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March 2006 Archives

March 29, 2006

History through a spyglass

I am reading Kevin Phillips new book, American Theocracy and am enjoying it in a critical and non-believing sort of way.

I have not gotten all that far in, and have already been struck by the myopic focus on oil. Myopic, no, targetted. Things may change once I get farther in, but so far a former Nixon official and the man who coined the term "sun belt" is telling the tale of electoral realignment between 1960 and 2005 solely in terms of oil and industry, without a single mention of race or civil rights.

That seems a bit, well, incomplete.

We will see if the rest of the book improves.

EDIT - he does talk about race as part of his discussion of religion. He asserts that only about a third of the electoral re-alignment since the 1960s has been related to race, and that the other two thirds are religious and cultural. Then he discusses the religious and cultural in great depth.

Fuller review on the reading log.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 09:52 PM | TrackBack
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March 25, 2006

More from the sex-negative crowd

The always valuabe Echidne points me to a little chart comparing positions that oppose abortion to positions that oppose sexuality. Interestingly, the two lead to very different policy options, and the "pro-life" crowd tends to follow the second option in every case.

Jpeg below the fold.

chart of political positions

Posted by
Red Ted
at 05:05 PM | TrackBack
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Random thought while facing Eastward from the Ben Franklin Bridge

She handed me a blank sheet of paper.

"What's this?" I asked

"A topographical map of New Jersey"

"Oh, of course."

And I began to pick out landmarks.


(Fiction: the conversation never happened; I thought the joke was funnier written this way.)

Posted by
Red Ted
at 03:13 PM | TrackBack
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March 20, 2006

Garden Blogging 2006

Well, we finally got around to starting the garden.

I still have to pull leaves out of the beds, but the boys and I went and seeded peppers today. We are only starting seedlings for sweet (Burpee carnival mix) and hot (re-planted a couple of my Thai Dragons) peppers. I will seed a few flowers directly into the garden once the weather finishes warming up.

But it has to be a very simple garden this year, because I am right busy. I actually stopped clearing leaves last weekend even thought it was a beautiful day for it, because the boys went in for nap and that meant that I could go write. So, I left the leaves half-bagged and went to write - and it has not been warm enough during non-writing hours since then.

Still, we take what we can get. And peppers are about the only thing that I can grow that the squirrels do not take.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 08:34 PM | TrackBack
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March 10, 2006

When Standards go Wrong

I was working with state history standards again today, and I went and double checked one of them.

Arizona 1SS-E20. Describe the aims and impact of the Western expansion and settlement of the United States, with emphasis on:
PO 3. the American belief in Manifest Destiny, including how it led to the Mexican War

Now, maybe I read too much of Freehling’s Road to Disunion and Holt’s Political Crisis of the 1850s but I normally teach my undergraduates that manifest destiny was a partisan issue, not a widely held belief. Or rather, it was a Democratic Party issue that the party was pushing hard during an era when it won a lot of national and statewide elections. Did most Americans believe that they had a manifest destiny to go to the Western Shore? Well, remember that President John Tyler started talking about annexing Texas because he wanted to create an issue that would break apart the Whig party (that had kicked him out) and the Democratic Party (that he had rejected because he thought Andrew Jackson was behaving like a dictator.) He got the idea because Abel Upshar and a batch of folks in the deep south were worried that Texas might emancipate in order to receive foreign aid from Britain.

Manifest destiny, on the other hand, was Polk’s campaign platform in 1844 after it became clear that Tyler had opened up the can of western worms.

I argue that western expansion was driven by the politics of slavery, but remember that a batch of very smart Whigs were pretty darn sure that they could win elections by arguing that westward expansion would undermine American economic development, and that the future of the nation was in the cities of the east and not the wastelands of the West.

This is rambling - a sure sign that I need to stop working and go to bed. But that simple darn assertion in the Arizona standards bugs me because, well, it reverses things. Westward expansion created an ideology of manifest destiny, not the other way around.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 09:06 PM | TrackBack
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March 01, 2006

Do not curse the Microsoft

I am convinced that there is a Daemon outside of Seattle who listens for people who take Microsoft's name in vain.

I say this because, after a week where I cursed them a LOT while getting used to MS Outlook, I had one heck of a crash Friday night.

It was a windows crash where my first concern was to figure out if it was a motherboard or a hard drive failure. I finally figured out that, even though Windows would neither boot nor install, the motherboard's control panel looked pretty clean and I should try to swap in another hard drive. The old 10-gigger worked and I was even able to backup my data. I was about to order a replacement hard drive when I realized that the big Western Digital was still under warranty. I started to fill out the RMA and found a link to their diskette-based disk tester. When the hard drive passed the test, I knew that the problem was probably a software problem.

So, Saturday night I rewrote the drive with 0s, then spent Sunday re-installing and patching. I am still putting software back on the big grey box.

I even got an hour or so of work done on Sunday night.

That was a good crash.

Posted by
Red Ted
at 01:12 AM | TrackBack
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