changing the look!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Looking for a host

Looking for a host!

Looking for a host for the August version of Carnivalesque -- anybody interested?

Update: The next Ancient/Medieval Carnivalesque will be at Ruff Notes on or about August 20.

Carnivalesque 52

In the meantime, Carnivalesque 52 is up at Gilbert Mabbott. Lots of good Early Modern links!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things wot I have done in England, pt. 1

Things wot I have done in England, pt. 1

So I've been in England. And mostly not blogging, because I've been busy, busy, busy. I started my trip with my annual appearance at a BSFA meeting, where I saw an interview with Ian Whates, and then went out to dinner with some fen, so that I could spend a little time with some people I know. All much fun.

Then, the next morning, off to the BL. There, I saw someone I hadn't planned on seeing at all, and spent much of the next 10 days or so working in companionable silence, with breaks for coffee and lunch. The BL was fantastic, as always -- not only did I get a chance to work on my Leeds paper, but also to visit with Extremely Cool Colleague and Susan, and had a quick chance to say hello to Dame Eleanor Hull.

Much time in between spent with friends and family, including a trip to Folkstone to see friends (one of whom is up for several very important awards this month -- crossing my fingers for him at WorldCon!) who have new Maine Coon kittens, the usual walks in Regents' Park and Golder's Hill Park with the family, and LOTS of Halo 3!!! Yes, one of the highlights of my summer is playing Halo with my nephew and X's brother and playing video games, while being told, "Aunt ADM, you're CRAP at this, aren't you?" I was, this year too. I think I never got above about 6 kills in a game. Last year, I rocked and managed to do serious damage to BiL's ego. This time, they kept changing up the games and the maps on me ...

I also managed to get killed by Zombies several times.

In the meanwhile, I listened to my niece play guitar (she's very good, and playing a lot of Renaissance stuff), chatted with SiL, and tried to chill as much as possible.

I blogged my first conference already, and am now watching the people start to queue for the buses to our flight from Heathrow, T5.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More Monasticism

More Monasticism!

And also, a walking tour! The second day of the conference was even better than the first, if that's possible. I talked a little about the papers last time, but after the papers, we went for a lovely walking tour of the town -- fortunately a short one, since I was in a skirt, and it got sort of chilly. But the tour was interesting and fun, and some of my favourite bits were when our guide, a colleague who is frighteningly knowledgeable on many subjects, dismissed lots of things as being too late to care about! No offense to you folks who work past the millenium, because there are fantastic things in your periods, but it's nice to not feel like my period is the one being dissed!

Anyway, here's a picture, at the risk of my anonymity (just remember, people, if you know me, I don't use my real name here on a matter of principle!):

And now, back to work and on to Yorkshire in the am, to meet with many other medievalists, and some of the same ones again!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Learning about monasteries

Learning about Monasteries

So today I was at a conference on monasticism. This is the first time where I've been at a conference where at least half the people have a clue about my sources, and lots know way more about how to use them. There are some hella smart people here.

Why yes, I am feeling depressingly not so smart. Not the best thing before giving a paper next week.

Having said that, can I just say that this is an incredibly nice conference, and that the postgrads who organized and are running it are doing a fantastic job?? The papers today were all very good, I thought, although I was having a hard time keeping up with the rapid-fire Irish names rolling trippingly off Irish tongues. There was a wonderful paper on the vita Sadalbergae, and a paper by a colleague I really admire that was just so well constructed and argued... and another by someone I'd wanted to meet for a long time, because he helped me out a while back -- he's as nice in person as in e-mail, and also gave a really interesting paper.

Several people have been very kind with advice that makes me feel like my own paper might not be hopeless, and I've had a chance to talk to some other really interesting people. At the moment, I'm sort of digesting it all, but I think I'll eventually have some really good ideas, after I get used to having been in a room of people who speak my sources.

Saturday, July 04, 2009



If you are bored today, check out Codex Diplomaticus Fuldensis 466.

Kind of interesting... usually, the person handing over his possessions orders the charter to be drawn up ...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Argh on the paper ...

Argh on the paper

So this may in fact be the dullest paper ever ... athough it's certainly talking about using digitized sources. Well, the ones in databases, at least.

But here's a related question: 'vestitionis' as in 'ecce hic testes illius vestitionis'...

Two very smart people have said that it's probably a livery of seizin. But did such things exist in C9 Francia? Especially in the east?

not liking this paper

Not liking this paper

Um ... feeling like it's way too dull. Shoot me now.