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.