Wednesday, August 25, 2010



Hey all, sorry for the late notice, but term started on Monday, and I have NO INTERNET AT HOME! OMGWTFBBQ!!!

So I missed that my very esteemed colleague, Jonathan Jarrett, had posted the latest edition of the Ancient/Medieval Carnivalesque at A Corner of Tenth Century Europe. It's easily one of my favorite editions so far, in both content and format. You should go look at it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Some quick thoughts on the MAA thing

Some quick thoughts on the MAA thing (updated)

I have an internet connection at the moment, so thought I'd belatedly say my piece on the MAA going to Arizona. To sum it up, I'm pissed off and disappointed, but mostly, I'm upset at being surprised.

I'm NOT surprised that the meeting is going on. A big chunk of money had been spent already, and I can see that the organization's leadership might have felt that they could not simply write off that kind of investment. I can even see that they would think that it was important to some of the putative presenters' careers to give papers at the meeting, although at this point, I doubt it would have affected anyone's funding for travel.

What I AM surprised at, and what really guts me, is that the letter, written by committee or not, expressed absolutely no reference to the laws that those of us who opposed holding the meeting in Tempe objected to, except as some sort of bullshit "collective political action." This upsets me, I think, because to me, the laws are clearly wrong in a moral sense (and in a constitutional one), and are not at all "political." And to a certain extent, because I am acquainted with a couple of the members of the Executive Committee, I feel a little sick at not knowing if they willingly characterized racial discrimination as 'political' or if they were somehow argued down. It's not a good feeling.

I'm also upset and, perhaps naively, surprised at how this entire thing has been characterized by some, especially in the Inside Higher Ed comments, as being a 'leftist' issue, or a case of 'political correctness.' I don't know how people who have read the US Constitution and know anything about US history can see a support of equal rights and equal protections as being 'leftist'. Admittedly, I have a dog in this fight -- my family includes people of color who are Southeast Asian, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and Latino. Some of my family members are also gay. But of all of those people, only the Latinos are likely to be personally affected by SB1070. This is a big country, though, and it's not all about my family -- it's about anybody. I don't see that this is any different morally than making ethnic minorities wear identifying clothing or denying people of a certain skin color the right to eat with Anglos. Shouldn't we have reached a point where civil rights are seen as patriotic, rather than partisan?

So that's why I'm saddened. Not so much about the decision to go on, but about the apparent unwillingness of the leaders of an organization to which I belong to publicly recognize that this is a moral issue at all, or even, at the very least, to publicly recognize that this is a moral and ethical issue for a fair number of the membership. This lack of acknowledgement of something clearly very meaningful to at the least a sizable and vocal majority minority comes across as a lack of respect and a dismissal that is entirely unwarranted and at best, very uncollegial.


Today, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen posted a piece on his reactions and why he is maintaining his membership in the MAA. It is thoughtful, and very convincing. Jeff also noticed something that I had not in the CFP that came out yesterday: an acknowledgement of the moral concerns for some of us. It's a far cry from the condemnation that I feel is necessary, but it's something. And, as Jeff says, it probably indicates that there are rifts on the council. Again, knowing that some of my senior colleagues seem not to think it is one is disturbing to me. And I hope I shall one day find out who argued which way, because that would at least relieve the sick feeling of wondering, but would replace it with the sick feeling that colleagues whom I respect didn't find Arizona's racist laws (and I'm talking about the whole passel of them, not just SB1070 -- a law that requires teachers to have 'a correct accent' seems ludicrous at best to a left-coaster who's lived in the Deep South, and we know it's code for non-Anglo English) morally objectionable. In the meantime, I have been informed via a listserv that three members of the local program committee have resigned, because they cannot give their support to a meeting in the state where they live as long as the laws are racist. They also point out, for those who have forgotten, that a boycott worked to get Arizona to recognize Martin Luther King's birthday as a holiday. So yeah, I'm boycotting, but not quitting.

eta: I missed my eighth bloggyversary. Happy eight years!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Moving and penguins

Mobbed by Penguins

Girl Scholar asked for the penguin story, so I will tell it. It is an odd story, as no actual penguins were involved in it, and yet, there was, by the end of the evening, great assurance that we would, indeed, be mobbed, or mugged, by penguins.

This year at Leeds, I stayed in Oxley Flats. Unless I am wanting to share a bed with someone there, I do not ever anticipate this changing. Best conference dorm accommodation around, I say. I was told last year by the amazing Dutchwoman that that was where to stay, and she's right. Well worth the extra £10 a night, if you can afford it. So I checked in. And got a bunch of paperwork, including one which mentioned that we should please to keep our windows closed whenever possible. It said something along the lines of: "Danger! A masked band of pigeons have been entering rooms looking for food!"

Yes, Pigeons.

When I got to my room, there was another sign.

But somehow, when I was at a party held in the flats, trying not to be intimidated by the fact that I'd even been invited because I was surrounded by Big!Scary!Names!*, the scholar with the flowing tresses and I were explaining to someone about the dangerous pigeons, except that, when I said it, it came out "penguins." It caught on, and there were penguin jokes for the rest of the evening. Apparently, medievalists would much rather imagine penguin banditry than pigeon muggings!

Meanwhile, in ADM land, the kitchen is almost finished being unpacked. There are a shiny new fridge and stove, and the plumbers are coming tomorrow at 7 am (eek!) to plumb the gas line (and fix a leak, which they don't know about). On Tuesday, if all goes well, the stove will be hooked up, and I will indeed be cooking with gas! The new furniture is in the living room, and today I will be able to put the TV on the mantel -- this seems a bit high to me, but opinions all pushed for not putting it directly in front of my non-functioning fireplace. There are boxes to unpack there, and I shall need to buy some shelving and a coffee table or ottoman, because there is nowhere to put my feet up, dammit! Upstairs is still a disaster area, and I am somewhat dismayed to find that the litter box must remain in my office (hence the sweeping of much more cat litter than I'd like), because: a) the basement needs a dehumidifier, and that means leaving the door closed; b) the door to the basement is hollow-core, so not great for installing a cat flap, but also; c) I need to figure out how to install a cat flap so it's almost flush with the floor so that the aging Mr Soppy can get through easily, as there is not a lot of top step on the other side of the door, and finally; d) the basement is dark and scary and unless I want to get some lights that remain on permanently, Mr Soppy seems very distressed at climbing the stairs at the moment. His vision seems to have deteriorated in the past couple of months. Anyway, today we hang curtains, and tighten up the bookshelves in the office/guest room, which is very large and comfortable.

Huzzah for DIY Grrl and her wife, the Coach, who are coming to help today!

*Actually, they are all really nice people, even though they are intimidating intellectually, and I fear their questions at conferences. But it's possible that people dread mine, too. Still, I am intimidated and also, now that I know them and have been let in, so to speak, I feel tremendously obligated to produce good work. Which is really not a bad thing. I'm sadly motivated by trying to live up to imaginary standards I project on others - this is one way in which the dread Imposter Complex can work to my advantage!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Almost in the land of the living

Almost in the land of the living

Survived move. Now for the unpacking. Back soon!

Monday, August 02, 2010

T-2 days till the big move...

T-2 days till the big move...

So the closing went well, work on house moves steadily on, with a few contractor glitches. And I need to finish packing. More soon...