Monday, December 29, 2008

Terry Pratchett Nation

*ahem* (Sir) Terry Pratchett, Nation (2008)

In lieu of a post I'm working on on identities, in response to something at In the Middle, I'm posting something that is more thoughts than actual review. I don't know that there are many spoilers, but be warned, just in case.

I got this from X for Christmas, and obviously I started reading it pretty much as soon as I could. Nation is possibly the most thoughtful Terry Pratchett book I've read. What this means, I suppose, is that I think it's his most thoughtful book, full stop, since I've read all his books.

It's not a Discworld book, in case you didn't already know that. I've seen it labeled as YA, too, but if that's true, then it's yet another case of a YA book that is far more grown-up than most novels meant for grown-ups. It's also not as funny as most of his books or, if it is, it's a much gentler sort of humour. I've read short reviews that say it's about imperialism, but I don't know that it is. I mean, there is a British Empire, more or less. And there are Remarks made about Empires, and they are not always complimentary. But to say it's a critique of imperialism or, as I saw implied (IIRC) on Visual Bookshelf, a critique of US imperialism, is doing the book an injustice. There's no doubt that there is some of that. Over and over again, we see examples of how there is no equity in the world, and how smaller, less technologically developed nations are often subject to the whims of larger nations. But somehow, in Nation the message is not so much that the larger nations, or empires, have gained their strength by exploiting the smaller ones. We have to think about these things, but they are only part of the story.

The greater part of the story is about dealing with loss, and life, where life is just what happens when you're getting on with the more important things that have to be got through. Mau just gets through. And so, in her way, does Daphne. Pratchett often writes characters who are hurt, or damaged, but almost every character who winds up on Mau's island is actively suffering, and visibly damaged (although there are some characters who are just plain damaged in an icky kind of way). The ghosts are always present, and the people just get on the best they can, most of them by just shutting down the parts that can't deal with the pain. Mau loses everything and everyone he ever knew; Daphne's entire life is framed by the death of her mother and baby brother. But everything they do in fighting back the pain of their own losses helps to heal the losses of the other people who wash up on the island, and the ghosts who live there. It really is a story of fighting back against the darkness. And in the end, there is no clichéed reward, only sacrifice and duty.

It sounds grim, put that way. But really, it's one of the kindest and most hopeful books I've read in a long time. Mau and Daphne, and all of the (nice) people who come to the Island find what they are looking for because they make it for themselves. Mau refuses to accept a world where bad things happen, if he can keep them from happening, and the others follow him. What is especially lovely about the book is that it's never mawkish, and it's never trite. Even when good things happen because of the quirky twists of fate, or coincidence, or freaks of nature that can only happen in a Pratchett world, even when it is that exactly one in a million chance, it is always down to the people in the end. And Pratchett's people are people we know, or at least people we want to know, and want to be like.

ETA: As I dropped off to sleep, it occurred to me that there's a lot of Dunkirk and the Blitz in this book. That is, Mau is sort of like the ordinary guy that is part of the popular mythical memory of Dunkirk (did Michael Portillo do one of his 'Things We Forgot to Remember' shows on Dunkirk?). Daphne is the evacuee in a strange place, and the royal who stayed, all wrapped up on one, sort of. Or at least that's what my evening pint or so told me.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Whatever

Happy ...

Happy Christmas, or Chanukah, or Kwanzaa, or Festivus, or Newtonmas, or whatever you are celebrating this year!

WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It) from Yoko Ono on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Power and Privilege

Power and Privilege

Some of the things I've been going through lately have made me think a lot about power and privilege. One of those things is teaching World History, where I occasionally flash back on my favourite Classics prof at Beachy U who, with fave Late Antiquity prof, drove it into my head just how important appearances could be to the Romans. I think of this a lot. On the one hand, this can be a base for hypocrisy: we know that, even for the Romans, there were plenty who talked a good moral and ethical line, and maintained that public appearance, but didn't manage to follow through in private. On the other, I do believe that not wanting to look bad in front of others, of wanting others to think well of us, is not a bad thing, and can be a good motivating force. Obviously, I like it best when people walk their talk -- one of my personal grievances lately is wrapped up in trusting someone who didn't -- but I think there is even something to be said for knowing that others notice if you don't. Me, I try to do it. It helps that I've been told I have a reputation for integrity and fair-mindedness. It makes me not want to lose that reputation. Actually, I've been really cranky lately and not as discreet about my crankiness as I'd like. So I'm trying to work it out by speaking very generally.

When I worked at public institutions, there were always these ethics laws that I thought were incredibly lame. I thought that because they often got in the way and cost more money, and because I really thought that some of the rules were no-brainers. Obviously, you shouldn't take gifts from students while they are in your classes. Duh. I learned all of those things in teacher-training and by watching my professors, especially Doktorvater and his wife, at Grad U. One of the things I especially liked was that they modelled behaviour that made it clear that there were different standards depending one one's relationship and on the level of the student -- rules were stricter when dealing with undergrads than grad students, for example.

But now that I'm meeting more and more people at SLAC and other private institutions, not to mention institutions in other countries, I'm noticing that these things are not universally understood. One of the first things I encountered was that colleagues had no problem hiring undergrads as babysitters. To me, this is just stupid -- although I have lots of colleagues who see it as a grey area. After all, the students you are probably most likely to trust are your really good students, and if you have to shoot money towards a student, shouldn't it be a student you like? Me, I think it's only ok if you pay them, and even then, I'm not so big on it, because what if a student doesn't feel that they can refuse a person who is still grading their work? More importantly, I really don't want other students wondering why I play favourites, and only ask some people to work for me. I don't want students to think that I give those students who do things for me an unfair advantage. After all, it was once an honor to help the king with his toilet, because it gave a lot of private access, right? Anyway, I'll accept that many people feel this is a grey area, and usually all right. I won't do it, but that's me.

Even though that's a grey area, there are some I think are more black and white. So, for example, what about meeting outside of class time? This is true for both contingent faculty and students, by the way. At my old union campus, if you required contingent faculty to be at a meeting, you paid them. But even if they weren't required and paid, I know department chairs and administrators who often didn't bother inviting contingent faculty, because they did not want them to feel that, if they didn't attend, and others did, they would be in some way penalised. What if (as is true with a couple of my more distant colleagues) a student has a crush on a prof, and the prof asks for, or even simply accepts an offer for, housesitting/child care/pet care/errand running? To me, that's just stupid. But again, a grey area for many people.

To me, it's the same with students. I know that many of us would like our students to attend more extracurricular events, especially when we go to the trouble of inviting in guest speakers. To some extent, at SLAC we can substitute a class for a meeting at an alternate time, but really, we can't require students to come at times they might have to work or be at practice. I see nothing wrong with that. Me, I encourage students to come to such things, and I often offer extra credit (very little, but enough that students will often take advantage of it) for those who attend and write a couple of paragraphs on it. But I make it very clear that this is open to all of my students in the surveys. I don't do this for my upperclassmen. I mention that there's an event, and that majors ought to be interested in going, but that's about it. They usually go. And here's the issue -- are they being coerced? Am I abusing my power?

The long answer is no. There are no penalties for nonattendance. But I'm the prof. I grade them. When I was their age, and one of my professors suggested coming to a talk, I did. I never thought there was much of a choice, and I always felt I had to go, but I never felt I'd receive anything but mild disappointment from my professors. What can I say? I like the approval. I think that my students have the same understanding that I did. And they see me going to programmes that my colleagues put on, even when I'm not thrilled, and learn that to me, that is part of supporting my colleagues.

The short answer is yes, though. Whether or not my students feel coerced, I'm in a position of power, and I have to respect that dynamic.

But not everybody does. And my anecdotal experience is that the people who recognized it least as students (perhaps because their own profs didn't model behaviour that separated the overlapping relationships between student/prof and very junior apprentice colleague and senior colleague?) seem to be least aware of these things as professors. They blur a lot of lines. They seem to think that their personal and professional connections have meant nothing, and therefore when they decide to treat their students as friends, they deny that it means anything. And to them, it may not be. But to me, it often smacks of needing constant ego-feeds. And to an extent, it denies the reality of the situation. Students depend on our patronage, they are graded by us, and frankly, we have a lot of power over them. It's a privilege. And to deny that privilege and to assume that students are motivated by friendship or by intellectual interest is to me on the road to an abuse of power. It may not get there. But honestly, it's not somewhere I want to go.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

AHA bleg 2

AHA Bleg 2

anybody need a roommate for the night of the 2nd? or possibly the 3rd?

update Huzzah for adopted big sister and BiL. I'm staying about an hour out of NYC and taking the train in. So I'll only be there on the Saturday, but still hope to see some of you folk there!

Monday, December 15, 2008

AHA bleg

AHA bleg

Um, does anybody know which airport one should fly into for AHA? Because I think I'm going after all. And also, does anybody need a roommate for the 2nd? I've never been to NYC, so am totally clueless, and also, do not have money for this trip, so any advice is good. Oh -- and I am looking into taking the train in from Newark, DE -- after I see if friends there can put me up for a night, so any advice there is good, too.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I have no words

I have no words

This does not make me happy, because really, it says too many things all by itself. I don't envy the next several US Presidents.

Just wow

sunday memeage

Sunday Memeage

Via New Kid and Dr Virago and lots and lots of other folks:

Things I’ve done are in bold.
Things I am indifferent towards or actively would like to avoid are crossed out.
Things in normal type face are things I’d like to do (or at least, that I'd rather do than not).

Comments in parentheses are my additions.

Start my own blog
Sleep under the stars
Play in a band (if an air guitar band when I was 8 counts)
Own a cell phone
Visit Hawaii (although I expect I will, since I have family there now
Watch a meteor shower
Give more than I can afford to charity
Visit Disneyland / Disneyworld
Climb a mountain (I would hike a mountain, as long as there were no narrow cliff paths)
Sing a solo
Bungee jump (No. Effing. Way)
Participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony
Teach myself an art from scratch
Adopt a child (not legally, but I think The Kid counts after 15 years)
Purchase real estate
Had food poisoning
Visit Parliament / Capital Hill (well, to the buildings, at least)
Grow my own vegetables
See the Mona Lisa in France
Sleep on an overnight train
Have a pillow fight
Hitchhike (not something I'd advise)
Take a sick day when you’re not ill (Once, but I'm not counting real mental health days)
Build a snow fort
Hold a lamb
Go skinny dipping
Run a Marathon (but I'd kind of like to run a 10k and maybe even a half-marathon)
Been on television (unless there were some good academic reason)
Ride in a gondola in Venice
See a total eclipse
Watch a sunrise or sunset
Hit a home run (I think my best is a double)
Go on a cruise (except maybe a very cool eco-friendly one to Alaska, or maybe the Danube)
See Niagara Falls in person
Visit the birthplace of my ancestors
See an Amish community
Teach myself a new language (not to say taught myself, but I've learned to fight my way through a couple)
Have enough money to be truly satisfied (not so much satisfied, as to feel safe)
See the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
Go rock climbing (unless you can to this without any possibility of looking down and/or falling)
See Michelangelo’s David
Sing karaoke
See Old Faithful erupt
Buy a stranger a meal at a restaurant
Visit Africa
Walk on a beach by moonlight
Be transported in an ambulance
Have my portrait painted
Be arrested
Go deep sea fishing
See the Sistine Chapel in person
Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (hello -- a high place? But I would do it with a loved one, if he wanted to and held my hand tightly-- that's how I got up the Space Needle the last time)
Go scuba diving or snorkeling (I'm willing to try, but the idea scares me a little)
Kiss in the rain
Play in the mud
Go to a drive-in theatre
Be in a movie
Visit the Great Wall of China
Start a business
Take a martial arts class (aikido, off and on -- wish I still were going)
Visit Russia (if only for the Hermitage)
Serve at a soup kitchen
Sell Girl Scout Cookies
Go whale watching (and yes, we stayed at the recommended distance, not just the required one)
Get flowers for no reason (well, for myself -- not from anyone else)
Donate blood, platelets or plasma (no longer eligible because of the regular eating of British Beef, but before that)
Go sky diving (No. Effing. Way.)
Visit a Nazi Concentration Camp (I have seen many very detailed Holocaust exhibits, and don't know that visiting an actual camp would change my feelings about the Holocaust in any way -- I wouldn't not go, though)
Bounce a check (totally an accident)
Fly in a helicopter
Save a favorite childhood toy and somehow, my dad managed to dump several boxes of my stuff
Visit Quebec City
Eat Caviar
Piece a quilt
Stand in Times Square
Tour the Everglades (I think. I was about 6, so I'm not entirely sure if we actually went into the Everglades, but I think we did)
Been fired from a job (once -- but I've been downsized a couple of times)
See the Changing of the Guards in London (I always feel like I should, but never have bothered)
Been on a speeding motorcycle (because crashing at scary speeds with virtually no protection is such a good idea)
See the Grand Canyon in person
Published a book (ok, it's still in Vorbereitung, but soonish)
Visit the Vatican
Buy a brand new car
Walk in Jerusalem
Have my picture in the newspaper (I've lived in some smalllll towns...)
Read the entire Bible
Visit the White House
Kill and prepared an animal for eating (although I feel that I should, in some ways)
Had chickenpox
Save someone’s life (I'm not averse to this, but I guess I'd rather not have to, in case I screw up)
Sit on a jury (I've been called to sit several times, but they never put me on the panel)
Meet someone famous
Join a book club
Lose a loved one
Have a baby
See the Alamo in person
Swim in the Great Salt Lake
Been involved in a law suit
Been stung by a bee (even a dead one)
Ride an elephant


Friday, December 12, 2008

Petition to save Marc Bloch institute

Petition to save the Marc Bloch Institute

Via H-German:

Sorry -- I don't have time to translate it, but if you're a European Historian, you should be able to fight your way through!

Liebe Leserinnen und Leser,

das Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin ist im Jahr 2009 von massiven Mittelkürzungen durch das französische Außenministerium bedroht. Seine Arbeitsfaehigkeit, ja sogar seine Existenz stehen auf dem Spiel.
Der folgende Offene Brief formuliert den Protest von Wissenschaftlern aus Frankreich, Deutschland und vielen anderen Ländern der Welt. Wir bitten auch um Ihre Unterschrift und haben dafür auf der Website ein Formular bereitgestellt.

Mit freundlichen Grueßen,
Die Direktoren des Centre Marc Bloch

Prof. Dr. Pacale Laborier
Prof. Dr. Yves Sintomer
Dr. Daniel Schuenpflug


Sehr geehrter Herr Außenminister, sehr geehrter Herr Botschafter,

dem Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin droht eine massive Budgetkuerzung seitens des französischen Außenministeriums, die gegebenenfalls zur Schließung oder zumindest zur drastischen Einschraenkung seiner Aktivitaeten schon ab Beginn des Jahres 2009 fuehren würde. Die Unterzeichner dieses Briefes haben in den letzten Jahren eng mit diesem deutsch-franzoesischen Zentrum fuer Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften zusammengearbeitet und dabei seine Dynamik und die große Qualitaet der dort entstandenen Forschungsarbeiten zu schaetzen gelernt. Sie sind daher davon ueberzeugt, dass die Schließung des Centre Marc Bloch einen enormen Schaden fuer den deutsch-französischen Wissenschaftsaustausch bedeuten würde.

Die fuer das Centre Marc Bloch geplanten Streichungen stehen in voeligem Gegensatz zu den Grundsaetzen, welche der franzoesische Staat fuer die Reform der Forschung und der Verwaltungen formuliert hat: Soll nicht akademische Qualitaet belohnt und die Effizienz oeffentlicher Politik gefoerdert werden? Das Centre Marc Bloch kann eine bemerkenswerte Bilanz vorweisen. In rund fuenfzehn Jahren hat sich dieses bescheiden ausgestattete Institut fest in der franzoesisch-deutschen Forschungslandschaft etabliert und verfuegt ueber eine große Ausstrahlungskraft und Autoritaet. Die Zahl der wissenschaftlichen Veroeffentlichungen, der abgeschlossenen Promotionen, der wissenschaftlichen Projekte, unterstützt vor allem von der Agence Nationale de la Recherche, dem Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung und den großen deutschen Stiftungen, ist beeindruckend und waechst weiterhin. In den Evaluierungen wurden die Exzellenz und die Innovationskraft des CMB begrueßt. Darf die Politik einen solchen Erfolg bestrafen? Entmutigt sie damit nicht die Wissenschaft? Ist es legitim, eine solche Politik des Rotstifts als Modernisierung auszugeben?

Eine Abwicklung des Centre Marc Bloch stünde auch im Widerspruch zu den vielfaeltigen Bestrebungen, die Forschung in Europa zu internationalisieren. Das Centre Marc Bloch stellt ein anerkanntes Forum fuer internationale Forschungen weit ueber Deutschland und Frankreich hinaus dar. Hunderte von Doktoranden und Forschern haben von der Unterstuetzung und der anregenden Atmosphäre des Centre profitiert. Sie konnten Arbeitsgruppen und Veranstaltungen des Centre Marc Bloch nutzen, um ihre Projekte in einem multinationalen Umfeld zu diskutieren. Hat nun die Stunde des Rückzuges aus der europaeischen Forschung geschlagen?

Schließlich steht die Bedrohung des Centre Marc Bloch auch im Widerspruch zu den aktuellen Weichenstellungen in Europa. Frankreich und Deutschland sollen ein Motor der europaeischen Integration sein. Doch vollmundige Erklaerungen auf Gipfeltreffen reichen fuer solche Zwecke nicht aus. Europaeische Identität muss in einem gegenseitigen Verstaendnis der europaeischen Gesellschaften verankert sein. Das Centre Marc Bloch hat Personen und Gruppen weit außerhalb akademischer Zirkel angesprochen. Es hat seine Forscher angeregt, die Ergebnisse ihrer Arbeit mit Politikern, Kulturschaffenden, Journalisten, Studenten zu diskutieren und so zur Entstehung einer europaeischen Oeffentlichkeit beigetragen. Sollte diese Dynamik, in einem Moment, in dem sie noetiger scheint als je zuvor, wirklich gestoppt werden?

Aus diesen Gruenden bitten wir Sie nachdrücklich, dem Centre Marc Bloch die finanziellen Mittel zur Verfügung zu stellen, die zu seinem Weiterbestand im Jahr 2009 noetig sind. Nur so kann den verschiedenen Traegern in Frankreich und Deutschland die Zeit bleiben, dauerhafte Loesungen für die Zukunft zu finden.

Die ersten Unterzeichner des Briefes:

Jutta Allmendinger, Wissenschaftszentrums Berlin fuer Sozialforschung Etienne Balibar, Université de Paris 10 Nanterr) Jean-François Bayart, Institut d́études politiques de Paris Olivier Beaud, ĺInstitut Universitaire de France Helmut Berding, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen Luc Boltanski, ĺEcole des Hautes Etudes en sciences sociales Jean Boutier, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Grünen Partei Catherine Colliot-Thélène, l'Université de Rennes Vincent Duclert ĺEcole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Christophe Duhamelle, la Mission Historique Française en Allemagne Patrice Duran, l'École Normale Supérieure de Cachan Wolfgang Engler, Hochschule für Schauspielkunst "Ernst Busch"
Etienne François, Université de Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) Ute Frevert, Max-Planck-Instituts für Bildungsforschung) Saul Friedländer, University of California, Los Angeles Carlo Ginzburg, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa Gert-Joachim Glaeßner, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Alfred Grossen, la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques Gérard Grunberg, ĺInstitut d́études politiques de Paris Isabell Hoffmann, Bertelsmann Stiftung Rainer Hudemann, Universität des Saarlandes, Dr. Christian Ingrao, ĺInstitut du Temps Présent Konrad Jarausch, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Hartmut Kaelble, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin Wolfgang Kaschuba, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin Jürgen Kocka, Freie Universität Berlin, Hélène Kohl, Korrespondentin von Europe 1 Sandra Laugier, l'Université de Picardie Jules Verne, l'Ecole Doctorale en Sciences Humaines et Sociales Jean-Louis Lebrave, ĺEcole Normale Supérieure Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, Ecole Normale Supérieure) Christoph Markschies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Matthias Middell, Zentrum für Höhere Studien Leipzig Marie-Claude Maurel, ĺEcole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Karol Modzelewki, Polnische Akademie der Wissenschaften) Martin Nagelschmidt, Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences Eric Neveu, ĺInstitut d́études politiques de Lyon Paul Nolte, Friedrich-Meinecke-Instituts der FU Berlin Pasquale Pasquino, Centre de Théorie et Analyse du Droit Kiran Klaus Patel, European University Institute Bertrand Perz, Institut fuer Zeitgeschichte der Universitaet Wien Gilles Pollet, ĺInstitut d́études politiques Lyon Jacques Revel, ĺEcole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) Karl Schloegel, Europa-Universitaet Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder Gesine Schwan, Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für die deutsch-polnische Zusammenarbeit Joachim Vannahme, Mitglied des Haut-Conseil Franco-Allemand pour la
Pascal Vennesson, Institut Universitaire Européen Florence Sabine von Oppeln, Freie Universitaet Berlin Jakob Vogel, Universitaet Koeln Michael Werner, Centre interdisciplinaire de recherches et études sur ĺAllemagne

Sunday, December 07, 2008

End of Semester Blues

End of Semester Blues

It's that time of year, the quiet before the storm of finals. I'm trying to tidy up all the bits and pieces of the semester, so I can get to work on a bunch of stuff for our accreditation report and for taking over as department chair next semester. Not to mention a re-vamped survey and a brand-new prep, plus the book. Oh, and Christmas cards and shopping. Meanwhile, I've been dealing with something for several months that has just been very hard. Last year at this time, I was in a place where I probably was the most happy and secure in my life than I've ever been. This year, everything is changed, but without any kind of (aaaargh -- warning! pop-psychology alert!) resolution or closure.

Professionally, my life is going very well -- I'm on the right kind of committees, I'm going to have a book out within the year, I'm giving a paper at Leeds (more on that later!), and my T&P file has made it past the first hurdle. I have colleagues I really like, and some major administrative changes at SLAC fill me with hope and make me excited about being there to help change the place for the better. And I've also still got an application in for Dream Job, because I'm not a fool, and there are real advantages to it. I don't know that I'll get an interview, but I hope so. Anyway, between the busy and the sad, I've rather been neglecting this blog. So one of my New Year's resolutions is to try to blog more often and with more purpose. And in the meantime, I'm going to leave you with something I wanted to go back and read myself, because I need to remind myself of this more often than I'd like these days:

How to do College

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Power, Privilege, and Special Snowflakes

Power, Privilege, and Special Snowflakes

Hello, all. I have much to say, but am trying to come up with words. The ones I have all have to do with the above topic. I anticipate a couple of essays. After finals.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Carnivalesque 45

Carnivalesque 45

w00t! The latest Carnivalesque is up at Cranky Professor. It's got some of my favorite posts from the past couple of months, plus some stuff i hadn't seen before. And just in time for Thanksgiving break, for the Yanks, at least!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why I am not willing to bail out Detroit

Why I am not willing to bail out Detroit

First, I agree -- it sucks for the workers. And layoffs would be really bad. But pretty much this WSJ article sums up some of the reasons for my objections. I don't like the anti-union subtext (it's the WSJ, what do you expect?), but I also have worked in three different union shops -- two for the twins 800-lb gorillas of education -- and have seen first-hand that union contracts can, in fact, reward incompetence and inefficiency, even while doing some of the very important things they do.

But anyway, back to my tax money and bailouts. I'm happy to see my taxes go to bailout any auto company or airline that is willing to restructure its management pay so that execs are not making hundreds of times more than the workers-- plus bonuses. And the workers? I'm sorry, but they average over $70 an hour. I get something more like $24. The top end for my next academic rank at SLAC is still only about half of what a UAW worker makes. Maybe they could also take a pay cut?

In the case of Detroit, I also don't want them having a share of my tax dollars unless they start making smaller, more fuel-efficient, relatively safe cars that come with more standard safety features. And I want the CAFE exemptions for vehicles clearly not meant for work (e.g., those not farm- and construction trucks -- can you say 'Escalade'?) got rid of. It's not just about the consumption in my books, but that I have a small car. If I get hit by an SUV, I'm screwed.

So yeah, bail out Detroit -- if they change their ways.

And the $700 billion? Again with the cuts to obscene management pay, thanks very much. My Congressional reps? I am nagging them.

ETA: Commenter Kristen points out this post that explains the $71 per hour. Apparently, it's not net -- it's hourly plus cost of benefits AND the costs of retiree benefits. The actual income average is a much more reasonable $60k. That makes things a bit different. $60k is still a very comfortable living wage, but it's not exactly exorbitant for skilled labour. Still shows that education is undervalued, but that, as my dad would say, is a horse of a different story.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Jackson Effect

The Jackson Effect

Not Peter, not Michael, but Gordon. You know that scene in The Great Escape where Richard Attenborough and Gordon Jackson are about to board the bus, and Jackson is caught out by the question out of nowhere? auf Englisch? Well, that kind of happened to me. I was talking to the Provost at SLAC, and out of nowhere, in the middle of a different conversation, he pops out with, "You're Another Damned Medievalist, aren't you?" The Hell? Apparently, a couple of people thought he was ADM.

So I don't know how far the cat is out of the bag. With luck, folks who stumble on this will respect the pseudonymity and accept that I just happen to have a nom de blog. As New Kid pointed out to me in email the other day, it's not as if people with half a brain couldn't figure it out anyway. It's just that I think my colleagues at SLAC are not so into the whole blogosphere. Guess we'll see.

In other news, I am seriously tired. This semester needs to be over.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008



Monday, November 10, 2008



So, 30 papers in just over 48 hours. Exhausting. I did fall asleep a couple of times, less because of the papers than because of the lack of sleep. Got into town just in time to check into the hotel and get to the first talk, which was good. The speaker was slightly subversive in a way most people seemed to agree with, although I'm not sure many of us entirely bought the idea that Medieval Studies were not defensible in and of themselves. That was a question that came up several times during the conference, and it was interesting how so many of us (the historians, at least), from different generations, still had some similar ideas about what is important about what we do, and how we teach it.

The first actual panel had references to the Carolingians, which made me happy, even though I was not that convinced by one of the papers, although it had a really interesting premise. Still, one of the things about this conference, which I've never attended, is that it seems very collaborative. People were genuinely looking for advice and sharing, and that was nice. There was also a good panel on queens, one on masculinity at the courts of William Rufus and Henry I, and some nice number-crunching with charters, donations, and assarts.

The other really nice thing was that I saw lots of people I knew, and met some new folks who seemed really very cool. I got to have dinner with people I've known for close to a quarter of a century, and who are just as good to be with now as they were when I was an undergrad. And then I got to have a nice meal with people I've only known since I had actual academic jobs. More surprisingly, I saw people from grad school who I hadn't seen for 15 years, who seemed genuinely happy to see me. I know, this sounds really lame, but I've always thought of myself as someone who was on the outskirts of every social circle. So I find myself in these situations where I then worry about having not been as gracious as I could have been. Lately, my life has taken a couple of hits, and been such that I'm in that 'oh, they're just being nice' phase, and am probably a bit more awkward than I should be. So if you were one of those really nice people who tried to chat with me, and I seemed awkward or preoccupied or not as friendly as I should have been, please accept my apologies. Really, I was very glad to see you again.

Oh, except that one person I didn't know, but I knew who you were. You know, I am fairly sure that people who write nasty things about folks who go to Kalamazoo probably shouldn't go to Haskins or any other small conferences. Had I seen the name tag earlier than at the last get-together, I expect I'd have said something. Oh well, better not to have taken the opportunity to be snide, I guess.

But apart from that, I learned a lot of neat stuff, met some lovely people, and ended up totally wiped out, but energized. To me, that's a good conference.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

How amazingly tacky

How amazingly tacky

For many, today was Remembrance Sunday, and in the US, Tuesday is Veterans' Day. Tomorrow It is also the anniversary of Armistice Day, and in my world, it's a day that should be remembered. So I take this opportunity to announce that I think you all should discourage anyone you know from buying Call of Duty: World at War.

I cannot really think of many things tackier than releasing a video game about war on a day when we should be commemorating how horrible war is.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Cliopatria Awards 2008

Cliopatria Awards 2008

Hi All --

I'm one of the judges of this year's Cliopatria awards, for the categories of 'Best Series of Posts' and 'Best Writer'. So if you have any nominations, please send them on, or leave a comment here. For more information, click the pic:

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dear VW

Dear VW

You know, I've been considering a diesel Jetta for my next car (by the time I can afford a new car, I expect that the US will have cleaner diesel).

But the Brooke Shields ads? They make me want to reconsider. They're just really lame.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh, FFS, Chronicle!

Oh, FFS, Chronicle

When will you stop publishing complete and utter shite like this??? Making room for younger people to have jobs is the stupidest damned reason to end tenure I've ever heard. There are lots of things that are wrong with tenure, and some of them have to do with an aging faculty. But until universities start paying faculty enough that they can afford to retire at 55 or even 65 (and as a single woman academic, this is a real issue -- female academics tend more to be single than their male counterparts, and they tend to start at lower wages, which means our pay rises are correspondingly lower and compound more slowly, and frankly, we might need to work longer), it is a bit much to claim some sort of nebulous moral obligation to retire for the sake of our juniors -- says the junior faculty member.

In regards to the idea that departments can get 'tenured in' -- well, that's a cultural thing as much as anything else. Colleagues in the UK seem to move around with each promotion. That's a bit problematic here, where university administrations regularly try to save money by refusing to replace senior people with senior people, and where much of the time faculty avoid retirement in part because they are hoping that their line won't be eliminated altogether. And we all know that happens -- and that administrations will lie. I know of one senior medievalist whose department was promised his endowed chair would stay intact when he retired, along with a second middle-ranking post in the medievalist's specialty. Yeah, right. One position in a department that seems to have no problem finding lines for incredibly narrow modern specialties, each of which wants its own PhD. If there are no jobs for senior faculty to move to, why on earth would they want to move?

And then there's the deadwood question. And yes, there is a problem. Not everywhere, but you know, there's been at least one person in every department where I've studied or taught that probably should have retired long before I met them. But that's a problem with the interpretation of the tenure system. Tenure is supposed to protect academic freedom and give a certain amount of job security. But there's no good reason not to have post-tenure review, perhaps to overlap with sabbatical applications. As long as it's based on clear requirements for research, teaching, and service (not necessarily in that order), I'm not sure why it would be a problem. The best faculty I've ever worked with stay active, even if they might slow down a bit. Obviously, as senior people may take on different duties, more administrative work, etc., the standards might be different than for people at the associate level, but as I said, that's not an insurmountable problem.

What does seem insurmountable is the amount of idiocy in people who seem to think that there are a glut of medievalists in academic departments, or that -- again -- people in the arts and sciences, and especially the humanities and social sciences, should first take lower salaries because we understand that money needs to go to retain faculty in fields where industry jobs pay much more, or because we understand that we need to pay more for the athletic departments because they being in more paying customers students; and then we should retire early, while we're still productive, because we owe the next generation? Like hell. I worked damned hard to get where I am, and I'm not planning on retiring until I feel I can't or don't want to do the job. And that would be true even if I were paid as much as an ex-college president like Trachtenberg.

Thanks to Caught in the Snide for the heads-up.

Haskins bleg again

So I booked a room for Haskins, rather than staying at a friend's house. So if you know of a female person who has not got around to booking a room and needs to share, and you know me well enough to ask (or to recommend a grad student or whatever), let me know.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Something to cheer you up

Something to cheer you up

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Carnivalesque 44

Carnivalesque 44

Carnivalesque 44, an Early Modern edition in the most interestingly gangrenous fashion, is up at Mercurius Politicus. November's edition, an Ancient/Medieval one, will be hosted on or about November 20 at The Cranky Professor, who I think might never have hosted one before.

To submit nominations either email to crankyprofessor AT gmail DOT com, send a message to the carnival email address (carnivalesque AT earlymodernweb DOT org DOT uk), or use the nomination form.

More hosts needed!!

Potential hosts should be regular bloggers with some knowledge of and interest in pre-modern history (though not necessarily academics). If you are interested in hosting an edition of Carnivalesque, please send an email to the carnival address above, noting whether you are particularly interested in early modern or ancient/medieval, and telling a little about your background and historical interests.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What they don't teach us in Grad School-- management

What they don't teach us in Grad School-- management

I would like to be working on a book review, but I'm sitting in a loud airport, where a passel of teenagers have decided to make louder the almost-quiet place I'd found. So, here we go on a new topic! This is something I've noticed a lot lately. It wasn't such a big thing at my old campuses, which were unionized on both the faculty and the staff side. One of the benefits of union contracts is that there are few grey areas -- and some might say that's one of the disadvantages, too. It's also something I've noticed because I had all that time being a not-academic, part of it as admin staff with people who reported to me -- and I didn't know what the hell I was doing at first, so the signs seem kind of familiar.

When we're in grad school, I think it occurs to us some day that we might eventually be department chairs, or deans, or even have TAs and RAs. It's part of the package, but I don't know anybody who really gave much thought to what that might entail. Mostly, as I can tell, it means moving into a new mental space called 'management'. As grad students and junior faculty, we're pretty much labour. We're at the bottom of the totem pole, and are either busy trying to follow the direction of our departments, deans, etc. We get put on committees, told what we need for comps or portfolios, have ... supervision. But at some point we don't. Moving from being supervised to independence as scholars is a different post, and anyway, I think we kinda figure that out in the last stages of the thesis or the early stages of the first job.

But what about that other stuff? I mean, we all know that there are four basic contingents on a college campus -- students, faculty, staff, and administrators. In many campuses, there is also a lot of encouragement for a democratic approach to interpersonal and work relations that tends to appeal to much of the younger professorial set, not least because its members can think back to the days when admins were called secretaries and were expected to bring coffee and cookies, make and collate copies, etc. Treating the admins and maintenance guys as equals who do important work and keep the place running is just natural for us -- or for those of us whose heads aren't too far up our academic asses. Pity the new faculty member who starts ordering people around like servants!

But here's the thing: sometimes, these people report to us. We are responsible for signing their time cards. Their jobs might actually included doing work that we give them. This is especially true of our work study students. And that means we are, whether or not we like it, whether or not we all treat each other as equals, bosses. One of the things I've noticed in my current position is that none of my colleagues wants to be a boss. A couple want to do the "fun" things, like control budgets, and sign off on travel requests, and have the words, "director of institute X" or "Department Chair" attached to their names and CVs, but when it comes down to employee relations, they suck.

I think part of this is about avoiding confrontation. But I also think part of it is that no one ever pulls us aside and tells us what it means when we are given some sort of supervisory duties. So sometimes, work study students start to show up whenever they want, calling in sick or busy with no notice, and there's the faculty member, not wanting to be mean, or to act like s/he's being a dick because it's wrong to give orders. And it can get worse. Sometimes the person who reports to the hapless junior academic is an adult, a friend, a co-worker. And possibly someone older than the hapless junior academic, who has quite possibly never had a position where they were supposed to supervised someone. Or, equally possibly, the hapless junior academic isn't bothered, or hasn't really noticed, or worse, has just started doing someone else's job, too. At some point, wheels will come off, balls will be dropped, someone's shit won't get taken care of, and then, one of the conflict-avoiders will lose their rag, and Mean Things Will Be Uttered and Things Will Never Be The Same.

So I have to ask -- given that we academics will likely all serve as management at some point (well, if we're any good at all at our jobs), why isn't this part of our training? I mean, ok ... lots of us were never trained to teach, or to mentor grad students, either. But at least we've seen it done and have good and bad examples. But not all of us -- probably most of us -- have never worked in the kind of position we're supposed to be supervising, so we might not have the examples. So what do we do?

Well, I kind of think it would be nice if someone took us aside and told us the following things:

  • Somebody has to be the boss. That isn't a bad thing, unless you are a crappy boss. But realistically speaking, your time is more valuable than the office staffs'. That's kind of why we have administrative assistants and work study students -- because it's their job to free us from some of the grunt work. It's not an easy job, and an admin with institutional knowledge can be worth her (or his, but that's still really rare) weight in gold. But this is one of the cases where that framed diploma makes a difference. Deal.

  • If you are given an administrative position, and no one tells you what your job entails, then it is your job to find out. I know we academics hate looking like clueless idiots even more than the average bear, but this is "how to hold down a job 101"

  • Speaking of which, the minute you have an administrative position, even if it's part of your service, you have a non-academic job, at least part of the time. This means that all those perks of academic employment, like flexible hours and sometimes being able to just hide from your colleagues and students when you really need to get stuff done, just can't apply to you as much as before. That might be why you get that course release.

  • Work Study students are supposed to be getting valuable work experience along with the crap wages. That work experience does not have to be relevant to their major -- it just has to teach them something, even if it's only how to perform well in a low-paying job and to appreciate the work that others do. Not giving them direction means not giving them that experience. It's bad pedagogy.

  • People are generally happier when they don't have to negotiate tons of grey areas just to get through a work day. If you're the boss, it's your job to help make sure there aren't too many grey areas. This doesn't mean that you turn into a martinet. It doesn't mean you have to start ordering people around. But it can mean that you need to communicate more clearly and follow up on things.

And you know? It is often uncomfortable at first, but in the long run? it's nice to work with people you can trust. And that's true for everybody. Or I could
be wrong.

ETA: Dr. Virago points out that asking the support staff for advice on what you can ask for and what you should be passing on to them is a really good way to do things, too. This goes back to my point that good support staff, like good NCOs, are the people who run the place. I used to be one of them, and it really is kind of true. I know I wouldn't be in nearly as good a position at SLAC if it weren't for the help, advice, and support I get from the support staff in the Dean's office.

Friday, October 24, 2008

On pricey hotels

On Pricey Hotels

Ok, before you say anything, I know that the prices are set for business travelers on expense accounts. Perhaps no one has noticed that even business travelers may be feeling the squeeze these days? And anyway, it's an academic conference.

But here's the thing. It's a hotel. People probably don't stay there more than a couple of nights, unless on vacation. And frankly, I get really cranky that business hotels charge for:

  • Internet connections -- wtf?
  • use of a refrigerator for personal items
  • even picking up anything from the minibar (apparently, there's a sensor that tells the front desk) -- even if you replace it, unused. This is especially sneaky when they stock things so you can't see the labels). no, I did not get caught on this one
  • double prices on mediocre food. Not to mention the price of a coke. Or a cup of tea. I've paid less in London with a 2:1 exchange rate.

Also, when it takes 25 minuted to get online with the expensive internet, and only because the customer knew more about the internet problems than the person at customer service (which didn't pick up for 10 minutes), they should pay me for my time!

Monday, October 20, 2008

carnivalesque Reminder

Carnivalesque Reminder

The next Carnivalesque will be up on October 25 at Mercurius Politicus. Please feel free to submit interesting posts on things Early Modern!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It lives!

It Lives!

I know it's been sparse around here, but yours truly is putting together a T&P file, due soon. Back when that's done.

OH -- but congrats to Dr. Sepoy, while I'm thinking of it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Carnivalesque is up

Sorry for the late notice -- last week was a bear for me. But the new Carnivalesque is up at Archaeoporn. Thaddeus has put up a good selection of links to all the usual suspects, and also some new ones! Need a break? Take one over there!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roommate Bleg

Roommate Bleg

If any of the people who actually know me are going to Haskins and need a roommate for Friday, Saturday, or maybe both (or know somebody who is, with whom I'd get along) ...

You know my e-mail!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

small hiatus

explanation of small hiatus, RBOC edition

Oh, right -- and also I am too lazy to code the bullets!

Sorry for the silence, but it's been a busy couple of weeks. Last week, I had to turn in a grant app and a paper abstract, plus the teaching. This week, I managed to totally screw up and assigned exam/essay due dates in ALL of my classes for this week. Oh,and a visit to the ER on Monday (nothing serious, nothing at all wrong, even, as far as they could tell, but tests took a lot of time), and over the next 4 days I need to finish revising all my syllabi (all new preps, people), write another abstract, show up at lots of functions, write at least three lectures, and grade some of the huge piles of paper on my desk. And work on the damned book, which has been sadly neglected for ages, and I'm worried about it. And of course the ILL books I haven't touched are due on Tuesday. And actual life? Not what I'd like it to be. And honestly, I would not be surviving without several of my friends, one of whom spent ages on the phone screaming at me (in an excited way, not a mean way) about politics and life in general this evening, despite a very worrying cough. When you realise you've been arguing with someone for over 20 years and are still friends, life is pretty good.

AND ... there should be a new Carnivalesque up in the next couple of days.

That's all for now. I may be back to talk about how World History is Social Science and not a Humanity, or the funny looks I get when I talk about the Bible in class. Or how I'm confused by the ecko jeans commercials. Actually, I'm getting confused more and more by all commercials. And TV in general. Is it just me, or is TV just way too much information? Because I think my life was way happier when I didn't have cable. I'd kind of like to have cable that just had Premiership soccer, Bones, House, and that channel that plays The Princess Bride and a bunch of the same other cool movies all the time (You know the one -- there's The Princess Bride, Star Wars movies, The Lord of the Rings, Stargate and the various PoTC movies in rotation?). Although ... I'm sitting in front of the idiot box at this very moment and find South Park ... strangely compelling. And totally twisted. Yep ... dumping the cable after the election ...

Thursday, September 18, 2008



So there's an American Express ad on TV these days, where a bunch of people are speaking German. Except really not speaking the Hochdeutsch. I find that kind of cool. OTOH, possibly confusing to kids out there taking German!

OK, I'm also amused by the news tonight, because, well, Zapatero and Latin America ... But you know, I just am so over Keith Olbermann. There's enough that Palin and McCain are saying that is just plain dumb without KO trying to make it sound like they said things they really didn't. Me, I'd rather see them get picked apart on their own flaws, rather than have to listen to KO being super-bitchy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's all in the Timing

It's All in the Timing

I'm having a teaching crisis. Last year, I wrote a sign and posted it in my office: "It's the students' job to keep up with me, not my job to wait for the students." And this semester, I seem to have forgotten. One of the things I've been trying to refine in my teaching over the past few years is teaching students to think like historians. If I have to pick out one thing that makes studying history relevant, I would say that it is the approach to primary sources that many of us are trained to use.*

The problem I'm running into is that this approach that I've been honing and tweaking over the last few years worked fine at Jesuit U, and at the CCs, and garners praise from colleagues, but it doesn't seem to be working at SLAC. I think part of this is that the approach depends on the students having done and internalized the background readings. Mine aren't. About 70% just can't handle the textbook (and it's World History -- inherently more confusing), which is currently the one written by a bunch of Princeton folk. It's a lumper's book -- really, it's an anthropologist's book, I think. But in many ways, it's better than the last book I used. But part is that they just don't get it. If there are words they don't understand, they don't look them up. They don't look at the maps when they are reading -- to them, they don't matter; they don't have anything to do with the text. They don't notice that an excerpt of a primary source in the text is related to another excerpt from the same source that I've asked them to read online, nor that the textbook actually discusses that source in detail. Ideally, they would read the book, I'd come in and either give more specific information about the civilizations we're supposed to be working on, and then get them to discuss relevant primary sources, picking them apart for evidence and then tying them back to the readings. Instead, I spend about three times more time than I should just asking them what I think of as warm-up questions -- who are some of the peoples you were supposed to have read about? Where were they located? um ... yeah.

And the primary source discussions ... we don't necessarily get to talk about what they tell us about the societies they come from, because some of the concepts -- polytheism, polygyny, slavery based on debt or conquest and not justified by some wacko racial theory -- are just totally unfamiliar. I am fully confident that I am teaching my students something. I'm just starting to worry that I am not teaching them enough to qualify for credit in a college-level history course. I think that one way to tackle this is to go back to chalk-and-talk. Come in and deliver well-organized lectures on important events and themes, and then test them on that content with objective questions AND essay questions that rely on internalizing that content and applying it to defend an argument on a specific historical question? But there's no active learning there. Still, it was good enough for survey classes in my day. And damn, if I were just coming in and lecturing, I would have all my prep done much more quickly and have some time to do research and write!

But then there are the students who are getting it -- and they don't want to come in, listen, and regurgitate creatively. So I end up using teaching methods and strategies geared toward the better students, at a pace that kills some of us, but is comfortable for the majority. And I'm honestly not sure who is better served -- only that doing this is killing me. It's combining all the hardest parts of teaching, with few of the rewards. And there's no sign that the students will get better anytime soon. So I'm left worrying about them and about me. Because it's burning me out, fast. And I'm pretty scared that, if I do this too long, I will fall behind in my research AND lose my ability to teach at the level that many other SLACs expect. What if teaching at this SLAC actually makes me less employable else where?

Next time ... upperclassmen who don't read.

*By many of us, I mean generally pre-modern people. Although this is not an absolute, I have not yet met a modern historian (including most Americanists) who approaches primary sources the way Classicists and Medievalists do. From what I've gathered in conversation, this seems to have something to do with the number of sources available. We are pretty much expected to be able to draw on a primary source canon, where no comparable canon exists for them.

placeholder post

Another Placeholder post

It's Monday, and I have a substantial post of the 'reflections on my job as I put together my T&P file' type partially written. But it's Monday, the day I have 5 1/2 hours of lecture/seminar, so I won't be finishing that now.

In the meantime ... What happened with Alan Curbishley? Because I haven't been following the sports pages as much as I'd like (well, except for the scores).

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Palin I'd Vote For

A Palin I'd Vote For

ht to cf2003

Sunday RBOC

Sunday RBOC

  • I love Pandora radio. I have all kinds of custom stations set up, and one of these days will do some combining. This morning, it's Steeleye Span radio. I will say they sometimes pull some weird-ass stuff on the ABBA station, though.
  • I'm more in control of some classes than I thought, and less on top of others. Guess what I'm doing today? Actually, I feel less awful about my class almost in my specialty. I didn't have anything assigned for this week, in part because I was kind of waiting to see how they were going to do -- most of the class are people who were in exactly-my-specialty seminar last year, and they excelled only in pissing me right off with their excellence in slackerdom. They are going to need a swift kick in their collective butt this time, I think. (there will be a post on this, I think -- the energy drain that is the seminar of laziness)
  • Apropos of the first point, I really do like Richard Thompson
  • I am loving all the news coverage (and Daily Show coverage, too) that shows that, traditionally, VP candidates do get asked tough questions about their qualifications. I just wish that more of the commentators would point out that NOT asking Palin the same sorts of questions is sexist.
  • Sometime over the summer, I was the victim of a theft. I am rather upset about it. Fortunately, it's all replaceable. But it'll make a dent in my wallet. And it makes me trust my neighbors less.
  • A good breakfast can be made by sauteeing a bit of onion, garlic, cumin seeds, ground coriander, turmeric, mustard seeds, a dried chilli, and a bit of paprika together (start the onions first, add the rest when they are softened), then adding rice from last night till it's all warmed through and coated with the spices, then adding a beaten egg to the pan, having pulled the rice to one side so the egg can cook by itself a bit. Stir together and cook till the egg is done. Oh, and it needs salt.
  • I could do with about two more weeks of weather like this -- damp at night, clear and warm during the day.
  • The election cycle is reminding me that I have tapered off on my blog reading way too much. I should get onto that.
  • I should make a to-do list and post that.
  • Ishould go to the office and work now. Byeeee!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Watching the RNC

Watching the RNC -- and I am wearing my American hat

Because I don't really ever take that off. Sorry that some Republicans apparently have to switch hats.

You know? I am not feeling uplifted.

And WTF? Fred Thompson last night and Romney and Huckabee tonight.

you know? I don't care about:

- Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter, although I truly feel sorry that it appears that she and young Levi are heading towards the altar. That's probably compounding the mistake.

But, I do care about some things:

- I care that she advocates things I don't believe in, like the death penalty, the overturning of Roe, home schooling, drilling in ANWR, and few (if any) restrictions on guns

- I care that she doesn't seem to really have a grasp of the job of Vice President

- I care that she is under investigation for abusing her position as Governor

- I care that she hasn't denounced her pastor of now, when Obama was excoriated for not denouncing something his pastor said some time ago

- I care that she really doesn't have any experience on a national or international scale

- I care that she will travel with codes to nuclear weapons

- I care that Palin and her supporters -- and the Religious Right in general -- have convinced people that they own morality, and especially things like abstinence and the value of human life. On abstinence, I don't know any parents who hand their kids birth control pills and condoms and say, 'oh, great! go have sex, because you're safe now!" Not so much. Most of the parents I know pretty much try to get their kids to abstain for a long while, because it is part of what they consider being sexually responsible. On the sanctity of human life, well, when life starts is a question of religious teaching to a certain extent. Most of the people I know who are pro-choice agree that some limits are sensible, and I've never met anyone who thought abortions were something women went out and got for fun. On the other hand, the death penalty kills people who are clearly people and alive. I don't know how you can preach the sanctity of human life when you aren't consistent about the death penalty, and when you aren't consistent about killing innocent non-Americans.

- I care that the speakers at the RNC are carefully blaming the Democrats for many of the problems this country faces at the moment, Romney even implying that things like the mortgage crisis have nothing to do with a loosening in regulation over the last 8 years.

-I care that so much of what the GOP speakers are saying is implying that people who feel as I do are not real Americans.

Well, I've read the Constitution, and I support it. I pay my taxes, I have voted in almost every election, from federal to local (I think I've only ever missed three elections for which I've been eligible to vote -- not all that bad for almost 30 years of voting), and I show up for jury duty. I read all the campaign literature I've been given. And I'm old enough to remember when all of those things counted. The people speaking tonight are old enough, too, but they seem to have forgotten them.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Heartbeat Away

A Heartbeat Away

Susan Collins? NO

Kay Bailey Hutchinson? NO

Olympia Snowe? NO

Christine Todd Whitman? NO

Condi Rice? NO

Jodi Rell? NO

Linda Lingle? NO

Any number of other competent, experienced Republican women?? NO

Sarah Palin???

John McCain turned 72 today. I don't care what his doctors say about his health -- he doesn't look all that great to me, and besides, all kinds of things can happen.

DO you really want this woman a heartbeat away from the White House?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is it over yet?

Is it over yet?

I have taught ten hours this week so far. I have gone to two meetings, one fortunately more social than not. I've spent about 3 1/2 hours advising students one-on-one. I'm exhausted, and I have three more hours of teaching to go. I have volumes of Schmid and Stengel to get through and about 9,000 words to write, then back to the main part of the project. Somewhere in the middle, I need to get over the cold that I seem to have picked up. And I could get to bed earlier if Bill Clinton would stick to his time limit, but nooooo....

Thank goodness we have a long weekend.

Seriously, all immediate whinges aside, I'm wondering a lot about the whole 'look for a job the year you go up' wisdom. There are so many things I like about SLAC. My first two days of this year have been good in many ways, but again, I'm dealing with students -- even good students, upperclassmen who know me -- who are not prepping for classes. Apparently one of my freshmen, a slightly older person, due to having served in the armed forces, had a small hissy after class this morning, calling the majority of his classmates something along the lines of boneheaded slackers. At least I know it's not me.

But honestly, there are times when I worry about maintaining decent standards. I really don't want to get lazy or lose a feel for what my expectations should be. This is one of the things I hadn't really anticipated about taking this job -- I think a certain kind of institution can, unintentionally perhaps, bleed its junior faculty dry until they can't find jobs elsewhere. It's a good thing to focus on teaching, but too many SLACs are competing for money and students, trying to up their reputations, but are often in no financial position to support the kinds of ongoing efforts that matter in the long run. Part of that reputation is based on having a faculty that is competitive, and students who succeed. If the students aren't equipped for a college education, it makes sense from a retention and from a reputation POV to make sure that both students and faculty have the tools to get the students through. At what point does that become the decisive factor in whether to look elsewhere? I'm not sure.

But I do wonder if this feeling is part of why so many junior faculty do go on the market the year they go up. There seems to me to be a feeling, at least in the US, that if you make it up, rather than out, you are also stuck. I don't necessarily want to move (although if I were offered a position at a SLAC with more committed students, a slightly lower teaching load, decent research support, and and better compensation, I would seriously think about it!), but I don't want to be stuck, either.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Post-rational thinking?

Post-rational thinking?

The pundits at MSNBC keep talking about post-rational thinking ... what is that when it's at home?

UPDATE: Answer below in comments. FFS, people, that's one of the lamest damned things I've seen in ages. Rachel Maddow should be ashamed. Not only a neologism, but an incredibly stupid and useless one at that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Canivalesque 42

Carnivalesque 42

Hello, world!

Sometime last week while I was mired in Freshman Orientation, prepping for 5 classes, and some personal life and health trauma, Sharon posted a Carnivalesque of the Early Modern sort. If I survive today, I plan to read it, because it is elegantly written and full of laws, trials, blood, and guts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

In lieu of meaningful posting

In lieu of meaningful posting

Because I am in denial about many things at the moment, some personal, most having to do with the FIVE hours I teach tomorrow and the syllabi I haven't quite finished, I give you ... humour.

You Might Be A Medievalist If...

-Your secondary sources are somebody else's primary sources.

-Everyone else on your conference panel has taken holy orders.

-You have a favorite decree of the Fourth Lateran Council.

-Your particular field of study could be wiped out by a car accident.

-You've ever been asked "the truth" about King Arthur.

-You refer to the American Revolution as a "recent development."

-You add the word "yet" to the statement "I don't know that language."

-You specify which level of hell your day has been like.

-You call the renaissance "a dirty lie."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

cougars and pumas

Cougars (gothic) PUMAS could give election to McCain?

I think many of you are aware about how I feel about the way the media has treated Hillary Clinton during this election cycle. It was sexist, plain and simple. And it was across the board sexist, in the sense that her opponents all bought into and used the same sort of rhetoric. (And by the way, if you are in any way thinking, "but what about the racism?????" Just stop. First, I'll get there. Second, if you don't know me well enough to know that I abhor both racism and sexism -- and heterosexism, if you feel it needs to be separated -- but can actually discuss them separately without falling into the trap of fighting about which is worse, a trap, by the way, that is hugely effective in keeping otherwise decent people from actually getting things changed, which is the point, then you just shouldn't be reading this).

So yes, the treatment of Clinton has been sexist. But when she lost, I pretty much turned my sights toward supporting Obama, despite the fact that he is less experienced and seems much more conservative than I would like. So I didn't know that there was an organised group of supporters still working for Clinton (except to pay her campaign debts)). I just figured that the machine was winding things down. Imagine, then, my surprise at reading this article by Dahlia Lithwick in Slate, which posits the rise of the "Hillary Harridans" -- the Madwomen in the Attic of US politics. Lithwick is, I think, spot on in identifying the ways in which the media treats the holdouts, and the imagery that is being evoked -- and why it hits the way it does. I think she's also probably right in what could happen, should disgruntled Clinton supporters support McCain or stay away from the polls. I do think she may have missed another message, though. It's interesting that the puma is also a cougar in real life. So is this a case of a bunch of would be cougars (y'all know what a "cougar" is, yes?) playing on words themselves? In which case, it's kind of cool and feminist. But if this is a name imposed on the group, well, that's a different thing.

So don't get me wrong here -- I think that the Clinton campaign failed us all miserably. I think the cards were stacked against Clinton, but that doesn't excuse the fact that she and her people fell (or jumped willingly) into the easy strategy of playing against Obama's race and using a good dose of xenophobia (and you can argue that that's racist, too, but I think it's much more complex than that) to try to win. I think the memos show that some people in the campaign were eager, but based on Clinton's own political record, I would like to think that she got caught up in the campaign and did what we've seen before -- reacted with anything she could grip, including things that non-panicked Clinton would not recognise. To me, that she was willing to grasp at any straw, no matter that it went against what she herself had fought for for years, made me not want her as a president. I don't want someone who panics and sells out -- especially on something this important. That it seemed panic-induced worried me even more than Bill Clinton's backing off on gay rights angered me.

But back to these PUMAs. I really hope Lithwack is wrong. I hope that there are not 18 million (or more?) women out there who are so pissed off that they are willing to cut off their noses, etc. Because if you are worried about equal rights, health care, the poor, reproductive rights, the environment ... pretty much any reason a person would have supported Clinton, there is no choice but Obama. And honestly, I think Obama is possibly a bit better on supporting the Constitution and on the war in Iraq -- not too much, but a bit. Not as good on reproductive rights and health care, but Clinton is out of the race, so get over it! Not voting is at this point the same as voting for McCain. Voting for a third party is the same as voting for McCain. This isn't about Clinton anymore, people. It's about what's on the table now. If you voted or caucused in the Democratic primaries, and really wanted a Democrat to win -- or wanted this lot out enough that you were willing to vote for a Democrat -- then Obama is the only realistic and sensible choice. You have to decide what message counts for more: the one that draws a line in the sand in a war we've been fighting since before they ratified the 19th Amendment? or the one that says that we are going to do what we can, now, to halt the regressions this government has led across the board in civil rights, human rights, environmental protection, health care ...the list goes on. If you are a US citizen, you get to vote. It matters. Don't waste it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008



As in, Janice nominated me for one!

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

I'm not going to nominate anybody who has already been nominated, if I can help it. So here are mine: Quod She, A Corner of 10th c. Europe, Modern Medieval, Adventures of Notorious, PhD, Girl Scholar, Playing School, Irreverently, Chapati Mystery, Early Modern Notes, Cranky Professor. These are all people who have either been instrumental in my blogging at the beginning and/or have kept me blogging even when I've thought about giving up.

Speaking of which, I think I missed my Bloggiversary again -- SIX YEARS, PEOPLE!!!

Also, yesterday was an anniversary of sorts -- ironically, the same sort of thing happened this year. *sigh*

Friday, August 08, 2008

Medievalist Priorities?

Medievalist Priorities?

Just had one of those 'wow' moments. I'm being bored stiff by yet another piece of academic writing for this chapter dutifully reading another important article auf deutsch when I realise that I have read the same piece of information a couple of times in a couple of different ways. Do you know want Edmund E. Stengel was doing on March 12, 1944? He was giving a speech on the history of Fulda, in Fulda, to celebrate the 1200th anniversary of the founding of the monastery.

In March. 1944.

It's a really good reminder, I think, for all of us, especially those of us who teach. Horrible, world-wrenching things can be going on around us, and yet people do just get one with their work. Even historians.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Another Vocab Bleg

Another Vocab Bleg

Zehntrecht -- I know exactly what it is, but don't know if 'tithe' is the translation we usually use -- part of me thinks there's a word we use in Latin instead? Can I tell you how much I really wish that German scholars kept technical terms in Latin?

Vielen Dank!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Call for Submissions

Call for Submissions

Hello, folks. As I mentioned before, the next Ancient/Medieval Carnivalesque will be at Archæoporn in September. The last brave hosts have not received nearly as many submissions as we used to get, so just to get you thinking about it, here's a link to a form! that you can use to nominate posts you really liked.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Obama the first Asian-American President?

Obama the first Asian-American President?

My sister sent me this article on Obama from the San Francisco Chronicle. It's really interesting, and I think talks a lot about some of the issues I raised the other day in a much more articulate way. I think it resonates for me a bit more than it might for a lot of people because it talks about a lot of the cultural assumptions that many of us raised in the Bay Area internalised, no matter our own backgrounds. I could well be overstating it, but as I've mentioned before, I do find it fascinating to think about how our cultural backgrounds, immediate and on a national level, shape our own assumptions about race and society in general.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vocab Bleg

Vocab Bleg

Can anyone remember the word we use in English (or better, Latin) for Ger. Vogt. I want to say it starts with an 's', but I can't get it past the tip of my tongue. Oh -- and it can't be 'reeve', because that doesn't work for the geographical area. Thanks1

update: Duh -- advocatus is the word, although the one I was thinking of was scabinus. Thanks, all!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

unemployment as lifestyle choice

unemployment as lifestyle choice

Via a friend, an interesting Judith Warner article that discusses how a very real employment downturn for women has been recast (for years) as a 'lifestyle choice'.

I am one of those people who will argue strenuously that choosing housewifery as a career is, or at least can be, a feminist choice. And I honestly get annoyed with people who denigrate that decision, because my idea of feminism is that women should be able to make that choice -- and that so should men. My feminism looks a lot like equality, in opportunity, pay, and responsibility. It's one of the reasons I took a financial hit in the divorce -- X was a bit older and had less time to make up a decent retirement than I did. More careful figuring would probably have meant a smaller hit, but I don't resent that a bit of generosity meant things remained amicable. But I digress.

I think what makes the report that gives this article substance most interesting is that it confirms that sneaking suspicion that many of us had -- yes, being a SAHM is a lifestyle choice, but it's often a choice made as a response to factors we don't like to admit. I can't really think of any of my acquaintance who has made this choice, who has not mentioned the cost of child care as a factor. For many women, it's not that it's the first choice, just the most sensible, given the situation. I think that, in academia, we see this less, but only because we already have the phenomenon of the trailing spouse who takes adjunct work, hoping eventually for a spousal hire. But the fact that one partner has already taken the lesser position because it's the best choice for the couple's survival is something we've learned to live with. Doesn't make it right, though.

Friday, July 25, 2008



One of the high points of my conversation with a blog-friend whom I met IRL the other night was talking about post-colonialism, race and identity. We only touched the surface, but it was exciting to be able to discuss such things. Doing so makes me feel connected to the wider world and also tends to inspire my teaching. It was also a timely conversation, given Obama's European Adventure, on at a news channel near you. We know that race plays a large part in this election, and Obama himself has been very good about not "playing the race card" (I'm putting it in quotes because I hate that particular phrase). Except that he has, or at least I think he did in the speech he gave in Germany yesterday.

It's a funny thing. I think that concepts of race are different in the US and in Europe, partially because of the difference in colonial and post-colonial experience, and partially because the US has for most of its history had to deal with the tensions roiling beneath the surface of its identity as "a nation of immigrants." I would also argue that a lack of historical knowledge and different generational experiences also play important roles, but admit that those things are harder to generalise. Whatever the reasons, though, I do think that there are differences that don't always translate clearly.

In the case of Obama, there has always been a question of authenticity -- is he Black? is he Black enough? If we listen to Jesse Jackson's latest foot-chewing, Obama is neither. It's an issue that has drifted to the background in a lot of the political rhetoric surrounding his candidacy. Realistically, he has not had the same sort of experiences and background as someone like Jackson. Obama is African-American in a different sense -- arguably his formative experiences of the US are more those of recent immigrants, rather than those of people who have the mutual ties of having descended from slaves and being treated as lesser humans for several centuries. On the other hand, there's the whole skin color thing, which is key for a lot of people (and again, there's the "black enough" question, where actual shades and tones of skin color really can make a difference in social status and assumptions of group identification and authenticity in the US African-American community). If there's a test there to be passed, I think Obama's strength is in the fact that Michelle Obama does fit in. And by marrying her, Barack Obama has linked himself to that community. I don't know if it's a conscious choice, and it really doesn't matter. I mention it only because I know that, for some, there is a conscious choice not to blur the lines and let skin colour be the default.

I admit, it's anecdotal, but I know that the members of my family from the Caribbean have been fairly adamant in sticking to their own community; if pushed to identify with somewhere other than St. Lucia or other Caribbeans descended from slaves, they default is England (despite the fact that they speak a French patois). When I have taught students from Africa (mostly East Africans), most of whom have emigrated to the US, I've noticed the same phenomenon -- these are immigrants, and they consider themselves a separate community even while there is some assimilation going on. (I'm not even going to get into assimilation, except to say that I was raised to believe in a US as salad bowl, rather than as melting pot). I think that, for many USians, the concept of 'lots of kinds of people who just happen to have similar skin color' is touch when the color is the range of browns that come from the largest continent. It's sort of ironic, given that so many white people get cranky that they can't put "Irish-German mutt, with some French in there somewhere" on government forms. The idea of different European heritages is pretty well ingrained. USians who have been exposed to Asian immigrant communities seem not to have problems recognizing that there are many different cultures and nations represented there, as well. But black people and Hispanics (who really just aren't all Mexican, folks!) are sort of lumped together (in their separate groups -- I've worked with a couple of Dominicans and Brazilians, and it's fun to watch people try to categorize them).

It's all about categories and fitting people into a place that suits the cultural comfort zone, I think. The recent New Yorker cover that caused all the ruckus (because you know? there's no way it wasn't offensive) had more truth to it than I'd like to think. The inability of the media (and likely many voters) to decide where Obama fits, racially, is a problem, and one that has been getting mileage from the pro-Obama people and his opponents. The arguments cut both ways, though. Scared or offended by the idea that Obama will be the first black president? Eh, he's not really black ... he's of mixed race, and has lived abroad. Scared he doesn't understand the experiences of your average African-American? Look at his wife! (on the other hand, clearly Michelle Obama is supposed to be scary to the first group). But ... he's not really a proper Murcan, then, is he? In fact ... he's really more like the people it's ok to hate and fear these days -- Muslims! And of course various media and smear campaigns have been all over that one. It's in their interests to convince voters of exactly what the New Yorker cover implied -- Barack Obama is a terrorist of the new school, while Michelle Obama is going to be the next Angela Davis.

In an atmosphere of ignorance, and where there is a lack of historical context, it's pretty easy to do this. But it did surprise me when I heard Obama speak yesterday. Speaking to the US, while pretending to speak to the citizens of Germany, Obama redefined Us and Them, with an Us that crosses racial and cultural boundaries, and a Them that ignores them. I suppose you could argue that it's the same on either side, but I'm not so sure. Because Obama's Us was one that claims cultural similarity despite skin color or heritage -- it's an optimistic Us, and the one that most people I know would like to see exist. But his Them ... they're Muslims -- and really, I think that the image (and you have to take this in context of his trips to Iraq and Israel leading up to this European trip) is that they are Arab and (maybe) South Asian Muslims. They are the Muslims = Terrorists = people from the Middle East, and Obama conveniently bypasses the questions of how different cultures and traditions play into the development and practice of Islam, instead relying on popular stereotypes to promote a negative and monolithic Them while reinforcing his position as a member of a new Us -- an Us that can only exist in the US when looking beyond the borders. It's subtle, it's savvy, and I think it is to some extent "playing the race card", even if it's in a games with a different set of rules than we are used to.

Me, I'm still voting for him. But I think that it's naive to think that the only kind of racism playing a part in this election is being perpetrated by Obama's opponents. I can see an argument that it's not about race, but I think that here race is the shorthand that many voters understand best, and using that shorthand will have long-term effects that are Not Good.

I realise I'm saying nothing particularly conclusive here, but then I think that it's far more important to ask questions and remind ourselves that there is a lot going on, than it is to make any kind of statement. Think of it as just one more set of steps on the path of "what the hell does all this mean, anyway?"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Carnivalesque LXI

Carnivalesque LXI

Hey folks -- not that anyone reads here much anymore (really, I will post something of substance soon), but if you are reading, please go visit Carnivalesque LXI at xoom. It's Ancient and Medieval, and has a bunch of stuff I wouldn't have seen if meg hadn't done such a fine job of rooting around and finding good stuff for us to read!

And as far as that goes, please do think about submitting links to especially good posts for the next versions, Early Modern in August at Early Modern Notes and September at Archæoporn.

Suggestions for inclusion are always welcome -- email them to carnivalesqueATearlymodernwebDOTorgDOTuk, or use the handy submission form. Also, Sharon has set up another way of submitting -- tagging the posts.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Carnivalesque alert

Carnivalesque Alert

The next ancient/medieval Carnivalesque will be up at xoom in the next day or so. I have been a bad Mistress of Misrule this time around, so if there are any late entries that you think need to go in, please e-mail meg at the address linked there!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Again with the perfume

Again with the perfume

Same woman, same perfume. And there are plenty of seats, so why sit next to me?

I ask you, gentle readers ... is there a polite way to ask someone to take their perfumed (I think it may actually be a very floral/powder spray deodorant, come to think of it) self somewhere else?

Yeah, I could move, but I always sit here and I was here first.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

aargh charters

aaargh! charters

Stuck in BL, reading Stengel. Suddenly remember why I never wanted to focus on charters: brain numbs at discussion of provenance (auf deutsch, danke). OMFG is this the most incredible boring stuff ever! Also, it is a major time-suck, because 1) dull! and 2) picky with lots of notes. I am torn between feeling grateful that these wacky Germans did the groundwork, and resentful that it's not in English. Harumph.

All right, you men -- it's the snip for you lot

All right, you men -- it's the snip for you!

Seriously, because if HHS really is able to re-define a large number of perfectly sensible contraceptive devices as 'abortion', we're all fucked.

or not. Abstinence does work. But somehow, I'm not seeing that as an option for a lot of people.

Blogger Meet-up!

Blogger Meet-up!

Met up last night with Matt Gabriele and Jonathan Jarrett and a senior colleague for a drink and dinner, and as usual felt pretty outclassed -- golly those guys are smart! It was far too short a get-together, though, even though it was long enough to convince me I should go to Haskins this year, if only to schmooze!

Anyway, it was a jump-around conversation that has started lots of things in my head -- if I can only find the time to write them. I have to say, it's hard to explain to the family that, after a day of reading and trying to write academic things, I still want to come home and write. To them, I'm on holiday. To me, I'm on a work schedule, and am trying to squeeze days of holi in amongst the work. Speaking of which, I've got two days of time booked with LDvery muchW this weekend. And a trip to see a colleague in Oxford on Wednesday, w00t!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Charter Bleg

Charter Bleg

Does anybody know if there is a QAD list of charter terms and their equivalents in different languages online somewhere? I've checked the ORB, and there isn't anything I could find. Mostly, it's trying to figure out if words that look like technical terms in German are in fact technical terms, so, for example, I am assuming that the Eschatokoll is the technical term for the closing formula, maybe ... but does that mean that, in a similar context, the Protokoll is the opening formula?

I did not sign up to be a charter historian!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A suggestion to the British Library

A suggestion to the British Library

Dear BL,

In addition to all those other restrictions (with which I agree), perhaps it might also be a good thing to remind users that the heavy use of scents, perfumes, etc., can make working in the BL very uncomfortable for one's neighbors -- especially those for whom scents can trigger migraines.



PS -- maybe the whole world would like to think about this? I love perfume, myself. I try to make sure when I wear it that a person has to get really up close and personal to smell it, though.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Citation Bleg

Citation Bleg

Argh! For some reason my request for this book did not go through, and it's a 48+ hour request -- the article is supposed to be in today.

Do any of you have a copy of Barbara Walvoord and Virginia Johnson Anderson, Effective Grading. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1998)?

I'm looking specifically for a page(es) ref to the discussion of using "the Muddiest Point" as a type of assessment.

If you can help, but need more info, you can call, text, or e-mail me, whichever works best for you. Thanks!

Update: Got it! Thanks!

Monday, July 07, 2008

First weekend in London

First Weekend in London

Friday was all BL, except for lunch at my favourite nearby pub with a friend now famous for the picture of him dancing at Kazoo.

Saturday, after the kids went to Kung Fu and I went and worked in the BL for a bit, we went bowling. In Finchley. Bowling over here is nothing like bowling in the US. First, way more kids than adults. Second, most of the lanes had bumpers up to prevent gutter balls -- trying to convince my niece that it was really not acceptable to use the bumpers for bank shots was a non-starter. Mostly, though, the difference was that there was no bowling etiquette in evidence. It was really kind of weird for me, rules-oriented person that I am. And, as usual, I was rubbish.

After that, we went for a walk in Golders Hill park, and had an ice cream. It was a really nice walk, and the family bought a membership for the tennis courts. We went and looked at the animals -- there were lots of empty cages, which I think was good, since they were rather small, mean places not really suited to wild animals -- and then came home and had a lovely dinner after I demonstrated my rubbish talents at Halo 3.

Yesterday, the weather was not wonderful, so we stayed in for the most part. I went grocery shopping, during which time the weather held (yay). Then there were alternating bouts of Halo and Wimbledon. I tried to read blogs and catch up on the news, but to no avail.

Now I'm in avoidance mode, because I've just picked up my first load of books, and realised I've picked up the wrong edition of the [book whose new reprint edition with introduction and electronic index I am working on] (wrong in the sense that I need to read the preface to the reprint edition and I got the original, which I can still use for some things), and two volumes of [dinky local journal about my favourite monastery], entitled, "Lots of long German words on which manuscripts can be attributed to said monastery"

Thank goodness I can make more cuts on the pedagogical article today and hide from the evil German stuff.