November 2004
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November 2004 Archives

November 29, 2004

No sleep for me

Feh, two nights in a row of crappy sleep.

Last night I slept 3:00 to 3:30 and 4:30 to about 6:30.

The night before I slept about 4:00 to about 9:00.

Both nights I was grading and feeling a little stressed, and every time I was about ready to go to bed, I would feel stressed and get another bust of nervous energy.

I graded very slowly, but I did get through a fair number of papers. I will have to review them to see if my comments made any sense at all.

I miss my sleep.

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Red Ted
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November 27, 2004

Done Shopping

Well, the littler man chubster and I went shopping today, and we finished our holiday shopping. We have all our gifts for everyone but me, and mine will be some sort of a combined Christmas, Channukah, birthday, multi-person splurge to be named later. (I am betting on a sort of cold frame for my early seedlings.) J is getting voice lessons - her current hobby is a choir.

Not that Chubster and I did a lot of shopping - $20 in books for the boys and my niece and nephew, $8 in some toys to fill in the gaps in the toys we are digging out of storage and wrapping up pretty for our boys, and we were done. The rest of the family will be getting jam and hot peppers - money we spent back during the canning and gardening season.

Monday we get to mail out the jam.

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Red Ted
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November 26, 2004

43 Boxes of books.

We spent the day moving boxes.

J's parents had come down for Thanksgiving at our place. My folks who live about an hour away went to New Mexico to visit my syster, so my brother and J's brother came to our house. It was a nice Thanksgiving - 7 adults, 2 kids, low stress, good food. I cooked. I like to cook for Thanksgiving, if only because it means I get out of doing dishes.

Anyhow, the point of this particular post is that this morning J's parents watched the kids while J and I went to our storage area and moved stuff from the 10' by 20' unit to a 10' by 10' unit. When we lived in Virginia we rented a 4 bedroom house for about 2/3 of what it cost us for first an apartment and then this mortgage. The excess stuff went into storage.

As part of moving and sorting (and flagging things to get thrown away or sold on ebay) I counted. We have 43 boxes of books in storage - almost all fiction, about half science fiction. My history books and journals are all in the house now. 43 boxes is a LOT of books - figure that one box is about one book shelf.

They say that if you don't use something for a year, you can get rid of it. We have had these books in boxes for three years now. But, several times a month, I wish I had them. So we get to keep them.

And so to count pieces and figure out how many of my old Avalon Hill games can be sold on Ebay. Anyone want a well-played copy of War at Sea? How about a very good copy of Magic Realm?

I am keeping my miniatures and some of the games, but we just have too much stuff.

Oh, the book boxes filled just under one quarter of the storage unit. The rest is filled head high with fabric and sewing, passover dishes, boxes of memories, memorabilia, and sheet music, and all manner of other good things. We hope to get rid of about half the contents of that storage area this coming year.

I am not sure if I would make a good turtle, for I carry my life around with me, or a poor turtle, because it is so heavy I can barely move.

p.s. we are keeping the 5-volume Ogden Nash.

p.p.s. The toddler likes Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, although he wants more pictures and less poetry.

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Red Ted
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November 24, 2004

Sidebar changes

I updated the sidebar this morning while deciding if the littler man would remain asleep.

The big change is that the link to the reading log now indicates the last five reviews/rants.

I also went through the public and private blogrolls, updated the list of folks I read regularly, and move a couple of people from the Law & Politics or People & Prose lists up to the Academical Villagers.

Yes, the blogroll is hand-coded in the template. It was the only way to get it to break and alphabetize the way I wanted it.

Now lets see if my two blogs start exchanging traffic - according to the site meters NO ONE was going back and forth between them earlier.

And so to decide if I would rather nap or grade. (Silly question.)

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November 22, 2004

Every woman needs a . . .

Amanda at Mouse Words has been thinking about the social changes that she sees coming from the Christian right.

Dim thoughts indeed. But I for one am looking on the bright side. When the Wingnut Revolution is all said and done, I think I may qualify for a handmaid. I've always wanted one. I mean, not the child-bearing part or the watching my man have sex with another woman part. But I sure would like someone to go to the store for me everyday.
J and I know what she means. Every so often, usually while in the middle of tedious housework, J will look up at me and tell me that "every woman needs a wife." And, while I don't mind going to the grocery store, there are times when having another set of hands around the house would be mighty convenient.

Alas, we can not afford a housekeeper, the traditional way of adding an extra wife -- not quite as sexy or political as a handmaiden, but the emotional upkeep is much easier.

More seriously, through most of the 18th, 19th, and into the 20th centuries the most prevalant form of paid labor for women was housekeeping -- as maids or servants in other people's houses. In addition Kathy Peiss argues that many if not most urban factory workers in the late 19th century either supplemented their income with prostitution or, at the very least, relied on boyfriends for spending money, clothing, and other aids to their effective income. The handmaiden idea combines these two common practices in the form of a scare tale about resurgent patriarchy.

Perhaps I should finally read Margaret Atwood's book
. But first I must go finish Uncle Tom's Cabin by noon tomorrow - and I can't find my copy of the book so I am reading it online. I hate reading long books online.

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November 21, 2004

Yiddish with Dick and Jane

Yiddish with Dick and Jane - highly amusing bit of flash advertising the book of the same name.

And yes, I am blogging at 3:00am. This is what happens when you go to bed at midnight, the toddler decides to scream for an hour and a half and wake the infant, the infant decides to play for an hour before falling asleep, and the niaspan keeps you awake because you were not asleep before the pill dissolved.

Oy Gevalt

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November 20, 2004

I've done this

Scott Kurtz of PVPonline has a comic today that is so true it is funny.

I have actually done that to students' phonemail machines.

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Red Ted
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November 19, 2004

Choosing Readings

I am putting together my reading list for Western Civ II next semester. After reading Brad's comment and thinking about cultural literacy and these nuggets of social thought I have decided that I will indeed extend the readings with a set of short documents. I had been planning to give them a text (McKay et all), the Burke-Paine debate (Reflections on the Revolution / Rights of Man) and All Quiet on the Western Front (because it is an unwritten rule, and because I like it better than Storm of Steel).

So, what else do I want to give them - knowing that I will be distributing the reading list as an electronic reader and thus will want to use public domain etexts where-ever possible, for I make typos when I retype things.

Obviously Max Weber and the Protestant Work Ethic - although I will have to cut it down to a reasonable number of words.
Likewise I like to give Marx's Communist Manifesto and a snippet of Rousseau explaining the general will.

Beyond that I will look for readings that will support my larger narratives for the semester: decline of the Ottoman Empire, transition from absolutism to democracy, evolutions in nations and states. It is a very political structure.

Off the top of my head I am thinking:


  • Jean Calvin - something from Institutes, but what?
  • John Hobbes - something from Leviathan on the state of nature and why we need absolute government
  • excerpts from the House of Commons hearings on work conditions in England during the First Industrial Revolution. Make sure this is a woman's story.
  • A Russian short story - Dostoevsky or Gogol
  • Speeches by Hitler and Mussolini, including a link to some of the streaming Hitler video on the web.
  • Something from the Russian Revolution - Lenin? Trotsky? A bit from Quiet flows the Don?
  • Lili Marlene (because the survey is all about the cliches)
  • Kipling poems about imperialism - White Man's Burden, one other TBA (but not When the Widow Gave the Party because that one confused the kids last semester.)
  • A chapter from a French 19th century women's novel - but which one? My first thought was Madame Bovary, but that was written by a guy. I know the British much better than the French.
The problem I have is that I am very strong on political theory, strong on 18th and 19th-century history, weak on the early stuff, and weak on primary documents in European women's history.

In addition, I don't have a lot of time to put into this. I am adding primary documents because I know myself, and know that I will twitch and fret if I don't have them during the semester, but I don't want to get bogged down creating this reader the way I got bogged down creating my US1 reader this summer.

Still, it makes a nice down-time think project.

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Red Ted
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iTunes strikes again

Sometimes iTunes makes a remarkable transition. It did one just now: Spinal Tap "Stonehenge" into Emerson Lake and Palmer "Fanfare for the Common Man."

What do I mean?

"Imagine what they would say if we, were here, tonight!"
"horn fanfare"

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Red Ted
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Nuggets of wisdom?

A couple of days ago Brad DeLong mentioned that he wanted to assign a reading to his graduate reading class in economic history, but that he was afraid that it required too careful a knowledge of Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. for it to be a useful reading.

I commented that I thought every graduate student in the humanities or social sciences should know Weber on the Protestant Work Ethic, just as they should be expected to know Locke on the relationship between property and liberty, Malthus's argument about population growth, Marx on alienation of labor, and the other basic working concepts of 18th and 19th century political economy.

This led me to two related thoughts.

The first is aimed at the basic tools of anyone teaching college level social sciences or humanities (History is both). Anyone who has sat through a few college classes in these disciplines, either as teacher or student, has noticed that moment where a student asks a question or makes a comment and in response the professor delivers a 5 to 10 minute mini-lecture, explaining the point, putting it into context, and then applying the concept to the particular matter in discussion that day. Those mini-lectures, call them nuggets, are something that we sometimes prepare in advance for a class, sometimes have handy because they come up on a regular basis, and sometimes have to create on the fly from our background knowledge when a student asks a tricky question. Mostly, however, they come from our general preparation in the discipline we teach or in the broader field in which we work.

Thus I suspect that not only does Brad have a fairly standard response to a student who asks, say, "but wouldn't we be better off getting rid of imports and producing everything at home" or "wasn't the American Civil War really just a conflict between industry and agriculture" but that he can also toss off a quick summary of most events in 20th-century history.

At one level a PhD program in the humanities or the social sciences HAS to prepare its graduates to deliver these nuggets on demand. They are the cultural literacy of the academic elite.

The second thought is that we also have to be willing to introduce these concepts, at least in their simpler form, to our undergraduates as well. That has influenced my approach to my reading list for next semester, which will be a separate post.

For now, however, I was wondering what those common nuggets are. Certainly all teachers have their own set of them. Some of mine are in the extended entry. Comment on your favorites.

Most of my nuggets relate to American History:

- historiography of the Lost Cause
- separate spheres feminism
- why the Great War shaped the 20th century
- republicanism and the American Revolution
- Jefferson and Sally Hemings

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Red Ted
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November 18, 2004

Like Something out of William Gibson

William Gibson writes cyberpunk fiction about a world where communication, technology, and corporations have combined to create a completely alien gestalt over and through the rusting remnants of our industrial age.

One of his recent novels included a chain of convenience stores where every store had cameras mounted on it and every store had video screens all over it and every store was constantly displaying a shifting montage of random images viewed at all the other stores. It was a sort of worldwide urban kaleidoscope.

Eric Muller points out that Livejournal has a script that shows you the last 20 images posted to Livejournal. It is fascinating - a sort of random voyeurism of images voluntarily shared with the public. I find myself going back to see what is new, what is different, and to get some sort of a loose feel for what people are doing with their livejournals.

Now if only I could sleep.

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Red Ted
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November 17, 2004

Marlon Peabody

I have been referring to the two boys as the toddler and the infant. I might change that, for I have caught myself referring to the infant as Marlon Peabody. Why that name?

Well, he is a round-faced great big baby (85% on height and weight) with straight hair that falls forward. As a result he look a lot like Marlon Brando did in the later scenes in the first Godfather movie, only without the moustache.

For the Peabody - well, after you change a few soaked diapers, and the soaked undershirts that come with a very well hydrated baby, Mr. Peabody becomes the generic name for any baby with a full, wet, diaper.

Marlon Peabody, it has a certain ring to it.

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Coffee cake

The toddler woke up at 5:00 this morning, followed shortly afterwards by the littler man. J and I had no choice, and also got out of bed.

So, since we had time for a slow-moving morning, the toddler and I made a coffee cake before sending J and the boys out the door so I could go to work.

I want to make it again before I post the recipe - too much sugar for my taste.

Note to self: when making pastry anything from a cookbook, cut the sugar in half the FIRST time you make the recipe. It saves time.

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Red Ted
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Bad teacher, bad

I am commenting on their paper proposals today. I caught myself writing a comment that should not be written. I told a student to "lose the corncob."

So, I scratched it out and instead wrote "don't be afraid to just say what you mean, with no fancy words or backwards phrases." I meant "lose the corncob," but some things can only be said with a smile, not said in writing.

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November 16, 2004

Thanksgiving Shopping

I was looking for the missing item for our Thanksgiving table, but I can't find one for sale.

The traditional Thanksgiving story, the one celebrated in school plays and popular culture, involves pilgrims in big hats with buckles and indians in feather hats getting together to eat a feast of squash, venison, game, and corn, with the turkey standing in for the venison and game.

That story leaves out the crucial third participant in the Pilgrims' settlement, their starving time, and their rapid turn from starvation to prosperity - the smallpox virus that had wiped out the New England Indian tribes shortly before the Pilgrims landed. Prospective European colonists knew of this virus, and both the Pilgrims and the Puritans who followed them a few years later took the epidemic as a signal sign of God's Providence, a signal that God wanted them to settle on this land for He had thoughtfully cleared its inhabitants and left their farms and sometimes houses for the new migrants to take over.

Anyhow, I want to get a plush smallpox to put on the table as part of the ritual - it has as much right to be there as the silly hats.

But alas, both ThinkGeek and Giant Microbes have no smallpox plushies. They have other goodies - including ebola, sleeping sickness, bookworms, and ulcers - but no smallpox. I had really wanted a smallpox.

Perhaps I can find someone artistic and commission a smallpox and perhaps also a cholera and some typhoid or polio?

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Red Ted
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November 15, 2004

J's Birthday Cake

It is not true that she gets a year older every time I bake this.

It is true that this is a very easy cake, low in saturated fat, and quite good. I like a strongly flavored not very sweet cake. You can easily add another half cup of sugar to get a sweeter cake with a finer crumb.

J's Birthday Cake
modified from "chocolate mint cake",
King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion
Countryman's Press, Woodstock, VT, 2003

Preheat oven to 350 f

Hardware:
large bowl
hand mixer
2 9" round pans or one bundt or tube pan

Dries:
1 cup sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 cups AP flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Wets:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup light vegetable oil (or walnut oil)
1/4 cup nonfat yoghurt
2 tsp vanilla extract

Fluid:
1 cup strong hot coffee

Method:
preheat oven to 350

grease and flour your pans

sift dries together
add wets to the bowl (do NOT add the coffee)
beat on medium speed for 2 minutes
add the fluid (coffee or hot water) to the bowl; the batter should be thin.
Pour the batter into the pans

Bake for 30-35 minutes, 40-45 minutes if in a bundt pan
cool in pans for ten minutes (upside down on a bottle if a bundt or tube)
remove from pans onto cooling rack
let cool completely

if you made two rounds then place one cake face down, ice the upper surface, then place the second cake on top, face up, and ice the top and sides. One can of commercial icing does nicely for this.

If you made the bundt, then paint the cake with cocoa glaze:

melt two tbsp butter in 2 tbsp coffee
add two tbsp cocoa
stir for 2 minutes, hot but not quite boiling
thin with a little more coffee
stir in confectioner's sugar to taste - we like a dark bitter icing
thin with coffee until the consistency of very thick latex paint.

Using a pastry brush, paint the entire exterior of the cake. Pour the rest of the icing onto the top ridge of the cake so that it pours down and glazes.

Serves one (over the course of about 3 days, in multiple sittings.)

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Red Ted
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Chutzpah or the memory hole?

Sometimes I find things that are simply inconceivable at first reading. But they exist. On second reading they show that there are people who have completely different understandings of the world than the ones I use. And yet, even then I have trouble believing that someone would write such words.

Consider this op ed by John Palmer, head of the Verity Media Group. In it Palmer argues that Americans prefer the truth to lies, and that in this recent election BushCo told the truth and were rewarded. He proves this, to his satisfaction, by pointing out that Laura Bush is more truthful than Michael Moore, and having vanquished his straw man he concludes that "Any political party that relies on spin and manipulation of the truth instead of the moral value of honesty forces its supporters to become complicit in their deception."

Look at that quote again.

Any political party that relies on spin and manipulation of the truth instead of the moral value of honesty forces its supporters to become complicit in their deception.
That is a statement that depends for its power on a set of assumptions about the meaning of truth. Now, I don't know where James Palmer finds his truth, perhaps Fox, perhaps Karl Rove's tea leaves, but from where I sit the Bush Administration lies out of policy, out of habit, and out of the implicit assumption that if they ever did tell the truth they would be impeached if not lynched.

That op ed is a lie, in the tradition of Big Brother and the memory hole. Having watched BushCo lie for the first term, and throughout the campaign, he now praises them as the tellers of the truth. That is no speaking truth to power, that is facilitating lies and deception.

I will be writing a letter to the editor, but I want to calm down and make it a powerful letter rather than the incoherent rant I just spewed forth here.

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November 12, 2004

Trenchard and Gordon on Rotation in Office

Cato's Letters by Trenchard and Gordon was the single most important influence on the American founders. If they spoke in the language of Locke and Hume, and if that language resonated with the American people, it was because both had read those ideas in Cato.

I was thinking about the problems with gerrymandering and the House of Representatives and came across the following passage while reading Cato's Letters as part of my slow-moving revision of chapter one.

A rotation therefore, in power and magistracy, is essentially necessary to a free government: It is indeed the thing itself; and constitutes, animates, and informs it, as much as the soul constitutes the man. It is a thing sacred and inviolable, where-ever liberty is thought sacred; nor can it ever be committed to the disposal of those who [currently rule].
I was thinking about the notion of a constitutional amendment to insist that legislative districts be drawn by nonpartisan commissions, and it seems to me that Congress could probably pass that with a little application of 18th-century political theory to the Republican Government clause in the Constitution. If it justified Radical Reconstruction, it can justify insisting on nonpartisan electoral district commissions.

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November 11, 2004

Armistice Day

Today is Veterans' Day, Armistice day for most of Europe. On this day in 1918, at 11:00 am local time, the Great War ended on the western front. The implications of that war are still working through the world, although I suspect that in another ten years or so I will be able to say that we have moved past the world created by that war.

Last year I posted the story of my Grandpa Louie, a true story told in a tone of sad almost maudlin regret.

I am still deciding what I want to say about the day this year.

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November 10, 2004

Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Several people in the lefty blogosphere have been discussing the possibility of creating a new Democratic wedge issue, a popular but unpassable proposal that would put the Republican party on the defensive. Some of these - like having the coastal states cut off their subsidization of the interior states - are not good policy proposals (much of that subsidy is military spending, for example, which NEEDS empty land.) Others, like a proposal to amend the Constitution to end gerrymandering, or to adjust the electoral college, have some potential.

This is an early draft, and ALL my early drafts are murky and unclear. Still it is a start.

I will probably write it up and mail it to my congresscritter later this week - although as he is in a VERY safe district he has no personal need for this sort of a reform.

Whereas the Constitution of the United States guarantees that all states shall be governed under a republican form of government and
whereas the current system of designing electoral districts had produced a nation without competitive elections, real choice, or practical republican governments
Therefore, The United States Constitution shall be modified to add:

All electoral districts shall be drawn up by a non-partisan commission according to the following criteria, in order of importance, viz.
Districts for the House of Representatives shall only be drawn up once per decennial census
Districts for State offices shall only be drawn up following the decennial census or a comprehensive state census, and only once per census period.
Districts shall have the same number of residents, within the limits of error of the census.
Districts shall be competitive between the major parties in that region
Districts shall be as compact as possible
District borders shall be drawn along existing geographic and political borders as much as possible: viz. rivers and streams, ridges and divides, subordinate political boundaries such as county or town borders, or major highways if no other natural or political landmark is available.
Where possible communities and neighborhoods shall not be divided between districts.

This amendment shall apply to all districts drawn for the purpose of electing members of the United States Congress, State Legislatures, and cities and towns with civil officers elected from geographic wards.

In addition, electors for President will be chosen by districts within each state, with presidential electoral districts to be drawn by the same criteria as any other electoral district.

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November 09, 2004

Ralph Luker on Clio's Commandments

Ralph Luker over at Cliopatra shares with us The Decalogue of Clio as prepared by George Tindall.

Clio's Decalogue: The Commandments of the Muse

I Thou shalt smite the Philistines hip and thigh with thy first sentence. This is the First Commandment.

II Thou shalt love the active verb with all thy heart, with all the soul, and with all thy mind, and thou shalt have no passive verbs before me; the present tense, moreover, is an abomination unto the muse.

III Thou shalt not take the names of thy cast in vain, for the muse will not hold that one guiltless who faileth fully to denominate and clearly to identify in relation to the subject all persons or incidents, be they Zora Neale Hurston, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, or the Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee. Only after thou hast performed this ceremony of purification mayest thou use familiar terms like unto Hurston, Lamar, or The Duel to the Death.

IV Remember the footnote, to keep it holy. In thy text shalt thou labor thy subject, but neither discuss thy documents nor yet thy methodology. Footnotes were made for scholars and not scholars for footnotes; yea, verily, the greatest is not the writer who citeth the most obscure document, nor yet the one who pileth Ossa upon Pelion.

V Honor thy chronology, to keep it straight, and put thy time clause first, that thy days may be long upon the printed page.

VI Thou shalt not kill thy reader, neither with the dangling participle, nor the split infinitive, nor with string of prepositional phrases, nor yet with adjectives and adverbs.

VII Thou shalt not commit adulteration, neither with slang nor with jargon, yea though the words be favored of thine instructors.

VIII Thou shalt not covet thy source's prose, imagery, or purple passage, nor anything that is thy source's, for lo, thou canst say it better thyself. Thou mayest quote only to season thy store, and that in fear and trembling.

IX Thou shalt not bear false witness, nor pass judgment upon mankind, nor yet pardon any man or woman for anything; thou mayest seek the reason for error but neither the excuse nor the blame. Vengeance is mine, saith the muse.

X Thou shalt not steal thy reader's attention by using "this" for "the," nor "the" for "a," neither shall thou employ negations. Neither a "no"-er nor a "not"-er be; but rather an accentuator of the positive; in this respect shalt thou do as these commandments say do and not as they, alas, do.

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Harvey Fierstein

Via Heather Corinna, I find this wonderful commentary by Harvey Fierstein.

He wrote a terrific essay, and he has a good point about the cowardice of self-censorship, but he does misunderstand the workings of the first amendment - you have a right to say what you want, but I have a right to not include it in my compilation if I don't want it. So the final conflict that he frames in first amendment terms is better framed as a moment of political cowardice.

Still, watch the whole thing.

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November 08, 2004

17 >> 19 (for prose style)

Tomorrow's class will be reading parts of the Beecher/Grimke debate. As I was reviewing Catherine Beecher's explanation for why women should not participate in politics I noticed that she made a point that had earlier been made by John Winthrop in his "Model of Christian Charity." However, Winthrop said it much much better; Catherine Beecher puts me to sleep.

John Winthrop:

GOD ALMIGHTY in his most holy and wise providence, hath soe disposed of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poore, some high and eminent in power and dignitie; others mean and in submission.
Catherine Beecher
It is the grand feature of the Divine economy, that there should be different stations of superiority and subordination, and it is impossible to annihilate this beneficent and immutable law.

Both of them get longwinded as they explain their point, but Beecher is just a polysylabic babble while Winthrop is at least writing in the rhythms of the king's English. Or, better yet, Beecher makes her point with adjectives, Winthrop with nouns.

Full paragraphs below the fold.

Winthrop:

GOD ALMIGHTY in his most holy and wise providence, hath soe disposed of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poore, some high and eminent in power and dignitie; others mean and in submission.

The Reason hereof.

1 Reas. First to hold conformity with the rest of his world, being delighted to show forth the glory of his wisdom in the variety and difference of the creatures, and the glory of his power in ordering all these differences for the preservation and good of the whole; and the glory of his greatness, that as it is the glory of princes to have many officers, soe this great king will haue many stewards, Counting himself more honoured in dispensing his gifts to man by man, than if he did it by his owne immediate hands.

2 Reas. Secondly that he might haue the more occasion to manifest the work of his Spirit: first upon the wicked in [Page 34] moderating and restraining them: soe that the riche and mighty should not eate upp the poore nor the poore and dispised rise upp against and shake off theire yoake. 2ly In the regenerate, in exerciseing his graces in them, as in the grate ones, theire love, mercy, gentleness,
temperance &c., in the poore and inferior sorte, theire faithe, patience, obedience &c.

3 Reas. Thirdly, that every man might have need of others, and from hence they might be all knitt more nearly together in the Bonds of brotherly affection. From hence it appears plainly that noe man is made more honourable than another or more wealthy &c., out of any particular and singular respect to himselfe, but for the glory of his creator and the common good of the creature, man. Therefore God still reserves the propperty of these gifts to himself as Ezek. 16. 17. he there calls wealthe, his gold and his silver, and Prov. 3. 9. he claims theire service as his due, honor the Lord with thy riches &c.--All men being thus (by divine providence) ranked into two sorts, riche and poore; under the first are comprehended all such as are able to live comfortably by their own meanes duely improved; and all others are poore according to the former distribution.

Beecher:
It is the grand feature of the Divine economy, that there should be different stations of superiority and subordination, and it is impossible to annihilate this beneficent and immutable law. On its first entrance into life, the child is a dependent on parental love, and of necessity takes a place of subordination and obedience. As he advances in life these new relations of superiority and subordination multiply. The teacher must be the superior in station, the pupil a subordinate. The master of a family the superior, the domestic a subordinate--the ruler a superior, the subject a subordinate. Nor do these relations at all depend upon superiority either in intellectual or moral worth. However weak the parents, or intelligent the child, there is no reference to this, in the immutable law. However incompetent the teacher, or superior the pupil, no alteration of station can be allowed. However unworthy the master or worthy the servant, while their mutual relations continue, no change in station as to subordination can be allowed. In fulfilling the duties of these relations, true dignity consists in conforming to all those relations that demand subordination, with propriety and cheerfulness. When does a man, however high his character or station, appear more interesting or dignified than when yielding reverence and deferential attentions to an aged parent, however weak and infirm? And the pupil, the servant, or the subject, all equally sustain their own claims to self-respect, and to the esteem of others, by equally sustaining the appropriate relations and duties of subordination. In this arrangement of the duties of life, Heaven has appointed to one sex the superior, and to the other the subordinate station, and this without any reference to the character or conduct of either. It is therefore as much for the dignity as it is for the interest of females, in all respects to conform to the duties of this relation. And it is as much a duty as it is for the child to fulfil similar relations to parents, or subjects to rulers. But while woman holds a subordinate relation in society to the other sex, it is not because it was designed that her duties or her influence should be any the less important, or all-pervading. But it was designed that the mode of gaining influence and of exercising power should be altogether different and peculiar.

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Smart and stupid plagarism

Anyone who teaches worries about plagarism. I worry more about the smart plagarists; I catch the stupid ones easily.

So for their paper this semester I have the kids writing about Uncle Tom's Cabin and any two documents of their choice from the class reader. This gives them a lot of freedom and makes my grading more interesting, but it also makes it much harder to plagarize - especially because I am requiring an early paper proposal telling me what documents and subject they intend to write about. This should both give the kids a chance to write a smart paper and also make it easier to write the paper than it is to plagarize the paper.

I am grading those proposals now - many look very good. I am also grading homework, including one poor student who when asked "Should Andrew Jackson be on the U.S. money?" responded by cutting and pasting some 200 words from his official biography on the White House web site. At least the student changed the plagarized material, if only by deleting about every 4th sentence.

It looks like I get to have a chat about what plagarism is and why we don't plagarize.

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Ohio v. the Upper Mississippi

One final question, one that is bugging me about these county purple maps.

When I sketch the U.S. for my students when talking about, well, anything, I always draw an ugly outline of the coast, then run the Mississippi and Ohio rivers up the central valley.

If you look at a population map of the country you will see that both the upper Mississippi and the Ohio are much more thickly settled than the non-riparian counties.

But the upper Mississippi went Democrat or dark purple, the Ohio river valley went red or bright purple. Only when we get to the Kanahaw river valley in West Virginia or the region where the Monongahela and the Allegeny river meet to form the Ohio River at Pittsburgh do we see blue counties in the Ohio River valley.

Why?

My guess, and this is just a guess, is that this is the lingering legacy of the Illinois Central Railroad, connecting Chicago with the Mississippi Delta, and spurring industry all along its line.

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Red Counties / Blue Counties II

In the post below I called for a population-scaled cartogram of the county-level Presidential vote. Via Crooked Timber I see that Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman at the University of Michigan have some spiffy election maps. It is much like Suresh's prettier but more distorted (Philadelphia should be 3 times the size of Wyoming, its suburban counties, Wyoming, and Vermont should all be about the same size) map.

In addition to their red/blue/purple county cartogram (map distorted by population) they also have a very useful histogram of counties that went for Bush or Kerry by the percentage of the vote. A few counties gave a huge number of votes for Kerry - Philadelphia alone produced a margin of over 300,000 votes - while a great many counties gave a small majority for Bush.

What this means is that Michelle Malkin was half right (she often is.) Much of the nation did prefer Dubya to Big John. But, most of the places that went for her candidate had a large minority who did not care for him. Her bright red map of triumph should really be a magenta map of cautious optimism.

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November 04, 2004

Red Counties / Blue Counties

One of the current grieving mechanisms among the lefty blogosphere is a wish to see the blue (Democratic) states effectively withdraw their support from the national covenant in an attempt to punish or sabotage the red (Republican) states.

Nice wishful thinking, impossible policy. Why?

Take a look at these county vote maps from 2000 and 2004, courtesy of James Joyner. Notice that the real pattern is not red state, blue states but red counties, blue counties. Where are the Democratic votes: The northeast corridor, the California Coast, the Mississippi river valley, the black belt, and parts of coal country. Democrats are moist and urban. The rest of the country, inland, dry, and rural, is Republican. As many have pointed out, this was in many ways an election between urban and rural values.

The irony, of course, is that there is nothing that says that rural has to be conservative. In fact, from the 1870s through the 1920s many rural voters were populist or even socialist (Oklahoma in the 1910s saw a strong correlation between rural counties, fundamentalist religion, and socialist party membership - before the Wilson administration censored the political mail during WW1, crippling the rural network and letting the urban immigrant wing of the American socialist party take over.)

The challenge for Democrats will be to craft a new approach that: embraces fundamental liberties, embraces the use of community and government power to limit the abuses of economic power, encourages individuals to achieve their dreams, and focuses on achieving a better society rather than on hitting some feel-good personal buttons. I want to see the social gospel come back. I want to see the better aspects of the Populist movement - the real one - come back. I want to see a nation that embraces fundamental human liberties, for everyone, rather than making part of our community scapegoats for fear and loathing.

I have no money. I have no time. I have to write more of my own work.

And yet, this election has made me want to run for office in my own right, because darn it we can do better. (I am too shy to do well, but it is a nice pipe dream.)

EDIT: from Rob Vanderbei at Princeton, we have this Red/Blue/Purple county map. This is good mapping. (Now to get a U.S. map with counties scaled by population and do the same thing.)

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November 03, 2004

Frodo Failed!

Frodo Failed.

Bush has the ring.

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I misread the election

Well, I got this one wrong.

Tuesday my students at Urban Research University spent most of class talking about the election. They asked me for my prediction and I gave it:
1, if Badnarik outpolls Nader then Kerry wins
2, PA for Kerry, OH close for Kerry, FL too close to call.
3, Kerry wins, 280-odd electoral votes

I over-estimated Republican dislike for Bush and Libertarian pull for Badnarik. This, I think, is because I did a poor job of compensating for the way that libertarians dominate my blogroll and the internet punditry.

For the other points, the big mistake that I think I made was that I forgot about conservative evangelicals in 2000 as I was using the 2000 polls to interpret the 2004 polls. In 2000, remember, about 4 million conservative evangelicals who had been expected to vote Bush stayed home instead, probably because of the late revelations about Bush's DWI arrest in the 1970s. In 2004, by contrast, not only had they gotten over it but they had gotten downright mobilized. The 2004 Republican Party really has replaced communists with gays, really has organized it as a party "against" and really has used that to define morality in narrowly sexual terms and then get people to vote based on them. The gay-bashing state initiatives all passed by large

The anti-gay bias of the Republicans seems to have given them a lot of voter turnout - they found something to make people mad enough to vote against. NPR reported yesterday afternoon that some 20% of their exit polls had people stating that "morality" was the most important issue in the election - more than the war, or the economy, or anything. The Republican Party has managed to redefine the word morality to refer to : not truth-telling, not concern for others, not accountability, but a simple worry about who is having sex with whom. I do not grok that definition of morality, but there you have it.

So, I got Republican turnout wrong. I hope Kerry pulls it out in Ohio, but I doubt that the Democrats will be able to find the votes. I am also ignoring all the Republicans claiming victory - that is what they did in Florida in order to sabatoge the recount 4 years ago.

Still, first impressions are that the Ohio vote this year was far cleaner than the Florida vote in 2000, even though there are a LOT of stories about Republicans engaging in voter suppression efforts there.

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November 02, 2004

Election Day

It is election day today - vote early and often.

Sorry, I just had to say that.

J and I did not vote often, but we were out early. J hit the polls just after they opened at 6:00, holding the cranky baby in her arms. She was voter #4 on the left-hand machine. The infant did not vote.

I had wanted to take the toddler in with me, but he was still sleeping hard. So, I just went solo. I was voter #11 on the left-hand machine, at around 6:20. I did not vote in dressing gown and fuzzy slippers, although I was slightly tempted. I got shy and pulled on real clothes.

We are not in a battleground state, and neither campaign had any presence at the polls this early in the morning. All that was there was the six people running the operation, three for each voting district that uses our polling place. There was no line, just a steady stream of people heading in and out.

I did not get an "I voted" sticker. I am giving my kids class credit for voting. I had originally told them that an "I Voted" sticker was sufficient proof of voting, but I do believe that those stickers were something local to Virginia. I will probably just take their word for it.

Since 6:00 there has been a steady stream of cars and pedestrians going up and down our street. I have grading to do this morning. If it warms up a little I will probably grade while sitting on the front porch watching the parade of voters go by.

And so to walk the hound.

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November 01, 2004

Family Values

Philocrites links to a recent study of divorce rates and social justice in Texas and Massachusetts. I won't give the full summary, but will just point out that Divorce rates are lower in Massachusetts, education levels are higher, and social justice is a stronger compontent of public life. As he says, whats so wrong about being a liberal anyway?

Rant below the fold.

I would add that, just as hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, so too is the tendency of Republican voters to assume that their candidate holds more "liberal" views than they really do, and the Republican need to cast their policies in "liberal" terms, a tribute to the enduring legacy and power of social justice and environmental awareness in this country.

If you want to put it in religious terms, God made Adam steward over the earth, not master of the earth; Jesus told us all to love others as we love ourselves, to shed ourselves of riches not to give tax breaks to them; neither would approve of most of the policies but forward by BushCo. Even on the big moral question, I ask whether it is more important to condemn abortions or to reduce them? The first is the Finneyite or abolitionist position - morality consists of making an immediate and public repudiation of the immoral. The latter is a social justice approach - morality consists of getting rid of the immoral. The two can, and do, coincide, but we weight them very differently. Endrant.

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Unfortunate Name

With kids in daycare we are very aware of the current crop of new baby names. In addition to the usual shifts and changes - Jane is out, Samantha is in - there has been a rise in titular names, names derived from an old English profession. So there are lots of Hunters, a few Coopers, lots of Taylors (different spelling, and a girl's name, but still), some Fletchers, and so on. If it were not for the racial connotations that have attached themselves to workers in iron or in tin we would surely see a mess of Blacksmiths and Whitesmiths. I doubt that we will see many Butchers, Bakers, or Candlers, but who knows where name trends will go next.

In many ways these names seem to be a variation on the old hortatory names, where you named a child after a quality that you hoped they would acquire. There are still a few Hopes and Faiths, not so many Chastities or Preserveds, while good 16th century names like Praisegod are pretty much defunct. The problem with hortatory names is that, in addition to marking a parent as potentially overprotective, they can lead to either embarassment or irony if the child grows up to act in a manner completly unlike the name - an Atheist named Faith, a sexual adventurer named Chastity, and so on.

Many of the new titular names appear to be secular equivalents of a hortatory name - you name the child after a quality or image you hope they will grow into, but that quality or image is tied to body image, or machismo. It does not always work.

I was reminded of this because I noticed a kid at the park Sunday afternoon. He was perhaps 10 years old, although it was hard to tell. Not only do I have trouble judging kids' ages, I have more trouble judging fat kids ages, and this was a fat kid. He could walk, but he looked to be 30 to 50 pounds overweight and about 4 feet tall, perhaps a little taller.

I was playing with the kids on the swings (the infant loves the swings, the toddler is afraid of them. Go figure) and this boy was sitting on a swing nearby making an odd hooting moaning noise. I looked over to see what the noise was, I looked again and a third time to try to figure out how a kid that young got so fat - it looked like body by HFCS soda had gotten him, but who knows. Mom was upset that her kid was making a fool of himself and sent him to the benches for a time out. As he was waddling over I compared the mental image that goes along with his titular name, a name that I associate with lean, active, wiry people.

He was a Hunter, and it looked like he was the sort of a hunter who would need a power assist to get into his tree stand.

Still, it could have been worse. They could have named the fat kid Runner.

P.S.

I like traditional kid names - three out of the four names (first and middle) for our two boys are Biblical, three out of the four are common 20th century names - and one reason why I like them is the lack of conflict between the connotations of a titular or hortatory name and the unknown aspects of a child's growth. Also, a bit of truth in ranting, the toddler's middle name was chosen because it was a family name, because I thought it was a cool name, and because I like the hortatory implications of naming a child after someone who spoke truth to power. So when I rant about hortatory names or titular names it is because the parent has not done a good enough job of raising the child to the expectations inherent in their name.

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